I wish I could use this space to bring you some wonderful new ideas about the lockout, or breaking news that may bring the NHL brass and the NHLPA to the bargaining table with a semblance of hope they wouldn't dare piss another season away. But I hate lying to you beautiful people. Besides we already know they are more likely to high five in December and we'll get 30 games of a "season" or they'll blow it up again and we may as well start rosterbating about the 2013 draft now.
Instead I thought I'd go back and look at some of the more notable games of the past seven years (between the last lockout and the current impasse) of Vancouver hockey, a total of 574 regular season games and five NW titles seasons. Just because we don't have new hockey to get psyched about doesn't we can appreciate the highlight reel.
Join me for some enjoyable reminiscing, starting with the night of January 14, 2006 when the Canucks strolled into Nassau Coliseum and made life pure hell for Rick DiPietro.
This sequence starts when Matt Cooke sends the puck through the crease while the Vancouver defense was changing. Rookie Superpunch races to save the puck at the blue line and fires it back into the Isles zone to a waiting Trevor Linden in the near corner. Trev moves the puck quickly to a driving Cooke who starts to peel behind the net before finding Todd Bertuzzi on the door step. They're off and running with a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes after Bertuzzi's opening marker the Islanders gifted a 5-on-3 to Vancouver thanks to a boarding call on John Erskine and Rick DiPietro's delay of game penalty about 45 seconds afterwards. The first PP unit appears to be Sami Salo and Nolan Baumgartner on the points with Markus Naslund, Bertuzzi and Daniel Sedin up front. With the Islanders collapsing low, Salo and Baumer take turns measuring up their lanes before Baumer finds Naslund to DiPietro's left. Nazzy fires a pass into the crease and - as it often did those days - lands right on Bert's stick with Sedin right there for insurance. I can't tell which Islander peeled off Bert at the last moment but Naslund made him pay. 2-0.
Warning: incoming beautiful sequence. The rush starts with Salo along the near boards and he finds a speedy Daniel breaking through the neutral zone. Dank does a quick give-and-go with his brah on the Isle's blueline and suddenly he and Anson Carter are barreling in with numbers. The Isle's D man attempts a weak poke check and Dank pushes it off to Carter who couldn't have a bigger net to bury it in if he tried. I could be mistaken, but that Islander defenseman sure looks to be your friend and mine Chris Campoli. Take a bow Chris.
Now being down three goals in the first period in your own barn is liable to make the opposition a bit pissy. You know what's going to happen next, but better still is listen to the announcer (Howie Rose) and see if you can spot the goof.
Clearly Bieksa is too much man for Rose to handle. I'm sure he'd love to be three inches taller and about 20-25 lbs heavier, but last I checked Juice is far from 6'4''. Regardless he tosses around Kevin Colley with ease, probably because he's 5'5'' and a buck ten using Rosian logic.
Five minutes into the second period the Islanders were having some "difficulties" clearing the puck against what I believe was Vancouver's checking line: the comical trio of Jarkko Ruutu, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows (let's just call that the "holy shit shut up" line). Ruutu finds some open ice and moves the puck to - of all people - a wide-open Bryan Allen who unloads a slapper not unlike an EA Sports game and DiPietro is left wondering who he wronged in which previous life to be treated this unfairly. Boo birds are out in force now (later on, with nothing to cheer for, they went the "USA! USA!" route). 4-0.
Check the clock cause this beatdown is about to shift into full-fledged stupid mode. Seconds after the Allen goal Isles coach Brad Shaw pulled DiPietro since his nine saves on 13 shots, shockingly, wasn't cutting it. On the ensuing faceoff the Canucks dump the puck behind new goalie Wade Dubielewicz who makes Roberto Luongo look like Jacques Plante with his puck handling (to be fair the defensive communication had to be shit by now) and Carter quickly lifted his stick and passed it to Henrik Sedin who had the open net all to himself. 5-0.
At this point you may be asking "Hey Mike this is all well and good, but where are those West Coast Express people I've heard so much about?" Worry no more. With Sean Bergenheim in the box for hooking, the PP went to work. I can't tell who starts the sequence by blocking the clearing attempt from the point, but the Vancouver D man moves the puck immediately to Naslund who comes out from behind Dubielewicz and fires a wrist shot that's blocked and lands near Brendan Morrison to his left. B-Mo quickly recovers the puck and somehow has the presence of mind to pass it across the goal mouth - and a mountain of sprawled Islander humanity - to an unguarded Bertuzzi who (I've said this a few times now) has a wide open net for his hat trick. Sick sick sick. 6-0.
Early in the final frame Juice is sent off for hooking and the Isles go to work on the man advantage. Miroslav Satan manages the puck on the far boards and Anson Carter takes his mind off Mike York momentarily (can you blame him?) which is all the time he needed to snap a shot on net. Burrows finds himself on the wrong side of a pinching Alexei Zhitnik and there goes Alex Auld's shutout bid. Could this be the start of a huge Long Island come back?
Haha...yeah no. Midway through the third Erskine heads back to the box and puts Vancouver on their ninth man advantage of the evening. Let's call this the men against boys sequence: Carter starts it off by moving the puck back to the point man who moves it immediately to Bieksa high cross ice. Bieksa finds Hank along the boards, Hank finds Dank on the edge of the crease and Dank shovels it off to the man who started the whole play. Beautiful play at the expense of an Islanders team that had to be praying the clock moved faster. 7-1.
Oh what the hell one more goal should do it. With less than five to play the "holy shit shut up" line was moving the puck down low. Burrows pushes the puck behind the net and has it stripped briefly by I believe Bergenheim before Kesler lifts his stick and finds Ruutu who gets spun around before scoring on his second effort. Bonus fun: watch Brent Sopel level Burrows at the end of the play. Good times for everyone.
8-1 is your final score, one of two times in the past seven years Vancouver erupted for eight goals in a game.
- Your three stars for the evening: Bertuzzi, Carter and Auld.
- It was Brad Shaw's first game after the Islanders shitcanned Steve Stirling a few days earlier.
- It was Bertuzzi's second hat trick since returning from the Steve Moore suspension.
- The third goal was Bertuzzi's 500th NHL point.
- Bert had three shots on goal that night, so do the math for the shooting %.
- The Islanders actually outshot the Canucks 37-31, including a 12-7 edge in the first period.
- DiPietro's SV% was .692 which was his second worst effort of the season and the sixth worst of his career.
- Vancouver scratched one player that night: Jovanovski. If you guess the injury you win the internet for today.
- Your hits leader: Cooke (3).
- Bertuzzi, Bieksa and Carter were all credited with two takeaways.
- Allen, Salo, Naslund and Henrik were all slapped with one giveaway.
- Your TOI leaders for the Canucks: Mattias Ohlund (23:49), Baumer (22:27) and Salo (22:26). On the opposite end were Wade Brookbank (8:44), Alex Burrows (9:30) and Kesler (12:09).
- Both teams would fail to make the playoffs in 2006, finishing fourth in their divisions respectively. Both coaches (Crawford for Vancouver) would be kicked to the curb as a result which, in hindsight, was the better move for both squads.