Whitecaps Wednesday spent last week in Harrison Hot Springs, dodging village-wide gas leaks and a hearty collection of bed bugs (thanks Ramada Hotels). Luckily, the Caps just officially released what most have expected for a while now: a brand spankin’ new kit, so the previous one, now infested with little creepy crawlies, has found a new home in the firepit.
When we last checked in on the Whitecaps, they were mired in a long stretch of games away from Vancouver and, despite dropping their last game of the month, managed to acquit themselves well overall. July sees them in familiar territory, that is away from theirs, as they finally wrap up their road trip before heading home.
Russell & I trade semi-researched factoids for the second time in short order, getting into John Tortorella’s recent soul searching on Tampa radio. In an attempt to show something reminiscent of range, we stretch into Davis Cup tennis and trade two dozen words in French.
• Sofa Surfer Girl by the Orchid Highway
• I’m fatigued
• Où sont les pamplemousses?
• John Tortorella is Yoda
• Willie’s ahead of Torts so far
• Davis Cup coming back to UBC
• Daniel Nestor ages not
• Eugenie Bouchard’s legs are all Photoshop
• NHL DOPS: Dmitry Kulikov gets four games
• Time for a Change by the Orchid Highway
by Richard Davalos (Hit him up on the mighty Twitter: @QuakesFan84)
Tonight sees the fifth matchup betweens the Giants and Silvertips this season. Everett has won three of the four games so far by a combined score of 14-4. To be fair, the aggregate scoreline is a little misleading as the Giants have picked up 3 of a possible 8 points in the games played — in a late December back-to-back, they took the home game 2-1, and battled to a 1-0 OT loss on the road. The first and most recent matchups, though? Complete domination by the U.S. Division leading Tips. You should have taken the over in those games, as Everett scored at will: 5-1 and 7-1 finals did not flatter the Giants, who were frankly outclassed on both sides of the puck.
Lately the Giants and Silvertips have been pretty even against the field, with Vancouver going 4-5-0-1 and Everett 5-4-0-1 in their last ten.
Besides that Last Ten Games column in the stats sheet, there’s not much in common between Vancouver and Everett this year. The Silvertips and Giants are in different stages of rebuilding: Everett is near completion, while the Giants have a solid foundation of young players but have seen uneven play from their veterans.. Quite literally the only thing they share in common this season is a bottom-half penalty kill, with both teams nullifying only 76.2% of power plays faced, tied for 17th in the 22-team Western Hockey League.
Despite the dismal penalty kill, coach Kevin Constantine has made the Silvertips have been a tough nut to crack — not only are they the second best defensive team in the WHL, with just 149 goals allowed (only Kelowna has allowed fewer at 138), but they have also taken the second fewest penalties in the league, and that isn’t even close. Everett have taken only 544 minutes in penalties (Kootenay has 539 PIM), the third-most disciplined teams are Brandon and Moose Jaw, tied at 665 minutes. If the Giants want to avoid another blowout, or gasp! to win, they will have to stay out of the box themselves and try to goad Everett into taking a few penalties at home. They cannot repeat what happened in the last game, when they took 41 minutes in penalties to Everett’s 19 on the way to a six-goal defeat.
Vancouver have been good at home, but are losers in 10 of their last 11 games played away from Pacific Coliseum. Everett, on the other hand, have been dynamite at Xfinity Arena: they’ve won eight of their last ten at home, with that lonely loss just a few days ago versus Tri-City. If the Giants are going to make that post-season, they really ought to figure things out on the road. Of their 17 games remaining, nine require loading up the bus.
Vancouver is six points behind Tri-City for the number one Wild Card spot, and one point ahead of Kamloops for the last playoff spot, although both teams have a game in hand on the dirty, rotten, stinkin’ Blazers.
The next home game for the Giants is next Wednesday against the Red Deer Rebels — at noon! — in the annual Hooky Day.
The Vancouver Giants won their third straight home game with a messy but satisfying 3-1 decision over the Edmonton Oil Kings. It wasn’t a high-flying, high-scoring, fight-filled affair like the previous two wins over Red Deer and Seattle, but hey, a win is a win is a win.
Carter Popoff popped off a pair of goals, including an empty netter, and now sits at a team-high 22 goals. Only Zane Jones’s moustache has more scores this season, but 18 of the nose tickler’s 26 goals came with other clubs before it and Zane Jones himself joined the Giants in a trade in early January, and the countless young ladies swooning over that ginger liprug just don’t count. Rookie left winger Vladimir Bobylev potted his third of the year in the second period, and that wound up being the game winning goal.
Let’s be clear. This Edmonton team is not the same one that won the Memorial Cup last year. When he’s not winning World Junior gold, Curtis Lazar is playing for Ottawa Senators. Griffin Reinhart also won one of them shiny medallions, and has split the rest of the year between the New York Islanders and their AHL affiliate Bridgeport Sound Tigers. (Aside: what the hell is a sound tiger? A jungle cat whose mental acuity isn’t in question?) Put plainly, the Oil Kings ain’t a patch on last year’s Eastern Conference-winning team.
Still, a defending champion, even one tenuously holding onto their own playoff spot, walks into every building with a certain swagger. There were scores of classic red, white and gold Oil Kings shirts at the Coliseum on Wednesday — even if the visiting team wore awful black third jerseys neon green trim on the ice. Edgars Kulda, whose older brother Artūrs played for Latvia in 2014 at both the Olympics and World Championships, received cheers from countrymen every time he approached the puck, but it was Lane Bauer who scored Edmonton’s only goal on the night. Cody Porter was solid in his 12th win of the year, stopping 31 of 32 shots, several of the point-blank rebound variety.
The Giants hit the road for a pair of weekend games south of the border, back-to-back puck drops against the Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. For the moment, .despite being seven games under .500, Vancouver sits in a playoff position; the G-Men are one point up on Kamloops with a game in hand.
The next Giants home game is Wednesday, February 18 against the Moose Jaw Warriors — it’s a noon game on a weekday, which means the lower bowl will be packed with school children on field trips. The energy in the place is outstanding for this game every year, a promotion the Giants are calling Hooky Day.
The international offices of Pucked in the Head were unceremoniously attacked last week by an audiophilic zombie, leading to chaos and turmoil throughout the agency. The confrontation eventually led to the production of a podcast and a brief hiatus for our beloved Whitecaps Wednesday, but it is with great pride that I report everyone here remains just as screwed up as they were prior to the zombie’s arrival. No more, no less.
As for today, the fourth installment of the “March to March” series trumpets the return of Whitecaps Wednesday, in which we will examine the Whitecaps’ matchups throughout the month of June.
Vancouver heads out on the road, where they will remain for an extended period of time, in order to allow the 2015 Women’s World Cup the use of their hallowed, lawsuit-initiating turf. Read on to find out how I expect month four of the Caps MLS season to play out. Continue reading The March to March – Part 4→
Zane Jones’s moustache scored once and added an assist to drive the Vancouver Giants to a 5–4 win over the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night. The ginger duster was all over the place at the Pacific Coliseum, laying hits, creating open ice and sweeping into the dirty areas of the rink.
During an early second-period Giants power play, Jones’s lip foliage took a cross-ice pass in the left face-off circle. Rather than one-timing a snap shot on Rebels goaltender Taz Burman, the soup strainer extraordinaire took the puck to the backhand to cut around a sprawled d-man, made a power move to the lip of the crease. From there, Mr Tickler buzzed a shot into a razor-thin bit of open net, going top shelf where grandpa keeps the moustache wax. The entire sequence was made even more impressive by the fact that the tastefully trimmed mouth brow was dragging along a 210-pound Zane Jones under it the entire time. That lip luggage may have been named third star in the building Friday, but ask just about any of the six thousand-plus fans in attendance, and they’ll almost certainly name Old Bullet Proof number one.
The bro-merang’s big game meant a lot to the Giants, who won for just the second time in the last ten tries.
“I haven’t seen a nose bug like that since Lanny McDonald,” said Red Deer GM and head coach Brent Sutter in an exclusive interview I totally made up in my head during the drive home from the rink. “Seriously, I still have burns on my neck from all those battles on the boards against that mustachioed bastard. Back in the day I preferred getting speared by Ken Linseman to rubbing up against that bloody caterpillar.”
All kidding aside, this was a great game — it had everything junior hockey is meant to be. Loads of goals, momentum swings, a handful of fights and high energy action from the get-go to the final buzzer. On the strength of some lengthy periods of uptempo forechecking and hard work down low, the Giants were able to come back from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 deficits. Not to take anything away from Alec Baer’s late tying goal or from Ty Ronning’s power play winner with under a minute to go, Jones and his vaunted lip sweater were the main reasons the G-men walked away with these two points.
Welcome once again to Whitecaps Wednesday – and the 3rd installment of Pucked in the Head’s “March to March” series. If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that the Whitecaps have managed to pull five victories from their first nine games.
Now mired in their busiest stretch of games (but not the most frenzied – we’ll see that in Part 4), we take a look into the third month of the season and forecast the results of their five May matches.
Buckle up quick, as their month kicks off with an away fixture in Portland, the first of two Cascadia matches in a three-week stretch.
I know you’ve been waiting with bated breath for today. Can you believe it’s finally here? I know I can’t. And I bet you missed me. But don’t fret, I’ve missed you too.
And now with formalities aside, part two of Pucked In The Head’s March to March series sees the Whitecaps enter the second month of the 2015 MLS season with a 2-1-1 record. April starts off with a tough contest for the boys in the blue and white, followed by two more games within a week.
What will be the result, you ask? Read on, find out and curse my divinations in the comment section.
In the 2015 MLS SUUUUUUUPERDraft, the Vancouver Whitecaps selected, I kid you not, a guy from Hicksville and a Banjo for him to play with. The Caps came into the draft looking to shore up their depth in a couple of key areas, and appear to have ticked all their boxes by selecting Tim Parker from Hicksville, NY via St John’s University, and Kay Banjo from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
First off, welcome to the first Whitecaps Wednesday of 2015, and the first in a weekly series leading up to first kick in which I will delicately prognosticate what results Caps fans can expect this upcoming season.
Why delicately, you ask? Well, for one, rosters have yet to be finalized. For two, injuries are inevitable throughout the course of a season and can certainly affect outcomes. For three, “delicately” is a qualifier Jason forced upon me as he was reticent about the whole thing from the get-go. He muttered something about his bookie getting upset. I, on the other hand, fully encourage you to take all of my predictions straight to the bank.
And one last thing before we get started: the historical results used in this article are strictly from within Whitecaps FC’s MLS era, that is, from 2011 until present.