playoffs

Missed Connections – Canucks Talking About Playoffs

Hockey team 4 playoffs 2017 (Vancouver)

We talked a lot about you wanting to be in the playoffs and you said even though you were working through some stuff that you would be there in the spring. It’s pretty close to the spring now and I haven’t heard or really seen you close to that for some time. You had a blue jersey on the last time I saw you and starting going in the other direction late in the evening.

Your rebuild had me interested in a future between us and I really liked your back end a lot! To be honest, I don’t think you were moving forward too quickly and I like that.

A lot of my friends think I’m crazy to believe we’ll see each other again anytime soon but I’m hopefully that you’ll get your act together and come looking again. What better time to look to the future than now?

You mentioned you wanted lots of kids around and I totally agree, I’m a Brady Bunch kinda guy and I don’t think 8 is enough.. haha

I saw you on TV the other day and I think there is a good chance things will work out between us. I’ve been waiting a long time and I’m ready for commitment. I live in Kelowna but I think we can make it work.

Put the year you think you’ll be competitive in the league again so I know it’s you.

photo – theprovince.com

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Canucks Lack “THAT” Playoff Guy

Watching the Pittsburgh Penguins force a Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, I couldn’t help but notice yet another player that seems to always hang around the late stages of the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Brian Boyle. Now he hasn’t been to a ton of Final appearances but he’s a guy you want when things go the distance. The LA Kings know exactly what they had with Justin Williams which is why when he was free, the Capitals were more than happy to add that Game 7 magic.

The Canucks aren’t in a position to be going the distance anytime soon, as far as we can tell, but they do lack the can’t miss talent that knows what it takes to make it through a long season and a long playoff push. If they actually let Dan Hamhuis walk this offseason, you really wonder what exactly it is that they are trying to accomplish.

In 2011, yes I’m going there again, they had built up a team that was battle tested, knew what REAL losing felt like and when it came time to adding a few extra playoff performers, they knew recent warriors Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre would be key pieces to their accession up the mountain. Raffi Torres ended up being one of those guys as well and every Canucks fan could feel that they were about to watch it all finally happen.

Well obviously it didn’t, big spoiler I know, and they have struggled to put together the right mix until recently and now that things are coming together, again, quite slowly, they need to add the pieces that will once again make them a chore to beat.

I look at Joel Ward and it drives me crazy that the Canucks never signed him after 2011. He’s gritty, he has a certain Ryan Kesler to him (which let’s not kid ourselves, we need), and he’s proven that he’s a playoff warrior. If the Sharks end up going to the Final, or even further, winning; he is a big reason why.

He’s not Joe Thornton or little Joe Pavelski but he’ll be a guy that will score a big goal in a game when they aren’t shining. Joel Ward is still valuable at 35 and is worth a look if a trade every came up. The Canucks aren’t in a position to go after the Cup right now so unfortunately for them, he won’t be in their plans.

Milan Lucic isn’t THAT guy but he might be able to mold into that guy. Sometimes its the guy you expect and at the same time, least expect to shine that actually does. He’ll come with a big price tag most likely but you can sell him at least as ONE of the answers.

There’s no doubt Steven Stamkos would be THE #1 guy to be THAT guy but I doubt the Canucks are close to landing him. We can dream and I mean, hey we got Luongo, but let’s all be real – that isn’t where this team is headed. Now David Perron, is still out there and ripe for the picking. Vancouver can right their wrong by getting him for dollars instead of trying to trade for his services. I think he’s a THAT guy, but I’m wrong a lot.

Kris Russell is rounding the rumour wheel and I believe many think HE is a THAT guy…he’s not. Let’s not Kris Russell ok?

Going full Chicago Blackhawks may be the answer, it’s kinda like the Marian Hossa model but as a team; Troy Brouwer and Andrew Ladd will both be UFAs and by the time this team is ready to pounce again they might get a small run to the second round and with Cup winners littered on the team, the impressionable guys will take notice.

Every team has a THAT guy when they win the Cup and the Canucks will need to start digging to find theirs. There is a potential Cup run inside this team but a few pieces need to surface for that to become a possibility. The recent success of Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton winning the World Championships with Canada give the Canucks more ammo that even missing the playoffs can produce winners.

Tanev is a THAT guy, Hutton is a THAT guy and so is Bo Horvat. But they are also more than that, they’re stars. Who is the guy Vancouver needs? July 1 will give us a glimpse into the answer.

Again, I’m wrong a lot.

 

photo – canucks.com

Canucks Need To Hit That

By now its quite evident the Canucks aren’t just losing the series, they’re losing the physical game too! We have no idea what injuries are affecting the guys that are playing but there is no urgency to hit the Flames off their pedastal. Michael Ferland, Ferkland, Ferby, Fernie..WHO CARES, has been allowed to run rampant around the rink and has gone unpunished for his consistent charging. With two games left in the series (YEP) the Canucks have to push back.

Calgary has been allowed to hit whatever and however they want and its given them an edge; not a skilled edge but an intensity edge. Can I say edge one more time? Vancouver isn’t a physical team and they have managed to get by on four productive lines all year. The Flames seem to like the rough stuff and that has forced the Canucks to be reactive. The unfortunate thing is that they have been reacting all series and haven’t been the ones setting the pace. The Canucks have registered 103 hits compared to the Flames 131; doesn’t exactly seem correct but thats what the site says. Ferland leads the whole series with 33, surprise surprise.

Every opportunity to make a hit has pretty much been downgraded to a fly by on the Canucks roster and it puts a few questions to mind: Where is the intensity, where is the emotion and what is it going to take to hit someone? It isn’t the Canucks game to thrash their opponents physically, they’re skilled players and they do the talking with their sticks. Brad Richardson does it a bit differently.

After having time to digest the big win to force the series back to Calgary, I noticed that Ferland wasn’t a real factor once the Canucks took the possesion game over. Michael Ferland isn’t that great of a player and if the Canucks don’t allow him to keep getting his charging bull hits in, he’s almost, as Kevin Bieksa says “irrelevant”. Once you let the physical Flames start dictating things, they become the focus.

There were too many times last night where one extra step or a follow through hit could have forced the Flames to start reacting instead of setting the pace. I realize that stepping up to make a personal play could take you out of position and possibly turn the game in Calgary’s favour; but the first two periods had plenty of chances to take a bit of a risk.

Game 6 will be a different animal and the biggest test all season: can the Canucks match the effort they put out against the Kings just over a month ago in LA? Calgary has been a loud, intense building through Games 3 and 4 and with a chance to close out the series against the Canucks, they won’t quit. The biggest test is doing your thing away from home and the Canucks had the 5th best road record in the league this year. But that means nothing if they can’t do it tomorrow night.

If the opportunity presents itself, hit those arrogant jerks. Calgary shouldn’t even be here in the first place.

You’ve come this far Vancouver, two more games should be nothing.

photo credit – sportsnet.ca

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

JARKKO POLO:  Rescindments, Fertlands and Dumb Dumbs

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun! Actually, they’re very much going and kind of in the middle right now. Your Vancouver Canucks were lucky enough to host the Calgary Flames in Round 1. Every Canucks fan got what they asked for; the best matchup for the Canucks to prevail. Ask and ye shall receive.

These things are a recap for the people that may have been on vacation in the U.S and A where NBA and Nascar hilites are the only thing that make headlines. For those in the know, this might not be as fun for you. But fear not, I will save your sad face emojis! The Canucks opened up with the noise but through 3 games, they sure have quieted down.

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

GAME 1 – CANUCKS VS. FLAMES – LOSS 2-1 (Reverse Shades of Game 1 against Boston)

RECAP: The towels were waving, the fans were….cheering? Rogers Arena was buzzing heading into Game 1 and the Canucks were ready to show they were going to own this series. Bo Horvat scored his first ever Stanley Cup Playoff goal off a ricochet and put the Canucks up 1-0 in the 2nd period. The Flames would tie it in the 3rd on a David Jones shot. In what has become standard in these playoffs, the Flames would go ahead with under 40 seconds left in the game off a Kris Russell blue line rope. Flames go ahead in the series 1-0.

FOOTNOTE: Eddie Lack was beyond good and looked like he was ready to silence the critics in his first ever playoff start. We also were introduced to Michael Ferland.

Photo - Calgary Herald

Photo – Calgary Herald

GAME 2 – CANUCKS VS. FLAMES – WIN – 4-1 (TAKE THAT CALGARY!!!)

RECAP: Again Eddie Lack put up quite the game and held a shutout until the bitter end of the game, before giving up one. The Canucks absolutely owned the Flames in pretty much every category. Ronalds Kenins scored, so did Daniel Sedin. Radim Vrbata emptied a net with his first and good ol’ Higgins got one of the hockey goals too. Derek Dorsett ended the night with Deryk Engelland and some fisticuffs which were oh so dandy! Brad Richardson mamed Matt Stajan in their tilt and again, we saw the antics of Michael Ferland. Canucks were in the driver’s seat all game, they never looked back.

FOOTNOTE: Engelland was sure energetic this game. He got 42 minutes in penalties and THREE game misconducts however one was rescinded. Lucky duck!

GAME 3 – CANUCKS @ FLAMES – LOSS – 4-2 (The shoe finally dropped)

RECAP: If you would have told me the Flames would score the first goal in this game, I wouldn’t would totally have believed you. Corning the Canucks at every turn, there was nowhere to hide. Shawn Matthias would tie it but it really didn’t matter. Michael Ferland hit everything that moved and had the Canucks anticipating his hits all night which…is not good. The electric 18 year old Sam Bennett took a beating all night as well and kept ticking until he scored in the 3rd. 18 years old folks, he’s so resilient.

FOOTNOTE: Alex Burrows took his turn getting ejected for his hit on Johnny Hockey and the fight that followed. It too was rescinded. See a trend here?

Photo - Steve Belski USA TODAY Sports

Photo – Steve Belski USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver has been playing catchup in 2 of the 3 games and it doesn’t bode well for them if they keep it up. We’ve seen how they spot teams leads in the regular season and that doesn’t even seem to be the problem, they just aren’t matching Calgary’s intensity level! The talent is there but the goals aren’t.

Having Kevin Bieksa and Luca Sbisa baking turnovers is really hurting the bottom line as well. Coach Willie should mimic his use of that pairing like he uses the Sedins, not a lot. I still believe in these Canucks but they have to show life or so help me, the Flames will beat them quickly.

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

 

This series is not over yet and the Canucks just need to tap into that “skill” thing. Calgary has upped the ante and Flames Nation will be out in full force. Still saying

Canucks in 6

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Canucks Rapping To Success

Losing to the Flames is the worst! The degradation equivalent of losing to them is watching your dog take a dump and then doing the walk of shame back home with a blue bag in your hand. Everyone knows whats up, they know the feeling and nothing is worse, that is our lowest common denominator. The Canucks need the Flames to pick up after THEIR crap, THEY should feel that shame.

Short stories aside, Vancouver’s orca warriors need to channel their inner hip hoppniss and thug out against these Flames. Calgary is all about the age old blue collar, hard working lunch bucket crew. You know what? Thats garbage. They have some young studs that can skate, should we really care? NO. We have the Jay Z / Kanye equivalent in Henrik and Daniel Sedin. These two collab on the tracks that move numbers, Art Ross numbers.

Monahan and Gaudreau don’t have the greatest hits the Twins do, they haven’t had 99 problems, they haven’t  achieved S**ins in Paris status, they’re just a couple of kids earning their stripes. Hank and Danny know what its like to rub shoulders in the hip hop circle with G’s like Drizzy Drake and he recognizes their thug level: dangerously high. These magicians didn’t exactly start from the bottom…but they’re here. Time to channel that 604.

First name: Trevor, Last name: Linden, like a Stanley Cup parade, it ain’t nothin he’s been in. He wants it all this year, so his crew has to harness that drive. Doresett, Sbisa and Tanev get to do it with a deal, while Matthias and Weber will do it without one this post season. This team started out local, and thanks to all the haters they know Air Canada pilots on a first name basis.

The Regulators that have done it for years: Bieksa, Burrows and Hansen need to bring their 2011 to the table and lead by example as a group. No one man should have all that power, its all about rolling four and getting those points from the Bo’s and the Burr’s, the Higgy’s and the Richy’s. The clock’s tickin without more goals they’ll just count the hours.

Willie has a really good group of guys, a real clique, clique, clique and all those Babychs they want the, they want the………

CUP!

CLICK CLACK Nucks! Time to suit up, time to play like what those cheques say, time to play like what your neck say. You earned the bills, time to pay up with the thrills. You’re down one game so far but you’re about fourfiveseconds from wildin and there’s no more days til Friday, ITS GAME DAY! 

  

I’m not sure if this Canucks team is too strung out on compliments, getting to the playoffs maybe they overdosed on confidence, maybe they don’t care and stopped fearing the consequences. Well Vancouver, you fell off, you needed that, you needed to know. You can beat this Flames team no problem, they aren’t YOU. They don’t have what you do, you better do what you’re supposed to do, that Sedin-Sedin to Vrbata is overdue but thats just something you know already, you know…..you know.

Its STANLEY OVER EVERYTHING, STANLEY ON YOUR MIND! As Canuck fans we hear this, it happens all the time.

A season ago, this team looked a lot different. Now, there’s way too many people here right now that we didn’t have last year, who are these guys? I swear it feels like the last few nights we’ve had every excuse that’s bad, but this series, you beat these shames til its over, til its over, til its far from over.

Eddie, you got the net now. You didn’t get it by slacking off, you got there on hard work. When Miller came you basically needed to be Cinderella Man. This game can ill afford to lose you, so here’s a clue, you came to the game with a Johnny on your blocker lost your balance too! The series is all up in your psyche too, be that Cinderella Man Eddie, overcome, shut that door; get your team to stand behind you like WOO! Get in that zone, forget the past Eddie Lack, you’re the man right now.

So Canucks, this may not mean nothing at all, understand nothing was won for me…Wednesday. We want this cup forever. Those alumni want it too so Dave Babych don’t kill my vibe! Remember, we didn’t start the fire; it was always burning since the world’s been turning.

Canucks in 6, first win in Game 2 wouldn’t hurt.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo credit – canucks.nhl.com

Playoffs Loom Large; Eddie Lack is NOT Roberto Luongo

As Ryan Miller went down after Jannik Hansen collided into him, there was a silent fist pump by many that felt Eddie Lack was ready to take the lead in net. I still believe he is the more consistent choice to go with down the stretch and into the playoffs, but as good as Lack has been he hasn’t had a break. He’s the #1 right now but I’m not sure he is built to be literally an every game player; he’s not Roberto Luongo.

I should probably clarify and maybe I’m contradicting myself here so I’ll just get it out; Eddie Lack is a solid starting goaltender and his ability to stand in for Ryan Miller since the injury has been hero like. He has basically played every game since, aside from Jacob Markstrom’s coffee cup appearances. He is on a collision course to burn out though. Here’s where I compare him to Luongo.

Roberto played 18 of the final 26 games of the regular season in 2010/11 and he also had a stellar partner in Cory Schneider. Luongo won 11 of those 18 games and even though he had a heavy work load, he was fresh when he needed to be and had a reliable replacement. We all know how that spring went and it’s not a surprise why Vancouver’s goaltending was as amazing as it was even against Boston.

Eddie doesn’t have the same team in front of him that Roberto had and he also doesn’t have a goalie equally as talented as Cory Schneider, at least not yet. We’ve seen goalies burn out from playing too many consecutive games (Kiprusoff, Luongo in 07) and its a recipe for disaster. 

Lack has played 17 of the last 18 games since Miller went down, winning 10. He was yanked twice and you can tell he has been fatigued. His resiliant play has redeemed his shaky early starts though. A few starts on games against the bum teams (Sabres, Oilers, Arizona, Etc.) may have made things a bit easier.

The Canucks are on the brink of a berth in this year’s post season and Lack will no doubt be the man they turn to. Even when Ryan Miller is 100% healthy he won’t be even close to playoff ready and aside from a series swing where a goalie change is needed, he won’t see the ice as a participant. Will Lack be able to stay fresh? Possibly.

With 5 games left, Eddie will probably play 4 of them, potentially less if they clinch early or clinch and have a guaranteed opponent. That being said, it won’t get any easier after that. Games played every second night will be gruesome dogfights and he will be relied upon more than ever and giving up the usual 2-0 deficit won’t fly.

Luongo had his faults as well and wasn’t perfect the entire playoffs, he had some off nights. But what Luongo had learned in previous years was how to win and lose on the big stage. It took some time but he came into his own and was almost unbeatable when it mattered. Again, he had rest and was fresh almost every night.

Willie D has been very loyal to Lack and what he has done for the Canucks, but could it be a big mistake if they crash and burn in the first round? Tough to say but one thing is for sure; without Lack, that wouldn’t even be an option.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo credit – vansunsportsblogs.com