It's true that you learn something new every day. Why, not too long ago, I learned that mocking an awkward white guy Â“raising the roofÂ” is fine if you're doing it in front of a co-worker Â– but if someone else at your office who doesn't know you happens to pass by at the same time, those geeky arm motions lose their irony real quick-like.
The 2007 playoffs have taught me a few things, too. Ten, to be exact (and convenient).
1. John Tortorella is the New Black. Lindy Ruff seems surlier than ever (and that's saying something) this spring. Ron Wilson walked into a Sharks post-game press conference in the first round, picked up a microphone and said Â“No comment,Â” then turned around and left. Bryan Murray called Â“b.s.Â” on the Ottawa media after they dared to bring up the organization's past. I know coaching is inherently stressful, but someone needs to educate the coaching fraternity on the perils of high blood pressure. Breathe, fellas, breatheÂ…
2. If Alexei Yashin isn't bought out of his contract, Ryan Smyth won't sign with the Islanders. Smyth didn't look at all out of place in Blue and Orange, but with Captain Cap-Waster loitering on the end of the bench, the Isles will have a difficult time evolving into the perennial championship contender Smyth wants to be part of. Charles Wang would take a hell of a shot to the pocketbook by buying out his tennis buddy, but Yashin's departure would send a strong, positive message to top-tier free agents.
3. Ray Emery is for real. He's not the only reason the Sens are looking like the most complete post-season team so far Â– I think Ottawa's defense corps is vastly better without Zdeno Chara, and if you want to know why, buy an upcoming edition of The Hockey News Â– but Emery has given his teammates the confidence to attack their opponents without fear of getting burned at the other end of the rink. That confidence just wasn't there before. That's what's most different about the Senators Â– and that's all Emery.
4. The Atlanta Thrashers ain't all that. Yes, they made the playoffs for the first time. However, Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk were non-factors in the first round, coach Bob Hartley screwed with goalie Kari Lehtonen's head and GM Don Waddell threw some valuable young sailors overboard to make room for career water-treaders Keith Tkachuk and Alexei Zhitnik. I'm sensing a step backwards next season.
5. Jeremy Roenick will play anywhere, for anyone, at any price in 2007-08. He may even pay to play. And you think I'm joking.
6. Scott Gomez isn't taking any hometown discount to stay in New Jersey. After another stellar post-season (10 assists and 12 points in 10 games), the 27-year-old center can break the bank this summer. And if he doesn't, he's nuts.
7. The Â“who's our No. 1 goaltender?Â” battles in San Jose and Anaheim are over. Evgeni Nabokov (6-3 in the '07 playoffs with a 2.05 goals-against average and .925 save percentage) and J-S Giguere (4-1, 1.41 GAA and .950 save percentage) are the respective winners. Nabokov is locked up for three more years, but Giguere is an unrestricted free agent. He'd be a fool to leave, especially if the Ducks win the Cup.
8. The more coaches insist on playing dreadful, trap-based hockey, the more I'm in favor of 4-on-4 play in overtime during the playoffs. Maybe I'm the only one who doesn't enjoy nine OT periods and 12 total shots in extra time. I doubt it, though.
9. The NHL's video operations department requires some continuity. The fact the quality of video feeds change drastically from arena to arena makes a joke out of the league's efforts to depend on replays to decide what is and isn't a goal. And don't you dare tell me it's too expensive to produce that sense of sameness. It's called the cost of doing business Â– and respecting your customers.
10. Jeremy Roenick wants to play next year. Just in case you forgot.
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