The Canucks will seek to keep it going at home against the Flames on Saturday night. We all know about Saturday Nights and the Hockey Night in Canada folks. It seems there is always something. The feud was at it's zenith in the ashes of the 2011 Finals, but the feeling has been around longer than that. But that was another team of leaders in 2011, at another time. The new guys are not the old guys, by action and deed. Although I would imagine that makes little difference to the folks in the puck prognostication biz.
It is fun, if you don't take them too seriously, to follow along with the folks in the national media, as it pertains to this team. We kvetch about the recently retired Gallagher, but the local guys are usually pretty informative. Botch outlined all the questions about the team in his return to the Provies ( Pra-vees ? Proo-vees? The eternal question ), for instance. Like with all media, on all things, you believe as much or as little as you want. There are some guys, like Simmons, and Lawless, who I can read in the paper and, well, maybe not enjoy, but be informed on some level. But I am diving for the remote if they are going to talk on TSN. We all have faves ( Ferraro, MacKenzie ) like everyone does, and there are some who are definitely better than others. But none of them, when it comes to predicting how a team is going to do over a season, are really doing anything other than talking out of their asses. Their guesses are just more informed, not more succinct. It is simply too long of a season. Too many things can go wrong or right to safely predict anything. The Flambes, for instance, were picked to miss the playoffs, while the Kings were going to win the Pacific.
They were wrong about the Canucks last year as well, when the team once again hit the 100 + point benchmark. After The Tire Fire Year, you would think that would have bought the management some space. In most markets in the NHL not in a hockey mad culture like Canada, they would have been doing backflips for such a quick return to that level of success. In Vancouver though, you have to view that through the lens of way too many first round exits after almost winning it all. We've been to as close as you can get without winning it twice now. Is it sad that when my Leaf fan friends go all "No Cups", I remind them the Canucks have been closer three times since their Six Team Cup in 1967 ? I call them Half Cups when I am half in my cups too. All in good fun, of course. You have to stand your ground, and freaking Leaf fans are everywhere !
The questions that were asked of almost all of the moves by the triumvirate of Jim Benning , Trevor Linden, and Willie Desjardins this offseason were answered in the first sixty minutes of the season. At least as far as they can be answered in one game. The second line of Radim Vrbata and Svren Baertschi flanking sophomore Bo Horvat is going to be a force if they stay together. I can't imagine Willie is going to want to screw with that combination for a while anyhow, after they combined for 13 shots in the opener at the Saddledome. Jared McCann looked very good between Jannik Hansen and Alexandre Burrows, getting gypped on an assist on the Burrows goal. The fourth line was all bang and crash, while still spending time in the offensive end. Both the wingers fought, and Cracknell was pretty good. And Ben Hutton's megawatt smile after the game spoke volumes about how things went for him as well.
He had an assist, on a perfect pass, catching the Flames on a change, that showed his smarts for the game. His all around performance was pretty good, although he was slightly out of position when Sbisa turned over the puck on the lone Flames goal ( I know we are running a tally. So. That was a definite goal causing turnover, but my question was why he did not just keep going to the corner and ring it around the boards to Hutton or the backchecking forward ? Food for thought. ) That almost seemed like nitpicking just now though, when you viewed his game in totality. For a 22 year old who was playing his first game in the NHL, he was fine. More than fine. By the second and third, Luca ( maybe Lidster whispered in his ear? ) seemed to be looking for The Kid so he could make the right pass.
The line that drew the ire of the talking heads at Sportsnet was, of course, the Sedins and Brandon Sutter. Before the game, the "experts" had their doubts. During the game, before they started exploding for goals and points ( Hank- 1 goal, Sutter 1 goal, 1 assist, Daniel 1 goal, 2 assists ), Mike Johnson was dismissive and basically said Sutter was "beaten out of the 2nd line centre job " by Horvat, and this was some sort of way of making the best of a bad situation. When his partner reminded him of the reasons Willie put him there ( right handed shot still taking right handed draws, first guy back to help defensively deep, and he might be the smartest guy not from Pincourt QC to ever play with the Twins ), he dismissed that too.
I get it. They have to get people talking, and it is all about clicks, getting something trending or going viral, rather than letting reality get in the way. But when you are a fan of a team that they are all just dismissing out of hand before the season starts, it can grind the ol' gears. Several of the national guys are picking the Canucks to finish near the bottom of the West. A 100+ point team last year. Mention the thought of the playoffs, and derisive laughter is probably the reaction you are going to get
But the moves were not all THAT bad, were they ? The loss of Frank Corrado ( who could still play in Utica this year. ) cannot have been that big of a blow, could it ?! The Leafs have not played him, and are carrying 10 defensemen, with a couple on the IR. If they waive him, the Canucks could claim him and sent him directly to the team in upstate New York anyhow !
Look at the moves, and apart from being younger, and slightly smaller ( and faster ) the argument can be made for the replacements doing the job as well as the guys that were here last year. But the media has Connor McDavid dancing in their eyes, and the Flames got Dougie Hamilton AND Frolik, damnit. The Kings got Lucic, and you know how what that means for us? Certain doom. Someone has to be the team to be picked to fall, and the Canucks are the team that the guys have selected. Sorry Canuck fans, pick up your consolation prize at the window to the left, and you can start dreaming about that first round pick in, say, January.
You'll excuse me for remaining a bit more positive than that. I know it was just sixty minutes, and Hartley is going to have his team riled up on Saturday after the Canucks flat out embarrassed them on Wednesday. But the Canucks I saw on opening night had balanced scoring, speed and grit throughout the lineup, and are a fair bit quicker at transitioning the puck out of their own end.
Things can't be that bad, can they ?