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.
John Tortorella, inadvertent media darling
When John Tortorella was introduced as the new coach of the Vancouver Canucks, we were told and shown several times that he had changed. No longer was he the hostile coach of the New York Rangers. No sir, Tortorella wasn’t just coming to the West Coast. He was adopting a West Coast mentality. If Vancouver was any further south, he’d have been introduced wearing flip flops and a puka shell necklace.
Tortorella does appear to have changed. But that doesn’t mean he suddenly finds media interaction riveting or enjoyable. He does not. Especially after losses, Tortorella would prefer to get in, answer the question, and get out. What’s resulted, then, is a bizarrely quotable John Tortorella who bats questions out of the air with one aggressive sentence, only to wind up giving the media the money line they were prepared to ask several questions in order to find.
After the loss to the Panthers: “We sucked.” Regarding special teams: “Our powerplay sucked.” On Glenn Healy’s criticism during Hockey Night in Canada: “ “I really don’t give a [expletive] what they say.” On Zack Kassian’s play: “crappy at times.” And, finally, on his new line combinations going into Friday’s tilt with the Blue Jackets: “We’re just throwing [expletive] at the wall hoping something sticks.”
In an ironic twist, Tortorella’s continuing disdain for media sessions has turned him into a media darling. It’s like an NHL coaching version of Office Space.
Zack Kassian is bad at line changes
Not only do his zone exits need work — so do his ice exits.
Awkward. Leaving the defensive zone, he tries to get too fancy. Leaving the neutral zone, he looks like Winnie the Pooh leaving Rabbit’s:
Step your game up, Kassian.
Chris Higgins for Sochi?
We’re still a ways away from learning which members of the Canucks will be heading to Sochi to represent their respective countries, but I think we have a pretty good idea on who’s going: Roberto Luongo. The Sedins. Alex Edler. Ryan Kesler.
But what about Chris Higgins? Consider: Team USA’s top nine forwards are likely set, but there are still about five slots up for grabs. The way Higgins has been playing this season, he deserves some consideration, especially if the USA brass are serious about building a lunchbucket team. You don’t get more lunchbucket than Higgins. On Friday, Frank Provenzano of ESPN discussed a handful of possibilities for Team USA’s bottom line, and Higgins was among them:
Though Higgins doesn’t have the offensive output of some of the other wingers available for selection, an advanced statistical look at his performance so far this season on a strong Canucks team might merit him some consideration. He ranks among the top forwards on the team (along with the Sedins), and he has the biggest impact in actual shots on goal relative to his teammates when he is on the ice. However, he’s been saddled with the worst luck (PDO of 975, which is the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage when he’s on the ice). In short, when Higgins is on the ice, good things are happening for the Canucks, and that low PDO value (the average is 1000) indicates that results could get better for him.
Admittedly, it’s a bit of a theoretical case. Higgins is doing the things that create goals, yes, but he’ll need to actually score the goals if he wants to be considered.
Saint John Sea Dogs hire the Jeff the Bra-Barbarian
Earlier today, Daniel wrote a post asking whether or not the Canucks needed a sniper. (Of note: this post was originally planned for yesterday, but he got busy, and wound up finishing and publishing a post about a sniper on the 50th anniversary of JFK’s death. Way to blow it, Daniel.) The post was really about shooting percentage and what the Canucks really need: a shooter on a hot streak.
A hot streak like Jeff Cowan’s unforgettable run Because that dude had a hot streak that was so hot, people shed their clothes.
Willie Mitchell scooping the bra up on his stick like it’s covered in disease remains my favourite thing. Dudes: it’s a bra, not the outbreak monkey.
Anyway, I bring all of this up because Cowan has been hired by the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Best of luck to the Bra-Barian as he begins this new step of his career.
Give us the GIF we deserve
Finally, we requested this a week ago, but no one came through for us. So we’re asking again. Dear friends, won’t someone turn this:
Into something like this.
Please and thank you.