Apr 192012

I don’t know about you guys, but I was full of questions all day long. Could the Canucks do it? Is starting Cory Schneider the right move? Will one extra Sedin really make that big a difference? The answers to all those questions wouldn’t come until the 2nd period but when they came, they were all yes.

The Wonderful Wonder Twins

I’ll be honest. I thought Henrik was doing okay without Daniel. He was working hard. He had to think more but he was setting up everyone he could and taking shots. And then Daniel came back and I remembered what I was missing. 19 minutes (each) of blind passes, beautiful set-ups and a beauty of an insurance goal. It took a period for the spark to catch fire, but Daniel’s return ignited virtually the entire team. The passion was back. And most importantly, the powerplay was back. And unlike the Flyers-Pens series, you can’t blame tonight’s outcome on LA’s goaltending. Quick was solid. The Canucks weren’t given any easy goals, so they went out and got the hard ones.

Number 35 Is Number 1. Deal With It.

I’ve said all season long that the Canucks have two #1 goalies. Unfortunately we don’t have two nets to put them in at the exact same time so someone has to sit on the bench. When Schneider was announced as the starter in Game 3 and again in Game 4, Lu-lovers were angry. They had reason to be. Lu was solid in Game 1 and 2. We will never know the exact reason Alain Vigneault replaced him. Maybe AV feels the team has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe AV himself has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe he just flipped a coin. Here’s the reality of it – you shouldn’t care. Because it worked.  Schneider was incredible tonight. He kept the score 1-0 while his teammates found their mojo. He stopped 43 shots, including a penalty shot. He deserves to start the rest of this series.  Does it suck for Luongo? Yes. And I feel bad for him. But not bad enough to mess with what’s working and risk a chance at a Stanley Cup. Thankfully, I think AV feels the same way.

It’s Not All Redheaded Saviors

The still have problems to fix. Even Sedin Wonder Twin Magic can’t improve David Booth’s output. Although he assisted on Kevin Bieksa’s goal, he still isn’t scoring. And then there’s Mason Raymond.  Completely whiffing on checks is his new hobby. I guess falling down got old. Why he goes for checks at all instead of lifting the stick I’ll never know. He was the goat on the Kings’ only goal. Then he gave the puck away about 3 minutes later. Yes ladies he’s cute but if he’s on the bench instead of the press box next game we’re in trouble. Last but not least, the beast that’s inside Ryan Kesler is still in a coma nap. We need to solve a few of these issues pretty quick. I don’t think it’ll take the Kings 3 games to figure out they need to shut down the twins.


Apr 182012

Because it’s do-or-die time, because it’s time to leave everything on the ice and give it 110%, here are some of today’s links around the Smylosphere:

Apr 162012
Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

Where to begin? I’m dazed and confused right now. I’m devastated. I’m lost as to exactly what I can say that will make any sense of this for any of you because it’s just ridiculous to think the Presidents Trophy winners are one game away from elimination. But here’s what small thoughts my brain could wrangle up on Game 3 of the Canucks-Kings series.

You want a controversy? I’ll give you a controversy!

When AV announced Cory Schneider was starting, heads exploded all over the internet. I don’t understand why Canucks fans think this our BIG controversy right now. We have 2 starter goalies. I’d venture to say Schneider’s performance tonight along with Lu’s in Games 1 and 2 prove that. Accept it and move on.

Tonight also proved what the real controversy is: our talented, trophy-heavy team can’t score goals. We have a Hart Trophy winner, a Selke Trophy winner, an Art Ross Trophy winner and several clutch scorers and we just got blanked. Other than Burr and Hansen, our goals this series have been scored by Edler and Pahlsson. 4 goals in 3 games. No Kesler or Henrik goals, obviously no Daniel ones. But other clutch players like Higgins and Lapierre aren’t netting anything either. And Booth and Raymond… don’t even get me started.

Canucks fans, get your knickers in a knot over THAT. The fact that Vigneault can pick between a redheaded American who stops 3-on-1s or an Italian-Canadian who stands on his head is a luxury not a controversy.

Did we trade one too many puzzle pieces?

I honestly do not believe missing Daniel Sedin is having this big an effect. That is because, in the past playoffs, the Sedins together have been quite easily controlled. Last year players like Kesler took the playoff lead. Burrows slayed the beast known as Chicago. Bieksa and his stanchion-rific goal got us through San Jose. Lapierre and Torres scored clutch goals against Boston. So although it would be easy to say Duncan Keith ruined our playoffs chances, it would be erroneous.

I do think though that management may have tinkered one too many times with the winning machine. Dumping Samuelsson, Hodgson and picking up Booth, Kassian, and Pahlsson might have seemed like good ideas but did it tilt the balance? This game alone Booth fanned on a pass, missed the net and lost the puck. Pahlsson took a dumb penalty and then, after shoving Dustin Brown into the corner, thought his work was done and left Brown to get up, take a pass and nail the back of the net. Kassian gave a puck right to a King and made no physical impact. We may have traded ourselves out of contention. That said if someone would offer us a bag of magic beans and a unicorn for Edler and Raymond right now I would take it. Even if the unicorn can’t skate it would be a step up.

Let’s hear it for Hammy

I want to make sure that, even if this is all over in two days, the valiant efforts of Dan Hamhuis do not go unrecognized. He was the best defensemen out there tonight. He hip checked like a king. He took shots. He pinched pucks. And for the second time in two games Hammy was our real back-up goalie, blocking shots like a boss. Hamhuis wants this. Let’s put him in net and make Luongo and Schneider Hank’s new wingers and see where that goes. After all, we only have everything to lose.

All we can do now, Canucks fans, is believe. Believe that our team paid special notice to how the Blackhawks marched their way thru us to a game 7 last year. Believe Ryan Kesler will find the back of the net. Believe Mason Raymond won’t fall down. Believe Booth will get his mojo back. Believe whatever alien life form has been occupying Edler’s body will get bored with being a blonde and give him back to us. Believe, Canucks fans. Believe.

Apr 152012
Darryl Sutter, Los Angeles Kings

Photo credit: The Globe and Mail

We all know the numbers. After losing the first 2 games at home, the Canucks trail the Kings 0-2 in this Western Conference Quarterfinal Series with the next 2 games in La-la land. The odds of coming back from a series deficit as such is small. Only 16 of 99 teams have lost the first 2 games at home of an NHL first round series, and then come back to win it.

It’s a steep climb, but it’s not impossible. The Carolina Hurricanes did it against the Montreal Canadiens in 2006, and the ‘Canes went on to win the Stanley Cup that season. Ditto the Boston Bruins, who did it last season, also against the Habs.

Alix pretty much hit it in the head when, after Game 2, she tweeted, “Of course the universe would make us look to Boston for inspiration. LOL.”

Unfortunately, the Canucks aren’t playing the Habs, but let’s not lose hope just yet. Certainly, things are still sounding pretty optimistic around the Smylosphere:

Apr 152012

Were you a little nervous when the Canucks dropped Game 1 to Los Angeles? Did you pee a little when Dustin Brown scored his second shorthanded goal of the night?

It’s all fair, you have every reason to be a little worried.

The Vancouver Canucks managed to not only lay one giant egg in Game 1, they managed to make it even worse in Game 2. Sure, the shots were in favour of the Canucks in the second game, but surrendering two shorthanded goals is like a splash of ice-cold water on your genitals (or for the ladies, the um… ladies).

Either way, nothing feels good right now. What was expected to be a lengthy playoff run may become a one week house party which ended because your parents came home from the Neil Diamond concert early.

But if you’re pooping bricks, at least take solace in the fact the Canucks don’t seem to be. They’re at least putting on a brave face and telling the media they’re still confident they can turn the drowning ship around.

First, Henrik Sedin (via The Province):

“If we were in a hole like this a couple years back, I wouldn’t be as hopeful as I am right now. We’re playing well enough to win games.”

And also, Kevin Bieksa:

“We played, 5-on-5, the majority of the game in their end (on Friday). They got two Grade-A chances 5-on-5 is what I’m being told. That’s pretty good. If we can continue to do that over the series, we’ll be in good shape… For us, it’s 2-0. It’s not insurmountable. It’s just being in a game down 2-0, we know we can come back. We’re capable of it. We have to go out and do it.”

Talk the talk, yes. To go out and do it is quite another. So while fans may be losing hope, the most important thing is the players still have their confidence.

Apr 142012
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks gets crosschecked into Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’m in Seattle. This was not the best place to be for the Canucks-Kings game because, although I could easily watch the game, I had to endure NBC’s version of coverage. This includes Mike Milbury’s infuriating opinions and coming back late from commercials so I missed Jannik Hansen’s goal. Also, it involved drinking to get through the game without crying so bear with me, people.

Can We Drop Kick the Drop Pass?

The Canucks’ drop pass needs to be banned from the Canucks play book, especially on the power play. The drop pass on the PP caused two short-handed goals. In this one little game the Canucks allowed half the short-handed goals they allowed in the entire regular season. The Canucks power play had already hit rock bottom. Adding the drop pass to it is like picking up a shovel and digging. Also, can we stop with the habit of chipping/dumping the puck into the opponent’s zone and hope someone gets there to play it.  It’s so lazy and ineffective it makes me want to punch kittens.

Vancouver: Where the Hockey Team is Suddenly as Unbalanced as the Weather

I don’t know what to say here. We saw improvement and deterioration in this game – sometimes from the same player. Kesler seemed more focused, he paid attention to the net, not the drama. Lapierre’s production dwindled from game 1 to 2 and, according to Twitter (because I couldn’t hear a thing from the TV commentators over the bar noise), he got kicked out of the game. Hansen was amazing and then gone – literally. Honey Badger scored a goal and then got kicked out for a dust-up by Quick’s net. I couldn’t hear the commentary on TV to explain what caused him getting tossed. It looked like it might have been a little bit of an over-reaction by the refs, in my opinion. But whatever, the battle was too uphill by then. Luongo had another solid night, except for maybe that goal where he was doing his best dead starfish impersonation. Edler was also consistent. He stayed the same deep level of horrible he’s been since the playoffs began.

And the Upside….

After much wine, I have decided it’s not all doom and gloom going into Game 3. We’re going into Los Angeles, which when it comes to fans, is simply a warmer, more affordable Vancouver. We’ve got a ton of supporters there who should be out in force, squelching any unwelcoming atmosphere at Staples Center. Let’s shake things up – we’ve got nothing to lose. Change the lines. Bench Edler. Yes. I said it. BENCH EDLER. And – brace yourself – start Cory Schneider. Luongo played strong and hard. But changing the goalie might change the momentum. Don’t think of it as Lu being punished. Think of it as Lu being saved. He’s played too well to have to carry this team of underachievers any longer. It only takes one win to turn momentum around. Let’s get that one win.

If you’ve got ideas on how the Canucks can fix all that is broken and pull off a win in Game 3, we’d love to hear it! Leave us a comment.

Apr 142012
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

Cory Schneider: taking on the media one mic at a time.

What? Cory Schneider defended himself and his team from ANOTHER media-related attack on the Canucks?

How dare he or any other player grow tired of all the negative hatred spewing forth against the Canucks from the majority of North America!

What a jerk to go and say something that’s kind of (totally) true!

Alright, enough being facetious, Katie. Less intelligent people might start taking this sarcasm as reality.

Schneider had every right to speak his mind, and I don’t agree with him feeling the need to apologize and retract what he said, although it was predictably classy of him to do so (for those of you who don’t know and are blinded by your Canucks-hatred, Schneider is actually a really nice guy and his gut-reaction bashing of Edmonton is something the likes of us have never seen from our red-headed back up).

That being said, it somewhat indicates that even Schneider is getting fed up with the constant negativity being fired towards his team.

Lately he spoke out against Canucks fans who were being too hard on Luongo, and now he’s defending his team from a bad PR decision out of the LA Kings’ marketing department.

The Background:

After winning Game 1 against the Canucks, the LA Kings account tweeted: “To everyone in Canada outside of B.C., you’re welcome.”

Yeah real original there, random American guy who suddenly knows everything about Canada. I tip my invisible Mountie hat to you, sir.

Later, when asked about their thoughts on this rather dumb tweet and the overall perception of this nation-wide “hatred” of Vancouver, most Canucks shrugged and said it didn’t really bother them, water off their backs so to speak.

Aside from a Sedin, I think Schneider is one of the last players who Canucks fan would have expected to create a bit of a media maelstrom with his thoughts on it:

“You look around the league and people don’t like us and Pittsburgh and we’re two of the better teams,” Schneider said. “You saw Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager in Edmonton. Nobody cares about Edmonton so nobody hates them. It’s that simple.”

Yeah, that part didn’t sit well with Edmonton fans, or with everyone else in the world who jumps on any reason to attack the Canucks.

Then on Friday, Schneider was well aware of the social media storm that occurred after his statement, and he apologized with this:

“It probably wasn’t the best choice of words and I apologize for it. I didn’t mean to create a distraction and hopefully it won’t affect us in any other way going forward.”

He added a bunch of other apologetic sentences tweeted belligerently soon after by Edmonton media, which just made me a little disappointed in Schneider.

Yeah, I understand why he’d want to apologize; he most likely didn’t mean to insult anyone – that’s not Schneider’s way.

But at the same time, I think Canucks Nation was proud of Schneider for defending his team and saying what everyone else is thinking: The better team you are, the more enemies you’re going to make. It really is as simple as he said it is.

There’s the “Embrace the Hate” motto some Canucks fans are trying to live by, but I admit, the undeserved and over-emphasized hatred against the Canucks gets really, really tiring. Not to mention it’s only Game 2 of Round 1 and it’s already gotten to a ridiculous extreme that took at least three rounds to develop last season.

Of course Schneider and the rest of the Canucks are also going to get sick of it. Who wouldn’t? They can say to the media that it doesn’t bother them all they want, and I’m sure a few of them like Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa just feed off it, but there are others who probably don’t like being the target of so much random, overhyped loathing.

I know I wouldn’t.

For someone as polite as Schneider to finally react to something says a lot in my opinion, and he had every right to speak his mind.

After all, everyone else in the NHL and related media seems to have free range to say awful things about Vancouver without repercussions, so why can’t a Canuck say something back?

I for one am glad the Canucks aren’t a bunch of floor mats who’ll just take all this crap from supposed professionals.

Like this guy, Damien Cox from Rogers Sportsnet:

“And now Luongo joins the early playoff fakery. Same ol’ Canucks. Divers and fakers. Why rest of country hates ’em.”

If this so-called journalist is allowed to publicly attack a sports team like that, then that team has every right to react to this kind of ignorance.

It’s a free country isn’t it? Freedom of speech? Anyone? Bueller?

In the meantime, it looks like the Canucks and their fans better grow even thicker skin than they needed last year because the stupidity going around the NHL (and affiliated sport networks) at the moment isn’t going to slow down any time soon.

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