We wanted the Canucks team that played Chicago not too long ago. Apparently, that team hasn't arrived yet. The San Jose Sharks effectively shut down the Canucks in pretty much every facet of the game Wednesday night. And that's what the Canucks and us as fans need to focus on here. It's not that specific players or line's underperformed. The Canucks, to a man underperformed. Sure, some players were better than others. But when none of them play a complete game, why even single one out for praise?
And it's not as though this Sharks team is some unbeatable juggernaut. They didn't utterly dominate the Canucks. They were just better. I suppose you could say that they did dominate them in the faceoff circle, but if this surprises you then I'd like to take over responsibility for your finances, as you're too stupid to be trusted with things like money. The things that have hurt the Canucks all season long hurt them in this game. They need to address them, and fast, or it's another long summer of disappointment.
Faceoffs have to improve, but I am not sure that a team that has stunk up the joint all year long on the dot is going to miraculously channel their inner Malhotra suddenly. Having to battle for possession all game long is not a productive route towards winning hockey games. And when they find themselves in this situation, they need to step up their effort on puck battles. There was far too much soft and ineffectual play, especially in the final 20 minutes. This is something they can fix. They've shown they can hang in there in tight checking games, and will need to do this while also being mindful that there's still really no set standard as to what the officials are going to call. Keeping the Sharks off the power play is another must. Granted, when you have Logan Couture adding Dustin Brown-like embellishment abilities to his impressive skill set, that may not always be an easy task. So it's up to guys like Dale Weise and Zack Kassian to not take stupid penalties, and the skill players of the Canucks to not get suckered into the little hooks and holds the Sharks are trying to draw.
Roberto Luongo was not the reason the Canucks lost, but he may end up needing to steal one here in order to keep the Canucks in this series. It goes without saying the Canucks are thankful that they didn't get a deal done for Luongo, because that's one hell of a backup goaltender. But let's not kid ourselves. If he wasn't here, we'd either be playing a backup with little to no playoff experience, or the more likely scenario, an injured or sick Cory Schneider would be in net. Whatever the case, I'd like to see an effort worthy of honouring the best goalie we've ever had in front of him tonight. This Canucks team has won just three of the 12 series' in which they lost the opening game, but please, go ahead and tell me I'm a bad fan and have my glass half empty. They basically need to rewrite their own history, and it's only Game 2. No biggie.
Cough Syrup and Cappuccino
The running theme heading into the playoffs was that the defending Stanley Cup Champs had gotten over their hangover after looking at times more like the Terry Murray-coached version of the team, than the Darryl Sutter version. Perhaps the hangover is now, as they're heading back to LA with a 2-0 deficit to erase against the St Louis Blues. The problem for LA is that they're playing against the one opponent in the West who is built exactly like they are. Coin toss, and they've lost it twice. They could very well get back into this series, but unless they find a way to come out and utterly dominate the Blues, who are getting the kind of puck luck the Kings got last year, they could also find themselves as the latest one and done Champ. Also, I would like to point out once again what a pathetic, reprehensible douche Dustin Brown is. Here's a pretty obvious intent to injure on St Louis' Jaden Schwartz from last night..
While we await the ruling on Eric Gryba's hit on Lars Eller from last night's Ottawa victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the rhetoric has been ratcheted up in a huge way this morning with Montreal forward Brandon Prust's comment about Sens coach Paul MacLean, when Prust quipped "We don't care what that bug-eyed fat walrus says". Kudos to Prust for bringing the latest playground-worthy insult to professional sports, and kudos to the NHL schedulers, because we don't have to wait for things to cool off. Game 2 of this series goes tonight, and you can damn well bet it is gonna be intense. Glad to see Eller has been released from hospital this morning, but that's a big loss for the Habs... The New York Islanders got their collective asses handed to them by the Penguins the other night, and it gets worse for them as word out of Pittsburgh is Sidney Crosby will play tonight. I take back my prediction of an Isles upset. They're so boned, it's not even funny... The other game tonight is in Chicago as the Minnesota Wild look to get back into their series against the Blackhawks. Give the Wild credit, they hung with the Presidents' Trophy winners, but are going to need more tonight, as the Hawks have thrived in these tight one goal games all year long. There's just too much talent there to try and keep down in a tight game...
PLAYOFF BATTLE HYMN
A double shot today with a special guest, and I am pretty sure the 3 Inches Of Blood dudes won't mind sharing the spotlight here. Yesterday the metal world lost one of the pioneers of the genre as we learned of the death of Slayer guitarist and founding member Jeff Hanneman. Hanneman had been suffering from health issues for a couple years after a spider bite led to a case of necrotising fasciitis (flesh eating disease) that nearly killed him. Fortunately for Hanneman, he was saved and even regained use of his arm, though it did keep him from returning to the stage, albeit for a 2 song encore with the band during a California stop of the Big 4 tour last year. Hanneman's drinking appears to have been the cause of his liver failure, and there were reports this morning that he was on a list awaiting a liver transplant. Slayer were one of the very first metal bands I ever listened to. They scared the hell out of the teenage me, and I loved it. Fast, skilled and aggressive as fuck, they were everything that was not the poofy-haired pop bands of the 80's. Hanneman wrote, or co-wrote many of the songs recognized by metal fans as the bands shining moments: Die By The Sword, Angel Of Death, Raining Blood, South Of Heaven, War Ensemble, and many others. He and Kerry King together took the path forged by the guitar duos of Judas Priest's Glenn Tipton & KK Downing, and Iron Maiden's Dave Murray and Adrian Smith, and added a solid dose of 'fuck you' punk attitude, which was definitely from Hanneman's love of hardcore bands, something evident in the band's under-appreciated album of cover tunes 'Undisputed Attitude'. Much like metal guitar legends Chuck Schuldiner of Death and Dimebag Darrell of Pantera, Hanneman's legacy is in the music of others as much as it is the band itself. Slayer was without a doubt the least commercially viable of the Big 4 thrash bands from the United States, yet they went on to rather impressive commercial success while staying closer to their roots than the other 3, and without the radio and video coverage to boot. Thrash and death metal would not sound as it does today without Slayer, this is an indisputable fact. They are one of the bands that transcended the genre to become an entity synonymous with metal itself. I can honestly say that I've never met a metal fan who didn't own at least one Slayer album, not something you can say with a lot of bands. For me, they were one of the bands that really helped me overcome near crippling shyness as a teenager, and a source of cleansing when the anger and frustration from the constant bullying I endured through those years became too much. While their later output may not have been of the same caliber as their earlier releases, Slayer were a constant. The band will continue on it seems, with Exodus' Gary Holt having filled in admirably for Hanneman throughout his health troubles. But there is a definite void in the hearts of metalheads worldwide right now, as we pay tribute to one who forged the path we walk. Thank you Jeff, for creating some legendary music. Your impact will live on. RIP.
Another rousing rocker from our chosen Battle Hymn band for the postseason, and I chose this one because you see vocalist Cam Pipes flying his Canuck colours clearly here. Watch the video and you'll see. Enjoy the game, kids...