Left Coast By Design

Tag: Vancouver Canucks (page 2 of 3)

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.

Cncks, Thnks Fr Th Mmrs

One of the things I find rough about Mondays, is that there’s always the feeling that you’re missing something – like vowels. However, it would be tough to remember how to spell without them, so I gave up after the title and decided to talk straight.

After watching the storybook ending Sundin provided to us Canucks fans on Saturday, it became clear to me that had I been at the game, I would have likely filed it off as one to remember. Heck, having not been at the game I probably would have to file it off as one to remember so long as I don’t recall anything prior to the shootout. Anywho, having been a fan for many years, there are only a handful of games that I truly remember.

The first game I remember, albeit vaguely, is one my Mom took me to at the Pacific Coliseum where the Canucks beat the Washington Capitals four buzz. She had purchased the tickets through Shoppers, or Woodwards, or something like for my birthday and as my Dad was working, she escorted me to the game. Although it may have been the win that introduced me to the bandwagon, I was an instant fan.

The second most memorable game is Game 7 against the Flames in 1994. I watched the game at a buddies house (being his birthday and all it seemed like the right thing) and after thinking that Calgary was going to pull it out, saw Kirk make the save. Then in overtime, Brown to Bure and pandemonium. I nearly lost my eye in the celebration – took a finger/hand/fist in the right one and couldn’t see straight for days. That win set forth my most memorable post-season play for the Canucks – and anyone near the corner of Robson and Burrard after they lost to the Rangers.

Next on the list would be the penultimate game of the 2001 regular season where the Canucks beat the Kings in overtime to clinch a playoff birth. Earlier that season, my Dad had purchased tickets for the game at a steep discount (wasn’t hard coming off the Keenan years) and didn’t think much of it. Well, when game day finally rolled around and it was pointed out that the Canucks would clinch if they were to win, GM Place was a rocking. And by this, I mean ear drum shattering pain rocking. I literally had chills at the noise level – something I never thought I would see replicated.

Problem is, I spoke too soon.

I had the fortune of going to Game 1 against Dallas back in 2007. Having been to a number of Canucks games over the years, this was the first game where I and nearly every other fan was seated almost an hour before the game – remember, in Vancouver it almost seems like good etiquette for fans to arrive halfway through the first period. Not only did everyone seem to be there, but the Go Canucks Go chant began before John Ashbridge had introduced the starting lineups. And it didn’t stop. The noise level when the Canucks came on to the ice was unbelievable. Anyone and everyone was screaming – if you weren’t, you were simply catching your breath to scream some more.

And then there was the game itself.

The Canucks came out as if Dallas was a can opener and left some whoop ass on the ice. They went up quick to a two buzz lead. Unfortunately, the Stars had Turco between the pipes and soon the Canucks became Turco’d. In fact, it seemed that with every “Turco, You Suck!” chant the Stars would score after Turco made a stellar save. Fortunately, the ‘nucks were able to hold things together and got the game to OT. The first couple of OT periods were reason enough to take up illicit drugs to maintain your anxiety levels. Both teams had opportunities on the power play, but neither could capitalize. Then the third overtime period came and went and it seemed as if this was the game that would never end. So when Danny scored the winner in seventh period, there was a delayed reaction before the excitement returned. Even only three quarters full, GM Place was rocking – and at half passed one too boot. And Chris had himself his most memorable experience with the Canucks.

So what about you? What are your most memorable experiences, so far?

Adding it up for the Canucks

One of the stories that’s been getting quite a bit of play on the Canucks beat recently is the players who will be heading into the land of unrestricted free agency. This is the land where money is plentiful and there’s always a sucker who will pay you more than you want. With word on the street talking about a salary cap that will possibly stay the same, but in all likelihood shrink, it’s going to be interesting to see how this pans out for the team, so I thought I would look into it all and see how I could help.

Sedins

The Sedins – courtesty of taminator

Using information from nhlnumbers.com, the Canucks currently have approximately $32M tied up with 12 different players going into next season, while they have 6 players who will become Restricted Free Agents and should they all be qualified, add a further $5.5M to that number. This would leave the team only $12.8M to play with if the cap remains unchanged. Although the team has 15 players who will become UFAs next year, I believe 4 should be considered retainable – Daniel and Hank, Ohlie, and Burr.

The problem is how to split the money that is left over between those four, while ensuring enough to replace those who will inevitably be let go. My uneducated opinion is that Burrows will look for $2M, Ohlund would look for at least $4M, and the Sedins would look for $6M each. Obviously the team doesn’t have enough to go around, so who gets how much? And considering that Louie hits UFA land after next season, how does the team ensure there is enough to make an effort to bring him back and ensure the team remains competitive?

Burrows (Taken for Amy)

Burrows – courtesy of Allie

So of that group, I think the only player the team has a chance of re-signing is Burrows. I personally think that the Sedin’s are worth the money they are looking for but considering they are a combined $12M hit, they are priced out of the Canucks league. I also hate to see Ohlie go, but even if he were to paid at par to Salo, Bieksa, and Mitchell, he’d be making the same $3.5M he currently receives – but the team would still have $15M tied up in 4 players on the blue line. How about the hometown and happy player discount you ask? Even if that were to be considered, we would likely still see these 4 guys tie up $15M and still outside of our price range.

When all is said and done, Gillis has got his work cut out for him. Losing the Sedins and a consistent defensive stalwart in Ohlund will be hard to overcome. So what should the team do? I’ve got no idea… do you?

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.

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