Everyone over that frustrating loss Monday night? Good. Dwelling on past losses makes about as much sense as looking forward past games you still have to play. Learn from your mistakes and move on. And there's a game tonight that requires the Canucks full and total focus. Divisional games matter most, and after a couple frustrating efforts where less than 60 minutes of effort was turned in by this team (in Saturday's case they barely even checked in), I would hope that we see a return to form after this brief hiccup. It's not like there's anything to worry about, the Canucks have been playing some fantastic hockey for a while now and a step backward was inevitable. And no better way to head into a road trip than with a convincing, confidence building win at home against a divisional rival. The Canucks sent a message to the Wild in their last meeting as they continued to make up ground on the (at the time) league-leading Wild with a 4-0 pounding. Now that they're 3 points ahead, it's time to put all thoughts of Minnesota somehow regaining that perch out of their heads.
Like the Canucks losing a couple games, another thing that was inevitable was that the power play would cool off. Not sure what's happened with it of late, but the power play that was at times as safe a bet as anything is struggling. The contributions from the defence have dried up and Daniel Sedin doesn't have a PP goal since Dec. 4th. They look scrambly, and the quality of chances just doesn't seem to be there at the moment. Whether it's just bad luck or something that needs to be adjusted, I am sure that like other times this has happened, Asst. Coach Newell Brown will make the necessary changes.
The good news is that heading into this road trip the Canucks are getting healthy, and both David Booth and Aaron Rome will rejoin the team at some point during the trip. It's going to require some line shuffling for sure, which will no doubt send panic-stricken fans to the streets to complain about any possible impact it has on Cody Hodgson's ice time. Cam had a great post on it yesterday but to be honest I am surprised there's so much being made of this, because it seems like the most basic of math: When your #1 center is a Hart trophy winner, and #2 is the defending Selke winner, your rookie is either going to get 3rd or 4th line minutes. It's as simple as that. On other teams, there would definitely be an issue, and you'd likely see Hodgson get more ice time. This is the Vancouver Canucks however. Oh the downfall of having the kind of depth that your top 15 draft pick has to play 3rd line minutes. This will be a non-issue when this team is rolling 4 lines in the playoffs.
The Wild are themselves getting healthier, as they get Devin Setoguchi and Casey Wellman back tonight, and as a result will look a little more like the team that got off to such a great start this season. Not that injuries should be used as an excuse mind you, but I am sure we will see a little more game from them than we saw in their last visit. One thing's for sure: the Wild have certainly fallen back to earth, and the age old problem that plagues this team is once again present: they don't score enough goals. That's why this team has just one win in their last 10. They were getting phenomenal defensive play and goaltending, but all goalies falter at one point. Regressing to the mean? Perhaps. But the Wild (and the Kings for that matter) aren't likely to have sustained success with their inability to score goals. They may make it into the playoffs, but keep an eye on the ROW # of those teams (and Colorado as well). The Gary Bettman Happy Circus Trick Shot Points that make them look like good teams will not help them come April.
Last night's WJC Semi Final loss by Team Canada to the Russians is a bitter pill for many to swallow, but hopefully will signal that changes need to be made in the way Hockey Canada approaches this tournament. Much was said as they headed out of the selection camp about the importance of putting together a team with 4 distinct, defined lines rather than simply selecting the best players available. There were some who questioned the list of players at the camp to begin with (this is hardly new), but it seems that this time these fears may have been warranted. This tournament is supposed to showcase the best players of each nation. Last night some responded to my statement on Twitter that the heads of Hockey Canada should be made accountable for this loss and a 3rd straight year with no gold medal. It's clearly HC's mandate to win gold at this tournament every year. So some of you said that the number of superstars that came from this program prove things aren't so bad. Two things make me think otherwise: First, if the number of good Canadian players is an indication of success, then why aren't they sending the best players every time. Secondly, the longer Hockey Canada is in denial about this nation's inability to produce goaltenders for a number of years now, the more we will have to accept not winning this tournament. Don't blame the kids. They got behind after getting out played by a Russian team who got some brutal lucky bounces in the first period (gotta be good to be lucky I know, but come on, that was ridiculous), and almost pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks of all time. They will face the Finns tomorrow for Bronze. My hope is that the result of another WJC without a championship brings the changes needed. It starts with this tournament, but the ripple effects will be felt at the World Championships and Olympics... The New Year doesn't look like it's gonna get any less busy for Brendan Shanahan. He's got another phone call with Rene Bourque of the Flames after Bourque threw this elbow to the face of Washington's Nicklas Backstrom.
Nasty, and his second appearance before the Shanahammer in less than a month. Surprising to see him do this after having a clean record before his 2 game ban for a hit from behind on Brent Seabrook of the Blackhawks... Speaking of the Blackhawks, they're gonna be without Daniel Carcillo for a while, and not just because he will be suspended. He seems to have severely injured his leg on the dirty shove from behind on Edmonton's Tom Gilbert.
With rumblings coming out of Chicago that Carcillo will be going under the knife, any suspension would have to be served after he recovers, one would think. We will keep an eye on this one... New York Rangers coach John Tortorella issued an apology today for comments he made after the Rangers 3-2 win in Monday's Winter Classic game in Philadelphia, saying his comments alluding to a conspiracy between the NHL and NBC to see the game get to overtime and the quality of officiating in the 3rd period of said game were 'disgusting' were simply sarcastic comments. Okay then. The best part of all this? "I tainted the Winter Classic with my mouth and I shouldn’t have," Tortorella said at Rangers practice this morning. "They were sarcastic comments by me at the wrong time, and it was frustration on my part, as far as the referees on my part and what was done at the end of the game." Hockey's newest meme has arrived... Alex Ovechkin apparently spit on Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Ovechkin denies this, of course... Finally, please take a moment to head over to our pals at Hockey Wilderness to read about Minnesota high school hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was left paralyzed by a hit from behind. There are links there on how you can send support to his family, as well as some messages of support from NHL'ers (including the Canucks' Chris Higgins).
BAND OF THE DAY- MESHUGGAH
Their name is a slight bastardization of the Yiddish word for 'crazy', an apt description of this daring extreme metal act from Sweden. Metal's connection to jazz has never been so evident in bands such as these guys, who take musical experimentation to new levels with each new album. They have an as yet untitled album coming out March 27th, in the meantime here's a psychotic trip down the Meshuggah path...