Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jason Brough of Orland Kurtenblog,
This week’s list comes courtesy of “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” In the words of Clark W. Griswold, let’s talk about the Vancouver Canucks.
“If I woke up tomorrow with my head sewn to the carpet, I wouldn’t be more surprised than I am right now.”
OK, so maybe Vancouver hockey fans aren’t exactly shocked the Canucks are failing to live up to expectations. (Sorry, Mike Gillis. Can’t help it. Years of failure. Many emotional scars. Innate sense of dread. The rain doesn’t help.) But it really wasn’t supposed to be like this - almost halfway through the season and out of a playoff spot. The Canucks (20-16-0) have simply failed to get points in enough of their games. After Sunday’s loss to the Blues, only Carolina, Montreal and Philadelphia had fallen more times in regulation. More reason for pessimism: Vancouver will play 25 of its remaining 46 games on the road, where its record (6-10-0) is about as attractive as Cousin Eddie’s RV in the driveway.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
The Vancouver Canucks lost an unwinnable game. Really, the National Hockey League schedule-maker never gave them a chance on Sunday.
The St. Louis Blues were a last-place team. They were on the road. They play in the Central Division. And the Canucks were coming off a huge victory against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Darn the NHL! How could the Canucks possibly compete amid these impossible circumstances?
The league – you know, it’s based in New York City and run by an American lawyer – surely knew an elite team like Vancouver, basking in the glory of Friday’s righteous win against Washington and busy planning a Stanley Cup, would be emotionally-spent and intellectually detached against the Blues.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
National Hockey League dressing rooms are all melting pots. Players are players. Objectives and thinking are pretty uniform. There are no national flags on the jerseys.
If there were, the Canucks’ practice would resemble the United Nations General Assembly. Or at least NATO.
There are Canucks from Canada and the United States, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Austria and Slovakia.
But Christmas — and Hanukkah for American defenceman Mathieu Schneider — is one of the few times during the winter when the diversity of the Canucks, or any team, becomes a little more apparent.
Roberto Luongo and Alexander Semin meet face-to-face last night.
from Jason Botchford of The White Towel,
When Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault cryptically said Thursday Pavol Demitra was “on his own program,” he wasn’t kidding.
Demitra, still rehabbing a surgically repaired shoulder, has returned home to Slovakia to see a specialist he feels comfortable with.
TC Carling, the Canucks director of media relations, delivered news via his Twitter account — @TC_Carling — less than 24 hours after Vigneault chose not to disclose any information on Demitra’s whereabouts.
The Canucks claim there’s nothing to see here. Everything is on the up-and-up. It was Demitra’s decision to leave and it does not mean there has been a setback in his recovery.
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
A downtown department store in a major Canadian city is bound to be a madhouse during the holiday shopping season.
But it is nothing compared to a public appearance by Alexander Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals superstar and the worldwide face of hockey.
That much was proved yesterday at the Olympic boutique inside The Bay in downtown Vancouver, as roughly 1,000 people formed a circuitous queue 30 minutes before Ovechkin’s late-afternoon arrival. Autograph and picture seekers were forced to buy one of five items – the cheapest costing $89 – yet the line snaked around several displays, and ended outside the boutique, somewhere between clocks and cosmetics.
“Why not?” Ovechkin replied earlier in the day when asked why he would agree to two hours of sign and smile. “It’s good stuff for me. People are going to recognize me and shake my hand. It’s easy.”
from Ryan Dixon of The Hockey News,
To some degree, points have stopped being the point of reference when evaluating the play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
A player’s contribution to the scoresheet is always going to be a factor when evaluating his play, but the twins have passed the threshold where their worth is constantly assessed by clicking on their stats.
That said, these guys are tearing it up right now.
Henrik, in particular, is having a heroic season. He’s on pace for 34 goals and 104 points, totals that would obliterate his previous career highs of 22 and 82.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
More to the point, we’d like to look at their third and fourth lines and that can be tricky because there are nights you need the Hubble telescope to find them.
“We need more from those lines,” was Alain Vigneault’s generous assessment before last night’s tilt with the Los Angeles Kings.
“Secondary scoring from the third and fourth lines and from the defence is one thing we need more consistently. If we get that, it will let us win on a more consistent basis.
“Those are two lines that are supposed to bring a physical aspect but they have to find a way to contribute not just physically but on the scoresheet.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
My Vancouver spies insist that Trevor Linden will play a significant role of some kind in the flame lead-up at the 2010 opening ceremony and I sure hope that’s not true. Linden’s presence does not resonate outside Vancouver and if he’s significant in this, it will make the organizing committee look small and all too local. This is a world, international event, not a celebration of the rather inept history of the Canucks
read on for a few more hockey notes…
“With the results from the first 30 games and now that we have a healthy lineup, that’s not going to be tolerated,.
“If you take good players out of the lineup you are going to struggle to succeed… (But) it’s not easier to stomach because there were games that I thought we should have won because we didn’t have consistent effort even with the lineup we had.”
-Canucks GM Mike Gillis. More from Jim Jamieson at The White Towel.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org