Saturday, March 11, 2006


Stars 2, Canucks 1
AP/CP photo -- Adrian Lam

[posted in full Sun 30 Jul ~2:59a]

The biggest win of Vancouver's season was the first game after the Olympic break in Calgary, where the Canucks put out a great effort and gutted out a 2-1 win. They'd need a similar effort to pull out a home win against Dallas, the highest-ranked team in the NHL when it comes to holding opponents to the lowest amount of shots. Also, this marked the first game for three of the Canucks' four deadline acquisitions. Eric Weinrich, Keith Carney, and Sean Brown all would play in this game. Mika Noronen is slated to give Alex Auld a much-needed rest sometime on the upcoming road trip.

How would it all shake out?

1st period
The Stars outshot Vancouver 8-2 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-3 on the power play.

2nd period
With Matt Cooke in the box for interference, Daniel Sedin got the puck in the Vancouver end and took it up the ice. At center, he passed to Henrik Sedin, who took it into the Dallas zone and took it through the pokecheck attempts of Sergei Zubov and managed to get a shot on the net. That shot was stopped by Marty Turco, but he tapped the rebound through on the glove side.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, shorthanded, Henrik Sedin 17 (Daniel Sedin, Mattias Ohlund) 19:35
Dallas outshot Vancouver 12-9 in the period (20-11 overall). The Stars were 0-for-2 on the power play (0-for-5) while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-4).

3rd period
Early in the period, Anson Carter rifled a shot on the net that Turco stopped. A couple minutes later, Jussi Jokinen walked the puck out from behind the net and came out to the left side, where he passed to Mike Modano near the goal line on the right side, who beat Alex Auld at an incredibly sharp angle.
»» 2, DALLAS, Mike Modano 22 (Jussi Jokinen, Jere Lehtinen) 4:36
Midway through the period, Niko Kapanen on the right side fed Antti Miettinen in the slot for a one-timer that was stopped by Auld. Later in the period with Cooke in the box for hooking, Kapanen on the right side found Modano wide open a few strides behind the left circle, where he exhibited his marksmanship by winning the game.
»» 3, DALLAS, powerplay, Modano 23 (Niko Kapanen, Lehtinen) 15:22
Dallas outshot Vancouver 13-8 in the period (33-19 total). Dallas cashed in on their only power play chance (1-for-6) while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (0-for-5). Auld stopped 31 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Dallas' Mike Modano, (2) Auld, (3) Dallas' Jere Lehtinen

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

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver was 19-for-49 for a brutal 39%. Brendan Morrison was 6-for-15, Trevor Linden was 3-for-9, Ryan Kesler was 6-for-14, and Henrik Sedin was 4-for-10. Daniel Sedin led the team with four shots. Kesler led the team by dishing out five hits. Morrison led the team with four takeaways. Deadline acquisition Eric Weinrich led the team by blocking two shots.

On plus-minus, Mattias Ohlund, Bryan Allen, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin were plus-1. Keith Carney, Weinrich, Kesler, Jarkko Ruutu, and Todd Bertuzzi were minus-1. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The loss marked the second straight game in which the Canucks had the lead going into the third period and lost. In the three-game homestand, Vancouver came away with only one out of a possible six points. As a result, the Canucks now find themselves three points back of the division lead behind an idle Calgary team that has three games in hand. Vancouver is now 35-24-6 (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses), good for 76 points and merely third place in the Northwest Division. They are two points back of Colorado and only two points ahead of Edmonton, who has a game in hand. For a different perspective, Edmonton is the eighth-place team in the Western Conference. Nashville is only fourth because Detroit is leading their division by nine points. Also, Vancouver is seventh in the conference. I happen to think the upcoming playoffs are going to be dynamite in the West because these Northwest Division teams are battle-tested moreso than any other division under the new unbalanced schedule format. If you're Detroit and you draw Edmonton in the first round, it's not a gimmie. If you're Dallas and you draw a Colorado/Vancouver, again, not a gimmie, even considering what happened in this game.

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Friday, March 10, 2006


There's a bunch of stuff going on this weekend, obviously, in the sports world. In college basketball, tons of conference tournaments are taking place. Unfortunately, the Huskies are already out of the Pac-10 tournament, but hey, there's some rest, I guess. As I type this, we're having some Puerto Rico/Cuba brushback wars, which is always fun in the international incident realm. If the World Baseball Classic gives us beanball wars, then at least there'll be some entertainment.

Either way, my job training over here is less than two weeks away from ending, after which I'll end up back in Hawaii, with sporting events taking place at times in which I'll actually be awake. Now if the NHL would archive their audio feed, I'd be in business for whenever the Canucks go on the road.

Anyway, neither one of us here at Sports and B's have ever been insistent on keeping our threads on topic, so just fire away. If you can't think of anything, there's always obscure '80s music. Apparently a coworker of mine said his high school's musical one year was Chess, which did feature the song "One Night in Bangkok."

Have a great weekend.

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Thursday, March 09, 2006


Predators 3, Canucks 2 (OT)
AP/CP photo -- Adrian Lam

[posted in full Sun 30 Jul ~1:31a]

It's bad when you lose to teams you should beat. The Canucks found that out last Sunday night when the lowly Saint Louis Blues walked away with a sweep of the season series. The Canucks would have to buck up after three nights off to manage a win against the young and speedy Nashville Predators. In other news, this game was Todd Bertuzzi's 500th in a Canuck uniform.

Also, it was trade deadline day, and GM Dave Nonis was busy making moves. Goalie Mika Noronen was plucked from Buffalo or a second-round pick in the next draft. Defenseman Keith Carney (let the small-hands references begin) and the rights to Juha Alen (another defensemen) were obtained from Anaheim for Brett Skinner (Moose) and another second-round pick in the next draft. Defenseman Sean Brown comes over from the Devils for a third-round draft pick. Also, Tomas Mojzis and a third-round pick go to Saint Louis for the experienced defenseman Eric Weinrich. Steve McCarthy's playing time would be a bit lacking after all these defense additions, so Nonis shipped him to Atlanta for a 2007 fourth-rounder. Also of note is that Vancouver is under the salary cap, but not if Ed Jovanovski and Sami Salo come back. There's some issues if they do.

1st period
An early line of Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, and Matt Cooke got some decent pressure on Nashville and got a couple of decent scoring chances. Richard Park got two hacks on a puck in close, but Tomas Vokoun cleared the puck. Todd Bertuzzi set up Nolan Baumgartner for a shot that was pad-stopped by Vokoun, and Ryan Kesler was foiled on the rebound as well. Bertuzzi was later pulled down by Vokoun, but there was no call. Cooke later was stuck in the face by Scott Hartnell, but there was no call as a Vancouver power play had expired. Alex Auld made a nice stop on Jerred Smithson. Scott Nichol and Kevin Bieksa got into a fight that was over quickly when Bieksa wrestled him to the ice. Auld made a nice save on Paul Kariya. Naslund made a backhand shot that barely missed the net. The Canucks carried some nice pressure on a power play, but Morrison went off for a trip to end the advantage. Auld robbed Hartnell on a scoring chance. Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber took penalties for the Predators late in the period, leaving Vancouver with a two-man advantage, but they did nothing with it. The Canucks outshot the Predators 8-7 in the period. Nashville was 0-for-1 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-4.

2nd period
Henrik Sedin on the right side passed to Daniel Sedin, who made a crazy centering pass from behind the net on the right side to find Anson Carter in the slot, who put it past Vokoun.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 25 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 7:19
A few minutes later, Bryan Allen bowled over Steve Sullivan near the Nashville net. Vancouver outshot Nashville 11-7 in the period (19-14 overall). The Canucks didn't have a power play chance (0-for-4) while Nashville was 0-for-1 (0-for-2).

3rd period
Paul Kariya from behind the net passed to David Legwand on the right-wing boards, who then passed to Mike Sillinger in the high slot. Sillinger passed to Kariya down low on the goal line just to the right of the net. Auld had already fallen down on the play, so Kariya passed across to Sullivan on the left side down low, and he had an open net.
»» 2, NASHVILLE, powerplay, Steve Sullivan 27 (Paul Kariya, Mike Sillinger) 8:40
Daniel Sedin was behind the net and moved the puck out, passing to Bieksa at the blue line. Bieksa flung a shot toward the net that was redirected by Henrik Sedin mid-slot, who deflected it through.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, H Sedin 16 (Kevin Bieksa, D Sedin) 11:05
Marek Zidlicky spun away from the defender up high and fed Sillinger wide open on the left side for a shot that was nicely stopped by Auld. Just seconds later, though, icing was waved off in the Vancouver end, and Martin Erat behind the net found Sullivan on the right side, who fired a shot top corner on the far side past Auld.
»» 4, NASHVILLE, Sullivan 28 (Martin Erat, David Legwand) 14:27
Cooke laid a big hit on Greg Zanon. Mattias Ohlund had an errant pass get past him and the Predators turned it the other way as Erat and Legwand had a two-on-one. Erat threaded the puck between two Canucks and hit Legwand on the left side, who was robbed by Auld, who was prone on the ice making the save. Nashville outshot the Canucks by a ridiculous 22-7 margin in the period (36-25 overall). Vancouver again didn't get a power play chance (0-for-4) while Nashville was 1-for-2 (1-for-4).

The Canucks had the puck for a very short time after the opening faceoff, but Legwand got a hold of it and wristed it from mid-slot to beat Auld high on the stick side.
»» 5, NASHVILLE, Legwand 6 (unassisted) 0:06
Nashville had the only shot in overtime and came away with a 37-25 advantage in that category. The Predators finished 1-for-4 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-4. Auld stopped 34 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Auld, (2) Nashville's Steve Sullivan, (3) Nashville's David Legwand

skater, goals-assists-points
H Sedin 1-1-2
D Sedin 0-2-2
Carter 1-0-1
Bieksa 0-1-1

The Canucks avenged a road loss at the hands of the Predators seven days earlier by...losing in overtime on home ice to the Predators.

In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 27 of 56 (48%). Brendan Morrison was 10-for-16, Trevor Linden was 6-for-12, Richard Park was 0-for-3, Ryan Kesler was 3-for-8, Henrik Sedin was 7-for-12, and Todd Bertuzzi was 1-for-3. Morrison, Park, Naslund, and Daniel Sedin all led the team with three shots apiece. Matt Cooke, Jarkko Ruutu, and Bertuzzi led the team by dishing out four hits apiece. Bryan Allen and Cooke had two takeaways each. Mattias Ohlund blocked two shots.

In plus-minus, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Anson Carter were plus-2. Allen and Sven Butenschon were plus-1. Ohlund, Nolan Baumgartner, and Cooke were minus-1 while Morrison and Naslund were minus-2. All other Canuck skaters were even.

Coupled with a Colorado win on this same night, this overtime loss got the Canucks a single point, but they lost a point of ground on the Avalanche. The Canucks are now 35-23-6 (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses), good for 76 points and third place in the Northwest Division (sixth in the Western Conference), two points behind Colorado and three points behind division-leading Calgary. The Flames have two games in hand on Vancouver. The Canucks have a game in hand on Colorado. Edmonton is eighth in the West and three points back of Vancouver. In addition, the win gave Nashville two more points to solidify their hold on fourth place in the West, now five points ahead of Vancouver.

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Sunday, March 05, 2006


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

[posted in full Sat 29 Jul ~10:18p]

The 115th consecutive sellout at GM Place was on hand to watch the Canucks hopefully avoid being swept in a season series by the cellar-dwelling Saint Louis Blues. The Canucks had been embarrassed in the three previous meetings, which they lost by a combined score of 12-3. To heighten the urgency, the Northwest Division is still very tightly packed, with all teams mere points from being division winners or out of the playoffs. How would Vancouver fare?

1st period
Early on, Markus Naslund missed a goal by just inches high on the glove side of Curtis Sanford in the Saint Louis net. Not long after, Sanford nearly put the puck in his own net. In a sequence that echoed many bad Canuck starts this season, Naslund hooked Dean McAmmond skating across center, who then dished off to Jay McClement, who pushed a centering pass from the left faceoff dot to Scott Young on the doorstep, who put it through on Auld's glove side.
»» 1, SAINT LOUIS, Scott Young 13 (Jay McClement, Dean McAmmond) 2:18
Between the first goal and the next, Keith Tkachuk horsecollared Ryan Kesler and drew a high-stick penalty and Barrett Jackman cross-checked Jarkko Ruutu, giving the Canucks a two-man advantage on which they didn't score. With about nine minutes left in the period, Ryan Johnson had Alex Auld beat but shot one off the post. Auld later pokechecked Tkachuk out in front. McClement had the puck in the right-wing corner and found Jackman, who was sprinting away from Anson Carter (who had checked him into the boards just seconds earlier) and into the slot. Jackman scored through some mild traffic in front.
»» 2, SAINT LOUIS, Barrett Jackman (McClement, Dennis Wideman) 17:58
Naslund tried pulling a spin-o-rama move late in the period, but couldn't quite put the puck through. The Canucks were badly outshot 14-6 in the period. Both teams went 0-for-2 on the power play.

2nd period
Lee Stempniak nearly scored but was stopped by Auld. Right after that, Christian Backman unleashed a slapshot from the high slot that hit some inner post and went through.
»» 3, SAINT LOUIS, Christian Backman 4 (Lee Stempniak, Dallas Drake) 8:49
The Sedins and Carter worked their magic again, getting a couple of chances on Sanford that were stopped but then staying with it as Daniel Sedin from the right side found Carter on the stick side of Sanford, who went top shelf as he drew a high stick on the play.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Anson Carter 24 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 16:41
Inside the final minute, Sanford withstood a small flurry of shots and made a bigtime save on Carter. The Blues outshot the Canucks 11-10 in the period (25-16 overall). The Blues were 0-for-2 on the power play (0-for-4 overall) while the Canucks never had a power play in the period.

3rd period
To help the Canucks' cause, Richard Park drew five and ten for checking from behind. With the resulting five-minute power play almost over, Trevor Linden couldn't quite clear the puck, resulting in the Blues working the puck for another chance as McClement passed to Tkachuk on the goal line on the right side, who centered to Stempniak, who put the puck into a wide-open net on Auld's stick side.
»» 5, SAINT LOUIS, powerplay, Stempniak 11 (Keith Tkachuk, McClement) 11:49
Later, Todd Bertuzzi and Tkachuk got into a fight. Further on in the period, the Canucks had a goal waved off. Carter said a shot hit his shoulder and he didn't bat it to anyone with his hand, then the goal went in, but Kerry Fraser didn't think so and waved it off. Saint Louis outshot the Canucks one last time at 10-8 (35-24 total). They were 1-for-2 (1-for-6 total) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2 (0-for-4). Auld stopped 31 shots.

Three stars -- (1) Saint Louis' Jay McClement, (2) Saint Louis' Curtis Sanford, (3) Saint Louis' Keith Tkachuk

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

Congratulations to the Canucks, who were swept in a four-game series by possibly the worst team in the NHL this season, the Saint Louis Blues.

In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 29 of 57 (51%). Brendan Morrison was 11-for-18, Trevor Linden was 4-for-6, Ryan Kesler was 7-for-13, Henrik Sedin was 5-for-15 (ouch), and Todd Bertuzzi was 2-for-3. Anson Carter led the team in shots with five while Bryan Allen and Henrik Sedin had three apiece. Matt Cooke and Kevin Bieksa led the team in hits by dishing out three each. Markus Naslund and Kesler led with three takeaways. Sven Butenschon led with four blocked shots, and Allen also blocked three.

On the plus-minus list, only Henrik Sedin and Butenschon were plus skaters, and both were plus-1. As for the minuses, Morrison, Naslund, Kesler, Cooke, Bieksa, Steve McCarthy, and Carter were all minus-1. Nolan Baumgartner and Allen were minus-2. All other Canuck skaters were even.

The Calgary Flames had the night off, and the Canucks missed a chance to tie them atop the Northwest Division. The loss dropped them to 35-23-5 (3-3 shootout, two overtime losses), good for 75 points, two back of the Flames, who now have three games in hand, so the lead's effectively a lot bigger than just two points. The Canucks are a mere one point ahead of Colorado and three up on Edmonton within the division. Edmonton is currently eighth in the Western Conference. Vancouver is fifth. Nashville is fourth, and they travel to face Vancouver on Thursday.

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AP photo -- Elaine Thompson

Just got news of this as it appears the Seahawks have signed up Shaun Alexander for a very, very long time. Eight years and $62M, per the AP wire. Mike Sando of the Tribune says a deal is in place.

Well, the Ruskell/Reinfeldt/Holmgren triumvirate has decided that Shaun Alexander is a big part of their plans for the next few years, NFL labor uncertainty be damned. For as much as we've been hearing about how uncertain the labor situation is right now, I'd have to say this is a pretty gutsy and risky move. But hey, ITIT, right?

Guess what, fans? Another superstar has stayed in town. Ray Allen signed long-term last summer, and now Shaun Alexander. It's a weird feeling considering everyone the Mariners had let go.

Now let's see what happens with the rest of the Seahawks' free agents. Jamie Sharper and Andre Dyson have already been cut loose. I've never looked more forward to the NFL Draft as I have these last couple years too.

Anyway, they got the deal done. Shaun's in the fold, and that's a good start to the offseason.

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