Canucks Copulae

Rich Lam

When they zig, sometimes the best move is to zig first, and THEN zag.

Ahhhh, yes. Hockey Day In Canada. Where we get wonderful stories of small towns and large ones, all loving the game we just can't get enough of. You'll get to know how NHL stars played on outdoor rinks, and how the game brought someone together with someone else.

Perhaps it is a bit much. An entire day dedicated to all this talk about hockey. But there is a reason CBC continues to do it, and thats because it gets ratings. Besides, we get to see a bunch of all Canadian matchups, and how is that a bad thing?

Tomorrow's opponent is a familiar one. One that is supposed to be a huge rival. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't think it would be controversial to note that the Flames are hated here in Vancouver. However, the shine has paled a bit on that. One might say the flames have dimmed. Sure, they are always spirited games, and there is the residual trappings of a once fierce rivalry. But like any good rival, you need both sides to have a chance at winning. Although the Flames managed to split the season series last year ( one of those wins in a shootout ), until they return to having a "good" team, this is destined to be another rival, like the Oilers and Wild, are in the division, and play spirited games, but just don't make one fear a seven game series.

Good luck to them though. It might be tough without Kipprusoff, but who knows? I think Irving actually stoned the Canucks in his last game here.

The video comes here, and this Copulae is no different. But I highly recommend that you actually watch this one. Its 10 minutes, but come on. Bubbles in character talking about his "love of hockey" from 2011 Hockey Day in Canada is GOLD Jerry!!!

23 - The digits on the back of last year's leading scorer against the Flambes last year ( 1G , 5A ) also happens to be just under the 22:21 Alexander Edler averages against these guys. In fact, his 3 G and 22A while going +8 over 32 games is kinda good too. But the revelation might be his partner, Dan Hamhuis. Not only is his 1G and 3A in their six tilts last year pretty good, his +6 led the team in the matchup. Did you know Hammer has 1G and 6 points while only being credited with 12 shots? Thats pretty efficient.

+64 - Thats the differential in the Canucks favor when it comes to hitting. Now, I know that stats are a bit cloudy early in the season, but so far, the team from Chinook Alley ( a team which sits last in the NHL at 130 total hits. For comparison, the Canucks sit 14th with 232 total board shakers ) has only thrown 56 hits on the road in 3 tilts, while the Canucks have 120 in 5 home games. Thats an average of 24 versus an average of 18.66. Perhaps the Calgary team comes out firing and ups that total. ( They only average 14.8 hits at home nowadays, through 5 games, but they ARE 2-0-1 on the road so far this year, where they average 4 more hits than at home! ) Perhaps not. But the days of the "bigger, tougher Flames imposing their will physically", as was , and sometimes still is a narrative that some will run with, don't seem to be borne out by the numbers so far. Mind you, in a game the Canucks seemed to dominate in most all facets against the Wild, the stats guy there had the Wild with a 23 - 11 edge in that stat, and had Dale Weise ( he of two fights, so he must have pissed someone off, and seemed to be pretty physical by my estimation ) with 1 total hit and Mikko Koivu leading everyone with 4, so we all know that stat aint the most accurate. Still, in this matchup, its nice to see that the Canucks are the hammer and not the nail.

7 - Thats just the number of game winning goals the Sedins have versus one of their favorite opponents. For instance, Daniel Sedin is exactly a point per game versus the Heat's parent club. ( 67 GP, 24 G, 43 A ) while Henrik Sedin has only 11 G , 47A in 69 GP. I know, I know, the Sedins have a lot of great numbers against a lot of teams, they're superstars. But long term fans will know that they always seem to have games against this opponent. From the time they were just starting out up to piling up the points on the way to back to back Art Ross trophies ( where I believe both Wonder Twins had big games late in the season to clinch versus these guys ), it always seems that their kung fu is especially strong versus these guys. The scary thing for Bob Hartley in his turn at trying to devise a game plan is that they both average only in the 16 min range lifetime against his team. Thats pretty good production for that kinda ice time! Sorry Bob, but they are kind of like Crane Technique. "If do right, no defense..."

1.78 - That is the Canucks NHL leading 5 on 5 goals for / against ratio. Most other stats, like PK and PP are definitely down the list ( the Canucks are statistically middle of the pack right now in most of the ones they usually lead in ), but in this telling stat ( it means you will win a lot of games if you are scoring at even strength 1.78 times for every 1 goal your opponents are getting ), they lead the Ducks and Tampa Bay as the only other teams in the 1.7-ish range ( list here ) Put it this way. The half the league that is above 1 ( NJ and Toronto come in at 1.00 at 15th and 16th respectively, and Calgary is tied with Buffalo at 21st/22nd at 0.82 ) are doing way better than those that are under it. You can't win if you don't score, and you can't always depend on getting the calls.

This next one is not a particular number, per se, but the numbers illuminate an interesting thing. First, that stats viewed in a vacuum are not that informative. For instance, giveaways is a stat kept for a while now. The team that leads the NHL with 100 is one with a great record, the San Jose Sharks. They are 22 ahead of the Canadiens at 78, then the Capitals, Leafs, and Oilers before the Flickerers at 58 giveaways so far. ( Vancouver is 26th, or 5th best, at only 29 giveaways so far this season. )Its an interesting list, but by and large, most the teams at the top of that stat are thought to be "struggling". Like I said, its an example of not all stats being black or white. I just bring it up because I think that it is another reason why the Canucks should win this game. A new goalie, a defense struggling, and lines with speed up and down the lineup in the Canucks that can force those giveaways makes me think it will be a long night for the Atlanta expatriates.

Pull up a chair and sit a spell....

11 - That is today's Old Tyme jersey number. Want to know why Vancouver Canuck fans were upset when Mark Messier demanded to wear the number upon his arrival? Wayne Maki. ( Wiki here ) When I was a kid, I remember how a violent, brutal stick swinging incident between he and "Terrible" Ted Green almost cost Green his life vividly. It was repeated often by parents and coaches as something you never wanted to do, no matter how much someone pissed you off on the ice. I mean, Green had a fractured skull and a brain injury.

Now, here was this same guy coming to the new team in Vancouver ( he was claimed from the Blues in the expansion draft in 1970 ), and young Dan was not sure how he felt about that. I mean, Bobby Orr was my hero man, and this was the guy that almost killed his friend and teammate! But he overcame that by playing hard, and being a productive player that always stood up for teammates . That first year was his best, as he scored 25 goals and had 63 points. ( Check this out, for instance. Not only for Robson's dulcet tones, but for a Canuck forward fighting a Bruin goalie ) What was promising turned to tragedy in December of 1972, when he was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died 17 months later at the age of 29.

So, you see Oiler and Ranger fans, it had nothing to do with something silly. Canuck fans had good reason to not admire the "greatest leader in hockey". The number was never retired, that is true. But apart from a brief fling with Chris Oddleifson in 1974, nobody wore it until your guy insisted on it 25 or so years later.

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