On the flipside. 2014 has been a rough ride for the Canucks so far, going 5-16-3 and falling out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. They also traded a bona-fide number one goalie to the East…twice. The fanbase has been calling for the resignation of the coach, GM, pro scouts, equipment managers, and if I was a certain orca, I wouldn’t feel so secure in my current line of work either.
So, it’s times like these where one starts to feel bad for poor, championship-less Canucks fans. The Heritage Classic game was just held to honour a team that won a ‘Stanley Cup’ in a year that the US Congress rejected a proposal to allow women to vote. I mean, it must be hard to want to—
I’m sorry. I can’t finish this. I can’t muster a single ounce of sympathy at the moment. It’s too delicious. Read about tonight’s HNIC tilt after the jump.
THE FIGHTIN’ FLAMES
There are no lineup changes from last night’s win over the Islanders so here’s tonight’s roster from DailyFaceoff.com:
- Cammalleri – Backlund – Bouma
- Galiardi – Monahan – Colborne
- Byron – Granlund – Reinhart
- Hanowski – Knight – McGrattan
- Giordano – Brodie
- Smid – Wotherspoon
- Russell – Butler
Here’s Granlund’s goal from last night if you missed it. Check out the feed from the owner of the NHL’s best hashtag (Lord Byron):
Last night was Tyler Wotherspoon’s NHL debut and by all accounts he was solid, a word that epitomizes what to expect from him as an NHLer. He didn’t play a whole lot last game as Hartley is clearly trying to ease him into the show but hopefully he can continue to get more comfortable and become a steady, reliable defender heading into next season. Also: he seems to have attended the Sean Monahan media training institute, much to the chagrin of local journos.
There has been a lot of talk about starting the fourth line tonight as homage to the line-brawl that happened the last time Hartley did that in Vancouver. I really, really hope this doesn’t happen, even though the fourth line in this game is far closer to an NHL line than Westgarth-McGrattan-B.Jones that starred in the Goon sequel. For Flames fans, they should want more from their team than mere sideshow and even if they started them and nothing happened, putting McGrattan out to start a game makes no hockey sense whatsoever, no matter who his linemates are.
Since that fateful January evening, the Flames have seemed to have stolen the mojo of the Canucks (artist’s rendering of what that looked like) and the two franchises have resembled two ships passing in the night. Also: one of those ships has caught fire and the plumbing doesn’t work (Hint).
Playing on back-to-back nights will be a tough test for Ortio, especially heading to Vancouver for the second leg. He was okay against the Islanders last night but let in a few that ordinarily would have sunk the Flames. He wasn’t too busy in that game as well so hopefully he can stand tall again tonight in a hostile building.
THE TEAM THAT’S EDDIE LACK’S PROBLEM NOW
Here is the cast of tonight’s episode of “How to Break the Heart of Dimitri Fillipovic” from Daily Faceoff:
- Higgins – Kesler – Jensen
- Burrows – Sedin – Hansen
- Sestito – Matthias – Booth
- Archibald – Schroeder – Dalpe
- Hamhuis – Tanev
- Edler – Bieksa
- Garrison – Weber
The downtrodden Canucks recalled Niklas Jensen yesterday and Canucks Army has a good write-up about him on their site. He will play on the Canucks top-line with Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler which is about as good an opportunity as one is likely to get in a call-up situation. Jensen’s call-up was made because Zach Kassian, whom I am certain could quit hockey if Deliverance was ever made into a TV series, got himself suspended for three games after boarding Brendan Dillon.
The lines for the Canucks are a bit…confusing. I am not sure what to make of a third line of Tom “Fantasy Camp” Sestito, and two exiles from the Panthers. It has the potential to be a productive third line but is hampered by the presence of a facepuncer. The roster is clearly hampered by an injury to Daniel Sedin suffered at the Heritage Classic. This leaves Henrik, whom is also recovering from an injury that kept him out of the Olympics, without someone to communicate with via blinking or click sounds or whatever weirdo twins do.
The Canucks just cannot score right now and currently have scored only two goals more than the Flames despite having played two more games. Alex Burrows has NO GOALS IN 33 GAMES. That is unbelievable considering he averages almost 18 minutes a game. Burrows is also sporting a career low in CF%. David Booth has continued to struggle this season, a symptom of his larger scoring problem as a Canuck with 44 points in 117 games as a Canuck.
A SOMBER ANNIVERSARY
Tonight also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident which still feels like it was only a couple seasons ago to me. Since this, Bertuzzi has played over 500 NHL games (66 of them for the Flames) and Steve Moore never played again. TSN’s three-part series on the upcoming Bertuzzi-Moore trial has hinted that there is likely to be an ugly, public examination of the culture that led to Bertuzzi’s sucker-punch and the attempts to belittle Moore’s injury after the fact. So, I have no doubt that this incident will become a hot-topic again later on this year.
I know the general consensus has been to try and let Bertuzzi move on from this horrific act and I understand why. In many instances, no good comes from dwelling on the 10-year old transgressions of a player, especially when the vast majority of those involved are no longer in the league. However, Steve Moore’s career was ended by a culture of thuggery and vengeance just as much as it was by the fist of Bertuzzi. I fear that this culture still exists today in the league despite the widespread abhorrence to Bertuzzi’s actions in 2004.
Sorry to be a downer, I just though it was a prescient topic with all the reminder of January’s line-brawl swirling around tonight’s game. Let me know what you guys think in the comments.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN BASIL?
If the Flames can keep drastically outworking their opponents, they will likely continue to be in close games as they have been for the majority of the season. The difference of late has been that the Flames are winning some of those games. It is great to see the Flames able to let the sun shine down to the forest floor and not only dress their kids, but give them significant ice-time. Granlund finished with over 16 minutes, Monahan and Reinhart finished with 14 minutes, and Colborne played 15 minutes as well.
This game is a case study of two teams who are currently enjoying two very different reactions from their respective fanbases. Kent mentioned on twitter the other day that the Flames were having an objectively terrible season and some were indignant towards the assessment that this season hasn’t been good.Many seem uncomfortable with this but it remains true. Despite all the optimism and youth that have sparked this excitement around the Flames lately, the truth is, Kent’s right, it’s still been a losing season. But man, does it sure feel different than the season Vancouver is going through right now. It is just curious how the weight of expectation can colour a season.
If nothing else, this season has been very enjoyable so far and hopefully tonight’s game is no exception. On a partisan note, I hope the Flames win 18-0 and cause Tortorella to travel into the press box to fight Peter Loubardias. A man can dream…
Puck drop is at 8pm on HNIC