Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Few teams are in as complex a situation as the Vancouver Canucks are heading towards the NHL trade deadline just 20 days away.
Hour by hour, it seems, the Canucks hold on a Western Conference wild card berth seems to be slipping away. Calgary has now passed them. Red-hot Minnesota, which hammered the Canucks Monday night, is just two points back, albeit having played one more game than the Canucks.
Then there’s the reigning champion Los Angeles Kings, three points back with a sense they can’t be declared truly dead until somebody puts a stake in ‘em.
Battered on the back end and suddenly offensively challenged down the middle, the Canucks seem vulnerable indeed as they head into Chicago tonight for a key game at the United Centre against a Blackhawks team that will undoubtedly be revved up after losing on home ice to Arizona two nights ago.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Over the past eight games the Vancouver Canucks have been exactly what many observers thought they would be this season: a decent team, not a great team, one that could challenge for a playoff berth but likely fall short.
The Canucks' loss to red-hot Minnesota Monday night continued a win-one-lose-one pattern that has seen them descend to the very edge of the playoff bubble. Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 18 shots to take the loss and is now 2-5 in his last seven appearances.
Over that period Miller has allowed 21 goals. With the Wild goaltending situation stabilized behind Devan Dubnyk and Jonas Hiller on a tear for the Calgary Flames right now, the Canucks have the kind of team defense and goaltending that seems destined to see them end up just where many thought they would at the start of the season: contemplating the playoffs from the outside looking in.
read on for including LeBrun on the West, Strang on the Flames and Custance on the Sharks...
from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The Penguins (30-15-6) faced a 2-0 deficit at the time, and the goal would have given them a serious spark. Instead, Shawn Matthias and Zach Kassian scored later in the period to trigger the rout, which wraps up a 2-1 Western Canada trip.
Johnston explained that nothing was called or said on the ice. The only thing he heard or saw was a whistle and a referee with his arms up.
“There was no call made on the ice,” Johnston said. “There was just a wave of the arms. It wasn't a call that was waved off. The play was stopped because the net was off.
“They decided on the ice that it was no goal. Then they waited for Toronto. Toronto couldn't decide. That's the way the ruling went.
“When I watched it again ... boy, it's a goal for sure. I thought that was a key turning point in the game. Would have given us a lot of momentum at that time.”
Watch the no-goal below...
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
The Vancouver Canucks weren’t very good at Rogers Arena Thursday night — but then neither was referee Chris Rooney.
You see, his ‘game management’ wasn’t very good, judging by what NHL referee Tim Peel has been saying when he chats with bloggers on the record.
According to Puck Daddy, Peel says that the NHL evidently tells it’s referees when certain penalties are appropriate and when they’re not. And while we are not privy to these ‘game management’ guidelines or whatever they might be called, we would assume that when the home team is down 2-0 late in the second period having had only two scoring chances in 38 minutes, calling an unsportsmanlike penalty on one of the most sportsmanlike captains in the history of the NHL from afar to put them down two men for a full two minutes wouldn’t be recommended.
What could Henrik Sedin possibly have said to bring about such a severe, game-impacting call? We’ll let your imagination run with it while you consider the ramifications of what Peel really said to Greg Wyshynski in a story that went largely unnoticed around the league. Instead, everyone got all excited about a picture of Peel with Wyshynski hoisting a drink which went viral, something the officials and media have done for years, albeit without the pictures and quotes.
While the NHL referee wasn’t quoted directly in the story other than the ‘game management’ reference, the pretty clear implication from the piece was that there are times in certain games when a penalty should be called, but not in others. You know, flexible rules depending upon who is winning and what the game situation is. No word on whether that ‘management’ stretches as far as which teams are playing but there are certainly no end of fans who might think it does....
“I was surprised he called it,” said Henrik, who indicated he didn’t think he had ever received an unsportsmanlike penalty in a similar situation in the past. “I used the “F” word but I’ve said a lot worse things to a referee than that. As I said, I was surprised.”
Watch the game highlights below...
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Vancouver now has a home record of 12-10-1, which is not only not good enough for the well-being of this team with respect to their stated goal of making the playoffs, it’s dreadful for the economic well-being of this team.
With empty seats already sprinkled generously throughout the building, the entertainment this game and many others like it in Rogers Arena this season have produced is likely to further erode fan support.
Sure, it picked up in the third period, as it often does, and the dramatic push to try to tie the game certainly helped. But more and more in the second half of the season, you come to the games almost expecting to be bored for large stretches.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Nine months ago, when his heart was operating at 28 per cent of its capacity, doctors were telling Gino Odjick he might have a year to live.
Today, his heart is operating at 58 per cent of its capacity and the doctors are saying he might have three years left, possibly more.
So those numbers tell a story; a significant story. But what they don’t tell, what they can never tell, is the life that’s in Odjick’s eyes and the strength in his being. He’s still trying to take all this in and sort out what it means — “I don’t know if it’s a gift,” he says. “I still have to get used to this situation” — but he knows one thing.
He can now talk about a future and the things he can do.
He used to take that for granted. He doesn’t anymore.
“I’m just starting to feel better and better,” says the former Canuck. “I want to get used to this.”
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
They aren’t fast enough. They aren’t young enough. They don’t have enough mobility or scoring from the blue-line. And they don’t have enough snipers or size up front.
What they are is remarkably ordinary.
The good news is, other than goaltending, they can target just about any area in a trade — this side of a another defensive centre, bottom-six winger or washed-up veteran — and improve.
Size? Scorer? Power-play quarterback? Promising prospect?
Bring it all on.
The bad news is they are stuck in an awkward phase of rebuilding-on-the-fly and can’t afford to give up a draft pick, or any prospect who may be worth a damn in two or three years.
As currently constructed, the Canucks are good enough to beat down the destitute. And sometimes, if all goes right and their so-called battle level is cresting, they can appear comfortable hanging with the upper class.
more (no specific names mentioned)
via the CP at TSN,
Canucks forward Derek Dorsett left the game a few minutes earlier with an upper-body injury after taking a hit from Ryan Kesler and did not return. Replays appeared to show that Kesler, who was dealt from Vancouver to Anaheim in the off-season, made contact with Dorsett's head on the play.
"I haven't seen it yet. All I know is I was going for the puck and I felt him hit," said Kesler. "I hope he's all right, it's unfortunate, it's a fast game out there. I was just going for the puck, trying to make a hockey play."
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province who refers to Kesler as "The Tool"...
... the tool got one over on the Canucks Tuesday and did it on a couple of fronts.
With a clear headshot, complete with an elbow follow-through, Kesler knocked Derek Dorsett out of the game. The Canucks lost their scrappy, energizing bulldog who on many nights has been their only physical, impact player.
more on Kesler...
Watch the hit below...
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
Teams have called but the trade value of Kassian is sliding like the price of oil. And unless general manager Jim Benning can acquire a player of similar stature in return — a big body for a big body — then the Canucks would become an even smaller club trying to rub shoulders with the big boys in California. If not for an ankle injury to Brad Richardson, Kassian wouldn’t have play Monday because the only motivational card coach Willie Desjardins can play is the healthy-scratch card. That’s because the wide-eyed boyish enthusiasm that Kassian exuded and cut him some slack has gone away and those dozen points in 19 games to close out last season seem like a mirage. Even advanced statistics don’t help Kassian’s cause because the opposition is scoring at will against him at even strength.
The fear has always been that giving up on Kassian may only see him catch fire with another club. That’s understandable. He has the tools but in his fourth season, he has 27 goals in 187 career NHL games. Kassian did miss five games with a knee injury this season and a Nov. 25 finger fracture kept him out until Jan. 3, so there’s something to be said for being out of sight and out of sync.
As a physical force and potential 20-goal scorer, who has another year left at $2 million US, he’s a good fit. As an unproductive and inconsistent enigma, the bigger fear may be hanging on to a project who has become a problem. It’s up to Kassian to change that conversation.
more plus other topics regarding the Vancouver Canucks...
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Vancouver Canucks dropped a 1-0 decision to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, their first loss to an Alberta-based team this season after six straight wins, and that, coupled with a general downturn in performance, has created a sense of unease in this province.
This after all, is about the point the Canucks lost their way last season on their way to a dumpster-fire of a campaign which engendered a full house-cleaning of the hockey department. As for this season, the loss finished off a five-game homestead in which the locals went 2-3 with losses to Florida and old friend Roberto Luongo and Los Angeles. They're still holding down a playoff spot in the West and their record is still respectable but they're also trending in the wrong direction and with the nightmare images from last season's disaster still fresh in the faithful's minds, that's not a healthy place to be.
But the Flames also represent a problem for the Canucks which goes a lot deeper than the results of one game and to really understand the dilemma facing this team, take a look at the makeup of the Calgary team, then look at the rest of the Western Conference.
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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