Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
If you happen to be a Vancouver Canucks fan a little prone to paranoid feelings about your team, Tuesday night’s 6-3 loss in Dallas presented a considerable quandary.
This team presented so many worries it was hard to differentiate which was the most distressing.
Was it the fact they gave up six goals being dynamited out of the building of a team they owned two years ago? Was it Ryan Miller’s performance in goal in his first game against a team that in some way represents the strength of the Western Conference? Was it the fact it seems to take this team 15 to 20 good scoring chances, and in this case 46 shots, to end up with three goals? Was it all the chances they blew in the first period when they had the opportunity of changing the complexion of the game?
Whatever evil is deemed the greatest ill, let it not be said this team isn’t entertaining, as we outline elsewhere, written before the game. While it was blowout city, you certainly have to take the fun of this one over the droning of last year when scoring chances were few and goals were shorter than John Tortorella.
Where else do you see red lights coming so fast the air horn in Dallas barely stops before it has to be cranked up again?
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
There are times when you know exactly why something is happening, and you can both quantify and control that something. Then, there are times when you witness something that goes beyond the boundaries of logic and stretches belief to the breaking point. That’s when you simply have to sit back in astonishment and realize the game is played in many different dimensions.
Like Tuesday night.
In taking a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks at American Airlines Center, the Stars sent coaches and mathematicians to their computers to try to crunch numbers like: How do you win 57 percent of the faceoffs and still get outshot 46-28? In the meantime, players like Canucks goalie Ryan Miller were left scrambling for reasons the puck seemingly bent the laws of physics and found a way to land in the net.
Afterward, Stars coach Lindy Ruff chuckled and said, “That’s a tough one to assess.”
And yet, that’s exactly what Dallas must do. The Stars must analyze why they were able to strike with such offensive ferocity and convert five of their first 13 shots into goals. And then they must assess why they couldn’t control any aspect of the game after that hot start.
read on and below, watch what was basically an own goal by Ryan Miller...
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
While the television folks pontificating from Toronto were all exercised over the selection of Eddie Lack over Ryan Miller as the starting goalie for coach Willie Desjardins, this first kick in the stones from the reality of life in the real NHL illustrated a number of real issues with which the Canucks must deal.
First and foremost is the depth on defence. When the top four are healthy the back end is pretty good. But with Dan Hamhuis seemingly not himself after taking that stick in the yob Friday night in Edmonton with no penalty called, this team definitely misses Jason Garrison.
Hamhuis struggled terribly, skating at times and trying to move the puck was an awful ordeal, most particularly on Steven Stamkos’ second goal when he couldn’t get it out of the zone while wearing a full cage. He was minus three on the night and always struggles the first few games of any season, but we know he’s not the problem....
Luca Sbisa has been nothing short of laughable as Garrison’s replacement. At one point, again in the third period, he actually centered the puck in front of his own goal, something he did in the preseason to the disbelief of all. Whether he’s going to settle down and play better is unclear, but they can’t keep him in the lineup much longer if this act persists.
Further, the collective foot speed of the group is not the best and can be exposed at times.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
As if the battle for the Norris Trophy needed any more viable candidates, here is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Viktor Hedman, off to an exceptional start and proving once again that even the most likely regarded, massively talented defensive behemoths need time to find their NHL sea legs.
Hedman is now in his sixth season and starts a trip Saturday with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will see them visit all four Canadian-based Western Conference teams in the next six days. Vancouver is a unique and special first stop because he gets to play against the Sedin twins for a rare time. Hedman is from the same northern Swedish town as the Sedins – Ornskoldsvik – and played his developmental years for the same club team Modo before going second overall to Tampa in the 2009 NHL entry draft.
from Kevin Woodley at NHL.com,
"I do start in the crease a lot more than I think people give me credit for," Miller said. "I have been a pretty aggressive skating goaltender, but over the years I think it has quieted down. I am just trying to change with the times and build a game that is going to work for the current NHL, so I know that I have to be available to make some saves in back-side situations. I understand that."
An ability to get across the ice on back-door chances, rebounds and loose pucks is only one part of the trend toward deeper positioning that is creeping into the NHL. The other benefits include shorter, therefore quicker, movements from one save position to the next, reducing the holes goalies open as they move laterally.
It has become a game of efficiency and percentages. Miller believes to be at his best, there needs to be more.
It's becoming a bit of a lost art, but Miller wants to dictate to opposing shooters, maybe even bait them a bit. He prefers to play with some personality.
"I don't think I am the kind of guy who can sit back. I still need to be myself," the 34-year-old said. "When I am flowing with the game and making guys change their mind on a play rather than waiting on it, I feel like I am at a high point of my game."
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
The team looks more skilled, though it does appears to be lacking speed and size. No one will have any grasp on what that equation really means until the Canucks return from their three-game road trip which ends in Denver next week.
You see, it’s been 10 years since back-to-back Ws against Alberta teams meant, well, anything and that hasn’t changed.
What has changed in Vancouver, however, is the feeling the Canucks get when the team gets a game to a shootout. That awful, sinking feeling. Henrik Sedin called it “dread” and it’s been around for a couple of years, exacerbated last season by a coach who was convinced you couldn’t train for a skills competition. Imagine that.
“That’s the way it was sometimes, dread,” Henrik said.
“I think a lot of that goes into how you’re playing the game. If you don’t have confidence during the game, you won’t have any in the shootout.
“So much of it is mental.”
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
The distinct and deliberate action demonstrated by Alexandre Burrows to play the puck with his hand constitutes a violation of rule 79.1 (Hand Pass). Play should have been immediately stopped once Dan Hamhuis gained puck possession following the redirect off the glove of Burrows. No goal should have resulted on this play.
continued and watch the play below... (Vancouver did win the game in a SO)
from David Ebner of the Globe and Mail,
The team is, two games in, revived, and the score sheet on Saturday complimented new general manager Jim Benning’s off-season. Three of the four scorers are new players, just as Linden had hoped new faces would drum up fun. Then there’s the Sedins. They had their worst season in a decade under Tortorella and now have eight points between them, four points apiece.
What’s particularly interesting about the early offensive burst from the Sedins is they’re doing it without the favourable deployment they enjoyed under Alain Vigneault, and also Tortorella. The Sedins are taking more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive, a major change compared with the past five seasons, and also are putting in penalty-kill minutes.
The Sedins had a strong October last year, but this feels different. For now, it looks like the Sedins are back.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
... it can reasonably be said the Canucks have changed the atmosphere around the team and improved the bottom half of their lineup. As for their frontliners, it just doesn’t seem possible that Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be as unproductive as they were last season, just as it seems possible that one of Nick Bonino, Zack Kassian or Linden Vey will enjoy a breakout year.
So the Canucks will be better than they were last season. But so will every team that finished ahead of them in the West with the possible exception of San Jose, and the Sharks were pretty damn good to begin with.
That’s the real challenge facing the Orcans this season. Anaheim, which finished first in the West last season, added Kesler. Colorado has a stacked young team and now has Jarome Iginla. St. Louis made the biggest splash in the off-season, signing Paul Stastny. The Blackhawks and Kings have been the two best teams in the NHL for the last four seasons. Minnesota, who was on the uptick anyway, added Thomas Vanek. Dallas you ask? They added Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.
And those, with the exception of the Sharks, are just the teams that made the playoffs in the West last season. The Canucks also have to climb over Phoenix, Nashville and Winnipeg before they can think about a post-season berth.
from Nancy MacDonald of MACLEANS,
Miller, in some ways, is an anti-athlete: complex, loquacious, cerebral. He’s an amateur photographer. He reads. He loves playing the guitar. He drives a hybrid. But he also makes pains to establish that he’s no hermit, conscious, perhaps, of his position’s stereotypes: “I’m trying to be a little more social, to be around friends and not be the weird goalie who sits in his house all day and wears the cushions out on his couch,” he’s said.
His loyalties lie with his family, his “pit crew” of core pals, and his wife, television actress Noureen DeWulf.
He spent the summer training and clearing his head. Conscious of the strain that travel exacts on players in the Western Conference, Miller put together an off-season regimen carefully designed to ramp up as the season approached. “Every year, you have to prove yourself,” he says. “You’re not handed a job.”
Although a popular narrative says Miller is fading with age, his numbers tell a different story. He hasn’t posted a save percentage under .915 in six seasons, while topping the league in shots against for the past two. He’s done this almost exclusively while propping up a basement dweller. The truth is, Miller is a difference-maker. And he’s hungrier than ever.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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