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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Monday, March 31, 2008

Flames 2 Canucks 6

One down, three to go.

The Detroit Red Wings gave the Vancouver Canucks a gift earlier in the day - the ability to control their own playoff destiny again - and the Canucks took full advantage. They beat the visiting Flames 6-2 and took over eighth place in the Western Conference.

The game was a remarkable contrast from the one they played in Calgary just less than a week ago. Last week, they built a 2-0 first period lead and then wilted down the stretch to lose 3-2. Last night, the Canucks actually initiated a lot of the physical stuff and had to claw back from two first period deficits before finally pulling away.

With three games left in the regular season, it doesn't get any clearer than this: win and they're in. And as Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) said this morning, all the criticism the team has faced would be forgotten:
For the Canucks, the only salient facts to emerge from their 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames is they're now back in eighth place in the Western Conference and with three homes games left on their schedule, they control their own destiny.

This is all you need to know. Everything else is irrelevant. So save the deeper analysis for another time because it was out of place after this night.
Not completely forgotten, in my opinion, but at least pushed aside temporarily (like, until the next loss). Last night, the team played like a team. They looked like they cared. They hit, they scored and they stood up for each other.

Like Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf did last week, Markus Naslund and Trevor Linden stepped it up when it mattered the most and were absolutely phenomenal.

Here's Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):
It was an improbable throwback to a different era, an iconic image that infused hope into a fan base that had no reason for any.

As a smiling Trevor Linden glided across the ice after scoring his second of the game -- his biggest, most important goal of the season, the one that breathed new life into the Canucks' foundering playoff hopes -- his arms were outstretched to the heavens. The grateful, elated, relieved, in-love crowd showered him with a lingering standing ovation. It could have been his last as a player.

It was memorable.

So was Linden's play. So was Markus Naslund's. So were the Canucks, a team who somehow beat the Calgary Flames 6-2 Sunday when the mood, the momentum and the flow suggested they had no chance.
And Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun):
If they really will both be gone after this season ends, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund gave us something to remember Sunday night.

They also gave Vancouver Canuck fans hope.

Linden and Naslund are two of the big reasons why we are able to put off the post-mortem and instead are once again talking about the playoffs.
The rest of the lineup was good too. Jeff Cowan and Byron Ritchie were noticeable, which means they were doing their job. Alex Burrows got Iggy off his game. Brad Isbister played big and threw his weight around. Taylor Pyatt played big and attacked the net constantly.

It was only one game but it was a good one. Three more of those this week would be nice.

More from the MSM:
About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

A visit from the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Calling Out The Coach

My apologies for disappearing for a few days. It had nothing to do with being depressed over the Canucks' now four-game losing streak, but everything to do with Shaw and my Internet service going down for the 1,406th time in four months.

*****

Since Alain Vigneault was hired as the Canucks' head coach last season, he's made it a habit to call out players for poor performances. After four consecutive losses where the Canucks have looked as bad as they've ever looked, I think it's time to call out the coach himself.

I think Vigneault has lost the room. His players look lost on the ice. They look like they don't know where to go and what to do. Their defensive coverage in front of the goaltender is horrible. Their offense is non-existent. They've given up a ton of odd man rushes. They've given up goals due to bad line changes. Simply, they're not playing together. There could be a variety of different reasons for these, but I believe first and foremost is a team that has tuned out the coach.

For almost two seasons now, Vigneault has the Canucks playing his system. And that's fine because the team has certainly had success with it. But what about the times where the system isn't working? There are, of course, many games within the games and a good coach knows to adapt to any situation. Especially in these last four games, Vigneault hasn't done that. Win or lose, he coaches the same game. Sure he juggles his lines more than Mario Lopez juggles his models, but at times when the system isn't working against a particular team, a coach needs to focus his group and adjust his attack.

Case in point was last night against the Wild. When the Canucks needed to kickstart their game on the powerplay, how many times did we see the dump and chase? How many times did the Canucks retrieve the puck? How many scoring chances did they produce as a result? The answers are: all game long, not very often, and almost none. When the Canucks fell back 2-0, why didn't the coach activate the defense? He should know as well as every other Canucks fan that sitting back and waiting for Minnesota to make a mistake wasn't going to happen.

The other night, after the Avalanche tied up the game in the second, the Canucks were noticeably rattled and started running around their own zone. Where was Vigneault's timeout to focus his team? Or what about when the Avalanche scored another goal a minute later? And another goal just four minutes after that?

Tiny details and perhaps a bit of 20/20 hindsight thinking, but the coach needs to be able to read the game and have a feel for the game.

He also has to have a feel for his players.

A few days ago after the loss to Calgary, Tony Gallagher brought up that, with the Canucks down 3-2, their goaltender pulled and obviously needing to score to tie the game, Markus Naslund wasn't on the ice. On the ice in the final minute: Sedin, Sedin, Kesler, Pettinger, Morrison and Edler. Markus Naslund's final shift in that game - he scored a goal in that game, by the way - came with three minutes left.

While Naslund would be the first to admint that he hasn't had a banner season offensively, he still has 24 goals. That's still second-best on the team. That's still 54th in the league. It's not a great total, but it's not bad. And it's still more goals than guys like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Drury, Patrik Elias, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Frolov and Jonathan Cheechoo have. When the Canucks needed a goal, why didn't Vigneault put him out there? In that same Calgary game, seven Canucks forwards had more ice-time than Naslund. Heck, Mike Weaver had more ice-time than he did. Like Trevor Linden is finding out, and especially for a lead-by-example kind of guy like Markus, it's hard to be a leader when you're not on the ice. It's hard to ask a player to be more confident when you don't instill confidence in him.

But probably the most troubling thing about this is what seems to be a disjoint between Vigneault and some of the veteran leaders of this team. It was refreshing when Vigneault came in and wasn't afraid to name the guys who he thought didn't play well. For the younger guys, that was probably a good approach as they still needed to know what the expectations are at the NHL level. For the guys that have been around, they may well have taken that approach as a slap in the face.

Let's look at the list of players that we know, at one time or another, have questioned the coach's tactics: Naslund, the Sedins, Willie Mitchell and Matt Cooke (when he was here). Trevor Linden, while he has been diplomatic, is surely wondering the same. Even Roberto Luongo, if I'm not mistaken, popped off once. Their one thing in common? They're the leaders of this team. We know Vigneault loves his grinders, and probably rightly so given what he has gotten from the likes of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, but if he truly wants his best players to be his best players and his leaders to be his leaders, he also has to adapt his style to enable that.

By the way, the only other Canucks coach I know that has elicited this much reaction from the leadership group? Mike Keenan. And he loved his Harry Yorks and Brian Noonans too.

Now, the season isn't quite over yet. Given their inconsistency this season, it's not out of the question for them to pull out of this funk, win their last four games - all at home - and make the postseason with some momentum. When they do that, I'll give Vigneault his due credit. For now however, he needs to be called out as much as his players.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Canucks 2 Flames 3

I'm still trying to come up with the right words to describe last night's 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Heartbreaking, disappointing, infuriating, frustrating come to mind. Pissed is another.

I'm pissed off.

The Canucks shouldn't have lost last night. Not with the way they came out and outplayed the Flames in the first period. Not with the way they controlled the play, drew four powerplays, outshot the Flames 21-7 and built a 2-0 lead. They did everything right in the first 20 minutes.

And then they pissed it away.

In the final forty minutes, the Canucks were thoroughly dominated and outshot 33-13. They looked outmatched and out of it. Scarily, it was eerily reminiscent of how they looked against the Ducks in the second round of the playoffs.

The Canucks were outshot 18-3 in the second period, though thanks to Roberto Luongo, they still held a 2-1 lead going into the third. It should have been enough. After all, going into tonight's game, no team had been able to beat them in regulation when leading after two periods. They had a league-best 26-0-1 record when leading after two periods. I guess there's a first time for everything.

It wasn't just the game they pissed away. Had the Canucks hung on for the win, they would have crawled to one point back of the Minnesota Wild for the Northwest Division title with one game in hand. They would have extended their lead to four and five points against the ninth place Nashville Predators (who, by the way, shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets last night) and tenth place Edmonton Oilers respectively. This morning, the Canucks are in seventh place, four points back of the Northwest Division lead and only a two and three point lead against the Predators and Oilers.

Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun) probably described this game the best:

After a roller-coaster season, it probably should come as no surprise that the Canucks are not going to make things easy on themselves as they head down the home stretch of the regular season.

Tuesday's game was in many ways a microcosm of their season. They were very good in the first period and then played terrible the rest of the way.

Who knows which team will show up tonight in Denver.
The Canucks are like a box of chocolates and all that.

If there is one positive after the loss, it's that the Canucks, amazingly enough, still control their own destiny. If they want to make the playoffs and even win their division, all they have to do is win their games. They don't need help from other teams. They just need to worry about their own.

As demoralizing as it was to piss away a couple of points last night, at least they don't have to sit for long and dwell over it. They get back at it against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. I hope the team that showed up in the first period is the team that shows up. And shows up for the entire game.

More from the MSM:

About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

Tonight against the Avs.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Family Comes First

Canucks fans need not worry when Roberto Luongo returns to Florida to be with his pregnant wife. After all, this sort of thing happens, and if you ask JS Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks, it just serves to show what is important in life. Besides, the story may even have a fairy tale ending.

If you remember last year, Giguere had to leave the team in the last week of the regular season for the birth of his son (Marcia C. Smith, OC Register).

On April 3, Giguere was enjoying a rare day off from hockey in his Newport Beach home when, about noon, his pregnant wife felt her water break.

Their son was arriving three weeks early. Known for his quick reaction time on the ice, Giguere called their doctor, packed some bags and drove to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills.

"I had always planned on being home for the birth," said Giguere, who married Kristen in the summer of 2003 after the Ducks' last trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. "It's too important not to be there."

He called Kristen's parents, who rushed to the delivery room, video cameras in hand. He tied on a paper gown and stood beside his wife, holding her leg as she labored.

Then, at 12:20 a.m. April 4, he watched Maxime Olivier Giguere — all 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 1/2 inches of him — wiggle into life.

Later that morning Giguere text-messaged his teammates, who had joked all season about Giguere's fatherhood arriving during the playoffs.
But that wasn't all. Little Maxime had a rare eye condition and JS had to stay behind for the Ducks' last road trip of the year and the start of the playoffs. After numerous tests and scans, doctors finally diagnosed the condition, and as we all know now, performed successful surgery. JS also returned to the Ducks and eventually won the Stanley Cup.

With all the talk in the last couple of days about what the Canucks would do when Gina's water finally breaks (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun; Marc Weber, Vancouver Province), well, it's simple really. Roberto will fly to Florida to be with Gina and Curtis Sanford will take the reins and Drew MacIntyre or Cory Schneider will back Sanford up. Family comes first and the rest will take care of itself.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Game Day Post: Canucks at Oilers

Thanks to their most recent run - 10 wins in 12 games - the Edmonton Oilers have crawled to within five points of a playoff spot (Joanne Ireland, Edmonton Journal):
The implications of tonight's task are staggering given that a win over the Vancouver Canucks will vault the Edmonton Oilers to within three points of eighth place in the Western Conference.

A loss, on the other hand, will result in a stubborn seven-point deficit.

Talk about a swing game.
Needless to say, there's a lot of optimism in Oil Country right now.

It's time to see if our Vancouver Canucks have any sort of killer instinct. A Canucks win tonight would essentially kill Edmonton's playoff chances. Going into tonight's game, the Canucks' magic number against Edmonton is 12 points; they have 9 games to get there. If they win tonight, that magic number goes down to 8 points in 8 games. Even if the Oilers could sweep their remaining games after tonight - and thus extend their run to 17 wins in 20 games (yeah sure) - they would still need a lot of help. 8 points in 8 games is only 50% of available points and the Northwest Division teams have been taking around 61% of the available points all season long.

Everyone remembers the last time the Canucks and the Oilers met - very entertaining game and lots of shenanigans in the dying seconds. Some are expecting much of the same (Robert Tychkowski, Edmonton Sun):
"It was just two teams going back and forth at each other," remembers Kyle Brodziak, one of seven Oilers who dropped the mitts that night. "Both teams really wanted to win that game and nobody was backing down. That's how it escalated."

"I think it's going to be a similar game to the last time we played them," predicted Brodziak. "It's a crucial game, both teams are hungry for the win, and they're a pretty hard-nosed team. We definitely can't back down from them in any way. We have to come out with the same urgency and same grit that they do."
I'm sure the game will be hard-hitting and all that, but unless the score's lopsided for either team, I doubt that we'll be seeing Fight Night at the Rexall this time around. There's simply too much at stake for both teams to be running around like stupid. Just in case, however, the Canucks will be ready (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):
"We're going to ice a lineup that can take care of itself and go in and play a hard game." -- Canucks coach Alain Vigneault

Rick Rypien was in the minors and Nathan McIver a spectator the last time the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers met in a memorable melee.

The Bruise Brothers won't be bystanders tonight in the Alberta capital. Rexall Place could be turned into Wreck-All Place if punch-ups play a part in the push to the playoffs.
With Mason Raymond out for at least the rest of the regular season, Ryan Shannon will also draw into the lineup and play next to Henrik Sedin and Taylor Pyatt (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province).

More from today's MSM:
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Coyotes 1 Canucks 3

I've ordered the Canucks pay-per-view game on Shaw seven times this season. I've had problems five of those times. Last night, I missed the last 10 minutes of the game because the screen blacked out. It was stupid. Fucking stupid. (Or maybe I am for forking out the money anyway.)

For those who want a refund, the number is (604) 629-8888. You can also send an email from this link:

https://secure.shaw.ca/need_help/Request_Help_Form.asp

They'll offer you a refund of anywhere of $4.32 because they claim that there was only ten minutes left in the game. I'm personally of the opinion that we should all get full refunds but I'll leave it to you to think if $4 is fair or not.

*****

The Canucks looked a lot more interested last night than the last time they played Phoenix (the 2-0 loss). As he'd done all season, Luongo shut the door. For the first time in a long time, the Sedins provided the offense. As was expected, Rick Rypien and Nathan McIver didn't let the Coyotes throw their weight around. If the Canucks were intimidated last time around, they weren't last night, and in fact, controlled a good chunk of the game.

While the Morrison, Naslund and Pettinger line didn't show up on the score sheet, I thought they had another great game. Naslund and Morrison looked like they may have rekindled some chemistry from their WCE days. Pettinger hasn't looked out of place either and seemed to be able to read where Nazzy and Mo were going.

If this line could be a consistent threat, then it's obviously good news for the Canucks but especially good news for the Sedins. It certainly makes the opposition coaches think twice about who they want defending which line. I don't think it's a coincidence that, one game after combining for nine points, Nazzy, Mo and Pettinger faced Ed Jovanovski for most of the game. The Sedins faced Keith Ballard and Derek Morris and took full advantage.

*****

Does injury news even surprise us anymore? This time, Mason Raymond is expected to be out of the lineup for four weeks with a second degree MCL sprain (TSN.ca).

After the game, Alain Vigneault wasn't pleased:


"In my opinion it was a dirty hit," Vigneault said. "I can't see how they couldn't have seen that, knee-on-knee. I hope the league is going to review it."
Alanah (Canucks and Beyond) has the Youtube video:



I agree with Alanah. The hit was definitely a knee-to-knee, though I can't tell if Ballard intentionally stuck out his knee. Raymond's quick and Ballard's not. To me, it just seemed that Ballard went for the hit, Raymond kinda got by him and Ballard ended up getting him late. Tough call for sure, but even tougher break for Raymond, who's really been one of the Canucks' bright spots this season.

More from the MSM:

Next game:

Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Pronger Gets Eight Games

The verdict is in. Chris Pronger gets suspended eight games for his stomp on Ryan Kesler (TSN.ca):
The National Hockey League has handed Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger an eight-game suspension for stomping on Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler in a game Wednesday night.

The team has nine games remaining in the regular season, starting Saturday night against the St. Louis Blues. He is eligible to return for the team's final game on Apr. 6 against the Phoenix Coyotes.
I suppose it's better than nothing. Though it would've been nice, I wasn't expecting him to get the same 30 games that Chris Simon got. I thought though that the action alone would have been worth at least ten games. I mean, it's not like Pronger has been suspended seven times before. Oh, wait a minute. Instead, because the Ducks have nine regular season games left, Pronger gets a nice little rest before the playoffs start.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

More on Kesler/Pronger

For those who haven't seen the clearer video clip of Chris Pronger going Michael Flatley on Ryan Kesler, here it is:



Pronger didn't get suspended over this stomp. Chris Simon got 30 games. The argument was that the video was inconclusive, nor does it show intent.

Number one, the new video is definitely clearer and you see Pronger looking down on Kesler before putting his skate on his calf. Number two, intent is never an easy thing to judge, which is why I think professional sports should discipline players based on their actions. Of course no one intends to hurt another player on purpose, but, intentionally or not, they do sometimes, right? They do the crime, they do the time.

Thankfully, Kesler wasn't hurt, but what if he was? I would bet that Chris Pronger would have gotten the Chris Simon treatment (or something close to it). The sad thing is, until someone does get hurt, the league doesn't give two hoots about it.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Canucks 1 Ducks 4

Something that was mentioned during last night's broadcast but not talked about much afterwards was Chris Pronger's alleged stomp on Ryan Kesler's calf (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun):

Chris Pronger stomped on Ryan Kesler, and the Anaheim Ducks stomped on the Vancouver Canucks.

Kesler, fortunately, was alright. We'll see about the Canucks, who provided little initial resistance and were beaten 4-1 here Wednesday, halting their three-game winning streak and stalling their National Hockey League playoff drive.

Kesler, cross-checked from behind by Pronger after scoring earlier this season, appeared to be deliberately stepped on by one of the league's dirtiest players when the Canuck fell at the Duck captain's feet after delivering a check in the second period.

"He stomped on me," Kesler said. "He got me on the calf."

If true -- and it appeared to be -- it was an especially despicable act by Pronger, whose teammate Corey Perry is currently out six weeks after suffering a skate cut to his leg.
Tom Larscheid was the one who mentioned it on air and I don't know if Kes is the type to make this kind of thing up. (I can't find the video anywhere, but I'd appreciate a link if any of you find it.) The thing is, I wouldn't put it past Pronger to do something like that. We all know that he's a heckuva defenseman. We also know that he's a heckuva bully.

Not that the Canucks offered much resistance. As dominant as they were against the Kings the other night, they were just as passive last night. The Sedins got pounded in front of the net. Naslund got pounded by Francois Beauchemin on a (nice) open ice hit. And the worst part was that there was no retribution. The Canucks looked scared, played scared and looked like they just wanted to head straight to Phoenix.

More on the game from today's MSM:

Next game:

Tonight against the Coyotes.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hughson Leaving Sportsnet

It's official. Jim Hughson is leaving Sportsnet after this season (Cam Cole, Vancouver Sun).

Tough job: Replacing Bob Cole. Tougher job: Replacing Jim Hughson.

Stepping into the shoes of one of our nation's iconic voices on the oldest sports television program still on the air, Hockey Night in Canada -- a process that will begin for Hughson once his exclusive six-year contract with the CBC kicks in after this season -- is no small task.
No, it's not.

Hughson, simply, is one of the best. Canucks fans know it. Most others acknowledge it. Like any good NHL GM would, CBC pounced on an opportunity to sign him to a good, long-term free agent contract.

Good for him. Not so much for Canucks fans. He's been a voice for Canucks games since 1994. He also filled in for the legendary Jim Robson in the early '80's (wiki). Needless to say, we've gotten accustomed to his play-by-play calls, his delivery and his put-downs of John Garrett. If there's any bit of good news for us, it's that Hughson has mentioned that he will still be doing a few of the Canucks' HNIC games.

Whoever replaces Hughson will have big shoes to fill. TEAM 1040's running a poll right now as to who it should be. Their choices are:

  • John Shorthouse
  • Don Taylor
  • Kevin Quinn
  • Peter Loubardias
  • Dave Randorf.
In other polls, I've seen Joey Kenward (Vancouver Giants) and Dan Russell (CKNW) mentioned as well.

I'd love to see Shorty and Randorf get a chance, though getting Shorty on Sportsnet would mean having to replace him AND Larscheid on the radio side. I heard Kevin Quinn a couple of weeks ago and he was okay. I don't like the way Loubardias calls a goal and I don't know much about Joey Kenward. And Dan Russell... well, let me put it this way... the day he calls a Canucks game on Sportsnet is the day I watch a Canucks game on mute.

What do you guys think?

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Saturday, March 08, 2008

Game Day Post: Blues at Canucks

Finally, some good news (Jason Botchford, The Ice Hole):

The Canucks received some surprisingly good news Saturday.

Not only did Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler get medical clearance to play but so did Mattias Ohlund who, just a few days ago, many people thought would miss the rest of the regular season because of bone chips in his knee.

The pain and swelling in Ohlund's knee have subsided and it's a good bet he will play Saturday against St. Louis.

"He looked fine this morning ... and if he looks good in warmup and says he can play, he'll play," Vigneault said.

Ohlund said he felt ready.
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Thursday, March 06, 2008

Predators 2 Canucks 6

There were a lot of good things to like about the Canucks' 6-2 win over the Nashville Predators. They played, perhaps, one of their most complete games of the season and six different guys scored. Most importantly, they overtook the Predators and put themselves back in a playoff position. Unfortunately, I think what most people will be talking about tomorrow is the stupid ending to a good game.

Jordan Tootoo is an ass. With a little more than a minute left in the game, he charged at Aaron Miller and injured him with a late hit. Then when Luc Bourdon tried to get at him, he cross-checked Bourdon to the face. Was he trying to defend himself from Luc? Of course. Did he need to introduce his stick to Bourdon's face in the process? Of course not. This is exactly the kind of bullshit the league should be eliminating.

The thing is, this isn't Tootoo's first cheap shot. He's a repeat offender and this is already his third such offence in a year. And that's not counting some of his less-publicized late hits. Last season, he did the same thing to Stephane Robidas, albeit with a glove instead of a stick. Earlier this season, he took a run at Daniel Winnik's head. Apparently, Tootoo's a slow learner.

I'm curious to find out if the league will review the incident and issue some sort of additional punishment. If they weren't planning on it, then they should. I love hard-hitting hockey as much as the next guy, but I'm sick and tired of this kind of cheap shit.

I'll post more in the morning.

[update: 03/07/2008, 6:09 PM]

After a good night's sleep, I'm less foaming at the mouth this morning. I hope Alain Vigneault is too (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province).
"I'm just trying to get the game over with," said Vigneault. "It's 6-2 and I don't know why things like that happen and why a player would run 100 feet with the game over. No respect for the game and no respect for the opposition.

"There's a few of that type in the league and hopefully the league will deal with it."
Hopefully.

One other thing that will probably overshadow the Canucks' offensive outburst is the possibility that Kevin Bieksa will be suspended for his *ahem* instigator penalty late in the game.

You be the judge (the clip also includes a replay of Tootoo's cheap shot too if you want to get your blood boiling like mine was last night).



To end on a happier note... It was refreshing to see the swagger back in the boys' play last night and I hope they can get on a roll. They host St. Louis tomorrow and then play eight of their next ten games on the road. Heading out with a little momentum going their way won't hurt.

More from the MSM:
About the game around the blogosphere:
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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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Game Day Post: Predators at Canucks

It was fun to have the Canucks' top-six defensemen together for a couple of games *snicker snicker*, but alas, another injury has befallen one of them (Vancovuer Province).
Mattias Ohlund had an MRI (magnetic resonance image) on Wednesday to evaluate the extent of a knee injury he suffered Tuesday in Denver.
Luc Bourdon was called up to replace Ohlund in the lineup.

Tonight's as good a night as any to get a win streak going. They win and they're back in eighth place in the Western Conference. They win and the Avs lose to the Ducks and they're back in sixth. They lose and they burn the game in hand they have over the Coyotes who, after beating the Stars last night, are only a point back of the Canucks now.

To say that this is a huge game would be understating it.

More previews from today's MSM:
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Canucks 1 Avalanche 2

The good news is, the Canucks seem to have found their secondary scoring. The bad news is, their primary scorers are nowhere to be found.

After a 2-1 loss to the Avalanche last night, the Canucks extended their losing streak to four games and dropped to ninth place in the Western Conference. In those four games, they've scored a grand total of six goals and Sedin-Sedin-Naslund contributed a grand total of one assist.

In fact, Sedin-Sedin-Naslund have been quite quiet for six games now. The team scored 13 goals in span; none were scored by those three. So who's been doing the scoring? These guys:

  • Shannon - 2 goals, 3 assists
  • Kesler - 3 goals
  • Raymond, Salo, Edler - 2 goals, 1 assist
  • Burrows - 1 goal, 1 assist
  • Pyatt, Ohlund, Mitchell - 2 assists
Obviously, much, much more is expected from Sedin-Sedin-Naslund. What is disappointing is that three of the last four games were one-goal games and even getting just one timely goal from them could have been the difference between four losses in a row and three wins in four games. Maybe it's just a coincidence, but Vigneault took Naslund off the Sedin line four games ago.

Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) offers two trains of thought. The more optimistic one says:

Depending on how you looked at things, in fact, the Vancouver Canucks were sitting in an enviable position before they skated into Denver to meet the Colorado Avalanche, and they're still not that badly off. They're in a three-way cluster around the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference and hold games in hand over both the Nashville Predators and the Avs.

They're still 6-3-5 over their last 14 games and they're very much alive in the Northwest Division pennant race.
The other one, not so much:

I mean, it almost seems pointless to go over it all again but if you wondered why so few still believe in the Canucks the evidence was on display again Tuesday night. Watching this team trying to score goals is like watching someone trying to pass a kidney stone.

Their best players seem to be incapable of changing the momentum of a game. That lack of offence puts too much pressure on Roberto Luongo to play like Superman every night and even Luongo isn't good enough to get this team in the playoffs the way they're playing.

If that wasn't enough, it now seems the Canucks' defensive corps, which was supposed to be the strength of the team, has been vastly overrated. They're not supplying offence. The Canucks still surrendered 31 shots Tuesday night.
I agree that it's too early to jump off the bandwagon. I just wish the team wouldn't make it so hard to stay on it.

More from the MSM:

About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

Tomorrow night against the Nashville Predators

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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:08 AM | permalink/comments (2) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |