What's HBO showing tonight?

To whom it may concern (by which I mean Allah, Yahweh, Elohim, the entire Holy Trinity, Deus, Igzi'abihier, Jah, Ngai, Niskam, Bhagavan, Baquan, the current incarnation of the Buddha, Anami Purush, Ahura Mazda, and Shang Ti…thank you Wikipedia):

Have Mercy. Let’s keep it respectable, eh? If you require virgin sacrifice, just give us a signal.


The Vancouver Canucks Team, Coaching Staff and fans of various ages


Wanted: Large, Angry Hockey Player. (Teeth Optional)

Practically every time the Canucks pushed into the Columbus zone last night, someone was beating them up. And if they weren't beating them up, they were laying them out. Naslund, with his head down, got laid out by Klesla in a hit that resembled the great Steve Moore hit of 2004. Klesla did it again to Morrison in the third.

OK, I can deal with the lack of scoring (for now...or at least until the Ducks blank us 45-0 on Thursday). I can deal with the lack of cohesive lines that pose a consistent threat for the opposing netminder. I can deal with the fact we have no back up goalie (c'mon, did we ever?). I can deal with the fact that our D, while solid, still loves to take magnificently stupid penalties. I can even deal with most games this season being almost as exciting as watching a Julia Roberts movie while trapped in economy on a transatlantic flight.

But I can't stomach the fact that Vancouver is way way way too soft.

I know it's not exactly a barnburner statement. And I know their new work ethic certainly doesn't make them complete pushovers. But seriously, this is still hockey (just barely, right?) and we do need players who can put the fear of biblical rapture-esque pain in opposing players who squash, oh I don't know, your captain?!? Just recently Tucker took out Chara in a big hit and, while Chara was fine and can more then take care of himself, Mara answered for Zdeno by fulfilling a dream of many a fan and pounded Tucker's face for a bit.

Who do we have again? Cooke? Kesler? Bieska? Burrows? Sure, these guys can bump and smash guys in the corners with the best of them, but when a guy like the Ducks' O'Brien (here this Thursday mind you) or mongoloids like Barnaby or Avery or even (shudder the thought) Boogaard take liberties with our guys, who in the hell is there to answer the call? Besides that, what if we just need a massive hit to spark the team and tilt the advantage in Vancouver's favor?

The Canucks could look towards Manitoba, but for who? Lee Goren? He'd be fun for three seconds until he takes a hooking penalty because he can't skate. Marc-Andre Bernier? Hmm, not yet. Tyler Bouck (who may as well be called up just to sit and irk Bulis)? Rick Rypien would be a nice Cooke-like addition. Nathan Smith? Hahaha, just kidding on that last one.

I wish there was an answer somewhere out there. Maybe the sad truth is that it's just another reality for Vancouver fandom that, on top of everything else, we get to watch our players get manhandled. It's funny that I can tolerate so many other vital aspects of the game going poorly, but lacking the more minor element of sheer size, brawn and fists annoys me. Because, at this rate, this team would be in another concentric circle of hell if someone lays out Naslund badly and no one answers the bell.


Schultz = Superman without the goofy tights

So...the Jesse Schultz experiment version two-point-oh begins tonight as the shifty winger will see his first NHL action of the season in hopes that someone on this team can remember how to properly and efficiently put the puck into the net on a regular basis of some sort. Hopefully Schultz will gel with someone on the team and provide a spark. You get the idea the Canucks need just some semblance of a spark to kickstart some other guys and get them on a roll. Or maybe I've been breathing in the fumes too deeply near the Lincoln Tunnel every morning. It would explain a great deal.

Prediction: 3-1 Canucks. I don't care what butterball Hitchcock does with his lines, the Canucks need yet another ego boost victory here and the worst team in the league isn't a bad place to start. Kesler, Naslund and Pyatt put this one away and Luongo is solid again.

Give him hell

My two cents: it's logical and utterly sane to hate what Chris Pronger did to the Oilers. Does it still really matter why he left? Yes, it actually does because the last time I checked it was the Edmonton fans who, after suffering like the rest of us through a lockout so the owners could get their heads out of their asses, helped pay for Chris to have the pleasure of a job on that team. You think a team that plays with no paying fan base for home games - like, ironically, the Blues? - would be committing a large chunk of their cap for multiple years to just anyone? This isn’t baseball where this sort of thing is tolerated.

Someone needs to explain to Chris that NHL players do not have their responsibilities start and stop with the game buzzer. I'm not talking about community outreach stuff, more like an unspoken agreement that the marquee guys, who command these massive salaries, owe a bit more to the team that employs them because the fans are arguably the stakeholders who in great part fund them. If a player wants to leave, explain yourself like the professional you are and leave. Fans can accept that sort of thing because even if we hate the reason. But if you're not going to explain yourself and, instead, hide behind a sense of ill-deserved privilege, you deserve every syllable of venom raining down on you and every rumor that connects you to everything from boning TV reporters to causing global warming.

What do I mean by ill-deserved privilege? Something like this:

"I'm not going to degrade myself and my family and substantiate or deny any rumors," Pronger said. "It's not what's going to happen here." He made no apologies. Asked if he should have canceled a long-planned Mexican vacation to stay in town and explain his request, he said he had no regrets over his actions. He said he had hoped the matter would stay quiet and saw no reason to change his plans. "I've got a life to live," he said. - LA Times

I read this as him basically saying “Yeah, to all you people who supported me by buying tickets and jerseys, by being nice to me when you saw me in town and generally supported me for the year I was here and now want a reason why I just up and left with no reason? You don’t deserve one. I owe you nothing.” Hey Chris, fuck you. You can't have it both ways by getting the opportunity to hold a honored slot on a team and act like a selfish child without giving a good reason at the same time. You skipped town, you permitted the rumors to fly about by your own actions, and you're the one hiding behind a facade of being a family man now? Please.

The point of my rant being this: it's a bad day when Pavel Bure shows more of a spine sulking out of Vancouver then Pronger did escaping during the night from Edmonton. So, for one night (and one night only!), I'm an Oilers fan. Go Oil and make his night a living hell.


A vote is like a kiss on the cheek

In case everyone in Canuckland missed it - considering the complete thrashings at the hands of the Preds and Avs in the past couple of games - there is this site to keep you occupied. And confused. And perhaps tearful and sad for the future of humanity.


Bad cars and extinct cats make the week longer

Things to ponder for this evening in Motor City

1. Will they continue their excellent penalty kill (currently fifth best in the league)?

2. Will their powerplay ever ever EVER turn around (currently fourth worse in the league)? A small note: I don't think the dump in works as well as they think. They need to think of something else.

3. Will baby jesus cry if Luongo gets shelled and pulled?

4. If Jan Bulis takes a boneheaded penalty leading to a goal, will Zarnstorm's “I Hate Bulis” Meter go into uncharted territory? (short answer: absolutely)

5. Will Lidstrom shoot from center ice just for shits and giggles? If he does, can someone strike him? In the groin? With a sledgehammer?

6. Will Kesler pick a fight just so he can score a goal?

7. Why is Chelios still playing? Can’t we, as a league of fans, do something to make him retire? Where’s Messier’s leadership on this topic?!

Things to ponder for Thursday night in Naaaaaaaashville

1. Is it a cosmic delight for anyone else that, after knocking Mitchell out, Arnott will get to sit his ass until 2007 because of a knee injury?

2. Seeing how Dany Sabourin will get the nod against the Preds, is it possible he won't let in the first two shots? If not, does that mean Mika Noronen will be laughing his freezing arse off over in the motherland?

3. Repeat #4 from above.

4. Is it possible that Patrick Coulombe’s secret hockey weapon is that he plays while totally stoned (as suggested by his kick ass Canucks.com picture)?


Vegas bookies punching walls - Canucks win again

This picture is wonderful for a few reasons:

  1. It denotes that, as I had hoped previously, the general anger at losing most of the past two weeks has made the lads an ornery bunch. Which I like. A lot.
  2. Pyatt, although he didn’t score against the ‘Hawks, has done much to make the team forget Anson Carter almost entirely.
  3. Since this blog is becoming a huge fan of Pyatt, it’s nice to see him beating someone who, in this case, is the cousin of my ex-girlfriend who, ironically, lives in Coquitlam. I wonder who she roots for in this case. I’ll have to ask.
  4. Since it is the holiday season and all, let’s propose that everytime a professional NHL hockey player gets his ass handed to him by another professional NHL hockey player with a MySpace page, an angel gets his/her wings.

Up next are the Red Wings on Wednesday. In the meantime, it feels good to see a meager winning streak again.


Blue is the color of pain

The Midwest is fun for things like donut hamburgers, random large crosses (I actually drove by this one as I was escaping Arkansas) and museums that chronicle the rich history of torturing crazies. In the hockey world it’s a great place to visit since teams often have to suffer through downing the tequila shot Detroit Red Wings before getting to embrace the soothing lime chaser that is the Blackhawks, Blue Jackets or Blues.

Despite beating the Canucks four times last year (jeebus christ), the Blues were still the worst team in the league. Over the summer, John Davidson jumped at the opportunity to lead the “new” Blues in lieu of hanging around MSG and staring at Sam Rosen’s nose night in and night out for another season. JD, to his credit, put together a lineup that were it a few years ago would be awesome to watch every night. But if you fast forward to the present year, guys like Tkachuk, Guerin, Rucinsky (good for nothing!), Dvorak & Weight don’t really put the fear of God in anyone. And their goalies aren’t much better considering I don’t think Manny Legace’s own mother likes him and Curtis Sanford is painfully ordinary (that is, unless, he’s playing Vancouver at which point he becomes the second coming of Ken Dryden).

Prediction: Canucks 10-0. Yes. One-Zero for Vancouver, none for the Tkachuk-uerin-cinkys. Because, in my head, I’d like to think that the growing level of anger I have watching the Canucks fail will spill over into their cognitive processes and make them, if just for one night, play as a group possessed and unstoppable. Daniel and Markus get hat tricks, Kesler adds two, and hell Luongo fires one in when Legace wanders out of his crease to get a new supply of tissues. Even if it’s not 10-0, I’ll take a 1-0 victory. Anything but another loss.

Your ‘WTF’ moment of the week: The new Mark Messier Leadership craptacular award. I can’t say I’m shocked that a Ranger won it the first time around. This award proves the NHL is hellbent on redefining traits to fit their PR since they are ignoring the last decade of Messier’s career. I’m not saying he was not a special player and deserving of great praise, but to use his name as the de facto barometer of leadership when he spent a decade making failed promises and leading - as captain mind you - multiple teams to staggeringly embarrassing losing seasons seems to dilute his precious leadership capabilities. In his last decade of playing, Messier captained three of his ten teams into the playoffs (just for fun, consider Yzerman as captain of the Wings lead his team 18 times into the playoffs, including 15 straight since 1990. But who’s counting?). He promised a cup in Vancouver. Result: failed. He promised a cup in his return to NY. Result: failed. When that whole cup promise seemed out of reach, he flipped to promising a return to the playoffs for the Rangers. Result: failed. By my count, that makes him one for four in promises.

So I eagerly await other NHL-inspired awards like The Sean Burke Domestic Tranquility Award or The Edward Belfour Back Seat Negotiation Award. One for the ladies? OK, how about the Janet 'Domino Motherfucker!' Jones Award? Maybe this can spread out to other leagues too. How about The John Rocker Multicultural Award or the Roger Clemens Gentlemanly Award for MLB? For the NFL, we'll definitely need a Randy Moss Team Spirit Award and The Ray Carruth Family-First Award.


Make 'em hot please. And more beer would be fantastic.

The Red Wings come into tonight as they have been for years; namely, they are dominant even though I can't figure out why aside from any guy not named Datsyuk or Lidstrom. They are 11-4-1 and are doing their thing once again in the Central Division. Then, well, we have Vancouver. It's somewhat comical that a few weeks ago the city loved this team and now they're resorted to wanting Luongo to give part of his salary back for some soft goals. Oh well, it is what it is. Canucks need a win to crawl back to .500, but it won't be easy. And hell, that should be the new marketing slogan. Maybe a frumpy Bulis with “it won’t be easy’ under it? At least it would be honest.

What to look for: Secondary scoring. I feel this trait isn't even worth denoting 'something to look for' anymore and one more game of a pathetically anemic effort and I'm changing the header to "what to fear". But, trying as I may to eye that silver lining, just about everyone needs to break their slumps and start putting some pucks behind the opposing goalie. That includes Naslund, the Sedins and now perennial dog house occupants Morrison and Bulis. Oh yeah, Kesler? You too…buck up buttercup. Vancouver played well enough against the Flames but couldn't find that extra goal which is more of a liability now then their depleted D line. And, honestly, Hasek is the damn crypt keeper with a wonky groin and we have shifty players with quick wrist shots. Do the math and applicable geometric diagrams and figure out a way to make his night long and annoying (you know, like other teams have made the past few home games for the Canucks that we've all suffered through).

Prediction: Wings 3-1. Assuming the poor play trend continues, I can see the Canucks getting the first goal (Pyatt) and then coughing up two in the second frame. Lidstrom or Chelios will add an empty netter from center ice just so I will be tempted to through my TV out the damn window. Although if I do that and I end up killing my next door 'I love throbbing house music at 2:00 AM' neighbor who is entering the side door of my building, then all's well that ends well.

Random Hilarity: OK, pretend you are Paul Holmgren staring at the shitbox in front of you known as the Flyers. Your team is a mess, can barely score, cannot play defense and is now getting tagged with injuries. You are running out of options, you're getting texts from Bobby Clarke giving you the middle finger (from a beach chair in the Caribbean surrounded by scantily clad 18 year old ladies nonetheless), your wife is threatening to leave you (sure, why not?) and you can't cry in public because then Don Cherry will murder you. So how do you right the sinking ship? Why, you snatch up a guy who just had his face broken at the hands of the missing link. Sure, NOW you’re back in the game!



It’s fun to think of three years ago when Vancouver was the best Canadian team and Calgary came out of no where, beat them in the playoffs, and ran almost all the way to a cup victory. Then last year Calgary was the team to beat, Vancouver was admirable and while the latter fell off the planet the Flames couldn’t make it out of the first round and the Edmonton was the man for the post season.

And now, the Flames and Canucks seem to be tangoing together in a dance of the suck twins (although at the moment they look like they'll beat Anaheim, so they suck a bit less). Both teams have marquee goalies who play in front of teams that can’t score and new coaches who can’t figure it out yet. That recipe has brought more success (albeit marginal) to Vancouver then Calgary so far this season, but why split hairs? The Flames have scored three fewer goals then the Canucks but the Canucks have let more goals in (and Vancouver has played three more games as well). Both powerplays are terrible but the Canucks penalty kill has fared much better early in the season. Lastly, like Vancouver, the Flames get their meager production from a few core guys like Iginla, Langkow, Lombardi & Phaneuf (occasionally that Tanguay guy shows up). So, clearly, both teams need some help and need some wins which suggests (I hope) they’ll beat the snot out of each other Saturday night.

What to look forA pulse. After the great Duck rape on Thursday, Vigneault challenged the Canucks character. You know, show us some backbone or at least some micron of pride in the damn uniform you have the privilege of wearing for far too much money every few nights a week. It’s useless criticizing the D since they have some problems on their own but it’s the offense that needs a swift kick in their collective fat ass. Naslund, Pyatt and the Sedins need to lead the charge whether they feel like it or not because clearly guys like Bulis, Morrison, Kesler et all are not quite up to speed yet on that whole puck in the net thing. Luongo needs to be put the Duck game behind him and recognize he’s going to need to start stealing some games. As a group, this team needs to go back to square one (like opening night in Detroit when the entire planet expected them to fail) and use their lot in life as motivation. Sink or swim together, but the lethargic and anemic efforts have to stop because this isn’t the Crawford’s team anymore.

Vigneault has a little over a day to get this team acting and playing differently. Not a ton of time, but then again, this is what Alain is paid for. And last I checked the rabid Vancouver fan base, in part, helps pay that salary. We’re all going to work today. So should you.

Lingering Anger: How in the name of holy hell does Chouinard, who sits more then plays, end up tied for worst plus/minus on the team? That’s a good amount of salary cap space getting a nice seat at games isn’t it? Surely a team like Phoenix or Philly is getting desperate so let the guy start playing if just to get some stats so we can move him. And if guys like Bulis and Cooke don’t feel like putting solid shifts together night in and night out, let them start parking their ass next to Chouinard and bring up Rypien or Bouck instead.

Prediction: I have none since I don’t know what the hell version of the Canucks is going to show up. If the early October version wants to take the ice, then I do feel Vancouver can beat a struggling Calgary team to the tune of about 3-2 or 4-3. However, if the lackluster version that entertained Minny and Anaheim is even seen in the parking lot much less on the ice, then Calgary should by all means win 10-0. My guess would be it’s somewhere in the middle, so let’s say it goes to a shootout and flip a coin to decide it.


A Lofty Query For You

Question: When a 6th defenseman who often in the past few games makes some very boneheaded plays that resulted in odd man rushes, poorly timed penalties and/or elevated blood pressure levels for all viewers goes down for a month and then some with an injury…does it make a sound?

Answer #1: Yes…especially when your team has no blueline.
Answer #2: No…because Roberto Luongo is the second coming of Christ and the baby Buddha rolled into one.
Answer #3: Wait, isn’t Fitzpatrick’s a beer?

The Ducks is a terrible name for any professional team

I'm sad I can't rip on the formerly-painful Disney connection to that team (seriously, has anyone seen those movies? Hang you head in shame if you saw the second. And if you went to the theater to see the third throw yourself in front of a train please).

Part of me hates the Ducks because, well, I hate almost all teams in the west. That's part of my agreement on being a Vancouver fan. The larger side of me hates them because of Burke who I really did enjoy as a GM and, nothing against Nonis, but I miss the surly old guy. He’s always fun at a press conference and looks like he'd steal candy from a baby and have no ethical dilemma with it whatsoever. I appreciate that, we need more like him.

But a smaller side of me hates the Ducks because they're just so damn stacked on D and Vancouver, sadly, is close to icing Fin in the 6th slot. Seriously, the idea of countering Niedermeyer and Pronger with (assuming Mitchell and Salo are out) Ohlund and Bieska is beyond comical. Their top two D-men are friggin tied with Selanne for the team lead in points and they also get great scoring support from the likes of Kunitz, Perry, McDonald & Getzlaf. Chuck in a nice goalie tandem and you can recognize why no one has beaten the Ducks in regulation this year so far.

That’s where my handjob for the Ducks stops. In fact, let’s be clear: I vehemently dislike Pronger for flipping off Edmonton like he did, McDonald snorts crack off the backs of disadvantaged midgets and Selanne wears girlie underwear and owns every J-Lo album which he listens to while he crochets on the team bus (I have spies in Anaheim, so these are all impeccable claims, deal with it). Seriously, when a team is that good what can you really say other then pick on the smaller things? Although midget abuse is just wrong, you heard it here.

What to look for Protecting that lead. The Ducks have had 10 one goal games and the Canucks have had 12. I’m not suggesting the Ducks have similar scoring issues that Vancouver currently has (they can’t considering they lead the conference in goals scored), but it seems to me the likelihood of a single goal deciding the victor is quite possible. Assuming the Canucks don’t implode like they did at San Jose and in Minnesota last week, it could very well come down to a game of protecting the lead (something, again, the Canucks aren’t exactly the model for). If the Canucks can grab the lead, look for a complete mess in the neutral zone and Vigneault possibly turning purple pleading for the D to not take a dumb penalty. It’s going to get messy and it wouldn’t shock me if the refs’ whistles decide this thing.

Prediction: Canucks win 4-3. I know, four goals from this team? Nutty! But I’m going to assume the Ducks and Canucks go back and forth a bit with the Canucks getting some late heroics from Luongo. Pyatt’s too easy a call to end it, so let’s say The Emulator comes up huge here.

Post-game Update: Woah, was I off! Insert humiliation right...about...HERE.


His MySpace traffic must be skyrocketing

Bertuzzi’s out with back surgery and Carter’s on the fourth line in Ohio? Oh yeah, Pyatt is a rock. Bring those Ducks on!

By the way, I hope all the good people in Vancouver are drying out. That's some fun rain for this time of year, huh??


At least Belfour isn't a Canuck

We all know the story already (in his defense, getting drunk in Long Island is required to stomach the knowledge of where you actually are) and despite his plea that it was simply a water bottle mishap (doesn't that sound like Janet Jackson's "wardrobe mishap" from the Superbowl a few years ago?) no one is ever going to believe poor Eddie.

And, making matters worse, is that some media outlets don't even have solid pictures of the Eagle to post along with this hilarious story. Sportsnet reports on the allegations by using this picture of him:

I mean, c'mon! He has won damn near 500 games in his career and this is best image they could use? On his belly, out of the crease, as Satan (an Islander of all teams!) puts a puck a blind man could slam home? I'm shocked they didn't use an animated gif of the entire sequence since I'm curious as hell how Belfour ended up in that position to begin with.

And I'm dying to see a picture of Auld's stitched up eye from this water mishap. Anyone have that? Another thought: you think Auld wonders if he's just cursed to be saddled with questionable NHL goalie veterans no matter where he goes?

In other news, the Canucks lost to the Predators last night. I watched the first period and went to bed since I didn't have the effort to watch two more periods if they can't show up for the first one. It reminded me too much of the Crawford version of the Canucks and I see little reason to enervate myself like that anymore; I leave that for Kings fans now.