Archive for March, 2008

Gentlemen! I have your scapegoat…

Canucks overall record: (38 W-30L-10T), winning pct.: .551

Canucks record October 5,2007 – November 1, 2007: (5-8-0) ,winning pct.: .386

Canucks record November 1, 2007 – February 21, 2008: (27-14-8), winning pct: .632

Canucks record February 21, 2008-March 30, 2008 : (8-8-2), winning pct.: .500

So why these dates? Why all the losing?

This guy….

 This Guy

 Gp: 30  G:2   A:8   +/-: – 10

F – this

What can be more ignominious than a collapse against your most hated rivals in a game that could have put you a point out of first place in the division and solidified your grip on a playoff spot?

Perhaps going out the very next night and losing to the team one place behind you in the standings due to an effort that can most delicately be described as exceedingly reprehensible.

The Canucks have now lost three games in a row, each time against a division rival. (Then, again, it bears keeping in mind that all remaining games are against division rivals.) The Canucks now have five games remaining and sit, currently, in eight place in the Western Conference. The Canucks hold a meagre two point lead over the ninth place Nashville Predators.

It doesn’t get much more disconcerting, does it?

Actually, it does.

Consider this:

  • Both the Canucks and the Predators have five games remaining;
  • The Canucks play Minnesota, Calgary, Colorado, Edomonton, and Calgary (again), all but one of whom are playoff teams;
  • The Predators play Columbus, Detroit, St. Louis (back-to-back), and Chicago, all but one of whom are not playoff teams;
  • The Canucks are likely to play at least one and possibly two or three games without Roberto Luongo, who will return to Florida to be with his wife when she delivers their baby; and
  • Oh, yes, it appears that the Canucks have seen fit to take the last two weeks of the season off.

Unfortunately, only one of those points is not factual.

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Right?

Wrap-up: Canucks Vs. Wild

When you don’t have editors, things get done too late-this is an example…

Went to the Canucks vs. Wild game on Friday.  Courtesy of Bush’s work we got Club seats, row 4, inline with the visitor’s end faceoff circle.  I will give you the recap of the night with no structure:

For predrinks and dinner we went to the Kingston Pub.  This place has to be considered the best Canucks bar in Vancouver.  Why people go to the Shark Club, I just don’t know.  They have a pre-game menu where they will serve you your food in 15 minutes or less so that you can go and enjoy the game!!! What a great idea.

From the bar, walked down to GM place.  First stop, Authentix store to purchase a Trevor Linden jersey.  Let me say this, I was committed to buying the jersey no matter the problems.  First problem, price $240!!!  WOW, guess you have to put your wallet where your heart is.  Second problem- no “home” blue.  This isn’t too big of a problem as I have no preference either way.  Put on the “away” white, and it fitted like a glove.  But wait- what is that in the corner?  A blue Linden jersey.  Have a look at it, see that it has tie-downs…. it is the official jersey.  Cool! I mean if you are getting a jersey, why not get the real deal.  Have a look at the price $495.  And the white jersey was purchased.  Called my friend who works for the Canucks, she came down and was able to get me $50 off the jersey… it pays to have friends.

Got to our seats, ordered a few beers from our seats (man I love club seats).  Watched the Wild warm-up.  Derek  Booradard is HUGE.  He towers over everyone on the team. Pouillot must weigh 150 lbs, the guy is scrawny.  The Wild seemed loose and were enjoying their warm-up.  I would think that they would be nervous but didn’t seem the case. 

Our seats were good for atmosphere, bad for following the game.  It is fine line to walk, but that being said you can follow the game from home on the TV, I will take atmosphere  every time.  On a sour note, I am disappointed with ‘Canuck’ fans.  No one in my section was wearing a jersey, half of them weren’t even following the game, the people in front of me showed up at the end of the first and didn’t hear any fan support for good hockey plays.  They did cheer the goal and hits… 

It seemed as if the Upper bowl had great atmosphere, got some chants going and cheered hockey plays. 

Alright let’s talk Canucks, from up close and personal-

Mike Weaver is good.  I was shocked as I expected him to stand out as the worst defenseman.  Not the case, good hustle, smart plays and played with intensity.

Who was the worst defenseman?  Kevin Bieksa.  Couldn’t believe how out of place he was.  An example, skating beside Pyatt crossing the Wild’s blueline he skated ahead of Pyatt, forcing Pyatt to cover the point.  Play was broken up and Wild were now breaking out with Pyatt as a defenseman. 

Ryan Shannon is impressive.  Good hustle and gets into all the spots he needs to.  Witnessed him digging three pucks, doesn’t go to the net but seems to be in the right place otherwise. 

The Sedins are so impressive in puck control.  What is impressive is how they use a short pass (5 feet or less) and how they disrupt their checkers before they get the puck.

Mitchell rules! Better in person as you can see him behind the play positioning himself.  Did not see the deflection go in off of him, the puck is hard to follow on shots.

Salo’s goal was too fast.  Shot, goal.  impossible to follow, how goalies stop point shots, I don’ t know.

Luongo is huge.  A big guy and when he lines up to the puck you can not see net.

Brett Burns will be a top defenseman in this league.  He is really good.

 Unfortunately, the Canucks lost.  It was great going to the game and experiencing the game from so close.  The Canucks have used one of their 2 losses I have spotted them, so I see them winning tonight against the Flames

We got nine more games to go……

Up until the mini three game win streak the Canucks are on, I felt as if Canuck fans were part of Johnny Cash’s “25 minutes to go,” where the countdown was on for our imminent doom.

 However, the noose is untied and I am back behind the reins of the bandwagon with my partner in crime RJ.  I wouldn’t say we jumped off, but rather braced ourselves for impact.

 So were is this sordid bunch heading in the next few days????

Oh SHIT!!! 9 interconference games.

I have to say that this is the hardest stretch of games the Canucks (and the Northwest) have faced all year.  The only bright spot for all is the ‘short’ travel.

 And how does the schedule layout for the Canucks??  Let’s check that out….

You kidding me?  Two back to backs, one of which is a home and away.   Also a three game road trip in the mix.  Not so good.  Well the flames end with a three game trip and have two back to back games, seems even.  Going over to the AVS website I see that Jordan Leopold is a lover of (awful) music and that they have no back to back games.    I don’t want to dwell, but how can you be a music lover and have that bad taste in music?  The Wild play tonight in San Jose and have one back to back game.  Oilers have one back to back game and 4 on the road.  I have to say that the NHL schedulers have this one right.  The next nine games are going to be some intense hockey, and with the race so tight going into this stretch- the best team will win the division.

So who is going to win the division?  Naturally the Vancouver Canucks.  I am going to make like the Sports Action guy (who never gets the games right) and “Lay the hammer down!.”  They wil be 6-2-1 during this stretch.  Anyone agree?

Smooth Jimmy Apollo.

“Well let me chime in on that one H… In order to assess the record in the next nine games, you have to look at all factors including ice conditions, travel distance,  offensive output, crowd noise and various in game promotions…. but as far as the Canucks go 6-2-1, sure why the hell not!!! I am going to make it my lock of the week.”

Right on, thanks Smooth Jimmy Apollo.

Why the optimism?  Lets look at the Canucks record against the Northwest.  Well the Canucks started the season against the Northwest at 9-0-2.  Currently they are 12-6-5 against the NW (Colorado sporting the best interdivision record of 15-8-1).  I will say that most of the Canuck defeats came during times of intense injuries.    On the injury front, to finish this post, James Mirtle’s comprehensive blog has the total number of man games lost to injury for all teams, who would of thought Florida would be tops.  With the Cancuks on a roll, I see them finished how they started.

Another reason for optimism- the rallying call of Trevor Linden.  For some reason sports teams need a reason to play, and if listening to what has been said- Trevor Linen gave the Canucks a reason.  Much like Gretzky did for the olympic team in salt lake, Linden gave the team a spark when it was needed. I am going to say it right now- BEST CANUCK EVER.

Final reason- Luongo.   Roloson is doing his thing right now (that is play like shit all year and then become a star when counted on) and Flames have the Kipper who can be unbeatable at times. But who is the goalie you would want to see in the pipes for your team? Thought so…  I believe he will stand up and deliver 8 of the best games of the season, and one bad one.

 By the way- have row 4 tickets for Friday’s game.  Look for Bush in her Black Canuck V jersey and me in my NEW TREVOR LINDEN JERSEY!!!

Matters are becoming clear

After watching the Canucks over the past few weeks, a number of thoughts I have about the team and its composition have become more clear.

  • Willie Mitchell needs to be the captain of the team next season. This guy never takes a shift off, he leaves everything he has on the ice, is a vocal leader on and off the ice, and is a born-and-bred British Columbian.
  • Following from the last point, I don’t think Markus Naslund is coming back to play next year, at least not for the Canucks. Nor, for that matter, do I think he should. Despite my earlier admiration for his contributions this season (after a couple of dismal seasons in the two years previous), his play seems to have tailed off once again. Naslund is simply (and sadly) no longer the potent offensive force he once was, and he has neither the capabilties of a leader nor a two-way forward to reinvent himself as anything else.
  • Brendan Morrison, frustrating as he may be at times, is more important to the Canucks than most fans (myself included) are prepared to admit. He is never going to be a consistent 70-point player, but he should, when healthy, score around 50-60 points as a second line centre. He is also a leader and seems to be well liked by his teammates.
  • Kevin Bieksa may not ever be the next Ed Jovanovski, but his game is certainly modelled according to a similar template. Dangerous going forward, a decent passer of the puck in offensive situations, a good shot from the point, and tough in his own end; yet, at the same time, prone to egregious giveaways in the defensive zone, boneheaded plays in general (read: unfortunate lack of that great intangible, ‘hockey sense’), and is strangely impelled to take stupid penalties on a regular basis.
  • Alex Edler is playing much more like the obscure prospect many originally identified him for than the player who was whetting Canucks fans’ collective appetities earlier this season.
  • Roberto Luongo remains outstanding. He still can’t play the puck and has an unfortunate habit of embellishing any contact from opposition forwards but, hey, Jesus wasn’t perfect either, right? Just ask Pontius Pilate.
  • Taylor Pyatt looks a player who should score 40 goals per season in this league but tends to play like one who deserves everything he gets, i.e. around 20 goals per season.
  • The Sedin twins are disturbingly ineffective without open ice and ample room to cycle the puck. To be sure, this has become almost an axiomatic statement for anyone who watches the Canucks regularly, but it remains disconcerting as the prospect of another flaccid playoff performance from our beloved Super Twins looms large on the horizon.
  • I like Matt Pettinger. I like Matt Pettinger a lot more than I ever liked Matt Cooke. Nice move, Dave.
  • Sami Salo, a much maligned figure for me due to his seeming inability to even drink a glass of milk without sustaining frostbite to his lips (or some other bizarre injury), is playing the way all of us perpetually frustrated fans know he can without his injury problems.
  • Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler have established themselves as first-rate rat bastards (Theo Fleury style) in this league, with the goal scoring acumen to prove it. Okay, perhaps the Fleury comparison is an exaggeration (both in terms of rat-like looks and offensive prowess) but it does suggest the value of both and their respective contributions to this team and its identiy.
  • Trevor Linden, when he draws into the lineup, should stop trying to pass the puck across the middle of the ice.

Any thoughts, comments, or disagreements?

Can we try this again?

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For the second time in a week, the Canucks take on the Phoenix Coyotes.

With more effort like this, I suspect the result tonight will be a lot more positive for the Canucks than last Thursday’s embarrassing loss to the Desert Dogs at the worst named arena in the NHL.

The fact of the matter is, the Canucks have an opportunity to put the proverbial nail in the coffin of the Coyotes’ playoff aspirations with a victory. In doing so, the Canucks will only have the Nashville Predators left to fend off for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. A win will also propel the ‘Nucks into a tie with Calgary and whichever team loses tonight’s match-up between Colorado and Minnesota (presuming it ends in regulation).

In sum, it is a game the Canucks need to come out and put a stamp on early, much like they did against Dallas on Saturday. (Giving up a 3-0 lead again, however, is probably not advisable.)

After tonight, Vancouver’s remaining nine games are all against Northwest division teams, three of which currently sit in playoff spots. The Canucks are bound to give up some points in these games, making the two points available tonight all the more imperative.

Cheech gets the ditch

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The CBC has confirmed that Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Jim Hughson has signed a six-year contract extension with the network, which is likely to see him eventually take over from much-maligned (and increasingly out-of-sorts) Leafs shill Bob Cole as the primary announcer on Saturday night and playoff games.

One implication of this move is particularly unfortunate for us Canucks fans. Hughson has recently made it clear that he does not wish to continue performing double duty as a HNIC broadcaster and the voice of the Canucks on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific. Thus, Hughson’s decision to go with CBC/HNIC means that the S-Pac will need to start its recruitment for Hughson’s replacement in earnest.

With that in mind, who are the candidates to join John Garrett up in the S-Pac announcer’s booth?

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Don Taylor. If nothing else, Donnie is much-loved among the Canucks faithful. His clever quips and encyclopedic knowledge of Canucks history is sure to further endear him to an audience that expects entertaining play-by-play buttressed by shameless homerism.

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Dave Randorf. Former partner-in-crime of the aforementioned Taylor and current Canucks radio play-by-play man, John Shorthouse, at the now defunct Sports Page, Randorf has been plying his trade calling CFL games and other miscellaneous second-rate sports programming at TSN for the last few years. When he has called hockey games (e.g., world championships) he has displayed an engaging broadcasting style. Much like Taylor, he can also be very funny when given the latitude to dip into his more edgy material (consult, e.g., his career at the Page). Now comfortably settled in Toronto, it is not certain that Randorf would jump at the chance to move back to the west coast but, then again, what sports broadcaster would not want to return home to regularly call the games of his favourite team?

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Dan Murphy. Often faux-hawked, ocassionally insightful (that is, at least, when he reads our blog…tsk, tsk) presenter / designated player-interviewer on S-Pac and Canucks TV broadcasts, Murphy is an unknown quantity in terms of whether he might have the chops to be the main man on the mic.

Any other suggestions/possibilities?