Saturday, December 31, 2005


Wild 4, Canucks 3
Reuters photo -- Eric Miller

[posted in full Mon ~1:33a]

Another divisional game, another divisional loss for the Canucks. It's dire. Very, very dire. They're in a precarious place right now since the Northwest Division is so tightly packed. The division lead puts you in the third slot in the west, sure, but if you're much further out of it than that, you can drop all the way down to seventh in a hurry. This to me says that the teams in the Northwest are just beating up on each other and keeping points from one another to the point where whoever's second is a long cry from third in the conference, and the division winner definitely doesn't have the third-most points in the conference, just the division lead.

Knowing that you can't start Alex Auld every game, Marc Crawford ran backup goalie Maxime Ouellet out there for what was the first game of a road trip, and a divisional game to boot. A Vancouver-area columnist on the pregame show was criticizing this move since there were cupcake opponents like Saint Louis and Chicago left on the road trip to keep Ouellet sharp, and he was proven to be somewhat correct after this game. However, the Canucks had sent Ouellet down to Manitoba for one start (where he apparently did well) to warm him up before sending him across the border for this game. I'll just say his first 20 minutes were solid. They don't just play 20 minutes in a hockey game though.

1st period
Nearly six minutes into the period, Daniel Sedin was robbed by the right pad of Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez. Later in the period, Mikko Koivu of the Wild was stopped by the blocker of Maxime Ouellet. The Wild killed off two penalties in close succession, which one might expect from their having the NHL's best penalty-kill unit. Coming into the game, they had killed off 35 of their last 37 penalties. The Canucks also failed to capitalize on 31 seconds of two-man advantage time after Pascal Dupuis was called for a trip that wasn't actually a trip since Markus Naslund just blew a tire. With just over three minutes left in the period, Rick Rypien had a scoring chance stopped by Fernandez on a rush. Ouellet made a solid kick save on Wes Walz in close before the end of the period. Vancouver outshot Minnesota 12-10 in the period, and Ouellet looked fairly solid in net. The Canucks were 0-for-2 on the power play and Minnesota was 0-for-1.

2nd period
As good as Ouellet was in the first period, he was shaky in the second period. Early on, he hot-potatoed a puck. Todd Bertuzzi was stripped of the puck, and Todd White broke away and shot off the crossbar. Just past six minutes into the period, Koivu beat Ouellet with a shot that went off the post, but Ouellet was lucky to cover it up. After an initial Richard Park hard wrister from the high slot was stopped by a Fernandez kick save, Matt Cooke swooped in and backhanded the rebound through from just inside the right faceoff dot.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Matt Cooke 6 (Richard Park) 6:19
Guess what disturbing trend is going to hold up now? The Canuck lead lasted for all of 21 seconds as Todd White blasted a slapshot from the high slot to beat Ouellet stick side.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, Todd White 10 (Brian Rolston, Kyle Wanvig) 6:40
It didn't stop there. Just 34 seconds after the Canucks blew the lead, they got behind. A Marian Gaborik shot from behind the right hash was stopped by Ouellet, but the puck ricocheted high into the air, and Ouellet couldn't find it. The puck eventually appeared in the crease, and Wes Walz took out the trash from in front.
»» 3, MINNESOTA, Wes Walz 5 (unassisted) 7:14
The Canucks killed off a Kevin Bieksa interference penalty and were at full strength for 21 seconds before Ryan Kesler went to the box for a high-stick. In addition, the Canuck bench got whistled for "abuse of officials" (that's what it says on the scoresheet), putting them two men down. It didn't take long (19 seconds) for Kurtis Foster to blast a slapshot from beside the high slot that beat Ouellet stick side, far post.
»» 4, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Kurtis Foster 6 (Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Rolston) 10:56
With 7:21 left in the period, a long slapshot off the stick of Filip Kuba hit Bryan Allen in the forehand, drawing profuse bleeding and forcing him to the locker room. Later, Kyle Wanvig was stopped on a 2-on-1 with Brian Rolston. After that, Ouellet had yet another shot go off the crossbar. Derek Boogaard tried making a run at Bieksa, but instead took one of his teammates out of the play instead. The weird result of the play was that Boogaard was called for charging. On the resulting power play, Sami Salo blasted a slapshot straight down the middle that deflected off a Minnesota defender's stick to beat Fernandez top shelf. Salo had gone 16 games without scoring a goal.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Sami Salo 7 (Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi) 19:47
Vancouver was badly outshot 16-7 in the period (and 26-19 for the game). The Canucks were 1-for-2 (1-for-4 cumulatively) on the power play while Minnesota was 1-for-3 (1-for-4).

3rd period
After having taken the puck to the forehead in the second period, a stitched-up Allen had come back to help the Canuck defenseman's plight with Ed Jovanovski being a scratch. The speed line of Matt Cooke/Brendan Morrison/Richard Park had a good early shift. On the same shift where Trevor Linden lost a stick, the Canuck penalty kill and Ouellet held tough on a couple of really good scoring chances before Randy Robitaille unleashed a slapshot from the back of the left circle that beat Ouellet on the glove side. Out came Rypien from the box, as he'd been in for holding.
»» 6, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Randy Robitaille 8 (Foster, Bouchard) 8:41
Markus Naslund centered from the back of the right circle near the right-wing boards to the low slot, where Allen deflected the puck past Fernandez just inside the far post.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Bryan Allen 4 (Naslund, Bertuzzi) 10:30
Daniel Sedin from behind the net centered to brother Henrik Sedin, who tipped the deflection barely wide in front of Fernandez. As the Canucks were trying to even up the score, Naslund was whistled for grabbing Bouchard with 3:29 left in the game, making a great deal of the needed energy for finding the tying goal instead being sucked by the penalty kill. Vancouver was outshot 11-10 in the final period (37-29 total) and was 1-for-1 on the power play (2-for-5). Minnesota was 1-for-3 on the power play (2-for-7). Ouellet stopped 33.

Three stars -- (1) Minnesota's Kurtis Foster, (2) Minnesota's Brian Rolston, (3) Minnesota's Marc Chouinard

skater, goals-assists-points
Bertuzzi 0-2-2
Naslund 0-2-2
Allen 1-0-1
Cooke 1-0-1
Salo 1-0-1
Park 0-1-1

Vancouver's last six losses have all been by one goal. Radio color man Tom Larscheid after the game said something not necessarily to the effect of that being the type of thing that happens to bad teams, but they sure don't happen to elite teams. Elite teams don't kick away a chance to bury the rest of their division either like the Canucks had early on in the campaign.

The Canucks were 25-for-57 (44%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 9-for-13, Rick Rypien was 3-for-5, Trevor Linden was 1-for-5, Henrik Sedin was 4-for-18 (ouch), and Todd Bertuzzi was 7-for-13. Sami Salo led the team in shots with five. Daniel Sedin was close behind with four. Matt Cooke led the team with five hits, Mattias Ohlund dished out four, and Mattias Ohlund three.

There were no plus-skating Canucks. Vancouver's only even-strength goal was the first one (Cooke), and the same line was left on the ice until Todd White tied the game for Minnesota 21 seconds later. So, the only plus-minus numbers are from the second Minnesota goal. Those guys (minus-1s) were Ohlund, Markus Naslund, Kevin Bieksa, Ruutu, and Bertuzzi. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The Canucks are now 21-12-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses) and are still stuck at 47 points, but now do not lead the Northwest Division and are near the back end of playoff spots as of the moment. That'll happen when you have a 5-10-4 record in divisional play. Horrible.

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Friday, December 30, 2005


[actual post Sat ~6:40a]

The Atlanta Hawks hung in against the New Jersey Nets but the latter team led for good after former Kansas Jayhawk point guard Jacque Vaughn nailed a jumper to put an 85-84 lead with 4:53 to go. It was a lead the Nets wouldn't surrender en route to a 99-91 win. Yes, the Hawks ran into a hot team of Nets, as this was the eighth straight win for New Jersey.

Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams scored seven points in a mere nine minutes off the bench. He shot 2-for-3 from the field (1-for-2 from beyond the arc), and was 2-for-2 from the line. He also grabbed an offensive rebound and was whistled for four fouls, more than likely the reason he only got nine minutes.

SportsLine image

The Hawks go into 2006 with a 7-21 record. They host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005


I actually had most of the material for this post written down on a piece of paper, and it's just kind of sat there for a month or two. I came across it again in my backpack yesterday, and here I am posting it.

By memory and a couple of quick checks to everyone's good friend, BaseballReference.com, I hastily drew up a Mariners all-time team. Basically, not only did I take, say, the best player at one position. For example, I'd want the 2001 version of Bret Boone, not the 2005 version. Also, now that I just thought of it, I can't take two versions of the same player, as I'd be tempted to do with a 1996 and a 2000 version of Alex Rodriguez.

As I've said, this was hastily drawn up, so if you bust me for leaving out a Tino Martinez or a Julio Mateo (I pretty much went with setup men and left out all long relief), that's cool. Bust me for putting two first basemen on the bench, it's cool. I've also thrown in the one mediocre season of Adrian Beltre since he was the best third baseman in Mariner history the moment he was signed; hopefully this is proven even more next year. The season I picked for John Halama is the one where he started 30 games, and I put him in the bullpen. There also might not be enough lefthandedness in the lineup. Yes, I'm preparing for the venom of our commenters since I put Randy Winn on there instead of Butch Huskey. Also, I've realized that I've left off anyone before 1995, so I guess maybe I should have done this for that tenth-anniversary of the 1995 thing, but I don't like to mention it too much since Rick Rizzs takes care of that with every fifth word out of his mouth.

Did I mention it's a 25-man roster? My apologies to Mike Hargrove, since I didn't take 12 pitchers. Eleven does it for me.

[reader suggestions inserted Sat ~7:52p]

RF L Ichiro 2001
SS R Alex Rodriguez 1996
CF L Ken Griffey, Jr. 1997
2B R Bret Boone 2001
DH R Edgar Martinez 1997
1B R Richie Sexson 2005
LF S Randy Winn 2003
3B R Adrian Beltre 2005
C R Dan Wilson 1996

RF R Jay Buhner 1997
OF S Stan Javier 2001
UT S Mark McLemore 2001
1B L John Olerud 2001
1B L Alvin Davis 1984

SP L Randy Johnson 1997
SP R Erik Hanson 1990
SP L Jamie Moyer 2001
SP R Freddy Garcia 2001
SP L Mark Langston 1987

RP L John Halama 2000
RP L Arthur Rhodes 2001
RP R Bill Risley 1995
RP R Jeff Nelson 2001
CL R Kazuhiro Sasaki 2001
CL L Eddie Guardado 2005

I should note that it's the first time this winter that I've tried to use something that's actually Mariner-related to distract me from the current Mariners' abhorrent offseason.


[My selections that I bumped off and replaced with the reader suggestions...
1B L Paul Sorrento 1996
SP L Jeff Fassero 1997
SP R Andy Benes 1995]

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Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Canucks 4, Predators 3
Reuters photo -- Lyle Stafford

[posted in full Thu ~3:56p]

The Canucks needed this win in the worst way. They had managed to go winless in the first five games of a six-game homestand, they got worked in every third period, and it seemed like every big goal they scored was answered pretty quickly by the opposition. But the Canucks desperately needed a win before embarking on a stretch where 14 of 18 games would be played on the road. Coach Marc Crawford even pulled out the stops, juggling lines. Usual top-line center Brendan Morrison was moved to the third line to join Matt Cooke and Richard Park on a speedy third line. Jarkko Ruutu and his physical play were moved up to the first line, and Todd Bertuzzi was moved to the centering position on that line. Morrison on the third line bumped Ryan Kesler to the fourth-line right wing position to take Ruutu's slot.

Then Nashville scored on the first shot of the game and had a two-goal lead before the halfway point of the first period. Things did not look good. Luckily, the Canucks were about to blaze the comeback trail. The game was tied for a total of 14:04 and the Canucks led for only 11:19, but they held the final lead of the game for that span of time.

Let's thank the Nashville Predators for resting Tomas Vokoun for the night. The Predators had beaten the Calgary Flames the night before. Vokoun is also incredibly good.

1st period
As the second line was getting onto the ice for their first shift, Darcy Hordichuk let one fly from past the left circle along the boards, beating Alex Auld on the far side. As mentioned, it was the first shot of the game for the Predators. They were batting 1.000 at this point.
»» 1, NASHVILLE, Darcy Hordichuk 3 (Jerred Smithson) 0:38
The Canucks were whistled for a too-many-men penalty and Nashville cashed in -- they had the NHL's sixth-best power play unit coming into the game. Dan Hamhuis in the very high slot dished to Marek Zidlicky to Auld's stick side. Zidlicky shot and hit the post with the puck, but the pill went off the back of Auld's leg and into the net. Scattered boos were heard inside GM Place.
»» 2, NASHVILLE, powerplay, Marek Zidlicky 9 (Dan Hamhuis, Martin Erat) 9:05
Vancouver outshot Nashville 10-9 in the period. The Predators were 1-for-4 on the power play, and the Canucks were 0-for-2.

2nd period
Todd Bertuzzi skated across the blue line and drop-passed between his legs to a trailing Markus Naslund. Bertuzzi skated toward the crease as Naslund kept trailing him. Naslund went top corner glove side on Chris Mason from the inside of the right circle.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 21 (Todd Bertuzzi, Ed Jovanovski) 1:20
With Danny Markov in the box for hooking, the Canucks went to the power play. Naslund from near the right-wing boards centered the puck to Ed Jovanovski in front of the crease, who simply redirected the nice pass to beat Mason on the stick side. Jovanovski had snapped a 17-game goal drought.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Jovanovski 6 (Naslund, Bertuzzi) 7:24
Despite the Canucks controlling the play in the second period, the Predators still managed to sneak in a goal and retake their lead. Martin Erat dug the puck out from the end boards, came out in front, and passed across the crease with Yanic Perreault rushing the crease untouched. Perreault went top shelf, stick side on Auld.
»» 5, NASHVILLE, Yanic Perreault 12 (Erat, Danny Markov) 10:19
With the power play expiring, Mattias Ohlund fired a slapshot a few feet wide of the net. Anson Carter fetched the puck in the left-wing corner and passed it back to Ohlund, who was still at the blue line. Ohlund one-timed it past Mason on the glove side, snapping a 22-game goal drought.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Mattias Ohlund 5 (Anson Carter, Sami Salo) 17:32
Vancouver outshot the Predators 12-8 in the period (22-17 overall). They were 1-for-4 on the power play in the period (1-for-6), and Nashville was scoreless on their only chance (1-for-5).

3rd period
With a delayed penalty about to be called, the Canucks kept the puck alive. Brendan Morrison had a wraparound attempt stopped and chased his own rebound toward the right-wing boards. He dished off to Jovanovski, who shot from the right-wing boards and had the puck go off of Matt Cooke in the crease. The puck then caromed to a waiting Richard Park in the low slot, who beat Mason on the stick side. The goal that held up as the game-winner snapped Park's 17-game goal drought.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, Richard Park 6 (Matt Cooke, Jovanovski) 8:41
Auld had to step up in the final minutes of play as the Canucks spent time on the penalty kill with the one-goal lead. Henrik Sedin was called for roughing with 3:53 to go, and Ryan Kesler was called for a trip with half a minute to go. Nashville outshot Vancouver 18-10 in the period (35-32 overall) and was 0-for-2 on the power play (1-for-7). Vancouver was scoreless on their lone power play in the period (1-for-7). Auld stopped 32 on the night.

Three stars -- (1) Jovanovski, (2) Bertuzzi, (3) Nashville's Marek Zidlicky

skater, goals-assists-points
Jovanovski 1-2-3
Naslund 1-1-2
Bertuzzi 0-2-2
Ohlund 1-0-1
Park 1-0-1
Carter 0-1-1
Cooke 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1

Goal-scoring from the blue line? What is this? The Shorthouse radio call on the Ohlund goal was hilarious -- "Ohlund and Jovanovski...in the same game!" Let's not forget Richard Park, who also scored his first goal in a very long time. Even more importantly, though, the Canucks couldn't go a whole homestand without a win. Losing isn't what homestands are for. The homestand was especially surprising consider how well they'd played on the east coast trip they'd taken beforehand, although the getting-outworked third-period thing had been festering since the game at Madison Square Garden.

Vancouver was 33-for-71 (46%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was a brutal 4-for-16, Rick Rypien was 1-for-4, Trevor Linden was 9-for-12, Ryan Kesler was 4-for-6, Henrik Sedin was 8-for-14, and Todd Bertuzzi was 6-for-15. Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski led the team with four shots apiece. Jarkko Ruutu used his promotion to the top line to wreak havoc, leading the team with six hits.

Plus-skating Canucks (all plus-1) were Ohlund, Richard Park, Markus Naslund, Henrik Sedin, Ruutu, Bertuzzi, and Jovanovski. Anson Carter was the only minus-skating Canuck on the team at minus-1. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The same Nashville Predators beat the Calgary Flames the night before. Before the Canucks were done with this game, the Minnesota Wild got out of Edmonton with a win. Thanks to that chain of events, the Canucks went from seventh in the conference to third since they've retaken the Northwest Division lead with a record of 21-11-5 (1-3 in shootouts, two overtime losses), good for 47 points and a one-point lead over the Flames and Oilers (Flames have a game in hand over the Oilers).

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[actual post Thu ~1:26a]

The Atlanta Hawks allowed only 18 points in the second quarter, but allowed 35, 26, and 29 in the other three quarters en route to a 108-102 loss in Toronto. To make matters worse, the Hawks had an 89-81 lead in the early stages of the fourth quarter before the Raptors reeled off a 12-2 run to tie the game at 91. Toronto got a lead it wouldn't relinquish with 2:47 to go. Atlanta shot 56.3% in the game, but turned the ball over 20 times, leading to 29 Toronto points. That'll do it.

Bremerton High 2004 graduate Marvin Williams scored four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench. He grabbed five rebounds and recorded a steal and a block. He was whistled for one foul and couldn't avoid the turnover train, though he only hopped aboard once. Joe Johnson alone had six turnovers.

SportsLine image

The Hawks travel to New Jersey on Friday night.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2005


[actual post Wed ~7:53p]

The Charlotte Bobcats blew an 11-point lead thanks to a 32-13 run by the Atlanta Hawks, but the Bobcats held off the Hawks for the road win in the end by a score of 93-90.

The AP wire article for the game had an extra dose of rub-it-in statistical input, saying that 2004 Bremerton High graduate Marvin Williams had "scored just two points with seven rebounds and seven fouls in his last 34-plus minutes." Obviously they're factoring in every minute since his career high game. For this game, though, Marvin played only 10 minutes off the bench and was scoreless on 0-for-2 shooting from the field. He collected one rebound and was called for four fouls.

SportsLine image

The Hawks were to travel to Toronto the next night.

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When I last did a full post about this Sonic team, they had just come off a home loss to the Hornets. At the time, their third straight loss had dropped them to a record of 5-8. They obviously hadn't mustered up the defense they had last season, letting the opposition get above the century mark in points night in and night out.

Here are the scores the Sonics have posted since...

30: W 104-94 vs. CHA

2: W 115-108 vs. CLE
4: W 107-102 vs. IND
6: L 104-101 vs. NY
9: W 106-90 at UTA
10: L 123-104 vs. SAC
13: L 110-107 (OT) vs. GS
15: L 104-98 vs. HOU
16: W 111-99 at POR
19: W 111-101 vs. WSH
20: L 111-83 at PHX
23: L 101-98 vs. DAL
26: W 118-111 vs. BOS

Oddly, the Sonics actually have a winning record since I last did a post about them. They are 7-6 since that loss to the Hornets. The next game was a home win over the Bobcats, and it started a stretch of four wins in five games for the Sonics, with the other wins coming against Cleveland, Indiana, and at Utah.

The Sonics followed that nice four of five stretch with a three-game skid. Then two wins. Then two losses before the home win against the Celtics last night.

[Edit ~6:48p -- serious flaw corrected in the following paragraph...I had said that the Sonic defense had allowed 100 or less in 10 of 13 games, which is horribly incorrect. Also clarified consistency was needed on defense.]

As for allowing 100 points or more, the Sonics did that in 10 of the last 13 games. Yup, the defense is still crap. Using defensive efficiency numbers, David Locke would tell you that the Sonics' defense is historically bad. Of course, the flipside of this is that if the Sonics somehow got just a tiny bit more consistent on defense, they could be a mucho better team since they have so much offensive potential. Ray Allen's had some terrible shooting nights in this 13-game span -- 8-for-22 from the field against Cleveland, 10-for-26 against Indiana, 9-for-28 against the Knicks, 6-for-22 at Utah, 10-for-27 against Houston, 8-for-21 against Dallas, and 3-for-13 against Boston last night. One would have to believe that the team should warm up a bit if Allen starts stroking it a little better.

Another problem for the team? Something beyond the fact that Antonio Daniels is gone? Well, Luke Ridnour has gotten more minutes, and has gotten more horrible. His assist-to-turnover ratio hasn't been too horrible. Obviously, with the increase in minutes and more prominent role this season, they obviously expected Luke to contribute more on the offensive end, to drill that 18-footer if it's open, drive for that runner every once in a while, etc. The problem is that he's sitting here 26 games into the season (almost one-third of the way through) and Ridnour is shooting 36%. Ouch. Ouch, ouch, ouch. Over the 13-game stretch, Ridnour has posted shooting nights of 5-for-15 against Charlotte, 3-for-10 against Sacramento, 2-for-11 against Golden State, 2-for-12 at Phoenix, and 3-for-9 at Phoenix. Ridnour did complain to coach Bob Weiss that he was having some nausea in the game last night, so we'll give him a bit of a break there. Did anyone see the shot that Luke took in the closing seconds of the Dallas game? Mind-boggling.

The backup point guard is last year's odd point guard out Ron Murray, who went off and scored 29 last night, but can turn over the ball at times, is a one-on-one player who can sort of stagnate the rest of the offense, and, much like Ridnour, can't defend. Murray also isn't the good free-throw shooter that Daniels was. Regarding the offense stagnating with Murray having the ball, I think I heard an explanation on KJR -- basically, if Murray's in, he might hold the ball, dribble, try to make moves, etc., but if Ray or Rashard get the ball, they know they might not see it again, and they might try to force their own shot or something.

But just as Murray goes off and scores 29, he dislocates a couple of fingers. The team sort of has a point guard conundrum.

I haven't even gotten to Vladimir Radmanovic yet. He's inconsistent along with his minutes. To put it bluntly, I don't think Weiss knows what to do with him.

You know what the sick thing is, though? If they win the next two games, they could be tied for the Northwest Division lead. They're currently a game behind Denver, who would have the eighth playoff spot. Yes, the division is crap this year. At this point, the division winner could be the weakest three-seed in quite a while, though this wouldn't be the first time a division winner has had a crap record in the six-division NBA format.

Anyway, anything is possible for the Sonics, it's just pretty freakin' cloudy right now. My only regret is that since I'm not following them in quite a day-to-day fashion last year, if they sneak into the playoffs and somehow get to the second round, it won't be quite as rewarding for me.

You know, that's the whole reason I like to follow these teams on a day-to-day basis is for the one time, just that one time that they take the whole thing.

Well, more than likely another Sonic post in a month unless something incredible happens.

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Monday, December 26, 2005


Flames 2, Canucks 1
CP photo -- Chuck Stoody

[posted in full Tue ~3:42p]

I'd like to thank the Seattle Seahawks for being so good. It helps take my emphasis away from the mediocrity of the Seattle SuperSonics and the unfortunately now-slumping Vancouver Canucks. They're winless in eight games against Edmonton and Calgary, two teams they might come across in the playoffs. This was the fourth game they lost to Calgary, and as the Canuck radio crew said, that's enough to win a playoff series. The same tendencies of the last few games showed up as well. If they score a big goal, the opposition scores right away to suck out the momentum, and in every third period they get absolutely outworked. Calgary retook the lead in the third period. The Canucks had three shots on goal in the third period, and one of them was the Anson Carter goal that tied it before the second Calgary goal.

That's pathetic.

1st period
About three and a half minutes into the game, Andrew Ference at his left point was smeared by Jarkko Ruutu. On a Calgary rush, Daymond Langkow from the right point dished nicely to Kristian Huselius skating near the slot. From beside the slot, Huselius scooted one past Alex Auld's stick side. It was Calgary's second shot of the game.
»» 1, CALGARY, powerplay, Kristian Huselius 7 (Daymond Langkow, Jordan Leopold) 4:15
Kevin Bieksa and Byron Ritchie got into a scrum, and Bieksa pummeled the latter. About midway through the period, Brendan Morrison crushed Ference along the boards. Bryan Allen challenged Tony Amonte at one point, and Jarome Iginla came in for Allen, but the linemen broke it up and requisite penalties were assessed. With about seven minutes to go, Todd Bertuzzi skated in alone on Miikka Kiprusoff but was held out by the left pad. Calgary outshot the Canucks 9-8 in the period. The Flames were 1-for-2 on the power play and Vancouver was 0-for-1.

2nd period
Ryan Kesler got a clean shorthanded breakaway about six minutes into the period, but like Bertuzzi before him, was stopped by the left pad of Kiprusoff. Auld made a great toe save off a hard shot in the last minute of the period from Jarome Iginla. Markus Naslund hit a crossbar at one point in the period. Vancouver outshot the Flames 6-5 in the period (14-14 apiece after two). Both teams were 0-for-3 in the period on the power play (Calgary 1-for-5 overall, Vancouver 0-for-4).

3rd period
On the first shift of the period, Allen beat Kiprusoff to the stick side, but rung a shot off the post. Bertuzzi was foiled once again, beating Ference with a move and getting the shot stopped by Kiprusoff. Daniel Sedin from along the goal line to Kiprusoff's glove side passed to Anson Carter camped out to Kiprusoff's stick side a few feet in front. Carter didn't have to do much with the pass, and the score was tied.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 13 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 5:58
Robyn Regehr, who only had two goals on the season up to this point, blasted one over Auld's right shoulder for what turned out to be the winner.
»» 3, CALGARY, powerplay, Robyn Regehr 3 (Huselius, Leopold) 8:34
Vancouver again was outshot in the third period, this time by a 9-3 margin (Calgary 23-17 overall). Calgary was 1-for-3 on the power play (2-for-8 total) and never had a penalty called on them (Vancouver finished 0-for-4).

Three stars -- (1) Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff, (2) Jovanovski, (3) Calgary's Jordan Leopold

skater, goals-assists-points
Carter 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

The thing about the 6-5 loss to Calgary last Friday was that it was played at the Canucks' pace. Darryl Sutter doesn't like 6-5 games. This 2-1 game, however, was certainly much more to his liking. Seventeen shots for the Canucks is exactly what the Flames want to do. They want to get a lead, then hold on to it by using their physical play, limiting shots, and leaning on Kiprusoff to make all the necessary saves, however so little there may be.

I think I pretty much took care of everything that's irking me about the Canucks in the first paragraph, so I won't be the dead horse here again. Well, the Canucks did come out very aggressive on the physical end. Even Brendan Morrison dealt out a pretty good one. Speaking of which, Jarkko Ruutu led the team with four hits, Bryan Allen dished out three, and six others laid a pair of hits apiece.

The great thing about listening to the Canuck radio broadcasts is that you hear stats like how Ed Jovanovski had gone 16 games without a goal, Sami Salo had gone 14 games without a goal, and Mattias Ohlund had gone 21 games without a goal. The Canucks got the big start this season thanks to their scoring from the blue line, and that well appears to have run dry. Also in the goal futility realm, Richard Park had a 16-game goalless skid going into this game. Make that 17.

Vancouver was 27-for-61 (44%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 9-for-16, Trevor Linden was 1-for-4, Ryan Kesler was 7-for-13, Henrik Sedin 5-for-15, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-6. Mattias Ohlund led the team with six shots, and Bertuzzi followed with five. The rest of the team had six shots. Ouch. Of course, what didn't go Vancouver's way was that they had four shots hit the post.

Only plus skaters are on the list since Calgary's goals were on the power play. Plus-1s were Ohlund, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Henrik Sedin, and Anson Carter.

The Canucks sit with a record of 20-11-5 (1-3 in shootouts, two overtime losses), good for 45 points and what is now third place in the Northwest Division. The troubling thing is that a Canuck win could have gotten them back into the division lead and into the number-two slot in the Western Conference. Instead, the worst-case scenario happened, and now Vancouver is seventh in the West. It's packed like sardines in the Northwest Division. The Canucks had their chances when they were hot to bury this division, and they haven't. They've pretty much done the complete opposite.

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