Things That Make You Go Hmmm: The Canucks’ Blue Line
[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]
I watched the Canucks’ 4-2 victory over the Sharks with a couple hundred of my closest Canucks friends at the Vancouver Canucks Tweet-Up at Guildford’s Boston Pizza. CHB’s JJ Guerrero and Chris Golden were representing, and everyone had a great time (due in large part to the Canucks’ win). I was able to bring my wife and kids out with me and they had a great time soaking in the sights and sounds. In fact, with the big screens, yummy food, and loud audio, it was a bit of sensory over-load…in a good way!
So as I reflect on game 4 and look ahead to game 5 on Tuesday night at Rogers Arena, here are a few Things That Make You Go Hmmm…:
- Does Keith Ballard give hip check lessons? I was happy to see Keith Ballard in the line-up, although it was due to injuries to Ehrhoff and Rome. Nevertheless, I was hopeful that Ballard would have a strong game and regain some of his confidence. Ballard’s stats weren’t overly impressive: 1 shot, minus 1 in 10:34 of ice-time. However, he had the best hit of the night as he sent Sharks forward (and Canuck d-killer) Jamie McGinn head-over-heels with a devastating hip check. I immediately flashbacked to some of Ballard’s other big hip checks from the season and again wondered why he doesn’t play more. I then wanted to find out if Ballard threw out these types of checks in Florida and Phoenix. YouTube provides more than enough evidence; he has always been a hip checking machine. Check out these bone-crunchers on Evgeni Malkin, Scott Hartnell, and the immortal Jack Skille.
- The Chris Tanev effect. It came as quite a surprise when defenseman Chris Tanev played in game 4 ahead of veteran Andrew Alberts, especially when coach AV initially said that Tanev would be in San Jose just for “insurance.” Well, the Canucks cashed in their insurance policy and inserted Tanev into the line-up as Ballard’s partner on the blue line. Similar to Ballard, Tanev’s stats were rather pedestrian (a bunch of zeroes in all categories in 9:13 TOI). But more importantly, he essentially played error-free hockey and played well beyond his years, considering that this was his only the 30th professional game of his young career. With Bieksa, Ehrhoff and Salo all becoming free agents this summer, the Canucks might feel okay letting at least one of them go with players like Chris Tanev, Kevin Connauton, and Yann Sauve looking to crack the line-up.
- Where is Alex Edler? Since a monster performance against the Blackhawks and a decent series against Nashville, Edler has been very unnoticeable in this series against the Sharks. He has one point in the 4 games, and hasn’t laid out any of the Sharks forwards yet with hits like he dished out in the 2 previous series. Perhaps he is still feeling the effects of his mid-season back surgery, or maybe AV’s penchant of riding his top 4 D with heavy ice-time is starting to affect him. Regardless, the Canucks will need him to ramp up his play a bit if they do as expected and advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Game 5 Tuesday night at Rogers Arena should be a good one, with the Canucks looking to improve their dismal 2W-4L record in elimination games in this 2011 post-season. Meanwhile, the Sharks will look to stave off elimination.
And have you noticed that no one uses the term “stave off” unless they are talking about sports playoffs. I’ve never heard it used in every day conversation… yet another thing that makes me go hmmm.