Maple Leafs At Canucks Preview: Hatred For Each Other

vansunsportsblogs.com

Time Saturday, 4:00 PST
TV CBC, NHL-US
Season Series - Last Meeting
6-2 Canucks, Feb. 18/12
The Enemy Pension Plan Puppets Scoring Leaders H. Sedin: 3-15-18
Kessel: 9-9-18

LEAFS
CATEGORY
CANUCKS
10-4-0 SEASON RECORD 9-5-1
20 POINTS 19
1st CONFERENCE POSITION 6th
Won 3
STREAK Lost 1
7-3-0 LAST 10 6-3-1
5-2-0 ROAD RECORD / HOME RECORD 3-3-0
3.36 (4)
GOALS PER GAME AVERAGE 2.73 (16)
2.29 (7) GOALS AGAINST PER GAME AVERAGE 2.67 (13)
1.27 (10) 5 ON 5 GF / GA 1.07 (12)
25.5 (2) POWER PLAY % 9.3 (28)
86.8 (3) PENALTY KILL % 86.3 (4)
45.2 (28) FACEOFF WINS % 51.4 (11)
428 (2) HITS
278 (21)
214 (6) BLOCKED SHOTS 216 (5)
65 (28) MINOR PENALTIES TAKEN 54 (16)
NHL.COM

Canucks vs Leafs. It doesn't get any better than this. Whether the game is in Vancouver or in Toronto the electricity is in the air. You can cut it with a knife, as Gorilla Monsoon used to say. These are my favorite games of the regular season, and it sucks because it only happens twice a season.

Look at the Leafs' stats on the table above. Unreal. It has been a long, long time..... I can't even remember the last time they were this good. Back when they had Sergei Berezin perhaps? Pat Quinn as coach? Back then, the team actually played good defence. There has been a large space in time up until recently where the team defence was shit. The goaltending wasn't always the best either, but I found that Leafs fans blamed goaltending too often and failed to point their fingers at the D.

Some proof:

The Rayzor's edge, baby! (Hat tip to marcness52 for the reminder.)

Toronto's MSM is all over it right now. We know what that is like, right Canucks fans? Anyway, gone are these days in Toronto:

 photo LeafsWilson_coaching_zps685b2f91.jpg

Finally, the vision that Brian Burke had for this team has come to fruition, with some help from Dave Nonis. Two names that Canucks fans are quite familiar with. And speaking of that...

MASON RAYMOND

14 games played. 5 goals and 6 assists. 2 game-winners. A +3. 37 shots on goal. An average of 18:52 icetime per game. MayRay has found a home in Toronto. Still can't believe he wasn't signed as a free agent all of last summer. Maybe it was all the shit talk about him, but good on the Leafs for taking a chance on the Albertan. He's playing on a line with Dave Bolland and David Clarkson and by god, he may just have a career year. All for the price of $1 million. Atta boy, Nonis.

ZANY'S LEAF LOVE

Now, most of you know my history but many of you don't, so I am going to clarify once again. I was born in 1974. The year the Flyers began their 2 year Stanley Cup dynasty with TWO Smithers-born players on their team: Jimmy and Joe Watson. By the time I was old enough to start remembering players and games on television, my father (may he forever RIP) and I watched Hockey Night in Canada on channel 5 on a television set with rabbit ears. What team was shown the most? The Maple Leafs. At this point in the late 70's, the Leafs had super players named Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Mike Palmateer, a young Tiger Williams, some Turnbull player, but most-importantly a superb Swedish defenceman named Borje Salming.

For all you young punks out there, Borje Salming is THE Swede who paved the way for other Swedish players to play in the NHL. He is a legend for that plus he played like one. Period. Cocaine use? Oh well! LEGEND!

So, naturally, the Leafs were the first team I cheered for. I did not get to watch a lot of Canucks games because they were not on television all that often.  Not until their Stanley Cup run in 1982. It was then that I became a Canucks fan. I was a fan of both teams. Most people can't understand that and want me to choose. Nope. To this day I won't. But I do have a story that perhaps I have never told before online.

1994

In 1994, I watched both the Leafs and Canucks (who were both in the Western Conference at the time), battle their way to the Stanley Cup semi-finals. Who was I cheering for the most? The Leafs. It was me against the Canuck world up here in Smithers, and it was a blast.

I was a Doug Gilmour fan like most of you are Trevor Linden fans. Gilmour was a  heart-and-soul player like Trevor, but let's face it, was better than Linden. I still have the Gilmour jersey. Wendel Clark? Money! Felix Potvin? The shiz! Unfortunately for me, but fortunately for YOU, the series ended quicker than most thought. Terrace BC's own Joe Pelletier has a new book out Remembering The 1993-94 Canucks and I advise that you check it out. (F**! It has almost been 20 years already!?) Pelletier wrote about that Canucks-Leafs series here. An excerpt:

Many Canuck fans - and for that matter, many of the players - believe the victory over Toronto was the biggest highlight of the entire Cup run. In a sense it was a battle for the unofficial Canadian championship if you will.

Also:

The Canucks would return to Vancouver once again for the next three games. Kirk McLean, who already had two shutouts, cranked his game up yet another notch. Games 3 and 4 were both convincing Canuck victories, and Captain Kirk didn't surrender a goal in either game! Game 3 was won 4-0 while game 4 featured a 2-0 final score. The back-to-back shutouts gave Kirk 4 shutouts in the post-season, tying an NHL record for shutouts in one playoff year. The record, shared by 7 other goalies, was first set back in 1926!

Besides Captain Kirk, Greg Adams was a beast. Check some old school Sports Page footage with a much-younger Don Taylor:

The bottom line:

Phenomenal. A bud of mine still jokingly rubs that in my face. He randomly yells "Adams scores! Greg Adams!"  It broke my heart. Not as bad as Wayne Gretzky did to the Leafs in Game 7 the year before though. Bastard. But what the Canucks did against the Rangers in the next series in 1994 will of course live in infamy, despite the loss. My pain and suffering eased greatly after watching THAT Canucks effort. Best Finals ever. Period. And yes, Trevor Linden deserves the praise and love he gets from Canucks fans, especially after that playoff run. But so does Pavel Bure. 16 goals and 15 assists in 24 playoff games in the 1994 run. That is sick. I became even more a Canucks fan after that. Raise that number to the rafters! I am over my bitterness towards Pavel. He deserves this honor! Once again, PERIOD!

So today I still love both teams, with an edge going to the Canucks, by a wide margin. When I finally got satellite tv and could watch more Canucks games and start writing about them, the transition occurred almost naturally. Don't get me wrong though. I still love those Leafs through better or worse. I can't throw my personal history away, especially considering my father was a big part of it.

But damn it, these Canucks vs Leafs games are awesome. Fans of either team can appreciate that!

C.O.T.U.

You may hear and read a lot about Toronto being the Center Of The Universe in the hockey world. Well, they are. AND, they deserve it. Just like the Bruins and Red Wings and Rangers do in America. The Leafs have a richer history than the Canucks do, being an Original 6 team.  Canada's mainstream media strokes the Leafs and Canadiens for good reason. Original 6. Headquarters are in Toronto. So what? Original 6. Their daddies and mommies loved the Leafs and Habs too. Ontario is the hub of all things hockey, media for the majority of things. Cool. Embrace the West Coast for being what it is: a more-beautiful, more-passive piece of paradise on Canada's left coast. Do you really want all the attention? It doesn't fit BC's nature, does it? We should be proud of what we are. Except at Canucks games god dammit. Make some noise!

Even if you want that publicity you are never going to get it to the degree that Toronto and Montreal does. Never. Carry on.

One thing that bugs me to no end nowadays in the Leafs-Canucks arguments is the amount of playoff success since Vancouver's inception into the NHL in 1970. 3 Stanley Cup appearances for Vancouver to the Leafs' NONE. To me, that doesn't make the Canucks better. Well, maybe a little. But it is of little consolation unless you win the Stanley Cup, which the Leafs have done plenty of times in their history in a League (with far-less teams.) It is of a small victory that Canucks fans can brag about making 3 Stanley Cup appearances to the Leafs' NONE since 1967. For an even greater perspective, the majority of Leafs fans alive today were not even born the last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967. A fair assessment? I think so. Personal experience matters. So pay no attention to the vast majority of Leafs fans who brag about Cup victories. Only people who are over 50 can brag about that with any vivid recollection.

LEAFS' FUTILITY AGAINST THE CANUCKS

Since January 10, 2006, the Canucks hold a 10-0 record against the Leafs. That is pure and utter dominance. It should be embarrassing to Toronto, really. They now finally have a team that can take that ugly stat and do something about it. They have depth in all areas. They play an uber-physical game, which will make this game the opposite of what we saw in the Canucks' last game against Detroit. Expect a lot of hostility in this one, folks. It's gonna be a beauty.

CANUCKS' SECONDARY SCORING / POWER PLAY ISSUES

Both are an issue. For the Canucks to have any prolonged success players not named Sedin or Kesler need to score. It's a broken record isn't it? It has been the Canucks' Achilles' Heel since 2011. Their power play has now hit single digits in effectivity. Tortorella knows the PP sucked against Detroit but that it's just a matter of time. I agree.

Another heads up: If the Canucks lose this one in regulation, they will fall below 500 at home.....which will become an excellent source of news for me and the MSM.

SCORE-PREDICTING WIZARDS UPDATE

Nobody called a 2-1 score that I can see, and of course nobody predicted some prick named Tatar to score the GWG.

DAVID BOLLAND

Bolland is an excellent checking forward who knows his role. His comments about the the Sedins sharing bunk beds and what -not drew heat from Canucks fans. So what. Bolland had this to say to the Toronto media on Friday:

"The Sedins are great players," Bolland said. "I played so many games against them in the past. If you let them go for a second or two, they’ll be putting the puck through your legs and in the back of your net. So when we do go in there, we’ve got to be ready for them.

"When you get under guys’ skins, you get them off their games. It’s huge for your team and it’s huge for confidence when you get them off their games."

As for the frosty reception from the capacity throng that awaits him, well, he’s already prepared.

"You feed of it when you go into a rink and the fans don’t like you and all that," Bolland said. "But for me, whenever you are going into a rink for a big game to face a great team, you always get a rush.

"When you see the signs that people make about you, you laugh and have some fun with it. It’s fun when you get a reaction. You want to go into a building and you want to play hard so that the fans remember who you are when you come back all the time.

"I think Vancouver was that one place that, when we went back, the team and myself always got up for."

All that via the Toronto Sun. Personally, I'll take Bolland on my team any day of the week.

In regards to May Ray now playing with Bolland and how that could be awkward:

"We’ve had some huge battles," Bolland said, "although I’m probably the one who’s disliked in Vancouver over the past years.

"Hockey is different in that way. One day you’re against each other and the next thing you know you’re sitting beside him in the room, you’re buddies, and you’re on the same line."

Bottom line right there. The Canucks had better watch out for the MayRay-Bolland-Clarkson line.

MOAR COOL CANUCKS-LEAFS MOMENTS (VIDEO)

The last time these teams met:

Sundin and Demitra and Luongo bury the Leafs in a shootout:

Another beauty Canucks win in 2011:

Canucks picking on Dougie Gilmour in 94? Sure!

Here is some frantic action from a Leafs/Canucks game from 2001:

Not gonna lie, the Roberts-Sundin-Thomas line was dynamite!

Naomi Watts:

Sundin destroys Brad May:

Oh thank christ. Mats finally scores for the Canucks:

The title of this game preview post has been brought to you by Arch Enemy:

GO CANUCKS GO! (and shit)

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