With all due respect to the Detroit Red Wings, can we really tell what kind of team they are right now? Sure they're sitting in a respectable 6th place in the Eastern Conference, but given the disparity that has already developed between the two conferences, is their record legitimate or a product of their location. It wouldn't exactly be off base to suggest that the realignment that finally saw a team in the Eastern time zone return to that Conference benefits their chances greatly, simply by having to play less games against distinctly tougher Western opponents.
That's not to say the Canucks should be treating this opponent lightly at all. They are still the team that flat-out embarrassed the Canucks last year. In his game day preview Zandberg questioned whether or not there was anything left in terms of a rivalry between these two teams in this post-realignment world. I would suggest, especially in the case of one particular Diva, this game is very much one they Canucks would like to make a statement in.
The easiest way to tell if the Canucks are playing well is to check Twitter. If there's concentrated anger and venom towards a particular player, they must be rolling. So I hope for Tom Sestito's sake, he's taking coach John Tortorella's advice and steering clear of social media. The hyperbole around Sestito is a bit much at times (a worse version of Darcy Hordichuk? Hell, no. Sestito would have no problem cracking an Oilers lineup that Hordi wasn't able to). It's obvious that Sestito doesn't work as a 3rd line solution, and is certainly not getting any help from the hockey gods right now, but if you look back to the St Louis game, his work in the 3rd period was pretty decent. If Sestito can maintain that kind of consistency, simplify his game and try not to get in over his head, he can be a serviceable 4th liner for the Canucks. We've had worse. If the guy stinks up the joint, let him have it. It's just frustrating to see a fan base spewing hate over inconsequential events, especially after a win or when things are going well.
And things are going well. You do realize that the Canucks were not supposed to be doing this well, right? This schedule was supposed to see them get off to a typical .500 or so start, and the team, window slamming shut, would have to scrape just to stay in the hunt for a wild card. Yet here we are at the end of October, the team has won 6 of their last 8 games, Daniel and Henrik Sedin are off to an amazing start, one that experts agreed simply wasn't possible, and we're seeing Ryan Kesler's re-emergence as a dominant player in the NHL simply by moving him to the wing. Add in the quiet back stories for the Canucks this season: the signings of Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli are making Mike Gillis look as though maybe he's not the incompetent boob some paint him as for the bumbling of the #VancouverGoalieControversy. Waiver wire pickup Ryan Stanton has been a steady force on the back end, to the point it's like the Canucks were able to get a 2nd Chris Tanev.
And of course, let's not forget Roberto Luongo, who in an already hockey mad market, with so much attention and pressure focused on him, has quietly come out and had a very non-Luongo October. Ask anyone who follows the Canucks if they'd like an 8-3-1 October out of their goalie, and the answer would be an enthusiastic yes. He may not have the stellar numbers, but in a way, Lu's just mirroring the team: battle through and get the two points. Whatever it takes, just win. This is the kind of team we've needed, and wanted for a long time. There's a long road ahead, but their October performance has certainly set them up well for the battles to come.
Sausages and hash browns
There's an arms race of sorts in the NHL right now, and it's fascinating to watch. You have the Buffalo Sabres quite literally packing it in already, having traded their best player away for a guy on the last year of his contract, but more importantly 2 high draft picks, and rumours swirling around their efforts to deal away G Ryan Miller. And on the other side you have the Edmonton Oilers, once again making experts look foolish by stumbling out of the gate once again by just being bloody awful. Year after year of failure and the cream of the crop draft picks for the Oilers, yet they still cannot claw their way out of the basement in the West, the situation even more dire considering just how tough the West is this year. While Lars Eller shouldn't have called the Oilers "a junior team", they certainly have showed few occasions where they've looked like they belong in the NHL. I suppose Oilers fans are fortunate that the league doesn't do the relegation thing like the English Premier League, or they'd be battling in the AHL right now. I can't imagine current pariah Nail Yakupov will be an Oiler much longer, but only if they can swap him out for some help on the back end and in net. It speaks to the desperation in Edmonton that one good game from Richard Bachmann of all people gave them hope, only to be lit up by the Leafs in his next game. The Oilers could get a better goaltender, but with a defence as porous as the one they have now, it would be putting a band-aid on when you've had your arm chopped off...
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day
One of my favorites from their 2011 beast of an album 'Time Is Up', this Colorado based thrash act is currently on the road opening for Soulfly before a European swing that will take them into next year.