A couple weeks ago alarm bells were going off as the Vancouver Canucks took an uncharacteristic tumble down the standings. They weren't playing good hockey, and it came back to bite them on the ass as the Minnesota Wild got hot and were able to pass them for the division lead. Since that happened, and in spite of injuries that seemed to mount on a game by game basis, the Canucks rattled off 6 straight and 8 of their last 10, yet this seems to have changed little in terms of how people are viewing the team's chances heading into the post season. Is this team really just treading water before another 1st round disaster, or are we seeing (in spite of how they're getting the wins) a team that, once healthy could be ready for a long run?
One thing's been a constant with this team: the need for help at center. This needs to be addressed, and the clock is ticking for Mike Gillis to fix this, with the trade deadline looming. Most feel confident that Gillis will make some kind of move, though not everyone shares this optimism. The Province's Jason Botchford referred to him as 'Stand Still Gill', a knock for waiting this long to fix a problem that existed last season and was bungled when they brought in Sammy Pahlsson, who underwhelmed in his short stint here. There's also some pretty clear signs that they're working hard on a deal to move Roberto Luongo, who hasn't started in a while now, and will be on the bench again tonight as they face the Oilers.
The injury roller coaster continues, meanwhile. Keith Ballard will miss his 2nd straight with a fractured bone in his foot, but the Canucks hope to have Zack Kassian back in the lineup tonight. Let's hope he gets a couple games under his belt and is fully healed before getting into another fight. I guess we're all supposed to be looking forward to the inevitable clash between Mike Brown and Tom Sestito and/or Steve Pinizzotto. I think the Canucks would do well to avoid this as much as possible, not because I believe Brown's something to be feared, but because of any possible inspiration the Oilers might get from this. A regulation win for the Canucks will definitely hamper Edmonton's chances of squeaking into the postseason, so beating them on the scoreboard has to be the sole focus tonight.
With all the injuries right now, one can hardly blame the Canucks for looking like a hot mess most nights. A constant shuffle of players, line juggling and asking players to take on different roles (or even positions) could really mess a team up. So what's right here? Are the Canucks a disaster waiting to happen because they don't have the 3rd line center they need, and the injuries compound it? Or is this team showing some real character in finding ways to grind out wins in the face of adversity? One thing's for sure: fears the Canucks would be able to do little on deadline day are somewhat alleviated by putting David Booth on LTIR, freeing up the cap space his $4 Million/year salary against the Canucks cap, as TSN's Bob McKenzie tweeted this morning. If they put Manny Malhotra there as well, then that's even more room, and the potential to make a deal that can help give this team the upgrade they need, and make them back into a serious contender in the West.
Fried Mashed Potatoes...
It was a tad underwhelming, but credit to the Anaheim Ducks for knocking off Chicago last night. The Ducks swept the season series against the Hawks, but I am still not convinced by any stretch that the Ducks are going to be as good in the postseason as their record suggests... The Canucks got some help from the Dallas Stars last night with a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, bringing the Wild's 7 game winning streak to a screeching halt. The Wild used one of their games in hand on the Canucks, and will use the other one later next week... Jarome Iginla makes his debut in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey this morning as they take on the Islanders. The Penguins have won 14 straight, but looking past the 9th place Islanders would be a mistake. This team is bound and determined to claw their way into the playoffs, and they could do it by knocking the Rangers out in the process. No word yet if they plan to award the Stanley Cup to the Penguins before the puck drop though. I don't know about you, but this is one hockey fan who wants to see this whole venture blow up in their faces...
KICKASS METAL TUNE OF THE DAY
One of the more underrated bands to come out of the New Orleans area, sludge metal kings Acid Bath released two albums and a compilation of demo tracks in the 90's before disbanding when bassist Audie Pitre and his parents will killed by a drunk driver. Members of the band went on to other projects, most notably Agents of Oblivion and Goatwhore. This track is off their 2nd album Paegan Terrorism Tactics, which featured a painting by Dr. Jack Kevorkian as the album art. Not as controversial as their use of a John Wayne Gacy painting for their When The Kite String Pops debut, but still pretty controversial.