Wednesday, October 21, 2009

GAME DAY: Canucks @ Chicago

Had this game circled on your calendar from the moment the schedule was released? You're not alone, and good on the NHL for getting this one in while the wounds are still fresh in the minds of the Canucks and their fans. Chances are though, that the 'Road Wimps' as the Province so lovingly calls the boys, are going to simply not be able to compete with the pesky Hawks. Despite the truth in that title, and some recent games where the team was simply not there, you will see a focused Vancouver Canucks squad tonight at the United Center. They know it's not just important to get their first road win, and try not to get left in the dust early on in their division, but also to show the Hawks that should their paths cross in the post season again this year, the issues that led to their downfall have been addressed. There will not be a free pass for Dustin Byfuglien to abuse Roberto Luongo. The Hawks speedsters will be kept on the perimeter and contained. And there is no Nik Khabibulin (oh, the irony...) to brick up the net on them. With a focused 60 minute effort that will include getting the PP back on track and not getting suckered into too many penalties by a team loaded with instigators, this is a totally winnable game. Roberto Luongo has rebounded from the Calgary fiasco, and played well... the key now is for the Canucks to not just get shots at the net, but quality shots, capitalize on rebounds and use their speed. The Hawks have been tough at home this year however, so an early goal or two from the Canucks against projected starter Annti Niemi will go a long way by taking the always raucous crowds at the United Center out of the mix. Ryan Kesler has been the hottest Canuck of late, with 7 points in his last 5 contests, and they will need him along with the first line of Samuelsson, Sedin and Burrows to get things rolling. Mason Raymond continues to impress, and you know it's just a matter of time until the speedy winger, along with linemates Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood explode with points. The Hawks so far have managed to do well despite the offseason of turmoil and personnel changes. They won't see Marion Hossa until November, but they have yet to show signs they are desperate for his return. Gametime is at 5:30 on TSN.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A woeful tale of swine (the viral and the hockey variety)

What an amazing start to season 3, huh? LOL. Leave it to me to contract the H1N1. Anyways, after 3 weeks off work, I am starting to feel like myself again. Big game for the Canucks against the Flames tonight. A lot of interesting factors leading into this one: two teams going in opposite directions from a week earlier, the Canucks injuries, the massive line juggle by the Flames, and the mind-numbingly stupid scheduling that saw the canucks play 1 game in the middle of an 8 day stretch. Why the massive road trips again? Anyways... Despite the loss of Daniel and Sami Salo, the Canucks pulled out a gritty win against Dallas the other night, and with a well rested team, fired up for a little redemption they could do well against a Calgary team that is suddenly reeling after coming out like gangbusters. Or did they? Outshot in every game but one so far (and in that one the shots were tied) the "best defensive core ever(tm)" has looked anything but. Sure Bouwmeester has put up impressive minutes, and has been pretty much as billed. But if not for their 3rd and 4th lines, this team would be (and likely is) in deep trouble. Kiprusoff continues to rack up the 6's, the latest in that historic collapse against Chicago. Flames fans can try and write that one off all they want; that is a loss that will stay in their minds every time a team starts to mount a comeback.

I am eager to see what Micheal Grabner will do on the top line with Henrik and Alex Burrows tonight. After a lackluster camp, the kid went down to Manitoba and tore it up. He knows this is a golden opportunity, one he won't get too many more of so he will try to make the most of it. The Iginla/ Jokinen experiment is already looking like a bust, and the lines have been shuffled to get them playing with players who have been producing, like Curtis Glencross and Erik Nystrom. Nystrom especially has played well, but is not a top line guy and it's wishful thinking by the Flames that he can continue the pace he has shown so far. Looks like the Flames will be dressing Bryan McGratton into the lineup tonight. Remember McGratton was shooting his mouth off at Canucks players before the season opener. The one he was a healthy scratch in. Here's to you Bryan, getting a dose of the eye-opener Zack Stortini got from Rick Rypien last season. I fully expect a regulation Canucks win tonight, as they get to .500, while the Flames continue to come to terms that believing their own press clippings is bad, and the team that choked the 12 point division lead last season is still there...