The stats are flying on Twitter this morning as the Canucks prepare to face the Calgary Flames for the second time this season, and a lot of Canucks fans are confident. And who can blame them? On paper this game is as close to a slam dunk as you can get. The Canucks have absolutely owned the Flames of late. I saw that Kiprusoff's GAA against the Canucks in his last 10 is 4.90. Players like the Sedins, Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond (uh, you guys in the head office checked his paper work and everything, right?) have some of their best games against the Flames. And yet if there's one thing we know about this Canucks team is they sometimes take the night off against teams like the Flames. While this game is completely winnable, and the Flames are coming off a hard-fought battle against their eternal foes in Edmonton, let's not put the 2 points down just yet.
The excitement of getting Mason Raymond back into the lineup can finally begin, but as is seemingly the way with this team, the simplest thing seems to domino it's way into something terrible. A paperwork glitch keeps Raymond out of the lineup the other night, and the Canucks get Aaron Volpatti to step in after originally slating him for the press box. Volpatti even scores a goal, but then suffers a torn labrum and is now lost for the season. There are some who think this team might be cursed, and this is simply one more for their growing list of potential evidence.
Roberto Luongo gets the start tonight, and rightfully so. He is still, whether you like it or not, the starter in Vancouver. His record against the Flames, especially over the last couple seasons speaks for itself. As far as this game goes, I am more concerned about the team not showing up than who is in goal. As far as Roberto's play the other night against Nashville, I think a combination of rust and poor defensive work is as much to blame as anything. As far as Cory Schneider goes, a bit of dumb luck on his part. Either way the D needs to tighten itself up, teams like Nashville, as talented as they are don't score 6 goals on an even remote basis. They score 6 goals if you put up passive defence and let them have your goalies to feast on.
Once again all eyes are focused on Brendan Shanahan as he has a couple hits to look at from Saturday night. In the New York Islanders / Dallas Stars game, we had Mark Fistric take this run at the Isles' Nino Niederreiter:
A lot of debate over this one. Some say that the replay shows Fistric leave his feet on the hit. He does leave his feet, but the camera angle creates some doubt as to whether that was on the follow-through of the hit or not. What is clear is that he targets the head. Niederreiter takes Fistric's elbow flush in the face, and is now out with concussion symptoms. Seems like a no-brainer for Shanahan, right? Yet the amount of debate going on concerning this hit, and Shanahan's inconsistency suggest otherwise. And at the risk of sounding like a homer, this hit needs to have the Aaron Rome standard applied to it.
There it is. Here at Nucks Misconduct we have examined this hit to death. The onus is on Brendan Shanahan now. This hit on Horton featured less of an obvious leaving the feet element, no elbow, and not as much of a deliberate targeting of the head. In the suspension of Rome, the league even admitted it was as much bad timing on Rome's part. Yet they suspended him for 4 Stanley Cup Finals games. The equivalent in regular season games? Anywhere from 8 to 16, according to some. Fistric needs to be shown that his hit was the kind the NHL assured us was going to be met with the harshest of punishment. You threw the book at Aaron Rome. Anything less than the equivalent suspension for Fistric will be an injustice.
Now we look at the other significant hit from last night, where Jordin Tootoo of the Nashville Predators steamrolls Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres. Miller of course had just returned to the lineup after the injuries suffered when he got destroyed by Boston's Milan Lucic last month. Here's the hit:
Once again, first glance suggests no brainer. Here you have Tootoo drive to the net, and at the 2:01 mark of the video, Sabres D Christian Ehrhoff makes a move to separate Tootoo from the puck. He swipes at the puck but doesn't make contact. At the same time, Tootoo makes zero effort to try and retain possession to get a shot on goal. It sure looks like he just leaves the puck and veers right into Miller who is deep in the blue paint. At this moment, Tootoo could conceivably skate around the net. Nashville fans are arguing that Ehrhoff pushes Tootoo into Miller, but I don't think this is the case. Skip forward one second, and you see Ehrhoff has moved to the left, going by Tootoo and has his arm and stick draped around Tootoo. While his left arm is obscured, nothing from Tootoo's movements suggest any type of a shove. Tootoo crashes into Miller with his hands up and he powers through the goaltender. Miller throws a blocker punch before Tootoo even hits the ice. So what happens to Tootoo here?
First off, tune out any comparison to the Lucic hit. The only similarity between these two is that they involve Ryan Miller. Tootoo has an opportunity to take the puck to the net, but appears to abandon it and get a lick in on Miller. Given the video evidence, the fact that Miller was in his crease and playing the potential shot and thus was vulnerable, and Tootoo's history as a dangerous and dirty hitter, Shanahan needs to come down hard on this one. It's not about the fact it was Ryan Miller. We all heard the reason Lucic didn't get suspended was because Miller was out of his crease and it was a collision and nothing more. So here you have one of the most blatant goalie runs in years. If the NHL does not send the message that the goalies are protected in their creases, then maybe Lindy Ruff was right and it really is open season. I do have to say though I was disappointed to see that after the scuffle following the hit, that was the end of it from the Sabres. Sorry, but if you're gonna say 'You're next!", Paul Gaustad, then you or someone else had best make even a minimal effort to follow up on that. Hell, even a snow shower would have sufficed.
BAND OF THE DAY- ICED EARTH
One of the biggest names in power metal have returned, and they've got a familiar face on vocals this time out. Vancouver's own Stu Block is the new screamer on the band's latest "Dystopia'. Block is the recording vocalist with Regina, SK's Into Eternity, and got his start as frontman for local metal act Omega Crom. Stu's a friend of Mrs Waachcast and myself, and of the coolest and nicest dudes in the biz, and we're thrilled to see him get this opportunity. Iced Earth are currently touring Europe, so we will throw a couple live clips at ya as well as the title track from the new album.