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.Continue Reading —›
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.Continue Reading —›
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?Continue Reading —›
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.Continue Reading —›
The Canucks have struggled versus the Colorado Avalanche for quite some time. No matter what they try, no matter what they do, they can’t seem to not get points. Coming into this game, Vancouver was 18-0-2 in their last 20 versus the Avs, and 10-0-0 in their last 10. You can understand how they might be a little complacent — these days, the Canucks could practically spot the Avalanche two goals and still come away with a win.
Unfortunately, there’s a difference between practically and literally, and the Canucks did it the latter way Saturday afternoon.
Even still, their struggles against Colorado continued — the Canucks still almost won. But, eventually, the Avalanche broke through, taking advantage of the complacency that had cleverly cultured for the last 20 games to finally catch the Canucks unawares. The result: the Avalanche won this game. And I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
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.Continue Reading —›
With 8 games remaining in the regular season, it seems fairly certain that the Canucks will once again win the Northwest division. The Canucks are trending in the right direction with the addition of Derek Roy and the return of Ryan Kesler and are now six points up on the second place Minnesota Wild, who have lost four of their last five games.
Since the Canucks aren’t likely to catch the Anaheim Ducks, who are seven points ahead, in the standings, the Canucks will finish as the third seed in the Western Conference and face the sixth seed in the first round of the playoffs. At this point, any one of six teams could finish sixth in the West: the Kings, Sharks, Blues, Wild, Red Wings, and Coyotes, with the outside possibility of the Stars or Blue Jackets.
So, which of those teams would the Canucks rather play in the first round? Who would they rather avoid?Continue Reading —›
In the Muhammad Ali and George Foreman’s classic bout, the Rumble in the Jungle, Ali famously used what came to be called the rope-a-dope strategy. Early in the fight, he provoked Foreman into an all-out attack, but absorbed the blows by leaning against the ropes, allowing their elasticity to distribute the kinetic energy. Once Foreman had tired himself out and began making mistakes, Ali pressed the counter-attack and ended up winning the fight by knockout in the eighth round.
Against the Flames, the Canucks seemed to employ a similar rope-a-dope strategy. In this case, Roberto Luongo was the rope and the Flames were the dopes, as the Canucks coasted through much of the game before seeming to flip a switch in the third period, capitalizing on the Flames’ errors, and scoring three quick goals to win the game.
Unlike the Rumble in the Jungle, this game won’t go down in history as one of the greatest sporting events of all time. Even still, I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
When Raffi Torres left Vancouver for Phoenix, we wondered aloud if the Canucks had anybody on the payroll that could replace what he brought. Two years later, I think it’s safe to say that Zack Kassian is the closest we’ve come. But it’s not just that he’s a big, bruising forward with soft hands, or that he’s a little bit insane. It’s also that photogenic face.
I don’t mean photogenic in the usual sense. It’s not that Kassian’s looks good in photographs, or that his features are stand out in some special way. But a photo of Zack Kassian is likely to be hilarious, much more so than your usual hockey player, in much the same way a photo of Raffi Torres was almost a sure-fire laugher.
And as it turns out, Kassian’s amusing photogenicity is somewhat transferrable. His mere presence in a picture can turn those around him into hilarious comedy props. Case in point, this shot from Monday night of Kassian and Coyotes forward Rob Klinkhammer, which is amazing:Continue Reading —›
Mike Smith was dynamite Monday night, making 40 saves as Vancouver peppered him with chance after chance. The Canucks managed to beat him three times, with two called back — one for goaltender interference and the other for a distinct kicking motion.
Smith was playing so well that you’d expect only the prettiest of goals to beat him. Instead, the Canucks won the game thanks to indecision, falling down, a flubbed shot, and missing an open net.
Quick, skilful passing plays that lead to goals often get described as tic-tac-toe. This play needs an easier child’s game than that: let’s go with Candy Land. Like Candy Land, it was completely random, with no one really deserving to win. Ryan Kesler just happened to draw the right cards to reach Candy Castle and rescue King Kandy first. There’s no glory in that. And yet, Kesler still celebrated the game-winner appropriately: like a three-year-old.
Let’s break down the madness, shall we?Continue Reading —›
The real story of the trade deadline was the trades that weren’t made, particularly when it came to two big-name goaltenders in the Northwest Division. Both Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo were rumoured to be heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs at various points throughout the day. Neither did.
The attitudes of the two goaltenders as rumours swirled couldn’t have been more different. Kiprusoff simply didn’t want to be traded. He might even retire in the off-season. Luongo clearly wanted nothing more than to be traded so that he could start playing hockey again, leading to one of the most honest and blunt press conferences in recent memory.
So why, exactly, didn’t Luongo get traded? Luongo himself seemed to think that it was because of his contract, while Mike Gillis said it wasn’t a stumbling block and that discussions have centred around picks and players. Exactly what picks and players is unclear, though one particular rumour quickly spread after the trade deadline had passed. Darren Dreger initially reported that the Canucks were looking to acquire Ben Scrivens and two second round draft picks in return for Roberto Luongo, a report that was echoed by Pierre LeBrun, Jason Botchford, and Kevin McGran, among others.
Dreger appeared on TSN 1050 on Monday, however, and threw a big ol’ wrench into the works, apparently revealing what the Canucks were originally seeking in a trade with the Leafs and throwing his original report into doubt in the process.Continue Reading —›
Ryan Kesler returned to the Canucks lineup versus the Coyotes, and to these eyes, he looked pretty good. He scored a goal, he facilitated some breakouts, and he tilted the ice in the Canucks’ favour. But he’s still got a ways to go before he’s back to top form, and with the schedule winding down and practice days few and far between, Kesler will have to play his way into game shape.
The topic of Kesler’s limited practice time came up during an intermission interview Monday night, and a happy-to-be-back Kesler responded, simply, “We talkin’ about practice?” It was, of course, a reference to one of the greatest interviews of all-time, Allen Iverson’s infamous practice rant.
But in case you missed the reference, our old friend MAKAVELI719696, creator of Bruins’ takedowns “Embellishment City” and “The Ironing Is Delicious”, decided it was time to make it more explicit, mashing up the two interviews in a small masterpiece this morning:Continue Reading —›
The Canucks have been in a lot of low-scoring games lately, but this one felt different. Prior games have been snoozefests — actually, scratch that. A snoozefest sounds amazing. Think about it: an entire festival dedicated to sleeping? That’s a yes. Sleep is fantastic. Snoozefest is the wrong word. But the prior games have been mundane.
This one wasn’t. The Canucks dominated the Coyotes for the majority of the night, peppering Mike Smith like he was a Caesar salad and they were the waiter at an Olive Garden. With a lesser goaltender in the opposition end, this might have been a blowout. But Smith kept the Coyotes close. By the end of the night, Phoenix had come to rely on him so thoroughly that, when he left the goal for the extra attacker, they got confused and scared and scored on themselves. Related: I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Derek Roy has played just two games with the Vancouver Canucks to date, so it’s safe to say that we’re still in the process of getting to know him. There’s plenty yet to learn about the diminutive centre, and plenty of rumours about his on and off-ice activities to sort through.
But while we could figure it all out over time, we don’t have the luxury of time here at PITB. We have an annual bandwagon cheat sheet to prepare.
Thankfully, Roy has a lot of history in the NHL already. He played seven years in Buffalo, for instance. That in mind, we reached out to Sabres blog Die By the Blade in an effort to determine what’s true about Roy and what isn’t.Continue Reading —›
As we’ve learned throughout this web series, Dan is a dedicated fan and he’s recruited Andreas into some of the sillier excesses of being a Canucks fan. One of those sillier excesses we know all too well here at PITB: waking up far too early on trade deadline day.
Trade deadline coverage starts at 8:00 AM Eastern on TSN and Sportsnet, which sounds perfectly reasonable until you realize that translates to 5:00 AM Pacific and that generally no trades happen until at least 10:30 AM Eastern. The odds of the Canucks making a trade anywhere near 5:00 AM are so small that they are currently being scouted by the Montreal Canadiens.
And yet, every trade deadline day, Canucks fans set their alarms to wake up absurdly early and watch their team not do anything for 7 hours. The latest episode of New Van Fan captures the plight of Canucks fans perfectly, as Dan and Andreas’s well-intentioned plans to follow the trade deadline all day long devolve into discussions of obscure, fish-based super powers, Wyshynski’s pants, imaginary Mario Kart games, and impromptu, improvised songwriting. It’s about ten times more entertaining than the actual trade deadline.Continue Reading —›
You can blame our fingers for our obsession with big, round numbers. Our limited digits gave rise to the base-10 numeral system, leading humans to see special significance to numbers divisible by 10. We see this particularly in hockey: we describe forwards as 20-goal scorers or 30-goal scorers, attach particular import to scoring 50 goals in a season (particularly if they’re tallied within 50 games), and award players that reach 1000 games played with a silver stick.
If only we were born with 6 fingers on each hand, we could have had the far more mathematically satisfying base-12 and have the far more exclusive group of players that reached a dozen-dozen-dozen (1728) games played: Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, and Ron Francis. Actually, never mind: any numbering system that would accord Mark Messier special honour is fundamentally flawed.
In the last two games, two Canucks have reached significant milestones: against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday, Kevin Bieksa recorded his 200th career point when he opened the scoring on the powerplay. It was, incidentally, also his 10th career game-winning goal. Then, against the Calgary Flames on Saturday, Henrik Sedin recorded his 600th career assist on Alex Burrow’s gamewinner.
Personally, I had no idea these milestones were coming up for either player; the media guide will often mention them when they’re coming close, but for those of us not in the press box, we tend to only find out after the fact when the play-by-play crew fills us in.
With that in mind, here are 16 upcoming Canucks milestones, both those that come divisible by 10 and those that are franchise specific, that might come in the final 10 games of the season. Yes, 16. It’s not divisible by 10. Deal with it.Continue Reading —›
Today in Quotes Taken Out of Context: Ryan Kesler might need a cream or a gel or something.Continue Reading —›
There are two ways for Canuck fans to look at this game: on the one hand, you could be upset with the way the Canucks played, which would be fair since they didn’t play well. They were sloppy from top to bottom, making lazy, easily intercepted outlet passes, surrendering prime scoring chances, and forcing Cory Schneider into a virtuoso performance to preserve the victory.
On the other hand, they still won, and handily. Why? Beecause, as bad as they were, they still weren’t worse than the Calgary Flames on a good night. It’s tougher to be upset with Vancouver when Calgary exists to remind you that it could be much, much worse. With that thought hanging in the back of my mind, I was extremely content when I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
The Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers met for the second time a week on Thursday night and, mercifully for Vancouver hockey fans, the Canucks managed to flip the script in round two. Rather than leaving the game having made zero saves, Cory Schneider made all the saves. Rather than being outscored 4-0, the Canucks did the same to the Oilers.
And, rather than being made to look silly by the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins line, the Sedins restored the natural order by making them look silly. The 2-0 goal was textbook Wizardous Sedinerie. Let’s take another look and revel in its excellence.Continue Reading —›
Don’t let the 4-0 score fool you — this was a very different game than the last time the Canucks faced the Oilers. For one thing, the team that scored four goals was the Canucks, which was nice. For another, Cory Schneider made one save. He didn’t do that last time. He followed it up with several more, too.
But if there’s one stat that really demonstrates how different this one was from last time, consider the following: On Friday night, when the Canucks faced the Oilers, the game was effectively over by 7:15. This time around, the game hadn’t even begun by 7:30. Just think about that. That’s some improvement right there. I watched this game.Continue Reading —›
Lost in the excitement of the Canucks’ compelling, dizzying lack of action on trade deadline day was the one roster move they did make, recalling Zack Kassian from their AHL affiliate in Chicago and sending down Bill “The Jet” Sweatt in his place.
The move brought to a close what appears to have been some sort of punishment for off-ice shenanigans, something that Kassian corroborated upon his return, saying that management had stressed “being a professional away from the rink.”
Granted, this somewhat contradicted Alain Vigneault’s earlier explanation that Kassian “went to Chicago basically to play hockey,” but only somewhat. After all, Kassian did go to Chicago to play hockey. That’s what he did while he was there. He evens scored a goal. Of course, the reason he had to go to Chicago to play hockey is because whatever he was up to in Vancouver was enough for him to be grounded from playing hockey here.Continue Reading —›
Roberto Luongo’s press conference on Wednesday was fascinating, yielding the delightful, and sure to be misinterpreted, soundbite “My contract sucks.” But the more interesting aspect for me came later in the press conference, when he was asked whether he could have made it easier for the Canucks to trade him.
Luongo flatly denied that he was ever asked to waive his no trade clause and never vetoed any trades, contradicting rumours and reports that have been floating around since the 2012 draft that the Canucks had a deal in place with the Maple Leafs, only to have it scuttled by Luongo exercising his contractual right to scuttle it.
It also seemed to contradict what Mike Gillis had to say about 20 minutes later. A closer look at what the two of them actually said and in what context, however, should clear up the contradictions.Continue Reading —›
It wasn’t a terrible NHL trade deadline for the Canucks. After all, they acquired Derek Roy, a skilled player that adds a very important element to their attack: a centre. They really haven’t had one of those all season.
Still, the 2013 trade deadline won’t be remembered in this city for what Mike Gillis did — it will be remembered for what he didn’t do. A big part of that is because he acquired Roy the day before the deadline, which is like giving a child a present on Christmas Eve. It’s exciting, but there had damn well better be something else under the tree on Christmas. But a bigger part is because Roberto Luongo wasn’t traded, leading to the the most indelible moment of the deadline, when Luongo told the world he had a sucky contract. That’ll stay with us, just like Luongo will.
All of this in mind, let’s take a look at the winners and losers of the deadline from a Vancouver perspective.Continue Reading —›
With less than 10 minutes until the trade deadline, Roberto Luongo was called off the ice by Canucks management, leading to rampant speculation that he was about to be traded. It turned out to be a massive false alarm, as the trade deadline came and went without a Luongo trade. In fact, the Canucks didn’t make any trades at the deadline, standing pat with their trade for Derek Roy the day before.
Considering the trade fervour in Vancouver, Luongo was naturally asked to speak to the media after practice and gave one of the most honest and intriguing pressers of all time.
The highlight: when asked why he thinks he hasn’t been traded yet, he chuckled and said, “My contract sucks.”Continue Reading —›
Normally, NHL trade deadline day is massive bore, with nothing happening for most of the day until the very last minute, particularly when it comes to Mike Gillis, who usually treats deadlines the same way a college freshman treats studying for a final exam: last minute cramming.
We expect this year’s trade deadline will be completely normal.
But PITB will be here all day, from 5 AM in the morning until there’s no chance that Gillis snuck in a last-second fax to the NHL head offices. We’ll give you up-to-the-minute updates and analysis, not just of the various trades throughout the day, but also of James Duthie’s bad jokes, Aaron Ward’s tie, and Bob McKenzie’s on-air cell-phone use. If past livechats are an indication, we’ll also talk about penguins, what we’re eating for breakfast, and Batman.Continue Reading —›