I've seen this game being referenced as a 'meaningless' one for the Canucks, but nothing could be further from the truth. While they'll need a little help from the Columbus Blue Jackets (yeah, I know...), with a win and a St. Louis loss tonight, the Canucks can leapfrog the Blues and a shot at 1st place in the NHL standings. Oh, and there's also the ability to be the team that officially ends the misery of the Calgary Flames. I want to say that the Flames will put up a huge fight to try and keep their ridiculously slim playoff hopes alive, but seeing the complete lack of emotion and effort they've put out lately, I'm not sure that's a huge concern. Not that the Canucks can take the night off by any stretch, but this would be a good opportunity for them to continue fine tuning things before the post season begins. Taking over 1st place and putting the dagger in the heart of the Flames? Well, to the victors go the spoils, right?
After weeks of the Canucks morphing into a stingy defensive squad, seemingly at the expense of offence, we were prepared for another one of these games against the Dallas Stars last night. You had to know the offence would return, and boy did it, as the Canucks, led by the '2 trolls, a twin and a pizza place' line of Henrik Sedin, Maxim Lapierre and Alexandre Burrows clicked for 8 points. Getting another stellar goaltending performance from Cory Schneider, a late replacement for Roberto Luongo (who is suffering from some neck stiffness, apparently) was the other huge factor last night. Add in a couple goals from the defence, one of them from Sami Salo on the power play and the Canucks really sent a message to the Stars, who tumbled from 3rd to 7th, and that can't make Stars fans feel good, if the playoffs started today, they'd be opening the post season at Rogers Arena. The Stars have a massive battle against the San Jose Sharks tonight, and after getting in late to the Bay Area, it's not looking good for Dallas as they battle to keep from falling right out of the top 8 in the West.
The Flames by all accounts pulled a no show in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and the Canucks can officially eliminate the Flames from the playoffs if they can win their 6th in a row tonight. Hard to say if there will be changes to the Canucks lineup tonight. Kevin Bieksa is expected to miss his 3rd straight game, and Keith Ballard is skating with the team but hasn't been cleared for contact. Andrew Ebbett took the pregame skate last night, but hasn't been taken off injured reserve, and with the way the Canucks have played of late, I can't see anyone coming out of the lineup. Even the 4th line was looking good last night, and while it wasn't flawless, it definitely had a playoff effort feel to it.
As far as the Flames go, it really is in their best interest to lay down on this one. GM Jay Feaster's insistence in January that the team was 'going for it' and guaranteeing a playoff appearance may go down as one of the more ridiculous moments in Flames history. It's been apparent to many in the hockey world for a couple years now that this team needs to be blown up, and firing Darryl Sutter and replacing him with Feaster hasn't been a change of anything but the nameplate on the GM's office door. It's been business as usual in Cowtown, and one gets the feeling if they put half as much effort into improving their hockey team as they do pumping out propaganda to convince the Flames faithful that there's no problem, they might be selling playoff tickets right now. The team needs to be blown up, and not just on the ice. The management and coaching staff needs to go. Clean slate and start from scratch. Their approach since the lockout hasn't worked, and an Oilers style rebuild won't do it either. The Flames are in danger of becoming the Leafs, without the glimmer of hope that the Leafs can see in the distance. That can't be a good feeling for Flames fans. Trying to adjust to life without Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff just might be the least of their pains, as it is likely is going to be necessary to move forward.
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
I originally had another tune placed here, then I had one of those 'Duh!' moments... there's only one song suited for today's post: Zimmer's Hole- This Is Metal!