Best Road Trip Ever!
The Vancouver Canucks last night finished off a 7 game road trip with a record of 5-1-1. Not too shabby when you consider 4 of the games went into extra time and the Canucks record was 2 OT wins, 1 SO win and 1 SO loss (against the Pens), with the last game being maybe the most surprising OT win as they were playing their 3rd game in 4 nights and their opponents the Blues hadn’t played a game in a week. The Canucks established their best record on a road trip greater than 6 games. The team used this time to bond and learn more about their new coaches. They are playing hard every night and playing for each other and as a fan I am very impressed. This accomplishment speaks for itself and even though it is still early in the season, I like the direction of this team. Consider this as well, this trip was as much about attrition and depth as it was about success. The Canucks didn’t have Alex Burrows for the trip, lost Jordan Schroeder at the halfway point, Jannik Hansen didn’t finish the 5th game and both David Booth and Dale Weise were lost for the finale. The call ups from Utica performed admirably and the top players took up the slack with both the Sedins and Kesler playing career high in minutes per game during the trip. Critics worry the top 3 are playing too much. I understand the argument for needing rest time during a game, and more importantly during a season more condensed due to an Olympic break, but the players seem happy and are playing well. Henrik and Daniel are thriving killing penalties and being the complete players they strive to be, and Kesler has returned to the Kes of 2010/2011, playing with a chip on his shoulder while chipping in some timely goals. Hind sight is 20/20, but for now I say dance with the one who brought you and this team’s success this year is directly tied to 4 key people, Hank, Dank, Kes, and Lou.
Who is this Kid?
Before the season started Canucks GM Mike Gillis made a waiver wire pick up and brought in Ryan Stanton, a 24 yr old kid who couldn’t seem to crack the Hawks line-up and was looking at another year playing in the minors. 13 games into this season Stanton has played every Canuck game, has contributed 1 goal and 3 assists and is a very respectable +4 in plus/minus, mainly playing in the 3rd D pair. He doesn’t look out-of-place and most importantly hasn’t cost his team with his inexperience, this being evident by his plus/minus rating and the fact he has only taken 1 minor penalty. He’s shown the poise of a veteran and has been able to play with various partners as Coach Tortorella learns more about Stanton’s abilities. Stanton’s tied for 2nd in rookie d-men scoring in the NHL and only a point behind Krug (Bruins), Jones (Preds) and Murphy (Hurricanes), who play at least 3 1/2 more minutes, which not coincidently is the same amount of time these 3 average on the power play of their respective teams. An adept move by Gillis that so far is paying him back in spades.
It’s Time for Respect!
I will leave you today with another rant. Henrik and Daniel are the 2 least respected players in the eyes of most if not all NHL refs. Henrik currently sits 2nd in league scoring, has won a Hart Trophy and an Art Ross trophy and has the 2nd longest active ironman streak in the NHL. Daniel sits tied for 6th in scoring and has an Art Ross and Ted Lindsay award sitting in his trophy cabinet. What does this list of accomplishments get them in the eyes of NHL Refs? Absolutely nothing! Henrik and his brother are under different NHL rules. They can be tripped, hooked, held, and punched (sometimes repeatedly) with nary a call being made. This isn’t a new issue, most remember Brian Burke back when he was GM of the Vancouver Canucks letting the refs know “Sedin isn’t Swedish for punch me”, but have things changed? Nope. If the same stuff happens to Crosby or Ovechkin without being called then my argument holds no weight. Looking at the stats let’s see, Canucks average 2.61 PP/game, Pens and Caps both average 3.7 PP/game. Maybe you’re thinking I am just cherry picking my stats, to those people I say the Canucks are last in the league in PP opportunities by a wide margin with the next closest team being the Rangers at 3.0 PP/game. I guess sometimes the refs are forgetting that Vigneault doesn’t coach the Sedins anymore. Don’t use the “you need to work for your penalties” excuse, I don’t buy it. The Canucks are 12th in the league with a shot average of 31 per game, and 14th in the league with 2.85 goals for/game. They create chances and play offence but can’t seem to draw penalties. And don’t play the “most hated team in the league” card either, refs are “supposed” to be impartial. I say supposed to be as again last night after the wining goal is scored in overtime against the Blues, Daniel is mauled by an irate David Backes and ends up getting the same amount of penalties. Mute point since it’s the end of the game and no power play would be awarded, except Jackman attacks Ryan Kesler at the same time and even though Kes doesn’t fight back or do anything stupid, Jackman suspiciously ends up with 0 pims. Makes for a great rivalry just doesn’t make for impartial refereeing.
As always you can follow my thought on the Vancouver Canucks and any other things that peak my interest on Twitter @F4SLanceHornby