Hockey

We didn’t ask for this. The Canucks made it so. One, they have such a nondescript team that we’ve already highlighted Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson so who gives a fuck about anyone else now? We didn’t pick this fight.

So the Canucks are having the Sedin Twins jersey retirement against the Hawks. Bet they think that’s pretty cute. Better yet, we’re pretty sure if you asked them, the Canucks brass would tell you they picked this date because the greatest Canucks victory ever came against the Hawks. Let’s review, shall we?

That victory, the dragon-slaying as it’s known up there, was merely the Presidents’ Trophy winner avoiding blowing a 3-0 lead to an overmatched, exhausted, and undermanned Hawks team. It should have only been relief, not a marker. Jake Dowell and Fernando Pisani got serious run for that team. Ryan Johnson did too. This was hardly the juggernaut that had gone upside the Canucks head the previous two seasons.

And that’s the thing about the Canucks and the Sedins. They can look back and try and claim how much those series with the Hawks meant, but it doesn’t mean the same here. Sure, the Canucks were part of it, but as Hawks fans and they cherish the one series win over Detroit (kind of the same thing as ’11 for the Canucks, except it resulted in a Cup win and had much more history to it) far more than anything then happened with Vancouver. Or the win over the Bruins. Or the two battles with the Kings. Hell, the Hawks have the same playoff history with the Predators.

If the Canucks and Sedins wanted to be truly apt, they would stand in the shadows during the ceremony tonight, because that’s all they did when it mattered. Especially Daniel, or Shooty-Twin. Are they the greatest Canucks of all-time? Absolutely. Should they walk into the Hall of Fame? Of course. Their numbers should have been retired immediately upon retirement. But they can’t ever shake the legacy that they couldn’t bring Vancouver what it doesn’t have, and were some of the biggest reasons they don’t.

2009 against the Hawks: Daniel had two goals, both in Game 6 when his team forgot to play defense.

2010 against the Hawks: Daniel didn’t score once.

2011 against the Bruins: One goal.

Daniel would go on to score one playoff goal in 11 more playoff games as the Canucks still look for their first series victory since going to the Final in ’11. Haven’t managed one yet. Henrik continued to put up assists through all this, as he Getzlaf’d his way through games on the outside while watching it all pretty much pass him by. And it’s not like they found success before this in the postseason. Daniel had two goals in 12 games in 2007 and the record will read 25 goals total in 102 playoff games. Henrik managed 78 points in just about the same amount of playoff games, but ask Canucks fans if they remember any.

Sometimes it’s not fair to judge players on what happens just in the playoffs. The competition kicks up, teams are focused on stopping you, and in a handful of games the percentages and bounces can just abandon you even if you’re doing everything right. But at some point, when you’re the top line players and the biggest reason your team is there in the first place, you have to stand up and be counted. It didn’t stop Toews. Or Kane, Or Crosby. Or Malkin. Or Ovechkin. Or Kopitar. But it stopped the Sedins, multiple times.

Vancouver can ignore it for a night. Maybe even a lifetime. But it’s part of the record in the rest of the hockey world. So have your ceremony against the Hawks if it makes you feel good. No fanbase or team knows the truth better.

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Game Time: 9:00PM CST
TV/Radio: WGN Channel 9, WGN-AM 720
Baby, I’m An Anarchist!: Nucks MisconductCanucks Army

Because no road trips make any sense anymore, the Hawks will head to Western Canada for a return engagement starting tonight in Vancouver with whatever the fuck the Canucks are these days, complete with NHL ALL STAR 3 ON 3 CHALLENGE MVP Brock Boeser.

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 vs. 

RECORDS: Hawks 17-13-5   Canucks 15-17-5

PUCK DROP: 9pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago

CANADA’S WARMEST CITY: Nucks Misconduct

It’s not quite the new year yet. It’s not even halfway through the season yet. And yet, it feels like the Hawks have to turn a new leaf right now, that this is a pivot point to their season. They had a four-day break, they went into it with two losses that weren’t good, and now are staring up at a lot more than they’re used to. And it feels like if they don’t pick it up right here on this Western Canada swing, they’re going to be staring at the lights the rest of the season.

Let’s start with the Hawks, because they are not bereft of news. The big one, and the one with the potential to be the iceberg to this liner, is that Corey Crawford is back on IR. The Hawks aren’t saying what it is, they aren’t saying when it happened, and they aren’t saying how long he’ll be out. All of it convinces me it’s the same thing that put him on the shelf the first time and they don’t want to admit it. It felt rushed then, and it feels rushed now. And the Hawks had better hope it’s restricted to just a couple weeks. Any longer, and barring any miracles from Anton Forsberg, and the Hawks could feel some carp swimming around their knees in a hurry.

Remember, the Hawks give up the most attempts per game and are in the bottom-ten in shots against. So even if Forsberg is good, which he’s mostly been this season, the Hawks still might not get the goaltending their hit-and-miss offense. They’ve needed Crow to be THAT good to even get here. So either Forsberg does that, or the Hawks get goals from somewhere else other than Kane’s line, or…. well, I’m out of nautical/sinking references.

The other roster change was the call-up of David Kampf. The Hawks have a need at center, one they won’t address by moving Schmaltz there given what that line has done. Kampf might help, he’s not the end-all, be-all. For right now I’ll just rejoice that it moves either Hartman or Hinostroza back to a wing,  and with Top Cat and Kampf that line would at least be really mobile. I don’t know what it does exactly, but whatever it does it’ll do it quickly. But the lineup could honestly look like anything at the start, and even more anything by the 2nd period. These three games will likely see Q throwing just about everything into the pot and hope he gets some flavor out of it. Peanut butter and basil? Why not?!

If the team needs a jump or a confidence-builder, then you can’t ask much more than getting the Canucks right out of the blocks. While they spasmed a hot start, the Canucks have sunk to near the bottom of the Pacific, where they were supposed to be in the first place. Their talent-level is only partially responsible, and their injury list is pretty much responsible for the rest of it. The Sedins are basically just DHs right now, as they never start anywhere but the offensive zone. They make that work, but they are heavily sheltered. The rest is picked up by Brock Boeser, who is the league’s leading rookie scorer and already has one of the best shots/releases in the game. He’s kept scoring even with Bo Horvat out, and now Sven Baertschi has joined him on the trainer’s table, it’ll be a challenge.

But past that this team can’t score, with the lowest total of goals in the conference. And now that Jacob Markstrom has realized who he is, their goaltending has become outhouse-filler. He’s been awful of late, giving up 15 goals in his last five starts and some of them truly terrible. He’s been losing his net and losing the puck, and if the Hawks can’t find a few goals tonight… you can finish this sentence.

The Canucks can’t do much about protecting their goalies either. Chris Tanev is hurt as well, Alex Edler is old and his leaping elbows are even older, and Erik Gudbranson is a cave troll without the weapons or mobility. Oh, and Michael Del Zotto is here to make Gustav Forsling look like Kevin Lowe in his prime in his own end. Thar be gaps here, matey.

The Hawks need this one. The Oilers are at least snapping back into some sort of shape even if it is too late. The Flames can be anything on a given night, but that can also mean completely kicking your ass. And the Hawks very well may need all three of these.

This will be something less than fun. We’ll get through it together.

 

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It could be any color, really. But we’ll get to that.

This very well could be Daniel and Henrik Sedin’s last season. They’re both 37–strange how twins are the same age–, both are in the last year of their contracts, and it’s unclear whether both want to wait around for the Canucks to finally get a clue. While the Canucks might think they’re in the chase this year for a playoff spot, anyone with functioning neurons knows this team is going to, and should, finish up the track. Sadly for Canucks fans (if there are any left), those aforementioned neurons haven’t been terribly present in their front office of late.

While it might not be the numbers you remember, the Sedins are going out with something of a bang, if this indeed is to be it for them. Both have some of the best relative-Corsi marks and relative expected goals percentage of any forward in the league. That comes with something of a caveat. The Twins hardly ever start a shift anywhere but the offensive zone, and they no longer are allowed to face the tough competition they did back in their prime. But still, they’re making it count, and they look to set to top their outputs of last year (94 combined points, because with them you might as well always total them up together).

The Sedins are so entrenched in the Vancouver community, it’s impossible to imagine them playing anywhere else. They’ve certainly never expressed a desire to, though then again they’ve never expressed much of anything interesting. Kind of a Swedish thing, we take it. It may seem impossible to move them. You’d have to move them together, and they both make $7 million for this season. But given that at the deadline it would be less than $7 million combined on the cap, . the Sedins would have to just give the word. Another complication is that after last year’s Jannik Hansen deal, the Canucks can only retain salary on one of them.

But look at a team like Columbus. Their division sucks, or at least is a jumble. No one stands out. They have a nominal #1 center in Alex Wennberg, but are still playing Brandon Dubinsky as a #2 (in every sense). Slot the Sedins in behind Wennberg and Panarin, causing Dubes to slot to the #3 center, which is what he’s always been. Given their possession-game, couldn’t that light Atkinson’s or Anderson’s game up? Suddenly the Jackets have more punch to go with their goaltending. The only team looking scary in the East is the Lightning and they have an unproven goalie and slow-ish back line. Why couldn’t Columbus?

The Sharks? They maybe have one run left in them before they have to burn it all down anyway. No one in the Pacific looks all-world, and you’d basically have to take your chances with the Preds in a conference Final. Sure, it would make the Sharks even older and even slower, but everyone in the Pacific is kind of that way.

Calgary? If they could ever get it together, and really their bigger needs are in net and to find out what exactly has inhabited the brains of Hamonic and Brodie. But the Sedins allow them to put the 3M line as a strict checking line. Why not?

The logistics aren’t easy, but they are possible. And while the Sedins aren’t exactly known as playoff dynamos, and may never live down 2011 or Dave Bolland claiming his one bit of glory off of them, they wouldn’t be asked to carry a team here. Again, they don’t need a Cup for first-ballot entry into the Hall of Fame. They love it there. These kinds of deals also rarely work. But you’d have to think they’ve at least kicked the idea around in their race car beds.

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This is a real thrill for us. Stefan Heck is one of Canada’s most gifted writers. And he shares his Canucks/hockey thoughts on Twitter @hockeydipshit. If you’re not following, you’re not living life to the fullest. He was kind enough to do this for us. 

The Canucks got off to a surprising start, but have cooled off thanks to injuries and a lot of players seeking their own level. They’re only five points out of a playoff spot, but also only ahead of Arizona in the standings. So this is still a rebuilding year for them, and more importantly, do they know that?
It’s absolutely still a rebuilding year for the Canucks, and if they’ve learned anything, hopefully the next couple seasons are as well. They won’t catch Arizona, but they’ll finish solidly in the bottom 5, which will be low enough for them to draft a player like Quinn Hughes. I think they may have finally learned something from last year’s trade deadline, in which they stole Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin from Ottawa and San Jose respectively. In a shocking twist, fans of the team like it when you make moves with a clear vision of the future in mind, rather than throwing away Gustav Forsling for nothing. Hey, what’s that guy up to nowadays?
 
Brock Boeser, all that is man?
Brock Boeser has given me… what’s that word… hope? Wait, that can’t be right. He is tremendously entertaining, although in fairness, that’s a low bar to clear with this team (Seriously, Blackhawks legend Jack Skille qualified as “tremendously entertaining” last year). I don’t know if he’ll win the Calder given that Matt Barzal is both a center and plays on a better team, and Charlie McAvoy is terrifying, but he’s a bright spot for a franchise that desperately needs something to care about.
 
He’s only 21, but have the Canucks completely borked Jake Virtanen with how they’ve brought him through so young? Or is there still something here?
He’s actually shown a marked improvement this year, particularly whenever he actually decides to use his tantalizing speed/size combo and drive to the net. I think there’s still something there, it’s just that the “something” in question tops out at “late 2000s Raffi Torres.”
 
What did this team need with Sam Gagner, exactly?
As far as I can tell, they needed a player who could fill the Kyle Wellwood role: a short, weirdly entertaining dude who will manage to garner an obsessive cult following in the years after he leaves the team.
 

It seems impossible, but with the Sedins as old as they are and in the last year of their deal, would they ever consider going somewhere at the deadline to take one last run at it?

I doubt it, because A) they’ve been raising young families here and seem quite content, and B) I can’t imagine a situation in which they’ll not only waive their NMCs to go to a team, but that team will also have the required cap space to fit both of them. With the Canucks retaining salary on Jannik Hansen, they’d only be able to hold back money on one of the twins, and I don’t think that’ll be enough.

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These days, I have to concentrate to remember when the Canucks and Hawks was the NHL’s fiercest rivalry. You may have forgotten as well. They were the four regular season games we looked forward to most. Their playoff series, as ugly and nasty as they got at times, were basically all the reasons we watch hockey. It had villains and drama and heroes and moments.

And yet the last time anyone talked about the Canucks without a tone of pity, amazement (the wrong kind), or scorn was five years ago. And it’s not going to change for a while either. Which breaks my fucking heart, let me tell you.

Vancouver Canucks

’16-’17 Record: 30-43-9  69 points (dead ass last in the Pacific)

Team Stats 5v5: 47.9 CF% (26th)  46.6 SF% (29th)  46.2 SCF% (28th)  7.0 SH% (22nd)  .924 SV% (15th)

Special Teams: 14.1 PP% (29th)  76.6 PK% (28th)

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oldschool at Lumberjack_Song

Game Time: 9:30PM CDT
TV/Radio: WGN, TSN, WGN-AM 720
The Truth Is Out There: Nucks Misconduct, Canucks Army

With last night’s OT loss to the hapless Flames in Cow Town, the Hawks are officially in the midst of their longest losing streak since the 9-game debacle that nearly completely derailed the 2011-2012 season. And while things aren’t nearly that dire yet, the Blues have already tied the Hawks for first in the Central and have games in hand, and the road trip prior to the Olympics takes a much sharper turn toward icky starting tonight with their old friends the Canucks. Though given the state of things in Vancouver of late, just how icky can be debated.

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AltLogo at Lumberjack_Song

Game Time: 9:00PM Central
TV/Radio: WGN Ch. 9, NHLN (US), CBC (Hosers), WGN-AM 720
Blackfish: Nucks Misconduct

Now the circus trip moves to its most western destination in British Columbia, where where the Hawks and Canucks will renew acquaintances and rekindle what’s now left of one of the more volatile rivalries within the boundaries of Lockout 2.0 and Lockout 3.0.