Archive for February, 2008

Just blow it

Without getting too hyperbolic about it, let me state emphatically that last night’s shootout loss to Colorado was a disgrace.

In a game against a team that is two points behind you for one of the final playoff spots in the conference, where you take the lead with just over a minute remaining in the third period, you simply can’t lose by conceding the tying goal with fifteen seconds left and then get beat in OT.

With the loss, the Avs are now only a point behind the ‘Nucks (though the Canucks do have two games in hand).

At this time of the year, you simply can’t blow it the way Vancouver did last night. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.

On the bright side, how about that Mason Raymond kid I like so much?

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OVERTIME :NHL :: Participation Ribbons: Sports Day

With Calgary’s overtime loss to Colorado yesterday, I have to say I have had enoughtI have had it!  With playoff spots so closely contested at the moment, having points handed out for losses is ridiculous.  Although the Canucks have benifited greatly from this ridiculous thinking, I would prefer that my team would get into the playoffs without participation marks.  So:

3 points handed out in overtime as compared to two in regulation- this has no parallel. It doesn’t provide insurance to a team playing all out in overtime, this is evident to anyone who watches overtime. Rather, it builds a conservative game plan for 60 minutes knowing that no matter what, your team will have a point.

4 on 4- This theory is now moot with the introduction of the three point overtime and shootout. How much change do you need before you look back and say “Wow- this has gotten out of hand.” I understand why they went this way, but I think the experiment is over and should return to 5 on 5.

Shootout- Exciting? YES! Gimmicky? YES! I am on the fence with the shootout, how much better was it that the ‘Winter Classic’ ended with Crosby scoring the winner in the shootout? I think a million times better. What I like about the shootout is it is a goodway to attract new fans and does bring a certain amount of excitement to the end of a game. What I hate about the shootout is the Edmonton Oilers, they are a shinning example of why this system does not work. How can more than half your vicitories come from an after practice skill contest? Oilers fans are proud of this! What the hell man!

Another effect the shootout has had is that it trivializes the penalty shot- aka the most awesome thing ever. The shootout will always keep you on the edge of your seat as there is a do or die element and that pretty much defines suspense. However, when a penalty shot is awarded, what use to be so damn wicked you break your friends arm high fiving him when it was awarded, has now become dull as ‘penalty shots’ are no longer rare- see point on Oilers.

Standings- I don’t even know where to go on this one, do they mean anythng anymore? The only reason why the standings are as close as they are is due to this stupid three point, overtime loss rule. I am sure someone out there has a website that shows the team standings if it was simply win or lose and I would bet my firstborn (they are always the worst ones) that parity would not exist. I think the three point rule inflates bad teams records and reduces the point tallies of the good teams.  Should a team just get breakaway specialist, clog the game up and then use their advantage in the shootout?  This, to me, would be the death of the NHL.

Anyway, you can’t talk shit without solutions so here is what I suggest:

a)Overtime back to 5 on 5. Get rid of the minor league shinny game to finish a normally entertaining game.

b)No more two for a win and one for an overtime loss rule. This rule made no sense from the begining and really does make the league look Mickey Mouse. As far as the three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime win, 1 for an overtime loss and zero for a regulation loss is just plain stupid and complicated. Unless the NHL wants to attract the coveted statisticans demographic, they should abandon any thought of this. How would the standings read: (W) (WOT) (LOT) (L) (PTS)? The legend for the standings would be half a page long.

I propose two points for a win, zero points for a loss.

c)Shootout- keep it, but…. Have three shooter per team, if there is no winner, tie game, go home. I know it would be a bit anticlimatic but perhaps with two points on the line we would see more urgency. I believe this to be the only point of contention on the matter, but something needs to be done and when you think of all the ridiculous gimmicks that have been tried it is not that unusual.

Matt Pettinger meet your new teamates

Matt Pettinger walks into the dressing room, the consumate professional Trevor Linden steps up and welcomes his new teamate into the den. 

“Welcome Matt to your new dressing room.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…..”

“What? You feel as if you know your teamates although you have only played them twice.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…..”

“He is your younger brother? Get out of here, that is Byron Ritchie. I guess he plays a similar game and has good hussle.”

“So tell me about yourself, what did you want to be if you weren’t a hockey player”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“A boxer! Well I guess you are right you do have something in common with one of the players on the team.  You can talk about that dream of being a boxer with one of your teamates.   Hey Cowan, come meet the new guy!”

Jeff Cowan, “Wish I can be out there with you for your first game, unfortunately I have to sit this one out.  Do you know I once scored two goals in one game, thank god my mom was in attendance that night, still have her bra in my locker.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…..”

“Yeah, thank Jeff, we will check that out later.  Whoa watch out there.”

Pettinger gets pantsed.

 “Ah Alex, always the kidder.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…..”

“I know I would really like to punch him in the face.  What is this league coming to?”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…..”

“Get out you once scored twenty goals?”

“I did once, but then I once had a straight nose, ha ha ha ha.  Well we have three players who can score goals, you might know them.”

“Mumble, mumble, mumble”

“Oh that is right you are from the east, well they are pretty damn good players.  Hey boys! Put down those 2009 volvo brochures.”

The sedins playing a prank grab Matt’s hat and play keep away in the corner of the dressing room.

Trevor gets the hat back. “Yeah I know what the hell, you think after all that time something would of come from that shift.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“Why would we put a mirror infront of your stall.  Lord Thundering Boyo, you sure are slow! That is Brad Isbister.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“I guess so, you are both big, both had potential and are spare parts on this team.”

“Matt, Matt, HEY MATT, wake up.”  Linden slaps him across the face.

“mumble, mumble, mumble.”

Those eyes

“Yeah people do get lost in those eyes.  That is Pyatt, jury is out on him.  He is kinda like you, but, but, but…. damnit Pyatt close those hypno-toad eyes of yours. As I was saying, between Isbister, you and Pyatt we almost have the one player we miss around here.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble….”

“Oh defence, yeah we have those.  They are much better than us and decide to have their own room.  Don’t upset them it is all we have for skaters these days.”

The door opens,  a silhouette appears with a cape, eating a tomato and wearing a pinstriped suit.

“Keep your head down, don’t look him in the eyes.”

Linden gets called over.

“Yes Godfather!”

“I though Dave said he would make Florida an offer he cannot refuse, and now today, the day of my wife’s second tri mester, we get this!” He leaves the room.

“Not good Matt, you want to get on his good side.  Pretty much that is our team: spare parts, a decent defence and him.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble”

“Well it ain’t so bad, you won’t miss Washington to bad.  We have fans!! They probably will buy your jersey after waiting in line for it.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“I wouldn’t call them hockey fans, more like rich people who like to yell for the first two minutes of the game, and the complain.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble….”

“You want to be a top nine player. Have you not been paying attention, apart from those swedes we are all 4-12 depth players, you just have to be better than three other people.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“Ah, felling as if you need to sit down.  Your stall, we will take you there right now. It feels comforatble. I would think so, the guy you replaced fit the same roster spot as you.”

“mumble, mumble, mumble…”

“WHAT! You have another year at 1.1 million. What the hell, at least the old guy was gone after this year. Geez, thank god I am out of here after this year.”

Jokinen or Richards?

Most informed pundits agree that one of the teams likely to do significant business at the trading deadline today is the Vancouver Canucks.

This is based not only on the team’s obvious need for a top-six forward (particularly since the long-term injury to centre Brendan Morrison) and blessed abundance of quality defenceman to part with but, also, GM Dave Nonis’ own admission that he is willing to make a big deal for such a player, provided he is under contract beyond this season (i.e. not a ‘rental’ player).

This has focused much of the attention on two players, as far as the Canucks are concerned: Tampa Bay centre Brad Richards, who has three years remaining on his contract at $7.8 million per season; and, Florida centre Olli Jokinen, who has two years remaining on his contract at $5.25 million and $5.5 million per season.

The case for Richards is compellingly made by JJ over at Canucks Hockey Blog, so I don’t want to spend much time covering well trodden ground. However, I would like to express, with all due respect, my unequivocal disagreement with JJ.

To be sure, Richards is a player who still has immense talent (despite his horrible season this year); yes, he is a proven winner (having won both the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy); yes, he is an impact player and a tremendous leader; and, of course, he would ably fill a glaring need up front for the Canucks.

That said, let me suggest a few reasons why a move for Richards is a mistake.

1 – Affordability. As much as JJ tries to mitigate the salary/term issues involved with his contract (I do agree with his point that, at least when compared to imminent free agents, Richards may not be a ‘bad’ investment), I still don’t feel comfortable with the idea of taking on such a large contract over the next three years.

This is especially the case when we consider the possibility of Jokinen, at least purely in financial terms. Jokinen is arguably as talented as Richards, though obviously lacking in relative playoff success. The key to a move for Jokinen, however, is that he will make substantially less, and for one less season. Ultimately, then, you acquire a player who brings almost as much to the table, fills the need you are seeking to address, but comes at a much more affordable and manageable price.

2 – Fit. Presuming you have a line of the Sedins and Naslund, who do you play with Richards? Taylor Pyatt? Mason Raymond? The point is, you don’t go out and get a player, pay him $7.8 million, and effectively play him with second line guys. In fact, this is precisely one of the reasons often cited for Richards’ drop in play this season in Tampa.

Of course, it is conceivable that Naslund is moved over to play with Richards and Pyatt or Raymond play with the Sedins. That would seem to work until the end of the season, at least. But, once the season is over and Naslund likely gone, the Canucks are left to look for someone skilled enough to effectively play with Richards, yet with little cap space to do it.

Again, this is much less of an issue with Jokinen. With him, you have the same scenario, to some extent, in terms of supporting cast. However, after this season, with the likely departure of Naslund, you have approximately $2.3 million more than you have saddled with Richards’ contract to go out and get a quality top-six forward to play with Jokinen.

Now, all of this assumes, of course, that both players are likely to be moved. While the re-signing of Dan Boyle in Tampa certainly suggests Richards is facing imminent departure, I am less convinced that Jokinen is moved, unless a great deal is put to Florida. For this reason, admittedly, Richards may be more easily acquired in terms of trade cost. Tampa is certainly not desperate to move Richards, but the Boyle re-signing effectively means one of Richards, Lecavellier or St. Louis must be before next season begins.

In either case, the Canucks must accept losing one of their young defenceman (i.e. Bieksa, Bourdon or Edler) as well as a young forward (e.g., Kesler, Shannon, or Raymond) and a higher-end draft pick. (Both teams may also have an interest in goaltending prospect Cory Schneider, though I see him as more likely to be moved in a deal with Florida, as they are less in need of immediate help in goal since they acquired Tomas Vokoun.)

A steep cost, indeed. And, given, the points I raise above, I think a move for Jokinen is the better transaction, all things considered.

We shall see…

Vancouver 3 – Nashville 2: Bloggable

Tonight’s match was important as it defined a new word: Bloggable.  Defintion- something to write about that is exciting to you and, hopefully, a handful of others.

So what made this game bloggable?

 Luongo!!!: His save in the fist period was unbelieveable.  Somehow in a position were most goalies  would wonder about what to paint their mask for next year, he reached out and made a save to tell your children about. That is not all sceptic readers, he also saved 49 shots and three shots in the shootouts. This man deserve not a blog but a holiday.

Mason Raymond: A highlight goal and the shootout winner. Anyone who questions his ability, probably asked Dre what he did about all his guns.

13 Points in their last 10 games: Yeah I will celebrate it, considering the ‘cleansing of the colon’ performance they put up in January this is a step forward. For anyone who thinks that they should done better- let me know how the payback on the hotels on Baltic Avenue is treating you.

Bieksa-llent

kevinbieksa.jpg

Sharpen those skates, Kevin, you’re playing tonight.

That’s right, after 46 games out of the lineup with a lacerated calf and a one-game conditioning stint in Manitoba, Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa is ready to play tonight against Nashville.

I, for one, am excited. I know a lot of Canucks are still not convinced about ‘Juice‘. But, let’s consider some immutable facts:

  • Bieksa was the Canucks leading scorer among defenceman in 2006-2007, compiling an impressive 42 points in his first full season;
  • Bieksa was the Canucks penalty minute leader in 2006-2007, with 134 PIM; and,
  • Bieksa logged a ton of minutes on the Canucks blueline in 2006-2007.

For all intents and purposes, Bieksa was the Canucks best defenceman in 2006-07.

To be sure, his start to the 2007-2008 season did not seem to replicate his play last year. But, to be fair, he only played a handful of games, anyway. And, it is worth mentioning that these games coincided with an atrocious start to the season for the Canucks, which certainly affected Bieksa’s numbers and overall play.

Ultimately, I look at it like this: the Canucks are welcoming back to the lineup a guy who is, at worst, your number two or three defenceman and, at best, your number one.

That is certainly better than most/all teams are going to do at the trade deadline.

I think this gives the Canucks a massive lift heading down the stretch. Bieksa brings offensive prowess, grit/toughness, and leadership. He is, as Pierre McGuire is wont to say, a monster.

Welcome back, Juice.

Vancouver Viewpoint Picks up a 4th Liner at the Deadline

Newswire:

Vancouver Viewpoint adds another blogger to their team adding much needed 4th line grit and hussle. Fans unsure about chemistry between Rob “Is this the blog for an argument” L and Paul “Spleling isnt my strong point”H .

Initial reactions are as follows:

From Canucks forum:

“OMG :(!!!, We need to trade Kesler for Crosby, not pick up bloggerzzz (sp)”
posted by Linden4LIFE

“STFW NOOBZ, evreyone is an idiotz. orginization neeeds depth and this pickup will bring team to cup. ”
posted by I*heart*kesler

Professional hockey writers are also putting in their two cents:

Garett

“This is one of the strongest blogs online, any addition without subtraction is going to bring the Canucks closer to the Stanley Cup. This team has grit, goaltending and coaching. I find it harder cheering for other teams when the home team is just this good. Man, I love Kraft Dinner- what is your take Murph”

“If this new guys posting are as good as the Rob’s, I look forward to allegedly copying them as well.”

Intial comments by Paul show that he has ideas on making the blog a contender.

“We need a theme song, and I have one. ”

Song courtesy of highonhockey.blogspot.com

A good pick-up at the deadline or another Vadim Sharifijanov? Need to wait and see.