In The Time of Chimpanzees, I Was a Monkey: Pre-Tourney Thoughts & Such

I admit;¬†Following NHL hockey as long as I have, you set yourself to be disappointed or let down on almost everything. This way, it won’t so much when you do get dragged through the mud. There are very few things the league does or creates with the consumer in mind. They rebuilt their website to horrific results this past year, which for me, nearly caused a full on depression. Hey, remember when you could watch a game from 1994 when Roenick scored a hat trick against Winnipeg at the Old Barn whenever you wanted? Yeah, that’s no longer available.

In the case of the World Cup, I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed or even hate-watching; more generally confused. This Pre-Tournament schedule is absolutely bizarre. The logic behind it as a I see it – They created a full gamut of games that are effectively meaningless, had the players travel across the continent (sometimes playing on back-to-back nights) and randomly decided which teams should face each other.

The first few games create a buzz. I get that. But they still mean absolutely nothing and it’s perplexing why they slated so many games while also choosing match-ups where the teams will play each other in the round robin.

Doing so leads to exchanges like these – casual fan Bob says to his co-worker “Hey, I watched the US-Canada game last week and Canada lost. Looks like they’re out.”

To which his co-worker would then reply, “ACTUALLY, that game was just an exhibition. They play each other in the round robin tomorrow and that game has implications as to who advances to the next round”

“So what I watched meant nothing?”

“Yes.”

“Oh.” And then casual fan Bob is completely turned off by the tournament and ignores the games and results from here on out.

For you and I, the hard Hawk hockey observer, we’re going to watch no matter what. The others, I’m not so sure.

Other things seen thus far and annoyances:

–Don’t even get me started on Team North America. It’s bad enough that Team USA’s second and third line are both playing on it. Creating an international tournament and then inventing two imaginary teams is just amateur hour. What would be so bad about seeing Germany get clocked for three games? Have we all forgotten about WWII? Or basically any soccer tournament where they light the pitch on fire with their opponents?

This tournament would be a nice retribution for that.

–It’s hard to watch Team USA with the volume on because it seems like Barry Melrose is contractually obligated to mention their size and girth every two seconds. We get it; they’re big. They’re also slow and mostly bad. I hate that I don’t enjoy Team USA more; there’s just too much scar tissue from the likes of Backes, Kesler, etc. It wouldn’t matter if they played on Team Earth and their victory ensured our survival as a species. I’d still have to think about it.

That said, Jonathan Quick and their top line can easily carry them into the semis and I wouldn’t even bat an eyelash.

–It’s going to be absolutely delicious if/when Russia tears itself apart. How were we ever scared of them? They just can’t help themselves. Panarin definitely gives them a different wrinkle than years past where they basically were hanging their hopes on Ovechkin and Malkin to save them. Now, they have a little more depth.

I just don’t see how that defensive unit holds up even against a team like the Americans. Then again, both of their goalies are used to that sort of slop and have no problem turning away 55 shots on a nightly basis. So maybe they are due to breakthrough at one of these events.

–Only seeing brief spurts of Team Canada, I’m not exactly encouraged by what I’ve seen of Jonathan Toews thus far. After a long summer where he’s telling everyone with a microphone that he’s rested and ready to go, Toews mostly blends in on Team Canada. If you’re not specifically looking for him, you wouldn’t even notice him. I guess I was hoping to see him rip a time through the space-time continuum.

That’s not really the case. In the action I’ve seen, Toews is hard to notice and doesn’t jump off the screen. Then again, these are “international friendlys” so it’s to gauge what everyone’s Give-a-Shit meter is registering during these games.

–Team Europe is probably the team I’ve watched the least and that is most definitely by design.

–I’ve never done this before but what the hell. I’m feeling lucky. Here are my fearless predictions for this tourney.

Pool A

  1. Canada
  2. Europe
  3. USA
  4. Czech Republic

Pool B

  1. Russia
  2. North America
  3. Sweden
  4. Finland

Semi Finals

Canada over North America

Russia over Europe

Finals

Canada over Russia in three games

See ya.

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