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

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass ITBulis: 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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Canucks react to Malhotra with hair

A little over a week ago, Daniel turned up some photos of Manny Malhotra from his days with the Dallas Stars, back when he had awesome hair. On Wednesday, Canucks social media superstar Derek Jory was kind enough to bring those photos into the locker room for reaction from the players. From Fort Nucks:

Malhotra: “Oh wow, where did you find those? Pretty nice, hey…those were the days.”

Luongo: “Is that Manny, holy cow. Is that photoshopped? Wow, has he seen those? Those are out there, I approve of that hair but only if it’s to make fun of him.”

Booth: “Oh my gosh. That’s crazy. I don’t know what do say.”

Immediately after Jory left the room, the team began mixing up a batch of peanut butter solution in hopes of restoring Manny to his full glory.

Aaron Rome uses Stephane Veilleux to punch Kevin Bieksa in the face

We’ve been slagging Aaron Rome since last season for his tendency to mistime hits, a flaw that wound up costing the Canucks’ blueliner four playoff games after the Nathan Horton debacle. Granted, that was supremely mishandled by interim disciplinarian Mike Murphy (according to Brendan Shanahan’s 1 playoff game equals 12 regular-season games philosophy, Rome was suspended for 48 games, dammit), but if Rome were better at stepping into guys, it wouldn’t have been an issue.

Fact is, Rome is a big guy and physicality is a big part of his game, but far too often, his hits come a split-second too soon or too late. Here’s yet another example, from Monday’s tilt with the Minnesota Wild:

See, that was the wrong time to punch Stephane Veilleux in the head. Oh Rome, when will you ever learn.

The Chicago Wolves take a long, boring bus trip

One thing we need to do more often is keep up with the Twitter accounts of the the Canucks’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves. Much of the roster is on Twitter, and since far fewer people are paying attention to their tweets, they’re often a great deal more entertaining. And there’s another reason their tweets occasionally get good: they take more bus rides, and nothing spikes social media usage like a long, boring bus ride (unless old man Salo’s “no tweeting on the bus” rule is in effect).

Last weekend, during a bus ride to Toronto for a game with the Marlies, the Wolves players engaged in all sorts of shenanigans. Billy Sweatt broke out the ol’ iPad and waxed nostaligic with a screening and livetweeting of children’s classic and early Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle Angels in the Outfield, much to the chagrin of his teammates:

Newcomer on the Smylosphere scene Smug Nation has a rundown of the exchange that followed. Sweatt’s response to a ribbing from old man Baumgartner is solid.

Meanwhile, Kevin Connauton passed the time, as I often do, dreaming of McDonald’s:

Hilariously, this drew the ire of some nutjob who started ripping Connauton for his nutrition habits (you see, because even thinking about McDonald’s makes you fat), and this string of self-righteous psychobabble persisted long enough that Connauton eventually told the guy off:

Fun times.

When should the Canucks stand up for the Sedins? 

Monday’s game in Minnesota saw the Canucks fall 2-0, with the game-winning goal scored while Alex Burrows was in the penalty box. Burrows has a tendency to be the guy picked out of scrums, and after Dany Heatley took some liberties with Daniel Sedin and Burrows rose to his defence, you knew the Canucks’ agitator would be the only guy to go. In the I Watched This Game, I pointed out that this was a textbook example of why standing up for the Sedins wasn’t the recipe for runaway success people claim.

Shacks on Sports, another quality Smylosphere newcomer, disagreed. His four points, in summary:

  1. It was Dany Heatley. If Heatley is unafraid to mess with the Sedins, then everyone is.
  2. Burrows hardly did anything anyway.
  3. The Canucks should be able to kill off the occasional penalty they’re bound to incur by standing up for the Sedins.
  4. It was a mean-nothing game anyway. While this tactic isn’t recommended in big games, these are the games where you can take an occasional penalty to prove a point.

Point three is where I think we begin to differ. Here it is in its fullness:

Third, it was one power play and it was the only goal of the game.  If the Canucks can’t rally around the Sedins and kill off the occasional penalty for them or score one goal to compensate, this team is in a lot of trouble come playoff time.

This is a familiar trope in hockey punditry — the notion that some penalties are honourable and justified, and the sense of valour they instil should inspire the team to new heights of efficiency. Because the Canucks were doing the right thing by standing up for the Sedins, they should have been able to kill the penalty or outscore it. But this doesn’t make sense. Every penalty puts the team at the same amount of risk, and since the goal is to be not at risk, you should avoid taking penalties — especially ones that don’t prevent a goal.

This penalty was taken in an effort to show Dany Heatley, of all people, that the Canucks were tough. I think both Shacks and I agree that Heatley is hardly an intimidating presence — heck, John Edwards would have a had time sensing the guy most nights. So who the Hell cares what he thinks?

If it were possible for the Canucks to deter teams from messing with the Sedins, they’d have done it already. All these little freakouts do is prove to teams that going after the twins is the best and easiest way to get the Canucks off their game and goad them into drawing potentially costly penalties. That’s what happened here, and the Canucks lost the game as a result.

(For the record, there are indeed times you definitely have to stand up for your teammates. I liked the Canucks’ pushback in the Chicago game, for instance, because a dirty play like Keith’s isn’t something you shrug off. But you have to pick your spots, and a ticky-tack crosscheck from Dany Heatley shouldn’t be one of them.)

Yes, it was meaningless game, but the Canucks validated the blueprint for success against them in this meaningless game. If it bites them later on in a game that matters, this one won’t seem so meaningless.

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7 comments

  1. sarah
    March 23, 2012

    I get an embarrassing amount of joy from the twitter feeds of the Wolves. Some of their Tweets during episodes of the Bachelor are just too precious. It’s a good move by them too; if Mike Davies ever makes it up to the Canucks I’m buying his jersey immediately.

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  2. Shacks
    March 23, 2012

    Thanks for the reply, I agree the Canucks shouldn’t get pre-occupied protecting the Sedins but once in a while at the right time, in the right circumstance. I encourage it so I just wanted to point out a few things.

    First, if we’re okay losing games to stay healthy then losing the occasional game or allowing the occasional goal because you stood up for a Sedin should be acceptable as well.

    Second, although we shouldn’t worry about what Dany Heatley thinks since he has less heart than Montgomery Burns, my point is that if he doesn’t fear jabbing the Sedins imagine how little a real hockey player fears it. Unfortunately I think we saw the result Wednesday night. If Keith was a little scared he may have hesitated and we may still have Danny healthy.

    Finally if the Canucks have used intimidation to protect the Sedins in recent years I haven’t noticed. This team has constantly used the power play as the deterrent.

    Peace out

    Shacks

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  3. Chris the Curmudgeon
    March 23, 2012

    Sticking up for your teammates is overrated (excepting of course dirty plays). The best way to stick up for your team is to put the boots to the opponent on the scoresheet and send their fans home crying in their beer. “Speak softly and carry a big stick” equates in hockey to “play hard within the rules and have a killer power play”.

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    • pete
      March 23, 2012

      i agree. while i do think there is the odd occasion where a knuckle sandwich is called for, in most cases i think scrapping and fussing are not the best response. what you say about playing hard within the rules, that’s the ticket in my view.
      i remember there were times in the post-season run last year where the lads were throwing hits left and right, good solid hits that put the opponents on their heels. that’s what i want to see. coupled with the skilled position game and a healthy dose of discipline, i think that’s the way to keep an opponent who wants to start trouble in his place.
      people talk about kassian and weise and bitz providing a physical component to the game, and i agree that i would love to see that, but i don’t mean picking fights.

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  4. DaNucklhead
    March 23, 2012

    IF you feel the need to stand up for your team-mates and you are going to take a penalty then at the very least make sure you do something that deserves a penalty. A little scrum started because Heatly wanted to give a cheap shot – at least give him a hard pop on the nose. Heatley stood there and nobody touched him. If you’re going to get the time you may as well do the crime. Otherwise take a number and be aware for the opportunity to give them something later (no I’m not calling for something stupid, just what happens in every game. a nice slash, a pop on the nose, or my personal favorite a really good solid clean bodycheck)

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    • Shacks
      March 23, 2012

      That was also one of my points. The response has to be tough not soft shoves.

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  5. WorldTravels
    March 23, 2012

    I strongly disagree about the Minny game. Canucks lost for whatever reason, but it definitely wasn’t cause they were chasing Healty around trying to even up the score. Minny didn’t get Canucks off their game, Canucks just failed to show up. It’s a fine line in ‘protecting your star players’, and ‘not risking a man advantage situation’.

    The reality is, there are 3 strong perceptions about the Canucks:

    1) Canucks don’t stand up for their star players – mostly stemming from the SCF.
    2) You can get Canucks off their game by engaging in post whistle scrums and going after the Sedins, mostly stemming from Chicago series past.
    3) You play a hard nosed- physical game against the Canucks, you have a better chance of winning – mostly stemmed from the SCF.

    It’s why Minny coach said post game that their intention was to drag Canucks into post whistle scrums. And why many teams this year play a more physical/nasty game against the Canucks (vs. seasons past).

    In the playoffs, there’s a good chance teams will take the Boston approach. Why? Well Boston was the only team to beat them last yr – it must be the right way? Right? Uh, useless coaches. Unless you have a rockstar goaltender, depth scoring, tight defensive system and a lot of grit – you can’t match what Boston brought and therefore won’t beat the Canucks that way.

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