Projecting Canuck fan outrage at the NHL All-Star draft

Yesterday, we discussed the announcement that Zdeno Chara and Daniel Alfredsson would serve as the two captains for next week’s All-Star Game, and what it meant for the home team. With one captain a sworn enemy of the Canucks, his teammates urging him to build a Canuck-free team, and the other a sworn ally, it seemed reasonable to assume which side of the floor Vancouver’s representatives would wind up on.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Canuck fans have never let inevitability or predictability get in the way of hardcore outrage. Regardless of what happens at the All-Star Draft, even if it runs counter to what we’ve projected, Canuck fans will be furious at the results. Zdeno Chara is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, and not just because he allegedly eats souls and has cloven hooves — when you’re cast as the villain, it doesn’t take much to have your every action interpreted as villainy.

That in mind, we at PITB have decided to examine the possible outcomes of draft day and project not just the draft results but also the resultant outrage, using our handy outrage-o-meter.

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Expectations are high for Chris Tanev, especially within Canucks’ management

Chris Tanev burst onto the scene during the Canucks injury plague of 2010-11. He showed himself capable of playing quiet, steady hockey in some high-pressure situations (including Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final) and looked poised to establish himself as staple of the Canucks’ blueline in seasons to come.

After he made the team out of training camp in September, Tanev appeared to be on track. Then, was sent down to the AHL after playing only three games. What gave?

Two things: the return of the injured Aaron Rome put the Canucks over the 23-man roster limit and necessitated a move of some sort. With the team unwilling to sacrifice depth on the waiver wire, Tanev’s waiver exemption made him the ideal candidate to go elsewhere for the time being. The second, which no doubt justified the first, was that, while Tanev had indeed proven himself capable of handling a bottom pairing role, he was clearly capable of more. The Canucks hoped that a little time with the Wolves would afford Tanev some powerplay, penalty-kill, and offensive zone experience.

Wednesday afternoon, Tanev was recalled, much to the delight of Canuck fans.

In a sense, you have to feel for the kid. He doesn’t join the team as a raw prospect looking to prove he can play. That he already did. This time around, Tanev joins the team as a proven prospect expected to be better than he was last time, maybe even capable of a top-four role.

And I’m not talking about the expectations of Canuck fans here — I’m talking about the coaching and management staff. For Tanev, this is a massive tryout.

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Chris Higgins has stopped scoring goals (still has abs)

It’s no secret that Ryan Kesler has been struggling lately. He has just 3 points in his last 9 games and the minor foofaraw in the media over his and Alain Vigneault’s comments merely focussed attention on these struggles. To be honest, though, I’m not actually that concerned about Kesler because I am confident he can turn things around. Mike Gillis doesn’t seem concerned either.

I am, however, concerned about Chris Higgins.

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It would appear the NHL selected its All-Star captains with the Canucks in mind

Those of you that follow that other blog I write for already know my opinions when it comes to naming the captains for the NHL All-Star Game, but here’s a quick summary for the rest: the game is meaningless. The only thing that matters to players is being named to it. That in mind, rather than letting fans vote players into the game, which is far less of an honour than being selected by the league, let fans vote for the team captains.

This is my vision for the future. Unfortunately, the league doesn’t share it, and the captains have once again been hand-picked by the suits. They are: Daniel Alfredsson of the Ottawa Senators and Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins.

Since this is a Canucks blog, you probably want to know what this means for Vancouver’s All-Star game representatives, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Edler. The short answer: nothing, since the game means nothing.

That said, with the two personalities involved, we may have enough information to project that all three Canucks will wind up on the same team.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, January 17, 2012

After a truly terrible effort against he Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, many predicted a strong start from the Canucks in this game against the Kings. Boy, were they wrong. The Canucks were absolutely awful in the first period, getting out-shot, out-chanced, and out-scored. It could have been a lot worse, but Roberto Luongo was phenomenal.

Just like in Luongo’s first season with the team, he stole a point for the Canucks, making 39 saves on 41 shots through regulation and overtime. Like Harrison from the press box, I watched this game.

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Why Shea Weber to Vancouver makes a lot of sense (and no sense whatsoever)

While British Columbia is a hotbed for silly homegrown-star-wants-to-come-home pipe dreams — the foremost of these being the annual “Joe Sakic to finish his career in Vancouver” rumours of yore — it should be noted that sometimes these dreams do come true.

In 2006, fans coveted unrestricted free agent Willie Mitchell of Port McNeill, and he took a little less to play here. Then, when he left town in 2010, the Canucks replaced him in free agency with the equally coveted Dan Hamhuis of Smithers, who also took less.

In short, there’s precedent for the “Shea Weber to Vancouver” murmurs. But there isn’t much reason to them.

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Video: Jannik Hansen gets Gene Simmons to sign his stick during warmup

Jannik Hansen may be one of about a million billion athletes that’s been given the honey badger nickname by fans, media, and teammates since that Youtube video went viral, but just because the nickname has become a huge cliché doesn’t mean it’s a poor fit for his personality. Truth is, like his animal namesake, Hansen does and takes what he wants.

Case in point: last Sunday night versus the Anaheim Ducks, while he was skating around in warmup, Hansen saw Gene Simmons sitting by the glass, and screw it, he wanted an autograph right at that very moment. So, you know, he just skated over and got one because Jannik Hansen don’t care.

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Vigneault/Kesler tiff falls short of a spat or quarrel

fter the disappointing loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night, Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault was asked about the performance of Ryan Kesler, who has been struggling of late. With just 3 points in his last 8 games, Kesler has not looked like his dominant self.

Part of Vigneault’s response was that Kesler needs “to use the players around him a little bit more so he can get into open space.”

Understandably, the media wanted to get Kesler’s take on the issue, so they cherry-picked the statement and brought it to the Canucks’ centre to see what he had to say. He was a little miffed:

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Anti-Fantasy League: Week 14

For any anti-fantasy owners who picked John Tavares, I have some bad news: the kid has been lighting things up lately. He’s currently on an 8-game point streak, with 15 points in that span. He now has 42 points in 42 games, which means some mice should be along shortly to dissect his brain for the great question of life, the universe, and everything.

The lowest scoring player in his group is his teammate, Michael Grabner, who has just 20 points in the same span. That 22-point game is the third biggest in the anti-fantasy pool, tied with the gap between Eric Staal and Claude Giroux.

The second biggest gap is between Nino Niederreiter, who has just 1 point this season, and Cody Hodgson, whose 6 points in his last 7 games have carried him to the lead in his category with 26 points. If you’re a Canucks fan and you picked Hodgson, you deserve the damage he’s doing to you in the standings.

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Big Numbers: On penalties, powerplays, and pitiful second periods

Herein you will find a compendium of interesting stats. Take from them what you will. Or, if you’re feeling particularly sluggish this Monday morning, take from them what I have taken from them. Whatever.

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Who are the Canucks losing to?

There are two completely contradictory narratives regarding how the Canucks play against teams in the NHL basement: One is that the Canucks play down to their level and frequently lose to lesser opponents. The other is that their record is artificially good because they feast on weaker teams in the Northwest Division.

Both can’t be true. There were some voices in the hockey world last season that suggested the Canucks didn’t deserve their Presidents’ Trophy win because of their weak division. After all, no other team from the Northwest Division made the playoffs and the two worst teams in the Western Conference were the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers.

But if the Canucks play down to the level of terrible teams and tend to lose those games, then their record would be worse, not better, by virtue of playing in the Northwest Division.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Anaheim Ducks, January 15, 2012

Once in a great while, the Canucks play a game so indigestible, and so utterly heinous that the only thing the Vancouver hockey fan can do is block it from memory like some great horror. Were Sunday’s game not so fresh in my mind, I’d be at a loss to provide any examples of such a game at all.

Unfortunately, I can’t simply flush Sunday’s loss to the Ducks from my brain; I have to solidify and stabilize it, like any toxic waste. With that, I advise you to please put on your hazmat suits, because I watched this game.

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I Find This Photo Odd: Chris Higgins shows no emotion

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this picture of Chris Higgins. At first glance, it’s just a normal shot of a guy, maybe at the end of the shift, maybe just waiting for puck to drop. But on a closer examination, it becomes difficult to determine just what emotion he’s wearing on his face. It could be anything. Hunger? Thirst? Ennui? Disappointment? Jealousy? Zombiism? One simply cannot know.

But I must. And thus, I decided to splice Higgins into a handful of images, just to see if, perhaps, I could find one well-suited to his vacant stare. What follows are my best guesses.

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Cody Hodgson makes goal posts sing with his slapshot

Just one week ago, the Canucks played the Bruins in the most thrilling game of the season. During the contest, Canucks fans witnessed one of the dirtiest things you will ever see in hockey. I’m not talking about Brad Marchand low-bridging Sami Salo; I’m talking about Cody Hodgson’s filthy slapshot that blew past Tim Thomas for the gamewinning goal. It was, as the kids say, sick, ill, and nasty.

You just don’t see slapshots like that any more, at least from a forward’s stick. The slapshot is normally the domain of the hulking blueliner who is able to put a massive amount of leverage on the stick to propel the puck forward. The two modern-day masters of the slapshot are Zdeno Chara, who is 6’9″ and 255 lbs, and Shea Weber, who is 6’4″ and 232 lbs.

Hodgson is an even 6′ and weighs a mere 185 lbs. Yet his slapshot is both blistering and precise.

My favourite part about the goal was the gorgeous sound it made. There is no sweeter sound in hockey than the glorious *ping* of a slapshot that goes off the post and in.

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Drance Numbers: Alex Edler deserves the All-Star nod, but Dan Hamhuis deserves the Babe Pratt

When Alex Edler first came into the league, he quickly endeared himself to Canuck fans and management team with his calmness and ability to make smart passes in both zones. His development has accelerated over the past couple of seasons, and while he continues to struggle with his consistency at times, he’s become a top defenceman in the NHL. On Thursday morning, the league noticed, naming Edler to the 2011-12 NHL All-Star roster.

Edler has more tools than Inspector Gadget: at 6’4″, 210, he’s big, and when he has a mind to, he can hit like it; his shot is lethal, whether it’s a quick, accurate wrister or a high-velocity slapper; and his puck control occasionally causes me to drop my jaw, as if my jaw were hot. The 26 year old Swedish defenceman has channeled all these tools into a fabulous first half of the season. Edler is fourth in scoring, both on the Canucks and among all NHL defensemen, on pace to notch 13 goals and pile-up 55 points this season.

He’s emerged as an excellent defenseman and a deserving All-Star, but I’d suggest to you that he’s not the team’s most valuable blueliner. As Harrison Mooney wrote yesterday in his discussion of whether or not Alexander Edler was “the right choice” for the All-Star game, “Dan Hamhuis… has been the steadiest Canucks’ defenceman for well over a year now.” I tend to agree.

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People You May Know: PITB chats with Raffi about the Canucks, one-sided viewing, and fighting in hockey

You probably know Raffi (Cavoukian, not Torres) from the albums you listened to as a child. The troubadour is behind some of the greatest children’s songs of all time, such as “Baby Beluga”, “Bananaphone”, and “Down by the Bay.”

Raffi is also the founder of The Centre for Child Honouring, a non-profit organization “Working for a better world for kids, a more peaceful society, and a planet that’s restored.” According to Raffi, “It’s for a good life [and] a world fit for children, so we can benefit the whole of society.”

Just recently, Raffi ventured into the world of hockey. He was the man behind the #MuteDonCherry tweet-up, a drive to quietly protest the CBC personality’s brash approach and propaganda by simply muting him. “Cherry is a pro-fight proponent of hockey violence,” Raffi said. “That’s indefensible. It sets a terrible example for kids. It stains a game of skill with brute intimidation.” The Twitter movement led to Raffi’s first two appearances on sports talk radio.

Raffi has been pointed, direct and convincing about the sport’s need to rid fighting from the game altogether. A hockey fan since the age of 10 when his family emigrated from Cairo, Egpyt to Toronto and his father served the family pie on Saturday nights when the Leafs scored, Raffi loves the game. He simply feels fighting has no place in it.

Raffi has been a Canucks fan since he moved from Toronto to Vancouver in 1990 and “caught the bug,” as he says. His current favourite players are “the whole team.” Since PITB makes a habit of chatting with Canuck fans of note, we decided to do exactly that, speaking with Raffi about the home team, subjectivity in the hockey media, and what fighting in the game teaches our kids.

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Pass it to Comics: Burrows and Marchand are very different players

Pass it to Comics is a regular collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra, whose Tumblr page, Blue Soup, is a must-follow for any Canuck fan with an appreciation for quirk. Today, we investigate the difference of opinion between those in Vancouver and those in Boston.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at St. Louis Blues, January 12, 2012

Last season, the Blues finished 11th in the Western Conference, well outside the playoff picture. Meanwhile, Brian Elliott was arguably the worst single player in the NHL.

Somehow, combining the two has led to tremendous success, as the Blues came into this game second in the West, just behind the Canucks, while Elliott is second in the league in save percentage, goals against average, and shutouts. He went from the worst goaltender in the league to being named to the All-Star Game.

Who would have thought the all-star goaltender in this game wouldn’t be Luongo? On the plus side, the Canucks had four all-stars of their own, three of whom pitched in to put 3 goals past the Blues’ all-star. I watched this game.

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Canucks’ best shot blocker is heading to the press box

The Canucks announced some great news today: Aaron Rome will be back in the lineup against the St. Louis Blues after missing 12 games with a broken thumb. With Sami Salo still out with a concussion, Rome’s return alleviates some of the concerns regarding the Canucks defensive depth.

Here’s the odd thing: he won’t be replacing Alex Sulzer, who would seem to be the obvious choice. Instead, he’s replacing Keith Ballard.

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Alex Edler among four Canucks invited to All-Star Game; was he the right choice?

On January 11, 2011, Alex Edler was left off the All-Star ballot, and he took it hard. Edler channeled his secret rage into a major production increase, scoring 7 points in his next 8 games, but the rage, like Tony Stark’s arc reactor, ate away at his body from the inside, and a week later, he had to undergo surgery to repair damage in his back. Tru fakt*.

In any case, there will be no rage-induced hot streak/back explosion this year, as Edler, along with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, has been named to the 2012 All-Star Game. Cody Hodgson’s been invited as a rookie representative as well. That sound you heard is Tony Gallagher loading up the typewriter for a piece criticizing the management of Hodgson’s All-Star weekend icetime.

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Turns out we owe Dale Weise an apology

I didn’t take offense to much the Canucks did in last Saturday’s tilt with the Boston Bruins. Sure, they went after Shawn Thornton with gusto, but to hear Boston fans tell it, Shawn Thornton fought Mothra in the 1960s and the Canucks are all fairies, so he should have been just fine. And heck, for a guy who was stabbed in the throat with a track javelin, he sure gave it to Tony Gallagher pretty good on Sticks and Stones, huh?

That said, on Monday, I made it clear that I didn’t like Dale Weise’s seeming flip-flop on the non-fight with Shawn Thornton later in the first period. It looked, to me, like he gave every indication that he wanted to fight, then, when the puck dropped and Thornton’s gloves did the same, he changed his mind. I was wrong.

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15 things Canucks and Bruins fans can agree on

You may have noticed over the last few days that fans of the Boston Bruins and fans of the Vancouver Canucks disagree on a lot of things, such as the anatomical location of knees. All this animosity was briefly entertaining, but it has quickly grown tiresome instead as fans on both sides seem to have forgotten basic human decency, such as viewing fans of other teams as human.

That’s why I think it’s time to find some common ground. I’m guessing that Canucks and Bruins fans, being fellow members of the human race, actually have a lot more in common than either group thinks.

Here are 15 things that both Canucks fans and Bruins fans can agree on:

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Tampa Bay Lightning, January 10, 2012

You had to know the Canucks were going to correct some aspects of their game after the 2-1 loss to Florida on Monday night; it was impossible to come away from that one without having learned a lesson, right? Right. A lesson was indeed learned, and, as best as I can gather, it was as follows: before you quit, score more goals.

Not unlike the game that preceded it, the Canucks jumped out to an early lead and let their opponents back into the game with some sluggish play afterward, but the difference Tuesday was simply that the early lead was bigger, and they sustained it for longer. By the time the Lightning tied tied things up, it was too late to jump ahead, and the Canucks eked out a shootout victory to leave the Sunshine State on a positive note. And as for me, like the few Floridians sick and tired of that infomercial, I watched this game.

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PITB is famous: members of Boston media rip us without realizing we’re ripping them

On Monday, to our great amusement, members of the Boston media stumbled across the I Watched This Game recap of the Bruins/Canucks game and, unfamiliar with the way we do things, made the mistake of taking the writing completely seriously. The result was hilarious, as both a Boston sportswriter and two Boston sports radio hosts ripped us for points that, clearly, they did not get.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Florida Panthers, January 9, 2012

It’s a good thing this game started at 4:30 on the west coast, otherwise I would have fallen asleep. After the pulse-pounding action of Saturday’s victory in Boston, I had to keep my handy-dandy home defibrillator on hand throughout this game to make sure my heart didn’t stop out of sheer boredom.

Thanks to copious amounts of caffeine and and the early start, I watched this game.

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