It’s fun to think of three years ago when Vancouver was the best Canadian team and Calgary came out of no where, beat them in the playoffs, and ran almost all the way to a cup victory. Then last year Calgary was the team to beat, Vancouver was admirable and while the latter fell off the planet the Flames couldn’t make it out of the first round and the Edmonton was the man for the post season.
And now, the Flames and Canucks seem to be tangoing together in a dance of the suck twins (although at the moment they look like they'll beat Anaheim, so they suck a bit less). Both teams have marquee goalies who play in front of teams that can’t score and new coaches who can’t figure it out yet. That recipe has brought more success (albeit marginal) to Vancouver then Calgary so far this season, but why split hairs? The Flames have scored three fewer goals then the Canucks but the Canucks have let more goals in (and Vancouver has played three more games as well). Both powerplays are terrible but the Canucks penalty kill has fared much better early in the season. Lastly, like Vancouver, the Flames get their meager production from a few core guys like Iginla, Langkow, Lombardi & Phaneuf (occasionally that Tanguay guy shows up). So, clearly, both teams need some help and need some wins which suggests (I hope) they’ll beat the snot out of each other Saturday night.
What to look for – A pulse. After the great Duck rape on Thursday, Vigneault challenged the Canucks character. You know, show us some backbone or at least some micron of pride in the damn uniform you have the privilege of wearing for far too much money every few nights a week. It’s useless criticizing the D since they have some problems on their own but it’s the offense that needs a swift kick in their collective fat ass. Naslund, Pyatt and the Sedins need to lead the charge whether they feel like it or not because clearly guys like Bulis, Morrison, Kesler et all are not quite up to speed yet on that whole puck in the net thing. Luongo needs to be put the Duck game behind him and recognize he’s going to need to start stealing some games. As a group, this team needs to go back to square one (like opening night in Detroit when the entire planet expected them to fail) and use their lot in life as motivation. Sink or swim together, but the lethargic and anemic efforts have to stop because this isn’t the Crawford’s team anymore.
Vigneault has a little over a day to get this team acting and playing differently. Not a ton of time, but then again, this is what Alain is paid for. And last I checked the rabid Vancouver fan base, in part, helps pay that salary. We’re all going to work today. So should you.
Lingering Anger: How in the name of holy hell does Chouinard, who sits more then plays, end up tied for worst plus/minus on the team? That’s a good amount of salary cap space getting a nice seat at games isn’t it? Surely a team like Phoenix or Philly is getting desperate so let the guy start playing if just to get some stats so we can move him. And if guys like Bulis and Cooke don’t feel like putting solid shifts together night in and night out, let them start parking their ass next to Chouinard and bring up Rypien or Bouck instead.
Prediction: I have none since I don’t know what the hell version of the Canucks is going to show up. If the early October version wants to take the ice, then I do feel Vancouver can beat a struggling Calgary team to the tune of about 3-2 or 4-3. However, if the lackluster version that entertained Minny and Anaheim is even seen in the parking lot much less on the ice, then Calgary should by all means win 10-0. My guess would be it’s somewhere in the middle, so let’s say it goes to a shootout and flip a coin to decide it.