I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Dallas Stars, March 30, 2012

After two-straight 1-0 shutouts, Canucks fans and media were starting to wonder if the team had completely forgotten how to score. Not me. I was worried that they had forgotten how to allow goals. Fact: no team has won the Stanley Cup without allowing a single goal.

Fortunately, the Canucks eased my concerns by giving up 2 goals to the visiting Dallas Stars. I was relieved when I watched this game.

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Drance Numbers: How does Henrik Sedin’s game change without Daniel?

It’s been about ten days since Daniel Sedin was sidelined with a concussion. The bad news is that concussions are extremely unpredictable, and while Mike Gillis has hinted that Daniel should be ready to play in time for the postseason, it’s nigh impossible to set a “recovery timeline” for a player dealing with concussion symptoms. The good news, however, is that the Canucks have rallied, winning four in a row while playing a suffocating, defensive style of hockey.

You could eat a thousand KFC double-downs in one sitting, and your arteries would still be significantly less clogged up than the Canucks have left the neutral-zone for their opponents over the past four games. Players and teams adjust, and the Canucks have dealt with the loss of their best goal scorer by playing more conservatively. It may not be the most entertaining brand of hockey (personally, I love hard-fought, tightly contested defensive games), but it has certainly been effective.

Speaking of adjustments, with Daniel on the shelf for the immediate future, I figured I’d look into how his brother has performed without him going back three seasons. An immediate qualifier: we’ll be dealing with a pretty miniscule sample size here (24 games), so much of this analysis is shrouded in relative uncertainty. Nonetheless, the topic of “how Henrik’s game changes without Daniel in the lineup” is fascinating to me, and pertinent to the club at the moment, so let’s proceed.

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Video: This one time, the Canucks gave Orland Kurtenbach a puppy

Recently, Chris Withers wrote a guest blog for the Sun where he compared the culture at a Vancouver Canucks game to the mood at a Vancouver Whitecaps game, and he found the hockey crowd wanting. The experience of watching the ‘Caps play, he argued, seemed far more spirited, involving, and organic.

So what’s the problem with Rogers Arena? The different clientele? The canned music? The fact that the whole experience can feel overproduced? No, I’ll tell you what it is: they just don’t give away enough dogs anymore.

Not like in the olden days, man. For instance, here’s a video from November 7th, 1970, when they commemorated “Yukon night” at Pacific Coliseum by giving captain Orland Kurtenbach a husky puppy.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Colorado Avalanche, March 28, 2012

Something about this game seemed vaguely familiar, like I had watched a carbon copy of it just a couple nights ago… For the second game in a row, the Canucks faced a desperate team on the edge of the playoff bubble, and for the second game in a row, the Canucks shut that team out 1-0.

The biggest difference between the two games, of course, was the goaltender doing the shutting out. On Monday, against the Kings, Roberto Luongo made an early goal by Manny Malhotra stand as the game-winner with 38 saves, including 17 in the third period. In this game, versus the Avalanche, Cory Schneider made an early goal by Chris Higgins stand as the game-winner with 43 saves, including 16 in the third period.

Meanwhile, I looked for changes in the Matrix when I watched this game.

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Henrik Sedin really is Captain Hook

Ever since Henrik Sedin was named Captain of the Vancouver Canucks, we’ve referred to him as Captain Hook. This isn’t because Henrik is a one-handed pirate who fights children and has a fear of crocodiles, but because he has a strong penchant for taking hooking penalties.

Turns out he has a stronger penchant for hooking penalties than even I thought. Henrik currently leads the entire NHL in hooking minors with 11.

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Canucks kick off ‘This is our home’ campaign, remind people that only idiots destroy their own home

If there’s an underlying theme in the Canucks’ This is our Home campaign, unveiled Wednesday, it’s faith.

To wit: the Canucks have plenty of faith in their ability to get back to the Stanley Cup Final; they have very little faith in the fans’ ability to make smart choices should the team once again fall short once there. Hence, the This is our Home campaign, like the season-long Heart of a Canuck campaign, is a thoroughly unsubtle attempt to remind fans that rioting is for jackasses.

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The Chicago Wolves’ playoff push could be made or broken this week in Abbotsford

The Chicago Wolves are back in town this Thursday and Friday for another two-game set with the Abbotsford Heat, and if you missed them the last time around, make sure you head into the Valley for one or both of these games. They might be the biggest games of the year for both teams.

We’re all a little spoiled here in Vancouver — it’s been a few years since the home team was locked in a nerve-wracking race to make the playoffs. But if it’s desperate hockey you want, the Wolves are where it’s at. There are 5 points separating 3rd from 10th in the AHL’s Western Conference, and the Wolves, in keeping with their wolfy nature, are a part of the pack.

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Video: Ryan Kesler gets a shout-out on CW program “The Secret Circle”

Ryan Kesler has been everywhere this past year. Whether it’s appearing naked in ESPN the Magazine or popping up behind whomever the true subject of a photo or video is meant to be, Kesler has been appearing all over the place. The one place I didn’t expect him to appear: The CW.

That’s about to change. Sort of. Ryan Kesler will get a shoutout on The CW’s teen drama (with witchcraft) “The Secret Circle” on Thursday, but thanks to a promo they have released, you can see the relevant scene right now.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings, March 26, 2012

Hey, remember when I said the Canucks would be sashaying into the postseason at half-speed? Yeah, they’re not doing that anymore. With the playoffs now 6 games away and 1st place in the Conference somehow well within reach, the boys in blue have dispensed with the body break and ratcheted up the intensity for the final two weeks, setting their sights on the boys in darker blue.

Suddenly, the Canucks are testing their playoff wheels, embracing activities they’ve spurned over the past month and doing the little things you need to do to win playoff games, such as throwing hits and blocking shots to protect one-goal leads. And what better way to test a team’s ability to protect a one-goal lead than scoring 3 minutes in and spending the next 57 holding on like Wilson Phillips? It may not have been pretty, but if it’s pretty you want, watch that Wilson Phillips music video. As for me, I watched this game.

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Pastor Louie Giglio prays for concussed Daniel Sedin, at the request of Paolo Aquilini

We don’t normally report on Christian youth conferences here on PITB, but that’s because this is a Canucks blog and these conferences typically don’t generate Canucks-related stories. However, on Friday one did, as The Passion Movement, a Christian organization aimed at “uniting students in worship and prayer,” visited Rogers Arena. During the service, Pastor Louie Giglio held up a blue Canucks helmet and led over 10,000 people in a prayer for the healing of Daniel Sedin’s recently-confirmed concussion.

Now, if you find this video a bit strange, you’re not alone. Over at Puck Daddy, Sean Leahy said what a lot of people must have thought upon viewing the clip: “What better way to get your fans in the city you’re touring even more behind you than holding a mass prayer for the quick recovery of one of their hockey stars?” Meanwhile, some of the commenters said the same thing, albeit much more ignorantly: “Nothing like bible thumpers playing their same ol’ tune, and trying to hitch their wagon to a fan favorite to legitimize themselves…….pathetic,” said one.

But Giglio wasn’t pandering to the home crowd; he was making good on a prayer request from Paolo Aquilini, one of the three brothers that make up the Aquilini ownership group, which controls both the Vancouver Canucks and Rogers Arena.

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Mike Burnstein just got Keslurked

Unless you count the one by Ryker Kesler at Canucks’ superskills, it’s been quite awhile since we’ve seen a bona fide Keslurk in Vancouver. You have to go all the way back to late October, actually, when the Canucks’ centre went on a Keslurking spree at the 2011 Sports Celebrities Festival then followed it up the next day by ruining a Jannik Hansen interview with some conspicuous weight training.

But, thanks to the latest collection of Behind the Lens photos at Canucks.com, the Keslurk is back. Here’s Kesler bombing Canucks’ head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein in Colorado while he speaks to his family back home via Facetime.

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The Canucks postgame dressing room video features unintelligible shouting and abs

We had a number of people e-mail and tweet us suggesting we put up the postgame video from the Canucks’ 3-2 overtime win over the Colorado Avalanche Saturday. On first glance, it’s hard to see why. The clip, which clocks in at just over a minute, is little more than a bunch of guys walking into a room and undressing. What’s so exciting about that? (Said the heterosexual male.)

I mean, maybe that’s enough for you, but, as you may know, we at PITB deal primarily in wackiness. The wackiness is at a minimum in this clip. What’s the big deal?

However, upon closer inspection, there are some interesting observations to be made in the short video, from Alain Vigneault’s peculiar handshake routine to Zack Kassian’s t-shirt selection. So let’s work our way through it.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Colorado Avalanche, March 24, 2012

There was a lot at stake for the Colorado Avalanche heading into this game. With a victory, the Avalanche could leapfrog the Kings and Coyotes in the Western Conference standings to move into playoff position. Colorado is in a tough 4-team battle for the final two playoff spots and have fewer games remaining. They desperately need wins.

As for the Canucks, they clinched the Northwest Division when the Calgary Flames lost to the Dallas Stars earlier in the day, so they had slightly less at stake. Despite the complete lack of urgency, the Canucks showed resilience, heart, character, gumption, and chutzpah in a tough and chippy game that I closely observed when I watched this game.

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Anti-climax: Canucks clinch Northwest Division

With all the fussing over the Canucks’ quality of play recently, it’s easy to forget that they have a 12 point-lead in the Northwest Division. There was essentially no chance that they could lose the division and were essentially guaranteed to have home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Well, you can now remove the word “essentially” from that sentence above and move the whole thing into the present tense. The Canucks have officially clinched the Northwest Division in the most anti-climactic way possible.

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Video: The Canucks give parenting advice to Mason Raymond, first-time father-to-be

After a suffering a gruesome back injury in game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, Mason Raymond began skating again just this past October. But skating wasn’t the only strenuous activity he returned to in the early fall: around that same time, he also sired a firstborn.

The Raymonds are expecting their first child, a boy, in about a month, which means now is the time to be accruing as much knowledge as possible about their impending parenthood. With that in mind, the ever-helpful Derek Jory took to the Canucks’ locker room to elicit some advice for the first-time father-to-be.

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Shanahan and the Shana-vengers suspend Duncan Keith for five Shana-games

One wonders if the Department of Player Safety realizes that Duncan Keith’s decision to waive his right to an in-person hearing did not also negate their right to suspend him for more than 5 games. They know that, right?

You’ll forgive me if I don’t have the utmost confidence in the Shanavengers. When a blatant elbow to the face receives only a middling suspension, it’s clear that the NHL’s crusade to crack down on headshots deserves to be taking as seriously as, well, the Crusades.

After a two-day deliberation, Duncan Keith has been suspended for 5 Shana-games. (The NHL’s equivalent of Disney Dollars. They’re like NHL regular-season games, but worthless.) Let’s let Shanahan take us through it:

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Spitballin’ on Manny’s Hair, Chicago Wolves bus trips, and standing up for the Sedins

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 quick topics.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Dallas Stars, March 22, 2012

With Duncan Keith scheduled to go before the Shanaban committee Friday afternoon for his elbow on Daniel Sedin, the Canucks flew into Dallas on Thursday with one goal and one goal only: play a hapless, soulless, sad-sack game of hockey that underscored just how vital Daniel was to their identity and how badly they missed him.

But, as usual, they choked. Led by a two-point night from Mason Raymond, who can never do anything right, the Canucks scored more goals than the Dallas Stars like idiots, winning the game and giving everyone — the Department of Player Safety included, unfortunately — the impression that they might survive without Daniel in the short-term. It was an unacceptable effort, since the team was supposed to be playing without any effort at all. Instead, they screwed up big-time and played a sound road game. And speaking of sound, I listened to this game. While I watched this game.

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Sedins do everything together in “Because It’s The Cup” commercial

The NHL’s new playoff commercials have fallen a little flat. The theme is “Because it’s the Cup,” and the initial offering is designed to court the casual fan, portraying the NHL playoffs as a great excuse for gathering together socially. The line “Because in hockey, there are two halftimes” definitely made me cringe. What’s worse, “Two Halftimes” is the official title of the commercial.

Now the NHL has begun trotting out their team specific commercials, and they’re a bit more on the mark. The Canucks get a Sedin-centric commercial that is all about togetherness.

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Duncan Keith will be suspended; he should be suspended for longer

It baffles me, the way people continue to misunderstand the reasoning behind January’s five-game suspension to Brad Marchand. The Boston Bruins’ winger wasn’t simply suspended for clipping; he was suspended for the circumstances surrounding the clip as well. What makes Marchand’s supplemental discipine stand out from the manifold Shanabans served by the Department of Player Safety this season is, simply, that the Department saw intent.

Most of the time, it’s impossible to judge an ugly play on anything other than the split-second in which it happens. In this case, Sheriff Shanahan saw the incident the same way we did: predatory, based on the way Marchand chases Sami Salo around the ice prior to injuring him.

There are two reasons I bring this up. The first is to dismiss out of hand any and all comparisons between what Marchand did and other clips before or after it. At this point, the entire Boston media has a screenshot of the Marchand clip saved to their desktop, and every low hit that follows inspires a half-assed and contextually (and intellectually) devoid juxtaposition. But, unless you can go back and find evidence that the hitter targeted the hittee, that he punched the hittee in the back of the head multiple times in an effort to draw a response before turning to the low-bridge, don’t waste your breath. Most ugly incidents are instinctive, a word Brendan Shanahan used to describe Shane Doan’s elbow to the head of Jamie Benn, which drew a three-gamer on Wednesday. The Marchand incident was premeditated.

The second reason I refer to this incident is because Duncan Keith’s elbow to the face of Daniel Sedin from Wednesday’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks actually does have something in common with it: while the hits were very different in type, both injurious hits shared the unique distinction of being best described as “premeditated”, rather than “instinctive”.

Keith is in trouble.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Chicago Blackhawks, March 21, 2012

After a long streak of sub-par play from the Canucks, all the talk leading into this game was regarding whether they would wake up for a meeting with their hated rivals, the Chicago Blackhawks. That likely won’t be discussed as much after this game, where the Canucks put forward a hard-working, physical effort and played with a passion and emotion that hasn’t been seen in some time.

Unfortunately, one of the causes of that emotion was an ugly, ugly elbow by Duncan Keith that knocked Daniel Sedin out of the game. The result: a massive outpouring of concern and vitriol from Canucks fans, an entertaining game on the ice, and a certain suspension for Keith. I watched this game.

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Eleven more proposed rule changes from the mind of Mike Gillis

The NHL’s General Managers recently wrapped up three days worth of meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, at which rule changes and other innovations to improve the game were suggested. Here at PITB, we were a little surprised to hear about Mike Gillis’s proposal, an initiative to outlaw hand-passing in the defensive zone.

It makes sense when you think about it, but the fact that the suggestion came from Mike Gillis, General Manager of the Vancouver Canucks, was strange. If anyone in the NHL was to suffer from this rule, it would be defensive specialist Manny Malhotra, who wins a great deal of faceoffs in his own zone by way of the hand pass. Why was Mike Gillis trying to spoil Manny Malhotra’s party?

As it turns out, it wasn’t solely about Malhotra. Gillis was trying to bring down the entire Canucks’ system from the inside — to bury his group in a sea of red tape and rule changes. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. But, considering Gillis continues to employ Alain Vigneault, despite the Canucks having only the second-best record in the Western Conference, it’s obvious he’s setting this group up to fail.

And now we have further proof. PITB has produced a very real, super authentic and totally not made up at all transcript of Gillis’s time on the floor, and Canuck fans should be thanking their lucky stars that most of these ideas were vetoed outright. What follows are 11 alarming excerpts from Mike Gillis’s speech:

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If the Canucks look unmotivated, that’s probably by design

(Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows celebrate as gently as possible.)

Vancouver hockey fans rarely reach a consensus on anything, but I think we all agree that the Canucks looked unmotivated and disinterested on Monday night in Minnesota.

It was the Canucks’ 7th loss in 10 games, leading the cynics — who see everything as a conspiracy (including the rhetoric of any suspected non-cynics) — to freak. Some called for Alain Vigneault’s head once again, claiming the team had tuned him out, that his time here was done, and that the team should fire their coach 10 games from the postseason.

Level-headed thinking is not the strong suit of this pocket of Canuck nation.

But these folks have a point: if we’re assuming that Alain Vigneault is trying to wring the best and most hard-working performances out of his team — a reasonable assumption — he’s failing miserably these days. After the loss to the Wild, Canucks Army observed that, while the Canucks had 33 shots on goal, they only had 9 scoring chances. Against one of the NHL’s thinnest defense corps, it’s difficult to be that offensively inept. It’s as though the Canucks were actively trying to remain on the perimeter.

But maybe they were.

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The viciousness of Daniel Sedin’s slash depends entirely on the camera angle

The only goal scored on a goaltender in Monday night’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota Wild came on a powerplay that was, according to Canucks fans, a trifle controversial. After Dany Heatley shoved Daniel Sedin near the benches, Alex Burrows rushed in to defend his Swedish semi-sibling, leading to a veritable brouhaha that included a donnybrook between Kevin Bieksa and the Wild’s Nick Johnson.

When the dust settled, Bieksa and Johnson received fighting majors and Burrows received the extra minor for roughing, putting the Wild on the powerplay. Heatley escaped entirely unharmed, receiving neither a penalty nor a punch in the face, both of which he arguably deserved.

To Wild fans and media, however, a much bigger concern was that Daniel Sedin almost removed Dany Heatley’s head with a vicious slash.

Wait, what?

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Minnesota Wild, March 19, 2012

Let us take heart. Tonight was not the worst Vancouver Canucks/Minnesota Wild game ever played. Admittedly, that’s like saying, “This isn’t the most awful Land Before Time sequel ever” or “I’ve seen worse Star Wars prequels,” but still, it’s a little perspective.

So there’s your silver lining, Canuck fans: as low as the entertainment value at the Xcel Energy Center was this evening, as much as this game was to the soul as Coke is to a molar, it could have been far worse: this game could have featured both Ducky the Dinosaur and Jar Jar Binks. Thankfully, it had neither, a fact with which I consoled myself while I watched this game.

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