Spitballin’ on who will play, who won’t play, and who misread the play

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 topics that deserve mention.

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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

Poor Pinizzotto.

 

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

Well, then.

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.

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19 comments

  1. Simon
    March 21, 2013

    I wonder how long the refs would have allowed Hansen to just stand behind the net for and also for the Canucks to keep passing backwards. The rules state you have to keep the puck moving forward unless you are prevented from doing so. The Blues obviously pressured but with the intention to clearly waste time I am curious when the refs would have said, if at all, enough is enough.

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    • chinook
      March 21, 2013

      Brilliant it may have been (after the fact), but I was just freaking glad neither Hansen nor Henrik passed the puck into their own net!

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      • chinook
        March 21, 2013

        Hey it CAN happen! Carolina (Staal) just put the puck in their own empty net on a delayed penalty.

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    • John in Marpole
      March 21, 2013

      You’re thinking of penalty shots, I believe. I don’t recall ever reading/hearing of a rule regarding anything other than penalty shots requiring the puck be moved forward at all times. In fact, the original rules of hockey did not permit forward passes.

      The puck is passed backwards many, many times during a game, in fact, the cycling style the Canucks use (too often for my taste) features quite a lot of puck movement that isn’t forward advancement of the puck.

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  2. J21 (@Jyrki21)
    March 21, 2013

    Isn’t Sestito hurt too? The Canucks’ lineup tonight is going to be bewildering.

    If they manage more than a goal against the stingy Coyotes, I’ll… uh… I’ll come reply to this post and acknowledge as much. I guess.

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    • Daniel Wagner
      March 21, 2013

      Sestito was apparently limping at the airport or something, but there weren’t any reports more substantial than that, so I left it out.

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    • Warpstone
      March 21, 2013

      Not nearly as amusing as a dedicated troll. :)

      Editor’s note: Comment that this was replying to has been deleted.

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    • J21 (@Jyrki21)
      March 21, 2013

      Hey, 2 goals as of this post!

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  3. Matt
    March 21, 2013

    Why not Ballard on the fourth line? Seems like his speed and aggressiveness would serve him well, and his mistakes with the puck might be slightly less-costly as a forward than as a D.

    Not suggesting he should move there full time, but seems like he’d be a better fit than big, slow, stay-at-home Alberts.

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    • chinook
      March 21, 2013

      Yes, Ballard seems the logical choice with his strong skating but (surprisingly?) Alberts played up front last year for at least one game under similar circumstances.

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      • Dave Robinson (@dcrwrites)
        March 21, 2013

        I think the advantage of Alberts is that he makes predictable mistakes so they’re easier to deal with. Put Ballard on a forward line and while it might be exciting hockey, it wouldn’t be predictable. You’d know he was going to make some brilliant plays, and you’d know he’d make some mistakes, but the problem is that the mistakes would be so unexpected that there’d be no way to avoid them.

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    • Warpstone
      March 21, 2013

      If you’re putting a d-man on the 4th line, his job is really just to make sure the puck gets into the offensive zone and ideally win a zone start for a scoring line. Alberts has the size to thump the opposition’s blueliners on a dump-in. Ballard does not. Simple as that.

      Sure Ballard is a better skater and may even have better hands than Alberts, but if you want your makeshift winger to keep it simple, then Alberts is the better choice. If you need the 4th line winger to make plays… you’ve got worse problems than a d-man on the 4th line! :P

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  4. dougster
    March 21, 2013

    Yes we wanted to throw the *old* Mason Raymond into the pit. Last year Mason Raymond was like Windows Vista–always crashing and not very productive. The *new and improved* Mason Raymond is like Mac OS–stable, fun, promoting creativity and productivity. Are we fickle? Not really–we just prefer our hockey players to not fall down all over the ice.

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    • Rituro
      March 21, 2013

      Well, if we’re going to compare apples to apples, New Raymond would be the Windows 7 to Old Raymond’s Vista.

      I shudder to think what happens when Raymond 8 is released.

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      • dougster
        March 21, 2013

        Windows 7 was the last Microsoft product I owned or will ever own again :) . The way Raymond is playing this year he will be able to look GMMG in the eye and say “pay me” and we will (me included) all be saying yes to that! Raymond may yet evolve into Chrome… :)

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        • Rituro
          March 21, 2013

          “MayRayChrone – Now With Built-in Balance Search Functionality!” Never fall down on zone entry again thanks to MayRayChrome, the safer, more secure way to blaze past opponents with excessive speed.

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  5. The poster known as "Kesler's Nose" Nose.
    March 21, 2013

    HAHAHAHAHAHA

    You are really smart and funny and know HEAPS about hockey. I reckon if you were a hockey player you’d be so good at hockeying and if you were a GM you’d make all the right moves and never make a mistake.

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    • gumby
      March 22, 2013

      da fuq?

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  6. Brent
    March 21, 2013

    AV: “Pinizzotto woke up yesterday not feeling well. We left him at home where he’ll work out as he gets better.”

    So is he really sick or just suffering from 26oz “flu”. So is leaving him behind just a politically correct way of suspending him without the negative press? I actually really doubt this is the case as he has waited so long to get to the NHL, he is not going to jeopardize it.

    Interesting about Kassian’s injury. Kind of explains some of his poor play, assuming he has been playing through an injury for a while. And I disagree about it being OK for him to fight. It is actually incredibly stupid when you are coming back from an injury to put yourself at risk of re-injury like that. But as Chris C would say, “You expect him to make smart hockey decisions?”

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