I Watched This Game: Canucks at Nashville Predators, April 15, 2013

The big story heading into this game was Ryan Kesler getting moved to the wing alongside Derek Roy in order to load up the top-six with offensive talent. It turned out that story was a big, fat lie and everyone who told that story was just a big, fat liar and a generally terrible person. Just awful.

What actually happened was that Derek Roy moved to the wing alongside Ryan Kesler. Completely different.

Some chemistry experiments lead to a slow descent into moral ambiguity. Thankfully, the chemistry experiment that threw Kesler and Roy together produced offence instead of methamphetamine. Still, I suffered from withdrawal symptoms after I watched this game.

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Derek Roy wins the lottery, as Ryan Kesler replaces Dale Weise on his wing

Among the many, many salient (and dare I say mind-blowingly accurate) points in our most recent game recap was an observation on Dale Weise playing on Derek Roy’s wing. “He’s basically the gremlin in Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” I wrote. “He shouldn’t be on that wing.” At this point, I sat smugly and waited for my comedy award. It never came, perhaps because referencing specific episodes titles from a program that went off the air in 1964 is a good way to alienate your audience.

But Alain Vigneault got it, and over the weekend, he decided it was time to upgrade Derek Roy’s linemates in a big way. Dale Weise was removed from the line. In his place came the former Selke winner, Ryan Kesler.

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Have the Canucks performed worse against playoff-bound opponents? Yes and no.

Barring a massive collapse in the final seven games, the Canucks are firmly ensconced in the playoffs and will comfortably win the Northwest Division for the fifth straight season. Since the Canucks’ incredible 2010-11 season, however, it’s been harder and harder to satisfy Canucks fans. Last season, the Canucks won their second straight Presidents’ Trophy with a 111 points season, just 6 fewer points than in 2010-11, but since the Canucks didn’t look as dominant, they still received plenty of criticism.

This season, some of that criticism is definitely deserved. The powerplay has been disastrous, the Canucks have frequently been a fire drill in their own end, and their depth at centre has been a question mark all season long and remains an issue as Ryan Kesler will be moved over to the wing for tonight’s game against the Nashville Predators. Still, the Canucks are a positive puck possession team, have the fourth-highest goal differential in the Western Conference, and have been able to lean on some exceptional goaltending. They still look like a team that can potentially go far in the playoffs.

One of the criticisms I’ve been hearing lately has to do with the playoffs, specifically how well the Canucks have performed against playoff teams as compared to non-playoff teams. A certain segment of the Canucks fanbase is pessimistic about the Canucks chances in the playoffs because of their record against playoff-bound teams. Is this criticism justified? Have the Canucks performed particularly poorly against these teams?

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New Van Fan, Episode 11: Green men

New Van Fan is a web-series that follows the adventures of long-time Canucks fan Dan as he attempts to bring novice Canucks fan Andreas up to speed. The whole thing may or may not be an excuse to point out the inherent silliness of this fanbase — we’re not quite sure. Have an idea for an episode? Suggest it in the comments.

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