Mar 262012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Vancouver Canucks started off their recently-concluded 4-game road trip by being shutout 2-0 against the Minnesota Wild. Cory Schneider played a solid game in Minnesota but the team in front of him just couldn’t bury the puck.

Then, after trying to find their game for well over a month, the Canucks seemed to turn the corner against rival Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, it was a dirty, cheap Duncan Keith elbow on Daniel Sedin that ignited the fire. Keith, of course, was suspended for 5 regular season games, but at this point in the season, we can only hope and pray that Daniel makes a full recovery.

With Daniel out indefinitely, the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 (backstopped by another solid effort by Schneider) and came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the playoff-hungry Colorado Avalanche.

Canucks Record

75 GP, 45-21-9, 99 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

For his lackluster play, Mason Raymond was scratched 4 games ago.

Message received.

Since watching the Wild game from the press box, May Ray has responded positively and has made the most of his opportunity replace Daniel Sedin and playing on the top line with Henrik Sedin.

He’s scored in consecutive games and has been noticeable in his last 3 games. He’s using his speed, he’s shooting the puck, and he’s getting himself to the front of the net.

Who’s Not

Max Lapierre is pointless in his last 15 games and he hasn’t scored in his last 21 games. Maybe it’s because he had a scorching start to the season, but his lack of production recently has been noticeable.

At least, Lappy is still a big part of the 4th line and still gets under the skin of the opposing players. He’s not known for his offensive prowess, but it would be nice for him to chip in the odd offense once in a while.

Who’s Next

Monday, March 26, 2012 vs. Los Angeles Kings (7:00 PM start, home)

The Los Angeles Kings roll into Rogers Arena having won 6 of their last 7 games; their minor speed bump game was a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins last Saturday. The Kings are one of 5 teams engaged in a heated battle for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. They are currently holding onto the 8th playoff spot as of today.

The Kings will look to win the season serious against the Canucks as they play for the final time this regular season; the Kings have won 2 of the 3 previous meetings.

Anze Kopitar leads all Kings skaters with 4 points (1G-3A) in the season series. He’s hit the scoresheet in 10 of his last 13 games (7G-7A-14P). He also leads the Kings this season in goals (24), assists (41) and points (65).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM start, home)

The Canucks and Colorado Avalanche met just three days ago as the Canucks came back from a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 in overtime. Like the Kings, they are among the 5 teams with a realistic chance of snagging one of the two final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Avs are currently tied in points for the final spot, but sit in 10th place due to having played more games than the teams above them.

The Canucks will look to sweep the season series; they’ve won all 5 previous meeting between the two teams.

Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa and Henrik Sedin all have 5 points against the Avs. David Jones, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny all have 2 points in the season series. Also, newly-acquired Jamie McGinn was quite noticeable for the Avs in Saturday’s match-up. He’s been a huge pickup for the team, and as some analysts say, one of the biggest impact trade deadline impact acquisitions in the league; in his last 11 games in an Avs jersey, he has 12 points (8G-4A).

Friday, March 30, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)

By virtue of leading the Pacific Division, the Dallas Stars are currently occupy 3rd place in the tight Western Conference. However, if they falter at all in the next 7 games, they can just as easily find themselves in 7th place – or out of the playoffs altogether – as their division rivals Phoenix Coyotes are only a point behind and the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are only 2 points back.

The Stars lead the season series 2-1; however, the Canucks won their last meeting on a Kevin Bieksa game-winner. Mike Ribeiro has 5 points (3G-2A) to pace the Stars, while while Chris Higgins has 4 points (1G-3A) to lead the Canucks.

Victoria native, Jamie Benn is having a career year in Dallas despite a few games this season. Already, he’s reached a career-high in goals (24), assists (35) and points (59). He is second in Dallas in team scoring.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)

Currently 3 points out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference and with only 6 games left, the Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes are slimly alive. They made a similar push last season but ultimately fell short of a playoff spot.

Both teams have won 2 games each in the season series. Alex Tanguay leads all Flames skaters with 2 goals, while David Booth leads the Canucks with 5 poitns (2G-3A).

It’s no surprise that Captain Jarome Iginla is having another solid campaign and is leading the Flames in goals (31) and points (62). Iggy has reached the 30-goal plateau in his last 11 seasons.

Mar 212012
 

The Globe and Mail report that Patrick Roy is waiting in the wings to take over the Montreal Canadiens after this season is not unexpected.

Rumours for months have made it seem like a Quebec-centric bidding war has developed between the Habs and prospective Nordiques franchise over the services of Mr. Roy.

Interestingly though, yesterday’s news turned my inbox into a debate over the merits of Patrick Roy. Not necessarily his merits behind the bench or in the executive suite, but on the ice.

The question was – who was a better goalie, Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy?

It’s the type of question that has fueled hockey talk in living rooms, sports bars and in online forums. It’s also the type of question that really can’t be answered, since:

a) It’s a question of comparing different eras;

b) Dryden’s career was short and excellent on a dynasty team, while Roy played roughly two decades for average-to-excellent teams;

c) Roy revolutionized the position while Dryden revolutionized how to look bored during game-action;

d) Statistics available for Roy’s career are far more available than those for Dryden.

This last point is most challenging, since a quick scan online reveals only fewa season’s worth of save percentages are available for Dryden.

But there ARE a few season’s worth of save percentages available, and with that there’s enough to try and take a “scientific” stab at this question.

First up, let’s take a look at the modern season stats we do have for Ken Dryden:

AgeYearRecordMinutesGoals AgainstSavesGAASVPCT
231970-716-0-032792001.650.957
271974-7530-9-16332014914402.690.906
281975-7642-10-8358012115312.030.927
291976-7741-6-8327511713422.140.920
301977-7837-7-7307110512312.050.921
311978-7930-10-7281410810842.300.909

Now let’s grab Patrick Roy’s seasons at the same age:

AgeYearRecordMinutesGoals AgainstSavesGAASVPCT
231988-8933-5-6274411311152.470.908
271992-9331-25-5359519216223.20.894
281993-9435-17-11386716117952.500.918
291994-9517-20-6256612712302.970.906
301995-9634-24-2356516516322.780.908
311996-9738-15-7369814317182.320.923

Clearly, the numbers above suggest Dryden is the superior netminder.

However, the numbers don’t take into account the different eras, nor do they take into account the strength of Dryden’s Habs vs. Roy’s Montreal/Colorado teams. Let’s do both.

First, let’s equalize their eras. We know that historically the NHL averages roughly 6.17 goals per game. We also know the number of goals-per-game the NHL averaged in each of Dryden and Roy’s seasons.

Given this knowledge, we can do the following math to equalize their different eras: (actual goals against) / [(season’s goals-per-game/historical goals-per-game average)] = “new era-equal” goals against.

How does this impact the numbers? Again, Dryden seems to have a clear advantage over Roy:

Ken DrydenGAASVPCTPatrick RoyGAASVPCT
1970-711.630.9581988-892.030.923
1974-752.420.9151992-932.710.909
1975-761.830.9341993-942.370.922
1976-771.990.9261994-953.060.904
1977-781.910.9261995-962.720.910
1978-792.020.921996-972.450.919

Those are microscopic numbers for Ken Dryden, but they don’t take into consideration the strength of Dryden’s team.

We’ll try to compensate for the different strengths of teams by equalizing the shots-on-goal each goalie faced. Amazingly, the average number of shots on goal per team per NHL game has remained static over the years. The average number of shots faced in 2010-11 per game, per goalie was 30.411. Let’s use the 30.411 figure and apply it the era-equalized goals against to see what both goalies would look like playing in the “same era,” facing the “same number of shots.”

The expectation here is that, for Dryden, his goals against should be higher. The Canadiens of his era were a solid defensive team that gave up anywhere from 25-28 shots on goal per game. For Roy, we expect his numbers to remain relatively the same, as he regularly faced over the course of his career 30 shots against per game.

Ken DrydenPatrick Roy
AgeOld GAAOld SVPCTNEW GAANEW SVPCTOld GAAOld SVPCTNEW GAANEW SVPCT
231.650.9571.300.9582.470.9082.340.923
272.690.9062.590.9153.200.8942.770.909
282.030.9272.020.9342.500.9182.390.922
292.140.9202.270.9262.970.9062.920.904
302.050.9212.240.9262.780.9082.740.910
312.300.9092.450.9202.320.9232.460.919

The expected kind of happened, although not to the degree imagined. Dryden’s goals against went up, but they were still far superior to Roy’s numbers.

This hasn’t been the most perfect study for a variety of reasons, including the fact that quality of scoring chances couldn’t be taken into consideration (those numbers don’t exist to my knowledge), and we only looked at a select few seasons of each goalie.

Nonetheless, when the numbers are modified to put each goalie into the “same era” against the “same number of shots,” it’s clear the Dryden vs. Roy debate is really no debate at all.

THOUGHTS ON THE FLY

  • Last week, we took a look at the terrific battle for the 7th and 8th playoff spots in the Western Conference. There’s still a race going on in the Eastern Conference between Washington, Florida, Winnipeg and Buffalo for the 3rd and 8th spots respectively. However, surprises seem far less likely to happen.
  • Of the four teams, Florida plays the weakest opponents (a .508 winning percentage heading into last night’s Philadelphia game). The Panthers reaching the playoffs seems like a sure thing.
  • The Jets have the toughest schedule, playing teams with a .572 winning percentage (including last night’s Pittsburgh game). They also play 6 of their last 9 games on the road, where they’ve struggled (11-20-4). It sure seems like the lights of the MTS Centre will be dark come playoff time.
  • Having said that, of the four teams in the discussion the Jets have been the highest scoring team over their last 20 games, potting 3.25 goals per game. Unfortunately for them, they’ve given up the most goals as well, averaging 3.15 goals against per game.
  • Blake Wheeler has become the big straw stirring the Jets drink, with 26 points in 23 games since the All-Star Game. Bryan Little has also come alive, with 10 goals and 19 points over the same period. Not to be out-done, Dustin Byfuglien has been a point-per-game player from the defense as well with 22 points in 22 games.
  • On paper, it’s hard to see how the Washington Capitals are still in the playoff race. They’re 9-9-2 over their last 20 games, giving up an average of 2.90 goals against per game while only scoring 2.40 goals per game. 5 of their last 9 games are at home though, where they have had good success this season (23-10-3). That should be enough to squeak them into the playoffs.
  • The wildcard here are the Buffalo Sabres. They’re 6-2-2 in their past 10 games and 11-5-4 in their past 20, putting the pressure on a Caps team that’s spinning its wheels. A March 27th game on the road against Washington looms large. If Buffalo wants to make the playoffs, they not only need to win that game, but improve on their current 12-9-5 record against their remaining opponents.
  • Reasons for Buffalo’s surge since the All-Star Game: Tyler Myers is +11 since the break; With 19 points each over the same period, Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford have given the Sabres scoring depth; Ryan Miller has a 2.02 goals against and .932 save percentage in 23 post All-Star game appearances. (Editor’s note: What? No mention of Cody Hodgson? /sarcasm – J.J.)
  • Evgeni Malkin is the first NHL player to score 5 or more points in a game 4 times in one season since 1995–96. During the 1995-96 season, Mario Lemieux did it 6 times for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Peter Forsberg did it 4 times for the Colorado Avalanche.
  • How is it possible that Ryan Getzlaf has just 9 goals this year?
  • Other prominent players who may not hit 10-goals this year: Brandon Dubinsky (8); Kyle Turris (8); Mason Raymond (8); Michal Handzus (7); Dustin Penner (7); Paul Gaustad (7); Ville Leino (6); Brian Rolston (6); Mike Knuble (6).
Mar 152012
 

[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’m back from a week in Ottawa; a week that saw the Canucks lose games to Dallas and Montreal but win against Winnipeg.   It was tough to stomach two out of three losses, especially when staying up until 12:30am or so just to finish the games.  Unfortunately, me being back in Vancouver didn’t change anything as the Canucks continued their slumping ways with a 5-4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes…and there were a couple of Things That Make Me Go Hmmm:

1.  Outfought and Out-willed. Shane Doan’s goal with just under four minutes left in the first period concerned me.  I tweeted at the time “That 2nd goal was disturbing to me: it wasn’t so much about patience as it was Doan out-willing and outfighting the #Canucks to score.”  The scoring chance started as the Sedins and Zack Kassian (who was hit by an undetected high stick) were caught behind the Coyotes net leaving Phoenix to break out three-on-one.  Antoine Vermette passed the puck to Doan who proceeded to cut across the slot past a sliding Kevin Bieksa.  Doan then deked out Roberto Luongo but couldn’t shoot it because Vermette was blocking his shot path.  So Doan charged towards the side of the net and tried to jam in it while Bieksa, Henrik and Luongo tried to stop him.  As this was going on, Hamhuis tried to join the fray but was accidently clipped with a high stick courtesy of Vermette.  After almost a full four seconds of chaos, Doan was able to muscle it in.

This play concerned me because it was indicative of the Canucks’ half-hearted play of late.  Much like the Canucks are cruising towards a second-place finish (the Blues are six points ahead and Dallas is nine points behind), they certainly “cruised” toward the end of that play and didn’t show enough will, determination or strength to keep the puck out of their net.  Granted, it was only one goal, but it was one that shouldn’t have gone in.  Let’s hope the Canucks regain some of their will and determination before the playoffs begin; they have exactly a month to figure it out.

2.  Mayday for MayRay. There are enough jokes going around regarding Mason Raymond’s inability to stay on his skates during a game.  I think an even more disturbing trend is how many times I hear John Shorthouse say something like “Raymond is checked off the puck” or “Raymond turns the puck over”.  Raymond simply isn’t effective right now as he’s pointless in his last seven games and has just three points in his last 22 games.  Whether it’s giving the puck away or having the puck stolen, Raymond won’t get any points without the puck.  He seems mismatched with the Sedins who are puck-possession type players.  Case in point: Raymond did not factor in either of the goals that the Sedins got points on (one was a powerplay goal).

3.  Jason Spezza owes me a burger. As mentioned up above, I was in Ottawa last week.  While there I was able to watch the Ottawa Senators defeat the New York Rangers 4-1.  I detailed my experience in my blog here, including the male helmet-wearing ice cleaners and one of the most confusing mascots I’ve ever seen.  Most importantly, I detailed just how Jason Spezza deprived me and 18,000 fans out of a hamburger.

With just a few minutes left to play, the PA announcer told us that if the Senators scored in the final minute of regulation, then every one of the 18,854 people in attendance would receive a free Wendy’s Baconator.  With the score at 3-1 for Ottawa at the time of the announcements, we began licking our chops literally and figuratively.

Then, it happened.  On an icing call against the Senators, Rangers coach John Tortorella pulled goalie Martin Biron out of the net with a full 2:37 left on the clock.  Our anticipation turned into fear as we realized that our only hope of winning the burger would be if New York scored to pull within one or if Ottawa somehow missed the empty net for a minute and a half.

Alas, our fears were confirmed with Jason Spezza put the puck in the empty net with 1:27 remaining making the score 4-1 Senators.  Biron came out to finish off the game and the rest was history, despite our desperate chants of “Burger! Burger!”

We were only 27 seconds away from a free burger.  At an annual salary of $8,000,000, Jason Spezza can have a Baconator whenever he pleases.  In fact, he could have bought everyone in the arena the burger and it would have cost him only 0.943% of his annual salary.  That’s right: not even 1%!  But no.  He chose to do the selfish thing and score too early, depriving his faithful fans of a delicious and unexpected meal.

Thanks again for reading.  I’ll be away on vacation for next week, so my next Things That Make You Go Hmmm column will be on March 29.  The Canucks play seven times during the next two weeks so I’m sure I’ll have plenty to talk about.  In the meantime… I’m going to Disneyland!

Mar 132012
 

[Every week, Caylie King previews the Canucks week that was and reviews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Canucks have lost 3 of their last 4 games and 5 of their last 7 games. Last Tuesday, potential first-round opponent Dallas Stars came into Rogers Arena and easily took two points away from the Canucks in a 5-2 win. On Thursday, the Canucks played one of their better games in a few weeks won an exciting 3-2 affair against the Winnipeg Jets. And then on Saturday, the Canucks started off well enough against the Habs before collapsing completely in the third period and losing 4-1.

Canucks Record

69 GP, 42-19-8, 92 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Chris Higgins seems to have gotten over his battles with staph infections and has easily been one of the Canucks’ best and most consistent players in the last few weeks. He has 7 points (2G-5A) in his last 7 games and has been noticeable in every game. His hard forecheck and never-give-up attitude gives opposing teams a lot to handle. His hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Last week, coach Alain Vigneault reunited him with Ryan Kesler and David Booth, and he’s rejuvenated that line.

Who’s Not

The real question is, who hasn’t struggled recently?

Henrik Sedin has 0 points in his last 8 games and is a minus-3 in that stretch. Daniel Sedin has 1 assist in his last 8 games and is also a minus-3 in that stretch. The Sedins have been largely invisible, and while they seem to produce the odd good shift, they haven’t been nearly as consistent and are clearly struggling to find the back of the net.

Among the forwards, Alex Burrows has 1 goal in his last 11 games, Mason Raymond is goalless in 6 games, Jannik Hansen is goalless in 12 games, and Max Lapierre is pointless in 9 games.

In the back end, Alex Edler may have 2 goals in his last 3 games, but he’s really struggled on the defensive side of things. Against the Habs, he was running around and couldn’t settle down defensively. His play has considerably declined since the All-Star break and his mistakes on the ice have become evident and visible.

Who’s Next

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 vs. Phoenix Coyotes (7:00 PM start, home)

After posting a 10-0-1 record for the month of February, the Phoenix Coyotes have struggled in the month of March with just 1 win in 7 games (1-4-2). That said, they’re still holding on to the 7th place in the ultra-competitive Western Conference, and if the playoffs started today, they would face the Canucks in the first round.

This will be the fourth and last meeting of the regular season between the two clubs with the Canucks having won 2 of the first 3 meetings. In the season series, Keith Yandle leads the Coyotes with 2 points (1G-1A) and Ryan Kesler leads the Canucks with 3 points (1G-2A).

The Canucks have a 7-3-4 record against Pacific division opponents.

Radim Vrbata is tied for second in team scoring with 56 points (30G-26A) and has a team-best, plus-24 rating. He’s already set a career-high in goals and has tied his career best in points. He also leads the NHL with 10 game-winning goals for the season. However, like the rest of the Coyotes, he’s been cold recently and only has 1 assist in his last 5 games.

Saturday, March 17, 2012 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7:00 PM start, home)

Considering the Blue Jackets are in last place in the Western Conference, this could be a good game for the Canucks to get 2 points and regain some traction.

This is the two teams’ last meeting of the season with the Canucks holding a 2-0-1 record against the Blue Jackets in their first 3 games against each other. Cory Schneider was in net for both Canucks wins; Roberto Luongo recorded the shootout loss.

Rick Nash leads the Blue Jackets in goals (24) and points (47) for the season.

Mar 062012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

Despite taking 3 of a possible 6 points last week, it was a somewhat mediocre week for the Canucks as they won just 1 of their 3 games (1-1-1).

After losing in a shootout against the hot Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, the Canucks beat the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, in a battle of the top two teams in the Western Conference, at Rogers Arena. The game had all the feel of a great, defensive, playoff battle, including a lot of physical play and timely goals by Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins.

And then on Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres, they dug themselves a big, early hole – to be exact, a 3-0 hole in the first 5 minutes – before trying to battle back late and ultimately falling by a 5-3 score. The game was a mixture of poor defence, bad decisions, a few goals that Luongo would want back, and Zack Kassian’s coming out party.

Oh yeah… and that Cody Hodgson guy got traded at the start of the week.

Canucks Record

66 GP, 41-17-8, 90 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

In just 3 games, Zach Kassian has shown Vancouver fans why Canucks management thought that he would be a perfect fit on this team. Certainly, he’s shown his versatility by being able to play on every line. On Saturday, against his old team, he scored a goal and an assist – his first 2 points as a Canuck.

He’s not afraid to throw the body and he has an impressive ability to control the puck along the boards and in the dirty areas. He’s mentioned that his idol growing up was Todd Bertuzzi and we don’t have to look far to see the similarities.

Kassian’s NHL career is only 30 games old, but he’s showing signs of fulfilling his potential to be good power forward in this league. And if he keeps showing what he’s shown us so far here in Vancouver, he could very well play an important role for the Canucks down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Who’s Not

Despite many fans’ expectations, Mason Raymond survived trade deadline day and remains a Canuck, at least for the time being. Unfortunately, he continues to struggle and will begin tonight’s game against the Stars on the fourth line.

We know he had what could have been a career-ending back injury, but it’s also hard to ignore that he has 3 points (2G-1A) in his last 15 games despite playing regular minutes in the top-six and the second PP unit.

Who’s Next

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)

The Dallas Stars head into Vancouver just over a week after these two clubs’ first meeting of the season. In that game, Loui Eriksson handed the Canucks a loss in overtime. We also got the pleasure of seeing Vernon Fiddler poking fun at Kevin Bieksa’s “angry face”, which caused AV to have a giggling attack. To be honest, that was probably the best part of the game.

The Stars are battling for their playoff lives in a very competitive Western Conference. They currently occupy the 7th playoff spot in the West, but the 8th place San Jose Sharks are only 2 points back with 2 games in hand and the 9th place Los Angeles Kings are 3 points back with 1 game in hand. The Stars are going for a sweep of the Northwest Canadian teams, having already beaten the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames in this road trip.

Victoria’s Jamie Benn was not in the lineup against the Canucks last week, but he will bring his size and finesse to this week’s matchup. Benn has 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 3 games, and although he’s missed 11 games this season, he is on pace for a career year in points. He is currently second in team scoring with 51 points (18G-33A) while boasting a plus-14 rating.

Thursday, March 8, 2012 vs. Winnipeg Jets (7:00 PM start, home)

It’s been a while since the Winnipeg Jets have come to play in Vancouver; the two clubs meet for the first and only time this season. The addition of the Jets was a great thing for hockey for Canada and they haven’t disappointed their great fans. They’re battling hard for a playoff spot and currently sit in 8th place in a very tight Eastern Conference.

Last year, the old Jets, the Atlanta Thrashers, went 2-4-0 against the Northwest Division; this season, the Jets have had more success. They have a 4-1-0 record against the Northwest so far and have outscored them by a combined 18-11 score so don’t be surprised if this is a high-scoring event.

Blake Wheeler is having a great season leading the Jets in assists (39), points (53) and plus/minus (+10 rating). He’s one of the hottest players in the NHL right now with at least a point in 9 of his last 11 games – he has 18 points (5G-13A) in that span.

Saturday, March 10, 2012 vs. Montreal Canadiens (7:00 PM start, home)

Currently in last place in the Eastern Conference, this has been a season to forget for les Montreal Canadiens. With 16 games left, they’re 10 points out of playoff spot and a woeful 2-7-1 in their last 10 games.

In their first meeting of the season in Montreal, the Canucks beat the Habs 4-3 in a shootout. Ex-Canuck Cody Hodgson led the way with a goal and the shootout winner, and Bobby Luo stopped 20 of 23 shots in regulation and OT, plus all 3 Habs shooters in the shootout. Erik Cole led the Habs with a goal and an assist.

Outside of Montreal, David Desharnais is still a relative unknown, but he has been a huge contributor for the Habs this season. All he’s done is lead the team in assists (37) and points (51). He also has their plus/minus rating (+10 rating). He is currently riding a 4-game point streak (3G-4A-7P).

Mar 062012
 

[Every week, Clayton Imoo sits down and talks hockey with a CHB follower and fellow fan. If you're interested in being featured in "Shooting from the Hip", send us a tweet at @canuckshockey or @CanuckClay.]

In their own words:

@BrowntoBure is Dave Wells (@davewells13) and Ricky Sangha (@van_city_nucks).  Dave was born in Vancouver and now lives in North Delta with his girlfriend and cat that likes to knock everything in the apartment on the floor while he’s at work.  Dave went to North Delta Senior Secondary School (sometimes) and currently works at a coffee roasting plant, although he hates the taste of coffee.  He is a huge sports fan and always has been, even going back to his childhood where he would stage elaborate baseball games by himself in the backyard or hockey games in the garage for hours on end.  Dave has been a fan of the Canucks for as long as he can remember and is extremely passionate about his team, almost to a fault.

Ricky Sangha was born in Vancouver but has lived the majority of his life in suburban Vancouver in North Delta and Surrey.  He went to school at Seaquam Secondary in North Delta, and studied Communications at Kwantlen College after high school. Afterwards, he attended Columbia Academy in Vancouver and studied Radio Broadcasting/Journalism.  Nowadays, he works on the sales team at the local Home Depot, helping customers and completing orders.  Ricky has been a Canucks fan since the Spring of 1993, when Pavel Bure mania was at its climax.  His girlfriend of 5 years, Rita, is also an avid Vancouver Canucks fan, and other than his team, he spends any free moment he has with her, and he has a Chocolate Lab named Gurly.

This picture was taken on June 15th 2011.  Hence the awesome playoff beards.  As you may have noticed we’re both smiling still and Dave isn’t in tears being kicked out of the bar yet, which means this took place before the game started.  Dave’s best quality is probably his sense of humour and his ability to find something funny in almost any situation.  It’s definitely something he tries to bring to the blog and twitter.  Check out the BrowntoBure website here.

1.  I have a pretty good idea of where the Twitter handle of @BrowntoBure comes from, but please describe where you were when you saw the iconic pass and why you decided it would be a good Twitter handle?

@BrowntoBure obviously refers to “the pass” Probably the most significant play in Canucks history.  Double overtime, game 7, Round 1 against Calgary.  Defenseman Jeff Brown hit Pavel Bure with a stretch pass right up the middle springing Bure on a breakaway… which he obviously potted. (There was never a doubt.)  I definitely would have been watching with my dad, as that was basically a ritual.  When I got older watching the game with my dad turned into watching the game with my dad and critiquing everything that took place.  So I guess that probably has a lot to do with how this blog got started.  I was only 7 years old at the time so for me this was probably my first significant memory that I have that relates to being a Canucks fan.  Being that anyone who likes to call themselves a Canucks fan knows this little piece of history, it seemed like the perfect choice.

2.  We witnessed the latest episode of The Sweet Life of Zack (Kassian) and Cody (Hodgson) just this past Saturday night.  What were your initial thoughts on this specific trade?  What were your impressions from the game Saturday night?  And what do you expect from both players going forward?

I honestly remember going into the deadline thinking that Cory Schneider had a better chance of getting traded than Hodgson and I didn’t think there was any chance of Schneider being moved…  So to say I was shocked would be an understatement.  It was actually a kind of surreal feeling because I remember pacing around the radio all day at work thinking, “If Pahlsson is the only pick up, we’re screwed.”  You get what you wish for, I guess.

I was a huge fan of Cody and was pretty choked when it all went down, but after seeing Kassian over the last week, I can see the potential this kid has and it gets me very excited for what’s to come in the future.  There is no doubt in my mind that Hodgson will go on to Captain the Sabres and have a very successful career, it’s a shame that we had to give him up but I think myself and a lot of fans are pretty aware of the fact that it simply was not meant to be in the long run.  There’s too much depth in this organization at centre and he was never going to get the amount of ice time necessary to perform to his full potential.

I love what I see from “the Kassassin” so far.  Sure it’s a short sample size but all the tools appear to be there and the thought of once again having a dominating power forward, in which we haven’t had since Bertuzzi left has me pumped.  As for the game against Buffalo, there’s not much you can say about that disaster.  It was once again a cased of the Canucks coming out in the first period and not being ready to play.  This time however, unlike the last 4 months of the season Luongo was unable to hold the fort until the team found their legs.  Predictably and very annoyingly all of the Lu haters came out of the wood work right on cue.  I’ve always been a huge supporter of his and consider us very lucky to have such a world class goalie, especially after all the years of inept goaltending we had to suffer through.  The treatment he gets in this market makes me absolutely sick.

3.  Related to that, do you think the Canucks did enough at the trade deadline?  Short of Jeff Brown and Pavel Bure coming out of retirement, what would you have liked to see happen?

I think Gillis did quite well giving the amount of cap room he had to work with.  I would’ve liked to see another top 5 defenseman but realistically there just weren’t that many out there.  As any who follows me knows I have a pretty big hate on for Mason Raymond, which goes back to his rookie season.  There are just so many aspects of his game that drive me absolutely crazy.  From the falling down, to the turnovers, the off target shots, the lack of toughness.  Honestly I could go on all day, so I was pretty disappointed when he somehow survived yet another deadline day.  I guess nobody wanted him or the organization sees something in him.  I’m still trying to figure out what that is and I hope he does too or he’s going stick out like a sore thumb yet again in the playoffs.

4.  Look into your crystal ball and predict a couple of things for us:  the first-round opponent of the Canucks in the playoffs, and the forward lines and d-pairings we’ll see to start the post-season.

Rather than do the typical Canucks fan thing and go through the list of teams I don’t want to meet, basically the whole conference I’m going to go to other way with this.  As much as it pains me to say this, because I hate this team with a passion and love seeing them fail season after season, I would absolutely love to see Calgary grab the 8th seed in the playoffs.  With a Western Conference that is going to be an absolute war just to get out of it, the lack of travel would go along way to help the Canucks on their run.  If it sounds like I’m overlooking Calgary here, it’s because I am.  Let’s face it, they’re terrible and there would be nothing better to see the joy of getting into the playoffs again greeted with a swift backhand from Canucks Nation as they are swept aside.

The lineup that I would love to see the Canucks go with to start the playoffs would looks something like:

-Daniel-Hank-Burrows
-Booth-Kesler-Higgins
-Hansen-Pahlsson-Kassian
-Malhotra-Lapierre-Bitz/Reinprecht

-Hamhuis-Bieksa
-Edler-Salo
-Tanev-Ballard

Yes, Raymond was left out on purpose.

I still feel like Ballard gets the short end of the stick from A.V a lot of the time and can be a very effective player when he’s in the line-up and not having to worry about every single mistake costing him his spot.  I also really liked what I saw from Tanev and Ballard as a pair last year so I’d love to see them recapture some of that magic.  Assuming Ballard is “healthy” by then.

5.  Why should people follow you on Twitter?  What can new followers expect?

Both of us seem to follow the Don Cherry school of thought of not caring what people think about what we have to say.  You’re going to get our opinion and we stick to it.  One thing that drives me crazy when trying to communicate with other people on Twitter is when you branch out and comment on something or ask them a question and they don’t respond.  So I go out of my way to make sure I respond to every single comment I get.  There aren’t many so it’s really not as difficult as one would think.  I tend to give my opinion on everything and am quite blunt about it, I also like to point out many of the humorous things that take place over the course of a game to make the experience a little more enjoyable. Which comes in handy for keeping you awake when the Canucks are playing the St.Louis Blues or Phoenix Coyotes.  We also both have personal accounts where we talk about things other than hockey, and are a little more crude… if you’re into that.

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