Vancouver Canucks

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Blood, Sweat And Teeth

Playoff intensity just what the Doctor ordered …

The assumption is that “The Sisters” always fade down the stretch. Sure they put up points in October and November, but as soon as the going gets tough when the games really start to have meaning as the season is winding down they disappear.
Funny thing is that their career points-per-game stats are almost identical in March and April to what they have put up the rest of the months that make up an NHL season.

Then there's the playoffs … when their production drops off a cliff and clearly they are not front-line players who can carry a team to the promise land. The only problem with all of that is that they have been in the post-season as the defacto #1 line exactly once, and that was with pretty much zero support from the other 3 lines which had names like Naslund and Morrison skating on them. Oh, and there was that serious virus they were battling at the time that had them on daily intravenous from game #4 on of that 7-game series agaimst Dallas.

Who knows, maybe all the naysayers will end up being vindicated once this season is all said and done and be able to say they were right all along and we should just let the Sedins walk (all the way to Daddy Burkie in Toronto) come Jusly 1st. All I know is that the playoff sample-size is far too small to come to any conclusion one way or the other … lets just let it play out, shall we? 

Last night's 5-2 win in Dallas was as intense and physical a game as you'll see. The Stars were a desperate team fighting for their playoff lives and clearly meant business and were looking to avenge the loss in Vancity last week.  

So what did the twins do when all the chips were on the table and the Stars were out-hitting the Canucks 41-19? Just a combined 5 points, and both paid a price for those points, especially Daniel.

After getting a vicious (accidental) stick in the chops from former Vancouver Giant Mark Fistric (who is looking very good as an NHL Blueliner these days) late in the first period that cut right through his lip and removed a tooth, he stayed on the bench when he was in obvious need of medical attention. He then went back on the ice on the powerplay less than a minute later, still bleeding, and worked his butt off making a very nice redirection of a Sami Salo shot with his soccer skillz (Hi TL16!) while being manhandled in the dirty area in front of the net.

His job done, there was little celebration as he immediately skated off the ice and headed to the medical room with more than a minute and a half left in the period. Back to continue the game to start the 2nd he got a helper on Henrik's first of two in the game (to go along with one assist) a minute 30 in … oh, and btw, Henrik also took a high-stick in the throat later in the game. These guys have always taken more abuse off the ice than any team could ever deliver on it (and they are way tougher than almost everyone gives them credit for), and all they do is produce and keep their mouths shut.  

Coming off the 5-1 embarrassment in Phoenix on Saturday this physical, emotiional game was exactly what this team needed to ensure that compacency didn't set in. The Stars literally woke the Canucks up and they didn't back down in the slightest, and were by far the more disciplined team on the night.

Steve Ott was his usual weasel-like self (but man, I would take him on my team any day!) stirring up crap on almost every single one of his 19 shifts, and he actually dropped the gloves once, albeit against the middle-weight, at best, Alex Burrows. He also managed to show us all that the NHL has something called a Clipping Penalty in the books when he submarined Taylor Pyatt as he stepped out of the penalty box. Of course he refused to fight Pyatt, and the result of that was that he left his team mates open for retribution for his deeds.

It didn't take long for that to occur as Darcy Hordichuk decided that Marty Turco, who was closer to the blueline than his net along the sideboards playing the puck, was fair game. He could have hit him a lot harder than he did, but he definitely gave him a good shot and ended up with coincidental minors along with Trevor Daley who tackled him in the corner. Hordichuk barely surpassed 3 minutes of ice-time on the whole game, but that hit, at that time, was exactly what the Canucks needed and from there on out the outcome was never in doubt.

Ryan Kesler also had his warrior mentality in full gear for this one, as he always does, scoring his 23rd and 24th goals of the season while receiving a 4 inch gash to the back of his head from Jere Lehtinen's skate as he tried to jump over Kesler who was sprawled on the ice in an attempted shot-block. Kesler was very lucky that he wasn't more seriously injured on the play … it doesn't take much of a leap to imagine how bad that play could have turned out.

Much like the 4-2 win over the Stars here last week, this was a complete team effort from top-to-bottom. It wasn't quite a full 60-minute one as Roberto Luongo was counted on early to make a handful of great saves to keep the boys in the game, but even that can be seen as a bit of a positive after he was far from his best against the Coyotes the game before.

There has been lots to like about the Canucks in the last 20-odd games, but this type of game was a great tune up for what lies ahead when the playoffs get going … and I'd like to thank the Stars for reminding the Canucks that if they play a tough physical game they can have a lot of success.


The Grades …

A … Daniel

B … Luongo, Ohlund, Salo, Bieksa, Henrik, Kesler, Raymond, Hordichuk

C+ … Mitchell, Edler, Vannanen, Sundin, Demitra, Burrows, Wellwood, Johnson

C … Bernier, Pyatt


The road show continues in St Louis on Thursday and Colorado on Friday before heading to a huge game in the Windy City on Sunday against the Hawks.

Last night's 2 points ties the Canucks with Chicago for 4th and brings the Flames back to just a 3-point cushion in the NW … I'm not sure that I wouldn't prefer finishing 5th over 3rd or 4th and open on the road against a very young and inexperienced Hawk team that would be facing all sorts of pressure to win, but I'll definitely keep enjoying riding this winning wave the Canucks are taking us on for as long as they are able to keep it going. 





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In response to “Blood, Sweat And Teeth”

  1. Dan Rakusan Mar 25 200912:05 pm


    Are Canucks' fans happy with what Sundin has done so far? I realize he's getting decent points, but it seems he was brought in to score goals, and that isn't happening much. Also, since his first few games, his name isn't really popping up in the media at all, which leads me to believe he's somewhat of a bust…Thoughts?

  2. Mark Gage Mar 26 20099:37 am


    Clearly Sundin has not been the player that he was last year, and overall has fallen below most people's expectations, however to say he isn't scoring goals and that's what he was brought in to do? Imo, he was brought in to balance the forward lines and not put all the pressure on the Sedins and even tho he looks like a Glacier could beat him in a race some nights, he has still done that.His faceoffs are excellent (he is used late in games and on key draws for the PK) and his presence on the PP has definitely helped as he moves the puck well and still has a very heavy shot that he can control for deflections. This team has never had 2 PP units and they definitely do now, without question.The Canucks have never had a big centre and if he can pick up just a hair more speed (and he is skating a little better of late) he could be a very significant component to a playoff run.Having said all that, the way he skates now I can't see him playing anywhere next year and he knows it. However, the fact that he still makes the team better when he is no where near his best says a kot about him. imo.

  3. Mark Gage Mar 26 200910:43 am


    Great minds think alike? lolzIain Macintyre who writes for the Vancouver Sun, and is by far my favourite local Columnist, seems to be on the same page as me on the twins … first off I just discovered he used “Blood, Sweat and Teeth” in his post-gamer after the Stars game, which is of course the title of the Blog above, but in yesterday's “notes” he talks about the Sedins production down the stretch with quotes:STREAKING SEDINS: Often — and recently — criticized for not scoring when it counts most, Henrik Sedin has 10 goals and 28 points in his last 26 games while Daniel has five and 22 in his last 22. The twins have also made Alex Burrows better. Since joining the Sedins's line in St. Louis 20 games ago, Burrows has 12 goals and 19 points. In 50 games before that, he had 12 goals and 24 points.”Two years ago when we got a lot of criticism for not producing, the last 11 or 12 games we were point-a-game players, too,” Henrik said.” Down the stretch we were good. I don't see us as players who don't produce when you need it.”"They've been the primary reason for my scoring success lately,” Burrows said. “They find me on the ice. They make plays so well. I just have to get open and go to the net and create some traffic. If I get open, they find me. And if there's a shot from them or from the point, I'm right in front. It's a lot easier playing with them.”Also of note is that Luongo took a day off yesterday, which he pretty much never does and talks about back-to-backs tonight and tomorrow … will he play both games?ANNUAL EVENT: Must be that one day a year when hell freezes over — Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo took a day off Wednesday.”I don't remember the last one,” Luongo said. “Last year sometime. It was a rough game last night, a lot of shots. I just felt a little tired today, so I felt it would be better to take it easy. It's not going to happen very often we've got back-to-back games coming up.”Does that mean Luongo will be play Thursday in St. Louis and Friday in Denver?”I've said this many times and I'm going to say it again: we're on a one-game mentality focus,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “We'll deal with and then we'll see what happens.”

  4. doctordrake Mar 26 20091:54 pm


    Nice read. I love the Sedins and I have always thought that Vancouver fans are too hard on them. Some real, quantifiable playoff success (3rd round or more) would go a long way toward vindicating them. Call me old school but playoff success means far more to me than regular season success. I think the Sedins are underrated and certainly are due for a good playoff run. The stars are about as aligned as they can be for the twins this year. Lets hope this year they prove the nay-sayers wrong.

  5. doctordrake Mar 26 20093:13 pm


    Mats is not a bust. He brings a lot more than scoring to a team. He's a dominant face-off man. Excellent on the power play. He protects the puck about as well as anyone in the NHL. He makes smart plays on a regular basis and is good in the defensive end of the rink too. Most importantly it's the balance he gives our team. Has anyone noticed how much better Ryan & Pavol are playing since the RPM line was made? It's true he's not quite at NHL speed but he's manged to use his positional play & reach to make it much less of a problem than it should be. Oh yeah, one last thing we gave up nothing for him!

  6. Dan Rakusan Mar 26 20093:48 pm


    My point about Mats being a bust is that with all the hype surrounding him, and all the rumour-mongering about where he would sign, you'd expect at least a point-per-game player… Sure, he brings other intangibles, and other skills, but in my books, unless you're Glen Sather, you don't sign someone for $10M per season (as the original offer was built) to produce less than that.I'm not saying he's a bad fit, but I think he was dramatically over-hyped heading to Vancouver.I also don't catch too many Canucks games, thus haven't seen much of him, as he isn't making anyone's highlight reels these days…Never much cared for Sundin in the first place, but realistically he's not a bad player, just likely not as good as people make him out to be…At least, that's my opinion…. Dude has never won ANYTHING in the NHL. Hence I fail to see his contract value as anything but overblown based on reputation.

  7. doctordrake Mar 26 20095:24 pm


    Good points Dan. For any player in Vancouver to live up to the hype they would literally need to travel faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings in a single bound and have a severe allergy to kryptonite. As a counter point I would like to say that as a fan contracts don't mean much to me, it's not my money. All I want is for my team to win, a lot, and they have been doing that. Calgary had to give up a coveted first round pick for Oli Jokinen, and he's never even seen the post season. At least Mats has very respectable numbers in the post season and can actually take his team (usually a terrible one) to the playoffs. If the Sundin experiment fails we don't lose anything, especially our future.

    1. Dan Rakusan Mar 26 20095:34 pm


      Good points Dan. For any player in Vancouver to live up to the hype they would literally need to travel faster than a speeding bullet, leap tall buildings in a single bound and have a severe allergy to kryptonite. As a counter point I would like to say that as a fan contracts don't mean much to me, it's not my money. All I want is for my team to win, a lot, and they have been doing that. Calgary had to give up a coveted first round pick for Oli Jokinen, and he's never even seen the post season. At least Mats has very respectable numbers in the post season and can actually take his team (usually a terrible one) to the playoffs. If the Sundin experiment fails we don't lose anything, especially our future.

      Definitely a fair assessment, other than I believe the Flames NEEDED Jokinen to have any chance in the playoffs… A first rounder plus, oh well…As for the contract value, I just get a bit pissed off to see Sundin getting a pro-rated $10M or whatever, because it drives up prices on other players, and I hardly think Sundin is worth the highest price in the entire NHL… Now guys like Ryan Kesler will be asking for $5M per season, because they outperform Mats, and realistically, I can't blame their agents for using the comparison.Of course, I'm a Rangers fan, so I know a LOT about stupid contracts…lol… We're screwed for years to come, even though we'll have about $10M to spend in FA this summer. That doesn't include re-signing Nik Zherdev either, much less any RFA players we might have.Anyway, I'm glad Mats didn't end up a Ranger, and if you guys are happy with what he's done to this point, I'm happy for you! Look at that! A hockey conversation where everyone leaves happy! W00T!

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