Jun 092011
 

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

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 14:48

Hi Chris,

There has been so much chatter on social media these last few days about Rome’s suspension, Vancouver fans vs Boston fans, and the word “classless” has been used one too many times.

Bottom line it’s all about hockey and the players on the ice. I think this will be a pivotal game in the series, I don’t quite think it’s a MUST win, but to silence the critics we need a strong bounce back game. If we don’t want to worry about the treatment of our fans in beantown, a win tonight to set us up for a game 5 victory would be perfect.

What do you expect from the boys in white with trims of blue and green? What will be the key to winning this game?

Caylie

PS: Can you tell I’m ready for the game, considering puck drop is still over 2 hours away?

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 16:05

Hey Caylie,

Wow – you must be psyched!

I agree. With all the crap that’s happened post-game (and even post-whistle during the game), it’s really distracted us from some solid and exciting hockey when the puck is on the ice. True, the effort we saw from the Canucks was lacking midway through the 2nd and all the 3rd, but the rest has been great.

Game 4 is not a must-win, but I expect nothing less than a stellar effort from the Canucks. The game we want to see is a high-octane, puck controlling squad that out hustles the Bruins. What we don’t want to see is the Canucks trying to do is become pugilistic – that style always benefits the underdog and let’s face it, the Bruins beat us in that battle hands down.

And I’d love to see us win, but don’t think a hard-fought game that results in a loss is a reason to hit the panic button. We’re up 2 games to 1, have home ice advantage, and finished top in the league for a reason. The boys in blue are a great team.

Wait… have I already said this before at some point during the post-season?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 17:39

Hi Chris,

1-for-18. Really? Is the Boston PK that good or are we that intimidated? Normally we are confident and can set up and be effective. We need more traffic in front, and for the love of baby jejus get on those rebounds.

We are chasing and seem rattled. We need to get back to our game. ASAP.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 18:06

Hey Caylie,

I don’t know if the powerplay woes are as much Boston figuring out the Canucks as it is the Canucks trying too hard. Every powerplay seems to be a complicated event where they look to execute the perfect play. Why not simplify and just get the puck on net?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 18:11

Hi Chris,

Exactly, simplify! And what is up with Edler? He seems so slow and unmotivated. He needs to do a much better job quarterbacking the powerplay, or maybe just clearing our own zone before there are 2 Bruins on him.

I’m hoping Manny or someone is talking some sense into these guys. Get back to our game, get back to what has been successful ALL season long.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 18:44

Hey Caylie,

Last two games I was telling anyone who listened that Ballard needed to be on the ice. Based on his play to this point, I should probably be eating my words. Mind you, the entire defensive core seems to be shaky so maybe KB4 simply wants to fit in?

I want to see a Canucks response. Get a goal or a tonne of pressure on Thomas now. Show us there is life left in Boston.

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 19:11

Hi Chris,

I tried to give KB4 the benefit of doubt after his first turnover, and then his second. But as he continued to give up the puck I could feel my blood pressure rising by the second.

Bottom line is the effort from our team has been horrid. Where are Kesler, Raymond and the Sedins? If I don’t see a push back and some heart in the third, I will be officially worried.

Who wants it more? After 2, the answer is clear and it’s not the team in the white.

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 19:47

Hey Caylie,

This is tough to watch. I’m still not worried as this simply means a series “restart” and a best-of-three, but I don’t understand where the team that had pace has gone. Heck, where’s the team we saw in the 1st period of Game 3?

C.

From: Caylie King
To: Christopher Golden
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 19:49

Hi Chris,

All I can say is regroup, refocus and play like we can. Our true character will come out in game 5. We have to believe!

Caylie

From: Christopher Golden
To: Caylie King
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 2011 20:26

Hey Caylie,

Anyone who thought this would be an easy series (even after the 1st two games) must have missed much of the season. The Bruins are a good team. And even after games 3 and 4, I still feel the Canucks are just that bit better. That makes for a solid final.

We’re just seeing a roundabout way to do it. And if you consider, that’s usually how the Canucks roll.

C.

Jun 092011
 

Winning the Stanley Cup is not supposed to be easy. Still, it’s disappointing – disheartening – to have a 2-0 series lead and then get beat 12-1 in the next couple of games.

The Bruins have flipped the script here. In games 1 and 2, the Canucks got better as the game went on. In games 3 and 4, the Canucks started well enough, only to disappear after the first intermission. All season long, the second period was their worst period, and that was magnified in Beantown getting outscored 6-0 in the middle 20.

Obviously, it’s not over. And the Canucks do still have home-ice advantage. But they need to regroup and they need to be better. It’s obvious some of the players – Hank, Kes, Eddy, in particular – are labouring, but this is the Stanley Cup Finals. It took 17 years for this team to get back to this point and who knows when they’ll get another chance after this – they just need to suck it up.

I’m still confident they can do it. Are they?

The Hero

Tim Thomas. Another spectacular performance by the Bruins’ netminder. 38 saves and a wicked slash on Alex Burrows’ ankles.

The Goat

Keith Ballard. It’s hard to get put in the lineup midway through the Stanley Cup Finals, but still. Bally looked out of place and was directly responsible for Brad Marchand’s 3-0 goal.

The Numbers

  • 12. After building a 2-0 series lead, the Canucks gave up a combined 12 goals in Beantown. With a 3-0 series lead, they gave up the same in games 4 and 5 against Chicago before eventually righting the ship.
  • 5. Once again, the Canucks went 0-fer on the powerplay. They now have a woeful 5% PP rate (1-for-22) in the series.
  • 3. The big guns – Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler – have combined 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in 4 games. There’s no wonder why the Canucks have scored but 4 goals in total in this series.

The Next Time

This is not a repeat. (Okay it is.) The Canucks need to forget game 4 ever happened.

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
 

Not often do we continue to bring you our thoughts on the Canucks post-season efforts this late in the year. Normally many of us are simply sitting on the patio, sipping an ice-cold beverage, and talking about what could have been.

But this is not just any regular year. Instead, we’re packing into Rogers Arena to watch Home and Away games. Or heading to the patio at noon to save our seat for the 5 o’clock start of this epic Stanley Cup run from our boys in blue. And after, we’re all pouring on to Granville to soak up the electricity of the joyous crowds that number in the tens of thousands.

So we at Canucks Hockey Blog thought it made sense to reach out to our friends at the Vancouver Canucks and see if we could somehow reward some of the most passionate fans with a little something to celebrate this long awaited run. Thinking it was a fabulous idea, the team has stepped up with a playoff prize pack consisting of the following:

Canucks_Hat

One Western Conference Champion Hat

Canucks_Program

One Official 2011 Stanley Cup Playoff Game Program

To enter to win this playoff prize pack, simply tweet the following message:

RT to win a #Canucks Playoff Prize Pack from @lyteforce @VanCanucks @canuckshockey http://bit.ly/kHJYjk #chbprizepack

That’s it. Easy-peasy.

We’ll randomly draw a winner during the third period of game 4.

Update: The Canucks are holding their official tweetup for game 4 at the Boston Vancouver Pizza in New Westminster. They’ll have the usual array of prizes and trivia questions. Chris Palliser from The Beat 94.5 will be there to host.

Jun 062011
 

We’ve heard #WinItForManny, but how about #WinItForDad?

I hate bringing myself into blog posts. But this is the Stanley Cup finals, where the emotion just boils over and rises to its highest peak.

As Canucks fans in 2011, we’ve had a lot to celebrate this season. After all, the team has been the NHL’s best virtually all season long; the league-best offense, defense, and special teams have paved the way to a President’s Trophy and now just two wins away from something never before achieved in the franchise’s 40 years. We’re lucky to live in these times, because there have been some dark days over that span.

I’m only 22 years old, so I only know half of the story that is the Vancouver Canucks’ 40-year history of ups and downs (mostly downs). My dad, however, has been following this team ever since they arrived from the Western League in 1970. Since then, he’s learned to become a bi-polar Canucks fan; high when the team is doing well, low when they’re at the worst. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve bickered about the play of Roberto Luongo or the captaincy of Henrik Sedin.

But it’s funny, because at some point after Alex Burrows did his best Brian Skrudland impression and gave the Canucks a 2-0 series lead just 11 seconds into overtime, I couldn’t help but think about my dad, and the 40 years he’s spent watching this team.

The truth is, on some level, I want the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup for my dad more than for myself. A Stanley Cup win would finally end the 40 years of frustration that’s been building up inside the hearts and minds of eternal Canucks fans.

I’m sure there’s someone you wish could be here to see this moment. Seeing the excitement of a hundred thousand Canucks fans marching down Robson and Granville like it was the 2010 Olympics was overwhelming; for long-time Canucks fans, it’s the kind of sight you’ve always dreamed about, but never thought it could ever happen; yet when it does happen, it still seems a little surreal.

I love the Canucks, but I love my dad more. It would be extra special if the Canucks could win a Stanley Cup for him.

Jun 062011
 

The Situation

Boston is defending a 2-1 lead nearing the mid-point of the third period. They’re back on their heels, but Vancouver’s been unable to score on gaping nets and multiple odd-man rushes. Then the Sedins get to work.

Frame 1

Milan Lucic (17) successfully fends off Daniel Sedin (to his left) and Alex Burrows, feeding the puck into the corner for Zdeno Chara.

Frame 2

Chara has an easy out: propel the puck behind his net to his partner Dennis Seidenberg. But the big man has trouble finding it in his skates.

Frame 3

Daniel moves in, digs out the puck, and puts his soccer skills to work kicking the puck to his brother.

Frame 4

Chara spins around, confused, as Henrik slips past him and throws the puck back up to the point. Burrows goes to the net.

Frame 5

Alex Edler has the puck at the blueline. Sami Salo gets ready for the one-timer, but Edler decides to shoot the puck himself.  Notice Daniel coming off the boards.

Frame 6

Burrows and Seidenberg are battling in front of the net. Edler’s shot never reaches Tim Thomas; it’s on Burrows stick as Daniel cuts through the slot unguarded.

Frame 7

Notice where Thomas is looking as Daniel receives the puck: at the tangle of bodies in front of him.

Frame 8

Too late, Thomas sees Daniel and throws his body in desperation. But Daniel’s not about to bungle this one, and he roofs it over Thomas’s outstretched pads.

Jun 042011
 

[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.]

Game 1 was quite entertaining on Wednesday night, especially in the third period after the penalty parade of the first two periods had ended.  It was a marvelous display of outstanding goaltending, as I predicted in my last blog.

For this blog, I’ll take a quick look back at game 1, I’ll take a quick look ahead at game 2, and I’ll pose a more general question… all things that make you ho hmmm…

  1. Where was the power in our powerplay? The Bruins’ futility on the powerplay was hardly a surprise given their pedestrian 8% success rate coming into the Finals.  However, the Canucks went 0-for-6 (as did the Bruins) with the man-advantage, relatively surprising given they were coming in at a clip of over 25%.  Daniel Sedin mentioned that the Canucks were admittedly a bit nervous to start the game, rendering their early powerplays ineffective.  And it didn’t help that Alex Burrows took 2 minor penalties while the Canucks were on the power-play.  Still, look for the Canucks to capitalize as the series progresses, especially as the Sedins find a way to navigate around Chara.  And speaking of Chara, I actually don’t mind him behind in front of Luongo with the Bruins have the man-advantage – he actually blocks a lot of the shooting lane.
  2. The Manny-watch:  who’s in and who’s out?Dan Hamhuis is listed as day-to-day after his crushing check on Milan Lucic.  If Hamhuis can’t go, the feeling as I write this (Friday night) is that Andrew Alberts will draw into the line-up ahead of Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev.  Readers of my blogs know that I’m a big Ballard fan…but once again Alain Vigneault is a Jack Adams winner and I’m not.  But the bigger story is the possible return of Manny Malhotra.  After taking giant steps towards returning, the talk of the town was that he would suit up for game 1.  Then, he was held back and Canucks fans started looking at the glass (proverbial, not Tanner) as if it was half-empty as opposed to half-full.  Well, Malhotra practiced on Friday and is apparently once again “cleared to play.”  My sense is that he will indeed play in Saturday’s game 2, giving the home team an extra emotional boost.  I will be especially interested in how well he responds to contact and how many minutes he’ll end up playing.  I’m guessing he plays 6 to 8 minutes – a bit more than the usual 4th-line ice-time, but certainly not close to the 15 minutes he was playing in the regular season.
  3. The tribe has spoken… and it doesn’t like us. I must admit that I’m quite fascinated by the way the Canucks and their fans seem to be vilified across the league.  JJ did a nice post yesterday talking about comments from players like Dave Bolland and Ryan Whitney, both dissing our team.  It’s one thing for fans to spout off about opposing teams and players – just look at how much we chirp about the Blackhawks here – but it’s another thing when players get into it.  There are so many different factors and emotions at play, but I think it comes down to jealousy, envy, and pride.  It’s exactly like on the reality TV-show Survivor. When the “jury” (the players voted out prior to the final 3) gets to ask the 3 finalists anything they want.  Some of the jury members come across as classy, often congratulating the finalists for in essence outplaying them.  But more often than not, the jury members start whining, complaining and moaning about how they should still be in the running for the million dollars.  They resort to name-calling and cheap insults while refusing to admit they were outplayed and outwitted.  Sound familiar?  Except there aren’t many similarities between the Canucks and Richard Hatch.

I won’t be able to go to game 2 as I have a work event; instead I’ll be watching the game with about 300 youth and young adults.  Speaking of work, I have a friendly wager going with my “equivalent” in Boston:  if the Canucks win, he will send me some New England clam chowder and Boston baked beans.  If the Bruins win, then I will have to send him some smoked salmon and Canadian bacon. Planning ahead, am I supposed to eat the chowder the beans together?  That’s a thing that makes me go hmmm…

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