The State of California:Two out of Three Ain’t Bad

After winning in Colorado 5-2 after being down 2-0, the Canucks headed to sunny California. A state that hasn’t been kind to Vancouver over the last three years. Last year, only one victory was recorded and it was in San Jose. The winning goaltender was Roberto Luongo. The only other victory over an NHL California-based team was at home was versus the LA Kings and Eddie Lack backstopped that one on April 5.

First stop San Jose

The Canucks carried some good momentum coming into San Jose with a come from behind win against the Avalanche in Denver. However, it did not translate into a good start or even a good game for the Vancouver Canucks in the Shark Tank.  Ryan Miller stopped 34 out of 36 SOG. The Canucks couldn’t get much offense going throughout the whole game. Only recording 19 SOG for the game, it’s a wonder how they came up with the victory. Much credit goes to Ryan Miller but Vrbata on the 2 on 1 with Daniel, opened up Canucks scoring with this glorious goal in the dying seconds of the 1st period.

The Canucks didn’t even skate well enough to draw many penalties from the Sharks this game. In fact, they had one power play but they made it count. Edler with a tally from the point.

With less than three minutes to go in the game, Nick Bonino scores the winner from a pass after a takeaway made by Alex Burrows. It was a beauty.

Ryan Miller steals one for his team in San Jose and the Canucks are off to Los Angeles.

Still Can’t Beat LA

 The Canucks are still trying to figure out one side of the same colour of the Rubik’s Cube when it comes to finding out how to win over the LA Kings. Ryan Miller looked human and Eddie Lack started the third period. Higgins managed to keep the Canucks not being shut out streak alive just over halfway through the third. Perhaps, Desjardins will look at finding a way to figure out this puzzle and the next time the Canucks face the LA Kings, the results will improve.

Another 19 SOG effort from the Canucks was not even close to being enough to compete with the LA Kings, who decided to show up and play versus Vancouver after dropping a game to the New York Islanders. LA brings their A-game when they want and they seem to really want when they face the Canucks. They seem to want to turn the switch on when it’s playoff time as well and have it resulting in two Stanley Cups in the last three years.  LA has mastered “The Switch”, maybe the Canucks should ask them how exactly they can do that.

Redemption in Anaheim

With much talk about the Ryan Kesler trade in this match up, the Canucks were now down in the OC to face the Ducks. Which team is getting the benefits of the trade early this season? I’ll break that down shortly but more importantly, as a team, they needed to bounce back after an atrocious effort in LA and for most of the game last night, it did. A much better effort for most of the game from the Canucks. They played what many of the experts call a “smart road game”.

With no Vrbata, Dorsett and Kassian, the Canucks had a very hard task ahead of them. Going into Anaheim to face the best team in the NHL with Hansen playing on the top line and the insertion of Nik Jensen and Defazio from Utica and Bo Horvat gets to play his fourth straight game.

Kesler/Bonino Round 1

Both Kesler and Bonino assisted on the regulation goals. But it was the shootout where Bonino prevails and Ryan Kesler’s shots are still hitting the posts. However, isn’t Ryan Kesler an incredible two-way player? I miss that, and that’s the Ryan Kesler that played 11 years in a Canucks uniform. Anaheim is very lucky.

Winner of trade Round 1: Nick Bonino 

Canucks win in the shootout and Eddie Lack finally gets his first win of the season and first win ever over Anaheim last night.

Finally got to see some Lack Dancing. Photo credit: Vancity Buzz

Finally got to see some Lack Dancing. Photo credit: Vancity Buzz

Overall, the Canucks have a lot of work to do when it comes to playing teams in California. They have to find a way to throw more activity at the goalies. Shoot more pucks and pounce on more rebounds. Keeping it simple and effective, much like their Saturday night opponents, the LA Kings. However, I will take the points on this road trip. Six out of eight points starting in Colorado and 2/3’s of the state of California had the Canucks in the win column.

Some of us, however, are not convinced.

Are they contenders? No, and this isn’t 2011 either. Changes have been made and adjustments still needed. However, they aren’t that bottom third of the league as they were last season.  Resilience is a good trait to have. It helps pave the way to move forward. There is a lot to improve but unlike last year, they seem to listen and value their coaching staff and each other a little more and the last two periods in Anaheim, it showed.

A Canucks Fan Stranded in a Hockey-Godless City

While you’re all in Vancouver enjoying the excitement, I am in Toronto getting ready to watch a Raptors/Celtics game.  After that, at 10 PM EST, I will be grabbing some coffee to stay up for our beloved Canucks. So as Brian has shared his random thoughts, so shall I, from Hogtown.

Weber and Bitz and Bitz and Hits

Shea Weber must have a meeting with Vince McMahon in the next few weeks. He is putting together an audition reel, starting with Zetteberg’s head. How does the pro-wrestling move of  “The Bulldog” have any part in the NHL? What’s disturbing about the whole thing is, why wasn’t there more disciplinary action from the NHL on this incident? Instead Weber pays $2500, a fee he probably pays to get custom suits made, and is still playing in this series. On the other hand, I have no problem with Bitz’s suspension. In fact, after seeing the hit again, a few times, I’m cool with it. However, if Bitz garnered two games, Weber should be suspended for at least that. Someone was even inspired enough to make a Youtube video with legendary wrestling announcer, Jim Ross, giving the audio to that Weber hit.

Kings Gate, and I don’t mean mall

I was pretty upset by this coming from a corporate organization’s account. You would think an NHL franchise would have some guidelines of what to tweet, as the face of the organization on twitter. I mean, twitter! Really? That person that is running that account considers his or herself a ‘social media specialist’? But it may have sparked some interest in the Kings down in LA, since you know, there will probably be more Canucks fans down that way for Games 3 and 4.

Blame Luongo!

Yes, yes even though the Canucks crapped the bed in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs, there are those still out there blaming Luongo. Why? Because it’s no longer even a surprise, in fact, I think for many of the ‘fans’ out there, it’s just fashionable to blame him. Someone was calling for his head on goal #2. Really? The Canucks were parading back to the penalty box, I thought there were some good treats on the bench for the boys to munch on.

Fact or fiction? Does everyone in Canada want the Canucks to lose?

Oddly enough, I have yet to hear too many bad things about the Canucks here in Toronto. In fact, about 3/4 of the people I have ran into and chatted hockey were hoping they were going to be the ones to bring the cup back to Canada. The other 1/4 that I asked didn’t really care, it’s baseball season now...*wink* Perhaps I should publicize an apology in the paper to Toronto fans for having such a good team on the west coast, but someone has already beat me to that.

Boston teams
Random tidbit here, but as some know, I am a big ‘hater’ of Boston based teams. As a Yankees fan, I despise the Red Sox. As a Denver Broncos fan, I hate Tom Brady and his bunch known as the New England Patriots, and the Bruins? Yeah, no need for commentary on that one. Although, tonight, I will be cheering on the Celtics. I have adopted them as my NBA team until the Sonics are back into Seattle. So I will be cheering on the boys in green and wearing my Canucks jersey.

Game Two

I’m hoping for a kick ass effort from the Canucks tonight. I’m hoping they realize they can’t coast in the first round or any round for that matter in the Stanley Cup playoffs. LA has been playing playoff hockey all March vying for the last few available playoff spots. They are already warmed up and seasoned. I don’t want the Canucks hoping they run out of gas. So the Canucks need to turn off cruise control and compete like they are President’s Trophy winners.

From the Centre of the Universe,

Justine Galo

Twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

 

Jason Kurylo: Against The Tide

A lot of folks in Vancouver are blowing the conspiracy horn this morning, after the NHL made a very questionable call in denying Daniel Sedin a third-period goal last night. The truth is, the Canucks haven’t done themselves any favours, and frankly didn’t deserve to win game three. The Kings were the better team for 50 minutes last night. The Canucks, on the other hand, put in five minutes in the first period, and a modest fight in parts of the third. In this series, in fact, the Nucks haven’t put together a complete game once in three tries. Their PK and PP have been disastrous – LA is seven for twelve on the man advantage, for goodness’ sake. Without special teams going at even half speed, we lose this series faster than Andrew Alberts can book the tee times from the penalty box.

Still, if Boston fans can still complain about Don Cherry putting six Bruins on the ice so Lafleur can blast a power play shot past Gerry Cheevers…

Just this year: Malkin concusses Mitchell. Head shot into the boards. No penalty, no suspension. Mitchell will be lucky if he’s ready for next season.

Burrows has a major public relations scandal erupt when he says a referee planned to call a penalty, tells him so, and then proceeds to make an awful third period call on him. The Canucks lose to Calgary, with whom they are fighting for the division lead at the time.

Kesler hits Derek Morris AFTER MORRIS SAW HIM COMING AND PUT HIMSELF IN A VULNERABLE POSITION. (Morris admits so after the game.) Five minute major and a game misconduct.

Henrik – league’s leading scorer, mind you – gets skewered by Kopitar’s stick in game one. The blade is stuck in his helmet as evidence. No call.

Bernier has his stick blatantly held for a good three or four seconds during an offensive chance in game three. No call. (Not that it would have mattered – the PP wouldn’t have scored anyway.)

An injured Canuck labours to the bench, and a legal line change results in 7 players for a millisecond WITHIN FIVE FEET OF THE BENCH. No oncoming player touches the puck or impedes the play – which is the rule. Canucks called for too many men. LA wins game two on their outrageously good power play.

Daniel’s skate blade redirects the puck into the goal in game three, and is called a good goal by the on-ice refs. LA doesn’t even complain about the play. OFF-ICE OFFICIALS IN TORONTO, without precedent, alter the interpretation of the rulebook to CONCLUSIVELY decide the puck was put in illegally, and OVERRULE the referees. Mike Murphy – an ex-King player and ex-Canuck assistant coach – explains his call on Hockey Night in Canada, and only Kelly Hrudey finds any logic in the explanation. Even Ron McLean, whom many Canucks fans think is anti-Vancouver, thinks the league botches this call. Abominable.

All of these things in a short period of time will of course bring back all other memories of officials and/or league execs screwing the franchise. There are those (myself included) who still wince when they think of the Flames’ Joel Otto kicking in a series-winning goal, in the crease, in 1989. The Flames went on to win the Cup that year.

Vancouver has never got the calls. Not once do I remember the Canucks being handed a major game or a series by a call that could have gone either way. Whether it’s minor things – the other guys get away with too many men several times, but we get called for it in OT – or huge screwups like Daniel’s no goal last night, Vancouver always seems to end up on the wrong side of the call.

When will Otto, Mitchell, Kesler, Daniel and Burrows pool their karma to get the Canucks a few game-winning breaks? Let’s hope games three and four. But as Dan Boyle and the rest of the San Jose Sharks can tell you, sometimes karma doesn’t play fair. The Sharks have been frontrunners for nearly a decade, and they’ve not made even the Conference Finals, let alone skated for the Cup. The Canucks can’t wait for karma to come home. They just have to play through it.

It’s time for the Orca to swim against the tide. Hit. Shoot. Save. Score. Stay out of the box. And don’t rely on the refs to play fair. It’s not a conspiracy, per se, but the only consistency we’ve seen over the years is consistently poor calls against us.

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