Tuesday, April 26, 2011


So for context, the Canucks just...

Beat their arch nemesis of three years.  Beat the Stanley Cup Champions.  Beat the Money on their Backs.  Beat the Monkey on Luongo's back.  Beat This Series.  And learned a hard lesson.

I just wrote this in an email to a friend:

I want Vancouver v. Buffalo.

1970s expansion Cup.

Ya know... we in Vancouver feel hard done by by the hockey gods.

Buffalo won the draft coin flip (not lettery) that year and got Gilbert Perrault.

Since then we've been to the Cup final twice - once to game seven and a cross bar. Buffalo has been there once and lost it on a bullshit refereeing call in game six. (And in a fair fight they would have lost anyhow.) So really, we are a head of the curve for the class of 1970.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Open Letter to the NHL

A few things to get out of the way before I really start ranting...

I'm not the conspiracy sort. I don't think Gary Bettman has it out for the Canucks or Canadian teams in general.

Also, I'll be happy to be the first to point out that teams can't afford to squander a game (or TWO) just in case the referees determine the results of a game (or two).

I'm not typically one to point at imbalanced refereeing and call foul.  Usually I accept that these things tend to equal out in the long run and that we as observers tend to cherry pick the officiating that supports the view from our side of hockey fandom.

All that in mind, regarding tonight's game between the Canucks and Blackhawks... WHAT THE FUCK!?!

Seriously.  What the fuck was that?

In any game I cry out "What? That should have been a penalty!" a dozen or so times.  I am not even going to bother with any of the stuff that I know was me simply picking my team's side of an 'iffy' 50/50 call.  There's no point - that is the stuff that I figure equals out in the end. 

There were seven separate instances in tonight's game - mostly in the 3rd and OT periods - that were all well beyond my level of tolerance, and two of them each on their own unequivocally make the difference in the game.... but I'll save those for last.

1) I was always of the belief that taking a stick to the face was just about automatically a high-sticking penalty.

...oh right... historically that doesn't count when it's against a Sedin twin.

2) When someone swings their stick downwards at another player's stick and breaks it in two... isn't that slashing?  Or does the Sedin exemption count for that too?

3) I'm guessing that somewhere between when Hodgson put the puck over the glass and when the Blackhawks did the same thing that the rules changed... or perhaps a Sedin was on the ice?

4) If you took tonight's hit on Bieksa and overlaid it with the hit on Seabrook from game three - they are the exact same hit.  I don't think that Torres should have been penalized, but give me a fucking break.  Of these four points this one is by far the most egrigious.  Be consistent at least!

All of the above seem pretty fucking obvious to me.  Each of those should have been a penalty in the Canucks' favour.  Would those power plays have resulted in game-changing goals?  Maybe.  Heck, the Canucks DID score on just shy of one quarter of their power plays in the regular season, so it's an even bet that there's another goal hiding in those bullshit calls.

What about the other three...

5) So, the 'Hawks ice the puck and have exhausted players on the ice and no time-out left.  Looks like a break for the Canucks!  Until some ass-hat decides that it's a perfectly good time for the snow-crew to hit the ice.  I don't know who makes the decisions about these things, but I'm guessing it has more to do with arena operations than NHL officiating.  I'm kinda figuring that the folks who run the United Centre are 'Hawks faithful.  You know, I always thought that when a fan causes a critical delay of game that it was a penalty for the benefiting team.  I admit I don't know quite how this is supposed to work, but the timing of the ice maintenance stinks.  Even the commentators on CBC were caught off-guard by it.  This just doesn't pass the sniff test.

And now the real juice.

6) The Frolik penalty shot.  Bieska didn't even touch him until he had already lost his footing, and even then he hardly touched him.  Penalty shot?  Really?  Let's look at how this one plays out... Frolik punches over his weight-class and scores the tying goal.  Without that goal, the game and series is over at the end of regulation.

7) The early whistle.  You know the one I mean.  The puck slips under Crawford's pads for a fraction of a second - a stick (a Sedin stick I believe) slips in and pokes it out as the whistle blows, the puck is slapped into the net reflexively before the whistle quits reverbing.  The whistle was absurdly fast and the rest of that play would have happened with or without the ref stopping play.  Without the whistle: goal - Canucks.  The 'Hawks don't score a fourth goal until the 16th minute of overtime... long after the game would have been over had it been 4-3 canucks after 60 minutes of play.

The Canucks were the better team through most of this game - and all but about one critical second of overtime.  I accept that there is some randomness, but that is a big part of why we play best of seven, to help filter it out.  But if the referees have to filter out their own biases - or whatever the fuck happened out there tonight - it makes a mockery of the sport.  The Canucks had better win game seven so I can just forget about this.

Friday, April 01, 2011

You Can't Take That Away From Me

The Canucks played thier first game on my first birthday.  They lost.

Canucks fans - the long term, well studied ones - can lay out a long history of might have beens that begin with not quite making the cut for the orginal expansion, and then losing first draft pick two years later (Gilbert Perrault) on a coin flip to the Buffalo Sabres.  The list goes on and on - Cam Neely, Nathan Lafayette and the cross-bar, that whiny punk Pavel Bure (which started well if you recall - and if you look at the eventual trade, did work out in Canuck's favour), the Messier years (also a lot of up-side which we are witnessing now.)  The Steve Moore hit... oh that fucking Steve Moore hit - arguably cost us a cup... see, I'm not immune! In our best years the Canucks have been a team that has been over achieveing.

But damn we are a good team this year.  Tonight we clinched the President's Cup.  Not barely.  Decisively.

Sure we did it at the expense of the rest of our division.  Calgary hasn't mathematically been eliminated from the playoffs yet, but it isn't looking good, even if they are the only real remaining candidate.  We have decimated our four most immediate rivals.  Soundly.  Two of them sit at the bottom of the entire league.  (No hard feelings Edmonton, but this is what the mid-eighties felt like.)

The 2011 Vancouver Canucks are a really good team.  And it's not just the Sedins (who are collectively going to win two Art Rosses in two years (Squee!)) and Luongo (probable Vezina candidate.)  The rest of the team is as solid a supporting cast as any team realistically needs these days.  It is a beautiful thing.  And it has been creeping up on us for a few years - even most of a decade if you look closely.

I'm not pretending that the President's Trophy is as important as winning the Stanley Cup - no way.  But hey - we just won the President's Trophy tonight with five games to go.  Five games wherein most of the team can relax a bit.  Daniel still needs to keep scoring a point a game for a three or so tilts to be secure with the scoring title, but if anyone is disappointed with this season they haven't been paying attention, or they are nothing more than fair weather playoff-fans.

Forty years coming.  And yeah, so many times in the past this would have felt like an April Fools' joke, but...

You can not take this away from me.