Saturday, January 21, 2006


Canucks 6, Canadiens 2
AP/CP photo -- Chuck Stoody

[posted in full Fri 27 Jan ~8:42p]

The Canucks were playing in their vintage sweaters for the final time this season. They were doing so against the Montreal Canadiens, who fired coach Claude Julien just days after some random dude laced up skates and shot pucks at Jose Theodore during a practice. Montreal GM Bob Gainey took over the reins for Les Habitantes, who are pretty turmoil-ridden at this point.

1st period
The Montreal defense got crossed up with the puck behind their own net. Todd Bertuzzi stole the puck behind the Habs' net and centered to Brendan Morrison in the slot, who poked it past Jose Theodore stick side to give Vancouver the early lead.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 12 (Todd Bertuzzi) 0:57
Along the boards behind the Montreal net, Alex Burrows and Henrik Sedin were trying to dig the puck out against two Montreal defenders. The puck leaked out and Burrows pounced on it, tucking it past Theodore's right foot from behind the net.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Alexandre Burrows 3 (Henrik Sedin) 1:51
Michael Komisarek went to the box 31 seconds after the Burrows goal for a hook. On the resulting power play, Daniel Sedin centered the puck and had it bounce off Henrik Sedin's stick and onto the stick of Mattias Ohlund. Theodore was off-balance at this point and Ohlund stuffed it through the five hole.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 6 (H Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 4:20
With Mathieu Dandenault in the box for a hook, Nolan Baumgartner had a long shot stopped by Theodore, and Markus Naslund's shot off the rebound was stopped as well. Ohlund along the end boards chipped the puck behind the net to Bertuzzi, who spotted Naslund moving toward the net along the goal line. Naslund tucked the puck in over Theodore's glove shoulder. Dare I say the rout was on. The goal put Naslund in second place all-time in franchise history for power-play goals.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Markus Naslund 23 (Bertuzzi, Ohlund) 12:15
Anson Carter centered to Daniel Sedin, who couldn't get a shot away but found his brother beside the net, who put the puck in over a Theodore who was too late to get back to his right. Theodore was pulled in favor of Cristobal Huet.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, H Sedin 12 (D Sedin, Anson Carter) 13:17
Just after the new goalie was put in, the Canadiens again lost the puck in their own end, and Wade Brookbank came out with the puck, passing to Josh Green near the right point. Green passed back to Brookbank away from the boards, and he passed to Trevor Linden, who then fired a wrister from the back of the right circle and beat Huet glove side.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Trevor Linden 5 (Wade Brookbank, Josh Green) 13:47
The Canucks outshot the Canadiens 15-8 in the period and were 2-for-3 on the power play. Montreal was 0-for-3 on the man-advantage.

2nd period
With the penalty just expiring, Michael Ryder cleaned up on a long one-timer attempt off the stick of Sheldon Souray.
»» 7, MONTREAL, Michael Ryder 20 (Craig Rivet, Sheldon Souray) 2:00
Shots were 11 apiece in the period (Vancouver 26-19 overall). Vancouver didn't have a penalty called on them in the period and were 0-for-2 on the power play (2-for-5).

3rd period
Ryder passed to Saku Koivu beside the net, who pushed the puck through the five hole on Auld.
»» 8, MONTREAL, Saku Koivu 12 (Ryder, Rivet) 18:46
Vancouver was outshot 7-2 in the period (28-26 total) as they sat on the lead. Montreal was 0-for-1 on the power play (0-for-4) and Vancouver was 0-for-2 (2-for-7).

Three stars -- (1) H Sedin, (2) D Sedin, (3) Burrows

skater, goals-assists-points
H Sedin 1-2-3
Ohlund 1-1-2
Bertuzzi 0-2-2
D Sedin 0-2-2
Burrows 1-0-1
Linden 1-0-1
Morrison 1-0-1
Naslund 1-0-1
Brookbank 0-1-1
Carter 0-1-1
Green 0-1-1

Between the game on Long Island and this one, the Canucks aren't really used to getting blowout victories. The other game saw them with a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes, but this game saw them have a 6-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Vancouver was 24-for-47 in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 8-for-14, Trevor Linden was 1-for-2, Ryan Kesler was 5-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 6-for-8, and Josh Green was 4-for-10. Nolan Baumgartner led the team with five shots, and Daniel Sedin had four. Kesler and Jarkko Ruutu led the team with three hits apiece. Mattias Ohlund led the team by blocking three shots.

Baumgartner, Morrison, Alexandre Burrows, Linden, Markus Naslund, Wade Brookbank, Henrik Sedin, Josh Green, Todd Bertuzzi, and Anson Carter were plus-1 for the Canucks. Bryan Allen and Sami Salo were plus-2. Minus-skating Canucks (all minus-1) were Ohlund, Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, and Ruutu. Daniel Sedin and Steve McCarthy were even.

The win was the Canucks' seventh in eight games, pushing them to a record of 28-15-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 61 points, the same number of points as the Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames, except Calgary has a game in hand. The Canucks hold a four-point lead on third-place Colorado and a five-point lead on fourth-place Edmonton. Vancouver is also tied with the Los Angeles Kings for fifth in the Western Conference. The Canucks now embark upon a seven-game road trip ends on the fourth of February.

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Friday, January 20, 2006


AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

On Sunday, the Seahawks will host their biggest game in their history.

The Seahawks have never hosted a conference championship game. In fact, the last time the Seahawks were in the conference championship game, they were in the AFC West and David Lee Roth was the frontman for Van Halen. It's been awhile.

David and I had never seen the Seahawks win a playoff game until last Saturday. Granted, we were alive in December 1984, but come on, like we really remember Dan Doornink's exploits against the Raiders. I was all of 2 years old while David had just turned 3 almost a month earlier.

The Carolina Panthers are the sexy pick to win on Sunday. Yes, they have been to the Super Bowl in the last 5 years. Yes, they have a playoff-tested quarterback in Jake Delhomme. Yes, they're on a roll right now. But they will finally have to face a quarterback with playoff experience on Sunday, Matt Hasselbeck. One thing's for sure, Hasselbeck isn't Eli Manning or Rex Grossman. No disrespect intended, of course. Actually, there was. Too bad. (Rex Montana, ladies and gentlemen! He was supposed to be the savior! Oooooooops!)

It doesn't matter that I'm in Jonesboro, Arkansas right now. I've never been more excited to be a Seattle sports fan. The 2005 Seahawks have that look of a champion. They have the tools in place to win. Basically, it's their time to shine.

We've had more than our fair share of heartbreak over the years. Whether it be Al Harris' dreadlocks flapping in the Wisconsin air or Phil Luckett handing Vinny Testaverde a touchdown in the Meadowlands, we know all about heartbreak. To be honest, other than Buffalo and Cleveland, Seattle may be the most tortured sports town in America. The Seahawks have certainly provided a few items in the torture bank.

Seven NFL teams have never made it to the Super Bowl. Arizona. Cleveland. Detroit. Houston. Jacksonville. New Orleans. And of course, Seattle. Nothing against fans of those teams, but Seahawks fans are definitely deserving of a Super Bowl appearance. We can only hope that after Sunday, the Seahawks will finally erase themselves off of that list of teams that have never played in the Super Bowl.

Shaun Alexander will prove on Sunday why he was named the NFL MVP. If he wants his big money deal, then by God he better run like he's never run before on Sunday. My guess is that he will do just that. He better.

Let the "experts" pick against the Seahawks. At this point, their opinions don't matter.

What matters is that the Seahawks are one win away from the Super Bowl.

It's our time. Raise that flag. Raise your voice. 67,000+ fists in the air.

The 12th Man is ready, America. Deal with it.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006


Canucks 4, Sabres 1
AP/CP photo -- Richard Lam

[initial partial post]

The Buffalo Sabres had lost Miroslav Satan and Alexei Zhitnik before the season, but they rebounded by playing more as a team despite their lack of stars. They are also deep in the goaltending department. How would the Canucks fare after coming back from their three-game road trip on the east coast to host a team that was in the top five in the NHL on both the power play and the penalty kill?

1st period
The Canucks had a decent scoring chance on an early power play when Markus Naslund from the right hash centered the puck to Todd Bertuzzi bearing down on the net, but Bertuzzi was foiled by Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller. Later in the period, Bryan Allen was upended along the boards in his own end by Ryan Gaustad. Buffalo outshot the Canucks 10-7 in the period. The Sabres were 0-for-3 on the power play, and Vancouver was 0-for-2.

2nd period
Alexandre Burrows made his second NHL goal a great one. On a shorthanded (Henrik Sedin for holding) 2-on-2 rush, Burrows first put a shot on the net from near the slot which was stopped by Miller, then tried to tuck it in from the side of the net, where he was stopped by Miller's stick. He hacked at the puck a third time, though, and banked it in off Miller, who was lying on his chest on the ice by the time the third shot went past.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, shorthanded, Alexandre Burrows 2 (Ryan Kesler, Sami Salo) 11:29
With a mere three seconds left in a Bertuzzi hooking penalty, the Sabres made Vancouver pay. Tim Connolly centered nicely from the left side to Jason Pominville near the right hash, who snapped the puck past Auld.
»» 2, BUFFALO, powerplay, Jason Pominville 9 (Tim Connolly, Chris Drury) 15:56
Vancouver outshot the Sabres 13-6 (20-16 overall). The Sabres were 1-for-3 (1-for-6) and Vancouver was 0-for-3 (0-for-5).

3rd period
With Gaustad in the box for a trip, Henrik Sedin down low found Nolan Baumgartner in the high slot, and the defenseman blasted a slapshot that went off Mike Grier and past Miller on the stick side.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Nolan Baumgartner 4 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 4:07
Off a Vancouver faceoff win, Naslund had a long shot stopped, and the rebound went to Steve McCarthy, who quickly shot from the left-wing boards and was stopped before Brendan Morrison, who won the faceoff to begin with,xs picked up the scraps.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 11 (Steve McCarthy, Markus Naslund) 12:53
Alex Auld steered away a rebound of a Connolly shot, and Jarkko Ruutu took the puck the other way and wristed the puck in from the right point into the empty net.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, empty net, Jarkko Ruutu 9 (Alexander Auld) 19:11
Vancouver was outshot 9-7 in the period, but outshot the Sabres 27-25 in the game. Buffalo was 0-for-1 (1-for-7) on the power play and Vancouver was successful on their only power play of the period (1-for-6). Auld stopped 24 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Auld, (2) Buffalo's Tim Connolly, (3) Burrows

skater, goals-assists-points
Baumgartner 1-0-1
Burrows 1-0-1
Morrison 1-0-1
Ruutu 1-0-1
Auld 0-1-1 (goalie)
Kesler 0-1-1
McCarthy 0-1-1
Naslund 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
H Sedin 0-1-1

The win against a solid Eastern Conference team gave the Canucks six wins in seven games heading into a Hockey Night in Canada showdown two days later at home against the Montreal Canadiens.

Vancouver was a very good 37-for-62 (60%) in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was 12-for-16, Trevor Linden was 7-for-11, Ryan Kesler was 6-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 5-for-13, Josh Green was 4-for-4, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-5.

Mattias Ohlund led the team with six shots, including five in the second period alone. Five players recorded two hits each. Ohlund also blocked three shots.

Bryan Allen, Sami Salo, Alexandre Burrows, and Kesler were all plus-2 for the Canucks. Morrison, Markus Naslund, Kevin Bieksa, Steve McCarthy, Jarkko Ruutu, and Bertuzzi were all plus-1. All other Canuck skaters were even.

This win pushed the Canucks to a 27-15-5 record (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 59 points and a tie for first place in the Northwest Division -- Calgary has a game in hand, which would leave Vancouver as sixth in the Western Conference. They lead the third-place Colorado Avalanche by two points and the fourth-place Edmonton Oilers by four points.

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I'm sick and tired of waiting around until Sunday.

And when I see Sports Illustrated's "experts" pick Carolina, well, the anticipation level becomes even higher than it already was.

Five out of the six SI "experts" picked the Panthers. The lone Seahawks pick?

It came from Nunyo Demasio.

Yes, the same Nunyo Demasio who used to write for The Seattle Times. No shock there.

Carolina is the sexy pick. So be it.

Sexy picks don't always win, you know.

By the way, Sunday needs to come. Fast.

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Monday, January 16, 2006


You mean I have to wait until Sunday for this game? This is going to be the longest week ever. Yes, I'm prepared for a whole lot of people to pick Carolina. I think they'd qualify as a "sexy" pick. It's simply cool to pick a team that has Steve Smith, or a team that has experience winning this game, or a team that has a crazy road record this year.

Let 'em pick Carolina.

Other thoughts entering the mind...

-- Baron Davis was a rebound short of a triple-double against the Sonics, what would have been his second straight triple-double. His beard is confounding.

[edit Tue ~5:05p -- what's more shocking, the fact that I actually remembered to correct myself concerning Baron Davis' non-triple-double that I'd originally posted as a triple-double, or the fact that no one cares enough about the Sonics to actually call me on it?]

-- The Canucks beat Pittsburgh, which they should.

-- Hooray for the OLN hockey coverage modernizing their studio a few weeks ago. Still need to work on the graphics though.

-- Duke's campus is a bit different than I thought it'd be. Sort of on a gentle hillside, with a little more trees than I expected. Krzyzewskiville was a bit sleepy, though tents were definitely out. Cameron Indoor Stadium is small, even from the outside.

Will gameday get here already??

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Canucks 4, Penguins 2
AP photo -- Gene J. Puskar

[posted in full Sat ~8:59a]

The Canucks and their fans were to get their first glimpse of the kid called The Next One, Sidney Crosby. He lives in Casa de Lemieux, but how would he fare in the Igloo against the team with the killer whales on their sweaters? How would Michel Therrien's horrible defense (he said worse himself) deal with Vancouver?

1st period
With Kevin Bieksa already in the box for hooking, Sidney Crosby whiffed on a shot in the slot and was hooked and tossed aside by Henrik Sedin. With a two-man advantage, the underachieving Sergei Gonchar (sometimes called Goncharen't in Pittsburgh) shot from up high, and the rebound went to Mark Recchi in front, who jabbed at the puck, but it stayed out before the puck leaked to Alex Auld's left and Sidney Crosby stuck it through the narrow gap. Vancouver still ad to kill off 58 seconds of a penalty.
»» 1, PITTSBURGH, powerplay, Sidney Crosby 22 (John LeClair, Sergei Gonchar) 7:30
The Canucks failed to take advantage of a 5-on-3 situation in their favor. Ryan Kesler was also hammered by Colby Armstrong as the power play expired. Later, Steve McCarthy skated from the blue line in toward the left hash and blasted a shot that beat Marc-Andre Fleury under the right arm.

»» 2, VANCOUVER, Steve McCarthy 2 (Sami Salo, Anson Carter) 14:17
Brendan Morrison had a puck ring off the post later in the period. Vancouver outshot Pittsburgh 11-6 in the period. The Canucks were 0-for-2 on the power play and Pittsburgh was 1-for-3.

2nd period
Just 57 seconds into the period, Alexandre Burrows dropped the gloves with Armstrong and fared quite well, getting the sweater over Armstrong's head early on in the scrap. A blocked Bryan Allen shot from the left point ended up near the right point, where Nolan Baumgartner let loose on a shot and it got through, deflecting off of Brendan Morrison in front of the net. The assist gave Baumgartner two goals and four assists in his last four games.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 10 (Nolan Baumgartner, Bryan Allen) 4:17
Dick Tarnstrom went off for hauling down Burrows behind the Pittsburgh net, putting Vancouver on the power play. Markus Naslund passed to Brendan Morrison along the goal line on the right side. Morrison then found Todd Bertuzzi in front of the net, who quickly jabbed the puck through. Add the goal to the hat trick against the Islanders, and Bertuzzi had four goals in two games.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Todd Bertuzzi 16 (Morrison, Markus Naslund) 13:08
With just under six minutes left, Crosby got a nice feed in front of the net from Ryan Whitney and Auld stopped the shot nicely. After the whistle, Bieksa and Crosby didn't quite get to exchange fisticuffs as the linesmen separated the two. Inside the final minute of play in the period, Recchi from the right-wing boards flung a puck toward the net that went through on the far side. The Canuck radio crew weren't big fans of the goal, saying Auld wasn't ready and wasn't set.
»» 5, PITTSBURGH, Mark Recchi 13 (Colby Armstrong, Josef Melichar) 19:33
Vancouver was outshot 9-8 in the period, but led 19-15 for the game. The Canucks were 1-for-2 on the power play (1-for-4 overall) and Pittsburgh was 0-for-2 (1-for-5).

3rd period
Bertuzzi went off for a hook 3:10 into the period, marking the ninth straight game where Vancouver had taken an early penalty in the third period. Later on, Allen hammered Crosby, and Jarkko Ruutu went off for roughing while Crosby went off for a slash. Thus, Crosby and a key cog of the Pittsburgh offense was/were off the ice for two minutes in the third period. The Canucks looked for more cushion with John LeClair in the box for a trip 200 feet from his own net. Mattias Ohlund shot from the point and it was blocked by Henrik Sedin in front of the net. Luckily, the puck stopped right where it was and Henrik gobbled up the rebound and put it through, giving the Canucks their insurance tally.
»» 6, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Henrik Sedin 11 (Mattias Ohlund, Baumgartner) 6:41
Gonchar gave away the puck later in the period, and Canuck radio color man Tom Larscheid said, "man, is he brutal. He is stealing money." Well put, Tom. Auld made a nice stop on Crosby once again with nine seconds left for good measure. Vancouver was outshot 10-6 in the period as they held the lead (25-25 total). The Canucks were 1-for-2 again on the power play (2-for-6 total) and Pittsburgh was 0-for-3 (1-for-8). Auld stopped 23.

Three stars -- (1) Morrison, (2) Auld, (3) Bertuzzi in the arena; (1) Morrison, (2) Bertuzzi, (3) Allen on Rogers SportsNet

skater, goals-assists-points
Morrison 1-1-2
Baumgartner 0-2-2
Bertuzzi 1-0-1
McCarthy 1-0-1
H Sedin 1-0-1
Allen 0-1-1
Carter 0-1-1
Naslund 0-1-1
Ohlund 0-1-1
Salo 0-1-1

Much praise was given to Bryan Allen in this game for being up in Sidney Crosby's grille for much of the contest. Kevin Bieksa nearly goaded him into a fight, which was separated, but man, that would have been fun to see. I don't know how Crosby scraps, and Bieksa has shown that he can really fight in his short tenure with the Canucks.

Vancouver was 30-for-59 in the faceoff circle (51%). Brendan Morrison was 7-for-14, Trevor Linden was 5-for-9, Ryan Kesler was 12-for-22, Henrik Sedin was 3-for-10, and Todd Bertuzzi was 3-for-3. Sami Salo and Alexandre Burrows led the team in shots with three apiece. Allen dished out three hits. Nolan Baumgartner and Allen blocked three shots apiece.

Plus-skating Canucks (all plus-1) included Baumgartner, Allen, Salo, Morrison, Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Steve McCarthy, Henrik Sedin, Bertuzzi, and Anson Carter. Minus-skating Canucks (all minus-1) were Mattias Ohlund, Linden, Kesler, Matt Cooke, and Bieksa. Burrows, Wade Brookbank, and Ruutu were the evens.

The win gives the Canucks two of three on their road trip. They are now 26-15-5 (1-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 57 points and a tie with the Calgary Flames for first in the Northwest Division (Calgary has a game in hand). Vancouver leads Edmonton, who lost at home to Buffalo, and idle Colorado by two points.

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Sunday, January 15, 2006


The Seahawks will face the Carolina Panthers in the NFC Championship Game next Sunday at Qwest Field. Game time is 3:30 p.m. Pacific.

The winner will face either Pittsburgh or Denver in Super Bowl XL in Detroit Feb. 5.

Man, this is going to be a fun week.


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