Big Numbers: Freaky Sedins, Offensive Hamhuis and Identical Goaltenders

Every now and then we like to take a break from all the words and just post some numbers. And some words describing the numbers, as otherwise it would just be a whole bunch of numbers with no context, which would be really weird. Here are some odd and interesting numbers and statistics from the Canucks season so far.

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Note to Antoine Roussel: don’t get Zack Kassian angry

Zack Kassian is a surprisingly soft-spoken guy off the ice. In an interview setting, he’s low-key and fairly reserved. He can be that way on the ice sometimes, which likely contributes to his streakiness. It’s likely that motivation rather than skill will be his major limitation early in his career and it will be Vigneault’s challenge to figure out what motivates him.

Different players require different types of motivation, something Vigneault has spoken about in the past. “I think part of coaching is getting the most you can out of the personnel,” he said in a Q and A with the Vancouver Board of Trade in early 2011, “and that’s getting to know your personnel both on and off the ice and how to handle individuals. You can’t treat everybody the same way but you can treat them fairly. Some guys need to be handled with a little bit of cuddling sometimes and some have to be harped on sometimes. That’s what they want.”

I have a suspicion that cuddling is not the best way to motivate Kassian. Instead, Kassian seems to need something to get him emotionally involved. On Thursday night, Antoine Roussel of the Dallas Stars figured out exactly what gets Kassian motivated: royally piss him off.

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The Canucks are much fightier than last year: Top 5 fights of the season

A weird thing happened over the weekend: Don Cherry, that great defender of toughness in hockey, actually called the Canucks tough. I’m not joking. It actually happened.

The main (and only) reason that this is significant is that Cherry is the king of the surface-level observation. He seems to look at something once, get an impression, and immediately have a take. If Cherry’s first impression is that the Canucks are a tougher team and that “Boston’s not going to push them around any more” that is a positive for the Canucks, because that means that other teams are getting that same impression. If “toughness” and “Canucks” can be put together in people’s minds more often, that can only benefit the team.

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People You May Know: PITB chats with Raffi about the Canucks, one-sided viewing, and fighting in hockey

You probably know Raffi (Cavoukian, not Torres) from the albums you listened to as a child. The troubadour is behind some of the greatest children’s songs of all time, such as “Baby Beluga”, “Bananaphone”, and “Down by the Bay.”

Raffi is also the founder of The Centre for Child Honouring, a non-profit organization “Working for a better world for kids, a more peaceful society, and a planet that’s restored.” According to Raffi, “It’s for a good life [and] a world fit for children, so we can benefit the whole of society.”

Just recently, Raffi ventured into the world of hockey. He was the man behind the #MuteDonCherry tweet-up, a drive to quietly protest the CBC personality’s brash approach and propaganda by simply muting him. “Cherry is a pro-fight proponent of hockey violence,” Raffi said. “That’s indefensible. It sets a terrible example for kids. It stains a game of skill with brute intimidation.” The Twitter movement led to Raffi’s first two appearances on sports talk radio.

Raffi has been pointed, direct and convincing about the sport’s need to rid fighting from the game altogether. A hockey fan since the age of 10 when his family emigrated from Cairo, Egpyt to Toronto and his father served the family pie on Saturday nights when the Leafs scored, Raffi loves the game. He simply feels fighting has no place in it.

Raffi has been a Canucks fan since he moved from Toronto to Vancouver in 1990 and “caught the bug,” as he says. His current favourite players are “the whole team.” Since PITB makes a habit of chatting with Canuck fans of note, we decided to do exactly that, speaking with Raffi about the home team, subjectivity in the hockey media, and what fighting in the game teaches our kids.

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Drance Numbers is the silly research wing of PITB. While Messrs. Wagner and Mooney blog nationally and solve mysteries, Drance Numbers will look into the minutiae of quantifiable NHL data and bore you with it every Friday. Today, Drance looks at the situations in which the Canucks are most likely to drop the gloves.

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Fans of fighting often argue that fights can turn the tide of a game or give energy to a team that’s playing with lethargy, and, while I’ve always found this to be a silly argument, it’s important to note what happened during the first two minutes of Staubitz and Volpatti’s major penalties: the Wild finally broke through on Cory Schneider, scoring twice and turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. They never looked back.

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The biggest story of the Canucks win over the Blue Jackets last night wasn’t Cody Hodgson’s first goal of the season, the come from behind victory in the third period, or Cory Schneider’s crucial save on a penalty shot. Instead, most fans and the media focused in on a two-minute minor for boarding in the second period and the subsequent response from the Canucks.

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After the deaths of three enforcers this summer, the news that the trailer for Goon had been released felt like a punch in the gut. After all, I had been looking forward to this film since it was announced, eagerly anticipating a chance to put it Under Review. I love hockey and I love movies, but the two rarely mesh together well. Either they completely misunderstand and misrepresent the game or they are relentlessly goofy and impossible to take seriously. Sometimes both. Whereas the great American pastime of baseball gets innumerable classic movies, hockey gets Slap Shot. And, if you like subtitles, The Rocket.

So to hear that Jay Baruchel (a fine actor and Montreal Canadiens nut) had teamed up with writer Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express) to write a proper hockey screenplay made me very excited. Combine that with a solid comedic director in Michael Dowse (who most notably directed the well-received It’s All Gone Pete Tong) and you have the makings of something special.

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By now, you’ve likely heard tale of the greatest fight that never happened, when Ryan Kesler refused Joe Thornton’s challenge to drop the gloves just prior to puck drop in Sunday’s Western Conference Final opener. It’s quite the story, especially since it’s somewhat unbelievable: Kesler’s never been known to back down from a fight, and Thornton’s never been that eager to get into one. The roles Thornton and Kesler claim to have played in this exchange seem relatively out of character for both.

But “Out of character” is the central phrase here. Both guys have worked tirelessly to remodel reputations as players who disappear in the playoffs, seemingly due to wholly opposite character flaws. Thornton, famously focused but dispassionate, has been hard at work to turn up the emotion in this postseason. Kesler, famously passionate but unfocused, is committed to a newfound composure. Now, one of them is on his way to his first ever Stanley Cup Final, and the victor will be the one that stays true to his new self.

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Chicago fans are calling the Canucks gutless for their unwillingness to fight John Scott. Gutless, perhaps, but smart. If only Viktor Stalberg were so smart.

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A few months back, PITB came into exclusive possession of some shocking action shots, which depicted Canucks enforcer Tanner Glass fighting bears. Through hard-nosed investigate journalism, we were able to report that Tanner Glass had been foraying into the forest and picking fights with the formidable mammals as a means of training for NHL scraps.

On a hunch, I trailed the Canucks’ winger earlier this week, suspicious that he might return to the woods to brush up on the physical elements of his game for the playoffs.

Sure enough, I saw him fight eight different bears that afternoon. I took pictures. Happy Friday.

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Last night was a bewildering stinker, the likes of which we haven’t seen in months, and it makes sense. While the Canucks didn’t throw in the towel, there was literally no motivation for them to play hard last night, apart from the fact that it was the right thing to do. The game meant nothing to them. Meanwhile, the Oilers were motivated. For them, a Hockey Night in Canada tilt against the best team in hockey (and a team they thoroughly despise), is reason enough to go all out. They did, too: the Oilers played a fabulous game, and unfortunately for Vancouver, this admirable effort coincided with the Canucks laying down a complete turd. I watched this turd/game:

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Fan Attic blogger Cdano writes: Anybody who watches hockey understands that while it has always been a game of speed, skill and teamwork, it has always also been a game of controlled violence. Right now it looks like the violence is getting out of control and the evidence is found in the epidemic of head [...]

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Hooligan – a bully; a cruel and brutal fellow; a tough and aggressive or violent youth Hockey – a game played on an ice rink by two opposing teams of six skaters each who try knock a flat round puck in the opponents’ goal with curved sticks; a fast paced physical sport It seems that [...]

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From the desk of the Bureau of Unexpected Fights: that’s Maple Leafs’ prospect Nazem Kadri and Canucks’ prospect Sergei Shirokov, going at it in last night’s game between the Toronto Marlies and the Manitoba Moose. Not since Kym Johnson and Jerry Springer have I seen such unlikely dance partners. And, if the idea of these [...]

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One of the most skilled players to ever wear a Canucks uniform, Thomas Gradin is a worthy inductee into the Canucks Ring of Honour. In a ceremony prior to last night’s game against the Dallas Stars, Gradin took his place alongside Orland Kurtenbach and Kirk McLean in front of the Vancouver fans, as well as [...]

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Last night, Tanner Glass knocked out Islander forward Matt Martin with a brutal haymaker. It was an impressive punch, and perhaps even moreso for Canuck fans, who are used to Glass holding his own in fights, but rarely winning them outright. According to HockeyFights.com, Glass has fought twenty-five times in a Canucks uniform and seven [...]

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There are two possible reasons you may have never heard of the Volpatti Wagon: 1) Its namesake, Aaron Volpatti, was just called up to the NHL, for his first time, this morning. 2) The term originated here at PITB–and nobody reads PITB. There’s the news, though: The Canucks have called up Aaron Volpatti. Volpatti will [...]

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Often lost in the ongoing dispute over Kevin Bieksa’s defensive ability is his extraordinary knack for fisticuffs. Juice (so called because he likes pineapple juice, but also conveniently fits with his predisposition to rage) has had a reputation as a fighter to be avoided since he broke into the NHL by one-punching arrogant and highly-disliked [...]

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