Game No. 41: Whoa, we're halfway there

Ryan Lambert
January 05 2011 04:37PM



Hoo boy.

As of right now, the Vancouver Canucks are literally the best team in hockey. As of two nights ago, the Calgary Flames lost the second-worst team in hockey. This is a recipe for disaster.

The Canucks haven't lost in regulation in exactly a month, when they dropped a 3-2 decision to St. Louis. Before that, they had won four straight. Since then, they've won 11 of 13 and taken 24 of 26 possible points. So you might say that they're as for-real as teams get.

Now, there's something to be said (at least by the people who believe these things) about peaking too early, and that late-season games coming after Valentine's Day or so are the true test of a team's character. But that is, of course, ridiculous. Any time a team can cobble together a stretch of 15-1-2 over the course of about a month and a half, they are a force to be reckoned with. No one just backs into that, unless they're the Senators last year, I guess, but at least Vancouver plays in the West, right?

Plus they say you gotta beat the teams put in front of you. Doesn't matter if they're first or 30th, you gotta win. Well, Vancouver obviously has, but they're not exactly pounding on the minnows. In this 18-game superstretch, they've beaten current playoff teams 12 times(!), so there schedule hasn't exactly been easy. In fact, there are seven teams in the league with 50 or more points, and Vancouver's one of 'em, but during this run, they've played them all except Pittsburgh and Washington and taken six of eight points.

They've netted 72 goals in this run (an even four per) and allowed just 39 (2.17 per). That'll win you a hell of a lot of hockey games, and they've got everyone chipping in. There are seven Canucks with 20 points or more, but during this run, no one has been superhuman, like, say, Crosby was when the Pens won 100 in a row a few weeks back. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have 26 and 25 points, respectively, which isn't a ton all things considered. In the latter's case, it's only slightly above his season output, and in the former's it's actually below.

They actually remind me a lot of the Flames from their Cup run. Great goaltending, a couple of really good players at the top of their game, and a whole bunch of brainless thugs who make them impossible to play against.

This one could get ugly.

 

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Yer ol' buddy Lambert is handsome and great and everyone loves him. Also you can visit his regular blog at The Two-Line Pass or follow him on Twitter. Lucky you!
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#1 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 06:38PM
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Winner winner shikins dinner

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#2 otto
January 05 2011, 07:03PM
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Until they actually do something in the play-offs Van is just San Jose north.

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#3 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 07:52PM
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Wow. Quite the collapse by Team Canada.

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#4 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:03PM
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Well that was disappointing. At least the Flames will...aww crap.

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#5 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:10PM
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Quite the comedy of errors on the Kesler goal.

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#6 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 08:13PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Wow. Quite the collapse by Team Canada.

Give the Russians a well earned KUDO. that demonstrated big heart. The canadian kids played 40 fantastic minutes of hockey, perhaps they peaked one game early against the USA. none the less great tourney by a great team.

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#7 Derzie
January 05 2011, 08:15PM
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I'm with Otto. Canucks are regular season wonders. Olli should be the Flames mascot. The quintessential lovable loser.

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#8 coptin_
January 05 2011, 08:16PM
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how many chances at sucking is #4 going to get he is the worst d man on this team

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#9 otto
January 05 2011, 08:22PM
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coptin_ wrote:

how many chances at sucking is #4 going to get he is the worst d man on this team

That's a bit of a stretch.

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#10 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:25PM
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coptin_ wrote:

how many chances at sucking is #4 going to get he is the worst d man on this team

Probably as many or more as Jokinen, who was equally terrible on that sequence.

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#11 SmellOfVictory
January 05 2011, 08:31PM
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OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH did anyone else see what I saw? Backlund out on the PP? I do believe I just jizzed in my pants.

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#12 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:36PM
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That's a smelly one on Kipper.

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#13 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:36PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH did anyone else see what I saw? Backlund out on the PP? I do believe I just jizzed in my pants.

I dont think I've seen him on the ice since.

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#14 dotfras
January 05 2011, 08:40PM
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Beauty play by the first line there, somehow you gotta finish that one though.

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#15 scott
January 05 2011, 08:41PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Well that was disappointing. At least the Flames will...aww crap.

My thoughts exactly...

"Well, Team Canada lost, since it can't get any worse, I migh as well watch the flames... oh nevermind"

Looks like a rotten night for hockey now!

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#16 scott
January 05 2011, 08:41PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

Well that was disappointing. At least the Flames will...aww crap.

My thoughts exactly...

"Well, Team Canada lost, since it can't get any worse, I migh as well watch the flames... oh nevermind"

Looks like a rotten night for hockey now!

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#17 SmellOfVictory
January 05 2011, 08:42PM
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dotfras wrote:

Beauty play by the first line there, somehow you gotta finish that one though.

Yeah. Joker almost waited long enough, but not quite, and Iggy's stick just got tied up, unfortunately.

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#18 schevvy
January 05 2011, 08:43PM
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The difference in between the two teams isn't much, but one team can score on their chances and the other can't. Vancouver scores when they get their chances, Calgary not so much

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#19 dotfras
January 05 2011, 08:43PM
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Not a fan of Backlund on the fourth line there.

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#20 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:47PM
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Chances were 6-4 for VAN in the first by my count. Flames eventually tilted the ice, but had a lot of trouble getting the puck on the net from the scoring area. Lots of shots blocked or passes bouncing over sticks.

I see Backlund has already been relegated to the bottom line. I'm willing to bet he plays less than 10 minutes tonight.

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#21 otto
January 05 2011, 08:53PM
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He has to play on the 4th line because we don't have a 2nd or 3rd line.

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#22 Robert Cleave
January 05 2011, 08:55PM
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Corsi.

CGY +5, EV shots 10-6. Pretty easy period for the Canucks, numbers aside. Calgary fired too many muffins at Lu.

Gamewise, the Flames really do struggle in defensive transition for a team alleged to have a bunch of vets on the roster. Every time they have to retreat against a team with any speed at all it looks like a panic moment, and tonight is no different. They couldn't complete or take a pass if their lives depended on it, either, but that's been status quo the last two seasons.

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#23 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 08:58PM
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otto wrote:

He has to play on the 4th line because we don't have a 2nd or 3rd line.

haha, fair enough.

At some point this year I'd like to see the team bury their aversion to playing kids in anything more than ultra-rare, sheltered minutes and give Backlund a full look. He's got the skills and his underlying numbers aren't terrible. Might as well see what he can do and let him find his way at this level. He's the only NHLer they have under 25 right now FFS.

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#24 dotfras
January 05 2011, 09:04PM
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Agreed. Tanguay-Backlund-Iggy needs to be the next place the kid ends up.

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#25 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:07PM
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@dotfras

The progression should have been fourth line minutes early last year gradually stepping up to the top unit. According to Pete and Mike on the fan the Flames have been the better team tonight.

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#26 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:09PM
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dotfras wrote:

Agreed. Tanguay-Backlund-Iggy needs to be the next place the kid ends up.

I don't know if I'd move him right up the depth chart. But 12-15 minutes a night with some PP time shouldn't be the exception.

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#27 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:14PM
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Yeesh. Nothing going on in the second so far.

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#28 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:21PM
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Bouwmeester is having an ugly night tonight.

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#29 Scott
January 05 2011, 09:22PM
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Does Calgary have the heart and leadership to come back like the russians? Where is Staios when you need him!

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#30 coptin_
January 05 2011, 09:22PM
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i think it's time to split up 4 & 28 one is old and slow and j bow has given up

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#31 coptin_
January 05 2011, 09:22PM
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i think it's time to split up 4 & 28 one is old and slow and j bow has given up

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#32 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:26PM
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Scott wrote:

Does Calgary have the heart and leadership to come back like the russians? Where is Staios when you need him!

Probably watching the game from his rocking chair.

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#33 SmellOfVictory
January 05 2011, 09:26PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I don't know if I'd move him right up the depth chart. But 12-15 minutes a night with some PP time shouldn't be the exception.

As long as Sutter is willing to match lines with vigor (which I realize he seems to eschew), he could just try to shelter it somewhat and see if it can destroy other teams' lower lines.

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#34 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:33PM
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SmellOfVictory wrote:

As long as Sutter is willing to match lines with vigor (which I realize he seems to eschew), he could just try to shelter it somewhat and see if it can destroy other teams' lower lines.

True. And even if he can't...let him try to figure things out. His getting better is a tad more important than the Flames trying to eke out a few more points right now.

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#35 Flamin Cannot's
January 05 2011, 09:33PM
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Iginla for B. Schenn!

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#36 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:39PM
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Chances were 3-1 for VAN. Flames one chance came on the PP.

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#37 Robert Cleave
January 05 2011, 09:40PM
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Corsi.

CGY +10, EV shots 23-11, 13-5 in the second. That many shots with absolutely nothing of consequence in terms of scoring chances is quite a feat. The only positive is Joker getting a seat on the pine.

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#38 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:41PM
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Feable attempt by Rene, thats the heart of a champion. Absolutely no urgency. 5 more years.man o man the boys on the fan sure are homers tonight, no shots on net on the pp and Mike Rogers says Kipper is letting them down.

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#39 Scott
January 05 2011, 09:42PM
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Seems like we have gone back in time... Like at the beginning of the season when we'd get 40+ shots and score one goal. Monday's game and now tonight. They have stopped aiming and are hitting the goalie in the guy every time.

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#40 schevvy
January 05 2011, 09:45PM
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Maybe the flames pull a Russia :) Chances of that happening very slim

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#41 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:45PM
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The stats will look like the Flames dominated. Thats the beauty of stats, you can manipulate them into fooling the niave casual fan.

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#42 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:49PM
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Correction on vancouver's third goal, it has been credited to sarich.

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#43 walkinvisible
January 05 2011, 09:49PM
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kent: i know you record these games... what are the odds you can somehow download that jokinen snapshot teach ? it was pure unadulterated comedy. first he hits the post on the how-to, then goes 50% on MITCH EFFIN' NYBO. ouch...

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#44 Scott
January 05 2011, 09:50PM
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@negrilcowboy

Yes, I agree, the casual fan and the media. They love to jump all over the simple and obvious stats.

Generally I avoid things like save % for goalies for this reason. When you leave Tavares wide open 3 feet in front of the net on the PP, its not the goalies fault!

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#45 Scott
January 05 2011, 09:52PM
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@walkinvisible

Hahah, you caught that too? I guess it shows, what you do in practise, you do in the game!

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#46 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:52PM
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walkinvisible wrote:

kent: i know you record these games... what are the odds you can somehow download that jokinen snapshot teach ? it was pure unadulterated comedy. first he hits the post on the how-to, then goes 50% on MITCH EFFIN' NYBO. ouch...

Actually, just watching this one live so can''t help you there. Not that I'd want to watch it more than once.

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#47 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:55PM
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@Robert Cleave

There was one shot - a Gio slapper from around the edge of the scoring area - I may have counted if I was in a really forgiving mood. That's it. All other activity was from the point or the boards.

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#48 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:56PM
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@Scott

Tomorrows quote will be we fired alot of shots on net, and things didn't go our way, no bounces, so we need a bounce back game. end quote. Rember the old Red Army teams, Canada would outshoot them 30 to 12 and at the end of the game the score was Russia 4 canada 3. its all about legitimate scoring chances.

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#49 negrilcowboy
January 05 2011, 09:56PM
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@Scott

Tomorrows quote will be we fired alot of shots on net, and things didn't go our way, no bounces, so we need a bounce back game. end quote. Rember the old Red Army teams, Canada would outshoot them 30 to 12 and at the end of the game the score was Russia 4 canada 3. its all about legitimate scoring chances.

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#50 Kent Wilson
January 05 2011, 09:59PM
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Backlund and Moss look like they have a pulse tonight at least.

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