Jun 072011
 

Only a couple of weeks ago, Jamie McGinn’s hit on Aaron Rome wasn’t a suspendable offence.

Neither was Ben Eager’s charge from behind on Daniel Sedin.

You tell me if those hits aren’t as egregious – or even worse – than Rome’s hit on Horton.

Listen, I get it. Rome’s hit on Horton was a late hit. Horton, unfortunately, was injured, though we heard this morning that he was thankfully discharged from hospital. But it was far from a dirty hit, and certainly, it was far from the worst hit ever in history of the Stanley Cup Finals.

I expected the suspension. I didn’t expect the league to change the rules midway through the biggest series of their season. If the league is sending a message, so be it. But like I’ve said before, this message will get lost if the next guy who hits someone 0.4 seconds late doesn’t receive similar discipline.

Update: Rather than starting a new post, I’m adding the following video as a further point of reference. A lot of holier-than-thou comments out there so let me just remind those folks that Michael Ryder was NOT suspended for his hit on Blair Jones in this year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The hit wasn’t late – Jones never even had possession of the puck when Ryder nailed him. Ryder’s lucky Jones wasn’t hurt; otherwise his hit might have actually been considered dirty and a suspendable offense.

Jun 072011
 

I’ve come to accept that anything I say about Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton will come across as blatant homerism so I’ll keep this post short.

Reading some of the comments on Twitter last night you’d have thought that Rome took a 200-foot run at Horton, but according to TSN, it took 28 frames from the time Horton delivered his pass to the time Rome hit him. Again from TSN, 30 frames is equivalent to one second of real-time and the NHL generally allows 15 frames (or half a second) before it’s considered late. Yes, Rome’s hit was late, but it was less than half a second late. To be precise, it was 0.4 seconds late.

But just because the hit was late, it doesn’t mean it was dirty. Certainly, Rome has no history of head-hunting. Sometimes, the game is just too fast, something even Brad Marchand conceded after the game:

Marchand on hit: Always gonna be there. Things happen too quick. Guys put themslvs in vulnerable pos. Lots of times you don’t mean to do it.

Boston supporters should know this full well after Zdeno Chara sent Max Pacioretty to the hospital with a broken neck because Chara hit Pacioretty a fraction of a second late. (For what it’s worth, remember that Chara wasn’t suspended for that hit.)

I’m not even sure it was a blind-side hit considering both players were going north-south and Horton was admiring his pass going down center ice. However, I’ll admit I could be wrong on this if there are other angles of the play I haven’t seen.

Maybe it’s because I grew up watching Scott Stevens lay these kinds of hits out all time, but whatever happened to keeping your head up?

Regardless, friend or foe, you never want to see anyone get seriously hurt playing this game so I recognize that Rome should face some supplementary discipline. He has a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 11 AM this morning (Boston time). As well, the Bruins have already announced that Horton will miss the rest of the series. At the end of the day, Rome will be suspended and I don’t think Canucks fans will argue. Heck, they’ve been trying to get him off the lineup for months now anyway.

Update:

According to Dan Murphy from Sportsnet, Aaron Rome has been suspended for the rest of this Stanley Cup Finals series.

Jun 072011
 

[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.]

Wow.  That was ugly. 

So now we have a series after the Bruins thumped the Canucks 8-1 in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals.  And as you would expect from a 7-goal defeat, there are more than a few Things That Make You Go Hmmm…

  1. Does the Bruins pre-game meal consist of Kentucky Fried Chicken? Boston players seemed intent on having their fingers licked by the Canucks players, as both Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic shoved their digits at Canuck mouths in an obvious follow-up to Burrows’ alleged bite in game 1 and Lapierre’s taunting in game 2.  These actions were in spite of Boston coach Claude Julien’s claims that the Bruins wouldn’t stoop to the Canucks’ level.  To his credit, he told his players after the game to cut it out.  Hopefully, this will be the end of the funny fingers as it’s starting to get finger-licking bad.  And over-done.  And a bit creepy.
  2.  

  3. Why play Luongo in the third period?  The Canucks started the third period behind 4-0.  And yet there was Roberto Luongo in the Vancouver net to start the final frame.  Alain Vigneault thought that the Canucks still had a chance to win the game (especially given that they started the 3rd on a power-play), but it just didn’t seem like Vancouver’s night.  I would have preferred that Luongo get a bit of a mental and physical break, and the drop-off to Cory Schneider isn’t that steep.  Apparently, AV asked Luongo if he wanted to call it a night with the score 5-0 and Luongo told him that he wanted to finish the game off.  But Luongo ended up letting in another 3 goals after that and I’m not sure what benefits there were to leaving him in.  Unfortunately, it may have affected (even just a bit) his chances of winning the Conn Smythe, but we will see.
  4.  

  5. Which defenceman will draw into the line-up for game 4?  Presuming that Aaron Rome gets suspended for his first-period hit on Nathan Horton, either Keith Ballard or Chris Tanev will be inserted into the line-up to take Rome’s place.  It’s ironic that it will take a suspension to AV’s apparent favourite to have AV’s apparent least-favourite to draw in.  I believe that Ballard will play ahead of Tanev.  Ballard is certainly more of a high-risk, high-reward player (in contrast to the conservative, straight-forward play of Tanev) but I think his upside right now is greater.  He has the ability to be physical and to rush the puck up out of the zone.  Both of these elements are crucial to the Canucks’ success.
  6.  

I’ll be heading to the game 4 Viewing Party at Rogers Arena with my family on Wednesday night, and I’m interested to experience the atmosphere in the arena.  I’ll be watching with 18,000 other people downtown as opposed to going home and watching the game for free (along with eating my own food and drinking my own drinks with no line-ups for the washroom).

Why pay $10 ($50 if you count the whole family) when I could watch for free?  Will the atmosphere and experience be worth it?  We’ll soon see – it’s yet another thing that makes me go hmmm.

Jun 072011
 

After winning 4 playoff games in a row and 7 of their last 8, I suppose last night’s game 3 meltdown was inevitable. You never want to lose 8-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals, but if there’s any positive from doing so, it still only counts as 1 loss.

That said, no one is sugarcoating this. The team sagged. The defense was all over the place. The powerplay sucked. Even the Sedins got benched for a powerplay shift. About the only thing the Canucks dominated on is the shot clock, and Tim Thomas had a response for all but 1 of their 41 shots.

Then there’s Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton, which knocked Horton out of the game. Rome has a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 11 AM today and Horton is thankfully doing well in hospital, but there’s no doubt the Bruins will use this incident as a rallying cry. (More on Rome and Horton in a separate post later.)

The Hero

Tim Thomas. 48 hours after facing criticism for leaving the net and giving up Alex Burrows’ OT game 2-winner, Thomas made 40 saves, many of the sparkling variety.

The Goat

Take your pick. Rome for his hit on Horton, which gave the Bruins an early 5-minute major powerplay, the Sedins for not producing much in the way of offense, Luongo for allowing 8 goals. This was a collective team brain fart, folks.

The Numbers

  • 8. The Canucks had ample opportunity to get back in this game. They had 8 powerplays – 15:13 minutes worth – and blew them all. Not only that, but they surrendered 2 shorthanded goals to the Bruins.
  • 10%. After clicking at 25% for most of the playoffs, the Canucks’ powerplay is only 1-for-10 in the Stanley Cup Finals.
  • 145. The two teams combined for 145 penalty minutes in game 3, including 9 misconducts.

The Next Time

The Canucks need to forget game 3 ever happened. It’s an ass-kicking for sure, but they’re still up 2-1 in the series. Win game 4 and they give themselves a chance to win the Cup at home.

Jun 072011
 

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 17:25

Hi Chris,

The game started off furiously, which lead to Horton getting knocked out. Clean hit or dirty play?

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 17:28

Hey Caylie,

I might be in the minority, but I see that as a dirty hit as Rule 48 reads. I do think Horton was admiring his pass, but Rome stands up and point of contact is the player’s head.

And no way I wanted to see a player wheeled off the ice.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 17:41

Hi Chris,

I never want to see anyone get hurt like that, that’s hard to watch.

I’m not sure if it was dirty, but it was a late hit by Rome. That being said it’s also Horton’s responsibility to keep his head up and not admire his pass. I think most of damage is when he hit his head on the ice.

Caylie

[About the game from two viewpoints. Chris and Caylie watch the game and exchange their thoughts via email.]

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 17:57

Hey Caylie,

The reason I say the hit is dirty is that Rome easily saw that Horton was in a vulnerable position and took complete advantage – regardless of the fact Horton would likely get hurt. Players need to have more respect for each other.

That all said, huge kill from the Canucks – if it didn’t light a fire under the boys, it sure got the Rogers Arena Viewing Party going. This place is rocking! But I’m thinking the late period effort tells me the boys got the boost.

And why couldn’t MayRay have some finish? Kid can stickhandle like he’s in a phone booth. Problem is he shoots like he’s in one as well.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:21

Hi Chris,

Yeah, killing that 5-minute major was huge, I’m disappointed we didn’t score on our PP. Although our PP has a good percentage, it’s been less than spectacular in this series.

Well, Boston gets the award for fast goal of this game. We are in a hole, Boston is playing more aggressive after the Horton hit.

Half way through another big kill.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:36

Hey Caylie,

Boston is definitely playing more aggressive, but I’m surprised they’re allowing this game to continue to have end-to-end play. They’ve got a two-goal lead and yet they are letting the Canucks dictate the style of game. Go figure.

I do believe it’s imperative the Canucks narrow the lead to one before the end of two.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:45

Hi Chris,

4-0 Boston. What just happened? They are all over us, they are the ones who are dictating play. Ehrhoff and Edler has looked shaky and are giving up the puck too easily.

Things are spiraling out, someone needs to step up and get a good offensive shift going.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:47

Hey Caylie,

I’m a firm believer that the Canucks are just preparing to have an exciting 3rd period. You have to remain positive, right?

The backbreaker was that shorthanded goal. It’s as if the Canucks powerplay didn’t make the trip. Either that or the Bruins have figured it out. Very little organization and no rhythm to it.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:10

Hi Chris,

If they can score 4 in a period, so can we right? RIGHT?!

The third period has always been our best period. This would be one hell of a comeback but anything can happen in playoff hockey.

Win Da Turd!!!

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:37

Hey Caylie,

Why not? The Canucks DO have the offensive power to produce.

What worries me most right now is that the Canucks seem to have let the Bruins get under their skin. I’m hoping it’s only the aberration of a game that has gotten far out of hand, but the steadiness we’re used to is definitely missing.

Let’s just play hard, finish this one up and win Game 4. Makes the party on Friday that much better.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:43

Hi Chris,

I’m not scared that we are going to lose this game. I’m scared of how far away from our game we are. We are doing everything that we said we didn’t want to do. Emotions are too high, soon enough someone’s going to get hurt. Do we really want Kesler fighting Seidenberg?!

We better regroup and refocus. This type of game will not win us 2 more games.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 20:42

Hey Caylie,

Kesler fighting Seidenberg in a staged fight? Aside from the “I’m thankful he doesn’t get injured” feeling, I have no issue with the scrap. The game was a wash and it showed we weren’t going to back down.

What has me scratching my head is why AV left Luongo in net to start the 3rd. By no means was this game Lou’s fault, but give him a break and let him prepare for Wednesday. Instead, we see another 4 goals go past him. Not exactly good for the ol’ psyche.

And that leads me my last point – do the fans in TD Garden get free food when the Bruins score 8 goals in one game?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Mon, 06 Jun 2011 20:58

Hi Chris,

It was good to see the boys show some passion and not just turtle. I definitely think Luongo should have been pulled after the 5th goal. To start him in the third tried so show confidence in a comeback, but to give up another goal with horrible defensive coverage, that should have been it.

Not much to say but regroup, refocus and come out playing our own game in game 4!

Caylie

PS: I’m so interested to hear what Claude has to say about Lucic sticking his fingers in Burrows face. He said he wouldn’t tolerate it if one of his players did it, in his morning press conference. (Ed. note: He didn’t like it. – J.J.)

Jun 062011
 

[About the game from two viewpoints. Chris and Caylie watch the game and exchange their thoughts via email.]

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2011 17:07

Hey Caylie,

So here we have Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. Apparently a must win. I’m not exactly sure why winning the first game at home in the final makes Game 2 a must win, but apparently that’s what people allegedly wiser than I seem to think.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 17:21

Hi Chris,

I’m not sure if it is a must win, but it can’t hurt if we head back to beantown up 2-0.

I am not sure where you are tonight, but the Browns in PoMo just erupted when Manny came on the screen!

Win it WITH Manny! Go Canucks Go!

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2011 17:42

Hey Caylie,

The crowd here at Moose’s Down Under did the same – Manny coming back to play in the final is a huge boost. Hell, I’d even say that he’s the force that may galvanize the fans for an epic string – him just getting on the ice will whip ‘em into a frenzy.

I do worry that he’s not entirely healthy – no player would ever admit to being hurt if they thought they were close. Hopefully the docs had a solid baseline on him.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 17:50

Hi Chris,

You’re right, what a huge boost to team and city morale. I think 4th line minutes for him is perfect to ease him in, but yes… I’m not sure if he’s 100%.

I’m a true believer that championship teams need a great bottom-six. Raffi and company have come out with a plan. A plan to attack and hit everything that’s moving. That 4th line shift by Oreo and Tamby also really set the tone.

I expect great things from our bottom-six. Possibly another game winner?

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2011 18:27

Hey Caylie,

You’re looking for a goal from the bottom-six? I’m calling for Ballard to score the winner. Oh wait.

I can’t really knock AV as the team is obviously clicking, but I feel that Alberts has looked slow and that worries me. It’s been the Canucks speed that has given the Bruins trouble and Alberts has none of that.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 18:37

Hi Chris,

Who is Ballard?

Really, I think Alberts has been pretty decent. I noticed a few big hits from him, and to be honest, besides that I haven’t really noticed him. Which is a good thing.

Boston just scored a powerplay goal. Is the world ending?!

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2011 18:44

Hey Caylie,

Alberts has been decent? I want what you’re drinking.

He’s thrown a few hits, but how is that more than Ballard (yes, he still plays for the Canucks) provides? And the first Bruins goal, Alberts lack of mobility kept the team penned in deep – again, Ballard likely had the speed to avoid that.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 01 Jun 2011 18:58

Hi Chris,

I said he was decent, never said he was better than Bally. That’s a no brainer, Ballard is a much more mobile defenseman, however we have to work with what we have on the ice. In my opinion, Rome has looked worse with 2 penalties, albeit if that last one was “interference” then there should have been about 10 other calls.

Looks like we really need to step up our game. After that Lucic goal, the Bruins were all over us. Windaturd has been the slogan all season long. Let’s do it again.

My prediction, our next goal will be a big play from our back end that ties the game up.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Sat, 04 Jun 2011 19:25

Hey Caylie,

You are right, Rome has looked far worse. But I still feel that Ballard should’ve been in before Alberts – even if Ballard scores the OT breakaway winner.

On a different note, I’m beginning to like the traffic and abuse that the Canucks are sending Thomas’ way. He’s solid on most pucks head-on, but has looked as shaky as @mozy19 does after a few drinks when there’s bumping and grinding in front.

C.

May 212011
 

[About the game from two viewpoints. Chris and Caylie watch the game and exchange their thoughts via email.]

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:23

Hey Caylie,

So… how about that first goal?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:26

Hi Chris,

That was bad defensive coverage from Ehrhoff on that goal there. But that was an undisciplined penalty from Lapierre there. It’s one thing to be aggressive and another thing to not control a hit. Here we go again, a 4 minute penalty kill coming up. Canucks are 0 for 4 on the PK, hoping we can figure it out here. NOW!

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:30

Hey Caylie,

So… how about that second goal?

And I noticed Sharks fans had a picture of David Hasselhoff against the glass with Ehrhoff in the box. Creative, though not the two we normally see or have seen.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:31

Hi Chris,

Did we just go back in time? It’s feeling a lot like Round 1 of last year’s playoffs.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:36

Hi Caylie,

If this was the series against the Kings, the Sharks would’ve scored two goals on that last PP opportunity.

And I think it’s safe to say the Sharks found their game when they got home. Stuff like that happens to me when I travel all the time.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:40

Hi Chris,

The Sharks do seem to have found their game, but the Canucks aren’t helping their own cause. Too many sloppy clearances, being out worked along the boards and in puck battles in general, and sweet baby Jesus… 1 shot in the period so far? Niemi could be napping right now and we wouldn’t know it.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 18:49

Hey Caylie,

So are you saying we need shots, shots, shots, shots, shots, shots?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 19:01

Hi Chris,

I think everyone in that dressing room needs to take a shot of that Cheetah Power Surge. Here’s to hoping they decide to show some heart and want in the second period. I still believe! We need to get back to our game, back to the basics and hopefully we can get a powerplay to get the Sedin’s going.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 19:28

Hey Caylie,

I wonder if this loss of effort by the Canucks is a customs thing? It would explain why the Sharks lacked effort in Games 1 & 2 and why the Canucks lack it tonight.

And when did the Canucks become an undisciplined team? Even if it’s not a penalty, we’re playing an undisciplined system – we just saw a 2 on 0 breakaway given up.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 19:33

Hi Chris,

The Canucks are taking penalties because they are making poor decisions. Bad pinches lead to 2-on-1′s, bad clearances lead to dominance along the boards and laziness led to a dumb cross-check from Bieksa. The Canucks are beating themselves. We NEED a powerplay goal here.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 19:51

Hey Caylie,

So no powerplay goal. On that 2 man advantage. Or the next one either. Niemi and the Sharks PK looked solid. Or the Canucks PP looked horrible. Something like that. We still have a period to go, but I haven’t seen anything from the Canucks to think we’ll comeback.

And I’m normally positive to the final whistle.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 19:56

Hi Chris,

Bottom line is if we can’t score on TWO 5-on-3′s we cannot expect to get back into the game. I give major props to Niemi who has bounced back from a dreadful game 2. He has been the Sharks best player, hands down. The Canucks looked timid on all their powerplays. One would think if Salo’s one timer didn’t work the first 4 times, you would switch up the game plan.

The only positive I can take out of the 2nd period is that the Sharks didn’t score again. We are in a huge hole, it’ll take a miracle to get back into this game. But hey if the Sharks can score 3 goals in a period, so can the Canucks. Right? RIGHT?! *Sigh*

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 20:57

Hey Caylie,

I think I’ve finally figured it out. With the nice weather, the Canucks shipped their compete mode down by bike – that’s why it arrived in the 3rd period. I’m still not sold on the the Canucks powerplay (though they did score a couple on the major) and can’t figure out where the penalty kill is. I’ll check under my bed when I get home.

That all said, I’m not completely demoralized and think we’ll see a better squad on Sunday. And let’s be real, who would’ve guessed the Canucks could sweep the Sharks – definitely not me. I’m thinking in 5.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Fri, 20 May 2011 21:08

Hi Chris,

While I am happy with the effort the Canucks brought in the 3rd period, it still concerns me how they came out so poorly and completely got away from their game. In the end we cannot expect to play 20 mins, give up 10 poewrplays (albeit, some of those penalty calls were atrocious) and not be effective on two 5-on-3′s. That being said we can take a lot of positives out of that 3rd period push. Hopefully the early start on Sunday won’t throw us off.

Now if the NHL does not take disciplinary action on that McGinn hit on Rome I will be outraged. That was a careless and dangerous play. I hope Rome is okay, but he looked very groggy after the hit. Also, I hope Ehrhoff’s injury isn’t too serious, but shoulder injuries are always tricky.

I expect a much better and more complete game from the Canucks in game 4. If we win, I think we will take the series at home.

Caylie

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