Saturday, October 14, 2006
Folks, I've been calling this a must-win for quite a while now, definitely ever since the clock ticked to zero in Chicago two weeks ago.
The Seahawks will have trouble being themselves without Shaun Alexander, sure, but they've got to get something together to reestablish themselves since they've played five straight bad quarters of football.
It simply won't be good if they lose this one. It's a division game. They can't afford for the Rams to come out of this one with a 5-1 record. They can't fly back to Seattle behind the Rams in the division with Minnesota flying in next week.
...and as far as I'm concerned, they can't lose that one either.
To me, the two things the Seahawks had to do this season were (1) sweep the division games, and (2) run the table at home. They're still in line to do both. This would give them a 12-4 record. Hopefully they can steal another one. That game in Chicago told me the Seahawks need homefield throughout the playoffs once again.
I know Shaun Alexander is out and Bobby Engram is out (ouch), but the Seahawks simply have to win this game. I need this win. Dan Lucero made it out of Chicago alive two weeks ago, and I'm hoping our very own Jeremy makes it out of Saint Louis alive because he's going to be at this game. Jeremy needs this win too.
I'll just say I'm going to freakin' lose it if the Seahawks don't win this game. I'm not kidding. I want the Seahawks to absolutely stomp the Rams. I don't want a good game, I just want the Rams to be physically and psychologically stomped with no glimmer of hope to take this division, and I want that to happen very badly.
This was the Canucks' home opener, the first chance for the home crowd to see the regular-season version of their new-look team, which included the number-one goalie they've craved for so long, Roberto Luongo. The unfortunate thing was that they were matched up against the San Jose Sharks, who blew up (in a good way) after the midseason acquisition of Joe Thornton last season, and perhaps are the best team in the Western Conference. The Canucks, meanwhile, still were trying to find out exactly who they were as a team. The good thing about this game was that the Canucks were perfect on the penalty kill, and Thornton didn't appear on the scoresheet. The bad news is that others did. In addition, the Canucks had failed to convert on their last nine power plays over the past two games. The Sharks had killed off 22 of 25 penalties this season as well. Also, Sami Salo was a scratch due to a nagging groin injury that took him out of the game in Minnesota. The Sharks were coming off a game the night before in which they blew a 4-1 lead in Edmonton by surrendering a goal with eight minutes left in the second period, then gave up four third-period goals (total futility: five goals in a span of 23:18).
In a recurrence of a preseason trend, the Canucks let the opposing team score on their first shot of the game. Alexandre Burrows missed a check on Milan Michalek near the bench, trying to bump him off the puck. Michalek was being covered by Ryan Kesler. Burrows ran into Kesler instead and Michalek was off to the races, skating down the left wing and centering to former Seattle Thunderbird Patrick Marleau, who put it through with a skate, though not with a kicking motion.
»» 1, SAN JOSE, Patrick Marleau 1 (Milan Michalek) 1:48
Henrik Sedin had the puck in the left corner and passed to Daniel Sedin behind the net. Daniel came out front to the right side and put a shot on the net that was stopped, but Markus Naslund went to the net and put home the rebound past Vesa Toskala for his 300th goal in a Vancouver Canuck uniform.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Markus Naslund 3 (Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin) 4:14
A pass intended for Marc Chouinard was picked off and run the other way by Michalek, who carried it down the left side and flipped a shot that went off the side of the net to Luongo's stick side, and Christian Ehrhoff snuck it in behind Luongo to the same side.
»» 3, SAN JOSE, Christian Ehrhoff 3 (Michalek) 18:23
The Sharks outshot Vancouver 9-5 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-1 on the power play.
With Vancouver on a power play, Brendan Morrison held the puck along the right-wing boards and passed to Jan Bulis before heading toward the net. Bulis bided his time behind the net waiting for something to materialize. Defenseman Lukas Krajicek jumped into the play to the right side and looked like a likely target for a pass, but Kevin Bieksa snuck into the play too, and he got a pass from Bulis near the right hash and snapped one off the post and past Toskala for his first NHL goal.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Kevin Bieksa 1 (Jan Bulis, Brendan Morrison) 7:52
Luc Bourdon carried the puck over the blue line on the left side and into the San Jose zone but had the puck stolen from him. The play went to the other end quickly as Kyle McLaren jarred the puck loose and Ryane Clowe skated it the other way. Clowe wristed a shot from the right hash that was stopped by Luongo, but Patrick Rissmiller had gotten to the slot, and he made good on the rebound.
»» 5, SAN JOSE, Patrick Rissmiller 1 (Ryane Clowe, Kyle McLaren) 12:14
Scott Hannan carried the puck behind the left circle and flung it toward the net, where it deflected off of Curtis Brown and possibly a few other things before Ville Nieminen found it on the doorstep and put it through.
»» 6, SAN JOSE, Ville Nieminen 1 (Curtis Brown, Scott Hannan) 14:14
Bieksa had the puck in his own end as the Canucks were about ready to change. He spotted Henrik Sedin just outside the San Jose blue line and hit him with a long pass. Henrik took it across the line and Daniel Sedin got ahead of him and took the pass before going upstairs to the stick side on Toskala.
»» 7, VANCOUVER, D Sedin 4 (H Sedin, Bieksa) 18:15
The Sharks outshot the Canucks 17-12 in the period (26-17 overall). They were 0-for-2 (0-for-3) on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-4 (1-for-5).
The Canucks were on the attack as the final seconds of a two-man advantage were ticking away to a one-man advantage. Mattias Ohlund passed to Henrik Sedin on the end boards to the left side. Henrik tried centering to his brother Daniel at mid-slot. In a horribly inopportune chain of events, the centering pass went off of Toskala's stick trying to deflect it away, and it went and all the way out to center, where Brown sprinted out of the penalty box and was loose on a breakaway. Brown blazed down the ice and backhanded it upstairs on Luongo's glove side.
»» 8, SAN JOSE, shorthanded, Brown 2 (Vesa Toskala) 1:23
Mattias Ohlund smacked a seemingly harmless shot from the right point that somehow found its way through traffic and into the net behind Toskala.
»» 9, VANCOUVER, Mattias Ohlund 1 (Bieksa, H Sedin) 9:49
Lukas Krajicek put up a shot from the left side that went off a skate, then Ohlund shot a puck that was blocked as well. Matt Carle got a hold of the puck and fed Mike Grier, who bolted the other way with the puck. Grier sped down the left side and not even the speedy Krajicek could catch up to him in time as Grier put a backhander past the stick side on Luongo.
»» 10, SAN JOSE, Mike Grier 1 (Matt Carle) 11:45
The Sharks outshot Vancouver 11-9 in the period (37-26 total). They were 0-for-3 (0-for-6) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (1-for-6). Luongo stopped 31 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) San Jose's Milan Michalek, (2) Bieksa, (3) San Jose's Curtis Brown
H Sedin 0-3-3
D Sedin 1-1-2
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 30 of 60 draws (50%). Brendan Morrison five of 18, Ryan Kesler won seven of 12, Marc Chouinard won three of seven, and Henrik Sedin was 13 for 20. Kevin Bieksa and Markus Naslund led the team with four shots apiece and Jan Bulis had three. Mattias Ohlund and Matt Cooke led by delivering four hits each. Morrison notched three takeaways. Bieksa, Linden, and Henrik Sedin coughed up the puck twice each. Willie Mitchell blocked four shots and Ohlund blocked three. Bieksa and Naslund missed the net with three shots each.
In plus-minus, the Canucks were finally giving up even-strength goals again, so there are some crooked numbers again. Plus-skating Canucks were Bieksa, Mitchell, and Henrik Sedin were all plus-1 and Daniel Sedin was plus-2. Minus-skating Canucks were aplenty, with Ohlund, Morrison, Taylor Pyatt, Kesler, and Cooke at minus-1, Luc Bourdon, Lukas Krajicek, Linden, Chouinard, and Bulis were minus-2. Still worse were Rory Fitzpatrick and Josh Green at minus-3.
The loss left the Canucks with a record of 2-2-1 (1-0 overtime, 0-1 shootout), good for five points and second place in the Northwest Division, three points behind the division-leading Minnesota Wild (who have one game in hand) and one point ahead of Edmonton (two in hand), Calgary (one in hand), and Colorado (two in hand). They are currently seventh in the Western Conference, one point ahead of eighth-place Chicago (really, and they have two games in hand). They are three points behind Minnesota and San Jose at the top of the conference, no points behind third-place Columbus (they lead their division), two back of Anaheim, and one back of Dallas. They are tied in points with Detroit, but the Wings have a game in hand. Vancouver gets the weekend off before a home-and-home with Edmonton, and the front end is a home game on Monday before a five-game road trip starts Tuesday in Edmonton.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
Minnesota Wild fans still hate the Canucks, even if they've gotten rid of Jarkko Ruutu and Todd Bertuzzi. Still, the Canucks are the Canucks, and they still have Matt Cooke, so the Wild fans are still going to fork over the hate. After rumors he'd play on opening night followed by rumors he'd play some time on the road trip, it was finally this night where young Luc Bourdon would make his NHL debut on the Vancouver blue line. Also for Vancouver, it'd be another night of marveling at the performance of Roberto Luongo in net. The one disturbing thing is that the Sunday loss in Colorado left Luongo 0-5 lifetime against the Avalanche. He came into this game with a 1-4-1 lifetime record against the Wild. Considering those two teams are division foes the Canucks really need to beat, those numbers have to reverse themselves in a hurry. The Canucks' special teams units, namely the penalty kill, would have to pick it up quickly. Through three games, the Canucks had given up six goals, five of which were power-play goals.
The Wild outshot Vancouver 11-7 in the period. Vancouver was 0-for-2 on the power play and didn't get called for any penalties.
Ryan Kesler worked the puck from behind the net to the left corner, then left it to Daniel Sedin, who was camped behind the net. Daniel bided his time to wait for something to materialize, and it did, as Daniel threaded the puck to Taylor Pyatt, who found space in the low slot between three (or four) Minnesota defenders and snapped his first goal as a Canuck through on Manny Fernandez.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Taylor Pyatt 1 (Daniel Sedin, Ryan Kesler) 9:15
Vancouver outshot Minnesota 18-12 in the period (25-23 overall). They again were 0-for-2 (0-for-4) on the power play and again didn't get whistled for any penalties.
On the dying seconds of a Minnesota power play, Brian Rolston skated calmly down the left side, covered by Lukas Krajicek. Rolston centered the puck, but it went off of Krajicek's skate and banked into the net past Luongo. That's some icky luck for the Canucks.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, powerplay, Brian Rolston 2 (Petteri Nummelin, Pavol Demitra) 11:33
Vancouver was outshot 12-5 in the period (35-30 overall). Vancouver didn't get a power play chance in the period while Minnesota was 1-for-2 for the period on their first two chances of the game.
Each team had a very good shot apiece and shots were 36-31 for Minnesota for the game. Neither team had a power play in the overtime as Vancouver finished 0-for-4 and Minnesota was 1-for-2. Luongo stopped 35 shots for the game.
Naslund -- YES; right to left, shot, forehand snap through the legs, no deke
Demitra -- YES; goes near the right-wing boards, bullet wrist shot far corner
D Sedin -- NO; forehand wrister
Koivu -- YES; left, backhand score high glove under crossbar
Morrison -- YES; deke to backhand, score
Rolston -- NO; robbed, reached back with the glove on the goal line
Bulis -- NO; forehand, five-hole, stopped
Nummelin -- YES; deke and score, upstairs, freezing Luongo
Three stars -- (1) Minnesota's Brian Rolston, (2) Luongo, (3) Minnesota's Manny Fernandez
D Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, the Canucks won 22 of 58 draws (38%). Brendan Morrison won nine of 20, Trevor Linden won five of eight, Ryan Kesler won one of nine (ouch), Daniel Sedin lost both of his, Josh Green won two of six, and Henrik Sedin won five of 12. Taylor Pyatt led the team with four shots, and Kevin Bieksa and Markus Naslund had three apiece. Bieksa and Kesler dished out a pair of hits apiece. Luc Bourdon blocked three shots to lead the team while Mattias Ohlund and Pyatt blocked a pair each. Ohlund missed the net with four shots.
In plus-minus, the Canucks again had no minus skaters since apparently now they only give up goals on the power play. Bieksa, Pyatt, Kesler, Rory Fitzpatrick, and Daniel Sedin, i.e., the Canucks on the ice at the time of their only goal, were plus-1, the only plus skaters in the arena on this night. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The shootout loss picked up a single point for the Canucks, who are now 2-1-1 (1-0 overtime, 0-1 shootout). This puts them in second place, one point behind 3-0 Minnesota, who leads the Northwest Division. The Canucks hold a one-point lead over Colorado, who has a game in hand. Though early, the Canucks hold the fifth slot in the Western Conference behind San Jose (fourth) and the three division leaders, who are Minnesota, Anaheim, and Columbus (huh?). The good news is that after having a pretty ugly preseason and having the first four games of the season on the road, the Canucks escaped with five points out of a possible eight, which isn't too bad considering there was some stuff that still needed hashing out as the season started. Now the issues are clear as to what ails this team, and those are special teams and secondary scoring. Hopefully it's not defensive depth after this game with Sami Salo's injury, whatever that may be. Hopefully Ryan Kesler isn't out for too long, because he and Alexandre Burrows seem to stir things up when they're on the ice at the same time.
Monday, October 09, 2006
---St. Louis Rams DT La'Roi Glover
IT'S RAMS WEEK, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
The Rams are 4-1 and the Seahawks are 3-1. Technically, the Rams have the lead in the NFC West. But as we all know, the NFC West still runs through Seattle. Do not forget that, Rams fans.
I will be in St. Louis this weekend for the Seahawks-Rams game. I'm up in the nosebleed seats, but it's better than watching it on TV here in Arkansas, that's for damn sure. I've been to a Raiders-Seahawks game in person and we know how fierce that rivalry was/still is. The rivalry with the Rams is getting to be just as fierce as the rivalries with the Raiders, Broncos, Chiefs, and Chargers were.
Make no mistake about it, I hate the Rams with a passion. Hate is a strong word, but when it comes to the Rams, it is justified. They still believe that the NFC West is theirs, even though the Seahawks swept them last year.
So what if the Rams are "leading" the NFC West right now. As the Anti-Nowhere League once said, "so f*cking what!" Metallica would repeat those words years later on the Garage, Inc. album.
I'm so ready for Sunday. And it's only Monday. I don't know how I'm going to get through this week. But I'll manage, somehow. Bring it, Rams fans.
SEAHAWKS. RAMS. SUNDAY. HIGH NOON CENTRAL. I CAN'T WAIT.
The Canucks came into this game 2-0, with the two wins coming back to back and on the road. For a 3-0 record, the Canucks would have brave the rarefied air of Denver and defeat the Colorado Avalanche. Colorado is a different team now, with Alex Tanguay having been traded to Calgary, and Rob Blake having left to return to Los Angeles. Still, Joe Sakic is still around and Colorado will get a full year of Jose Theodore in net. They will also get to see the maturation of Marek Svatos, Wojtek Wolski, and John-Michael Liles. The Canucks, meanwhile, have had Markus Naslund skating with the Sedin twins to make a high-powered and all-Swedish line, but needless to say they're looking for some badly-needed secondary scoring now. Though the penalty kill looked great for the first two games, could they cut back the penalties in the third game? Working against the Canucks was the fact that goalie Roberto Luongo was 0-4 lifetime against Colorado coming into the game, something which at some point would have to change during the season.
Markus Naslund took the puck across the blue line and down the right side, sneaking a nice pass to Lukas Krajicek skating down the slot, who put a shot onto Jose Theodore that was stopped, but Daniel Sedin followed up and put the rebound through up high.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Daniel Sedin 3 (Lukas Krajicek, Markus Naslund) 5:57
Paul Stastny came from behind the net and passed in front to Wojtek Wolski, who shot and was stopped by Roberto Luongo. Stastny came back out front for the rebound and had a shot stopped as well. Wolski finally put in the third chance as all four Canuck skaters on the ice -- Willie Mitchell, Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler, and Rory Fitzpatrick, watched the puck move around without hitting any bodies.
»» 2, COLORADO, powerplay, Wojtek Wolski 2 (Paul Stastny, Brett Clark) 12:42
Colorado outshot Vancouver 12-7 in the period. The Avalanche were 1-for-2 on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-2.
Brett Clark had the puck in the left-wing corner and passed to Joe Sakic behind the net. Sakic moved to the right side and fed Marek Svatos (who skated untouched to the doorstep) for a one-time attempt that was stopped by Luongo. Svatos put his own rebound past Luongo, though at least he got shoved a bit.
»» 3, COLORADO, powerplay, Marek Svatos 1 (Joe Sakic, Clark) 2:48
On a great hard-working shift by the first line, Henrik Sedin had the puck in the left corner and passed to Mitchell at the blue line, who unleashed a slap shot that was stopped. However, the rebound kicked halfway through the slot, where Henrik tapped it over to Naslund, who wristed it through a wide-open stick side on Theodore.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Naslund 2 (Henrik Sedin, Willie Mitchell) 19:23
Colorado again outshot the Canucks 11-7 (23-14 overall). They were 1-for-4 (2-for-6) on the power play and didn't take a penalty in the period.
A Joe Sakic wrister from the back of the left circle was stopped, and the rebound was loose in front, where Andrew Brunette centered the puck off of Svatos' skate and it went into the net. Trevor Linden and the Canucks argued that Svatos made a kicking motion to put the puck into the net, and while Svatos did change the direction of his skate, there was no "distinct kicking motion" necessary to wipe the goal off the scoreboard.
»» 5, COLORADO, powerplay, Svatos 2 (Andrew Brunette, Sakic) 14:16
Vancouver outshot Colorado 14-12 for the period (but were outshot 35-28 total). They were 0-for-3 (0-for-5) on the power play while Colorado was 1-for-2 (3-for-8). Luongo stopped 32 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Colorado's Marek Svatos, (2) Naslund, (3) Colorado's Brett Clark
D Sedin 1-0-1
H Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 32 of 61 draws (52%). Brendan Morrison won eight of 17, Ryan Kesler won nine of 16, Tommi Santala won all three he took, and Henrik Sedin won nine of 19. Markus Naslund led the team with five shots, and people with the last name of Sedin had four apiece. Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, Trevor Linden, and Daniel Sedin delivered a pair of hits each. Alexandre Burrows led Vancouver with four takeaways, and Taylor Pyatt, Naslund, and Santala each had three. Lukas Krajicek, Salo, Willie Mitchell, and Matt Cooke each blocked a pair of shots.
On plus-minus, no Canuck skaters were minus-skaters, which tends to happen when you allow nothing but power-play goals. Krajicek, Mitchell, Naslund, Daniel Sedin, and Henrik Sedin were all plus-2. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The loss left the Canucks with a 2-1-0 record (1-0 overtime, no shootouts) after three games. With four points, the Canucks are tied with Minnesota and Colorado for first in the Northwest Division, but Minnesota has a game in hand, so they're in first. Colorado has one less win than Vancouver, so they're third. Yes, it's second place in the Northwest Division for Vancouver. They are also sixth in the Western Conference, but it's early. The Canucks travel to Minnesota to face the suddenly high-scoring Wild tomorrow.