This is Special Hockey
Canucks fans were extremely lucky in January. We got to watch FIVE different games against teams Vancouver could face in the first three rounds of the playoffs, and that of course doesn’t include Boston.
We saw San Jose twice, Los Angeles, the surprising St. Louis Blues and most recently, Chicago. In those five matchups, the curved fin ones went 3-0-2, which is obviously very encouraging heading towards the post-season.
So now OT hero Daniel Sedin and his team-mates prepare for the Detroit Red Wings; the #1 team in the league with 69 points and one that leads Vancouver by just three for 1st in the Western Conference.
The President’s Trophy is up for grabs between about eight teams at the moment, five of which are in the West.
We truly are privileged as Canucks fans; to not only see our team and how glorious they’ve become but all these other magnificent teams going to war against ours.
So what can we look forward to against Detroit Thursday night?
Thank You Sweden
Whenever these two teams get together, it’s a barn burner to say the least. We here in BC and the people of Michigan have many thanks to give to a country across the pond; Sweden.
On top of that, these two teams possess SIX of the top 30 scoring Defensemen. Of those six, 3 are Swedish. That’s 6 elite players shared between the two teams all from the land of delicious meatballs. For the record, those three Swedes are Alex Edler, Nick Lidstrom and Niklas Kronwall.
You could staff the As-Is and Customer Service Departments of IKEA with that personnel.
I’ve always said I would like to go to Sweden more than anywhere else in the world, even just to do some sort of in depth research on how or why so many elite players come out of that part of Scandinavia.
There’s also the question about what’s in the water that Vancouver and Detroit GM’s drink? Ken Holland, Mike Gillis, Brian Burke; do they have some Swedish fetish or something?
Either way, we have to thank Sweden for these things. On the note of appreciating what type of hockey we get to see here, we really need to appreciate the talent that comes from such a distant part of the world. Be amazed while we have these things here to amaze us.
You have to give credit to the opponents for not taking any penalties, but let’s be honest; the reffing has been questionable at times.
In the Canucks last two games, they have had two powerplays. They managed to score on one of those against Edmonton.
They had none Tuesday against Chicago and in fact, have ZERO powerplays in their last two games against Chicago, dating back to a 5-1 loss in November.
Believe it or not, when the Canucks beat the Red Wings 4-2 on December 21st, they had…wait for it…ZERO powerplays. Incredibly in that game, the Canucks were the ones short-handed four times.
So you might say, “So what Josh? They’re winning. What else matters?”
To that I say TRUE, but there is an art to drawing penalties and no I don’t mean diving. I mean skating fast, keeping your legs moving and getting in the dirty areas. It’s also about being disciplined when scrums erupt.
I know the aforementioned Chicago game was back in November, but twice the Hawks had taken a penalty and on both occasions, the Canucks took a coincidental minor. Carcillo took a slashing penalty in that game, but it was after the final buzzer.
Now get this stat:
The Canucks have the #1 overall PP in the league at 23.4% but are ranked 20th when it comes to PP opportunities with 85. (via NHL.com stats)
The point is when it comes to playing Detroit, it’d be good for the Canucks to maybe work on drawing penalties because the Wings’ PK is 23rd in the league at 80.8%.
We need some chicken winging from Ryan Kesler methinks.
Gillis Needs To Wheel and Deal
I will start again by saying if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s a saying I can get behind for sure.
That being said, it seems like every week now we hear another rumour, recycled, renewed or ridiculous as they may be, involving the Canucks. Certain names come up every time like Cory Schneider, Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard.
There are of course pros and cons to dealing each one of them away but in my mind, when it gets to be a thing we hear every week, and we are this close to the deadline, this kind of thing becomes a distraction.
The vast majority of people seem to think Mason Raymond is the likeliest to go and so do I. Gillis needs to just get it done. The deadline is just over 3 weeks away and it’s not fair to Raymond, his current teammates or the fans who have somewhat of an emotional connection to each guy on this team.
It’s inevitable so why not get on the phone and work your ass off to just find a deal. I know this isn’t an easy process.
Obviously, MG needs to look at packages and entertain a variety of offers from different GM’s but I humbly propose that it’d be healthier for this team going forward if a deal was finalized sooner, rather than later.
BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver
I say Vancouver but really this game is too close to call. Should the Canucks win or lose Thursday, I don’t think you can put much stock into it apart from just saying that yes, the winning team CAN beat the losing team, but we already knew that. Each team has won one game so far in this season’s series.
If a playoff series should arise between the two, it will be a helluva series and one that there is really no way to predict, at least not at this point.
Bobby Lu is 13-4-3 is his last 20 starts, of which have come in the Canucks’ last 25 games.
As well, you can find a late version of the Canucks morning java Thursday morning right here on NWSB, but I thought I would provide one link in this story that focuses on the hit Niklas Kronwall laid on Ryan Kesler back on December 21st.
Ryan downplayed the hit today when asked about it by Detroit media.
Puck Drop is at 7pm and you can catch the action on Sportsnet Pacific or Team 1040 Radio.
Make sure you watch for the Game Day Thread as well on the NWSB Forums. 100 posts and you get a free Canucks hat.
Follow me on twitter @vancan19 for some great in-game tweets!