Tag Archives: canucks

Could this homemade DVD be the “Key” to a Stanley Cup Win for the Canucks??

Canucks highlights 2013 - 3The year was 2005. We had just lost a whole season to labour insanity, but the Canucks were still reigning Northwest Division Champs, with consecutive 100+ point seasons in their back pocket. I was so psyched for the new season, thinking “This could very well be the year the Canucks finally bring the Cup to Vancouver!” I even set out to burn the highlights of every game onto DVDs so that if they did indeed win the Cup, I would have a whole-season chronicle of the journey.

As we all know, it wasn’t to be. They stumbled badly down the stretch and ended up missing the final playoff spot by 3 points. Sure, it was disappointing, but my optimism wasn’t crushed. During the preseason of the 2006-07 season, when hockey debates were dominated by the question of whether the Canucks would make the playoffs, I was thinking “People, give your heads a shake! Roberto Luongo is now in the fold, so making the playoffs is a foregone conclusion!” And I boldly predicted to anyone who would listen that the Canucks were going to win the Northwest Division. . .and would even be contenders for the Stanley Cup. So, I again set out to collect every game’s highlights on DVD, just in case that did actually happen.

Well, the Canucks did regain the Northwest Division title as predicted, and Luongo did provide them with at least a fighting chance in the playoffs, sporting an impressive .941 save percentage. But the season ended a couple of rounds earlier than I had hoped. . .with Luongo’s infamous gaffe in double-overtime of game 6 against the Ducks. So, another set of DVDs that didn’t conclude with a Stanley Cup.

Actually, even if the Canucks had won the Cup in either of those two years, I would not have had a complete chronicle of the magical season, for I had managed to miss a game or two of highlights in each season. And being the superstitious guy I am, I began to wonder, “If I could finally succeed in collecting a complete set of game highlights for an entire season, maybe then the Canucks would finally win the Cup.”

In the seasons that followed, I tried to put together that complete set, but I got thwarted year after year. Sometimes, it was simply due to my own lack of diligence–like, simply forgetting to program the PVR to pick up a highlight package, or remembering to program the PVR but entering the wrong start/stop times.

Even when I was totally diligent, things seemed to conspire against me–like the time I programmed the correct start/stop times, but the TV network made a last-minute change in their programming to insert something else into that time slot. One season, I even missed a highlight package as the result of a federal election, with the extended coverage running into the time slot I had programmed for the sports news! So, when the Canucks failed to win the Cup each of those years, I was disappointed. . .but not entirely surprised.

But this year is different. This season, for the first time, the Canucks enter the playoffs with my collection of highlights totally complete. The regular-season stage of chronicle is totally unblemished! And I am going to be especially diligent in my PVR programming of the highlight packages of each playoff game. I have two trips planned during the next month, and I plan to record the highlight package for each game while away in two (perhaps even three) different time slots, to guard against being thwarted by changes in programming. . .or even extended election coverage. And I am fully expecting that the last shot of the last disc of game highlights will feature Henrik hoisting the Stanley Cup!

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Ballard as “WINGER/DEFENSEMAN” hybrid: solution to persistent problem?

imagesThe Canucks often melt down defensively when they lose a d-man to injury or ejection; think of the 6-3 loss in game 2 of the 2009 second-round series vs. the Hawks when Sammi Salo injured himself taking a slap shot. . .or the 8-1 loss in game 3 of the 2011 Cup finals vs. Boston when Aaron Rome was ejected for his hit on Nathan Horton. The solution? Have a forward who can drop back to the blueline whenever a d-man is lost to injury or ejection. And Keith Ballard could be exactly that guy! For details, see my post over at ‘NUCKS MISCONDUCT.

Hawks/Wings with 12 “back-to-backs” but Rangers with only 6. . .Preferential Treatment?

images-1I happened to be looking at the Rangers’ February schedule in a calendar-grid format, and was shocked to see no back-to-back games. How could that be possible? With all the talk of the schedule this season having to be so compressed resulting in the necessity of more back-to-backs, how could the Rangers get away with none for a whole month?

I suspected some “preferential treatment” might be going on here, prompting me to work through the schedules of all the teams to see if the Rangers did indeed have fewer back-to-backs than the other teams. And, sure enough, I found they have a league low six, while Chicago and Detroit have a face a whooping twelve each!

It was also interesting to note that among the teams with only seven back-to-backs is Boston, also noteworthy for the fact that their last one is on April 10-11 while 28 of the other 29 teams have back-to-backs closer to the beginning of the playoffs than that. . .and 13 of them have two or more.

It could be argued it is the less complicated travel arrangements for Atlantic and Northeast Division teams that results in the schedule-makers needing to resort to back-to-back games less often with them than with teams such as Chicago and Detroit that have a lot more traveling to do. However, if this were indeed the case, then a team like the Vancouver Canucks–who arguably have the most traveling to do of all 30 teams–would be up at the high end of list with Chicago and Detroit. But that is not the case. Rather, the Canucks are right near the bottom end of the list, with only seven back-to-backs all season.

It should not be a surprise that “schedule manipulation” might be going on, given what has happened in the past. For example, back decades ago, the schedule would be arranged every year such that the Montreal Canadiens would, from early in the season, be a little ahead of the other teams in terms of “games played.” Why? To increase their chances of being in first place at the quarter-pole, and then at the halfway point. Of course, this scheduling was not giving them an unfair advantage over the other teams; if anything, having to play more games than the other teams in the early going would have been a disadvantage. But who’s to say schedule manipulation is not happening today for the very purpose of giving some teams an advantage, especially given the vast disparity in the number of back-to-back games among the 30 teams in this truncated NHL season?

NHL teams “not suffering a shutout” down to SIX (one of them you won’t believe!)

“. . .and then there were SIX.” With the blanking of Tampa Bay last night, there are now only six NHL teams left that have managed to spare themselves the indignity of being shut out. And there are some surprises among the “surviving six.”

But before getting to the surprises, let’s take a quick look at the “no surprise” category. First, there are the Penguins. With Sidney Crosby tearing up the league, and dragging Chris Kunitz to a breakout year, the Pens lead the league in scoring by a wide margin (14 goals more than the next highest team). Among the 30 teams, they are the most likely not to have been shut out, and they indeed have not been. In fact, they have scored two or more goals in all but 4 of their 28 games.

Also in “no surprise” territory, are the Blackhawks. After all, each of those 24 straight games of gaining at least one point had to involve their scoring at least one goal. Further, they’ve only had three games since the streak ended, and though they’ve lost two of them, they didn’t come close to getting shut out in either.

Then there’s the Bruins, right near the top of the eastern conference all season. Certainly not the offensive juggernaut the Pens are, but with a conference low in losses (only four), they are the next least likely candidate to have been shut out.

Now to the other side of the ledger: the “surprises”. First, there are the Canucks. It seems a day doesn’t go by without some member of Canuck Nation cryin’ the blues about their inability to score, especially on the power play. So it must come as a surprise to find that the Canucks have survive to the final six in refusing to succumb to a blanking. And with their 7-4 shellacking of Nashville, they have actually climbed into the top half of the league in goals for, and they have been limited to a single goal only three times (and one of those games, they even won).

The other two teams in this category are bigger surprises, for both have for years had the reputation of being among the most offensively challenged teams in the league. One is New Jersey. To give you an idea of their troubles, their fourth highest scorer, Adam Henrique, has only 13 points. However, the trio of Elias, Kovalchuk and Clarkson have been prolific enough to keep the Devils on the score sheet every game this season.

The other offensively challenged team is the Minnesota Wild. It was thought that the acquisition of a sniper like Zach Parise might help them shed their “no finish” reputation, but he has managed to get points in only a little over half of their 26 games so far, and the Wild have accumulated only 64 goals, just two more than the league low of 62. But still, they have been able to escape the dreaded goose-egg, though they have come close. . .scoring just a single goal eight times (nearly a third of all their games!). In terms of “staying alive” in the game of avoiding being shut out, Minnesota is truly the big surprise.

“Canucks blown out by Wings”: blame it on ‘Rosterjugglingitis’

imagesIt was pretty disheartening to see the Canucks get thrashed by the Red Wings the other day. And afterward, I heard a lot of talk about “end of a road trip” and “fourth game in six days”. But when I took a closer look at those four games, a different explanation emerged.

Last week, I wrote a post over at Nucks Misconduct making the case that the Canucks suffer from “rosterjugglingitis”–a malady involving a poor performance whenever a new player draws into the lineup–and that post suggested that the roster juggle (David Booth for Aaron Volpatti) for last week’s game against the Hawks may have been a contributing factor in the Canucks’ 4-3 shootout loss.

Continuing forward from there, the next game saw Volpatti draw back into the lineup to replace Jannik Hansen as he served his one-game suspension, and in the following game, Volpatti was back in the press box with Hansen’s return. This makes ‘player changes’ in three straight games, something the Canucks had managed to avoid all season. But fortunately, they were only playing the scoring-challenged Predators (who have been shut out nearly twice as many times as any other team), and managed an ugly 1-0 win.

Now, we come to the Detroit game, a fourth straight game involving ‘roster juggling’; that, by itself, basically guarantees a loss for the Canucks, despite the fact the Wings had played the night before, and had managed only one win in their last six games. But to make matters worse, the Canucks’ roster juggling involved multiple changes for the first time this season, with Kevin Bieksa down with an injury and Booth out with the flu, resulting in Volpatti and Andrew Alberts drawing into the lineup. For a team like the Canucks who suffer from rosterjugglingitis, this scenario represents a veritable “perfect storm”. . .and the Canucks did indeed get blown out of the rink.

PostMortem on Canucks-over-Hawks prediction: the “rosterjugglingitis” factor

Yes, a swing and a miss on my prediction on last night’s Canucks-Hawks tilt, but I didn’t miss by much! I’ve gone back over the data, and have discovered where I went wrong. My findings are set out in this post over at Nucks Misconduct.

“Canucks will beat Hawks tonight, but not in regulation time”. . .the stats don’t lie

I have noticed some patterns in the Canucks’ play this season, and a pattern in their wins and losses leads me to conclude they will beat the Hawks tonight, and the pattern even suggests the win will be either in a shoot-out or in overtime. For the details, see my post over at Nucks Misconduct.