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Monday Morning Coffee: HNIC Backlash, The Number 37 And How To Kill Your Career In Hockey Before It Starts

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Good morning Canuckleheads! Isn't funny how a big win can get you through a weekend? I think that the whole good vibe has as much to do with Alain Vigneault's inspiring defense of his team and by proxy all of us on the weekend. The coach has had enough and isn't gonna take anymore crap from "journalists" like Ron MacLean. Today we look at a very interesting week ahead for the Canucks, as well as what it will take to seal the deal for the post-season. More after the jump...

The reaction to the HNIC attack on Alex Burrows continues to come in from across North America, as journalists, bloggers and fans alike are expressing their extreme distaste with it all. It's good to see that after a week of relentless piling on, people are finally getting it: This was never about Burrows. It was always about maintaining the integrity of the game of hockey by ensuring the referees were there to administer the rule of law in a fair and even-handed manner, and not directly influence the outcome of games. The condemnation of MacLean's slimy attack has come in from writers like Larry Brooks of the New York Post, and Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski, as well as locals like Iain MacIntyre, and Jason Botchford (who has been all over this story and done a hell of a job IMO), who interestingly enough recieved a phone call from Colin Campbell just minutes after he had blasted the MacLean piece during the 1st intermission on the Vancouver's Team 1040. I wasn't aware the NHL's disciplinarian made a habit of monitoring local broadcasts. The reactions continue to pour in, but if you would like to contact the CBC and let them know how you feel about what MacLean and the HNIC crew did, you can go to or write them at Audience Relations, CBC P.O. Box 500 Station A Toronto, ON Canada, M5W 1E6. And please take a cue from the coach and keep it sane and focused. Ranting and profanity doesn't help in this situation, no matter how good it feels.

The Number 37

Not just the number worn by the much-loved buzzsaw of the Canucks, Rick Rypien. It's also the number of points needed by the Canucks to make the post-season according to an annual feature by one of this country's best hockey writers, The Globe & Mail's James Mirtle. His Playoff Push tracks the teams and what they will need to achieve in the standings to make it to the final 16 come April. According to Mirtle, the Canucks will need to go 18-15-1 to make it this year. Not bad, and obviously the next 2 weeks will have a huge impact on that, as 4 of their next 5 are at home before kicking off the Road Trip From Hell (tm) on the 30th in T.O. A great read from someone I have admired for a long time (a Kamloops kid like myself, too). And in case you're too lazy to click the link...

Western Conference (95 points)

1. Chicago - 11-21-1
2. San Jose - 12-20-1
3. Nashville - 17-17-0
4. Colorado - 17-16-1
5. Phoenix - 17-16-0
6. Vancouver - 18-15-1
7. Los Angeles - 19-15-0
8. Calgary - 18-14-1
9. Detroit - 19-14-1
10. Dallas - 22-12-0
11. St. Louis - 23-12-0
12. Minnesota - 22-11-0
13. Anaheim - 22-11-0
14. Columbus - 25-7-0
15. Edmonton - 29-6-0

Eastern Conference (89 points)

1. New Jersey - 12-24-0
2. Buffalo - 12-23-1
3. Washington - 11-22-1
4. Pittsburgh - 14-18-0
5. Boston - 17-17-1
6. NY Rangers - 18-15-0
7. Ottawa - 18-14-1
8. Philadelphia - 20-15-0
9. Atlanta - 20-15-0
10. NY Islanders - 19-14-1
11. Montreal - 19-12-1
12. Florida - 20-13-1
13. Tampa Bay - 21-13-1
14. Toronto - 24-9-0
15. Carolina - 27-8-0

So... any thoughts on the game Wednesday? The Canucks start their week on humpday with a visit to a team that is spiraling so out of control even the most pessimistic prognosticator could have predicted this. The Oilers are playing like a team that's down a couple goals from the moment the puck drops. Even when they have a lead, they lack the confidence to hold it, as we saw against Pittsburgh the other night. Often teams like this are dangerous, as they get to a point where they give up playoff aspirations and set out to simply destroy that of others however they can. I don't think the Oilers are quite in spoiler mode just yet, but like any other cellar dweller the Canucks can't afford to take them lightly.

The boys in blue return home the next night to face a Dallas Stars team fighting hard to stay within striking distance of 8th place. In the real world, they wouldn't have a sniff, but in Gary Bettman's NHL, a team with 8 more total losses than wins can always have hope. The Canucks beat the Stars to kick off the New Year with a 3-1 win in Big D, but with Dallas potentially not having Brendan Morrow and Jere Lehtinen, who were both injured in Saturday's controversial shootout win over the Red Wings, the Canucks might look to rack up back to back wins here.

A day off and then one of the biggest and most anticipated matches of the season as the Chicago Blackhawks return to GM Place. Bitter playoff memories aside, this will be an amazing game as two of the league's most high-powered offenses go head to head. The Canucks certainly have a shot in this one, as the stelar goaltending Chicago has had with Annti Niemi and Cristobal Huet is starting to show signs of being human, the 'Hawks needing to outscore their opponents to get the wins lately ala the Edmonton Oilers in Gretzky's era. Expect a full tilt battle all night long for a little bragging rights and some payback. Make sure and check back with Nucks Misconduct for full pregame reports.

Cormier disgraces himself and hockey

A few weeks ago he was the Captain of Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon. Today Patrice Cormier may find himself being charged after a sickening hit on Mikeal Tam during a QMJHL game last night.

It's extremely difficult to watch. Tam came close to dying last night, according to reports. It just baffles me how a player could just jump off the bench and try to eviscerate someone like that. I haven't heard of anything between the two that led up to the hit, but it's not a bad guess if you think Patrice Cormier may have sealed the fate of his own career with that hit.