Tag Archives: NHL hockey

Why is Willie Ducking Criticism?

Last week, the Vancouver Canucks held a couple of town hall meetings with season ticket holders, in which President Trevor Linden and GM Jim Benning outlined the direction of the team, such as it is, and defended themselves against accusations of general incompetence.

Willie Desjardins, Trevor Linden & Jim Benning
Willie Desjardins, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning appeared together in pre-season pressers, but ol’ Willie has been absent from recent town halls. Photo cribbed from an admittedly poorly-written Reddit subthread.

Notably absent from accounts of this meeting was any discussion of head coach Willie Desjardins. The Canucks bench boss seems to me to be coasting along in the wake of terribleness left by the front office. Lost amid the annoyance of the stupid money given to Derek Dorsett is the fact that Dorsett is getting more ice time than youngster Jake Virtanen, with no benefit to the club at all. Sven Baertschi is only barely ahead of Brandon Prust.  Jared McCann is dead even with Adam Cracknell. For an organization that’s prioritizing youth development at the moment, these decisions are incredibly odd, but with Benning flushing assets down the toilet on the waiver wire every week and blundering through trade after trade, nobody seems to pay attention to the coach.

Desjardins is not a tactically strong coach. He was roundly out-coached in last year’s playoffs by Bob Hartley. His stubborn refusal to deploy the Sedins for offensive zone faceoffs to maximize their output, as Alain Vigneault did during his tenure, has cost the club countless scoring opportunities this season.

Desjardins was this regime’s guy. He was the anti-Torts. The one to nurture the kids after a year of neglect. It’s no surprise, then, that odds-makers don’t favour him to be shown the door any time soon. If, though, the Canucks are really serious about making the playoffs every year during this rebuild, he’ll need to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Jacob Markstrom and the hooded fang

Jacob Markstrom is a large man.
Jacob Markstrom has found a groove since taking over the reins during the Christmas break. Photo by Jason Kurylo for Pucked in the Head.

If you’re one of the fifteen people who regularly attended Abbotsford Heat games, you’re not surprised to learn that this Jacob Markstrom kid can tend goal. See, before he took the Utica Comets to the AHL championship series last season, Markstrom played three full seasons in the Florida Panthers system (with the Rochester Americans and San Antonio Rampage). Despite lacking a nickname of any sort, Jacob Markstrom seemed to have the local boys’ number.

Here is where a thoughtful writer would put in some research to get actual statistics, but I’m going to eschew that process in favour of made-up stuff. And I’ll also throw random nicknames at the wall in hopes something sticks. Jacob took two-two points out of the Valley like no hooded fang’s business. The Man They Call Mister Marley beat the Heat no fewer than 157 out of 158 games at the Abbotsford Sport and Entertainment Centre over a three-year period, and earned no fewer than seven thousand shutouts.

Okay, so numbers aren’t my strong suit. Suffice to say, the boy can play.

Continue reading Jacob Markstrom and the hooded fang

Commence the countdown to hockey season

If July 1 brings talk of trades, arbitration and free agent contracts, then August 1 is when hockey fans get down to the serious business of being impatient pricks on Twitter.

Goodbye, Bonino Phone

Brandon Sutter is the newest Canuck, and the latest victim of attacks from Vancouver hockey fans. Gregory Shamus photo cribbed from a Bing image search.
Brandon Sutter is the newest Canuck, and the latest victim of attacks from Vancouver hockey fans. Gregory Shamus photo cribbed from a Bing image search.

The Canucks sent Nick Bonino and prospect Adam Clendening to Pittsburgh for career third-liner Brandon Sutter. On the whole, people in Vancouver were not happy. Imagine the sadness emanating from the Raffi household, for example. There just wasn’t time to record that Boninophone track that dammit should have happened no matter what you say, and BOOM, the Canucks essentially traded Ryan Kesler to the Ducks for Brandon Sutter’s 3rd line minutes.

Of course, once Bob McKenzie confirmed the trade, hand-wringing, hair-pulling and all-around whinging ramped up in seconds.

YVR haters don’t even stop when a player leaves the Vancouver roster. Ex-Canuck and Scrabble aficionado Tanner Glass takes one on the jaw in chart form: the Glass-to-Crosby scale, based on production vs possession, favours the Penguins. Fancy stats people tend to dislike Sutter, generally speaking.

Cooler heads made an appearance, too. (Jeez, I can’t believe I’m on the same side as Tony Gallagher on this one. The difference? I make more hockey-related supporting arguments in 121 characters than ol’ Radio Face does in 500 words.)

As always, the jury is out until we see results on the ice. But let’s be honest: the Vancouver Canucks are not going to play an entertaining, up-tempo brand of firewagon hockey, a la 2011. Brandon Sutter gives them some consistent sandpaper, however, to compete against a never-say-die Flames squad and those dirty, rotten, stinkin’ bastards who call themselves the Anaheim Ducks.

Current crop of Canucks lacking personality

Vancouver fans are still stinging from the dump of Eddie Lack’s meagre salary.  Do I think he’s a number one goalie? No. Should he have been given away for meaningless late draft picks? No way, Jose. There goes our boy Ed showing off his new pads, which alas feature the Carolina Toilet Flush:

For those who don’t like to gram the insta (did I do that right?), those pads look like this:

Eddie Lack introduced his new Carolina Hurricanes pads via Twitter and Instagram.
Eddie Lack introduced his new Carolina Hurricanes pads via Twitter and Instagram.

How many goalies will paint the Great Wall on their masks?

The 2022 Winter Olympiad will be held in Beijing, which means the NHL will be under more pressure to extend its agreement to allow players to play for Olympic gold. There’s so much money involved in China, both above board and under the table, that not even Gary Bettman can let ego get in the way of a deal.

If you thought Puck Daddy’s Jersey Fouls posts were entertaining before, wait until you see a generation of new fans wearing counterfeit Team USA Crosby sweaters.

I only hope Dave Bidini, he of the wonderful book Tropic of Hockey, gets a piece of the action somehow. Outside of ex-pat teachers lacing up the skates in backwater rinks of Mongolia, ol’ Dave was the first person to give hockey in Asia any serious attention.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. I hope Dave Bidini gets a piece of the action. Photo cribbed from a Sports Illustrated article.
The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. I hope Dave Bidini gets a piece of the action. Photo cribbed from a Sports Illustrated article.

Episode 070: the Canucks are bleeding out

Russell and Jason go with off-season hockey for episode 70: mostly Canucks stuff, but we throw some Brandon Saad and Phil Kessel in there for good measure. Bonus CanCon with Trooper hitting up the outro track.

  • Introduction
  • Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
  • Scars, plasma and exposed dermis, oh my!
  • Canucks bleeding out
  • Sell low, buy pretty much nothing
  • So long Eddie, so long Shawn, so long Juice
  • Vancouver media and their goldfish attention sp…
  • Prust is trade bait at the deadline
  • What about Ryan Miller & the twins?
  • Brandon Saad gets PAID
  • Will Phil Kessel finally hit 40 goals?
  • Three Dressed Up as a Nine by Trooper
  • Thanks for Listening

Adios, Mr Kassian. May your IQ be always in your favour.

Ex-Canucks forward Zack Kassian is an ugly man. Photo stolen without shame from a Pinterest page devoted to ol' Zack.
Ex-Canucks forward Zack Kassian is an ugly man. Photo stolen without shame from a Pinterest page devoted to ol’ Zack.

Episode 67: Babcock, Russians and Brian Burke’s ego

Russell and Jason wax poetic on a range of hockey topics, from Mike Babcock’s monster contract to Brian Burke’s monster ego and Ilya Kovalchuk’s monster cajones.

• Introduction
• Pop Tart Girl by the Orchid Highway
• The Russians have left the ice
• McKayla is unimpressed with Ilya Kovalchuk
• Kudos to Alex Ovechkin
• Mike Babcock is a Leaf. What a shocker
• Kessel & Phaneuf, your days are numbered
• Brian Burke, one ego to rule them all
• Will there be apotheosis for Babs in T-dot?
• Who will be GM?
• The Wreck of the Maple Leafs Season — a parody by Peter Gross

Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians' lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.
Even McKayla Maroney was unimpressed with the Russians’ lack of sportsmanship at the recent World Championships.

Millers having a rough go these days

Even when it comes to injuries, the Miller boys like to play a little game of oneupmanship.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller has been out with a knee sprain for over a month as the team makes a strong pitch for the playoffs on the back of the affable Eddie Lack.  Ligaments in that area are integral to many a professional sport, granted, but hockey goalies and slalom skiers are especially reliant upon strong, healthy knees. Recuperation needs to be tackled carefully; it’s slow and frustrating, and the potential for re-injury is high.

And while you never wish a serious hurt on a player, you’d take that knee injury 100 times out of 100 over what happened to his little brother the other day.

Drew Miller, a forward with the Red Wings, was involved in an almost literal face-off during a defensive zone puck battle against the Senators on Tuesday night. Ottawa forward Mark Stone was tied up with Detroit centre Luke Glendening; as his body twisted forward over Glendening, who was bent at the waist at the time, Stone’s trailing leg swung upward. His skate caught Miller under the visor, opening a gash from his lower cheek, across the eye to the underside of his eyebrow.

Miller immediately grabbed put his gloves to his face and raced off the ice under his own power, and required 60 stitches to his cheek and eyelid. While he was immediately concerned by the amount of blood and swelling around the eye — and good gravy, who wouldn’t be? — it appears at this early stage that the eye itself wasn’t damaged. People in the Miller family and around the hockey world are breathing a sigh of relief today. This injury could have been much, much worse.

And, good hockey playin’ lad that he is, the bastard is going to play against the Bruins tonight.

The slow motion video is downright scary to watch, especially if you have kids who play the game.

Episode 58 – One-timers

We introduce One-Timers, a new podcast segment wherein Pucked in the Head talks about several timely topics in the news, then promptly takes a week to post the episode to iTunes.

• Intro
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• Jason can’t skate
• Milos Raonic unlocks the Beat Rafa Nadal badge
• Cceci n’est pas une pipe
• Jason plays Nostradamus
• March Madness exists
• Buenos noches, Steve Nash
• Wayne Gretzky transformed hockey, bless his record-breaking soul
• Steve Nash is awesome, but he couldn’t have saved the Grizzlies
• Steve Nash, Simon Whitfield, what’s in the water over there?
• We really ought to do some research
• Nike Academy — will corporations name teams in the future?
• Corporate logos already abound
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway
• Smell my shoe

 

Hey. YOU do our Photoshop next time.
Hey. YOU do our Photoshop next time.

Episode 58 – What jerseys not to wear

When you think high fashion, you think Pucked in the Head. I mean, Chris Withers alone owns the most colourful questionable jersey collection jersey collection this side of the Mississippi amongst the three main contributors to this website.

In this cast of pod, those other two PITH-y pinheads drone on about colour schemes and logo design until they’ve painted themselves into a Peyote Coyote corner. (Note, no peyote was used during the preparation or recording of this particular episode. Maybe that was the problem?)

* Intro
* Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
* LA Kings paper curtains
* Canucks Hallowe’en Flying Vees
* Workmarks bite hockey bag as a rule
* Best of the best
* WTF, Ducks?
* Now that you mention it, WTF, California?
* Do you seriously want to go into other sports?
* Never have a cartoon mascot leap out of the jersey
* The Peyote Coyote: ugly jersey, funky shirt, or both?
* You can’t leave without dissing the Buffaslug
* Kill all the mustard yellow
* Adios, muchachos
* Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway

Each and every one gets a passing grade from the likes of Chris Withers, so Russell Arbuthnot and Jason Kurylo decided to chat some hockey fashion in Episode 58.
Each and every one gets a passing grade from the likes of Chris Withers, so Russell Arbuthnot and Jason Kurylo decided to chat some hockey fashion in Episode 58.

Weird goals

Matt Ustaski, pinball wizard
Matt Ustaski of the Wisconsin Badgers scored what is likely the strangest goal of his collegiate career on Friday, potting one from 190 feet. Sure, teams score empty netters all the time, but the Matt O’Connor was still on the ice for the Boston Terriers at the time. The BU keeper skated out to start a counter-attack as the Badgers made a defensive change, but his pass careened off of defenseman Brien Diffley and into his own net.

It was very nearly UW’s biggest win of the year — they’ve only won twice in fourteen games — as Ustaski’s goal gave the Badgers a 3-1 lead with less than three minutes to play against the #2 ranked Terriers. It wasn’t to be, however. BU would score twice with O’Connor on the bench, including the tying goal with 2.2 seconds left, and would eventually win via the dreaded shootout.

Continue reading Weird goals

Somebody Approved This: 2015 NHL All-Star Jersey

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 resurrection of Somebody Approved This.

Recently, the National Hockey League apparently decided to just give up on their All-Star Game. “Screw it,” I imagine Gary Bettman saying, laying arms crossed inside a coffin while Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly nourishes him with the blood of the eternally youthful Jaromir Jagr. “If the fans want to turn this thing into a farce by voting in an obscure Latvian member of the Buffalo Sabres with 42 career points then we shall give them their farce!” Enter the latest in somewhat sorta hockey jersey-looking apparel. The 2015 NHL All-Star jersey, brought to you by Zellers.

BMX hockey tribute jackets? Nope. These are the actual 2015 NHL All-Star Game jerseys. Not even Chris Withers likes them.
BMX hockey tribute jackets? Nope. These are the actual 2015 NHL All-Star Game jerseys. Not even Chris Withers likes them.

Continue reading Somebody Approved This: 2015 NHL All-Star Jersey