So much to cover and so little time and space. As so many of you have mentioned, October is done and not a moment too soon. The Canucks ushered out a washout of a month with a rather entertaining 7-4 win over the 1st place Washington Capitals, and while it was hardly perfect, if you're looking for perfection right now you're missing the point. This was exactly what they needed to get going: A sign of their previous offensive superiority returning, some adversity that they could tackle effectively, better special teams and most importantly: signs of life in the crease. You may look at a game where the goaltender lets in 4 goals as nothing to be happy about. But after the start that Roberto Luongo had, and the save he made on Alex Ovechkin, that one save might be the turning point. The team now heads out on the road, taking on a number of foes that should be beatable, as well as some that will provide a challenge, and a good indication of where they're at as far as making another Cup run. The fun all starts tonight in Calgary against a team that we love to see them beat in the Flames. More about tonight's matchup, my take on the Raffi Torres controversy, and a look at what the Canucks have in common with Kevin Bacon. Seriously...
While the Canucks are not as bad as their 5-5-1 record indicates, one wonders if the Flames are as good as their 4-4-1 mark. They're struggling to score, and when you look at their personnel, once again you see the problem with the Flames (one of them, anyways). After Jarome Iginla, there's not a ton of talent there compared to most teams, hell even compared to others in their division. They do have Rene Bourque, but with rumblings surfacing recently that he wants out, and a list of guys that all seem to have passed their shelf life, they will once again try and depend heavily on Miikka Kiprusoff to... what's that? They want to try and play Henrik Karlsson more to rest Kiprusoff? Oh god, they're screwed. While it's an admirable thing to try and fix one of the flaws that has kept them from any type of success since they went to the finals in 2004, there's not much indication that Karlsson is going to give the Flames what Cory Schneider brought to the Canucks last season. And looking at the stats thus far, Kipper is posting numbers normal for him, Karlsson? Just 1 of a possible 4 points for the team so far.
While as a Canucks fan I probably shouldn't care, I often wondered why the Flames were so reluctant to actually go into the rebuild mode? It's dishonest to their fanbase to keep selling them a product that has no business being in the playoffs, despite how well they finished up last year. This team is old, there's not much for them to go to as far as prospects, and they've made some ridiculously bad trades and signings over the years. The flaming hubris that Jay Feaster inherited from Darryl Sutter? I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But a group of aging veterans that are looking more and more like they can't get it done, and lots of money tied up in unmovable contracts means quite simply the Flames are going to have to suffer longer until Feaster can fix the problems. That one Stanley Cup win is now decades old, and losing relevance with every passing season. Their reluctance and inability to change will see them on the outside looking in... again.
The Canucks will roll with the same lineup that defeated Washington, though we can expect the return of Aaron Rome to the lineup since he suffered a broken finger in the preseason. Speculation that it will be Keith Ballard sitting instead of Alexander Sulzer is a clear indication that Ballard's regression after what seemed to be a good start isn't sitting well with Alain Vigneault. The question is: does this work as a motivational tool for Ballard, or is it just more of what we saw last season, where Ballard has to wait for someone to go down to get back into the lineup?
Now, onto Raffi Torres. Nothing earth-shattering here in terms of my thoughts on it. Was it racist? No. But, as Canucks Army's Thomas Drance and Puck Daddy's Harrison Mooney both stated in their well-written pieces on the subject, the problem is people, Raffi included not recognizing the historical significance of blackface and it's implied statement. If white people had endured decades of ridicule through the field of entertainment by blacks, in the same manner that white entertainers did to them then they might be right in bringing up Dwayne Wade's appearance as Justin Timberlake. But it's not. We haven't moved past the ugliness of racism enough to be able to have a portion of the community not be outraged by this. The discussion helps, but one of the biggest stumbling blocks seems to be an unawareness on the part of Canadians of just how contentious this issue is compared to our friends south of the border. Either way, I imagine Raffi, a victim of racist abuse in the past, is a little overwhelmed by all the attention. I guarantee, while it wasn't malicious he will certainly put a bit more thought into the costumes he and his wife wear next Halloween.
While I was discussing this with Harrison via GChat last night, I remarked that all of the news in the league, most notably the negative stuff seemed to be able to find it's way on the Canucks doorstep for one reason or another. It hit me as I realized "Oh my god... we're the hockey version of Kevin Bacon". You've heard of the game, where because of the small size of the Hollywood Community, any actor or actress can be linked through their roles to our pal Kev in no more than 6 steps. Try it out and see for yourself. Okay, so it's silly. But the point I am trying to make is something that we have talked about a lot leading into this season, and something in the news again after we saw Don Cherry take shots at the team on Coach's Corner Saturday night. It doesn't matter what the Canucks or their fans do: someone out there is gonna make a stink about it. It's a sign we're doing something right, and it's not gonna change. Best to embrace that hate, and have some fun with it.
BAND OF THE DAY- SHORT SHARP SHOCK
As you might have seen, I am growing a mustache in support of Movember, to raise funds for Prostate Cancer awareness, so to keep with that theme, a fun little ditty from the UK's Short Sharp Shock (or SSS for short) and a track off their 2nd release 'The Dividing Line'. Make sure you check out my page at http://mobro.co/KentBaskyNM for updates and to donate to the effort.
and a bonus track today... because I am sure some of you were wondering about the title of the post. It's from Death Angel's "Road Mutants" off 1988's 'Frolic Through The Park'