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.
Like parents, The Canadian Press just don’t understand
Let’s start here, because it’s funny, and everything after this is really depressing.
One of the best moments from Tuesday’s game against the Blues was Jannik Hansen’s incredible time-wasting turn in the defensive zone on a delayed penalty. Hansen combined with Hamhuis and Henrik in the defensive zone to kill nearly a minute off the clock with the Canucks’ up by one goal at the end of the third period. It was an incredible display, capped off by Henrik making a neat between-the-legs move that allowed Schroeder to spring Raymond and Bieksa on a 2-on-1.
The Canadian Press, however, saw that shift a little differently:
The Canucks received a power play with 3:06 left in the third period as Vladimir Sobotka was called for holding. The whistle finally blew after the Canucks had a prolonged delayed penalty, struggled to get the puck up the ice with an extra attacker. Kevin Bieksa just missed the net as he tried to put in a pass from Raymond.
Yep. Clearly, the Canucks were trying to get the puck up ice, but “struggled” to do so. Let’s take a look at that shift again and see if that interpretation holds up:
No. I don’t think so.
Steve Pinizzotto is ill and didn’t make the trip to Phoenix
AV: “Pinizzotto woke up yesterday not feeling well. We left him at home where he’ll work out as he gets better.”
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 21, 2013
After years of bad luck prevented him from making his NHL debut until the age of 28, he only managed to play four NHL games before an unforeseen circumstance took him out of the lineup again. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: he needs to stop wearing the number 13. I’m not even superstitious and his run of bad luck is freaking me out.
Zack Kassian tweaked his back and did not make the trip to Phoenix
I had no issue with Kassian dropping the gloves with Chris Stewart on Tuesday night, for a couple reasons. Firstly, fights seem to help Kassian get focussed. Swinging his fist may have been his way of getting back into the swing of things after missing a couple games. Secondly, it took the Blues’ hottest goal-scorer off the ice for five minutes. Prior to the game against the Canucks, Stewart had 5 goals in 3 games. Sidelining him, however briefly, is a pretty good idea.
Unfortunately, Kassian tweaked his back, re-aggravating the injury that he had at the start of the season and that caused him to miss the two games prior to facing the Blues. At this point, I would much prefer that Kassian takes the time to properly rehab his back before returning so this does not become a regular occurrence, and I sincerely hope it’s not a sign of a more serious problem.
David Booth has a high ankle sprain and did not make the trip to Phoenix
We knew that Booth was out indefinitely with an ankle sprain, but the news got a bit worse today, when we learned that Booth has a high ankle sprain. A high ankle sprain is significantly more serious than a regular sprain and the recovery takes much longer. The American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society estimates 6-7 weeks, but recovery times for high ankle sprains are notoriously difficult to predict.
On the bright side, if 6-7 weeks is accurate, then Booth would be ready to return to the Canucks lineup in early May, which is conveniently when the playoffs start.
Andrew Gordon got called up and did make the trip to Phoenix
It’s understandable that people seem to have forgotten about Andrew Gordon. After all, he was acquired at last year’s trade deadline shortly after the Hodgson/Kassian trade was announced, so you can understand how it slipped under the radar. To get him, the Canucks gave up defenceman Sebastien Erixon, who has since returned to Sweden. In other words, he was basically free.
So when the Canucks announced they were recalling Andrew Gordon from the Wolves, it left a lot of people scratching their heads and saying, “Who?” Even I frequently forgot he was Canucks property when I was writing about the Wolves during the lockout.
The AHL veteran played 37 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season, scoring 5 points. In 47 games with the Wolves this season, he’s recorded 16 goals and 10 assists, and he’s put up even better numbers in the AHL in the past, scoring 28 goals and 30 assists in 50 games for the Hershey Bears in 2010-11 and 37 goals and 34 points for the Bears in 2009-10. Gordon’s 16 goals are good for second on the Wolves.
His underlying statistics from last season are not particularly impressive. He played sheltered minutes and got thoroughly thumped in possession, though it should be kept in mind that the Ducks were pretty terrible last season. We’ll reserve judgement until he actually plays a couple games with the Canucks.
Most importantly, Gordon has been playing at centre for the Wolves, which will help the team’s depth down the middle. He’ll likely play on the fourth line against the Coyotes.
Chris Higgins made the trip to Phoenix, but won’t actually play
Higgins won’t play tonight. Tweaked his back. Vigneault will have to use a defenceman as 12th forward. Hasn’t decided which one. #Canucks
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) March 21, 2013
With Ryan Kesler and David Booth already out, that means that the entirety of the second line from last season is injured and out of the lineup. Fortunately, the Canucks have a new second line, what with Jannik Hansen’s newfound offensivity, Mason Raymond’s return to respectability, and the versatility of either Andrew Ebbett or Jordan Schroeder at centre. Some might bemoan the lack of true snipers and scorers on the Canucks, but the fact that they have the depth to ice an entirely new and still somewhat effective second line when the old second line is gone speaks to their strong forwards corps.
Who’d have thought we’d be counting so much on Mason Raymond? And you all wanted to throw him into a pit.
As for who among the defence corps will line up at forward, my bet is on Andrew Alberts taking a turn as a fourth line winger. If I recall correctly, he’s done it before and he has the size to complement that line’s style. Don’t count on the fourth line getting on the ice much, however.Tags: Andrew Gordon, Chris Higgins, david booth, injuries, spitballin, Steve Pinizzotto, Zack Kassian