Everyone but the Canucks learned the wrong lessons from the Cup Final

Whenever a team wins the Stanley Cup, there is an inevitable copycat syndrome throughout the rest of the NHL. When the Blackhawks and the Flyers went to the Final in 2010 with bargain basement goaltenders in the same year that Jaroslav Halak went on a marvelous run for the Canadiens, the bottom fell out of the goalie market, teams with high paid goaltenders were soundly mocked, and teams looked to cheaper options in net as the key to playoff success.

One year later, two of the highest paid goaltenders in the league, Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo, were facing each other in the Finals.

The Blackhawks and Canadiens didn’t seem fooled by their own goaltenders’ performances, as they said farewell to Antti Niemi and Jaroslav Halak. It took the Flyers an extra season to figure things out, but they emptied their pocketbook to sign Ilya Bryzgalov in the offseason, perhaps seeing what good goaltending did for the Bruins and Canucks.

And now, since Boston won the Stanley Cup, teams are looking to follow their example as the path to success. In particular, teams seem to be looking to follow Boston’s example when playing against the Canucks.

Honestly, every time I hear that teams are adopting the Boston model of shutting down the Canucks, I am shocked; I would have thought that a Tim Thomas trade would be bigger news.

Inevitably, however, it just turns out that they just plan on hitting the Sedins, engaging in petty behaviour after the whistle, or targeting star players with cheap shots. It seems like teams saw the Youtube videos of Brad Marchand punching Daniel Sedin and assume that this somehow constituted shutting Daniel down.

It reached its zenith when the Canucks faced the Ottawa Senators back in December, as the Senators sent out Chris Neil to run around and be Chris Neil, throwing elbows, getting in the face of the Sedins, and just generally being a nuisance. Unfortunately for the Senators, they don’t have Tim Thomas in net; they have Craig Anderson.

You’d think, perhaps, the Senators would have realized that playing physical and taking a lot of penalties wasn’t the best gameplan when the Canucks scored just 4 seconds into their first powerplay. They didn’t learn, however, taking another 4 penalties.

What was more baffling is that they kept sending Neil out onto the ice: he played a season-high 16:46, finishing with no points, 2 shots, and a minus-1.

The media bought into the hype, spotlighting Neil’s efforts throughout the game and then somehow awarding him the third star in a 4-1 loss where he had no discernible impact on the result of the game. Neil’s antics didn’t shut down the Sedins and didn’t help the Senators against the Canucks.

A more recent game seemed to better fulfill the narrative that cheapshots and bullying is the best way to beat the Canucks. The LA Kings targeted Henrik Sedin in particular and their 4-1 victory seemed to validate the widely-held belief that the Canucks simply are not tough enough. Never mind that the Canucks were absolutely terrible defensively and could barely create scoring chances; the Kings’ toughness was credited with the victory.

The fact is that almost every team in the NHL tries to play tough against the Sedins. Every team tries to take them off their game with strong physical play. It isn’t a new theory. And yet, they won back-to-back Art Ross trophies and they’re currently 2nd and 4th in league scoring.

Whatever teams are trying against them, it isn’t working. If there was a magic “stop the Sedins” button that teams could press, they would have done so already. The Bruins have one: it’s called Tim Thomas. But don’t press him or he’ll punch you. Or kiss you. Who knows, he’s unpredictable.

Henrik Sedin said it best after the game against the Kings when he was questioned whether he felt the Canucks were pushed around:

“You know what, I’m pretty tired of that question,” Henrik said. “We won the Presidents Trophy last year and went to the seventh game of the final. We didn’t lose the final because we were pushed around, we lost because we couldn’t score. We are as tough as anyone else in here, we are taking hits, giving out hits and that’s the bottom line. That’s my answer to that one.”

“We lost because we couldn’t score.” I would go one further: they lost because they couldn’t score and because the Bruins could. That may sound like a truism (the team that scored more goals won!), but hear me out. The two biggest reasons the Bruins won the Stanley Cup were the play of Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara and their impressive scoring depth. I think these two things combined taught the Canucks the same lesson.

Tim Thomas had one of the best seasons from a goalie in NHL history, if not the best. He set a new standard for regular season save percentage, won the Vezina Trophy, then posted 4 shutouts in the playoffs, including 2 in the Stanley Cup Final, winning the Conn Smythe trophy.

Meanwhile, the Norris-nominated Chara played nearly 28 minutes a night during the playoffs and was instrumental against the Sedins during the Final.

As for the Bruins’ scoring depth, it’s important to note that they lack legitimate star power amongst their forwards. During the regular season, the Bruins’ leading scorers, David Krejci and Milan Lucic, had 62 points each. They had just one 30 goal scorer in Lucic.

In comparison, Daniel Sedin had 104 points, and both he and Kesler scored 41 goals to lead the Canucks.

With the addition of Tomas Kaberle and Rich Peverley by trade, however, the Bruins had 10 different players score 40+ points. The Canucks had 6, with Raymond on the edge with 39.

Because of their depth, Boston led the league in even-strength scoring during the regular season. Even their fourth line chipped in, as Shawn Thornton had 10 goals and 20 points. With Tim Thomas anchoring their defence, people seem to quickly forget how good their offence was.

18 different players recorded points for the Bruins during the Final; that’s an entire roster minus the goalies.

As for the Canucks, once Thomas and Chara shut down the Sedins, they didn’t have anywhere to turn. Mikael Samuelsson played in only 11 games in the postseason, Raymond had his back broken, Hodgson was a rookie who appeared to be over his head, and Kesler was playing on essentially one leg. That was basically it for depth after the Sedins and Burrows. The third line of Raffi Torres, Jannik Hansen, and Maxim Lapierre did their best, as each scored 3 points in the Final, but the three players were much better at forechecking than scoring.

That’s why I find it incredibly interesting that Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault have not built this season’s version of the Canucks around toughness. While they did acquire players with size, they focussed on players with the ability to play the game.

Dale Weise scored 50 points in the AHL with Hartford in 2009-10 and 38 points in 47 games with the Connecticut Whale. Mark Mancari is 6’3″, but is known more for his scoring touch as an AHL All-Star than for his physicality. Byron Bitz has struggled with injuries in his NHL career (and again this season), but put up solid point totals playing for Cornell University in the NCAA.

Instead of toughness, Gillis and Vigneualt have improved the team’s scoring depth. Last season, the Canucks had a fairly traditional lineup: two scoring lines, a checking line, and an “energy” line. This season, their fourth line has become their checking line: Manny Malhotra, Maxim Lapierre, Dale Weise, Aaron Volpatti, and Andrew Ebbett have the lowest offensive zone start percentage in the NHL. The fourth line is starting almost exclusively in the defensive zone.

This allows the Canucks to ice three scoring lines, with Cody Hodgson as the linchpin to the entire plan. With Hodgson’s emergence and Hansen’s continued development, the Canucks have a third line capable of contributing offensively and it’s paying off.

Last season, the Canucks led the league with 258 goals. Despite losing Christian Ehrhoff, the Canucks are actually on pace to better that total by 8.

Last season, 6 players scored 40+ points for the Canucks; they have 9 players on pace for 40+ points this season, with Dan Hamhuis on pace for 38. That’s not including second-line wingers David Booth and Mason Raymond, who likely won’t reach that plateau thanks to injuries.

While the rest of the league saw the reemergence of the tough guy during the Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks saw their scoring depth falter and the Bruins’ scoring depth thrive. Rather than trying to match the goonery of the Bruins, the Canucks took steps to fix the real problem.

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78 comments

  1. Spencer
    January 6, 2012

    Excellent article Dan. Good to see Vancouver fans and writers with level heads and poignant observations.

    Uh…I mean…Schneider should start tomorrow!

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    • seethruhead
      January 6, 2012

      As usual, love the intelligent take. Wondering if Moody and Wagner can talk like they write – if so, the radio airwaves sure could use these fresh perspectives.

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    • Spencer
      January 6, 2012

      Shoot. I was kidding when I wrote that Schneids should start….what would be the reasoning behind his start for the road trip?

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      • Nee
        January 6, 2012

        I think people were up-voting the first part of your comment, FYI

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  2. J21
    January 6, 2012

    I think the depth issue was very tied to health, too. If the Canucks had their identical lineup but playing with Hamhuis/Edler/Ehrhoff healthy, let alone Kesler and Henrik, it takes true sportsfanism to not appreciate what a huge difference that would have made.

    And a better PP would have meant a lot less of the “toughness” BS anyway.

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  3. Canucklelion
    January 6, 2012

    Normally i enjoy the “pass it” column, this one though, i take exception to.
    The MO to beat the Nuck’s has always been to push them around. Anaheim did it and went on to win a cup, the Hawk’s did it twice and almost a 3rd time and went on to win a cup. The B’s absolutely kicked the canuck’s collective butts in Boston last year and were rewarded with a cup.
    The Nuck’s have a lightweight defense , unless you count the size of Bxa’s mouth. Our top 6 forwards should look better when Booth returns, but still lacks muscle to back up the grit and skill of the Twins, Kes + Burr. Sure they were only one game short of a cup win last year but they were outscored by 20+ goals or something in the series.
    The Nuck’s do not have an anwer for what Chara, or Lucic bring, let alone Thomas. This game tomorrow is an opportunity for the team to make a statemnt, I just hope I’m not embarrassed like I was by the Nuck’s in the SCF.

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    • Chris
      January 6, 2012

      Hey, congrats on not even reading the column.

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    • shoes
      January 6, 2012

      The one fact that stands out for me is that the Canucks cannot build a team like the Bruins because Gregory Campbell will be signed until he is 80 with the Bruins. If Burrows or Lappierre had speedbagged Bergeron like Marchand did Sedin they would have sat for that game and possible more for headshots. i acn assure you that Bergeron would not have been given 5 times the penalty minutes that Burrows would have been given. When Chara crosschecked Sedin to the ice repeatedly until they started going down a little easier…….because he repeatedly wasn’t being called for it, it became crystal clear to me that the Bruins were going to prevail. I still don’t think they would have if the injury situation was not as dire as it was. I can also predict that the rules will not be changed as much this season in the playoffs. That was a special present to Colon and his boy.

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      • micasa
        January 6, 2012

        So tired of the “biased officiating” excuse. There were real reasons the Canucks lost, and they had nothing to do with Gregory Campbell or his dad.

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      • Don'tPokeTheBear
        January 6, 2012

        You are pathetic. I can’r believe all you Vancouverites still have your panties in a twist! The Bruins wanted the Cup more last year and they took it. End of story. They didn’t blame anyone for anything. Stop making excuses for your team. They make enough excuses for themselves in the media. It’s a shame that the people of such a wonderful, beautiful city must root for such a hideous team. Enjoy those Art Ross trophies. The B’s will be more than fine with Cups and Conn Smythe’s!

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        • peanutflower
          January 6, 2012

          It’s pretty easy for you to say that because your team ( presumably) won. The stats and the evidence don’t lie. There were multiple occasions — multiple meaning lots — where penalties should have been called on Boston but they just weren’t. No one on this blog has their “panties in a twist” except you. This is supposed to be a place for intelligent conversation. You obviously did not read the article. Go back and read it and let us know where in that blog anyone has their “panties in a twist”, k? thx.

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      • F4S Leigh
        January 6, 2012

        I have to agree with Shoes here, at least partially. We lose because a) our goaltender was positively horrible on multiple occasions; b) we couldn’t score, and c) the games were refereed to benefit a team like Boston over a team like Vancouver. A) is what it is – Lu needed to be better. He basically handed them game 6 on a platter. However, I link b) and c) together, along with the play of Thomas. Yes, we had 33 power plays, but recall that a full 19 Bruin penalties were called in games 3, 4, and 6, after the score was 4-0 or better for Boston (caveat – not all of these resulted in powerplays as some were offsetting). The Canucks had serious injury problems in the finals, and ran into the hottest of goaltenders. Those 3 games just got away from Vancouver. This is why I just bristle when I continually hear the stats of “2 for 33″ or “outscored 23-8″. They don’t tell the entire story. For most of games 1, 2, and 6, the Canucks were dominant, yet they had trouble scoring primarily due to the play of Thomas. Fair enough, I can accept that. Games 3 and 4 were much different in most ways – but one way they were not is that the Canucks were the better team on the ice in the first period of each, outshooting BOS 12-7 and 12-6. Game 6 was again a different story, where the Canucks were actually “decent” with the exception of the horrific goaltending.

        You can analyse this 1,000 ways, the reality is, while the Bruins were whistled for 33 Canuck powerplays, they could have and should have been whistled for double that. Also, many of the PPs we did get were at completely irrelevant points in three blowout wins by BOS. Eventually the PP would have come around. So you have to question the league’s motivations. And while I think it has less to do with Campbell, I think the fact that BOS owner Jeremy Jacobs is the chairman of the NHL board of governers, and has Bettman in his back pocket, probably has a lot to do with it.

        The Canucks stance of “go ahead and take penalties and we’ll score on the PP” works, but only if the game is called as it should be. It was in the San Jose series, and we won in 5. It wasn’t in the Finals, and that (along with many other reasons) is a big reason we lost in 7.

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      • Katie
        January 6, 2012

        I don’t understand this obsession with this conspiracy theory that somehow the refs fixed things so much that they “stole” the Cup from Vancouver. Really? It was all about the penalties that you think should have been called? Why weren’t other people (outside of Vancouver) screaming that the finals were fixed? Shouldn’t there have been massive outrage? Not to mention other teams manage to win even when horrible calls are being made against them. Look at the Winter Classic this year. Tortorella may have taken his words back, but I don’t know anyone who watched who wasn’t thinking the same thing. That penalty shot would never have been called in any other game. And those other penalties? Marginal at best. But the Rangers used that to fire themselves up and WIN. Oh, and by the way, Campbell wasn’t on loan to the Flyers so explain that. I can also point to the Bruins/Canadiens round 1 playoffs this year. If daddy Campbell had the pull that you seem to think he does explain the bad calls against the Bruins, especially at the very end of game 7. If the Canucks can’t win even when bad calls are made against them then they will never win the Cup. Ever.

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        • Adrock
          January 6, 2012

          Katie, I don’t think there was a big conspiracy, or that the refs ‘stole’ the Cup from the Canucks, but I do think the reffing was bad enough that it had an effect (a small one) on the outcome of the series.

          You seem to have a pretty objective view on reffing in some of these other games, do you honestly think that the SCF was good reffing?? Would any other teams superstars have to take cheap shot after cheap shot with no repercussions?

          I’m honestly a little tired of hearing people whine about the refs costing the Canucks the series, but I think I may be just as tired of hearing people deny that the reffing was shit.

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          • Katie
            January 6, 2012

            Ok, I admit I don’t remember every game and every penalty from the finals last year, but I would agree that there was bad reffing during some of the games, but I don’t hear other teams suggesting that those calls/non-calls had a major impact on the outcome of a series. I would also agree that Marchand should have been penalized for the multiple punches on D Sedin and there were surely other missed calls, but that happens a lot, in both the playoffs and regular season games. Now, other than Marchand, what other situations are you thinking of that didn’t get called? Are the Bruins a very physical team who can push things to and even over the limits, absolutely, but give me an idea of how many times they got away with stuff that you don’t think would be allowed to happen to other elite players? That’s where I have a problem with Canuck fans going on and on about how much the Bruins were allowed to get away with.

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            • F4S Leigh
              January 6, 2012

              How about when Peverly turned his stick over and slashed Bieksa on the back of the knee, causing what GM Mike Gillis called a “bruised MCL” in his post season press conference? (BTW, expect KB3 to avenge this tomorrow morning, Mr. Peverly’s life is going to be very uncomfortable I would imagine). Dirty stuff, frankly it was intent to injure, should have been a match penalty. The hit on Raymond? All the other stuff that went on after whistles? Try going up to Crosby and treating him the way the Sedins get treated on EVERY shift, cross checked and hacked incessantly. Definitely, they got away with a TON of stuff that normally gets called, especially when it’s on one of the game’s “superstars”.

              When circumstances exist that cause the appearance of impropriety, I’m going to call the NHL on it. How about Brian Burke being consulted on the Rome suspension, when HIS draft pick (from Boston in Kessel trade) was influenced depending on whether Boston won or lost the series, AND he hates the Canucks organization. How about that suspension by the way? Rome’s penalty was for “interference” and he had no history with the league, gets 4 games in SCF – but when Chara hits Pacioretty about 2 months prior, “interference” call, he gets 0 games? How this stuff doesn’t get talked about is beyond me. The inconsistency in the application of the rules of the game, even WITHIN the same game, and by NHL head office, is appalling.

              It’s not “why” we didn’t win the cup. But, it’s a pretty significant contributing factor. Gillis or Vigneault said it in that post-season press conference – they didn’t expect that “a different standard of officiating” would be used once the Finals rolled around. What’s concerning is that it WAS, and they haven’t made changes to the lineup to reflect this expectation. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

              And THAT, my friends, is why this team’s “toughness” gets questioned constantly.

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              • Katie
                January 6, 2012

                And Burrows bite on Bergeron? What about that non-call? Oh wait, that’s right, there was no obvious “intent” to bite was there? Then how about when Torres punched Kelly in the face? Was there no “intent” there too? As for the cross checks on the Sedins what about the uncalled cross checks on Chara by Bieksa? Oh and how about that dive Henrik took when he got bumped? And game 3 when Chara and Burrows were mixing it up and Burrows took some very serious swings with his stick at Chara’s legs? Missed that did you? I’d also bring up all the diving the Canucks did, but the Canucks would never do anything like that would they? They are all just such a classy bunch.
                As for Burke – the only thing I’ve read is that Burke was called to discuss the suspension process and that they did NOT discuss Rome specifically. Burke was asked about when he handed out one of the first suspensions in the SCF. There is NO evidence, whatsoever, that I am aware of that says Burke had any input regarding Rome’s suspension. But hey, it’s the Canucks and everyone is always conspiring against them aren’t they?

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            • athapap
              January 6, 2012

              a point of clarification

              It is persistent myth that Brad Marchand was not penalized for his punches to Daniel Sedin’s face at the end of game 6. It is also frequently suggested that he didn’t get punished for the antics towards the end of game 4.

              for the record the following penalties were given:

              game 4 – 2 minutes roughing, 2 minutes tripping, 2 minutes holding at the 17:33 minute mark. These penalties put the Bruins 2 men down for most of the remainder of the game. It was rather late in the game to “get even” for any perceived dirtiness in Marchand’s hold on Erhoff or lowbridge of a Sedin – that kind of retribution is best reserved for a subsequent blowout or the regular season. I fail to see any error on the part of the officials or any failing on the Canucks part in not killing Marchand on the spot.
              game 6 – 2 minutes for roughing, 10 minute misconduct at the 18:29 mark of the 3rd period in a 5-2 game – i’m not sure what punishment the referee was expected to give or realistically what act of retribution the canucks could be expected to engage in given the timing. From a canuck fan’s perspective the only legitimate complaint I see is that a team leader like daniel didn’t recognize the circumstances (it’s too late in the game to actually win it on the pp) and stand up for himself

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        • shoes
          January 6, 2012

          Uh Katie….you sorta of made the point. The refs were very good at calling “bad calls” or numberous calls against the Bruins …….at the point where it did not matter, like the last few minutes of game a 4-0 game 7. Now about conspiracy theories……depends how you look at it and what ingredients are needed in a conspiracy. Did a bunch of smelly old men meet in a dark room? Not likely. However 4 mouths before the start of the playoffs an email was made public. It was from Colin Campbell asking if he could get a ref fired for giving his boy Gregory a penalty in the last minute of a game, that cost the Panthers a victory. he also mentioned that he hated Mark Savard and thought he was a “diver” This was before Gregory was a Bruin, but around the time Cooke ended Savards career on a “clean check” in the eyes of Campbell. For me the disturbing part of the email is the replies from the head disciplinarian, Mike Murphy (when Gregory was involved in a game, Campbell supposedly had no status) and the head of referees Stephen Walkom. Instead of replying ……”no that would be just wrong to fire someone for giving your little lad a penalty and give your head a shake you dirty old cheater” Instead they both agreed to look into the matter. Once this email became public all officials knew exactly who their immediate boss was, whether Gregory was playing or not. So you can like it or not, but the appearance of impropriety is definitely a fact and things like calling more penalties on the Bruins when the game was out of hand…….in order to even up the stats possibly, just put more fuel on the fire. Having said that your point that the Canucks should have overcame bad calls is true and probably would have overcome most of them if they were healthy……But given the fact that we all supposedly want to see a sporting event that is fair………….why should they have to overcome bad calls…..why not Colins boys team overcoming some bad calls. Wouldn’t the law of averages dictate that bad calls should equal out? Not including “token” bad calls in the last 5 minutes of a blow out, though.

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          • Katie
            January 6, 2012

            Ok, let me start with pointing out that I was talking about a call against the Bruins during game 7 vs the Canadiens. Patrice Bergeron was called for a high stick which only the refs apparently saw (feel free to look for a youtube video of the incident) with just over 2 minutes to go in the 3rd period when the Bruins were up 3-2. The ensuing PP allowed the Habs to tie the game up. So, to your point about “Colins boys team” they DID have to over come at least one bad call that could have easily cost them the game and the series. Which is not to say that the Bruins weren’t mostly at fault for allowing themselves to get into that situation, but to point out that the refs aren’t always working from the Bruins back pocket. As for the emails I’d like to point out 1) the ref did NOT lose his job so Colin can whine all he wants but he did not have the power to get someone fired, 2) the only people outraged about the non suspension of Cooke were the Bruins organization and fans, everyone else busied themselves making it very clear that the hit was “clean” according to the rules (at the time), no-one else was screaming for Colin’s head and 3) it’s time to deal with the fact that not every game is going to be reffed perfectly and until you have stats to back up your statement that other teams are slapped with far more bad calls than the Bruins then you need to get off that high horse you are clearly enjoying riding.

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            • Canucks Supporter
              January 6, 2012

              Katie, you’re talking about one call in one game, which is a lot different than looking at a full series and analyzing the totality of the reffing performance. It was sickening in the SCF, not dissimilar to the reffing in that Stalone soccer flick, “Victory”…anyone who doesn’t admit it isn’t really being honest… This is not to say there weren’t other important reasons why the Canucks lost but we might want to chisel an asterix next to the name of the Bruins on the Stanley Cup…

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              • athapap
                January 6, 2012

                The superbole isn’t for a few weeks but the hyperbole is apparently on NOW.

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              • Katie
                January 6, 2012

                I’m sorry, did I not list out every single bad call made in the Bs/Habs series? My bad. Yes, I only mentioned one bad call, but that was to make the point that the refs weren’t always doing everything possible to ensure a Bruins win. I was not trying to evaluate the whole series. If you don’t think the Bruins get hit with bad calls too and at horrible times, then I suggest you watch the Bs/Habs series. There were plenty of bad calls and non-calls. For BOTH teams.
                You can talk all you want about how there should be an asterisk next to the Bruins win, but that’s just sour grapes to me.
                Oh and insisting that anyone who doesn’t agree with you isn’t being honest is really lame.

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      • peanutflower
        January 6, 2012

        you can’t spell

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    • Matt
      January 6, 2012

      Seriously? When Anaheim beat us back in ’07 they were just a better team. They were favoured. Does this mean every Vancouver playoff loss now will be attributed to our lack of toughness? Please. The Hawks are a very skilled team and have been for the last 4 years, they won because those skilled guys, like Patrick Kane and Toews, stepped up.

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  4. longtimefanfirsttimeposter
    January 6, 2012

    Great article. The toughness thing has been so overblown for so long people actually believe it. If the Canucks are lacking any toughness it is on defense where they could arguably use one more bruiser who can play that will punish on the pk like Chara does, other additions would be a waste of time. For the relative punishment that the Sedin’s take game in and game out while constantly charging to the front of the net they have to be considered two of the toughest players in the game. Anyone who says different obviously doesn’t watch Canuck games.

    As for last year the Bruins won because Thomas badly outplayed Luongo. Thomas gave his team a chance to win all 7 games he played, the Canucks having to scrape out narrow victories in their wins. Luongo on the other hand gave the Canucks a chance to win only 3 of 7 games (all of which they won) and they were so shell-shocked in the others they never had a chance.

    Toughness had nothing to do with it. Sure the Bruins are dirty, and yes the refs give the Canucks the shaft because of the reputation the media has created for them and which is repeated by every single Flame and Bruin poster on every blog I’ve seen until people believe it, but the truth is the Canucks scoring dried up at a bad time for the reasons stated above and their goaltending simply wasn’t good enough. It’s not rocket science.

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  5. JP
    January 6, 2012

    Thanks for writing this one, Dan. Your points are well-made. I’ve been feeling the same this season while watching games like the Sens one you mention and the recent asshattery in the two with San Jose. The Bruins beat the Canucks with scoring depth, excellent defensive hockey and great goaltending. Brad Marchand’s punk act had nothing to do with it.

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  6. runsonice
    January 6, 2012

    It’s amazing to me how many people missed this simple fact. Last year the Bruins rolled 4 lines through the finals, while the Canucks’ 4th line rode the pine most of the time. The year before we saw the exact same thing happen against Chicago, whose 4th line dominated the Canucks every time they were on the ice, with the same result. Yet the attention always falls on the Bolland & Marchand antics.

    Good on Gillis to build that depth into the lineup. It’s crazy to think that with the competitiveness of the NHL, the Canucks were basically able to remove their 4th line and add a second line to run behind the two first lines. This alone accounts for all my arguments this year that the 2011-12 version of the team is superior to the 2010-11 version.

    Of course, the same could be said of Boston…

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  7. Matt
    January 6, 2012

    Bruins fan here…. I think the writer hit the nail on the head here. Although physicality was/is a large component of the b’s game, their true strength is the ability to roll out 4 lines that can score and play sound defense. If vancouver took that as the lesson to be learned then kudos for being ahead of the redt of the league.

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    • Blaine
      January 6, 2012

      Ah, reasonableness from the opposition. It’s sad that it’s noteworthy enough to point out. I know there are a lot of Canucks fans trolling Bruin’s sites as well so thanks for reaching out. Whatever happens, should be a great game tomorrow.

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  8. Russ
    January 6, 2012

    Good points. I like the added scoring depth.

    However, I think one important lesson we learned from last year is that the refs call a different game in the playoffs than they do in the regular season. The refs may call the holdings…crosscheckings…in the regular season but in the postseason, they let a lot more go. That gives big teams like Boston a big advantage…their bigger/slower guys can neutralize some skill/speed. I’d gladly trade off a few points in the regular season to have a team more geared for the playoffs.

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  9. jafajack
    January 6, 2012

    Excellent article

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  10. Cody
    January 6, 2012

    The only goons that will survive in the future will need to be talented players. Brian Burke’s rant the other day was just another classic player longing for the “good old days”. Guys like Colton Orr have no place in a salary cap system, that includes NHL policing, and will not be seen unless they can also show the checking, or scoring talent to be there. I look forward to seeing future “goons” who can put 30+ points on the board. Skill > Goonery

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  11. Edward Nolan
    January 6, 2012

    WOW I have been enlightened!!!
    The Bruins won because Gregory Campbell plays for them!? I didn’t know that…
    The Bruins ( and NOT Alexis Burrows??) are dirty? I didn’t know that…
    I’ll tell you what I saw last year in the “SCF”: It was one team who thought that they could just walk in and win get a HUGE dose of reality when they were beaten by a team with infinitely more guts , oh Yeah AND TOUGHNESS, than your beloved ‘Nuks
    Get ready to witness the B’s punish the Punks that permeate your team’s roster… ENJOY!!

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    • Zach Morris
      January 6, 2012

      why are you even here?

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    • shoes
      January 6, 2012

      speaking of punks………the series went to 7 games punk…..so take your arrogance back to Boston

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    • shoes
      January 7, 2012

      I did enjoy……..How about you?

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  12. sarah
    January 6, 2012

    I have a feeling toady I’ll be nervous all day for tomorrow’s game. Of course it would be lovely to see the Canucks come out very strong and take it 4-0 or something. It would be great to see the PP really pick up and register a couple of Wizarding Sedinery type goals after Boston takes a couple of stupid, “let’s toss around the Sedins” type penalties. Oh and maybe Burr could score one on his go-to backhand move on the breakaway. And CoHo [or Chinook as they might call him] could have a beaut. Ok, I’m wildly ahead of myself.

    Also, I just saw a tweet from VanCanucks that Schneids is starting in net tomorrow. This makes perfect sense to me [Boston is his hometown and it's a great way to reward a backup who stepped in so ably while Lu was injured], but I’d love to hear Dan or Harrison’s thoughts on this decision [if this tweet is correct]

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    • Katie
      January 6, 2012

      sarah – regarding Luongo not playing – from a Bruins perspective it makes him look like a joke. It looks like he (or Vigneault) are too scared to play him because of how badly he got blown out in the finals. I don’t to believe the Canuncks are starting Schneider because he was born here. What kind of team decides to play/not play someone because of where he was born?

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      • F4S Leigh
        January 6, 2012

        Every team in the NHL does this actually. Players will invite all their friends and family to come watch. Since you are within a 2 hour flight of most of the league, probably not a big deal back east, but out west this is a big thing. Say what you want about hiding Luongo, but the “hometown” thing is real.

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      • peanutflower
        January 6, 2012

        it’s not the playoffs. It’s the middle of the season. Who cares who starts?

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      • Shot from the point
        January 7, 2012

        And we care about a Bruin’s perspective because ?????

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  13. peanutflower
    January 6, 2012

    Excellent post. that’s all I have to say. I’m hoping I have the opportunity to say a lot more really good things on Saturday afternoon.

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  14. Matt
    January 6, 2012

    I really appreciated this article and haven’t heard anyone carry out this view on the Canucks in detail. I would go for a shut down, tough d-man like Shae Weber.
    My 3-way trade proposal:
    To Tampa Bay: Cory Schneider, Cody Hodgson
    To Vancouver: Shae Weber
    To Nashville: Brett Connolly, Kucherov, Vincent Lecavalier
    Lecavalier probably has a no trade but just thought I’d throw it out there. Everyone gets what they need. And I’m not sure what Schneiders value actually is. Personally, I think he’s going to win a Vezina one day.

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  15. Smokey
    January 6, 2012

    Boston’s pretty good, y’know, I understand everyone here expected the Canucks to win but that was a tough match-up, Boston’s one of the bigger teams in the league regardless of physical play, their size alone is tough to deal with for any team. I think the fans here underestimated them because they were only third in the east, but this season they’re really showing what a great team they are. The Canucks probably had a tougher road to the finals, they were tired and hurting while the B’s were fresh, we just couldn’t match up with them. There was nothing left in the tank. Hopefully someone knocks them out in the East because it’s just not a good match-up for the Canucks.

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    • Jim
      January 7, 2012

      The Bruins were fresh??? Both teams played 18 games prior to the Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks had a shorter Conference Final (4-1 over Sharks as opposed to the Bruins 4-3 advantage over the Lightning). The Canucks last Conference Final game was a home game in Vancouver on May 24, which left them relaxing at home for 7 days until the Stanley Cup Final started in Vancouver on June 1. The Bruins finished a 7 game series against Tampa Bay on May 27, flew to Vancouver on May 28 and started a 7 game series against the Canucks 3 days later.

      If the Canucks were less fresh than the Bruins entering the Stanley Cup Final, maybe they should get a new conditioning staff.

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  16. Karen
    January 6, 2012

    Regarding Schneids’ start tomorrow: this feels so, so wrong to say, but I kind of hope we lose. As nice as it is to have a scapegoat, Luongo did not lose Vancouver the cup… Boston did an excellent job during the playoffs of exposing what can b e referred to as inconsistent defense. If they do their thing tomorrow – that is, play physically and back it up with scoring depth – they could very well win. Maybe if Schneids is in net for that, Vancouver fans might be able to finally comprehend that. Neither team needs these two points drastically – a loss likely won’t effect our playoff run. I think this is a brilliant move on AV’s part – the perfect opportunity to take a risk – it pays off if we win, and it pays off if we lose.

    Thank you for a well written article. As much as it pains me to say it – and as hard as it is to have two tear stained cup final towels on my wall – Boston deserved the cup. It’s good that we’re attempting to correct our shortcomings.

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    • Katie
      January 6, 2012

      @Karen – Wow, as a Bruins fan I’m kind of shocked that you could (even a tiny bit) WANT your team to lose. Although I vaguely understand the logic. Personally I think the Canucks have a better chance to win with Schneider in net. Of course I’m assuming that based on the idea that the Bruins totally got into Luongo’s head and he (or AV) are really nervous about him letting them get any deeper into his head. Regardless the game promises to be great. Both teams are relatively healthy with guys all playing very strongly recently. This could be one of the best games each team plays this year. I can’t wait!

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      • Karen
        January 6, 2012

        You sound like the majority of Vancouver ‘fans’, Katie. Your team exposed our D first and foremost… Luongo could have stood on his head as much as he wanted, he wasn’t going to stop everything that got to him.

        Further, If AV was nervous about letting teams get deeper into Luongo’s head, he wouldn’t have started him in Game 7 of the Chicago series… when it comes down to it, tomorrow is just going to be a regular season game (with a bit of added awesomeness). Game 7 of the first round meant being out of the playoffs. Focus on cheering your hometown boy (Schneider), not slamming a goalie you don’t follow all season ;)

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        • Canucks Supporter
          January 6, 2012

          Karen, totally disagree with the I kind of want Canucks comment in order to make a point to the fan base comment, as a Canucks fan since I can remember and after going through torturous losing streaks and seasons, every single victory is sweet.

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          • Karen
            January 6, 2012

            Don’t get me wrong. Love the Vs. Just hate the ignorant blithering more ;)

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        • Katie
          January 6, 2012

          Karen – I don’t know why Vancouver fans would sound like me, but you have my sympathies if alleged Canuck fans sound more like a Bruins fan.
          Oh and don’t worry, I’m not slamming a goalie I am unfamiliar with. I may not watch every single game, but I watch enough to be familiar with him and his skills (as well as the rest of the team’s). I do respect the level of skill on the team even if I don’t like other things (but what true fan can’t say that about the opposition?) His incredible regular season stats (esp last year) have been well earned (it wasn’t a phenomenal D that got the team all those wins or provided him his Save%), but I have also seen his years of struggles with the Hawks in the playoffs.
          I guess I was just looking forward to seeing Luongo face down Timmy again. It will be fun to see Schneider in net, but it just won’t be the same.
          Btw – My hometown boys are the ones who wear Black & Gold. ;)

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          • Trevor
            January 6, 2012

            Its funny that you say that.

            SOOOOOOOOO many Boston fans (and hockey fans in general) gave us $%^& for not caring about “hometown boy” Lucic bringing the Cup back to Vancouver.

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            • Katie
              January 7, 2012

              For what it’s worth I was not one of those fans who gave Vancouver any grief over Lucic’s reception when he went home with the Cup. I wouldn’t have been terribly excited if the Canucks won and one of the guys brought the Cup to Boston.
              However, I would like to add that I don’t have anything against Schneider and I have been happy for him with all his success. I just hope I don’t see that success later today. ;)

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  17. DCM
    January 6, 2012

    Excellent post Daniel. However, you forgot to mention the obvious bias of the officials in favour of the Bruins, as directed by Commissioner Bettman and the rest of the Pentaverate in an obvious attempt to provoke a riot (success!) in order to provide cover for the Eastern establishment’s plan to steal our best sushi restaurants. And Whistler.

    On another note, if any of you goods folks at PITB ever have time to do a take down of Jeff Blair, who can’t seem to resist denigrating the Canucks, Canucks fans, and Vancouver, at every opportunity, that would be awesome as well. Keep up the good work.

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  18. robert fisher
    January 6, 2012

    the goons are the idiot vancouver fans who rioted after there wuss of team lost the final!

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    • peanutflower
      January 6, 2012

      i don’t even understand this sentence.

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  19. Misha
    January 6, 2012

    I’m just glad that Vancouver has two good writers in a city where the papers are populated with whining about Hodgson’s ice time, referee unfairness, and Luongo trade proposals.

    I say out with that garbage, and put you guys in charge. Would go a long way to move us out of the ‘most hated’ category.

    Great insight, and great article.

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    • Karen
      January 6, 2012

      Sports media in Vancouver is an embarrassment. Methinks it’s time to dislodge the old boy’s club and feature some fresh faces… I’ll gladly take PITB over any other outlet talking about the Canucks.

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  20. Fred Hughson
    January 6, 2012

    Daniel, you are really in the zone. Another cogent analysis. You (and Mooney) give us an intelligent and balanced perspective on the Canucks players and the organization. It’s a refreshing contrast to the predictable neurotic blather that we’ve come to expect from most of Vancouver’s sports media. (I’m guessing they have to continually sound the alarm to sell copy)

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  21. tj
    January 6, 2012

    Thanks, Daniel. Another thoughtful analysis. May the increasing popularity of PiTB continue to rub off on the rest of the hockey-writing media (I daresay I’ve seen several PiTB-ish turns of phrase out there, and even players are taking note. Nice work. It must be a relief for them too!)

    The Bruins fans who came on here trolling notwithstanding, it’s refreshing and comforting to know that there are fans willing to give level-headedness a shot. I’m just hoping for a good game (although I wish Luongo was playing. I don’t think it sends a good message, and I think puts AV’s confidence in his star player in doubt. I look forward to reading your or Harrison’s thoughts on that.)

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  22. Shand
    January 6, 2012

    Hi, is this the Yahoo! comments section?

    How to I get back to Pass It To Bulis? Dx

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    • SteveB
      January 7, 2012

      70+ comments?!?
      Holy Mackinaw!

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  23. randy
    January 6, 2012

    makes perfect sense how colon campbell made sure that his boy won the cup. yep the bruins sure are real men to have that on their side.

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  24. Cliff
    January 6, 2012

    It wasn’t the physical toughness of the Cannucks that was exposed in the Finals. It was their mental toughness that was lacking. The fact they are choosing to hide Luongo Saturday rather than put him back in front of the Boston crowd tells us some lessons are still to be learned.

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  25. Anony
    January 6, 2012

    The Bruins are a good team because they are well rounded. They can play the physical, the skill and the defensive game; the Canucks significantly lack in one of these areas. It, in part, cost them the cup. The other 2 significant parts were injuries and lack of 4th line.

    There are a lot of teams in the league who have good goaltending AND have physical/tough players. Those are the teams I fear in the playoffs, not Ottawa. Ottawa is not a good example because, as of this season, they are NOT an elite team and have NO chance of meeting Canucks in the playoffs.

    Those people who are against employing a ‘tough guy’ in Canucks land are clearly not smart. There are plenty of guys who can play great hockey and contribute offensively, but also happen to tough and can fight. That’s the guy Canucks fans want. Please explain to me what Dale Weise brings to the Canucks line up? Then I’ll explain to you what a guy like Tim Jackman can bring to the Canucks lineup.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      January 6, 2012

      I am absolutely fine with bringing in a guy who can both play hockey well and who can fight. No problem whatsoever. Unfortunately, those types of players are few and far between.

      Tim Jackman has 7 points in 42 games while playing pretty easy minutes for the Flames. He has some good underlying numbers, but nothing overly special. He could put up 20 points this season, which is not bad for his role. He’d be a pretty good guy to have on the Canucks. Unfortunately, he’s already on another team and there are very few players like him out there.

      Dale Weise has 5 points in 41 games while playing very tough minutes for the Canucks. He’s in the bottom five in the NHL when it comes to offensive zone start percentage, which means his shifts start almost exclusively in the defensive zone. With the fourth line becoming the checking line, Weise is playing tough minutes alongside Malhotra and Lapierre. His underlying numbers are pretty good given his role. Weise has been a defensively responsible checking line winger.

      I think Weise is valuable for the Canucks, despite not being the best fighter. I wouldn’t mind a guy like Jackman on the team as well (or instead), but I recognize that there just aren’t that many players like him out there.

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  26. Kate
    January 6, 2012

    Thank you Daniel for writing an article on the only thing we can be sure of from the SCF, the scoring. Some of these comments are paaainful. You know what is truly arrogant? Assuming you know the specific mental state of a group of men you’ve never met in your life, who are all far better athletes than any of us fans will be. Everyone can make their guesses as to what the players are feeling inside, but facts are, bruins scored more than the canucks and thus won the 4th game. The blow-outs don’t matter, they still only equal to one game, they just give intelligent fans cause to say “luongo sucks” “sedin sisters” . Mmm very original. How quickly people forget their own goalie’s and team’s struggles.
    I like hockey pure and simple, the Canucks are my team, but I like watching other teams play too. My dislike of the teams we play is, for the most part, temporary. Yes it stings watching teams that beat yours in the playoffs do well, and we are all happy to beat said teams when the Canucks play them. That’s why I don’t get other peoples constant harping on the Canucks, if they’re not the team you cheer for, why bother talking about them at all? Love your team, treat others with mild distaste instead of full blown hate! /end rant.

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    • peanutflower
      January 6, 2012

      Actually I pretty much agree with this comment. I have to say that I never “hated” any Canuck opponent, the Bruins included. I dislike intensely (my mom always said to say that instead of hate) the style of play of the Bruins and teams like them, especially the copy cats teams this year, and I dislike intensely the fact that the rules did seem to be sort of reinvented for the last several games, but mostly I just want the Canucks to win. All the time.

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  27. Dave Stoddart
    January 6, 2012

    This is easily the most insightful and interesting hockey article I’ve read in a very long time. Many of the posters have made thoughtful and intelligent comments as well. What a pleasure.

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  28. Ben
    January 7, 2012

    Folks,

    There were many reasons the B’s won last year, and they weren’t due to conspiracies. Better D and goaltending, more physical and sticking to their game plan. If you go look at some shot charts from their playoff wins they protected in front of the net very well. Plus the D lineup you had in game 7′at home was a shell of the one you could of had if everyone was healthy.

    BTW Watch out about being the scoring juggernaut, last time I looked the team leading the league in scoring so far is not Vancouver.

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  29. superreggie
    January 7, 2012

    I could not agree more. And the final score of today’s game just bore out the wisdom in what you say. The Bruins put on a goon show, and the penalties cost them…

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  30. GP
    January 7, 2012

    Thoughtful piece and very good analysis. The one thing I have learned in over 40 years of watching, playing and othering hockey is that 95% of “fans” know next to nothing about the game. Most of them are obsessed fan bois who are fixated on muscular young millionaires wearing a specific jersey. Their opinions on players and incidents changes according to the colour of the jersey involved. Most “fans” are absolutely clueless about the actual rules of the game and in spite of the fact the NHL rules are readily available online they would rather champion ignorance to support their team.

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  31. sareddy
    January 8, 2012

    Man. I love this blog.

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  32. qt
    January 8, 2012

    I agree with Daniel’s thoughtful insight, and with Gillis and Co further developing the Canucks’ scoring depth. I also understand that things like salary caps etc limit the depth and variety of talent any one team can possess. But is it too unreasonable to ask, why can’t the Canucks be developing more scoring depth _and_ more toughness?

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  33. RU Serious?
    January 8, 2012

    Great article. I agree that if our depth was there, we could have performed better. In all cup finals the teams defense lines focus on the stars of other teams, so the depth has to be there. With all the injuries and over-penalized players (Rome), we just didn’t have anyone left standing. Don’t get me wrong, wouldn’t have minded Rome so much if Boychuk was also gone after he broke Raymond’s back, but the league didn’t care. Boston was going to win by whatever means they wanted and we didn’t have enough players to fight back.

    I also agree that it is wrong to put talentless goons on teams. When you lose your stars and all you’re left with are the goons, your team doesn’t stand a chance. Look at Edmonton. The kid line is basically gone and where are they? Went from close to the top of the league to the bottom. No depth. Lots more teams are in this same crowded boat.

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  34. charlieyankee
    January 8, 2012

    Y’all missed one other reason: Bobby Orr re-emerged. And whenever anybody says “Bobby Orr” around NHL HQ, they all genuflect.

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  35. freddiethefreeloader
    January 9, 2012

    Enjoyed watching the game down here in Auckland. Great game by Schneider, awesome stop
    on the penalty shot. One of the main reasons for playing him was the unspoken one:
    sorry Luongo haters, but Roberto is not going anywhere. He has a 27-year (or something)
    no-trade contract and will be a Canuck until he laces ‘em up for the last time. Cory Schneider
    will be traded eventually for what Vancouver needs, the big tough guy who can actually play
    the game. What better way to advertise his talents than on the biggest stage in hockeydom:
    the home of the Stanley Cup Champions. None of the eastern hockey world cares (or knows)
    about anybody playing for our little village on the Pacific – they’re all in bed by the time the
    games are played. Schneider’s big payday is coming and it won’t be long now. He couldn’t
    have done more to assure that than he did on Saturday.

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