If the regular season is a grind, then the playoffs are a purée.
Does that make any sense?
Some. But not enough for you to think about it too hard. They are just words.
The Vancouver Canucks Presidents Trophy makes some sense too. But it isn’t meaningful enough for you to get your neurons all twisted up. It was just a regular season.
All that has happened bears not on what’s to come.
Tomorrow the sun shines on a day that has not been seen before. Not by this team. Not by these Kings. Tomorrow our boys hold in their gaze not a Canuck, but merely an obtuse malformation obscuring their monument to history. A song sung by silver tones to the melody of innocence lost but momentarily up for reclamation. If not for a moment, if not for a year. This year.
The time is now. What hollow words when spoken wistfully and carelessly towards a season that barely deserves the name. 82 games of winter willed without solstice nor equinox. 82 notes strummed on a guitar that’s lost it’s tune. 82 battles fought before the war has begun.
The time is now. The words are finally true. There is no yesterday and tomorrow’s tomorrow can wait.
But the Canucks are the top dog. They are faster and more battle tested. Deeper and leaner. Their dead weight is in the dead eyes of those they follow. Ours is in the baby fat of our adults who might wear diapers again before brandishing cheeks not made for pinching.
The Canucks are a more successful team when it comes to averaging out a style of play that beats the nightly random draw of the opponent. There is no reason nor rhyme why that will translate to the directly known repeated struggle that is a playoff series. We match up just fine agains the Canucks, so long as we force them to adjust to us, play our game on their ice and frustrate their game on ours. We are both mere amalgamations of neanderthals and ballerinas.
In the regular season games are won on the cohesion of a team and accolades are given to the flaunts of the individual. Stones are shattered in chain gangs. The post season reckons differently. The hero drives the sword through stone that the team puts in place. Kopitar can win a series. Richards can define the game. Doughty can render his regular season wholly irrelevant.
With the thriving of the individual comes the duel of the pairs. As much as team must control team, we must dominate these isolated battles and be the authors of their storylines that are sure to develop. This is where your role players come to task. Nolan, Clifford, Lewis, Stoll, Fraser. At least one of these combatants is sure to draw the duty of making consistent, accurate and brutal statements. Burrows will bite. Hansen will harrangue and Bitz will bandy. Zack Kassian will look to make his name one remembered for his brutality. Should Clifford step up to eat off the plate of a peer drafted for similar reasons but 22 players ahead, a matchup could be set around which his teammates will rally.
Willie Mitchell and Daniel Sedin. Richards and Kesler. Brown and Edler. These micro-games that undeniably quickly coalesce will help to set the course of the series. Thus the composure of the team’s X’s and O’s oft plays second fiddle to the might of singular voices. Tempo can be both set and disrupted by the butting of heads. Tides can and will turn on the heels of he who is edged out in these ongoing skirmishes.
Then of course, there are goals. Or if I have my way, a general lack thereof. I wanted to face St. Louis for the specific reason of playing a low scoring series, which I am convinced favors us. I want to win these games 3-1, 2-1, and 1-0. I want the looming specter of days spent watching the Stanley Cups finals from the Country Club Clubhouse to dance bitterly and continuously on the tips of our dogged tongues. We are at our best when we are not dominating, but rather scraping for every inch of ice.
We begin tomorrow on equal footing. The underdog is merely the pup who ends up on the bottom.