Pre-Playoff Sweep Perhaps
Wednesday night’s matchup between the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche is going to go like this:
The Canucks will get all pumped up before the game and we may see a couple of locker room shots showing such emotion.
They will skate out onto the ice and for the first 10 minutes, dominate. This is when the bulk of their shots will come as they seem to be content to sit back in the latter stages.
Vancouver’s defense will be free-wheeling to start and they possibly chip in with an assist on an early goal from the 2nd or 3rd line.
Colorado maybe sneaks one by Schneider but he stands tall the rest of the way and denies Colorado of any points whatsoever, destroying their playoff aspirations.
Canucks fans celebrate for 5 minutes and then question whether or not this team, even after now winning four in a row is out of the slump.
Additional questions arise such as, “Is Schneider better than Luongo?” and, “When will the powerplay finally light up?”
Canucks Nation will inevitably teeter on its axis as it awaits the next game in an agonizing stretch for fans, players and management alike before we can finally begin the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But seriously, there are some things we should watch for. Here are the Top 3:
A Powerplay Un-Earned is a Powerplay Burned
Looking back on the game vs. the Kings, I can see exactly why the Canucks didn’t score with the man advantage. Let’s take two calls that went the Canucks’ way into question.
First of all; the snow shower on Roberto Luongo which earned the Kings’ player 2 minutes. This was absurd if you ask me.
Secondly we recall the late goaltender interference against Dustin Penner when he was actually cross-checked into the crease by a Canuck.
As a big believer in the hockey gods not only being real, but actually having an effect on games, I think they didn’t grant the Canucks any goals on said powerplays because of the sheer stupidity of the fashion they acquired them. I don’t mean the Canucks’ stupidity, but the referees’.
It isn’t just some stupid superstition thing I am going on about. One cares more about their opportunity to capitalize when they have either earned it or the other team has actually done something egregious.
Skate faster and make them hook you. Get into battles in front of their net and provoke them to cross-check you. I’m not saying make yourself an easy head shot target but become vulnerable to an extent. That way, once the team gets a powerplay, they really feel like they have to stick it to the other team for taking a dumb penalty.
Just remember, everything is okay in moderation.
Vancouver knew some of those calls were BS against LA and Luongo even expressed that. It’s human nature not to care as much about it, as much as the fans want them to.
Just Manny Being Manny
The man who was without the team from March 16th onwards last season until Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals of course, had a strange absence from the team last week. It was declared for personal reasons, so we’ll leave it at that.
However, it’s funny looking back to the last seven regular season games he played last year before taking a puck to his eye.
He had 2 goals and 4 assists in the span. While he obviously didn’t know he was going to suffer such an injury as he does know the regular season is coming to an end now, his game winner against LA came in what would be the 7th last game of this regular season; and his, assuming he plays the final six.
In addition, Manny Malhotra has been above 50% on the faceoff dot in 6 of his last 7 games; including Monday at Rogers Arena against the Kings.
It is in my most optimistic fashion that I say Manny Malhotra, while having had a sub-par season due to coming back from such a horrible injury, is actually going to be a huge part of not just these last six games but any type of playoff run.
It may not necessarily come in the form of points, but his leadership will matter ten-fold to the younger guys once the post-season begins.
The Schneidz of March
The Vancouver Canucks announced via their twitter account Tuesday that backup…Cory Schneider would get the start against Colorado. Any monkey can tell you he’s been stellar this season and he even sits in 2nd place among goalies with a .934 SV%. On top of that, he’s 5th in GAA with a minute number of 2.04.
You may say he’s a backup but he’s played in 29 games; plenty of time to take a few beatings and bring those stats way down or up, depending on which one you’re talking about.
Now if the Canucks do as we all wish they would do this post-season and win the franchise’ first Stanley Cup, we can assume Roberto Luongo will get about 99% of the time spent between the pipes.
With 6 games remaining and Schneider becoming an RFA on July 1st, these could be his final minutes in a Canucks uniform. He will start again before the end of the regular season, but we’re talking the final 60-180 minutes in blue and green possibly.
The point is if you are going to any game, but especially a game you know he’s starting; show your appreciation and say goodbye because it’s highly unlikely we’ll see #1 traded this summer instead of the re-signing of #35.
BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are 5-0-0 against the Avs this season and have outscored them 18-5. The dominance is redonculous and the fact Colorado has any chance to make the playoffs at this point is incredible.
Puck drop is at 7PM on Sportsnet Pacific and TEAM1040 Radio