Saturday, December 16, 2006
For the second straight game, the Canucks had a team stumble into GM Place with road woes. The Minnesota Wild came in having lost their last six road games, their last road win coming exactly one month before this game. Vancouver was gunning for their fourth straight home win and eighth in ten home games. Minnesota goalie Manny Fernandez came in with a 7-6-1 record against the Canucks, which isn't horribly impressive; it was his former teammate Dwayne Roloson that had the crazy record against Vancouver when he was in Minnesota. Both of those things would be moot in this one as Niklas Backstrom got the call in the Minnesota net. Even after their much-needed win two nights earlier against Calgary, the Canucks still needed to improve upon their still-yucky 3-8-1 record against Northwest Division opponents. Adding that up to the fact that Roberto Luongo had a 1-5-1 (with a tie) career record against Minnesota.
On a late Vancouver power play, the puck cycled from the left-wing boards behind the net, and out to the other side as Henrik Sedin left a pass for twin brother Daniel Sedin on the right side, who passed across the low slot to Trevor Linden. Linden beat Niklas Backstrom over the right shoulder for his first goal in 30 games.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Trevor Linden 2 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 15:30
The Wild outshot Vancouver 9-5 in the period. They were 0-for-2 on the power play while Vancouver was 1-for-3.
The Canucks had a power play just end in the early minutes of the period. Kim Johnsson in the Minnesota zone got hold of an errant puck off the stick of Daniel Sedin. He passed to the Pavol Demitra, who skated in front of the benches and to the right point in the Vancouver zone. Demitra then stopped and fired a slapshot that dipped on its way to the net. Roberto Luongo completely whiffed on the puck with the glove, and the seemingly harmless shot tied the game. For Demitra, the point was his 600th in the NHL.
»» 2, MINNESOTA, Pavol Demitra 7 (Kim Johnsson) 2:29
About two minutes later, Minnesota found themselves on a power play. Demitra flung a puck on the net from the blue line that Luongo stopped, and the rebound chance was nearly put in, but Luongo made a dive to his right to stop it with his arm and deflect it wide. A couple minutes after that, Pascal Dupuis thought he had put a puck under Luongo, though only a play stoppage was called on the ice. Video replay showed the puck went off Luongo's mask and trickled down off him, but no conclusive proof was found that the puck crossed the line, though Luongo may have covered it with his equipment while it was over the line, shielding it from any camera angle. With seven minutes left to go in the period, a Vancouver power play had just ended and a weird bounce in the Minnesota zone sent the puck toward center ice. That's where it met Nick Schultz breaking out of the penalty box, whose quick snap from mid-slot was stopped by Luongo, as was Schultz' attempt on the rebound, that nearly went in off Ohlund's skate and into the net. Luongo covered the shot and was lying on his back when the whistle sounded. Vancouver also killed off an 86-second two-man disadvantage after Jan Bulis and Kevin Bieksa took roughing penalties that were too close together. The Wild badly outshot Vancouver 16-6 in the period (25-11 overall). They were 0-for-3 (0-for-5) on the power play while Vancouver was 0-for-1 (1-for-4).
Five and a half minutes in, the Wild quickly got the puck out of their own zone. Pierre-Marc Bouchard took the puck across the right point and spotted Wes Walz streaking down the slot and dished the puck off to him. Walz got all the way to Luongo and tried a forehand to the glove side, but was held out by Luongo's left pad. On a Vancouver power play about nine minutes in, the first faceoff stayed in the Minnesota zone. The puck went from left point to right point, then along the right-wing boards to Daniel Sedin. Daniel pass to Henrik Sedin on the goal line to the right of the net. Henrik then found Ohlund, who had raced near the slot from the left point. Ohlund got the pass from Daniel and put it under the crossbar above Backstrom's right shoulder.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 5 (H Sedin, D Sedin) 9:04
Backstrom's night was definitely not without some brilliance. With two minutes left, Vancouver got a hold of a loose puck in the Minnesota zone, he stopped a shot by Henrik Sedin from the left hash, and it looked like it bounced as Backstrom finished the play on hands and knees covering the shot. The Wild were outshot 7-4 in the period but had a 29-18 edge for the game. They were 0-for-1 (0-for-6) on the power play while the Canucks were 1-for-2 (2-for-6). Luongo stopped 28 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) D Sedin, (2) H Sedin, (3) Minnesota's Pavol Demitra
D Sedin 0-2-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 30 of 60 draws (50%). Brendan Morrison won eight of 18, Ryan Kesler won seven of 15, Marc Chouinard won four of ten, and Henrik Sedin won nine of 15. Mattias Ohlund and Morrison led the team with four shots apiece and Matt Cooke had two. Jan Bulis dished out five hits and Cooke delivered four, along with two takeaways. Kevin Bieksa blocked four shots while Willie Mitchell, Alexandre Burrows, and Kesler blocked two each. Markus Naslund and Henrik Sedin missed the net with three shots apiece.
The Canucks tallied both of their goals on the power play and gave up an even-strength goal, so the plus list is nonexistent and the minus list is short. Bieksa, Mitchell, Daniel Sedin, Cooke, and Henrik Sedin were minus-1. All other Canuck skaters were even.
The win made it a 3-0 homestand for the Canucks, leapfrogging them over Minnesota and lifting their division record to a less pathetic 4-8-1. It pushed their overall record to 17-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 35 points and third place in the Northwest Division. They lie a mere one point back of first-place Edmonton, and have the same number of points as Calgary, but the Flames have three games in hand. They are one-point behind fourth-place Colorado and last-place Minnesota (Colorado has the head-to-head edge). As is still the case in the Western Conference, the only teams to have played as many or more games than Vancouver are all teams in the Pacific Division that aren't Phoenix. Anaheim still is running away with the West with 56 points. Nashville is second with 45. Edmonton is third. San Jose is fourth with 48 (second in the Pacific), Detroit is fifth with 42 (second in the Central), Dallas is sixth with 42 (more games played than Detroit and third in the Pacific), Calgary is seventh, Vancouver is eighth, Colorado is ninth, and Minnesota is tenth.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
It's become apparent to anyone following the Canucks that if they're to make any hay in the Western Conference standings, they'd have to improve upon their brutal record against Northwest Division opponents. That record coming into this game was a brutal 2-8-1. The good news for the Canucks was that although the Calgary Flames had beaten them in the teams' previous two meetings, the Flames carried a four-game road losing streak to Vancouver with them. Jarome Iginla, whom Matt Cooke found out the hard way earlier in the season is a player could be awoken with a jarring hit, took a six-game goal streak into this game. Offensively, the Canucks had been more offensive in a good way in recent outings, scoring 12 goals in the previous three games, a huge surge compared to the five goals in six games that came beforehand.
With just over four minutes remaining, Jan Bulis from the back of the right circle backhanded a centering pass into the slot and Daniel Sedin skated in and deflected it toward the net, but Miikka Kiprusoff was able to make the clutch save. Vancouver outshot Calgary 5-4 in the period. Both teams were 0-for-2 on the power play.
Chuck Kobasew of the Flames took a holding penalty in the final minute of the first period, and the resulting Vancouver power play carried into the second period. Jeff Friesen got the puck deep in his own zone and spotted Matthew Lombardi darting across center ice and sprung him loose on a breakaway. Lombardi easily got past Markus Naslund (the only man back), chasing down the puck along the right-wing boards and taking it to the goal line, waiting out Roberto Luongo before putting it in over the paddle.
»» 1, CALGARY, shorthanded, Matthew Lombardi 10 (Jeff Friesen, Andrew Ference) 1:09
The Canucks responded shortly thereafter. Ryan Kesler threw a check on Brad Ference behind the Calgary net that freed up the puck for Naslund in the right-wing corner. With some traffic in front of the net, Naslund centered to Mattias Ohlund in the slot, who snapped the puck past Kiprusoff to tie the game.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Mattias Ohlund 4 (Markus Naslund, Ryan Kesler) 2:53
A few minutes later, Calgary turned the puck over in the neutral zone and Bulis and Cooke raced the other way on a two-on-one. Dion Phaneuf was the Flame that was back who was trying to wrestle the puck away from Bulis, and he was tired after a long shift. The puck came loose, but right to Cooke, whose backhand shot was stopped by Kiprusoff's left pad. Six minutes in, Andrei Zyuzin at the blue line flung the puck toward the net and it deflected through to Luongo, who stopped it, as well as the rebound shot from the right circle off the stick of Lombardi, who also had a shot from mid-slot about five seconds later that met the same fate. About two minutes later, Kristian Huselius shot the puck into the benches from in front of the Vancouver bench and was subsequently hit by Tyler Bouck, drawing some words. Late in the period, Jamie Lundmark and Huselius dodged a possible offside call and raced into the Vancouver zone on a two-on-one with Bulis as the lone Canuck. Lundmark on the right side ripped a shot well wide of the net. The puck found itself going the other way quickly with a couple guys whose last name is Sedin. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin had a two-on-one against Zyuzin. Daniel raced down the right side and waited until the last possible second to dish off to Henrik, who tapped the puck past the stick side on Kiprusoff.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Henrik Sedin 4 (Daniel Sedin) 17:31
As the goal was being announced in the arena, Tony Amonte on the right side centered the puck and Phaneuf tipped it onto the goal, but Luongo stopped and covered it. Calgary outshot Vancouver 12-6 in the period (16-11 overall). The Flames were 0-for-4 (0-for-6) on the power play while Vancouver didn't have any power play chances.
Near the midway point of the final period, the Canucks found themselves taking the puck out of their own zone with a four-on-two. Cooke along the left-wing boards centered to Brendan Morrison in the high slot, who uncharacteristically uncorked a slapshot that beat Kiprusoff for what ended up being the final tally.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 8 (Matt Cooke, Willie Mitchell) 8:40
Luongo's final test came with about three minutes left, when he put the blocker on a Phaneuf slapshot from up high. Vancouver badly outshot the Flames 16-6 in the period (27-22 total). They were 0-for-5 (0-for-7) on the power play while Calgary was 0-for-2 (0-for-8). Luongo stopped 21 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Cooke, (2) Mitchell, (3) Calgary's Dion Phaneuf
H Sedin 1-0-1
D Sedin 0-1-1
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 37 of 60 draws (62%). Brendan Morrison won 11 of 19, Trevor Linden won all three of his, Ryan Kesler won eight of 17, Marc Chouinard won five of seven, and Henrik Sedin won ten of 14. Kevin Bieksa led the team with eight shots and Daniel Sedin had five. Matt Cooke dished out three hits while four other Canucks had two. Kesler notched two takeaways. Markus Naslund and Jan Bulis coughed up the puck twice each. Willie Mitchell blocked five shots while Kesler and Yannick Tremblay blocked three shots apiece. Mattias Ohlund, Bieksa, and Naslund each missed the net three times with shots.
On a night when the only goal the Canucks gave up was shorthanded, there would be no minusness. At plus-1 were Bieksa, Alexandre Burrows, Kesler, Naslund, Cooke, and Bulis. At plus-2 were Ohlund and Rory Fitzpatrick. All remaining Canuck skaters were even.
The win pushed the Canucks to a record of 16-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 33 points and foutrh place in the Northwest Division. They are three points behind first-place Edmonton, one behind second-place Minnesota, and they have the same amount of points as Calgary, but have played three more games. They lead last-place Colorado by one point. In the Western Conference, other than Pacific Division teams not from Phoenix, all teams have played less games than Vancouver. Anaheim is still way ahead in the West with 56 points, Nashville is second with 43, and Edmonton is third. San Jose is fourth with 46 (second in the Pacific), Detroit is fifth with 40 (second in the Central), Dallas is sixth with 40 (third in the Pacific, they've played two more games than Detroit), Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Colorado is tenth.
They could still get into the playoffs, but I don't know what the point is now.
They haven't shown me crap since the game at Denver.
Moreover, they haven't played a complete game of football all season long. They haven't. Human nature says you let up if you have a big lead, but I'm still even bitter over the Giants coming back to even make it a game when they came to Seattle.
They can't beat a 3-9 team on the road when playing a divisional opponent with a crap offensive line for a first-round bye. They get swept by the 49ers, which of course includes a home loss, the one tonight. More importantly tonight, the Seahawks failed to wrap up the division against the very team they needed to beat out for it. Really, if you look at the Seahawks' schedule, you could seriously argue they haven't beaten a good team all season, and Denver had a quarterback in his first start, in case you were thinking of that game.
If they can't do any of what I said in the last paragraph, I don't even know why I bother even keeping track of this team. They're just absolutely schizo. I read/heard someone call this team an average team with above-average talent, and I'm starting to believe that's the case.
What's the point if they make the playoffs? A lot of people point to the Steelers last year, but they got rolling toward the end of the season and hit their stride in the playoffs. It's going to take an act of God for the Seahawks to win the Super Bowl. Hell, it'd take that much for a second-round win. It'd take something surprising for a first-round win. If they make it, it'll be like 1999, when they got beat in Dan Marino's final game, then the Jaguars steamrolled the Dolphins in the next round.
All in all, screw it. That's it.
This isn't the year. Let's just see how far they get before there just aren't any more scheduled games.
As a Seattle sports fan, can I just get ONE DAMN TEAM that doesn't suck? This is just terrible. The way it's going, I'm going to have to wait one whole year for that.
This is just pathetic.
I started this post with about four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, by the way. Now Joe Nedney's kicking off after the 49ers' final touchdown. I knew when it was over.
It's just appalling.
Is it an every-other-year thing for this team? Is that what it is? This feels 2004 bad. God knows their record might get there.
Seriously, I'm almost rooting for the Chargers to just win 80-0 next week. If the Seahawks aren't going to do it this year, just go out with a bang.
Can you tell I'm bitter?
San Francisco 49ers at Seattle SEAHAWKS, 5p (NFL Network with KCPQ-13 simulcast)
Yeah, I totally forgot to do this. The game's in the second quarter as I'm posting this.
Still, the mission is pretty simple. Win and a playoff spot is guaranteed as they would be wrapping up the NFC West once again.
It's something that should be a cinch, but it's something. This team needs a baby step, something to build upon.
I'm still on such a low after that Arizona win, just a week after the big win at Denver. That's schizoness.
Yeah, the Seahawks just threw incomplete in a 3rd-and-1 situation.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Not even a week after being activated back onto the Atlanta Hawks' roster, Bremerton 2004 grad Marvin Williams let us all know that he is indeed healthy after healing from a broken third left metacarpal he sustained during training camp. The injury basically cost him a spot in the starting lineup on opening night.
In last night's game against Denver, Marvin shot 5-for-10 from the field, good for 10 points to go with two rebounds, a couple of steals, and a block. It was only his third game back, and he played 30 minutes.
In the picture above, he is dunking over Marcus Camby. The play was featured as the #1 Top Play on SportsCenter last night. Catch it early this morning on the infinite SportsCenter reruns if you haven't already (for what it's worth, John Anderson and Steve Levy anchored the show).
But yeah, Marvin is very much back. Knight pride!
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
After departing through free agency after the market priced him out of a Canuck uniform last summer, Ed Jovanovski made his return to GM Place as a Coyote. The Canucks were trying to rebound from a no-show in Calgary three nights before. That loss made their pathetic record against Northwest Division teams even more pathetic at 2-8-1; not so good a record in the age of the unbalanced schedule. The problem was that Wayne Gretzky's Phoenix Coyotes came into Vancouver having only lost once in regulation in their previous six games. Working in the Canucks' favor was the fact that Phoenix had been a terrible road trip. Not working so much in the Canucks' favor was their all too well-known lack of scoring prowess. What in years past used to be a one-line team (Markus Naslund/Brendan Morrison/Todd Bertuzzi) is now a one-line team (Daniel Sedin/Henrik Sedin/linemate du jour). It's a whole new era in the perpetual Canuck hunt for secondary scoring. Equally disturbing is wondering if or when Naslund will get it going and start potting some more goals. Of course, everything is slightly better with the knowledge of having Roberto Luongo in your net.
On somewhat of a Vancouver rush, Brendan Morrison had the puck in the high slot and dropped it back to Matt Cooke, who took a shot that was stopped by Mikael Tellqvist. Morrison followed up on the rebound and scored. Vancouver had just scored on their fourth shot of the game. Morrison had four assists in the previous two games, but now had a goal to go with it. Cooke had gone without a point in his previous seven games.
»» 1, VANCOUVER, Brendan Morrison 7 (Matt Cooke, Lukas Krajicek) 8:27
After the Canucks got a hold of a turnover in the neutral zone, Ryan Kesler took the puck over the blue line at the left point and skated toward the slot. He dished to Kevin Bieksa just a few feet to his right, and Bieksa beat Tellqvist with a shot just underneath the crossbar.
»» 2, VANCOUVER, Kevin Bieksa 6 (Ryan Kesler) 11:52
It appeared there would be no Canuck scoring drought in this game as they tallied again just 59 seconds later. With the puck in the Phoenix zone, Coyote defenseman Keith Ballard had the puck stolen by Henrik Sedin, who dished to his brother Daniel Sedin just beside him. Daniel then spotted Jan Bulis in the low slot, who had a fairly open glove side and shot the puck past Tellqvist to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games.
»» 3, VANCOUVER, Jan Bulis 6 (Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin) 12:51
About a minute later, the Coyotes showed a sign of life thanks to Ballard, who threw a hip check onto Cooke. The scoring still wasn't done for Vancouver in the opening frame. An ill-fated Phoenix pass into the neutral zone was easily picked off by Henrik Sedin. Bulis got the pass from Henrik and skated hard to the high slot, shooting but being stopped by Tellqvist. The rebound went to the left corner, where Daniel passed behind the net to Bulis, who centered to Henrik in front of the net, but Tellqvist came away covering the puck on a nice flurry. The Canucks had a late power play thanks to a hook by Ballard. Ohlund had the puck at the left point and passed off. Bieksa had the puck up high before dishing to Henrik Sedin at the right-wing boards. Henrik passed to Daniel lower on the boards, who then found Ohlund sneaking into the high slot. Ohlund's quick wrist shot beat Tellqvist.
»» 4, VANCOUVER, powerplay, Mattias Ohlund 3 (D Sedin, H Sedin) 17:50
Vancouver outshot Phoenix 14-9 in the period. They were 1-for-1 on the power play while the Coyotes didn't get a power play chance.
Curtis Joseph took the Phoenix net for Tellqvist to start the period. CuJo got a bit of a break early on thanks to a Coyote power play, but the break didn't last long. A loose puck behind the goal in the Phoenix zone ended up leaking toward the right point, where Bieksa snapped it on goal and it was deflected through by Bieksa.
»» 5, VANCOUVER, Kesler 4 (Bieksa) 6:14
Roberto Luongo's shutout was snapped three minutes later. Ballard's shot from the left point was tipped onto the net, where a flurry erupted. Many Coyotes had a hack at it, and eventually the puck snuck into the net. It was a goal for former Seattle Thunderbird Oleg Saprykin.
»» 6, PHOENIX, Oleg Saprykin 7 (Yanic Perreault, Owen Nolan) 9:14
The Canucks got a number of decent chances on a power play late in the period. Vancouver outshot the Coyotes 13-8 in the period (27-17 overall). They were 0-for-2 (1-for-3) on the power play and Phoenix was 0-for-1.
Tellqvist returned to the Phoenix net for the third period. Just short of five minutes in, Yanic Perreault fired a shot from the back of the left circle that Luongo gloved and held. He wasn't so lucky in the final minute -- Ed Jovanovski wrestled the puck from Tyler Bouck along the end boards in the Phoenix zone. The puck came to Mike Comrie at the back of the left circle, who made a perfect pass to Dave Scatchard at the Vancouver blue line, springing him loose on a breakaway. Scatchard put it through glove side after beating the only man back, which was Lukas Krajicek on a play in which the coverage was quite blown.
»» 7, PHOENIX, Dave Scatchard 3 (Mike Comrie, Ed Jovanovski) 19:22
Vancouver was outshot 13-4 in the period but had a 31-30 edge for the game. Neither team had a power play in the period, so Phoenix finished 0-for-1 and Vancouver finished 1-for-3. Luongo stopped 28 shots for the game.
Three stars -- (1) Bieksa, (2) Morrison, (3) Kesler
D Sedin 0-2-2
H Sedin 0-2-2
In the faceoff circle, Vancouver won 24 of 52 draws (46%). Brendan Morrison won seven of 11, Ryan Kesler won seven of 15, Marc Chouinard won five of 12, and Henrik Sedin won five of 13. Kevin Bieksa led the team with seven shots while Mattias Ohlund, Lukas Krajicek, and Daniel Sedin had three apiece. Alexandre Burrows dished out three hits. Willie Mitchell and Kesler notched two takeaways each. Bieksa coughed up the puck twice. Mitchell blocked three shots while Bieksa and Tyler Bouck blocked a pair each. Ohlund and Markus Naslund missed the net with two shots each.
Plus-minus was a fairly wide spectrum in this one. Minus-skating Canucks were all minus-1 and they were Krajicek and Yannick Tremblay. At plus-1 were Morrison, Kesler, and Matt Cooke. At plus-2 were Burrows, Naslund, and Alexander Edler. The lone plus-4 was Bieksa. All remaining Canuck skaters were even.
The win pushed the Canucks to a record of 15-15-1 (5-0 overtime, 1-1 shootout), good for 31 points and fourth place in the Northwest Division. Edmonton and Minnesota lead the division three points ahead and third-place Calgary is two points ahead. Vancouver is a point ahead of Colorado. Still, the only teams in the Western Conference to have played more games or the same amount as the Canucks are the Pacific Division teams that aren't Phoenix. Anaheim is still running away with the West with 54 points. Nashville is second with 41 and Edmonton is third with 34. San Jose is fourth with 46 (trailing Anaheim in the Pacific), Dallas is fifth with 40 (trailing Anaheim), and Detroit is sixth with 38 (trailing Nashville). Minnesota is seventh, Calgary is eighth, Vancouver is ninth, and Colorado is tenth. The Flames visit the Canucks on Thursday night.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
I'm absolutely infuriated.
There is absolutely no excuse for this.
For this team to fumble the ball four times (and lose three), let the Cardinals convert six of 13 on third down (they started five-for-seven), and (perhaps most embarrassingly) let Edgerrin James run 26 times for 115 yards behind an offensive line that is complete crap is just beyond inexcusable. There aren't words for this.
Mack Strong's a great blocker, this we know. But good gracious, I want to stop the Koren Robinson jokes somewhere. He fumbled today to put the icing on a season full of dropping dumpoff passes in the flat.
I'm just beside myself. This team is supposed to be getting healthy at the right time. They're supposed to be hitting their stride and looking more and more like themselves.
They're supposed to be winning road games against divisional opponents with 3-9 records that should have one-dimensional offenses, that is, unless you let them get multi-dimensional.
What does it say for the defense when they managed to record not one sack against this piddly-poor Arizona offensive line? I'll be damned if I give credit to that offensive line. It's the Seahawk defense's ineptitude that's to blame for not getting to the quarterback.
Then there's that whole thing where one side of the ball doesn't carry the other's momentum, which has happened a couple times the past few weeks. Most notably this week, the Seahawks scored the touchdown to get a 21-17 lead, then the defense nicely held Arizona to a three-and-out. The Seahawks' first ensuing play from scrimmage? The Strong fumble.
But frankly, when Arizona connects for a long touchdown bomb on the first play from scrimmage, you wonder what's up. If you're like me, you think, "here we go again."
And two years after a loss in Arizona, here the Seahawks lie again. Granted, they're in better position than in 2004, but this sucks.
Kiss that number-two seed goodbye. If this team can't beat a 3-9 team on the road, I can't expect them to win on the road in Chicago, New Orleans, or Dallas in January, and chances are, if they won in the first round, they'd be in one of those places in the second round.