Drew Doughty, that fella wearing number eight for the Los Angeles Kings is about to add ‘Conn Smythe winner’ to his resume. This will sit nicely beside ‘two-time Olympic gold medallist’, ‘two-time Stanley Cup champion’, ‘Norris trophy nominee’ and ‘filthy, stinkin’ rich cat who let’s face it ought to be able to afford better hair care’.
Godawful facial growth aside, Doughty is every bit the MVP, anchoring the back end of the most feared defense in the land. At just 24, he’s got credentials among active NHLers only rivalled by countrymen Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby. Barring injury, and assuming he doesn’t get bored, he’ll have built a Hall of Fame career long before he hits the traditional defenseman’s peak of 30 years old.
Fans in Vancouver are predictably blasé about the NHL playoffs; the Canucks have missed the post-season for the first time since 2008, and YVR hockey fans aren’t exactly renowned for loving the game so much as their team. (Case in point: the Abbotsford Heat are shutting up shop at the conclusion of their playoff run after years of decreasing returns in the Valley. People out thisaway are so scared of Calgary Flames cooties they’ve refused to see professional puck for $20.)
We at Pucked in the Head believe in celebrating the game, even when our local team comes up lame. Here are Jason’s picks for this year’s post-season. He’s so concussed by the ascension of Zack Kassian and the retirements of Teemu Selanne and Ryan Smythe — not to mention the bizarre first-round matchups determined by the NHL’s new wild card system — that he’s thumbing for Stanley Cup supremacy… the San Jose Sharks (!?!?!?!)
Gone are the days these Canucks could bank on a post-season berth for steamrolling their sadsack Northwest Division brothers. Sure, the Oilers and Flames still stink like day-old skunk sandwiches, but in the realigned NHL, the Canucks have to catch one of Anaheim, LA or San Jose for a legitimate Pacific Division playoff spot.
The win was no easy feat. Sure, Vancouver has spanked the Avs over the past few years — losing just once in ten tries, and that was in extra time. But this year’s Avalanche look very different under head coach Patrick Roy. Ignoring that 8–2 loss to Edmonton the other night, Colorado has been one of the league’s eye openers this year. They’ve got ten road wins already, more than twice what they picked up last year and three more Ws than the Canucks have earned at home so far this year.
It wasn’t pretty, but the Canucks managed to hold the fort. When they took a 1–0 lead into the third period, those who had managed to stay awake through forty were pleasantly surprised. First Ryan Kesler donned the cape to double the lead, setting up a scoring chance from behind the net before shovelling in a rebound from the blue paint. Then Mike Santorelli sniped his second of the night, a gorgeous shot top cheese on a 2-on-1. (This shouldn’t shock anyone, as ‘Santorelli’ is of course Italian for ‘roof daddy’.)
Props to rookie goaltender Reto Berra, who picked up a win in his very first NHL start, in overtime over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks no less. He made 42 saves on 44 shots — that’s a .955 save percentage, earned against the likes of Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews.
Not too shabby, Mr Berra. Keep that up, and something tells me this Abbotsford Heat paint job might need a flaming C or two thereupon.
This month has been a remarkable one round these parts — after a couple of years of poor-to-middling weather, we’ve quite literally basked in a glorious summer so far this year. YVR didn’t have a single drop of rain in the month of July, which made the trek to Rogers Arena for the 2013 Canucks Prospects Scrimmage a particularly odd way to spend a Thursday afternoon. Still, thousands upon thousands of people did it, including Samira Noor (@ChaoticAppeal on the mighty Twitter), who filed this piece with Pucked in the Head. Be kind, folks. Jordan Subban broke her heart, dammit.
Prospector Samira Noor, reporting for duty
Without hesitation I willingly gave up the sunshine to sit in that cold, familiar arena for a small dose of summer hockey. Prospects — young players drafted and/or signed by the Vancouver Canucks — hit the ice to a hesitant cheer from a crowd, and immediately the whispers began.
“Who is [insert player number]?”
“His name is what? Why have I never heard of him before?”
“Where is Bo Horvat? I’m only here to see him.”
The state of confusion was shortlived, as everyone (including myself) trundled out their phones to pull up a roster list. Even then, a sense of familiarity sunk in with only a handful of players. Nicklas Jensen, 2011 Canucks draft pick and mini Great Dane, was the easiest to spot. His competitive glare made the scrimmage feel like a regular season game, and his ability to shuffle the puck through defensemen woke up the overly polite crowd.
Frankie Corrado quickly became another favourite, spending every free moment he had near the boards interacting with folks looking his way. A wink or two, a few cheeky grins, a couple of pucks flipped over the glass. Soon enough, he had people making signs for him on their iPads and pressing them against the glass competing for even a second of his attention. It wasn’t difficult. This guy was drinking it up.
The hot mess that is Pucked in the Head continues to spread its messy, hottie wings this week. Not only will we build on Ross Arbo’s awesome coverage of BC Superweek and introduce our first single-A Vancouver Canadians baseball coverage, we’re proud to bring into the fold a wee bit we like to call
Memorabilia Memories #1 — Alex Burrows Canucks Jersey
My name is Will DeConto and I am hockey memorabilia collector. I collect just about anything to do with hockey, but my main focus is gathering signed memorabilia, which I have been doing for five years now. Pucked in the Head has graciously offered me a place where I can talk about pieces in my collection and how you can get into the hobby and build one of your own.
In a previous job in Vancouver, I had the opportunity to meet many Canucks through dealings at work (as luck would have it, that’s also how I met Jason, the fellow who runs this very website). One of the most prized items in my collection is my signed Alex Burrows jersey. The reason: the story of how it got signed, which took more than four months.
Hear the gnashing of teeth. See the flailing of arms. Feel the tension and taste the tears, because playoff hockey is here.
Mere days into the NHL’s first round, and we’ve already seen blowouts — the Sidless Penguins handed John Tavares every ass on the New York Islander roster in game one. We’ve been treated to overtime gaffes — I’m looking at you, Jonathan Quick, you bizarre, talented bastard, you. Controversy: Eric Gryba got an unwarranted two-game suspension after Lars Eller’s nose hit the ice. Sadly, Brendan Shanahan’s ruling — see the video below — was only half as atrocious as the Ottawa Sun’s front page coverage of the incident. (Even Sun sports journalist Bruce Garrioch was embarrassed, going to lengths to explain that editors, not writers, choose the pictures and headlines.) And out west, Roberto Luongo played his face off in a surprise start for the listless Vancouver Canucks. No one seems to know what ails the goaltender regent, Corey Schneider, but who mans the crease will only be a talking point if Vancouver manages more than a goal a game against the Sharks.
Perhaps the most impressive story so far this playoff actually stretches beyond the boundaries of the NHL. On the very day that the Toronto Maple Leafs played their first playoff game in nearly a decade, the Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC were collectively outscored 20-2 by the Boston Bruins, Boston Red Sox and Montreal Impact respectively. It seems nothing can go right in Hogtown these days — Rob Ford is still the mayor, for goodness’ sake.
Okay, okay: politics notwithstanding, in a city that proclaims itself the Centre of the Universe, they sure as shootin’ aren’t doing much to impress in the world of sports. Until the Argonauts take the field to defend their Grey Cup title later this summer, the only thing T-dot has to cheer for is the Marlies. The Baby Leafs swept the Rochester Americans in the AHL Calder Cup playoffs, and await the winners of the other three Western Conference quarterfinals before second round reseeding. Go (baby) Leafs go, I suppose.
Here’s ol’ Shanny’s ruling, in which he mysteriously states that Gryba made Eller’s head the principal point of contact. (Compare with PK Subban’s hit on Chris Neil earlier in the game — in which red-jerseyed shoulder indeed smucks upon white-helmeted head — as giffed by @Eyeonhockey.)
The frenzy that is the first round of the NHL playoffs is upon us — and if the first night is any indication, the theme is defense, defense, snore… I mean, defense. I mean, really. The last time we came out of a lockout, hockey was exciting and fast-moving. This lockout has punctuated the return of the dead puck era, where neutral zone traps and left wing locks are de rigeur. Out of six teams playing Tuesday night, only the Anaheim Ducks managed to score more than one goal in regulation time. All hail Teemu Selanne and his wrist shot of doom!
If tonight’s games between the Canucks & Sharks and the Pens and Isles end 2-1 in OT, can we just fast forward to the final and be done with it?
EA Sports has used NHL 13 to prognosticate the NHL playoff results, and they’ve come up with the New York Rangers as a surprise winner of Lord Stanley’s mug over Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks in the final. Our man Jake Hall decided to sim it up as well, and he got a decidedly different result:
by Jake Hall
For fans of the Vancouver Canucks, the “official” EA Sports sim wasn’t pretty. It involved a second round sweep at the hands of the Kings — a sweep! What is this, 2012? Needless to say, I was hoping for a different outcome when I ran the 2013 playoffs through my humble PS3 in the Hall household.
Ever wanted the ear of an NHL bench staffer? This lucky fan got the next best thing, as Boston Bruins assistant coach Geoff Ward emptied his ear canal into his beer glass. The only consolation is that it was just shitty arena beer, anyway.
In an age of hyper marketing, intense competition and tightly controlled PR, it’s amazing that truly horrible ideas can still make it past the brainstorming stage. Whether it’s the nightmare of design by committee or just a conflagration of mediocre talents pulling the wool over the eyes of out of touch rich CEOs, we occasionally see awful designs rolled out in an underwhelming explosion of anticlimax. Today, we analyze the most recent NHL obscenity with the introduction of a new Seven Things series: Somebody Approved This.
Note: This fugly spittoon shirt was originally leaked — or is that leaked upon? — as a proposed third jersey in 2011-12. We wrote it up then as the ugliest thing to come out of Long Island, and remember these clowns wore the teal and orange fishermen a while back. Sadly the lockout didn’t allow Charles Wang and his wandering minstrels of woe quite enough time to rejig the damned thing. Consequently, Isles fans are being forced to watch not only a crappy team, but a crappy team in disgusting uniforms.
More, including the always-entertaining Withers Haiku, after the break. Continue reading →