March Madness: Patrick Kane’s drinking does not hurt his game

Zdeno Chara
Photo by Dan Hickling

Round two was delayed because Milan Lucic stormed our control room and attacked the tournament director. The Boston thug was clearly irate that his matchup against Zach Parise was not postponed.

Hey, it’s not our fault Lucic fought with his girlfriend, disobeyed police officers and earned a cement bed the night before the game. That’s his problem. Jail time or no jail time, the game against Parise had to start on its scheduled time, no matter the circumstance.

But we must say this: Lucic’s voice was heard, and so were his fists, as our director suffers from a nasty gash above his left eye, and, Ryan Miller-like whiplash.

Anyway, we’ll nurse our wounds as round two resumes …


No. 1 Claude Giroux, Philadelphia vs. No. 9 Jonathan Toews, Chicago

Breakdown: Giroux talked trash during his entire first-round victory against Thomas Vanek, even when they left the ice, as the scoreboard read 8-0 (“What’s better: Snowmen or goose eggs?”).

Now it’s Toews playing the easy target for Giroux’s harassment.

Giroux relentlessly mocks Toews during warm-ups about his “squirt-hockey checking skills,” and continues to chirp during the game. He rips Toews on a number of subjects, stretching from his looks (“You’re a spitting image of James Franco”), to his interview with Snooki at the MMVAs (“You’re the guy who punched her, aren’t ya?”), to his 2007 underage drinking incident with T.J. Oshie (“Been to Judy’s Tavern lately, Jon?”).

The usually mild-mannered Toews loses his focus, and then mutters a line that seals his losing fate.

“How’s Michael Leighton doing?” says Toews, who removes his glove to flash a 2010 Stanley Cup ring.

Bad move, Toews. Giroux is infuriated and scores twice in a 87-second span to take a 4-2 lead, then levels the Chicago superstar Willie Mitchell-style.

And of course, Giroux stands above the ice-planted Toews to voice a final dose of trash talk before exiting the surface.

“You skate like a squirt hockey kid,” Giroux snickers.

Winner: Giroux

No. 4 Jason Pominville, Buffalo vs. No. 12 Shea Weber, Nashville

Breakdown: Weber blasts a puck through the netting during pre-game warm-ups that scares the daylights out of Pominville.

Remember, Pominville is a distinguished member of the Fearful Five – the group of on-ice Sabres who watched Boston’s Milan Lucic run over Ryan Miller, and did nothing to protect their franchise goalie.

So you can only guess that Weber’s net-eating blast planted a seed of fear inside Pominville as game time approached. His mind was racing, as one fearful thought festered into another fearful thought, finally reaching unimaginable levels.

‘What if I block Weber’s shot with my foot?’

‘What if it ricochets off the post and scratches my visor?’

‘What if he’s mean to me’?

The fear engulfs Pominville and forces a retirement from tournament competition.

Winner: Weber

No. 3 James Neal, Pittsburgh vs. No. 11 Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg

Breakdown: Wheeler sees Neal sporting a Hawaiian shirt as he enters the rink and calls him a “woman.”

Neal is startled. He wants to stay mum, because he’s embarrassed by Wheeler’s “woman” label. But the anger slowly builds and he’s forced to mention the situation to coach Dan Bylsma.

NEAL: “He called me a woman. A woman?!?”

BYLSMA: “Hey, Wheeler didn’t mean it, James. He has a deficiency.”

NEAL: “What?”

BYLSMA: “Yeah, he confuses genders, sometimes …”

NEAL: “Huh?”

BYLSMA: “Yesterday, Wheeler called a female reporter ‘man’ during an interview. He has issues. Not you.”

Refreshed upon hearing the pep talk from his coach, Neal settles into focus and scores four times in five minutes.

He rolls to an 8-2 win.

Winner: Neal

No. 7 Patrick Kane, Chicago vs. No. 2 Joffrey Lupul, Toronto

Breakdown: Kane’s cab-driver punch en route to his first-round game avoided a disqualification on this premise: The All-Puck committee discovered that the driver’s name was Gary Bettman, which automatically granted Kane a victory for heroism.

Kane took the “heroism” label a little too far and partied relentlessly with cute coeds into Sunday’s wee hours.

We know, we know: The words “partying” and “Patrick Kane” are synonyms, so this isn’t a surprise. Heck, a Google search for “Patrick Kane and girl” will pull up a new picture each week – yet he continues to score goals. The rest of us eat food for fuel, but apparently Kane’s system operates on alcohol, because his hockey engine keeps churning regardless.

Kane showed zero signs of hangover against Lupul – despite the two-night bender – and scored three goals in the opening minute, an All-Puck Tournament record. He wins 9-4.

Winner: Kane


No. 1 Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay vs. No. 8 Zdeno Chara, Boston

Breakdown: Chara re-wrote the Youngblood script and pounded Max Pacioretty like a railroad spike in the opening round. He’s rolling. And there really isn’t anyone who can stop the 6-foot-9 hulk, except his father.

Wait … did we say his father? Oh, yes. Zdenek Chara was an Olympic wrestler who trained his son to punishing levels, often causing young Zdeno to cry.

So you can only guess how Zdenek made his son exercise and train after his opening-round scare.

Pushups. Situps. Sprints. Stadium stairs. Squats. More sprints. A blazing mile run on concrete. Then a wrestling match with daddy.

The routine exhausts Zdeno, who is sucking wind and lying on the locker room floor as the clock approaches game time.

And here enters Stamkos, wearing his nasty, unwashed jersey that smells like Ketchup chips and Smores ice cream.

The stench nearly asphyxiated Chara, but he takes the ice – otherwise the punishment from Zdenek will be a near-death experience.

Stamkos jumps ahead 3-0 in the opening period en route to a 5-1 victory.

Afterward, Zdenek runs down the stairs, heading toward Zdeno.

But he takes a whiff of Stamkos and faints.

Winner: Stamkos

No. 5 Daniel Sedin, Vancouver vs. No. 13 Johan Franzen, Detroit

Breakdown: Franzen’s pre-game warm-up rises to a bizarre level when a Ram truck enters the ice surface.

Franzen, who earned the nickname of “Mule” from Red Wings teammates, decides to meet the truck head-on – kind of like football players butting heads prior to the game.

Head-butting is one thing but truck-butting is another, and the Ram flattens the Mule, which knocks him out of title contention.

Winner: Sedin by injury default

No. 11 Patrice Bergeron, Boston vs. No. 14 Mike Ribeiro, Dallas

Breakdown: Ribeiro caught a significant break after his first-round victory: His slew-foot to John Tavares was not captured by our shoddy cameraman, who was busy filming a group of chicks. His attention shifted to Tavares once the pro-Islanders crowd booed mercifully, but it was too late to capture the disgraceful act.

Some of us saw it with our own eyes, but that isn’t enough. The All-Puck Tournament Officials who were not on the scene need video evidence to inflict a disqualification, and that cannot be done.

So Ribeiro escaped.

And he still didn’t learn his lesson.

The sly cheater decides to embellish another call in his Round of 32 matchup against Bergeron. He wheels through the zone, wheels around the net, then suddenly – dramatically – throws his gloves into the air, faking a high-stick to the face.

The ref doesn’t buy it, and Bergeron checks up at the blue line, then rings an uncontested shot off the post to jump ahead 3-2.

RIBEIRO: “You’re not going to call that? Are you blind?!?”

ALL-PUCK TOURNEY REF: “Are you serious? That looked like the ‘Osgood incident,’ ya scoundrel.”

On the ensuing possession, Ribeiro cuts across the middle and takes a high-stick from Bergeron, sending his gloves flying again.

The All-Puck Tourney referee believes it’s a “boy cried wolf” incident. But it’s not.

This time, Ribeiro is seriously injured, and cannot finish the final 7:17 of action.

Winner: Bergeron by injury default

No. 2 Jason Spezza, Ottawa vs. No. 10 Joe Pavelski, San Jose

Breakdown: The towel-waving crowd that lambasted Dany Heatley feasts its eyes on his former Sharks teammate, Pavelski.

Spezza feeds off the energy, jumps ahead 2-1, and everything is fine and dandy until Pavelski motions to the refs.

He wants Spezza’s stick measured for legality.

Spezza tries to break his stick and then scurries to the bench, but realizes … well, it’s just him and Pavelski on the ice, and there’s nowhere to hide.

The All-Puck Tourney referee measures Spezza’s stick and deems it illegal, which gives Pavelski a penalty shot – a one-handed, flat-footed release from the hash marks.

Pavelski, with the crowd booing mercifully, rings a shot off the pipe and sends the game into overtime tied 2-2.

This saddens Spezza. And whenever he’s down in the dumps, he dives into a delicious BeaverTail to find happiness – against coaches’ orders for obvious health reasons.

But right now, at this stage in the tournament, Spezza doesn’t care. Stick measurements interfere with the decision-making process. So he devours a Maple and Cinnamon BeaverTail during the 10-minute intermission. No hesitation whatsoever.

And sure enough, the old adage of “coaches know best” proves true again: The fried-dough pastry doesn’t bode well for Spezza’s strenuous skating, and Pavelski needs just 2:17 of overtime to drill the game-winning shot.

Winner: Pavelski

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