I Watched This Game: Canucks at Toronto Maple Leafs, February 8, 2014

It’s over. The long nightmare is over. We don’t have to watch another Canucks game for a whole two-and-a-half weeks.

Like most nightmares, it ends at its scariest moment: the first loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs by a Canucks team in over a decade. It happened in what has become typical fashion for this team: a third period collapse. They’ve become just as predictable as third period comebacks were for the Canucks in 2010-11.

That season, the Canucks scored 100 third period goals, leading the league, and out-scored their opponents by 42 goals. This season: second last in the league and they’ve been out-scored by 15 goals in the third period.

Is it fatigue? Trying to defend a one-goal lead too often? Choking? Or is it a psionic attack that is creating the illusion of a massive, terrifying dragon in the offensive zone in the third period then wiping it from their minds before they can talk about it in the post-game interviews?

I’m going with the dragon thing. I watched this game.

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The Week Ahead: Red Wings, Leafs come to town; Canucks start California road trip

Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?

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Betting site favours Maple Leafs ahead of Canucks for 2014 Stanley Cup

For the past several seasons, the Canucks have been a popular pick by pundits to win the Stanley Cup. World-class goaltending, Art Ross and Selke winners, Presidents’ Trophies, and a trip to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final tends to have that effect.

Getting knocked out in the first round of the playoffs in consecutive seasons, however, dampens the enthusiasm a fair bit and it’s a good bet that very few people will be picking the Canucks to go all the way in the 2013-14 season. Ironically, that might make the Canucks a good bet — literally — as they’ll potentially be underrated by oddsmakers, meaning you could possibly get some good value.

Sure enough, British bookmakers Bet365.com severely underrated the Canucks. Or maybe they’ve severely overrated the Maple Leafs. Whichever one is the case, they somehow have the Leafs ahead of the Canucks in their 2014 Stanley Cup odds. And that’s ridiculous.

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Marlies visit to Abbotsford draws Canucks’ brass, perchance on Luongo trade scouting mission?

On Wednesday, Daniel rolled out a novel mindset that might allow even the bitterest of Canucks fans to cheer for the Abbotsford Heat while still thumbing his nose at the Northwest Division rival Calgary Flames. The worse the Flames are, the better the Heat will be, Daniel espoused.

But there are other reasons for Canuck fans to take in Abbotsford contests besides Schadenfreude from concentrate. As strange as it sounds for a game that features 50% future Flames, a trip to the city in the country might also yield a glimpse into the future of the Vancouver Canucks, and I’m not just talking about when the Chicago Wolves come to visit.

For example: the Toronto Marlies are in Abbotsford this Thursday and Friday, and if the rumours surrounding Roberto Luongo’s future are to be believed, then at least one or two players currently suiting up for the Marlies — Toronto’s best professional sports team, by the way — should become Vancouver property shortly after the lockout ends.

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Is Luongo to the Maple Leafs close? Depends on the meaning of ‘close’

Here’s yet another reason that the NHL lockout needs to end right the heck now: the labour stoppage has robbed us of the glorious ending to the Roberto Luongo saga. It’s completely unfair and borderline torture to be left hanging in this way, like AMC making Breaking Bad fans wait a full year for the second half of season 5.

But, like that Youtube guy that perfectly predicted the season 4 finale, Sportsnet’s John Shannon claims to have figured out how this whole ordeal ends. On Wednesday, in a televised discussion with Nick Kypreos, Shannon said that the Canucks had a Luongo deal in place with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the only thing holding up the deal is that, thanks to the lockout, Luongo doesn’t currently play for them.

Supposing the NHL’s current proposal is accepted and the season begins next month, Shannon had the following to say: “‘Roberto Luongo is staying in Canada, and will be a Toronto Maple Leaf by November 2nd.”

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The referees got both disallowed goals right

Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was thoroughly entertaining, complete with stupendous saves, wizardous passes, sick snipes, and gorgeous individual efforts, but it was not without controversy. After exchanging goals in the first 4 minutes, both teams seemed to pot their second goals of the game, only to have both of them immediately disallowed.

Predictably, Canucks fans were upset that Keith Ballard’s goal was disallowed and Toronto fans were upset that Phil Kessel’s goal was disallowed. While this is not an unexpected reaction, both groups of fans seemed to have a case.

Ballard’s goal was disallowed because Ryan Kesler was ruled to have interfered with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, preventing him from making the save. It appeared, however, that the contact was initiated by Gustavsson while Kesler was outside the crease and some even argued that the puck went in prior to the contact.

As for Kessel’s goal, it was disallowed because the net was dislodged. It was dislodged by Dan Hamhuis, however, and the NHL rulebook says that if a defending player dislodges the net, the goal should be allowed.

It seems that I’m going to have to be the one with the unpopular opinion that the referees actually got both calls right.

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I Watched This Game: Canucks at Toronto Maple Leafs, December 17, 2011

Vancouver fans may not see the Toronto Maple Leafs that often, but it was still a very familiar squad the Canucks beat Saturday. Consider the following: this was a team built by Brian Burke. Offensively, they were dangerous. Defensively, they were abysmal. They had a backup netminder in goal.

And, most tellingly, they came in boasting a juggernaut first line which featured a mediocre centre and two high-scoring wingers — one a sniper with arguably the league’s best wrist shot, the other a power forward type. This line scored three times and yet finished a combined minus-6. Sound familiar? It should. Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks beat the West Coast Express era Vancouver Canucks. And I watched this game.

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I was watching the 2005 NFL draft (I know it may sound crazy but I like watching drafts, especially the NFL and the NBA) and I remember this particular draft focussed on two quarterbacks, Alex Smith and Aaron Rodgers, and which would be selected first overall.  The San Francisco 49ers had the pick and they [...]

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