Those road warriors in Blue & Green are returning home after taking 3 of 4 on an Eastern swing (with a stop in St. Louis for some ribs and advice from The Cock). If it seems like the Canucks have been playing a lot lately, it's because they have, dumbass. The Canucks have played more games than most teams in the NHL, and over the next couple weeks, that gap is gonna get closed. And yes, it's very likely they will get knocked off of their perch atop the NHL. I would like to point out to you young whippersnappers that many thought that the Canucks might take the Western Conference, but thought it unlikely they would lead the league again. Yet here they are in mid-January, looking like they're ready to make it 2 straight Presidents' Trophy wins. Now much like all the personal accolades, this is all well and fine, but doesn't matter to me. I would like to see them win it again solely for ensuring home ice through the playoffs and nothing more. Now, it's time for you to sit down and shut up while Zandberg, Yankee and I tell you what we liked and hated this week...
Ol' Man Zandberg Liked: I think with this roadtrip, people really didn't know what to think. Many forecasted a severe beating at the hands of the Bruins, a Florida sweep and a loss in St. Louis. It's funny, because none of these games turned out like we thought, mainly due to these teams not being like we remember them. Okay, the Bruins haven't changed much, but Florida is definitely a better team than we've seen in years, and the seemingly crazy changes made by GM Dale Tallon and new coach Kevin Dineen might see the Florida Panthers playing playoff hockey for the first time in ages. And as surprisingly good as the Panthers have been this season, the Tampa bay Lightning have been shockingly bad. This team came within a game of being our opponent in the Finals last year, and this year, with nearly the same cast as last season, they're underperforming in a massive way.
So despite faltering in Florida, the Canucks came back the next night and battled through to win in the shootout against Tampa despite giving up a late goal. Then two nights later they went into St. Louis and against the hottest goalie in the NHL, took him down in OT. People complain if the Canucks struggle, especially in games that the leader board tells us they should have no trouble with. The problem with that line of thinking is that it completely discounts Gary Bettman's mantra: parity. The NHL has worked tirelessly to create it, and it really is true that nearly all these teams can beat any other team on any given night. Now this doesn't explain how bloody awful the Islanders and Blue Jackets are, but for the most part, you really can't take a night off. The game against Florida showed that. But the fact that the Canucks looked and played like a tired team over the last 7 days and came out of it with 6 of 8 points impressed the hell out of me. It shows that in spite of injuries and a tough schedule, this team is preparing for another long playoff run. The odds of them getting another shot in the finals aren't the greatest. This team is showing they care not so much about things like odds, and are finding ways to prove naysayers wrong.
WHAT I LIKED:
The Canucks, despite their inconsistent efforts, went 3-1 on that road trip, and you have to say "screw the style points" sometimes and just be happy with the winning. It doesn't work for Charlie Sheen, but it sure does with our Vancouver Canucks
. I honestly believe the boys will bear down at a more consistent level later on in the season. But as of now..it's a long damned season. What team busts their balls night in and night out during the regular season? If you want more consistent efforts then pray for a shorter regular season, or for only the top 8 teams in the NHL making the playoffs. Our Canucks are so good that they CAN take half a night off and still win. It is what it is. But if they do that shit in the playoffs I will kill their pets...one by one.
My favorite part of last week? Simple. The Canucks goaltending! Woo! Yes Cory Schneider is solid, but the magnifying glass isn't on him. It's on Roberto Luongo, and he is playing stellar right now and over the past several weeks. Remember those 2 consecutive breakaway stops against the Blues? Yeah...he's the shit. The only Lou hating going on is from the morons that blame him for the losses against the Bruins in the Cup Finals. Yeah, get over it. That Canucks failure was a TEAM FAILURE. But forget about that. The Canucks have a masterful 2-tier goalie tandem right now and well, it's not going to change unless Mike Gillis trades it away.
Have any of you found yourselves forgetting about David Booth over the past month? I know I have. This team is deep enough that his absence doesn't even matter much. Even that in itself has me excited about this team's chances.
Yankee 'In my day...' Canuck:
Trends. I like 'em. They make me happy. Not clothing trends (says the guy who frankly still has the style of Kurt Cobain circa 1991) but career percentages.
Take one Mr. Burrows. His two scores give him 18 on the year and on pace for 36 by April. That would be a career best. Additionally he's on pace for a 57 point season which would be his best since his breakout in 2009-10. Besides I love it when Mr. Everything scores since I'm convinced it pisses off other fans and causes the unhinged
ones to hurl their Bud Lights at their 14 inch televisions. Good.
Or how about that All Star defenseman? Edler's three points in three games this week is good enough to cement him as the third highest scoring defenseman in the league. Fun trend: he's on pace for a career best 14 goals and a (ridiculous) 62 point season, putting him with a hair of Doug Lidster's franchise-best 63 points for a defenseman in 1986-87. And because I'm an ass, a kind reminder that Ehrhoff is on pace for 34 points.
Everything Hansen does now if breaking his records too. He's on pace for a 47 point season and he's already surpassed his career best in goals damn near last month.
In sad news: both Sedins are projected to finished a few points beneath their stellar production from last season. In sadder news: they're still sitting on top of the league in points so keep up with those cardboard cutouts Boston moms, it's working well.
More more fun note: I went back and checked when the Canucks locked down their 28th win of the season last year. Answer: Their 42nd game on January 11 with a 4-3 SO win over the Islanders
. This season? Answer: Their 45th game on January 12 this week in St. Louis. (*claps and rubs hands together while muttering "excellent" and petting the mad cat
Remember I said I'm an ass, so I'll part with two words: Dan Carcillo. WHAT I HATEDYankee 'In my day...' Canuck:
It WAS going to be a toss up between Hodgson's dwindling minutes (need
I remind you I have his mug tattooed on mine
?!) or the early starts in Florida which meant I missed half the games. But for the second week straight going I'm turning the cross hairs back at the media, this time the always laughable Sports Illustrated (pop quiz: ask ten friends if they subscribe to that magazine and when they say no have them ask ten friends and so on. Once you get to the poor misguided soul who still uses an AOL account and actually has a subscription, roll up said magazine and smack them on the face). Courtesy of that rag (who polled
a mere 19% of the league, or about 1 in every five NHL players), Kesler and Luongo made their top 15 most overrated players. Absolute comedy, but that didn't stop Vancouver media from asking them about it
; and getting the typical response from the players. Like last week's Boston hilarity wasn't enough, we're going to give this type of story legs? Facepalm.
I'll part here with the only word that counts: standings.
WHAT I HATED- I hated that this week, with the exception of Roberto Luongo, the Canucks best players weren't their best players. I understand getting tired. And let's face it, the Canucks really have played a lot of hockey over the last few weeks, and a lot of it has been on the road. Not all of this bad play can be discounted via fatigue however. Kevin Bieksa
has spent good chunks of the last few games coasting. Ryan Kesler's been invisible at times. Even the Sedins have left me scratching my heads. Look at the game in Florida. Best Canucks player on the ice? Manny Malhotra
. Not a good sign, especially against a team like Florida that can hold their own this season against the league's best. You know what else I hated? The slant on the whole Bruins/Canucks aftermath. Despite the Canucks going out of their way not to talk about it from Monday forward, the whole thing was presented as a war of words between the two teams for days after the game. It couldn't be further from the truth, as the Bruins continued to yap for a couple more days, spewing hypocritical garbage and outright lies. But hey, it sure was entertaining watching Brad Marchand
prove his rat status by ratting out Shawn 'The Brave Little Tailor' Thornton in his accusations of cowardice against Dale Weise
. Marchand admitted Weise really was challenging Adam McQuaid
, and that Thornton tried to jump in, Weise being smarter than we gave him credit for, declined. Either way, there was one team carrying this on far longer than it needed to, and that was the defending 'Champians'.
Ol' Man Zandberg:
- 3 games this past week: Florida, Tampa and St. Boois. Inconsistent efforts in all 3 games, including large portions of the games where most of the boys looked out of sync, fatigued and /or uncaring. The Sedins angered me more than anyone else in those 3 games. Too many turnovers due to lazy passing. They looked like they were playing in an All-Star Game with that shit. I wanted them to bear down more. Can I forgive them because they each had 2 points against the Blues
and finished them in overtime? Fuuuuuu.....yes I can.
What else grinded my gears? Hmmm....oh yes...the on-going aftermath of the Canucks-Bruins
game from last Saturday dragged into this week with even the coaches trash talking back and forth. I did my best to avoid reading any of it. Trash journalism everywhere. So many pompous assholes who dig for dirt to get higher hit counts and readership so they can get paid and laid. This kind of soap opera / school bus mentality bullshit is almost becoming bigger than the game itself. Thanks social networking. It's horse shit. Forgotten, to me anyway, was the entertaining-as-hell hockey game that Saturday. God it was great. I sat on the edge of my seat the whole time. Sure...both teams didn't play their finest but so what? I was entertained! Fuck the sideshow bullshit. That was a fun game to watch. I even played against the Bruins on NHL 12 afterwards to beat those bastards again. God I hate them.
Speaking of bullshit....tonight I watched the Canucks-Rangers
Game 7 from the 1994 Finals. Why do I put myself through that agony? Because it was a great game with a shitty outcome. I'm still proud of that team that almost beat the Yankees of hockey. Aside from that, what I really noticed in that game was all the hooking and grabbing that went un-penalized and that players today would never get away with and you know what? I would rather the game of hockey today resembled hockey from back then. Let the guys obstruct opposing players to a greater degree. Screw the competition committee! Yeah, they want an exciting brand of hockey blah blah fucking blah. There are way too many penalties now. There are way too many opportunities for refs to make marginal / wrong calls with all these obstruction rules. I mean to the point where a player puts his stick in a guy's midsection without tugging and gets penalized. BULLSHIT. In that 1994 classic the refs let them play for the whole game. Nowadays they put their whistles away at the 10:00 mark of the 3rd, and sometimes not. I don't like it. The refs have too much power now. They can swing games. KILL THE OBSTRUCTION RULES.