Left Coast By Design

Tag: NHL (page 2 of 3)

Nazzy’s Nineteen Flying High?

With a year left on his contract with the New York Rangers, Markus Naslund announced his retirement today. And with the announcement, the discussion began as to whether or not Nazzy should have his jersey retired in Vancouver.

Vancouver Canucks Unveil New Sweaters

Markus Naslund – courtesy of Stephen Dyrgas

Much like his (in my strong opinion, wrongly maligned) career here in Vancouver, the debate on whether or not the Canucks should send the number 19 up to join 12 and 16 is split right down the middle. There are those that state that Nazzy has no business joining TL or the Steamer in the rafters due to his lack of playoff success. Others say that he wasn’t a true leader and should have never received the captaincy, therefore spoiling the good name of the captains that preceded him. More often or not, these people also felt that Naslund was never a true Canuck, with some even hoping that he would be driven to the airport a la Trent Klatt .

Then there are those like me who see no reason why the man who happens to be the all-time points leader for the franchise, let alone the owner of single season records for goals, assists, and points by a left winger having any reason to prove anything more. True he was never the type of player who wore his emotions on his sleeve, but he went about his business and did his job well – in fact did his job extremely well regardless of the abnormally high expectations placed upon him.

What’s that you say? Where was his success in the post-season when it counted?

Well I ask you this, why did we not retire Kirk McLean’s number then? Up until Louie arrived, we never had a keeper like Captain Kirk – if it wasn’t for the “save” against Calgary in Game 7, the run in 1994 would have been nothing more than a false start. If we simply measured a player by his role with the team, contribution come playoff time, and how he excelled in his particular position, Kirk would have been in the same category as Trevor. But he is not and that’s not a knock against Kirk. He was good, but not “that” good.

Having survived the Keenan years (I hear that medieval serfs got it easier than he did), he began to flourish under the Crawford system of “we’ll score more goals than the other team does” and benefited from players who complemented his style of play. After the organization found that it was far more difficult to score more goals than the opposition in the postseason, especially when the opposition was putting them in from centre ice, they committed themselves to a defensive system that would make Jacques Lemaire smile, but would reduce Nazzy’s ability to contribute. His stats began to tail off and the phone lines on talk radio throughout Vancouver lit up. Trade him some would shout! Send him to the minors others would exclaim! Yet through this, Markus simply plugged away and contributed offensively to a defensive minded team.

And here you tell me, the guy wasn’t worth the hockey tape he put on the blade of his stick. Give me a freaking break (and I’m not talking about a Kit Kat Bar).

So here I proclaim, rightly or wrongly, that Nazzy should be given the same honour and decorum that Trevor and Stan have received. We should see 19 rise up with all the glory that 16 and 12 were provided and we as Canucks fans should be proud. Although it may not happen next year or the year after that, it should happen – if only to honour a man who has contributed much to the team and re-written the record books in ways that many of those who had preceded him could not.

Okay, I feel better now.

Slash rant.

Crashing the Goalie

For those that follow me in the Canucks Fan Zone Live Blog, you know that I’m not a big fan of Louie leaving the blue paint to play the puck. I understand the purpose of him doing so is to break up a dump in or to ensure immediate control by dishing it off to a defenceman, but I find that in recent times some trouble has come from this strategy and think he may be better off staying in the net. This is his comfort zone and unlike other netminders, he doesn’t have the same puck handling skill set available to him.

IMG_1672

Marty Turco – courtesy of phoch_98

For instance, Marty Turco seems to have the knack at handling the puck outside of his crease and has a number of assists this season to show for it. He’s like a third blueliner when the need exists and has caught teams (Canucks included) numerous times on bad line changes, sending a forward in for an odd man rush by throwing the puck up the ice as quickly. This forces teams to provide an honest effort any time they dump the puck as if it’s short and no forecheck is present, Marty simply fires the puck back to where it came.

That being said, he may now think twice about doing that.

During the second period of last night’s game against Dallas, some nastiness ensued after Hordichuk leveled a wandering Turco (who was on the side boards about 10 feet up from the goal line). In the opinion of this arm chair referee, the hit itself was clean. Turco had just played the puck and shortly after doing so, he received the Hordi-smash. Within seconds of the hit, Hordichuk was hit from behind by Daley and a scrum quick developed. Hordi got two minutes for charging due to his efforts and fortunately for the Canucks, the referees were kind enough to even it up by sending Daley to the sin bin for roughing. According to the “code,” this was the fair way to go (but even better had Daley not followed to the box) to ensure that Louie was kept safe.

But therein lies the problem.

I’ll concede that I don’t know for sure and would encourage someone who does know to correct me if I’m wrong, but I’m not aware of anything in the rulebook that says the goaltender is sacrosanct outside of the crease. As far as I can see, it should not matter what position a player occupies should an opposing player decide to leverage a legal hit to generate a forecheck when the defending player is in possession of the puck. If it did, then why is it that no scrum occurs when a defenceman is rubbed out? Exactly.

Before you go and say that I’m asking that players begin to take a run at the goalie as soon as they step outside the blue, I’m totally against any action that is deemed illegal within the rules of play. Charging, interference, roughing and the like should still be enforced as they would be if they were to be committed against any other player. Furthermore, I also believe that the area to which a goaltender is protected should extend behind the goal line – something I believe makes sense as the amount of ice the keeper can play the puck in is quite small with the introduction of the “no go zone.” Not only do I think that by officiating a game this way will keep the goalie honest, it may open up the game.

And I’m sure many of you would agree, opening up the game isn’t a bad idea at all.

The Winding Down of Silly Season

With the NHL trade deadline only 30 hours away, it has been quiet on the player transaction front – I would say unusually quiet, but I don’t have any stats to back that statement up. Aside from a few minor trades, the silly season has yet to begin.

Retooling - February 27, 08

Retooling – courtesy of ThrasherDave

I have found in recent years that the NHL Trade Deadline has the same effect Christmas Day has on me. I get all excited for the festivities and the many possibilities that exist during that time of year, but when it’s all said and done, I’m left thinking that somehow it wasn’t all like I imagined. Some years are good (1991 if you were a Canucks fan) while others, not so much. And on a larger scale, just like Christmas, some people/teams overspend for the sake of having a good time, while others give more than they receive.

So how about this year? I’m thinking with the uncertainty of the future, many teams have been holding off on getting that big ticket purchase for fear they have buyers regret after a few weeks. Furthermore, I’m also thinking that those who are in the market as sellers are likely looking for the moon for the same reason – not wanting to regret giving away that sentimental item. So as fans, we sit and wait. And think of what we want and what we would be willing to give away.

When it comes to the Canucks, I’m actually of the opinion that less is better. Having watched the future be mortgaged in the pass with very little return, I’m reticent to see more draft picks or prospects lost for rental players, or those where after kicking the tires, we sell off as scrap. I’m also not like others who think we should trade Ohlie, Danny, Hank, or Burr for fear we lose them without anything in return. If the Canucks are to be true playoff contenders, how do you lose Ohlie’s clutch playoff play and Burr’s grit? True the Sedins have yet to prove they can handle the pressure of the post-season, but then how do you replace their regular season output? EX-actly.

I’ve expressed my previous opinion that the Canucks should do what they can to sign Burrows, while I’m resigned to the fact that Ohlund is gone. I’m hoping the Canucks can sign the Sedins, but with the possibility of them leaving, the only thing I ask for is a prudent silly season where the Canucks exhibit responsibility – especially considering the team needs to not only stay competitive, but keep the cash available for Louie’s contract extension next year.

Games Three, Four, and Five

Originally I wanted to chitchat about each and every game on an individual basis. I thought it would not only force me to get my act together and get used to posting, but it would also allow me to talk about each game specifically.

Well, there are two things that impede this effort. Firstly, I had the misfortune of ordering the HDPPV where the Canucks decided that it wasn’t in their best interest to take any shots against the Washington Capitals. Talk about a wasted eight bucks (a benefit of work)! The second impediment is the fact that when the ‘nucks play in a different timezone, I don’t have the means to see the game itself seeing as I don’t get off work until 500p. So how fair would it be for me to tell you how a game went, when I didn’t see it in the first place? Sheesh..

But, what the heck. I’ll tell you anyway:

Game Three: After two emotional victories against the Flames, I would have thought that the Canucks would have wanted to carry that momentum with them to Washington. I’m not a “hockey” man, so it must be a soccer related belief as after two periods, the Canucks had peppered Johnson with 3 shots (and I think Burrows had two of them).

Green Gets One

End result was a 5-1 regulation loss (the fact we got 1 should have been incentive enough to shoot more). What a way to enjoy Thanksgiving.

Game Four: Prior to the game, the hope about this game was the Canucks would play well enough to show that the previous game against Washington was an aberration and should they win, this would be a bonus against a talented Red Wings squad. As I didn’t get a chance to watch this game (I even forgot my walkman so I couldn’t listen to the game on the bus home), I’m not sure how things went, but from the hearsay online and the TEAM1040 that the Canucks showed up and challenged all night long only to pull it out in overtime with a timely Burrows goal (can you say underpaid)? End result was a 5-4 win in OT.

Game Five: Only a night after the win against the Red Wings, the Canucks were definitely in tough against an undefeated Sabres squad. As it was scheduled start for Sanford in place of Luongo, it was going to be necessary that the Canucks step it up defensively. Again, this must also be a belief I have acquired from my years playing soccer as the Canucks didn’t seem to think it necessary at all. Aside from a spirited scrap between Hordichuk and Peters, the Canucks laid another egg. End result was a 5-2 victory for the Buffaslugs.

Game Two

I would be lying if I thought the Canucks were going to win this one based on the result of the first period. Although they got a quick one past Kipper and did give me faith, the next three past Luongo laid siege to my dreams of an undefeated season post haste. Even Mitchell’s scrap with Iginla didn’t go so well, with a hard right from Iggy dropping Willie hard. And watching Bieksa fall awkwardly into the boards and then leave the ice in significant discomfort harkened back to last season where I was waiting for the call to dress on a makeshift defensive line.

But the team did not give up. They continued to hit anything that moved. They continued to stand up for each other. They continued to put the puck to the net. And even after tying the game at three’s, a quick go-ahead goal by Calgary didn’t keep the ‘nucks from pressing for a fourth to again tie the game up. It was a beautiful sight to see (as was Rypien’s scrap with Prust – Ryp was tossing consecutive right-lefts, I’ve never seen anything like that before). So it’s not a stretch to say how happy I was to see Demitra to score the winner in OT.

It may not have been as pretty as the first game, but I won’t hold it against them.

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