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new canucks

If the Canucks will go anywhere in the next few years, these guys will need to work.

Ok, so I’ve been a bit busy working with other things.  I know, I know, what could be more important than blogging for no recognition, pay or credit on my own site to a world of people who don’t leave comments and don’t reblog the site?  It seems unfathomable that I should have taken such a layoff, given the enormous boon of dividends that online blogging provides.  It truly is a wealth of rewards.

irish settler

“Work is thy own reward!”

But, in the interest of fueling the long used saying that “work is its own reward”, a saying surely initiated by some poor sap toiling away for some unscrupulous bastard in the early colonial years when half of Ireland was convinced that starting a farm in the Hudson Bay lowlands was a great idea, I will continue to provide the world with my invaluable insights.

So, I will preempt this all by explaining that, while I have been away from blogging about the Canucks, I have not been away from the work that is hockey.  In fact, just the other day I was at a Giants game during which my date received a souvenir to the head by ways of a flying puck.

A pool of blood, five hours in Burnaby General Hospital and six stitches to the scalp on a first date was definitely not the kind of reward that work should provide, but it did serve as a reminder, of sorts, that there is a silver lining. In the world of calamities, and a pencil thin scar just below the hairline not being the worst of calamities one could think of, I got to thinking about the game of hockey again and how the work of it is represented in life and life represented through it.

stack burger

Seriously, the Milestones stack burger? Well worth the work.

Tonight, however,  I took the safe route.  Work, nonetheless, but safe.  I decided to get a stack burger at the Cambie Milestones, where there were, literally, more people serving than actual customers and Patrick Hernandez’s “Born to Be Alive” blared in the background as the Canucks worked for a 1-0 lead.

A little work to find Craft paid off.

A little work to find Craft paid off.

Later, I decided to work at hunting down a more vibrant atmosphere and cabbed it to Athlete’s village where I sat on the long bar at the eponymously named tavern “Craft”, admiring the Canucks efforts on one of the many screens, the sports version of a silent drama playing out in front of me as more contemporary music than the stuck-in-the-eighties Milestones could provide (but did I mention the stack burger?).

Tonight I watched something I haven’t seen since maybe 2011, and no, I’m not referring to two clowns from Toronto who were cheering on the Ducks out of spite that their team can’t seem to make the playoffs in a year when everyone is actually trying to lose games.  I watched a team.  A real team.  Working.

The truth is that I’ve been there, watching, praying, hoping and lamenting every day, every game that it would finally culminate in what I saw today against Anaheim.  The Canucks have arrived, and they’ve done it through hard work, proving that it truly is its own reward.

horvat vs burns

Bo Horvat worked Brent Burns and Stanley Cup winner Niemi for his 9th goal.

I’ve been working hard watching this team closely all season, and I probably had lots to say about Willie Desjardins being selected to coach the Canucks, the trade of Ryan Kesler, or the promotion of Bo Horvat, the play of Ryan Miller, both good and bad, the surprising consistency of the team, the sucking of Kassian, Vrbata as an all-star, the rise of the Dorsett’s and the Mathhias’s, the injuries and then the resurgence of Kassian along with Eddie Lack finding his game again, but, hey, why work at recapturing all of that when another more appropriate saying (in this case) trumps them all:

Go Canucks.

Go.

And keep working.

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Well would you look at this…the Canucks are back in the playoff picture. Was there any real doubt? Not from us at Raincity…no sir…we Canucks fans know that they usually have a slow start, but then they ramp it up come December. While the team in Toronto is doing what we all expect them to do at the 45-48 game mark…that is leave the playoff picture.

I would like to say congratulations to all who have made the Canadian Olympic team. Lets bring home the GOLD!!! When the Olympics are here, we Hockey fans can put away from hating each others respective NHL teams and cheer for OUR team…TEAM CANADA!!

Play big minutes; shut down the oppositions top lines. +10. that's what makes a great Defenseman

Play big minutes; shut down the oppositions top lines. +10. that’s what makes a great Defenseman. Congratulations Dan. Make Canada proud

Good to see Hamhuis making the team for the first time. He is not flashy, but he will shut you down…sort of what you expect from a shutdown Defenseman. Points are not everything for a Defensemen, that’s why I thought Chara should have won the Norris last year instead of Subban or Karlsson the year before that. The Norris is suppose to be awarded to the best defenseman right? I would rather play against Subban or Karlsson all day every day over playing against Chara, and I am a Canucks fan that should not give praises to a Bruin.

Also some more good news!! Burrows is almost ready to come back from injured reserves. The Canucks sorely miss him…more so than Edler. Now the Sedins can finally play their game and all the forward lines will be as they should be. It’s funny how one player can have such impact on a team.

Here are the current rankings after the halfway mark starting from number 1 – 8, while one team in the West, usually the last place team, that is not part of the playoff picture will get a: ‘What the Deuce’ from me to you.

 

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nhl-ducks

1. Anaheim Ducks – Best in the league. With that first, second, and third line…this team is deep…deeper than a Chicago deep dish pizza.

nhl-blues2. St. Louis Blues – Hit’em Hard…Hit’em Fast. The Blues are playing such a hard nose game. They will make you their forest bride. Don’t know what that is? Look it up.

nhl-blackhawks3. Chicago Blackhawks – I am surprise that Corey Crawford didn’t make the Olympic team, I would have chosen him over Smith any day. Does a Stanley Cup and consistency mean nothing to the Olympic Selection Committee? Maybe there was a quota for the amount of players that you can select from one particular NHL team. If this has the case, then this makes sense. I would choose Sharp and Toews over Crawford. Oh wait, I was suppose to say something about this team…ok…they will make the playoffs.

nhl-sharks4. San Jose Sharks – This seems like the right place for them. Not the best, but still an elite team. Let’s see what they can do in the playoffs. Like the Canucks, Playoffs or bust.

nhl-kings5. Los Angeles Kings –Backups coming back to earth and they are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff position. This team is built for the playoffs, but you have to first make it there. All and all they might just squeak in this year like before.

nhl-avalanche6. Colorado Avalanche – This team is showing that their fast start was no fluke, they are still in the playoff picture. Fun Fact: most teams that are in the playoff picture at the halfway mark of the season tend to still be there when playoffs actually start.

nhl-canucks

7. Vancouver Canucks – Last minute breakdowns are hurt my team badly. Mental Lapses or Brain Farts…whatever you would like to call them. Mental toughness is what you need for the playoffs…if they keep playing this way…they might not make it to the playoffs. Lucky for them, the teams below them in the standings are stumping. It’s sad though when your only chance to make the playoff is to wish and hope that the teams below do worst than you. PICK IT UP BOYS!!!

nhl-wild8. Minnesota Wilds – They are in…they are out…they are in again. Like the story of my life, but unlike the Wilds…I could be in if I wanted to, I just choose to be out at the moment.

The WINNER for What the Deuce West is!!!! The Nashville Predators. What has happened to this team, oh wait…Rinne happened. They have taken

No Rinne; No Playoffs

No Rinne; No Playoffs

a big step back ever since Pekka’s injury and the team does not have the consistent scoring to get the job done. Shows you what an elite goalie can do for a team. Take note Oilers Management…you need an elite goalie to compete in this league…or should I say in the West. If you don’t have that, it doesn’t matter how good your forwards or defensemen are.  You need to build from the crease out.

 

 

 

 

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I know that our Canucks are on the outside looking in right now, but I have to say…(this is a Canucks dedicated website after all)…I like the new looking Canucks. Thanks Torts for making this team exciting again and also the fact that you are good with protecting your players from the press. Don’t think that this has gone unnoticed by us at

Exciting hockey is what this man brought back to our fair city

Exciting hockey is what this man brought back to our fair city

Raincity Hockey. Your dynamic coaching style has gotten this team playing hard till the game ends…the majority of the games I have seem at least. So we from Raincity Hockey welcome you to the Canucks.

Ok, enough of this mushy stuff…I don’t like it and John doesn’t like it either because we are both Alpha Male types. And no John, I will not ask you for permission to call you John because that’s what us Alpha Males do.

The Western Conference, especially the Pacific Division, has been eating the East alive and is the toughest Conference in the League period. Any team; with the exception of the Alberta teams have a chance of making the playoffs. I like you Calgary and hope to see you in the playoff picture sooner rather than later. Oilers…you can eat a fat one.

Here are the current rankings after the quarter mark starting from number 1 – 8, while one team in the West, usually the last place team, that is not part of the playoff picture will get a: ‘What the Deuce’ from me to you.

imagesCA5J02GY

nhl-ducks1. Anaheim Ducks – Wow…were we ever wrong about this one AGAIN!!! What is wrong with us? We can’t seem to see the birds from the trees even when there are no leaves on those said trees…but there are still pretty little birdies around though. Great Goaltending, forwards that can score…and…a Defense that has Scott Niedermayer as a coach? Yeah…we messed up, but I don’t think the Ducks fans are too mad about that…the rest of the conference might be though…

nhl-blackhawks2. Chicago Blackhawks – Ready to defend their Stanley Cup title like a true champ. This team is good…are they as good as last year’s team? They are very close to it…and hey…all the players went to the White House and were smiling. It good to see players putting the team before themselves.

 

nhl-sharks3. San Jose Sharks – the Sharks are the Sharks, good in the beginning, but they are starting to tail off a bit. They need to pick it up again, but I really don’t want them to. Not because they own my Canucks as of late…the last 2 years…I don’t want to see what Joe Thorton would do if he won the Stanley Cup…I mean if he was gonna pull his dick out and whack it if he were to score 4 goals in a game…imagine what he would do if he won the Stanley Cup? I wouldn’t want to be the person with the white gloves that has to handle it after he was done celebrating with it…yeesh…

nhl-coyotes4. Phoenix Coyotes – I guess a new lease on life in the desert was what this team needed to playing hockey. The addition of Mike Ribeiro and the emergence of OEL also had a lot to do with this. Mike Smith is giving Luongo a run for his money for the Olympic team. All the pieces seem to be there for a good team. I wouldn’t put them in as an Elite Team just yet though.

nhl-avalanche5. Colorado Avalanche – The Mike Holmes of the NHL. “Build it Right”

 

 

 

nhl-blues6. St. Louis Blues – Alexander Steen is in the lead for the Rocket Trophy? What gives? I thought the Blues were a defensive first kind of team? I don’t know if Steen and his team can keep up this pace for the whole season, but with Nashville faltering…anything is possible. This guy is liking what he sees in this team though.

nhl-wild7. Minnesota Wilds – Urgh…do I seriously have to write about this team? Ok…need to find something about this team to write about…hmm…Josh Harding…yeah…ok…I know I had a thing against you in the past about you not being that great and stuff, but how was I to know that you were sick and shit? In a relationship there needs to be communication…jeez man…ok…good luck to you, but not your team. Cheers

nhl-kings8. Los Angeles Kings – the definition of a grinding team, they are still a team to contend with that will play the body hard. Not a lot of blow out games for them, but a win IS a win…they don’t have to be pretty…like Yakupov’s manicured eyebrows.

The WINNER for What the Deuce West is!!!! The JUNIOR team formally known as the Oilers!!!!…looks like it’s time for another Oil Change…speaking of the shows…does the team get any money for the show? Does anyone know? It has been like 5 seasons of this show already right? Do they play this show in other countries like they do with shows like Friends,

Would rather watch this than the Oilers play

Would rather watch this than the Oilers play

Fraser, and Night Court? Man I use to love watching Night Court…

…yeah I am talking about syndicated television in other countries…it’s better than talking about a crappy team like the Oilers because I wouldn’t know where to begin…should I start with the Owner? The GM? The Coach? The Forwards? The Defense? The Goaltending? The Waterboy? Everything sucks except for the Waterboy…he is cool…that is all.

 

 

 

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Welcome everyone to the What the Deuce?!? version 2.0.11.34.74.89.

This is where I go through what has been happening throughout the NHL, some might call it a “Power Ranking”, but I just call it a ranking…you know from 1st place to “Oil Change” in each conference.

I am going to compare the current ranking of teams to the 2013 Predictions that Hattrick, Jacques and I…the Hoff made before the season started…

Before I start with the breakdown of the rankings, I would first like to acknowledge some things that happened in the NHL. First I would like to congratulate Milan Hejduk and Wade Redden for playing in the 1,000th game and also to Henrik Sedin; Henrik is 1 point behind Markus Naslund for all time point leader in Canucks history. Here is to all 3 for a job well done. And special congratulations from us at Rain City Hockey to Henrik, we know that you don’t want the attention on you, but you deserve it. And also…our site is not that big anyways so this will probably go unnoticed but for a hundred people who read this.  Kudos to you.

Canucks silent but deadly Captain. He will probably become the most point producing Canuck this coming week.

Canucks silent but deadly Captain. He will probably become the most point producing Canuck this coming week.

Now to the meat and potatoes of this write up. A Quarter of the way into the 2013-2013 season and Raincity’s Predictions have been good with a few minor errors…i.e. Chicago and the Rangers…major errors as in the Kings, Washington and Anaheim. And I see some apple pies flying towards our faces. But wait folks…as much as we at Raincity loves pies in all shapes and flavours, it has been only 12 games into this shortened season.

I have noticed one thing that has happened over the course of these 12 games. Most teams that were hot in the beginning of the season were also the teams with the most players playing else where while the lock out was going on. Now, that the other players got their legs back to game standards; the competition is a lot better. I.e. the Oilers, most of those youngsters were either playing in the AHL or the Juniors so they had a step up on the competition…not anymore boys…looks like it’s time for another Oil Change…man…Mr. Lube must love you guys.

Here are the current rankings after 12 games starting from number 1 – 8, while the rest of the league standings get a: ‘What the Deuce’ from me to you.

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First I’ll start with the Eastern Conference, slap me silly and call me Nina because I would NOT have predicted New Jersey is first in the conference. And Washington is last in the league…with teams like the Blue Jackets, Islanders and The Flames and you are dead last in the League…man…nothing is working there it seems. They need to give the ‘C’ to someone else who can actually lead and the coaching job to someone who can coach. Not to be disrespectful to Mr. Oates, sometimes a Hall of Famer a good coach does not  make.

newjerseydevils1. New Jersey Devils – On top of the Eastern Standings? Just when you thought this might be another down year for them, Brodeur decides to stand on his head while Kovalchuk decides to come back to the NHL. I was very surprised that they are this high in the standings, it just goes to show you; Systems work.

 

bostonbruins2. Boston Bruins – 3 words. Good Bye Timmy. Good Bye Distraction.

 

 

tampabaylightning3. Tampa Bay Lightning – Lights out shooting, the highest Goals For in the League. With so many scorers clicking at the same time; the only question is will they also slump at the same time?

 

pittsburghpenguins4. Pittsburgh Penguins–The two headed monster that are the Pens. Two of the best players in the world playing for one team and yet they are in 4th place? Give it time Pens fan, they are very close to the 1st spot.

 

torontomapleleafs5. Toronto Maple Leafs– What? I’m confused…didn’t we predict this team to be dead last in the Conference? Ah…JVR and decent goaltending in Reimer? Looks like Burke was right in holding on to Reimer after all.

 

ottawasenators6. Ottawa Senators– Anderson is lights out in goaltending. With a SV% of .950 and a GAA of 1.49. Wish you kept him don’t you Colorado?

 

montrealcanadiens7. Montreal Canadiens– Sorry, but this team is not deep enough to go to the playoffs. The shorten season and the tight schedule are already showing signs that they are a tired team. They have only played 3 away games. Look for a further slide once this starts catching up to them.

 

carolinahurricanes8. Carolina Hurricanes – Ward is back to his stellar self and the Staals are showing us that we need more Staals in Hockey or at least playing together on the same team. Trade Semin for the other Staal straight up. I’m kidding, with a +6 rating…i say keep Semin.

Vanek shows his teammates his angry face. Why is he doing this you ask? Read on...

Vanek shows his teammates his angry face. Why is he doing this you ask? Read on…

And finally I just have to say…what the deuce to Buffalo. You thought I would say The Capitals didn’t you? No…I figure that would be the most logical choice, but then again…I’m not in a very logical frame of mind right now.

For a team that has Thomas “the Machine Gun” Vanek on their team…I’m suprised that they are not in the Playoff picture yet?  Other than the top line, no ones seems to be producing on a regular basis. Come on Hodgson, you play on the top line with Vanek…how can you still be a (-) player? On the Defensive end, other than former Canucks…everyone else sucks at D.

So far the panel at Raincity have 5 out of 8 right from our pre-season prediction, but 2 of the teams that we predicted would make it into the playoffs are only 1 to 2 points out of the top 8 so I say we did pretty good. Let’s see how we fair in the West.

imagesCA5J02GYThere are a few surprises, but not many. We at Raincity are 6 for 8 on this one. Looks like we are better at predicting the West. Why? Probably because we can actually watch these games without calling in sick for work everyday. As usual, from 6th place to 11th place is a tight race. Looks like it will come down to the last game of the regular season to decide who will make it into the playoffs. Sorry Flames and Oilers…not this year. The Flames really need to start some rebuild soon. Yes, you don’t believe in rebuilds…i guess you don’t believe in the playing for the Stanley Cup either…sheesh…

Buddy can score, Going to see a lot of this so better get use to it

1. chicagoblackhawksChicago Blackhawks – Everyone is healthy and scoring. Kane, as much as I do not like his cocky attitude. Like Kid Rock said, “it ain’t cocky if you back it up”. They are a force of nature out there, I’m just glad that the Canucks beat them in the shootout.

anaheimducks2. Anaheim Ducks – Wow…were we ever wrong about this one, we let our hate blind us to the fact that Hiller is an outstanding goalie when healthy and that their first line is still scary. Hopefully Hiller is finally wearing an NHL approved helmet instead of the one that his friend made…

vancouvercanucks3. Vancouver Canucks – What can we say? We expected this to happen, we just didn’t think the Canucks would still be this good and the other Northwest division would suck so bad. Don’t blame us for the “weakest division” we cannot help the other teams with their team building. And a final note, congratulations to Schroeder for his first two goals of his NHL career.

sanjosesharks4. San Jose Sharks – Slumping, but don’t worry Sharks fan…the team has built up enough points in the 1st quarter of the season to cruise into the playoff picture.

 

detroitredwings5. Detroit Red Wings– Detroit Rock City, they keep on going like it’s just another day at the beach.

 

 

nashvillepredators6. Nashville Predators– They need more scoring if they want to hold a playoff spot at the end of the season. Watching Rinne in net makes me feel sorry for him. He has to play a perfect game every time for his team to even have a chance to win. I know this is what a goalie is suppose to do, but other teams have players who can show up when their goalie is having a bad day…Pekka doesn’t.

stlouis7. St. Louis Blues– Halak…Great…Elliott…Sucks

 

 

dallasstars8. Dallas Stars– It was classy of the Stars to let Hejduk score in his 1,000th game. With Benn back, and Jagr being immortal…the city of Dallas are finally gonna have a team to cheer for…yes I’m talking to you Cowboys fans

Now the West’s ‘What the Deuce’, the LA Kings. The current Stanley Cup Champions are having a rough season thus far, I’m guessing this is because teams are not taking them lightly anymore. Quick looks average and Doughty looks confuse. Don’t worry though Kings fans, they will eventually get their game back…they might not finish high in the standings…they might just squeak in at 8th again, but there is hope…or not.
 

Dazed and Confused…so are we Doughty..so are we…

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Jannik Hansen represents the future of the Vancouver Canucks. Will 2012 be his breakout year?

As with every team which gets bounced in the first round of the playoffs after a first-place finish, Canucks nation is asking questions about a group of forwards who managed a mere 5 goals against the Boston Bruins in 7 games of the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, and hardly dented the armor of the imperious Jonathan Quick in 2012’s version of the chase for Lord Stanley.

A down season for Kesler, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, as well as the total and complete disappearance of Mason Raymond meant an overall depreciation of fans’ respect for the same forwards of whose names they clambered to wear upon their backs while swinging from lampposts and Japanese Maples on the streets of Robson in 2012.

Here are five questions worth pondering, when considering if the cup runneth full or empty in raincity.

1.  Is Kesler ever going to return to form?

If Kesler quits on the dirty jobs, are the Canucks still as effective?

Let’s get on with it shall we?  This is the only question worth asking when it comes to the forward group in Vancouver.  Without Kesler, the team has very little scoring depth after the Sedins, and loses its preeminent shut-down forward, power play net presence, speed on the rush and leadership on and off the ice.  In essence, he is as vital as either Sedin to this team.

I’ve now noticed something though.  A quiet Kesler is an effective Kesler, and he’s only been quiet once — the entire 2011-2012 season.  It appears as though AV must do a better job of reading the signs.  When Kesler starts chirping, diving and being generally ineffective, he is most likely injured.  True hockey fans saw it at the end of the season — the sluggish acceleration, the avoidance of contact, the unwillingness to go through every detail… his six month layoff due to surgery better be worth it, because he is bent on destroying his body in the process.

The real question is, what is Kesler’s “form” exactly?  Is he a forty goal scorer flying in on the rush and whipping wrist shots through goalies, or is he the broken down version of himself, forever wondering where his game went as he slips into an injury riddled career?  My guess is that, even when healthy going forward, Kesler will need to be a third line centre as the Canucks will have to search for a solution down the middle to replace him as soon as next month.

The cold, hard answer here is… no, well, not really.  Kesler is never going to return to form, but he’s still young enough to recover enough to change the way he plays.

2.  Are the Sedins “tough enough”?

After being crushed by L.A.’s Brown in the 2012 playoffs, Henrik got back on the ice and played a full two minute shift. The Sedins are warriors.

I’m going to choose the short version of this answer.  Daniel plays with concussion symptoms and puts the team on his back for a game against eventual champion Los Angeles.  Henrik takes the best Dustin Brown hit of these playoffs, and comes back to dominate a game.  Slash after punch after cheap shot after collision, these two guys take more abuse than any superstar in the game, yet remain constant in the Canucks lineup.

Henrik has played in over 550 NHL games despite taking these continual abuses, night after night.  They’re tougher than you think.  Tough enough?  Did Vikings come from Sweden?

3.  Where does David Booth fit in?

With a full training camp and a season under his belt, much more is expected from the high flying David Booth.

David Booth has to find a role on this team, simple as that.  Assuming Kesler misses roughly half the season and Burrows plays on the second line, Booth should see plenty of time on the top pairing for the Canucks.  The leash will be short though, as AV has not been known to have much patience with chemistry experiments.  Booth gives the Sedins a physical net charging presence Burrows does not, but he has yet to find the hands to complement this skill.

If Booth does not score at least 25 goals in 2013, the trade which cost Mikael Samuelsson will actually seem to favour the Panthers, who parlayed Samuelsson’s experience into a playoff run lasting exactly two games longer than the Canucks.  Booth fits, for now, on the top line… but it won’t be long before he fits nicely in AV’s press box.

4. Zack Kassian?

Yes, that is a question.  Just what, exactly, did Mike Gillis acquire in this young rugged forward?  The second coming of Dustin Brown or Milan Lucic?  Or is he merely like many other big bodies in the NHL– serviceable, but not skilled enough to merit anything higher than a fourth line role?

I haven’t seen enough of Zack to make any sort of decision, and I am a big believer in the power of a training camp.  I think that kid Kassian has many tools, but adding him to a veteran laden team, at least last season, was a bit overwhelming.  Let’s see if a year to get accustomed to Vigneault’s system is a key factor in the evolution of this young power forward.

For now, I’m withholding judgement, but anyone thinking that Kassian is about to break out next season is woefully wrong.  If he wins a full-time job it will be a miracle.

5.  Where is the Canucks offense going to come from?

What if Burrows takes a step back next season from his 2012 campaign?

More than usual, the Canucks are going to lean heavily on the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows to support the absent scoring of Ryan Kesler.  With the injury recovery time to Kesler looming (and you can bet the Canucks are going to keep him off skates for more than six months), the near certain departure of Sami Pahlsson, and the questionable returns of Byron Bitz, Aaron Volpatti, and Dale Weiss, in addition to the mysterious disappearance of Chris Higgins, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, Maxim Lapierre and to a certain extent, David Booth in the 2012 playoffs, the Canucks are in a quandary.

Do they risk another contract for Mason Raymond, who was the poster-child for scapegoating in the NHL last season?  Do they throw some money at Alex Semin and hope that he plays like he did for team Russia in this year’s world championship and not like he did for team Washington Capitals?  Or, do they make a major move and shift the paradigm of the core that has existed in Vancouver for the last 6 seasons?

That’s a lot of answering one question with a bunch of other questions, but that’s where the Canucks seem to find themselves right now — at a crossroads.  The truth is, the forwards haven’t been good enough in two straight series against a bigger, stronger, more physical group backed by a solid goalie, and that combination has worn out the once proud team built on the backs of speed, grace, fair play and finesse.

They have become embittered at an NHL which has gone back on its word to call the game as it should be called, and now need the support of what everyone else is currently seeking–

big, strong, young hockey players with some skill.  The Canucks were one win away in 2011 from changing how the NHL GM’s envision their teams, but instead the team has to play catch up with the rest of the league, a league which is already midstream in transition towards the “Bruins Blueprint”.

With all the gaps in the lineup and uncertainties, this current group is definitely half empty.

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Ker Plunk - where strategy meets toothpicks

Well I’m 1.5 for 4 so it hasn’t gone my way so far for my Western Conference Predictions, but at least my write up part of how the series will look like was correct. Small comfort I know…but you have to stay positive about stuff right?

The Western Conference now will not be a shot’em up extravaganza like a Left 4 Dead 2 game, but more of a slow methodical game like Ker Plunk.

So here we go with my analysis of the Western Conference Semi-Finals….

…ROUND 2…FIGHT!!!

St. Louis Blues vs. Los Angeles Kings

I have to give LA huge credit for coming together as a team and beating my Canucks. They deserved to win. You cannot fault the Canucks goalie tandem for this series lost, the D was bad and we didn’t score much. Yes, if we had Hodgson on the team we wouldn’t have been so bad and would’ve had some secondary scoring. But who, and be honest now, would have predicted that Daniel would be out with a concussion or Kesler would have been a no show? Regardless, that is now the past and this Stanley Cup run is no longer about my Canucks.

The Kings vs. The Blues… this is gonna be hard because I like both teams.

Both teams have great goaltending. Quick vs. Elliot…no Halak? Hope not. Can Quick continue his stellar play in net? Here’s thinking that he will. Elliot was good in the series against The Sharks, but the San Jose Sharks are NOT the Canucks. No one coming into the Playoffs are saying “Ohhh…No…we have to face the Sharks”. I’m not saying that St. Louis were looking past them, but they just focused on playing their game and knowing if they did, they will knock out the Sharks. The Sharks have iffy goaltending, like I stated before…Niemi is a one hit wonder. In this series, they will be going up against a future Vezina winning goalie in Quick; so goals will be harder to come by.

Both teams play a hardnosed checking game which leaves no room for error for their respective opponents. So this will be a wash.

Jonathan Quick stretching while an ice girl skates by - had to do it, too funny not to

So this series has to go to which team has the offence to make a difference? Which team has a game changer on their team? I see Dustin Brown as the difference in this game like he was in the 1st series. He can hit, score timely goals and give his team a shot of energy when they need it the most. Believe me, they will need it in this series; when you take 40 shots on net and nothing is going in and every time you have the puck…someone is on you like white on rice…I never did like brown rice…the team will need their captain to show them how to stay the course and don’t lose heart.

My Pick, as much as I like the Blues organization from top to bottom; I have to pick the Kings to win this one in 6. Book it Danno!!

Phoenix Coyotes vs. Nashville Predators

Welcome to the Second round Mr. Doan, we have a table ready for you.

Shane Doan crashing the net - He will need to do a lot of this if the Yotes plan on making a series out of this series

Congrats to the Coyotes for making it to the second round, it’s been a long time coming. I’m one of the few people from Canada who wishes that your team will stay in sunny Arizona because my friends and I would love to visit Phoenix next year to watch some hockey in the fall and help fill up some seats in your arena. It costs the same as watching the game here in Vancouver as it is to flying to Phoenix and watching the game there.

Ok, back to hockey…

The surprise of the Playoffs has to be Mike Smith backstopping the Coyotes to the second round. Did anyone see this coming? Sure did; he was pretty darn good in the regular season also and the fact that they played against Leaky Crawford helped them out lots. Chicago, your organization seriously needs a goalie, and no…you cannot have one of ours.

Saying that, Pekka is no Crawford and the Preds D is second to none. It will be hard for the Yotes offence to get through Nashville’s tight checking defense. Doan and company will need to keep punishing the opposing team with hits to wear them down if they hope to get to the net for some dirty scoring chances.

Weber shoots a Laser at something. What is that something? I don't know, that's why I said something...

Who wants to block a booming shot from the point a la Weber? I don’t, I don’t…unless you are paying me millions of dollars a year to do it. Not many people in the league would either, but if you wish to win in the playoffs…just drop down and hope that it doesn’t catch you in the wrong place. Scoring for either team will be at a premium due to the solid goaltending from both ends of the rink so it goes without saying that whatever scoring chances either team has, they better finish it. I do have a feeling that this will be the longest series in NHL history with every game going to at least two overtimes. Both goalies will have a combined 5 shutouts for this series. Just kidding…only 4 shutouts…the 5th game will be a high scoring affair; the score will be 3-2.

Phoenix or Predators? My money is on…The Preds in 5.

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The East might not be as wild as the West, but there will be one or two great series to watch. I for one will be watching the Bruins-Capital and the Flyers-Pens games with great excitement. Rangers and the Panthers series I just don’t care for. Sorry Ottawa fans, nothing against you.

So lets start with my predictions shall we?

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

New York has the second best goalie in the league, which if he’s on top of his game; not much will get past him.

Senators are in their “rebuild mode” and have surprised a lot of people, including me. I didn’t think that their turn around time would be so quick. Sure I expected them to be better than Montreal and the Leaf’s, but pretty much any team can be better than those two.

Will the Cinderella story continue for the Sen’s in the playoffs? I don’t think so; I’m not a big Cinderella fan in the first place…Belle on the other hand…oh yeah. It sounds a little creepy doesn’t it? Hahahaha, yes it does indeed.

The Rangers are a deep team, they have great forwards that can score, some up and coming D-men that would be able to shutdown Spezza, Aflie, and Turris, and also the King that is Lundqvist in net to stop whatever threat is left that the D can’t shutdown.

If this series turns out to be an upset, I won’t be surprised at all. Because the Sen’s have the potential, but as the saying goes…potential is only good if you do something with it, if not…it’s just become wasted potential. No wait…that’s not how it goes…

Awww forget it, Rangers in 6.

Boston Bruins vs. Washington Capitals

or as I like to call it, Timmy goes to Washington…

The Big Bad Bruins versus the Enigmatic Capitals; funny how teams represents the personalities of their respective captains.

Washington is a good team; but the problem is that they have players who can score in chucks and players who can disappear for chucks of the game. Disappearing is NOT what you want to do against the Bruins, they will take this a sign of weakness and like true bears, they can smell this a mile away.

Boston has a team built for the playoffs, as a Vancouver Canucks fan, I can attest to this fact. Scoring is spread out evenly throughout their lineup so it will be hard to pin-point where to put Washington’s shutdown pairing…do the Capitals even have a shutdown pairing?

Can the Capitals capitalize on their scoring chances; because their changes will be few and far between. Can Coach Dale “the Hunter” Hunter build a strategy to take down this huge Kodiak bear?

The Answer is no…they will not. The B’s will be too much for the Capitals and their goaltending to handle. If Vokoun was healthy and in net (where else would he be?), the Caps might have a chance to take the Bruins to game 6, than lose. But without him…

…Bruins in 5.

Florida Panthers vs. New Jersey Devils

The Panthers reminds me of Voltron where the whole is better than the sum of their parts. Being a team with so many new faces, I thought that they would take at least two seasons to get it right, shows you how the intangibles really play a big part in this game.

The Devils on the other hand are where I expected them to be, they are gelling well with each other. Everyone knows their roles. They have consistent forwards like Clarkson, Parise, Elias, and Kovalchuk who can put pucks into the net. The problem is that they are ALL minus players. How can you possibly put so many pucks in the net and still be in the negative?

This series will be the hardest in the east to predict, because the Devils are not like the yester-years Devils, they are more focused on scoring than they are in defending. But the Panthers have the same problem too…they were outscored by their opponents during the regular season (Only in the East, where you can be outscored and still win the division).

So it comes down to the goaltending, who can keep more pucks out of their nets…Brodeur or Theodore. One is a first ballot Hall of Famer and the other will be lucky if he even gets a nod.

Sorry Voltron…The Devils in 7 (in overtime).

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

The match-up that everyone has been waiting for. I for one will be watching this one closely like I will be watching my Canucks.

Can Philly stop the Crosby-Malkin combination? I don’t think any team can, not in the first round anyways. The return of Crosby just puts the Pen’s in a league of their own. You cannot stop them; you can only try to contain them. The team with the potential to do it however, are the Flyers. Whenever these two teams play, it is all balls out hockey.

This will be a high scoring series where stars on both sides (besides the goalies) will shine bright. There will be a lot of hard hitting and the team that has the least injuries will come out on top. Please no headshots to either side.

Like I stated before; Crosby and Malkin are going to be hard to play against. Some of their shots will find the net and when they do, the Flyers will be playing catch-up. They will try to catch-up in scoring and also will be trying to catch up with Crosby and Malkin (those guys are fast).

My pick for the winner of this series are….the Pen’s in 5.

Those are my predictions for the East; see you in the next round. Enjoy the playoffs everyone and if I predicted your team to lose in the first round than they will lose in the first round. Cheers.

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