Brad Marchand gets five games for hit on Salo; ‘Predatory’, according to Shanahan

Despite taking their sweet time and backing the announcement right up to Canucks’ game time, the department of player safety has finally issued a verdict regarding Brad Marchand’s low bridge on Sami Salo from Saturday’s match between the Canucks and Bruins. Canuck fans will probably like how it all shook out: the Bruins’ pest has been suspended a whopping five games for the hit, the maximum amount he could be given without flying to New York for an in-person hearing.

Why so many games? As usual with Shanahan, Marchand’s repeat offender status plays into the decision, as does the fact that Salo suffered a concussion on the play. But those are secondary factors. The primary one, simply put, is that Brendan Shanahan and company saw the incident as “predatory”.

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Spitballin’ on what AV thinks is stupid, Weise’s punch-out punk-out, and that Corey Perry rumour

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few topics that deserve mention.

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Anti-Fantasy League: Week 13

My apologies for the brief holiday break. I know that on Christmas and New Year’s all of you were frantically refreshing PITB to see how poorly your anti-fantasy team was doing.

Well, maybe not.

Even with the extra couple weeks, very few things have changed. Ryan Getzlaf still isn’t scoring. Bruins fans are still whinier than they claim Canucks fans are. And holidayblues is still in first place in the PITB Anti-Fantasy League.

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Bruins’ Brad Marchand’s claim that he was just protecting himself is nonsense

It was interesting to hear Brad Marchand speak to Boston Bruins TV about his low-bridge on Sami Salo from the second period of Saturday’s matinee game between the Bruins and the Canucks. Granted, I wasn’t expecting him to admit to any wrongdoing, but I was amused when he painted the incident as little more than a reaction play. In his own words:

“I was kind of looking over my shoulder and saw Salo coming in and I just kind of went down. You look up and see a guy that’s 6’4″, 6’5″ coming in on you and your instincts are to protect yourself. It’s very unfortunate that he was hurt on the play.”

Salo was indeed hurt, by the way. If it wasn’t clear from the sudden, alarmingly out-of-character bout of stick-throwing rage from the demure Fin, he wasn’t quite himself, having suffered a concussion on the play. This was confirmed Sunday morning when he woke up with a headache.

Was Salo’s brain trauma, as Marchand indicated, just the result of a hockey play gone wrong? Was he merely a Suntot trying to protect himself from an oncoming Smoggie, a hobbit afeared of Orc aggression? No. That’s a blatant falsehood, especially if you watch what led up to the play.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Boston Bruins, January 7, 2012

Well. That was fun. Despite claims by both teams to the contrary, Saturday morning’s tilt between the Canucks and the Bruins obviously had a little more riding on it than simply two points. The “This is just one regular-season game” talk was relevant for about four minutes. After that, it was anarchy. Seriously, at one point, someone blew open a wall in Arkham Asylum.

There were two major differences between this game and the ones we saw last June, and the first two involved special teams: the Canucks scored on their powerplays, and Cody Hodgson spearheaded a potent second unit that chipped in when the first unit struggled. Unsurprisingly, this made the Canucks far more successful. Speaking of success, this game lived up to all the hype: it was without a doubt the game of the year. I’m very glad to say I watched this game.

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Drance Numbers: Who is Alain Vigneault really sheltering?

Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at Alain Vigneault’s quickly zone start schemes.

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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 the Blackhawks and Canadiens 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.

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Cody Hodgson is in an excellent mentorship program

I’ve been talking about Cody Hodgson a fair amount recently and for good reason. The rookie centre has 7 points in his last 9 games while playing limited minutes, is fifth in rookie scoring, and is on pace for 18 goals and 44 points. He’s on his way to what should be considered an incredibly successful rookie year.

As we all know, of course, controversy surrounds Hodgson at all times and the dark times have not passed. Instead of writing about how great Hodgson is, I’ve had to write about how his icetime is comparable to the rookie year’s of other Canucks’ stars (which Alain Vigneault read, apparently) and speculate on who the source of the complaints about his icetime might be.

Despite my best efforts, Tony Gallagher isn’t done talking about Hodgson’s icetime. He has now switched gears to complaining that Hodgson’s lack of icetime somehow hurts Ryan Kesler. Apparently Kesler is receiving far too much icetime, which will obviously cause his body to melt away like Major Toht once the playoffs come around. Never mind that Kesler’s playing fewer than 20 minutes a game and is currently 30th in icetime amongst forwards; his current pace is apparently going to wear him out.


It seems to me that “Silent G” is in the perfect situation for a rookie looking to become an NHL superstar. Unlike the four players ahead of him in the rookie scoring race, who play on teams with limited forward depth, Hodgson gets a chance to come along slowly on a top-tier team, learning under some of the best centres in the NHL.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Minnesota Wild, January 4, 2012

Before we go any further, let us all observe a moment of silence in honour of the Minnesota Wild. (No, not because they lost Wedesday night — that would be silly. As a Northwest Division rival, there should be a celebration any time the Wild lose.) This moment of silence is because, speaking of Northwest Division rivals, the next time the Wild come to town, they won’t be one. This was Minnesota’s last scheduled visit to Vancouver this season. Next year, with realignment kicking in, they’re not in the Canucks’ conference. It’s a cause for celebration.

But first, as I said, a moment of silence. It’s a fitting tribute when you think about it. A moment of silence is an awkward span of time in which nothing at all happens, not unlike a game versus the Minnesota Wild. And I should know. I watched this game.

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Quotes taken out of context: John Garrett edition

Today in Quotes Taken Out of Context: John Garrett describes the strengths of Antti Niemi.

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Vancouver is 28th in the NHL in blocked shots; is this good or bad?

Every now and then, as I thumb through the Canucks’ individual and team stats, I come across one that really jumps out at me. Today, I was struck by the team’s blocked shot totals: as of Wednesday, January 4, the Canucks have gotten in front of 463 pucks this season, good for 28th in the NHL.

Blocked shots have become something of a controversial stat of late. The old-school hockey minds will tell you that a team with a low total of blocked shots is a team unwilling to get into shooting lanes and help their goaltender. Meanwhile, the advanced statheads have begun to counter the claim, explaining that blocked shots are more an indication of possession than the quality of team help defense: If you routinely routinely out-possess and outshoot your opponent, as the Canucks do, you will simply have far fewer shots to block.

And so, at the end of the game, when one team has 21 blocked shots and the other has 4, some will claim one team was working harder than the other, that one team was more willing to “pay the price”. However, others will say that this “hard-working” team might have gotten a better deal on “the price” if they’d moved the puck up the ice with a little more flair.

(You can always use more flair. The bare minimum of flair is hardly acceptable.)

So which is it? Truth is, while you can expect to hear both sides of this stat presented as the only side more than a few times in 2012, it’s both.

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Pass it to Comics: Why Bieksa hates milk hot dogs

Pass it to Comics is a biweekly collaboration between PITB and cartoonist Chloe Ezra. It will run on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout the season. Today, we discover the true origins of Kevin Bieksa’s strange new insult.

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Hodgson seems happy with his icetime; who isn’t?

Cody Hodgson is quietly putting together a very successful rookie campaign. The 21-year-old centre has appeared in all 39 games for the Canucks, putting up 20 points, primarily from the third line. His addition has allowed the Canucks’ to ice three scoring lines, while making the second powerplay unit legitimately dangerous for the first time since Ryan Kesler was promoted to play alongside the Sedins.

The talk about Hodgson, however, hasn’t been his point production; it’s been his ice time. Hodgson is averaging just 12-and-a-half minutes per night, which has a number of Canucks fans upset, thinking that Alain Vigneault is mismanaging the talents of the 10th overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

In fact, the only person who doesn’t seem to have a problem with Hodgson’s ice time is Hodgson himself.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs San Jose Sharks, January 2, 2012

While the Canucks were outplayed for large portions of this game, you have to keep one thing in mind: 4 days ago, the Canucks were in San Jose defeating the Sharks in a tough overtime game. In between, they had two more games. The Sharks had none. The Sharks were fresher than a perfectly cleaned kitchen where someone is brewing mint tea. The Canucks, on the other hand, just sprayed Febreze everywhere and hoped for the best. I watched this game.

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2011 in Review: An exhaustive Canucks retrospective

Welcome to 2011 in review, PITB’s annual, exhaustive, retrospective compilation of all the major Canucks stories that held your attention in the year that was. It’s been a long and memorable year, and while not everything that happened was good, a lot happened, and that’s never bad.

Keep that in mind. You might have a bitter taste in your mouth over some of it, but it could be a whole lot worse: you could be a fan of a team whose most memorable moment of 2011 was when they unveiled an ugly third jersey. The Canucks may have lost the Stanley Cup Final, but at least they were in it.

There was other fun stuff too. Remember when Ryan Kesler posed for that nude photo? That’s in here. Remember Cody Hodgson’s first career goal? That’s in here. Remember when Alex Burrows allegedly bit that guy’s finger during that one series? Hey, remember that series? Oh, you’d better believe that’s in here.

My friends, it’s all here (except the stuff we forgot–feel free to jog our memory in the comments). What was your favourite moment of 2011?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Los Angeles Kings, December 31, 2011

The Canucks need to stop playing games right before holidays. This game fell on New Year’s Eve and it was their worst effort since their game against the Flames just before Christmas. If you have tickets to their game against the Phoenix Coyotes on February 13th, Valentine’s Eve, you’re better off just selling them on Craigslist. And if you’re planning on going to their game against the Calgary Flames on March 31st, better known as April Fool’s Eve, forget it.

Their last game of the regular season falls on April 7th, Easter Eve. Don’t watch that game. Let me watch it for you. Just like I watched this game.

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