It's not often that we take notice of the MSM talking about the Canucks without some skepticism. After 2011, as a fanbase we tend to be wary about anything they have to say, as compliments are usually backhanded at best, and criticisms tend be nonsense at best and bordering on slander at their worst. So you can imagine my surprise when a twitter search of the team this morning yielded an ESPN story on the team and whether they're for real. Could it be that Linden, Benning and Desjardins actually know what they're doing? Here's what we know so far:
- Anyone still knocking Ryan Miller is an ass. He's on pace for his 2nd best save % of his career, and is starting to show what some of us realized even last season: without him, the Canucks don't make the playoffs.
- This defence needs help. Miller's been great, that's true, but it's even more remarkable when you consider how many shots the Canucks are allowing. The youth movement has seen Ben Hutton earn a spot on the team, but with Luca Sbisa out for the long term (and isn't that a blessing in disguise from a defensive standpoint?), and the underwhelming play of Matt Bartkowski, perhaps it's time to cast a glance to Utica and see who's next to make the jump?\
- If it ain't broke... One of the things people are starting to realize about the Oilers, is that with teams focusing on Connor McDavid (one, because he's a legitimate offensive threat and two, because they don't want to be shown up by a rookie) it's given more favourable defensive matchups to Taylor Hall, who is becoming very much the superstar many thought he would. The play of Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and Bo Horvat means teams will have to weigh their options carefully: Continue the focus on the Sedins, or worry about the Canucks' other threats. It's a good problem to have.
Sure, there's still issues to be sorted out. Chris Higgins will be returning to the lineup tonight, and that means that one person has to come out. Either Adam Cracknell or Sven Baertschi will be sitting as they welcome Higgins, who was hurt in the Hockeyville game back in September, and while you want to get Baertschi going and get him to finally live up to his potential, it won't at all be a shock to see him in the press box tonight.
So what's the deal with the Penguins? While they seem to be righting themselves, the fact that a team with that kind of firepower has managed a mere 24 goals so far this year is pretty shocking, and it goes beyond the slow start of Sidney Crosby. If not for Marc-Andre Fleury and the team's solid defence, this team would be talked about as being in danger of missing the playoffs already. The changes they've made aren't making them better, in fact the Penguins have been winning in spite of Phil Kessel, David Perron and Nick Bonino, who as we all know was the other end of the deal that brought Brandon Sutter to the Canucks. All this bodes well for the Canucks, who have played well against the Penguins over the last few years. They haven't lost in regulation at home to the Pens since the 2000-01 season, and last season shut them out in both meetings.
FRESH HOT LINKS
- Thrilled to see Dimitri Filipovic writing some things for the team, and in his first post, he shows some well-deserved love to Ryan Miller
- A look from the other side at Sutter's adjustment to life on the best coast
- And Botch shows that while he hasn't been lights out, he does have some breathing room
AROUND THE LEAGUE
- The news for McDavid is not good. They're not gonna get another 1st overall pick out of this, right?
- Tyler Seguin got his 6th hat trick as a Dallas Star, something that took him 164 games. It took Mike Modano over 1400 to do that. Weird, huh?
- Don't let anyone tell you the rookie race is done without McDavid
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
These guys are hitting Vancouver next week, but I wanted to put something up a little different. Metal gets knocked by some as being just noise, so here's a drum cam video of Havok's Pete Weber, showing what kind of ability one needs to play this 'noise'. They're at the Red Room on the 12th with Psychosomatic, Revenger and Terrifier.