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GAME DAY PREVIEW: Canucks vs Rangers

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I don't get it sometimes. Heading into this season, expectations were low for the Canucks, and it made their season to date a pleasant surprise. So why is it that a road trip that would grind any team down has people running in the streets spewing doomsday epithets? A team that's basically been better than we could have hoped hitting their first speed bump of the season is cause for level-headed people to cry that this is the end? Bah, humbug.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Time Saturday 7:00 PM PST
TV CBC
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting
3-1 Rangers Apr 1/14
The Enemy Blueshirt Banter Scoring Leaders D. Sedin: 7-19-26
M. Pacioretty 12-8-20

Canucks
CATEGORY
Rangers
18-9-2 SEASON RECORD 12-10-4
38 Points 28
5th Conference Position 10th
Lost 1
Streak Won 1
2.97 (7)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.92 (9)
2.76 (19)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
2.77 (21)
18.3 (16) Power Play % 15.1 (23)
86.1 (5) Penalty Kill % 81.0 (15)
48.9 (21) Faceoff Win % 46.6 (28)
10.7 (21) PIM / GP 9.9 (23)
50.1 (16) Corsi For % 50.2 (15)
99.8 (15) PDO 100.2 (14)

And it's not that I think the Canucks can continue to play at the pace they were going, but good lord, people: stop and think for a moment. This is still a team in flux, getting in different situations that the new staff and management are trying to deal with. This seems to be lost on some people. Barring a series of catastrophic injuries, the Canucks are still able to play .500 hockey and have enough points to make the playoffs.

Now, changing things around isn't such a bad idea. When lines get cold, a shake up is always a good thing, though I question the wisdom of moving Jannik Hansen to the top line, since he basically went ice cold after winning player of the week honours recently. It makes you wonder what Alex Burrows has to do to get back to the top line, a combination we all know has put up some pretty good numbers in the past. I'm more concerned about getting Nick Bonino back on track than Hansen, and it will be interesting to see how he does with Radim Vrbata.

As far as the goaltending goes, it's not the end of the world. Ryan Miller has been okay. Not spectacular, not horrible. When he's on, he's on. When he's not, look out. But I totally understand everyone's reactions to this. After all, we've never had a goaltender like this in Vancouver before, right? Seriously, I will have to start muting people on Twitter who insist on pushing the 'GC' narrative. It's garbage. Neither goalie has shown enough one way or the other to pass that sniff test, it's just that some who follow this team have been living in that manufactured drama for so long they don't know how to function without it.

The real issue though, as everyone has pointed out, is the defence. It's a little annoying that there's a whole 'OH HELL, DAN HAMHUIS IS GONE AND THE CANUCKS ARE FALLING APART!!!!1!' thing happening around the interwebs. First, while Hammer is by far the best man on the Canucks back end, it's not like he was having a Norris Trophy worthy season. That certainly has been left out of the discussion. Before he was hurt, Hamhuis had been struggling, as have the others apart from Alex Edler (who while not perfect has been miles better this year than the last couple years) and Chris Tanev. Kevin Bieksa has been Casual Kev all year long. Luca Sbisa has been consistent: he makes a lot of bad decisions, the occasional good play, and could probably do with some time in the press box once Hammer returns. The defence has been sub par for the entire year apart from a handful of games, and Hammer's been injured for weeks. The only reason everyone's discussing it now is because the Canucks weren't able to outscore their problems (and fatigue is a large factor in that).

After playing their last 4 games in a span of 5 days, the Canucks play their next 5 in 15, and the next 4 of them are at home. I am positive they will get back on track having had some rest, and getting to play on home ice. The West is a log jam still, and they need to get back in the win column, but it's not cause for alarm yet.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

The other day, we marked the 10th anniversary of the loss of Pantera's Dimebag Darrell, and tomorrow metalheads worldwide will mark another tragic passing as they remember Chuck Schuldiner of Death. To call him an innovator is a massive understatement. As part of that Florida metal scene, Chuck (whose band Mantas would become Death) along with bands like Xecutioner (Obituary), Morbid Angel, Amon (Deicide) and a few others, they created the American death metal sound, and influenced bands around the world. Schuldiner was the death metal version of Dimebag in a way, a virtuoso on the guitar, his style inspiring many to pick up the axe and grind. Schuldiner lost his battle with pontine glioma (a cancer of the brain stem) in 2001, but he left a rich musical legacy. Not too long ago, a number of musicians who played with Schuldiner in various incarnations of Death toured the world (including a stop in Vancouver) in a tribute called Death To All, playing many of the bands most beloved tunes. Not easy to pick one track that really showcases his talent, especially because the band continued to evolve album by album. I could literally pick a song from each release to be able to do him justice, but I will leave you with what I think is my favorite Death track. RIP Chuck.

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

drink

- 1 Drink: Glen Healy.

- 1 Drink: Don Cherry heaps more praise on Casual Kev Bieska.

- 2 Drinks: Vigneault laughs about something, then chews his gum.

- 2 Drinks: Lingering shots on Henrik Lundqvist.

- 3 Drinks: Intermission panel tries to tell us how bad Miller is, but how good Henrik's been.

- 3 drinks: Bonino goal.

Parting thoughts from Community