Nobody Likes Us, Who Cares: Ways to Survive the Post-Season

Over the last few years, the Canucks have become one of those team that other fans just love to hate. It used to bother me, but I’ve gotten used to it, and actually relish it. It’s not different coming into the 2015 NHL playoffs. All the media and fan experts have chosen the Calgary Flames to win this series. Let’s never mind the fact the Canucks have finished ahead of the Flames in the regular season standings. Let’s overlook the fact the Canucks haven’t played with a healthy top 6 blue-line for about a 1/3 of the season and managed to find ways to win. I could go on, but it’s a list of redundancy. Rodney Dangerfield, the Canucks are, and like in the past, we will use it to our advantage. Remember, #EmbraceTheHate ? Why not do it again.

Here are some ways to survive the playoffs as a Canucks fan:

  1. Believe: Whether the Canucks are the underdog, the favourite, the dark horse- part of your job as a fan is to believe. Don’t shake your belief even if they are getting their ass kicked in a game 5-1. That’s why they call it a series. You have to win four games to be declared a winner.
  2. Cup-less Argument: Despite not winning a Stanley Cup, the Vancouver Canucks are the Canadian team closest to winning one in the last 10 years. Sure the Oilers made the ’06 finals, but in all sincerity, they weren’t winning that Cup. Unfortunately for us Canucks fans, neither did the Canucks in 2011. However, they are the most recent, and therefore the most relevant. Just remind the Flames fans, sure they have one Cup victory but it’s not like any of those players from the 1989 champions will be lacing up the skates and bringing them to victory. New teams, new outlooks, different expectations. And one more thing, good on us for sticking to a team that has yet to win a cup.We’re not jumping on bandwagons of cup winners because that’s the cool thing to do. Loyalty is a good thing.
  3. Riot Jokes: Anyone who brings up the riots of 2011, usually don’t have much wit to match and will recycle an old joke until they are blue in the face. Whether you’re on twitter, Facebook or just talking amongst friends, the riots jokes are lame. If that’s the case, almost every college campus during the football Bowl games, Montreal etc have to be included in those jokes. But really? They are over, the perpetrators are being dealt with or have been sentenced. The true colours of Vancouverites came out the next morning when volunteers cleaned up the city, boarded up the windows and made the city whole again in the aftermath.
  4. Sedin “Sisters”: If I were Daniel and Henrik, I’d just score a ton of goals to shut them up. However, if you’re immature enough to demean the more feminine gender, I don’t know if I really want you in my circle. “They skate like girls.”I’m sure they still skate faster than you. The grotesque innuendos of incest; soft feminine qualities are again arguments for the dim-witted. Why bother getting in arguments with such childish and tactless ‘banter’.  Just say words like “Art Ross” “Hart” “Ted Lindsay” and they will understand. Those are awards Daniel and Henrik have won. But for the most part, Sedinery speaks for itself.
  5. Love Thy City: When the arguments of the cities involved comes up and you’re getting Calgary monkey dung thrown your way (literally- they have a zoo with monkeys, and figuratively), just flash a picture of Vancouver and remind them that the brown perma-frost like substance they call grass, is about as good as it gets in their parts.
    Any angle of Vancouver is better than any angle of Calgary and it's year-round look of brown permafrost they call 'grass'.

    Any angle of Vancouver is better than any angle of Calgary and it’s year-round look of brown permafrost they call ‘grass’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It’s never easy being a Canucks fan, and it’s even harder during the playoffs when the rest of Canada could cheer you on, they choose not to. That’s ok. As we have hash-tagged over the last few years… #EmbraceTheHate because that’s all we can do. Embrace it and feed off it. That’s how to survive the post-season as a Canucks fans.

Take it a step further and like Radim Vrbata:

k6jpu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

@Aviewfromabroad

Canucks vs Flames: A Rivalry Renewed

Playoffs build rivalries, and the one rivalry that has always been one of my favourites were the Vancouver Canucks vs. the Calgary Flames. Right now, things are heating up between Flames and Canucks fans and some of it isn’t pretty. The Canucks missed the playoffs last year, and many called it an off year, but at the beginning of the season, many sports experts in the media didn’t see the Canucks coming back to the dance. In fact, although they are the higher seed in this match-up, there are many calling them the underdogs. Call the Canucks what you want, but I think I will be calling them winners at end of round one.

Sure they have the explosive speed of John Gaudreau and youthful enthusiasm of Sean Monahan with is crazy bad anime superstar hair.

Sean "Yu-Gi-Oh" Monahan.

Sean “Yu-Gi-Oh” Monahan.

 

I understand the Flames were beating teams they weren’t supposed to be beating, but so did the Canucks. Yet, no one ever gives these guys any credit. What happened to their victories more than moral over the LA Kings? The battle they have given the Ducks and all except for one game, owning the San Jose Sharks? The big three of the Pacific Division, or so it was deemed at the beginning of the season. It’s safe to even say, the Canucks were the ones that put the dagger in the hopes of playoffs for both the Sharks and Kings. Games both teams needed to win going through Rogers Arena, but didn’t.

When the Kings met the Flames in their game of eventual playoff demise, the Vancouver Canucks already were half way done ripping out their hearts in their last regular season meeting a few days prior. So much so, the Kings barely squeaked by Edmonton. Before anyone gives the Flames all the edge of winning this series, don’t forget who put the first nail in the coffin, all the Flames had to do was close it.

It will be a hard series, most 1st round series usually are, but I am still picking the Canucks to win in 6. Here’s why:

  • Experience:  Obviously the older team might be slower of foot, but experience does count for something. Canucks have been in the playoffs 6 of the last 7 years. Last year’s miss was the definition of a team in turmoil. The turmoil has been cleared and the team has been re-set.  Bieksa, Edler, Daniel, Henrik, Hamhuis Hansen, Burrows and Higgins are all from the 2011 Cup run. Richardson has a Stanley Cup and played an integral part of the 1st LA Kings win. Dorsett was in the Cup final last year with the NY Rangers. Although, I don’t believe Miller will be starting the playoffs, he also holds about 50 games or so of playoff experience including the Gold Medal game in the 2010 Olympics.
  • Goaltending: As good as a Ramo and Hiller have been for the Flames, Lack and Miller are quite the duo as well. With Eddie Lack really getting his game down since February and carrying the burden of the starter since Miller’s injury, it seems that Lack has been playing playoff hockey the whole month of March has been not only the media and fan darling, but many other experts have credited Lack as an integral reason the Canucks are winning.
    Eddie Lack welcoming back Ryan Miller after injury and congratulating him on a win in OT over the Oilers.

    Eddie Lack welcoming back Ryan Miller after injury and congratulating him on a win in OT over the Oilers.

  • Four Lines:  As I stated in the “O Canada…” blog, the Canucks have been rolling four lines all year, and have been successful passing around the offense. That could play a big part and which is why Ken Hitchcock does not like his Blues matching with the Canucks. There are truly four lines that can play.

However, here’s what could spell disaster for the Canucks if they don’t find ways to avoid them:

  • Giving up 1st Goal: The Canucks have been notorious this year giving up the first goal of the hockey game. Although as their record indicates their comebacks from their deficits, it’s not a habit you want to keep in the post-season.
  • Face-offs: Time to start winning these like they know how. Henrik has been notoriously bad with this season. Winning face-offs helps dictate the game and the Canucks will be finding themselves countering more often than dictating if they don’t get this part of their game down.
  • Odd Man Rush: Canucks cannot afford to give up odd-man rushes to a team like the Flames. A team with scorers. Eddie and Miller may be good, but they can’t beat them all.

I’ve put on my “hate hat” for the Calgary Flames. Yes, I have to hate the Flames, they are now the enemy.  By that I mean, I can still appreciate what they bring to the table, but I am still sticking to my guns (and my bias) in choosing the Canucks in 6. I think they believe in themselves, so I have belief in them too.

Drop the puck, I’m ready to wave my playoff towel!

GO CANUCKS GO!

@Aviewfromabroad

 

O Canada! Canadiens, Canucks, Flames, Jets and Senators Invited to the Dance!

When the NHL playoffs started last year, six of the seven Canadian-based NHL teams were on the outside looking in, Montreal was the only one left to with an invitation to the dance. This is what the rest of the Canadian teams looked like:

Every Canadian team on the outside looking in for last season's playoff. This season, Montreal gets some company. Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg are in!

Every Canadian team on the outside looking in for last season’s playoff. This season, Montreal gets some company. Vancouver, Calgary and Winnipeg are in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three of the Western Canadian teams are looking primed for playoffs and have all helped each other one way or another by doing their part to eliminate the LA Kings. I am happy for all the Canadian teams that made the post-season. It’s great to see “North of the 49th” teams compete. And it took the last game but Ottawa joins the rest in the post-season.

I’m not here to make predictions. I am not here to troll teams, (especially my Canucks 1st round opponent the Flames), and I am not here systematically breakdown the teams line by line goalies, defensive pairings 1, 2, 3. I am here for some congratulations to each team and some highlights for each of these Canadian clubs.

montrealcanadiensPuck

 I don’t think there was much surprise with the Habs. They have been improving  vastly  over the last five years. They have a lot of great things happening for them and it’s all starting to come together.

  • Carey Price: Breaking the club record for most wins in a season, Price keeps showing why he is one of the best, if not the best goalie in the NHL. Let’s note the regular season wins record beat guys like Patrick Roy and  former Hart trophy winner, Jose Theodore.
  • Brendan Gallagher: You have to cheer on former WHL Vancouver Giants alumni being an integral part of Montreal’s success. He’s a guy that doesn’t have size, but a whole lot of heart and determination.
  • Michel Therrien: Definitely not everyone’s cup of tea, but he has made this line-up work, one way or another. He has the team believing in each other, and really that’s all that matters.
  • PK Subban: When your No.1 defenceman is second in points on a club, it’s a good thing. Just ask the Bruins and Raymond Bourque about it.

Calpuck

 

Who are these guys? I thought this team was on a ‘rebuild’? They were about 3-5 years away from playoff anything! However, they are in the dance and 3rd place (so far) in the Pacific division to boot! You have to give the Flames credit, everyone is stunned, but the more the season went along, the Flames were not only making their fan base believe, but the NHL also.

  • Johnny Gaudreau: AKA “Johnny Hockey” This NCAA Hobey Baker winner stunned everyone with his speed and skill. He is so fun to watch and despite being diminutive for the NHL, he’s making a big impact for Calgary.
  • Mark Giordano: The Flames captain was well on his way to probably winning the Norris trophy for top defenceman in the NHL. Unfortunately for him, his injury took him out for the remainder of the season. An enormous reason for Calgary’s success this season. Before his injury he had 48 points, currently 5th on the team.
  • Jiri Hudler: The Czech player is tops of NHL players 31 years of age or older with 76 points. He is followed by Daniel Sedin, of our Canucks and producing time points for dramatic wins.
  • Bob Hartley: Finding something that works for this young team through his coaching methods. Mixing in the right amount of veterans to prospects is not always an easy task, but he’s doing it and at Game 81, still amazing some fans in the NHL.

WPGJets

The city of Winnipeg have not seen NHL Playoff hockey since 1996. Although the franchise is different, the logo is different, the Jets will always be “The Jets” in Winnipeg. Get ready for some “White Out” at the MTS Centre, everyone. For those that didn’t get to see it during the ’90s, you’re in for a treat.

  • Paul Maurice: Perfect man to coach this team. You needed someone who is still young enough to relate to some of these guys, but has a vast experience coaching in the NHL. Maurice is only 48 years old and nearly 20 years of coaching experience in the bigs. However, although a good interview, he’s not quite Claude Noel in terms of his frustration with the press.
  • Ondrej Pavalec: He doesn’t always get the respect he deserves but Pavalec has been lights out for the Jets, especially with three shutouts in the row. Yes, I realised he lost his last game in a shootout, but he was credited with a shutout.
  • Big Bad Jets: The ginormous Winnipeg Jets are hard-hitting. On top of their size and physical game, the Jets are incredibly fast as well. Which ever team gets the Jets in the 1st round, I can guarantee one thing, that team will be battered and bruised, win or lose.

SENSPuckLate to the party but the Ottawa Senators clinch a playoff spot with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in the very last game on the very last day of their NHL season. They are 5th and final Canadian team to make the playoffs. What a run they have had in the latter part of season.

  • Hamburglar: Who the hell is Andrew Hammond? Nicknamed “The Hamburglar” he has been spectacular! Hammond has been given an opportunity and running with it. In his 24 NHL games, Hammond has gone 20-1-2 and a sporting a .947%. A hot goalie going into the playoffs is such a good asset to have.
  • Hot Stone Therapy: Rookie scorer, Mark Stone tied with Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames for the rookie scoring lead has been on fire as of late. He has turned on his scoring touch to help propel his team into a playoff spot.
  • Fashionably Late: Since February 17th, the Senators have accumulated 45 points (including today’s game vs. the Flyers). That is tops of the NHL since said date. They were a team on a mission and it’s been accomplished. Welcome to the dance, Ottawa.

 VanNucksPuck

Last but not least, our Vancouver Canucks. The soul-sucking wet towel of last season has been set aside for now, by Canucks fans. Albeit, not completely, but mostly…Canucks Nation hasn’t thought about it much. Despite giving up almost every single first game goal in the regular season, the Canucks are 2nd in the Pacific Division and will set off to face the Flames in the first round, either home or away.  Here’s all I can say about the other ‘surprise’ of the Western Conference. Like Calgary, not many expected the Canucks to make the playoffs. Some felt they would be close but not in. However, they clinched that spot & and now need only 1 point to win home ice advantage in the 1st round vs. The Calgary Flames.

  • Goaltending: Whether your #TeamLack or #TeamMiller, you’re winning. Both their contributions have been integral to the Canucks’ success this past season. Lack has come on strong since Miller’s unfortunate injury on Long Island. Miller will get the last regular season start but I’m guessing, even Miller would concede the start of the playoffs to Lack. Eddie has been very good keep this team in the hunt. If Lack falters, you can revert back to the guy you signed to the big deal in the off season to backstop this team. Oh the burden of two capable goalies.
  • Sedinery: The resurgence of Henrik and Daniel this season has been a delight to see. The management of their minutes by the coaching staff has been excellent this year. As of late, the power play has come to life and that will serve them well going into the post-season. Daniel is sitting 9th in the NHL in scoring with 74 points after 81 games. Henrik is sitting at 16th with 71 points but is a +12. Only Jiri Hudler of the Calgary Flames, is in the Top 20 with Henrik and Daniel that are 31 years and older.
  • Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’: The Vancouver Canucks are finally a four line team. In fact, I don’t ever recall them being one in recent memory. Every line is contributing on the score-sheet. There are 11 forwards who are double digits in goals. Now if they can all only count to five on line changes.
  • Radim Vrbata: Talk about the acquisition of the year for Jim Benning and Trevor Linden. Vrbata has found a home in Vancouver and scoring 31 goals in 81 games, no matter who was centering him. He’s found some chemistry with Nick Bonino and has that line going as well. He’s been such a great addition on the ice and @TheStantion’s GIF game.

It’s great to see a turnaround and presence of these five teams making the playoffs. My dream would be an Ottawa/Vancouver final. 1915 was when these teams first vied for the Stanley Cup and it would be great for the same outcome. Dare to dream. I’m just happy for all the teams and their fans who have made it.  Are you ready Canada it’s going to be a crazy first month of the NHL post-season!

Sorry Oilers and Leafs, maybe next year? *wink*

@Aviewfromabroad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poll: Which Team Chasing the Canucks Scares You Most in the 1st Round?

With the final playoff push happening here in the Western Conference, the Canucks are sitting pretty 2nd in the Pacific Division. The four teams battling out for the last few playoffs spots could be potential opponents for the Vancouver Canucks. Each team having attributes to give Vancouver difficulties in the first round (if they matched up) but which team do you think would give the Canucks the hardest time, win or lose in the first round.

  • Minnesota Wild– The Wild are a hard team to pinpoint where they are ‘scary’. With the play of Devon Dubnyk  since being acquired by the Wild, they have been a very good team and a hard one to beat. They already have 37 ROWs, the Canucks have 38 and are only a point behind the Canucks. Luckily they are in the Central Division, but with the format of playoffs, they would be a formidable first round opponent. 
  • Calgary Flames– Flames have been surprising everyone this season. With a year the team was in a supposed ‘rebuild’, they are in a playoff position. They are best 3rd period scoring team in the NHL and have 36 wins (ROWs) on the season. Their biggest issue is the loss of their Captain, Mark Giordano for the remainder of the season with his torn bicep. However, the Flames are still finding ways to win. They are a team the Canucks do not want to stop pressuring in the offensive zone.
  •  Winnipeg Jets– The Jets are a big, fast and hard-hitting team. They are finding ways to win and managing their losses very well. Their biggest issue is actually who will be their starting goaltender if they make the playoffs. Paul Maurice has the team believing in themselves and it looks like Swaggerville could make an appearance in the NHL playoffs for the first times in decades.
  • Los Angeles Kings– The defending Stanley Cup Champions are the team on the outside looking in but are a threat to take that last playoff spot or even move up higher in the standings. Although they have cruised most of the regular season, the Kings are always considered a contender. Jonathan Quick has been nothing short of brilliant in recent playoff performances and they all seem to find a way to get it done, when it matters most.
Which team chasing the Canucks 'scares' you the most if they were to face them in the playoffs?

 LA is at the top of that list for me, followed by the Minnesota Wild. In reality, the playoffs are a different beast and the Canucks have to ‘flip the switch’ and play ‘balls out’ for 60 minutes plus a game. There are no shootouts and every goal either gets you closer to the next game or closer to golf course.

@Aviewfromabroad

Hank and the boys are gearing up for playoffs, Vancouver are you?

Hank and the boys are gearing up for playoffs, Vancouver are you?

 

 

Back it Up B*tches, Support the Starter

For as long as I could remember, being the starting goaltender after Kirk McLean was not a great job to have with the Vancouver Canucks. I can see why no self-respecting starting free agent goalie ever wanted to come here and play for this team.  All the fans eventually hate them or are extremely disappointed by them, and they are ran out of town.

I remember it even happened with Kirk McLean. When Corey Hirsch came in to replace the injured McLean (knee), many fans were crying for Hirsch to be the new starter. In their eyes, McLean was done. He will never be the same. Sadly, they were right. Kirk was a shadow of his former self, and no longer at the level of a Vezina nominated goaltender. Off Kirk went, and after that, so did competent goaltending for a good stretch of years. 

We could go on and on revisiting all the goalie controversies here in Vancouver over the last 15 years, but there is no point. It all starts with not liking the starter for whatever reason (not good enough, not nice, too aloof…) and loving the backup in the games he plays. His job is to give said starter the break, so some fans want to see at times a more permanent one. As Canucks fans, we had to see it happen twice to the best goaltender this franchise has ever put on its uniform, Roberto Luongo. How about we put an end to it right now.

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

Remember this? Photo Credit: The Vancouver Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 There is no #TeamLack or #TeamMiller in my eyes. It has always been about #TeamCanucks Right now, it’s not even really an issue. Miller still has not recovered from his injury. So, Eddie Lack is our starter, and we should support him. We should especially support him on days he has a not-so-good game. Fatigue starts to play a factor when one plays so many games in a row. It happened to Miller, and it has happened to Lack too. I like Eddie Lack. He’s a pretty cool dude and a good goalie. However, if Miller comes back, he would get my support as much as Eddie does. Why? 28 wins and 6 shutouts says so. Without that body of work from Miller, the Canucks would not be in a playoff spot. Besides, Ryan Miller seems like a nice guy, just a lot quieter than what we’re used to with guys like Eddie Lack and Kevin Bieksa on the team. To me, he hasn’t been given a chance to be accepted as part of this team by a good number of fans.  We all have to also remember, without Eddie’s improved game since taking over the net post- Miller’s injury,  the Canucks would not still be in playoff contention. Both goalies’ efforts have made an impact. That’s not fan fiction, that’s just how it is.

This goalie controversy can be looked at from a different perspective. Both goalies are both capable of winning, so it’s a problem of abundance. It’s a good problem to have. Two goalies capable of taking the team to victories, a problem? I’m sure teams like Dallas, Edmonton, Arizona etc, would love to have one goalie that could be capable, let alone two. Some should be so lucky.

Let's all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

Let’s all relax and take in a Lack Dance.

My point is, the more Canucks fans, and media alike, who buy into and propagate this message, the harder it could become in the future to find that All-Star level goaltender UFA. No one wants to come to a place where he is publicly not wanted by the very fans for he puts the uniform on, night after night. We don’t want another Heritage Classic situation. Frankly, that dressing room has been through enough over the last two years and there is no need to mount this on them too. Let’s cheer them all on, even the ones that ‘suck’ from time to time. Who knows, it might inspire better play from those players. When the team is winning, the less of an issue it all becomes.

What about next season? Well, let’s get through this one first and we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

@Aviewfromabroad