Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What's 6'4", 245 lbs and completely invisible?

That would be Todd Bertuzzi. While the media tried their best to hype the return of the embattled former Canuck, Todd Bertuzzi's first visit to GM Place since being traded to Florida for Roberto Luongo was so underwhelming that if you hadn't been told he was playing, you wouldn't have known. Bertuzzi was a subdued -2, his only real splash was a breakaway on Luongo, fired wide as the Canucks goalie came out to challenge the hulking winger. Like the trade, we also won the confrontation. Luongo was at his finest in the first as the Ducks threw everything they had at the Canucks in the first. The second period was a different story, as the Ducks began a bizarre self-destruction parade to the penalty box, led by Chris Pronger, who went out of his way to steal any thunder Big Bert might have mustered by playing one of the dirtiest games in recent memory. And for Pronger,that's saying something. His worst offense was the blatant crosscheck to the ribs of Ryan Kesler, who had arms raised celebrating his first of 2 goals on the evening. The hit was late, on an unsuspecting player, and cowardly. I doubt he will get suspended, but he is definitely deserving. The first goal however was the big story of the game. After playing cat & mouse with Randy Carlyle for the first period, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault finally managed to get Naslund & the Sedins out for a shift away from the Ducks checking line, and the wrist shot goal by Naslund was a classic, especially because he skated away from his check, Mr. Invisible to get the goal. The Ducks and their fans complained about the officiating, but really, between the hooks and holds that are now part of everyday life in the NHL and their undisciplined crosschecks and unsportsmanlike outbursts, the blame lies with them alone. Roberto Luongo has 2 straight shutouts as they prepare for the 1st visit this season from the Columbus Blue Jackets. We will have more post-game commentary as well as the pre-game show tomorrow morning on a new edition of We Are All Canuckleheads (too bad Phoenix isn't in town, it's show #55).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canucks 4 Wild 2 Boogaard 0

On paper it looked like doom for the Canucks, coming off a shootout loss in Edmonton the night before, having to take on one of the NHL's best home teams with little rest and a goalie whose last game was 1 month ago. Someone forgot to tell that to Markus Naslund. The Captain was stellar with a hat trick (not to mention a disallowed goal on a quick whistle and a slapper from the point that hit the post), playing as fine a game as I've seen him play post-Steve Moore incident. Curtis Sanford was solid despite giving up a couple to Marian Gaborik, and we also got an absolute beauty end to end rush from Ryan Kesler. Nazzy now has goals in 4 straight games and leads the team with 10. And as for the most anticipated aspect of the night, the "revenge" on Canucks players by Wild knuckledragger Derek Boogaard on Pinky & the Brain? Boogaard had 3:53 of ice time and was a -1, while the twins set up 2 of Naslunds 3 goals and were both +2.
Guess that showed us. Full credit to AV and the coaching staff who did a fine job of getting the guys ready and keeping them focused, pulling down what is no doubt the biggest win of the year. The Canucks now sit atop the Northwest Division, 1 point behind San Jose for 2nd place in the Conference with 24 points. Next up for the Canucks is a visit to Curtis Sanford's old stomping grounds in St. Louis to take on the much improved Blues team on Friday. Oh and hat tip to Squirrel E. Doom on CDC for the photo.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The road trip that wasn't, or how I learned to hate Parksville even more

It was going to be glorious. A prized ticked to see my beloved Canucks, against their hated rivals from Calgary. And the team has gotten hot, despite their losses of key defensemen. Leave it to a virus to dismantle the entire thing. I had to cancel my trip, and sell the ticket, thanks to some nagging bug that has left me completely drained for more than a week. And what a game to miss. The Sedins and Naslund in fine form. Willie Mitchell picking up the slack for the now suspended Mattias Ohlund , and Brad Isbister continuing his recent strong play with a laugher against Kiprusoff. The only things missing were round 3 of the Kesler/Iginla dance card and Luongo scoring a goal...

Gotta say the whole Ohlund incident is pretty disappointing. Although at first I was against the idea of a suspension, given the injury to Koivu (and whenever I hear the word cracked, and then see it referred to as a fracture I get a little bit miffed) I suppose it's going to have to be the way it is. The problem I have is, and I know this is a shock, that the NHL has once again proven to be inconsistent with it's punishments. Given that Randy Jones got 2 games for his hit from behind on Patrice Bergeron, and the head shots by Marion Gaborik and the Koivu shot that led to the retaliation went unpunished, the 4 games is hard to swallow from that viewpoint. Gaborik's was especially frustrating, so let's take a look at the 5 criteria used by the NHL to determine if the hit should warrant a suspension, shall we?

Did the hit deliberately target the head? Yes

Did he launch himself by leaving his feet to hit Kesler? Yes.

Is Gaborik a repeat offender? No.

Did he deliver the hit to the head of an unsuspecting opponent? Kesler saw the hit coming, but did he expect the head shot? Probably not, but for the sake of argument, we will say no.

Was it a late hit? You can argue this one, and we have to go on memory, but it seems to me the puck was far from Kesler at the time of the hit.

So there we go, 2 or 3 of the 5, depending how you look at it. Add in that Kesler was frustrating Gaborik all game by tight checking and delivering a few clean and legal hits, and you have the potential for premeditation. The game was out of reach in the first period. So if you have 3 of the 5, and the fact it came from a player who had tangled with the opposing player all game, why is it there wasn't even a fine? There's a lot of rhetoric coming out of Minnesota right now, fans blasting off on Ohlund, bringing up Bertuzzi and of course the thinly veiled threats from Wild neanderthal Derek Boogard. To the Wild fans I say, stop and think. Did Ohlund overreact? Yes. Is he a dirty player? No. Are you being a tad hypocritical? You know you are, and Gaborik's hit on Ohlund is the proof. Enjoy the game on Wednesday, and don't let the emotions of an incident that was handled by the league (rightly or wrongly) skew your perception of the incident.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Canucks 4 Avalanche 3

Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey said the Canucks are now in "season saving mode". I guess that isn't too far from the truth, as they will need to try and keep pace with the other teams in their division. An outstanding effort across the board last night from the Canucks, especially defensively. Mike Weaver and Alexander Edler played their best games as Canucks last night, Edler especially as he did yeoman work neutralizing the Joe Sakic line with partner Willie Mitchell all night. One of the main reasons we won? Our best players were our best players. Markus Naslund with 2 assists. Brendan Morrison with a goal. Kesler with a goal, and the Sedins combining for 6 points. And when we needed the big saves, Roberto Luongo was there, challenging the shooters and looking confident. And how about the glove save by Mike Weaver lol. The score was close, but this game was decided by all the little things, battles for the puck, pursuits and turnovers. The Canucks consistently won these battles against an Avs team that hadn't lost at home this season. We are now 4-0 against division opponents, and when they get back on track, this good start divisionally will pay huge dividends come the end of the year.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Apparantly we're done or something?

Anti-Canuck forces are dancing in the streets as injuries to our defense mount and our goaltender is now being set upon by the fans. Guess this means the season is over. A new podcast will be posted today, and we will concede exactly that. Or maybe not.

I don't want to tip my hat too much, but to those of you who booed Roberto Luongo, I say this: How does one go from being the Savior to the Goat with around 70 games left to play in the season? Thanks to the Idiot Box, we have a short term memory of what hard times with this club actually feel like. This is not the worse it's ever been. Not even close.