First order of business: Doesn't Nigel Dawes sort of look like he could be Iggy's kid brother? So cute.
Now, onto the important stuff. Last night's affair yielded predictable if not expected results in a game that saw the return of Robyn Regehr after a one-game hiatus and the Flames' much anticipated homecoming. The Flames were a little sluggish to start the first period and found themselves on the wrong side of early 7-1 and 10-3 shot counts, but found their stride late in the period and carried that momentum into the middle frame. In the second, they outshot the visiting Thrashers 14-6 and outscored them 2-0 on goals from Dawes and Jokinen, while enjoying three straight opportunities with the man advantage. Colby Armstrong made things interesting when a shot deflected in off of his skate while he was battling with Aaron Johnson in front of the Flames net to make the score 2-1 and set up a nail-biting finish, but I think we can all agree that this was the highlight of the night:
Curtis Glencross is one badass motherf--er.
The Flames went on to win 3-1 courtesy of an empty-netter from Bourque, who stripped Kovalchuk of the puck at the Flames blueline and potted his ninth of the season into an empty cage after Kiprusoff made several key saves on Max Afinogenov from close range with the Thrashers pressing for the equalizer. While the Flames managed to translate their road successes into a home victory with the help of some spotless penalty-killing and contributions from the first line, the ineffectual powerplay, operating at a 7/74 clip over their past twenty games, is still a glaring blemish on what is otherwise a relatively well-rounded team.
The powerplay generated little offence on five opportunities, with the most dangerous chance being a glorious open net gimme on which Rene Bourque shot the puck high and wide. Give the Thrashers credit, their PK unit is ranked #1 in the league on the road, but as I've said before, the Flames have to find a way to score goals and not allow teams to get back into games that should have been well out of reach. This year's team is beginning to remind me of the 05-06 squad, one that possessed unmatched defensive prowess but lacked offensive firepower, and that worries me a little bit.
Now onto my rant of the day; stop me if you think this is unjustified:
I rarely take issue with the good folks over at Puck Daddy, but this post dissecting the intended messages of a CTV feature documenting the respective careers of Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin irked me.
As a communications major, I'm all for interpreting media messages and the notion that social reality is constructed through language, but this is pushing it. In the article, Greg Wyshynski writes that the aforementioned CTV feature is a "glorious piece of Canadian hockey propaganda" and that CTV has shaped two distinct images for Crosby and Ovechkin. Crosby is the well-behaved, quiet leader; the game is his life, and anything that goes on outside of it is none of our business. Ovechkin is the flashy, loud-mouthed foreigner with disregard for the rules; his life outside of hockey is well documented and ever expanding. I won't argue against the fact that these images have been established, but media-constructed personas projected onto athletes, more specifically hockey players, are hardly a new phenomena.
Weren't the same characteristics used to describe Crosby attributed to Grezky as a player? What about Lemieux? Yzerman? Russian players have often been portrayed as soft-spoken individuals who quietly go about their business and avoid any extra attention; Ovechkin doesn't fit that stereotype, but that's not to say he should be vilified for it. His individuality is and should be recognized and celebrated by hockey fans and media worldwide.
This is the first issue I have with this piece; CTV is not alone in shaping these images, they are simply perpetuating pre-existing personas for these two players that have been constructed by various media outlets in Canada and the United States. While Wyshynski wonders whether or not CTV producers are aware of the images they are portraying, it seems obvious that the sole purpose of the feature is a blatant attempt to generate hype for the Olympics and reignite the long-standing hockey rivalry between Canada and Russia (not that it needs it), and not to detract from the accomplishments of Alexander Ovechkin while glorifying those of Sidney Crosby. Propaganda? Perhaps, but what's wrong with drumming up a little nationalist fervor in anticipation of the Olympics, especially with the games on home soil? At the very least, I would expect an American to understand that.
Wyshynski claims that CTV portrays Ovechkin as "being the star of the Russian team" at the Olympic camp, while Crosby was simply "trying out for the team." Not to discount the talent of Russian players, but Ovechkin is clearly the most explosive, talented, and marketable of the bunch. He scored fifty-six goals and one-hundred and ten points last season, second only to Evgeni Malkin, with Datsyuk and Kovalchuk brining up the not-so-distant rear; of course he's the star.
Crosby led all Canadians in scoring with one-hundred and three points, but again, players like Ryan Getlzaf, Jarome Iginla, and Marc Savard weren't too far behind. Jeff Carter and Mike Cammalleri had breakout seasons with fourty-six and thirty-nine goals respectively, while Rick Nash also hit the fourty-goal mark in 2008-09. While Crosby may be amongst the elite of Canadian NHLers, he doesn't necessarily possess the same individual "star power" that makes him stand out amongst other skilled Canadian players as Ovechkin does.
The bottom line is that CTV is catering to an audience of Canadian hockey fans (or so they thought), and thus a feature documenting the rivalry between Crosby and Ovechkin, Canada and Russia, is going to be biased. They are telling us what they think we want to hear, showing us what they think we want to see. This is not to say that all Canadians share the sentiments about Crosby and Ovechkin so often expressed through the media or that they even view Crosby in a more favourable light. As for Wyshynski's assertion that the feature didn't answer the question of "who's better?" as implicitly promised, is that really necessary anymore? Honestly, I tired of this so-called rivalry quite some time ago; can't we just appreciate both players for what they contribute to the sport we love? I can't help but think that one Toronto media tour does not give Greg Wyshynski the right to make generalizations about Canadian hockey fans and the diverse contributions to the world of sports media that we have to offer.
If my take on the Crosby vs. Ovechkin saga doesn't do it for you, maybe this one courtesy of Bloge Salming will:
Alright, now that that's over with:
The Wild appear to be back to their notoriously stingy selves after winning a 1-0 snoozer against the Avs last night, and are 11-4-3 in their last eighteen games. Minnesota is another team that doesn't have best of luck at the 'Dome, and Flames fans should hope that that trend continues as it appears their injury situation may be getting worse by the day. Adam Pardy left practice early this morning while Iginla, Nystrom, and Conroy were given the day off for "maintenance." There have been no updates on Cory Sarich, who appears to be suffering from an incurable Forsberg-esque foot ailment, which is concerning, but not dire. That being said, Sutter expects everyone but Sarich to play Friday, which probably means that they will all be sitting in the press box with emergency call-ups from Abbotsford taking their respective places in the lineup.
Game time is 7:00PM on Flames PPV.
Go Flames Go.