Canucks and Beyond
Entries with the tag: playoffs
Most of the stories about the Vancouver Canucks this past summer had one theme: they lost. Kaboom. The Stanley Cup Finals was a great ride… until it wasn’t.
But with a new season finally upon us, the page seems to be turning as the analysis switches towards the new topic of “so now what?” With the puck drop countdown now in its final hours, perhaps it’s finally safe to to start being optimistic about a new season.
—Is the latest version of the NHL—Brendan Shanahan’s NHL, that is— built for the Canucks? You could make the argument that it is. In today’s Province, Ed Willes argues his thesis about the Red Wings Way:
From the Canucks official Twitter:
Manny Malhotra has been officially cleared to play, said coach Alain Vigneault.
Malhotra is day-to-day, Vigneault added. Would not discuss the #Canucks Game 1 line-up.
What a comeback. TSN’s Bob McKenzie remarked that it was “bordering on a medical miracle” the other day, when Malhotra returned to full practice. And with this new announcement from the team, it’s hard to argue the point.
Out of curiosity yesterday, I was perusing Craigslist for Vancouver Canucks tickets, and mused on Twitter, wondering who—in these days of home foreclosures, job losses, and various other difficult economic realities—can afford to spend $500+ for a single seat at a hockey game?
Certainly not me. But clearly, plenty of other people. And apparently $500 is a bargain for some. Today, StubHub.com sent me their own breakdown of the cost and demand for tickets for these Stanley Cup Finals by customers using their service, and the numbers are ridiculous.
Fans are paying on
average $924 per ticket
for the potential four games in Vancouver
- Low end purchased has been $400 for Game 1– 2 each at this price for the Upper Bowl Goal 319
- High end purchased has been $4500 for a potential Game 5 – 2 each at this price for Club 105
Despite all optimism to the contrary, Sami Salo won’t be suiting up for tonight’s game 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo did not participate in the Canucks afternoon skate at United Center and was declared “out” by coach Alain Vigneault.
So, Ossi Vaananen returns. Incidentally, Salo’s explanation of his injury has been my favorite so far. Classic. (In related news, Vaananen is peeing just fine. Well, it doesn’t appear to be affecting his play, anyway.)
One more thing—assistant coach Ryan Walter provided this quote to Canadian Christianity.com today:
There is a “new intensity” in the playoffs, says Walter, “and it comes from an interesting place—a feeling that the end is near.” It would probably be very difficult to play at that level of intensity for a full 82-game season, he says. In that sense, hockey playoffs are like the last two minutes of a football game, when points are scored at four times the usual rate.
It’s a good comparison, though I wonder if I should worry when such a devoted Christian as Walter says things like “the end is near.”
Reasons Chicago Will Win
- Dustin Byfuglien is an incredibly useful s.o.b.
- The Blackhawks never heard of Roberto Luongo. Or if they have, they recently decided he has no particular mojo they need to be concerned with. (Luongo Schmongo. Someone just get out there and smash the guy with the stupid helmet.)
- Playing in their home town, the ‘Hawks are undefeated this playoffs. Further, their crowd is likely to be intimidating and loud.
- The Blackhawks know how to respond to adversity (games 1-2), but Vancouver has no idea. The Canucks were given a ‘free pass’ to get this far. They can’t handle the competition.
- Canucks have lost important defense - like Sami Salo. Plus, no one else seems to be playing much defense, either.
- Canucks have no answer to the breakout stretch pass.
Sounds depressing when summarized like that. But a quick check of the Canucks crystal ball provides an alternate way of looking at things…
“Any team with human excrement like Burrows deserves a beating of the greatest magnitude. Go St. Louis!! I may not be a fan but any team is better than the Vancouver No Cups and their trashy lineup of scabs, overpaid Europeans, and greasy haired oft injured goalies.”
Source: Emotionally distressed commenter at HockeyFights.com
How can anyone not love the internet hockey world? Where else can you find such unbridled hatred and borderline psychosis on display? Quite entertaining. And while the remarks are largely nonsensical (“scabs”??), it’s easy to see what motivated the rant.
While watching the Canucks—Blues game last night, one of the least-charitable exclamations that I shared with the room in the third period was: “Wow. This is amazing. It’s the playoffs and we’re the ones with the dirty team!”
And that wasn’t a criticism; it was sort of a compliment.
The Canucks are a study in perception vs reality. While it’s just one team with one set of inalienable facts (i.e. stats) about their performance, there are still many ways to interpret those facts. Thus, the varied perceptions of different fans are unique, despite the fact they’re operating from the same set of facts. So with good reason, it seems that a ton of fans are very optimistic about the Vancouver Canucks right now and many others remain quite guarded.
I think both points of view are reasonable given recent events.
Back in January, a 2-10 record led various pundits to decide the Canucks were out of the playoff race entirely. An understandable conclusion, yet here it is, March 3rd, and the team is in fifth place in the western conference standings. So now we have February’s 10-2 record to reflect on, and I ask… is it any more reliable than January’s performance?
Vancouver, April 13, 2009— The Vancouver Canucks surprised many last week, returning to the playoffs after a one year absence, landing in sixth spot, the result of a series of big wins in the final weeks of the season.
“We knew we were in a position to decide our own fate,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “It was a matter of staying focused and getting some big performances from unexpected sources.”
The Canucks certainly got that. After the blockbuster acquisition of Mats Sundin last December, many expected the multi-millionaire late addition to single-handedly be the catalyst that would boost this team to the next level, but instead the Canucks went into a January nosedive that few expected them to pull out of.
“I’m shocked they were able to manage it,” said Scott Burnside in his report filed on the ESPN website over the weekend. “My feeling in January was that they had no chance whatsoever to make the playoffs.”
From ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption”, Tony Kornheiser (a.k.a. The Most Annoying Man on Earth When He Talks About Hockey) and Michael Wilbon chat with Trevor Linden about some NHL playoffs storylines.
Some pretty good, quick analysis from Linden on Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and the East & West playoff races—which he figures will ultimately come down to a Devils/Sharks final.
I spent most of the 2007-08 season snarkily referring to the Vancouver Canucks as ‘the best AHL team in the NHL’. Well, it turns out there was more truth to that than just my fatalistic humor, because now that they’re all actually playing in the AHL, they seem to have found their niche.
On a soon-to-be-determined date, the Manitoba Moose will be opening the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs against the Syracuse Crunch, and with a notable list of players that spent a good amount of time in Vancouver this year. Including:
I know plenty of people quit watching hockey when their team is eliminated before or during the playoffs, but I’m not one of them. I certainly understand the desire to—it’s just basic psychology, after all, to want to end one’s suffering—but there’s more to playoff hockey than wanting to see my team win the Stanley Cup. (Which is a no-brainer, I suppose; I’m a Canucks fan).
But if you don’t have a “2nd favorite” team you automatically root for, how do you decide on your heroes for the next 3 months? Who deserves your pain and frustration, elation and cheers?
On the eve of the race for the 2008 Stanley Cup, the award-winning CBC Digital Archives Website has launched the Top 10 NHL Playoff Moments—an online collection that pays tribute to some of the most memorable playoff moments in National Hockey League history. Some really amazing footage there. (And unlike some other video material on CBC, it can be viewed by browsers outside of Canada, which is nice.)
Also at CBC, some stuff that probably won’t make it into history’s digital archives: What’s Your Playoff Ritual? (It was this video caught my eye especially; the world ugliest—and yet most awesome?—hockey basement.)
Anyway, to open up the first round of the playoffs, below you’ll find the scheduling info for TSN (sharp new website design, btw) and CBC.
For some idiotic reason, I’d been under the impression (stupid ESPN wording!) that the first tie-breaker—after points—was the outright number of wins for each team.
1. The fewer number of games played (i.e., superior points percentage).
2. The greater number of games won.
3. The greater number of points earned in games between the tied clubs. If two clubs are tied, and have not played an equal number of home games against each other, points earned in the first game played in the city that had the extra game shall not be included. If more than two clubs are tied, the higher percentage of available points earned in games among those clubs, and not including any “odd” games, shall be used to determine the standing.
4. Goal differential
But I misunderstood that they were simply referring to head-to-head games, not ‘wins’ in general at #2. (How could I not have realized this?? Fake-blonde-itis? Geezus. Apparently…)
Anyway, on the off-chance another blonde out there requires my assistance, here’s the NHL’s official policy (provided by their media resource site) for the tie-breaker.
Down to the wire with two games left, Nashville and Vancouver are duking it out for the #8 spot in the only playoff-like contest one of these teams is going to experience this spring. Which makes every game into ‘must see’ hockey.
Perfect timing then, to lose my cable & internet connection for 4 freakin’ days. Thus: no hockey games, no hockey news, no hockey emails, no hockey video highlights…
No hockey at all. Nada.
It was the best 96 hours of my life.
From Matthew Sekeres at the Globe & Mail,
The Canucks face the Minnesota Wild at GM Place on Friday night in a showdown for the Northwest Division lead. But for the moment, more important than the head-to-head race with Minnesota, is the distance between Vancouver and the playoff bubble.
With a win tonight, the Canucks would move eight points clear of a post-season berth – a Good Friday, indeed. It would take an unthinkable collapse to blow such a lead with just seven games remaining.
Of course, the Canucks don’t yet see it that way.
Nor does any Canucks fan with an IQ over 35 and a memory that extends beyond the last game. Or even the last period. Vancouver isn’t safely in the playoffs till they’re doing warmups for Game #1.
Believing otherwise is just begging for trouble.
[Updates below— because Pronger is really just “misunderstood” and “the nicest boy”...]
[Video now added at bottom]
Shockingly, the always-wholesome, sweet-natured, Lady Byng -worthy Chris Pronger has been accused of a nefarious act. From TSN:
Anaheim Ducks defenceman Chris Pronger could face disciplinary action from the National Hockey League after stomping on Vancouver Canucks centre Ryan Kesler on Wednesday night.
The incident happened in the opening minute of the second period in Anaheim’s zone after a dump in from the blue line by Canucks defenceman Sami Salo.
Class act, that Pronger. But then, I shouldn’t really comment—the game was on Canucks PPV last night, and being the top-quality broadcast that it is, they provided no video of the incident. Tommy Larscheid had a verbal eruption while witnessing it from the broadcast booth, and then… nothing. But assuming the Ducks broadcast caught this on tape, there’s reason to believe Pronger might be in some trouble for once…
February is a hockey fan’s worst headache—especially when their favorite team is on the bubble and experts start dispensing their wisdom.
Case in point, in Allan Muir’s mailbag on SI, a Canucks fan writes a panicked note:
I’ll admit it. I’m in full panic mode over my Canucks. I’m starting to think the playoffs are a longshot at best unless we add a big piece to the puzzle, and soon. What do you think of our chances?
—Steve Joe, Sacramento
A Canucks fan in a panic is hardly news (that’s just what we do) but Muir’s response seems pretty over-the-top: