Saturday, March 25, 2006
Oilers 3, Canucks 2
[initial partial post]
The Canucks had come off two must-win games against the Oilers, away and at home. They had one more home game on the docket against the Oilers, and a sweep by Vancouver would put them in great position to solidify their playoff hopes. They had to win the first two games just to survive in the playoff picture as everyone around them in the Western Conference standings got hotter. The Canucks had been searching for weeks for some jump in their step and some results to go with a sense of urgency that absolutely had to be there by this point. Why it took this long is a mystery, but the Tuesday win in Edmonton gave a launch pad for some possible goodness in the remaining games of the schedule.
First, however, this game.
»» 1, EDMONTON, shorthanded, Ryan Smyth 32 (Shawn Horcoff) 9:48
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 9 (Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi) 0:22
»» 3, EDMONTON, powerplay, Sergei Samsonov 20 (Ales Hemsky, Chris Pronger) 9:54
»» 4, EDMONTON, Steve Staios 7 (Rem Murray, Fernando Pisani) 2:07
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 15 (Naslund, Bertuzzi) 4:11
Three stars -- (1) Edmonton's Ryan Smyth, (2) Naslund, (3) Edmonton's Sergei Samsonov
The Canucks won two of three games against the Oilers in their three-game miniseries, capturing four points of a possible six. The Oilers grabbed three of a possible six. Vancouver's record of 38-28-6 (4-3 shootout, three overtime losses) is good for 82 points and the eighth slot in the Western Conference. The Oilers and Canucks have the same number of points, but Edmonton has played one less game. Vancouver is three behind Colorado for sixth in the West and second in the Northwest Division. Both teams are four points back of Calgary for the division lead and the third seed in the West. Colorado has a game in hand on Vancouver while Calgary has two games in hand on the Canucks. Vancouver has a one-point lead on Los Angeles, who sits in ninth place in the West, but with a game in hand. San Jose is a point behind the Kings in tenth. The Canucks have a big game in Los Angeles on Monday (televised in the USA by OLN), then have back-to-back home games against Minnesota on Wednesday and Friday.
[cable guy just came by today, so this is my fresh postgame reaction from last night]
A couple weeks ago, I read an article about the Husky men's basketball team where some players suggested they were the Seahawks of college basketball, just kinda doing their thing way up in their corner of the country, just winning basketball games and stuff. Boy were they right.
Now I'm not one of those guys that said straight up that the fix was on in the Super Bowl, but I did think the officials in the Super Bowl played just as much a role in the Seahawks losing as the Seahawks themselves did, and that's something that should never happen. As for what happened to the Washington Huskies last night, I think this might have gone one step further. Not only were there so many ticky-tack fouls called on Washington, that technical foul on Brandon Roy (did Rudy Gay have his technical count as one of his five allotted fouls too?) absolutely strapped Washington to the point where I'm amazed they stayed in the game, and the fact they did is a credit to the resiliency of the Huskies in purple and gold and coach Lorenzo Romar. That said, the referees reduced this team and Romar down to a near-skeleton crew and situations like having Brandon Burmeister on the floor in crunch time (which led to an ill-fated three-point attempt from about 25 feet). The technical was the thing that set the tone for the entire rest of the second half (I think that occurred with just over 13 minutes left). Of course, and I don't think I can spout coherently about it, that non-call of the goaltend on Roy's shot that would have put Washington up by one in the final minutes was absolutely inexcusable.
Five -- FIVE -- of the Washington Huskies fouled out, and if you ask me, the forty-seven free throws shot by Connecticut in this game absolutely smacks of Charles Barkley's Phoenix Suns beating the path to the free-throw line (sixty-three) against the Sonics in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
I seriously think the only thing I can get on Washington for is not burying Connecticut in the first half when Rudy Gay showed up for the game but wasn't really playing yet. Verne Lundquist and Bill Raftery were nicely using the term "laconic" to describe his habits in the first half.
One of my coworkers is a Duke fan, and I told him after the loss to LSU that at least they got beat by a good team playing a great game. I'd tell any fan of the Washington Huskies that their team showed up, played their hearts out, and had this game taken away from them. I already told my coworker, and I'd tell those with ties to Montlake this...
...at least your team didn't choke like Gonzaga. That's a piece for another time.
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Canucks 4, Oilers 3 (SO)
[initial partial post]
The Canucks came off a must-win game in Edmonton and for the first time in a long time came away with a great win against a non-inferior opponent. Even better, the Canucks had finally beaten the Oilers after being unsuccessful in five tries. What had felled the Canucks lately, however, is being able to sustain momentum after getting a win that looked like it could right the slump. Had the Canucks turned the corner?
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Todd Bertuzzi 22 (Ryan Kesler, Matt Cooke) 9:47
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Henrik Sedin 18 (Anson Carter, Daniel Sedin) 4:50
»» 3, EDMONTON, Raffi Torres 24 (Sergei Samsonov, Jarret Stoll) 8:33
»» 4, EDMONTON, Torres 25 (Samsonov, Stoll) 18:08
»» 5, EDMONTON, Fernando Pisani 17 (unassisted) 18:56
»» 6, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 30 (Bertuzzi, Kesler) 11:36
Hemsky -- NO
Naslund -- YES
Smyth -- YES
Ruutu -- YES
Peca -- YES
Bertuzzi -- YES
Three stars -- (1) Kesler, (2) Edmonton's Raffi Torres, (3) Bertuzzi
H Sedin 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
If there was one bad thing about the win, it's that the game had to go to overtime, since Edmonton came away with a point as well. The Canucks are now 38-27-6 (4-3 shootout, three overtime losses), good for 82 points, leaving them tied pointswise with Anaheim for sixth in the West, as well as one behind Colorado for second in the Northwest Division and four behind division-leading Calgary and the third seed. Edmonton lies two behind the Canucks, Los Angeles is three behind, and the Sharks are four down.
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Canucks 4, Oilers 1
[initial partial post]
So it came, the start of three straight games against the Edmonton Oilers that very well could determine whether the Canucks get into the playoffs. The Canucks needed any shred of happiness they could get and hopefully turn it into some momentum. The bad news was that the Canucks hadn't beaten the Oilers in five tries this season. Surely that had to change if the Canucks had any chance to make it to the second season.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Trevor Linden 7 (Josh Green, Jarkko Ruutu) 5:26
»» 2, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Daniel Sedin 18 (Anson Carter, Mattias Ohlund) 9:36
»» 3, EDMONTON, Raffi Torres 23 (Jarret Stoll, Sergei Samsonov) 1:10
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Ryan Kesler 8 (Todd Bertuzzi, Alexandre Burrows) 12:09
»» 5, VANCOUVER, emptynet, D Sedin 19 (Henrik Sedin, Linden) 18:52
Three stars -- (1) Auld, (2) Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson, (3) D Sedin
D Sedin 2-0-2
H Sedin 0-1-1
The Canucks really came through when they needed to, playing the best full game they'd played in a very long time. They certainly needed the victory in the worst way. After the full night's slate of games was over with, the Canucks had vaulted themselves from ninth place in the Western Conference to seventh. Their 37-27-6 record (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses) is good for 80 points, which ties with Anaheim, but the Ducks have three games in hand on Vancouver and therefore have the sixth slot in the West. Even better, the win over Edmonton pushed the Canucks over Edmonton by a point, though the Oilers do have a game in hand. Baby steps. The Canucks are now fourth in the Northwest Division, one ahead of Edmonton, two behind Colorado for second place, and four back of the leading Calgary Flames. What a difference a single win makes. If the Canucks manage to sweep the Oilers, it'd be huge. The easy part is that in the miniseries with Edmonton, the Canucks won the road game and now come back for two at home. The bad news is that the Canucks haven't been too hot at home since everyone's calendars turned to 2006, and they've only won once at home since the Olympic break.
Unfortunately, we'll have to imagine the picture above without the guy in the middle to accurately imagine future Seahawk running plays involving Shaun Alexander. After some wrangling with the terms of the crazy-large offer sheet to which Minnesota signed him, the Seahawks finally decided not to match the offer sheet. There was a clause in the offer sheet stating that the $49M would be guaranteed if Hutchinson wasn't the highest-paid offensive lineman on his team throughout 2006. In short, the Seahawks weren't going to guarantee $49M for a left guard, though a very very good left guard. It's too bad there won't be continuity on the offensive line, but thank goodness Walter Jones is still there. They got Jones to restructure his deal for this year to try to make Hutchinson the highest-paid lineman on the team for 2006, but that's where the language discrepancy came in as to whether those terms applied when the offer sheet was signed or when/if Seattle matched it.
All this doesn't mean Tim Ruskell wasn't still at work. There's a lot more money to work with now that Hutchinson's gone. Julian Peterson, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, is now a Seahawk. Between this and the signing of Russell Davis, Ruskell is adding depth. I like depth. I'd like to eventually some depth behind/around Ken Hamlin. Losing Marquand Manuel still stings a bit. Luckily nobody had to worry about losing Rocky Bernard.
On a somewhat related note, it's weird actually anticipating the NFL Draft nowadays, it really is. Know what I wanna see? A kick returner.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Red Wings 7, Canucks 3
[initial partial post]
The Canucks snapped a five-game losing streak two nights earlier by winning a game they were supposed to win at Columbus. Unfortunately for Vancouver, the next team up on the schedule was the Detroit Red Wings. So many times this season the Canucks have come out of a slump with a decent win and failed to sustain momentum with the following game. The odds weren't on the Canucks' side.
»» 1, DETROIT, Tomas Holmstrom 23 (Mark Mowers) 6:03
»» 2, DETROIT, Jason Williams 15 (Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios) 6:43
»» 3, DETROIT, powerplay, Nicklas Lidstrom 14 (Pavel Datsyuk, Mathieu Schneider) 10:55
»» 4, DETROIT, Datsyuk 26 (Kris Draper) 1:30
»» 5, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Anson Carter 28 (Nolan Baumgartner, Henrik Sedin) 3:44
»» 6, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Markus Naslund 29 (Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Kesler) 4:46
»» 7, DETROIT, Williams 16 (Niklas Kronvall, Robert Lang) 19:39
»» 8, VANCOUVER, Matt Cooke 8 (Brendan Morrison, Keith Carney) 19:58
»» 9, DETROIT, Brendan Shanahan 31 (Datsyuk, Draper) 0:12
»» 10, DETROIT, Johan Franzen 9 (Kirk Maltby, Andreas Lilja) 3:42
Three stars -- (1) Detroit's Jason Williams, (2) Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, (3) Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom
H Sedin 0-1-1
The Canucks' sixth loss in seven games and seventh in nine knocked them back to 36-27-6 (3-3 shootout, three overtime losses), good for 78 points and fourth place in the Northwest Division, one point behind Edmonton and two behind Colorado, with both teams having a game in hand. Calgary has a six-point lead on Vancouver as well as the division lead. Problem is, by virtue of having played one less game than Vancouver, Brian Burke's Anaheim Mighty Ducks now hold the eighth spot in the Western Conference (both teams have the same number of points), and they have three games in hand on Vancouver. The Canucks are one point back of the seventh-place Los Angeles Kings.