Here's today's earworm. True Story: I had this stuck in my head during the entire length of Bush's Presidency. So you're welcome, and I am so, so sorry...
Seems kind of odd to be playing a Western Conference opponent for the first time this late in the season, but it is what it is, and you better get used to the ugly mugs wearin' green, because we're gonna see a lot of them in a very short time frame. The Canucks will face these Dallas Stars 4 times over the space of the next 5 weeks, and with Dallas clinging to the 8th and final playoff spot by the skin of their teeth, there will be no shortage of animosity. For a while it looked like Dallas had turned things around after a couple dreadful seasons, and were ready to hit the postseason once again. Injuries and lackluster play brought them back down to earth, and they're now locked in that dogfight in the Pacific Division, San Jose a mere 3 points up and division leading Phoenix just 5 points ahead.
The debate may rage about whether the parity in the NHL is manufactured, but it's certainly going to lead to some exciting races down the stretch. Throw the Central and NorthWest Division teams in there and the playoff picture's as clear as mud right now, with Vancouver and Detroit the only two that resemble a lock for the post season, while Edmonton and Columbus are the only ones truly out of the race. The Stars came very close to making the playoffs last season, but blew it on the last game of the season, allowing Chicago to back their way into that 8th spot and a 3rd consecutive date with us. I'll let you ponder that for a while...
With the loss of Brad Richards' offence the Stars have struggled to score goals, and injuries to captain Brendan Morrow and Victoria, BC's Jamie Benn (currently out with a Kevin Bieksa style skate laceration to his leg) certainly haven't helped matters. And because the Stars don't or can't score a ton of goals, they've been leaning heavily on a stifling defensive style to keep them close, which is good, because I know you all wish we could play Minnesota more often, right?
The Canucks have played a ton of games in a very short period once again, and the exhaustion factor was evident Friday night in New Jersey. The fact that they were able to muster as much effort as they did is a testament to the work the team has done with sleep studies and trying to maximize their time off between games effectively. Of course the biggest factor Friday was Cory Schneider coming in as he's done all season and shutting the door, allowing the Canucks to steal a game. The Canucks have had a pretty decent run against Dallas of late, and haven't lost to the Stars on the road since November of 2009. Roberto Luongo will be your starting goalie tonight while the Stars will likely counter with Kari Lehtonen.
No other changes for the Canucks except for Sami Salo returning in place of Andrew Alberts. Salo was given Friday off to rest, and Alberts to his credit played a fairly decent game. Another Canucks defenceman who's looked cool as ice is Chris Tanev, continuing to impress since his return to the Canucks after spending the bulk of the season in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. Tanev's ability to read the play and make smart, safe plays under pressure belies his age and experience, and certainly gives us something to look forward to as he continues to mature.
Trade deadline looms in the background of this game, and with Keith Ballard being placed on LTIR yesterday by the Canucks, there's a lot of speculation that Mike Gillis, with this newly found cap space, will be making a move to tweak things heading into the post season. A lot of current speculation revolves around Stars' agitator Steve Ott. He's an absolute dick to play against, and given the choice I think Brendan Morrow would be a much better fit, but with Morrow suffering from back issues, there's a possibility we could see Ott move this way, if the Canucks and Stars ownership don't get in the way, that is... St Louis has sent their 3rd stringer Ben Bishop to Ottawa for a 2nd round pick in 2013, which is what you can do when you have Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott playing the way they are... Speaking of Ottawa, Kyle Turris has a date with the Shanahammer today after his boarding penalty on Boston's Joe Corvo yesterday. And did you see Chris Neil utterly annihilate Johnny Boychuk and then win the fight afterwards with Zdeno Chara? For the first time, I think I see what people like about Neil...
KICKASS METAL SONG OF THE DAY
Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of the release of Pantera's 'Vulgar Display Of Power' album, and to celebrate (while we anticipate the release of a deluxe version of the album, which includes a previously unreleased track and a live dvd) my favorite Pantera album, here's the most notorious track from it. Dimebag and Vinnie are huge Dallas Stars fans btw, and the band (sans vocalist Phil Anselmo) wrote the Dallas Stars Fight Song.