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Analysis, warblings and whatever else I can muster on the Canucks, Moose and 'babby' Canucks.

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Trevor Presiloski


The Canucks are meeting the LA Kings in the first round of the NHL playoffs. Since we’re going to be seeing a lot of LA, I figure I’d go and take the time to provide a primer for Canucks fans who may not be 100% up to date on the Kings. Think of this comprehensive, all-inclusive guide as your ‘cheat sheet’ to the Los Angeles Kings.



Dustin Brown – 34 years old, Brown hails from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH4tci3JG-E. Brown earned the ire of Canucks fans everywhere back in 02-03 when he beat out Markus Naslund for the Rocket Richard trophy, but quickly earned it back when

in the 05/06 season, cementing his reputation as being one of the league’s top hitters. Known to assault small children, Dustin Brown is the captain of the Los Angeles Kings. Being such a beloved figure down in LA explains why there were so many rumors circling around about trading him to Atlanta in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk.


Rich Clune – Hailing from Toronto, ON, Clune has always dreamed of suiting up to play for the Maple Leafs in the playoffs. Realizing the futility of such a dream, Clune has graciously lended his talents to the Kings. A future Lady Byng candidate, Clune had a storied junior career, including winning silver and gold for Canada at the World Juniors, demanding a trade from the Sarnia Sting and landing with the Barrie Colts. Barrie was so touched with Clune’s professionalism that they promptly awarded him a team sportsmanship award after he scored an empty net goal October 28, 2006 against the London Knights and proceeded to taunt his opponents.


Alexander Frolov – A pioneer in gravity control research, per his website: “Alexander V. Frolov has been described as a technology pioneer. Born September 25th, 1962 in the Saratov area of Russia, Alex Frolov has been quietly but progressively becoming one of the world’s scientists to watch.” The fans of the LA Kings are so fond of Alexander Frolov that they were eager to include him in numerous trade proposals for Ilya Kovalchuk. Has the second most asymmetrical face behind only Dany Heatley. O_o


Jeff Halpern – American born and bred, Jeff Halpern is a former great captain of the Washington Capitals, being part of a list that reads like some of the greatest names in hockey, such as Steve Konowalchuk, Chris Clark, Ryan Walter (yes, THAT Ryan Walter) and Alexander Ovechkin. Halpern has spent his entire career playing on American teams in the Southern divisions. As a result, it is recommended that you not cheer, jeer or make any other loud noises, look him in the eye or make any mention of the playoffs, so as not to startle and confuse him.


Michal Handzus – Once owner of one of the NHL’s most luxurious manes and a heckuva hockey player to boot, Handzus routinely topped the lists of ‘hottest NHLer’ in annual puck bunny polls alongside Mike Ricci. He now looks like a serial killer. Nicknamed ‘Zeus’ by teammates, Handzus lives in mortal fear of tiny midgets with anger management issues.


Raitis Ivanans – A Latvian born player, Ivanans is a forward who is known for his hockey smarts: in his very first NHL game, he dropped the gloves against Zdeno Chara and earned a broken orbital bone for his efforts. Also played for the Macon Whoopee, which is probably the greatest hockey team name ever.

See Also: Jones, Randy.


Anze Kopitar – A virtual unknown to Canucks fans, Anze Kopitar was actually selected 11th overall in the 2005 entry draft, one pick after the Canucks 10th overall selection. The enigmatic Kopitar hails from Slovenia and plays center and is an alternate captain for the Kings. Kopitar has hit 60 points or more in every NHL season he has played in and has 2 30+ goal seasons. Kopitar has been quoted as saying that he is incredibly grateful that he was not drafted by the Canucks, as he wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to showcase his talent like he has in LA.


Fredrik Modin – The true #33 for Team Sweden, Modin has a long and legendary career as an NHL forward. The Legend of Modin began in 2004 when, after realizing his boyhood dream of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, he journeyed to the hockey mecca known as Tampa Bay and became a member of the Lightning. Taking youngsters Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Dan Boyle and Martin St. Louis under his wing, Modin, alongside future Hall of Famer Ruslan Fedotenko, placed the team on their back and won the Stanley Cup. Not content to rest on his laurels, Modin lent his talents to Team Sweden at the 2006 Olympics. His 2 goals and single assist propelled the Swedes to the gold medal. While some may say that the wheels have completely fallen off of the Modin wagon, as his 20 goals in the past 119 games (over the past four seasons) would indicate he is slowing down, wise fans know that Modin is simply pacing himself.


Scott Parse – A rookie for the Kings, Parse is a former college player and is apparently a huge nerd. How huge of a nerd is he? Well, this is the advice he imparted to youngsters wanting to get better at hockey:



Brad Richardson – Is like some sort of cobbled together first generation genetically engineered Chinese hockey player. What do I mean? Well, he’s got the knockoff name of Brad Richards, coupled with the feet problems of Peter Forsberg while being nowhere near as good as either of them. This made him qualify for the Masterton trophy because he went 57 games without scoring a goal, falling short of Kevin Bieksa’s absolutely epic 80 NHL games goalless drought.


Wayne Simmonds – Fortunately, Wayne does not get a lot of comparisons to another former King who goes by the name of Wayne and was also born in Ontario. Unfortunately, he does get a lot of comparisons to George Laraque, Jarome Iginla and former King Anson Carter, due to the clueless nature of sports media types. While we’re on the subject, no, Evander Kane and Patrick Kane are not brothers.


Ryan Smyth – Formerly of the Edmonton Oilers, Ryan Smyth was about the only person who didn’t want to leave the city of Edmonton, becoming the first recorded instance of NHL Stockholm Syndrome. Has a brother, Kevin, who played for the Hartford Whalers and hates Southwest Airlines.


Jarret Stoll – Has a less geekier name than fellow hockey player Norbert Stoll. Stoll’s known to go cougar hunting, as he was dating Rachel Hunter, a woman who was 13 years his senior. Stoll, in a show of being a true gentleman and all around classy guy, broke up and cancelled his wedding engagement with Hunter via e-mail and hooked up with Melrose Place star Katie Cassidy. Not since the days of

have we seen such a ‘dynamite’ pairing.


Justin Williams – Williams won a Cup with Carolina back in 2006. Looking to learn more about this youngster who has managed to put together back to back 30 goal seasons, I headed over to Wikipedia. I learned that Williams is adored by ‘female fans everywhere’ and that in August 12, 2006 he married his fiancee. Truly, there has never been a more talented hockey player than Justin Williams.



Drew Doughty – Much like Canucks blueliner Willie Mitchell, Doughty is apparently is suffering from post-concussion issues, as he issued a bewildering statement Tuesday, stating that he thinks that his D will have no problems shutting down the Sedins. He went on to elaborate ‘Well, we’ve got Scotty and Pronger back there, plus, we’ve got the home team supporting us at Canada Hockey Place. This should be easy.’ Also: has more chins than Kyle Wellwood.


Davis Drewiske – Hollywood is full of Double Ds and I guess the Kings are no exception.


Matt Greene – Traded from Edmonton, Matt Greene became the 74th defenseman to have been traded out of Rexall Place in the last 3 years who went on to bigger and better things. The defenseman who was traded for him, Lubomir Visnovsky, became the 75th Oilers defenseman to have been traded in the last 3 years who went on to bigger and better things. Greene is highly regarded for being a great playoff performer and is known for racking up points in the offseason and will be a welcome addition to the Kings PP.


Peter Harrold – Is the most boring person in the NHL. More boring than the Jacques Lemaire coached Minnesota Wild. How boring is he? Even fan dislike of him is underwhelmingly tepid at best. Zzzz.


Jack Johnson – That’s J-A-Ha-Ha-C-K, J-O-Ha-Ha-H-N-S-O-N, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxKSM1tLGwY, Jack Johnson. Future country music superstar and beloved by everyone in Vancouver for his tremendous displays of sportsmanship and class. Johnson plays a physical, dominating game and comes up http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWdqXolKNxM.


Randy Jones – You know how Alain Vigneault continually dresses that one player you despise above all others and you cannot fathom how he continues to make it into the lineup because his existence in said lineup defies all convention, logic and reason? Randy Jones is the Kings equivalent of that player.


Sean O’Donnell – Affectionately known as ‘SOD’, not because that’s the acronym his name makes, but because he resembles an inert pile of grass and dirt, Sean O’Donnell is a big, hulking Irish defenseman who is prone to taking penalties. Basically SOB in about a decade, but without the party animal vibe.


Rob Scuderi – Scuderi is known as The Piece, apparently because he arrogantly defined himself as ‘The Piece’ to the Pittsburgh Penguins puzzle. Much like his other namesake, ‘Scud’, he remains inaccurate and non-lethal.



Dan Cloutier – Is still on the Kings payroll this season and could probably provide more consistent goaltending than Quick/Ersberg/Bernier.


Jonathan Quick – The latest ‘anointed’ one by Kings faithful, Quick is the most recent in a long list of goalies that have been mass produced by the City of Angels, the likes of which have included such great starters such as Kings goalie of the future Jason ‘The Barber’ Labarbera, Leafs goalie of the future Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Habs goalie of the future Mathieu Garon, Flyers goalie of the future Roman Cechmanek, Habs goalie of the future Cristobal Huet, Leafs goalie of the future Felix Potvin, Red Wings goalie of the future Manny Legace, Canucks goalie of the future Dan Cloutier as well as Jamie Storr and Steve Passmore. Basically what I’m trying to say is that Vancouver’s ‘goalie graveyard’ was the book upon which LA’s ‘goalie graveyard’ direct to video film was based upon.


Erik Ersberg – Is really hoping that Jonathan Quick is a good goalie


Jonathan Bernier – The other Jonathan who plays goal for the Kings. Spent 4 games up with the Kings in 07/08, boasting a 4.03 GAA and .864 Sv%. In the eyes of your typical Canucks fan, is still a far more effective hockey player than Steve Bernier.

And that should hopefully be all you need to know about the Kings going into Thursday’s game! Kings fans, this is all in good fun and would love to see your ‘take’ on the Canucks!

Trevor Presiloski


So Roberto Luongo has been getting it from all angles as of late and Saturday's game against the Sharks, an affair where he gave up 3 goals in a losing effort has ratcheted up the criticism. (Sidenote: I apologize for the lack of a Postscript for the San Jose game, I came down with something and was incapacitated for Saturday night/Sunday. Oops.) While I wasn't a fan of the Marleau goal (which came after a smart play from Rob Blake, forcing Alex Edler to turn over the puck) and thought he 'ran out of mulligans' against the Oilers, I do think some of the criticism is being a little over the top.

Take, for example, Dave Hodge's feature on TSN during the Edmonton game. Sold as looking for reasons as to why the Canucks won't win the Cup this season, it quickly morphed into Hodge running Luongo down, claiming he is the reason why Vancouver won't win the Cup. On Sunday during TSN's The Reporters, Hodge brought up Luongo again with most of the guests taking their turn at bashing him. I understand there'll always be differing opinions in the world of sport, you sort of have to wonder about the motivations of folks like Damien Cox, whose criticism of Luongo you have to take with a grain of salt.

It's not just the press, though. Fans have been giving Luongo grief for his play as of late. Twitter, message boards and blogs like this one have been highly critical of Luongo. No matter where you look, there seems to be someone else out there willing to give both barrels to the captain of the Canucks.

The big argument right now is that Luongo absolutely needs to have a strong playoff performance this year or he, and the Canucks, are doomed with that albatross 12 year contract of his. Another Game 6 effort like the one Luongo had against the Blackhawks last season and, well, the Canucks are doomed to become the next San Jose: a good enough team in the regular season, unable to get it done in the postseason.

In a lot of ways, this criticism is similar to what two other Canucks players have been getting. I am, of course, referring to the Sedins, who have faced endless amounts of criticism, vitriol and irrational hatred ever since they put on a Canucks sweater. Even now, as recent as during the Olympics, fans have described them as being nothing more than 'really good second liners.' Yet, every time they've been faced with criticism they've met it and squashed it. Too soft? They bulked up by running up hills all summer. Not able to score enough? Each season they set new offensive highs. Can't play without each other? Henrik's performance this year seems to disprove that theory.

Unable to get it done in the playoffs? That's been the big reason why fans were loathe to see the Twins re-signed this offseason, despite Daniel Sedin being able to pot 2 goals in that infamous Game 6. Unfortunately, it's hard to remember the 'good' and far easier to focus on the 'bad': the bad generally stings a lot more and is far more memorable, especially when it's outweighed by a rather catastrophic bad moment, like getting eliminated from the playoffs. The Canucks' inability to score a goal (just one!) in the 05/06 playoffs remains indelibly linked to the Sedins, leaving folks to think that they can't score, despite more recent evidence pointing to the contrary.

So it goes. Which is why I think that Luongo's struggles as of late are a tad bit overblown. I'm not trying to excuse his bad play: he has ranged from mediocre to terrible for a while now and has been hooked an uncommon number of times this season. I also think that if Luongo's struggles extend into the postseason this year it's not cause for concern and folks shouldn't be throwing themselves off the Lion's Gate Bridge if the Canucks are given an early playoff exit. The reason? Goalies, no matter how good (or bad) they are, will go through slumps and have problems with their play. It happens to the best and Luongo is no exception.


Looking at some of Luongo's contemporaries and it can become easy to criticize a goalie at the first sign of trouble. I've been guilty of this myself. Take a Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames. After having two phenomenal seasons which saw him carry the Flames to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals and win both the Vezina and Jennings trophies, Kipper's stats went on a horrible slide: his GAA went from 2.24 all the way up to 3.52 while his save percentage fell from a great .921 to a Dan Cloutier-esque .884. That changed this season, as Kipper's stats are on the upswing (2.27 and .920 as of this writing), even if the rest of his team isn't. While Canuck fans may not want to compare Luongo to Kipper in a favorable light I feel they're comparable: Luongo languished in hockey purgatory playing for some horrible teams in Florida before becoming a Canuck at age 27, while Kiprusoff didn't get a chance at being a bonafide #1 until he was 28. (For the record, Luongo's stats have actually slightly decreased over the same four year span going from 2.97/.914 in his last season as a Panther to 2.49/.920 as of today. Looking at Luo's stats as a Canuck shows there hasn't been much variance from his first season to now, even with the rather spotty play from him as of late.)

Some of Luongo's contemporaries have either struggled or been faced with criticism over the past couple of years. JS Giguere had a stunning Cup run back in 02/03 and then struggled afterwards before winning the Cup several seasons later after Brian Burke had retooled the team. Interestingly, Luongo was part of a mini-rebuild in Vancouver that saw the Canucks transition from the WCE Era Canucks into the Luongo/Sedin-led Canucks that was started by Dave Nonis. Mike Gillis now heads up the club and I find it hard to believe that he's done putting his stamp on the team, which is scary when you think about it.

There's also been a history of goalie greats who have struggled. After Martin Brodeur won the Cup in '95, he went on a bit of a playoff drought winning only one playoff series in the next four seasons, and failed to make the playoffs in 95/96. This was on a team with the likes of Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer, I might add. Marty also managed some decidedly un-Martylike numbers, averaging a 2.17 GAA and a .913 save percentage. (Keep in mind this was during the 'Dead Puck' Era where Brodeur's GAA was 1.67 when he won the Cup.) While I was a little hesitant to bring up Brodeur here, as he does have a Cup ring defending his play, I feel it's important to point out that even the greatest have their moments where they appear to be weak.

Another example of this would be Dominik Hasek, who served as backup to Ed Belfour when both were members of the Blackhawks and didn't get a chance to play as a starter until his fourth season of being in the NHL and didn't make it out of the first round for another three years after that. Hasek also had more than his fair share of problems off the ice, including a highly publicized feud with Sabres coach Ted Nolan (the fallout of which has led Nolan in having some major difficulties in finding employment at the NHL level, despite being seen as a very good coach and having won the Jack Adams) and injury woes which led to him allegedly quitting on his team in the playoffs. This last bit placed Hasek under some scrutiny and led to some Buffalo reporters speculating on the nature of Hasek's injuries…which resulted in an angry Hasek attacking one reporter and earning a three game suspension for his antics. And you thought Luongo's bathroom break and pregancy woes were bad.

Hasek did, of course, end up winning the Cup after a lengthy journey. Again, there are some parallels you can make with Luongo. As I said earlier, Luongo toiled on some bad Panthers clubs, never qualifying for the post season. It took him until the age of 27 before he got even a sniff of playoff hockey. He's now 31 and folks are freaking out that he's just about finished and his better days are behind him. Ignoring that Hasek first made it to the Finals when he was 34 years old and didn't win the Cup until he was an ancient 37 years of age, I feel that ignoring his relative playoff inexperience is unfair to Luongo. Not everyone has the luxury of playing for a strong team right out of the gate like Luongo's idol Grant Fuhr did. Sometimes the path to the Cup takes a little longer, and the players just need some seasoning before they're ready to win it all.


Finally, while I hate to trot out excuses, there is a rather significant one that explains Luongo's poor play as of late. The Olympics were a huge event for everyone and you know that the toll it took on the players involved, particularly those on Team Canada, had to be physically, mentally and emotionally draining. Being in the starter's role, playing in your home arena and representing your country can't be an easy task and going from playoff like levels of intensity and excitement to the NHL regular season has got to be jarring. I know it was for me, and I'm only a fan! I can't imagine what it would've been like for the players who were actually a part of it, although Luongo has conceded that the Olympics were the 2 most emotionally draining weeks of his career.

That all said, I don't think it's the end of the world if the Canucks don't win the Cup this year and I don't think that it makes Luongo an overrated player, despite what TSN will have you believe. Every goalie struggles, but it's the fact that they are able to rebound and put in Cup or Gold winning efforts that makes them great.

Will Luongo take that step and become a truly 'great' goalie? Or will he stumble and become merely a 'very good' goalie, a la Curtis Joseph? Time will tell, but I'll believe Luongo when he says that he'll 'be there when it matters.'

Trevor Presiloski


There was a bit of excitement over the weekend as I over a story that I also tweeted about regarding Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun's article suggesting that Canucks first round draft pick Jordan Schroeder may be leaving his NCAA team, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and joining the Moose.

This would follow rumors from earlier in the season that Mike Gillis was trying to get Jordan Schroeder to turn pro and sign with the Canucks. Given how much Gillis wants to be 'hands on' with player development, I can't blame him for wanting to do so. Schroeder, to his credit, has remained interested in staying with the Gophers.

A quick explanation, for those who aren't familiar with the varied rules regarding NHL prospects. Schroeder is playing in the NCAA, which has very strict rules regarding professional involvement with their athletes. Players can't sign pro contracts (like the one that Cody Hodgson has, as he plays in the OHL) nor can the club that they are with do anything to help them out. Folks may recall Pat White and Cory Schneider, two other Canucks NCAA draft selections, having to pay their own way to the Canucks Prospects Camp from the last couple of years. Despite paying their own way there, they couldn't accept any gifts (such as a jersey with their name on it) or any sort of payment from the Canucks. Heck, NCAA players aren't even allowed to have agents, although most players circumvent that by having 'family advisors'…who just happen to be sports agents. Regardless, dealing with and communicating with a prospect that is in the NCAA system can be hard due to the rules the NCAA has.

It makes sense, then, that Gillis wants Schroeder to go pro. It makes it far easier to communicate and manage the prospect, as he won't be hampered by NCAA rules. However, were Schroeder to go pro and sign with the Canucks, it would close the door on ever returning to the NCAA. Schroeder has stated in the past that he remains committed to the Gophers, answering Internet rumors from last year that he was poised to jump ship mid-season. His father also commented back in August that the rumors of his signing with the Canucks were false.

However, these rumors refuse to die, which would indicate to me that Gillis is still trying to pursue this. I'd also point to an interesting quote from his father in the last article, where he stated that, "We've told [the Canucks] he's going to go back to school for another year. He'll be a leader on his team and can work on some things, like his shooting. He can grow in maturity and be ready to step into professional hockey at the end of the season."

End of the season. Hmm. Not finishing the typical four year NCAA program. Well, we are at the end of the season now and speculation is starting to ramp up. For good reason, too. The Golden Gophers have fallen on hard times, with several high profile first rounders leaving the program early. The biggest name out of the bunch, arguably, was the New York Islanders draft pick Kyle Okposo. Isles GM Garth Snow wasn't happy with the development of his prospect, as he said to the Minnesota Star-Tribune:

"Quite frankly, we weren't happy with the program there," Snow told the paper. "They have a responsibility to coach, to make Kyle a better player, and they were not doing that."

He continued, "[Okposo] just wasn't getting better – bottom line. And to me, that's the frustrating part. We entrusted the coach there to turn him into a better hockey player, and it wasn't happening. We feel more comfortable in him developing right under our watch."

"Whether it was Kyle or another player, until things change in that program we'd probably make the same decision," Snow told the Star-Tribune. "There should be a coach there that looks in the mirror. … I don't think we'd be at this point if he was being coached properly."

Other notable players that have left the Gophers program early include Phoenix Coyotes 1st round draft pick (and subsequent Bruins signee) Blake Wheeler and St. Louis Blues first rounder Erik Johnson, who left after one year. In Johnson's case, at least, it could be argued that he decided to go pro because he was guaranteed a slot with the Blues. Okposo and Wheeler, though, are interesting situations.

Schroeder hit a bit of a bump this year, his 8 goals and 27 points this season are lower than the 13 goals and 45 points he produced last season. Whether that's because of teammates like Ryan Stoa leaving the squad, injuries to his linemates, coaching or a sophmore slump is up for debate, but it doesn't look like Minnesota is where Gillis wants Schroeder to be.

It's also interesting to note that when Sportsnet's Dan Murphy blogged about this back in August, he speculated that the reason why the Canucks want him to leave Minny is because they aren't happy with the program. Murph also went on to say 'And if Patrick White is staying in Minny, then that might also tell you how the Canucks feel about him and his progress within the Gophers system.' Pat White was, of course, handed off to the Sharks days later in the trade that brought Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Canucks. Sidenote: I'll admit that I was rather optimistic about White and felt that the Gophers might be the right place for him to develop. Sort of missed the boat on that one, oops.

The Canucks have had a lot of success when dealing with players from the NCAA. Past draft picks who have enjoyed success with the Canucks franchise include Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa and Cory Schneider. If the Gillis and company are pushing hard for Schroeder to go pro, it's probably because it is in his best interests.

Trevor Presiloski


So the Olympics are over. Boo. Now, everyone has to go back to watching mighty teams like the Carolina Hurricanes and the Toronto Maple Leafs battle it out for the right to lay sole claim to the NHL’s basement.

But before we get into that, everyone’s still basking in the glow of Team Canada’s victory on Sunday. I’d just like to point out that I more or less correctly called how things would go for Canada to get to the gold medal game (Slovaks scoring the upset over Sweden, Russia having problems and Canada coming out huge against them.) Sometimes a blind squirrel finds a nut!

While everyone’s focused on Roberto Luongo’s performance as a goalie (my opinion? He finally cemented himself as a legitimate big game/name goaltender) I thought I’d go in another direction and focus on another Canuck who had a huge Olympics. Pavol Demitra, who led the tournament in scoring and led Slovakia to their highest ever finish at the Olympics (and losing in what could only be described as a heartbreaker of a loss) is going to be having some mighty high expectations now that we’re going back to NHL hockey.

I think it’s a little unwarranted, Demitra has played well (when healthy) when given the opportunity. See last season with Kesler and Sundin. This year he only played a handful of games prior to the Olympics and had to do it with the likes of Steve Bernier, Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass. All players who are a far cry from the likes of Gaborik and Hossa and even Handzus.

Recent reports indicate that Demitra has been promoted to the second line, so Demitra’s got every opportunity to succeed coming out of the Olympic break. Good, says I. Although I’d argue that there’s something else head coach Alain Vigneault could look at if he really wants to make the most of the Slovak one: put him on the penalty kill.

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but Demitra was logging some icetime on the penalty kill. Demitra led the Slovaks in icetime amongst forwards (three guesses as to who led icetime overall for Slovakia. Hint: he’s big and plays for Boston) and part of that icetime came from being played on Slovakia’s special team units. Powerplay AND penalty kill.

The Canucks penalty kill is a little woeful right now, ranked at 80.8% efficiency which is good for 20th overall in the league. It’s been one of the Canucks weaknesses this season and something that Alain Vigneault should be looking at improving. Ryan Johnson, for whatever reason, hasn’t been working out, as I’ve elaborated in the past, and I feel that his play on the penalty kill especially has been dragging down the Canucks numbers.

So why not mix it up? Interestingly enough, despite having over 120 minutes of PK team in the last three seasons with Minnesota and Los Angeles before becoming a Canuck, coach AV really hasn’t utilized Demitra on the penalty kill. Last season, Demitra had a whopping 5:58 of icetime killing penalties and was averaging only 5 seconds a game, a far departure from the past three seasons. I guess Vigneault wanted to try and get all of his players engaged in the game last season, which is why he leaned on guys like Johnson, Pyatt and Hansen for his second unit penalty kill. Pyatt, whose skill on the penalty kill made him a useful asset to the Canucks last season, is gone and the PK has suffered as a result, having dropped from 16th overall to 20th. Having the 16th ranked rated penalty kill is really nothing to brag about, but the Canucks should be looking at improving things any way they can.

Demitra could do that and it could benefit the Canucks as a result. Giving icetime to someone who has been playing as lights out as Demitra has is never a bad call and would make him feel happy about being utilized. Additionally, given Demitra’s offensive prowess the Canucks second unit PK could really try and force the issue and try for short handed goals. Mason Raymond, who isn’t a complete stranger in his own end, could make for an interesting PK unit against weaker teams. Think along the lines of how Pavel Bure used to operate as a ‘penalty killer.’ Conversely, Demitra and Hansen could also work well together playing in a more traditional PK role.

Heck, keep him as a winger on the PK and let Johnson come in, if Alain Vigneault still insists on that particular course of action. Bottom line, I’d like to be seeing Demitra on the penalty kill, especially since powerplay minutes are probably going to be split between him and Samuelsson. It keeps him active and could end up helping out the Canucks as a result.

Win/win, if you ask me!

Trevor Presiloski


Mike Gillis didn’t go hog wild on the trade deadline, as he continued to play a conservative game with his picks and prospects. While his contemporaries were doling out 2nd rounders like candy, Gillis, who didn’t have a 2nd rounder in this year’s draft, decided to be a little more creative with his wheeling and dealing, heading over to the bargain bins of the various NHL teams.

Gone are Mathieu Schneider, PC Labrie and a 3rd round draft pick.

Coming in are Yan Stastny, Andrew Alberts, Sean Zimmerman and a potential 6th rounder.

While many fans are going to be upset that Mike Gillis didn’t make a huge deal and bring in a Dan Hamhuis or another similar ‘marquee’ player I’m impressed with the way Gillis handled his assets. Effectively, the only thing of value he gave up was the third round draft pick.

Labrie was a big, physical player who didn’t have a future beyond continuing to play on the Manitoba Moose’s third line. He had no NHL future and I doubt he would’ve been retained by the Canucks past this season. In many ways, this deal was similar to the one Gillis made with Phoenix at the draft, where he dealt Shaun Heshka for a 7th rounder. Turning nothing into something, specifically Yan Stastny? I like it.

Mathieu Schneider’s relationship with the Canucks was going to be sour and he had played his last as a Canuck back when the whole drama bomb dropped earlier in the season. He was another asset that had no value to the Canucks and the fact that Gillis was able to pawn him off for Zimmerman and a potential 6th rounder is another case of turning nothing into something.

Is it a case of spinning straw into gold? Doubtful.

Now, for the players coming in.

Yan Stastny probably is going to be Moose fodder. He really doesn’t have the size to hang in the Canucks bottom six, but he’s shown that he can contribute as an AHL-level scorer. I imagine that this is being done to help out the Moose, as they’ve struggled offensively so far this season. Eric Walsky, one of Gillis’ NCAA free agent signings last season, has turned into a rather colossal failure as he went stone cold and was relegated to the Canucks ECHL affiliate, the Victoria Salmon Kings. The one thing I like about this is that this potentially opens the door for Gillis to bring up someone like Grabner or Shirokov without significantly impacting the Moose’s offensive punch. Roster restrictions have now been lifted so the only real concern is fitting underneath the salary cap. Being able to bring up someone like Grabner while keeping the Moose competitive is benefits both teams and keeps Craig Heisinger (GM of the Moose) happy.

Sean Zimmerman looks like another AHL bound player who may potentially be an upgrade over Aaron Rome. The Moose have been savaged with blueline injuries and callups this year, so giving some stability on the backend will help them out. It’s not much, but it helps to make the Moose more competitive which will help with the overall development of Canucks prospects.

The last deal, Andrew Alberts was a good, inexpensive stopgap to bolster the Canucks defensive depth. He’s big, he hits and he’s a +4 on a horrible Carolina Hurricanes team. He also blocks shots and is signed past this season. Gillis has stated that he doesn’t believe in rentals and if he’s targeting a player he wants someone who can contribute into future seasons. Since Alberts is signed past this season, he fits Gillis’ trade deadline philosophy. Most importantly, it will get one of Rome or Baumgartner off the roster.

I do have to wonder, though, if this means that this might be the last we’ll be seeing of Shane O’Brien in a Canucks uniform after this season. Both are making roughly the same salary, are big bottom pairing guys. While Alberts has the edge in points, SOB is known for being a character guy and is a better fighter. If anything, this will hopefully keep O’Brien motivated. I know many folks aren’t a fan of SOB, but I don’t mind him in the role he’s in. It’s when he’s expected to fill a role greater than a 5th or 6th dman that problems typically arise. Alberts, theoretically, might be able to serve as a fill-in in the top four a bit better than SOB. He’s also more of a physical player than Shane O’Brien: his 178 hits are almost double of Obie’s 94.

Alberts also has spent time on the PK this season, so he might be used in that capacity. He’s not Dan Hamhuis, but Alberts will get the job done.

As for what Mike Gillis didn’t do?

Jason Botchford tweeted that Nashville was wanting Cody Hodgson in exchange for Dan Hamhuis. While I like Hamhuis, trading the Canucks top prospect for a rental player would’ve been the height of idiocy. I also think the rumors of this ‘rift’ with Gillis and Hodgson is a bunch of BS, as some folks would lead you to believe Gillis couldn’t wait to rid himself of the youngster.

Cory Schneider and Michael Grabner continue to be part of the Canucks organization as well. I still think that Schneider has one more year with the Canucks: he’ll come up and serve in a backup role for the Canucks next season when his expensive ELC will be burnt off. It’ll make it easier to fit him on the roster and be a cheaper option for teams looking for goaltending. With Grabner, who showed promise in his brief stint in December, I’m glad Gillis managed to hold onto him as I think he’ll be sticking with the roster next year.

Canucks also retain their first rounder. Given Gillis’ intentions on bolstering our prospect cupboard, I’m happy that Gillis has hung onto the first rounder as the Canuck are without their second rounder this year. Having those building blocks available are important.

I’d imagine Gillis will be more active and involved next season at the trade deadline than he has the past 2 seasons. While many fans aren’t going to be happy with Gillis’ moves this trade deadline, I can’t really fault him for what he did: he bolstered the blueline, gave the Moose some flexibility, used up some valueless assets without giving up anything significant.

Trevor Presiloski is an avid Canucks fan, formerly based in Toronto, now in Calgary. You can read more of his thoughts, Canucks and otherwise, on his blog the Internet Trashcan. You can also follow him on Twitter, @nettrashcan

Trevor Presiloski


So I've made mention in a couple of other blog posts that I was going to be doing up a piece talking about the Canucks bottom six. And why not? There's been a lot of talk lately about certain members of the Canucks third and fourth liners, most of it laced with profanities.

Steve Bernier needs to be shipped out of town, Kyle Wellwood should be benched and so on and so forth. While I'm not in disagreement that the bottom six players are bad, I would argue that there are reasons why our bottom six hasn't really been performing all that well that extend beyond 'such and such player sucks.'

At least that's what I'm hoping to get across here.

I'll start with the mainstays of the third line, Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier, both guys who have come under a lot of scrutiny so far this season. Some praise, first, though. Together, they've been on the ice for 27 goals against and 37 goals in 5 on 5 situations. Wellwood, in particular, has only been on the ice for 9 even strength goals against and are a combined +7 (this is including 4 on 4 situations.) They don't take a lot of penalties, either, as they've combined for 27 PIM (22 minutes worth of minors.) All while averaging roughly 14 minutes of icetime a game. At the very least, the third line is responsible 5 on 5 and are capable of playing disciplined hockey.

That's about where the praise ends, though. Points-wise, the third line has combined for a grand total of 38 points (if you include Demitra, 48 if you include Tanner Glass' 10 points.) When compared to the other top teams in the Western Conference, they're dwarfed by San Jose's and Chicago's third lines of Clowe/Nichol/Ortmeyer (Manny Malholtra typically slots in, but my understanding is he's been bumped up to the second line as of late) and Byfuglien/Madden/Versteeg, who have produced 70 and 75 points respectively. With Tanner Glass' contributions factored in there, they're only one point better than Phoenix's third line of Korpikoski, Lang and former Canucks pariah Taylor Pyatt, although the Canucks line has been far superior defensively, as the Coyotes line is a combined -14 and have been on the ice for a combined 58 even strength goals against, while averaging about a minute less of 5 on 5 icetime.


Things continue to break down when you look at the ice time, though. I mentioned that the Canucks third line averages 14 minutes a game. That's pretty respectable for your third line: San Jose's averages about the same amount of icetime, Chicago's third line averages close to 16 minutes a game and Phoenix's trio averages around 13 and a half minutes of icetime. The problem, though, is how those minutes are distributed.

Bernier and Wellwood are both seen as offensive players and have been given time on the powerplay where they've been less than underwhelming: Wellwood has just 14 points on the year while Steve Bernier has 20, despite averaging 2 minutes a game on the powerplay.

Compared to San Jose, Clowe averages 2 minutes and change a game on the powerplay, while Nichol spends about the same on the penalty kill and very little time on the man advantage. Clowe's point totals are almost double those of Bernier's (39 points vs. 20) despite their icetime totals being damn near identical to each other's. Nichol, who doesn't spend much time on the powerplay, has as many points as Wellwood, a guy who averages a minute and a half of powerplay time a game. Heck, Wellwood is keeping pace with Pyatt with points and he averages less PP time than Wellwood.

Again, performance in certain situations is what's led to the Canucks third line being so dismal. For the amount of powerplay time both Bernier and Wellwood get, they should be having some more to show for their efforts. The players on other teams are capable of playing at even strength and on special teams and producing results. Hopefully the addition of Demitra will spark some regular strength production, however, it does not explain the lack of PP production from them, which is what is truly hurting this third line.

While Wellwood and company are capable playing 5 on 5, the same cannot be said about the Canucks fourth line, generally consisting of Hordichuk, Johnson and Rypien. They're a combined -10 and only average 8 minutes of icetime. That number is slightly inflated due to Johnson's time spent on the penalty kill, where he's been on for 20 goals against, half of the total number of goals the Canucks have given up while down a man. Factoring out Johnson's PK minutes, the Canucks fourth line averages just over 7 minutes a game. That's roughly a full minute less than both of San Jose and Chicago's lines (yet both those lines don't consist entirely of minus players and, in Chicago's case, are producing a ton more) and almost 2 full minutes less than the Coyotes 4th line.


The Canucks fourth line also takes a ton of penalty minutes. Thus far, they've combined for 196 minutes worth of penalties, although Rypien and Hordichuk have 22 majors between them. Throwing in Glass, who really should only be playing on the fourth line, the Canucks have 33 fighting majors split between three players.

The only comparables for the Hawks, Sharks and Coyotes are Staubitz (with 7) and Bissonette (who has 15 majors.) Eager and Fraser also have 11 majors split between them, but they also are plus players and have 22 points. Phoenix's fourth line has 41 points, while San Jose's fourth line only has 17 points between them, but make up for it for more disciplined play by taking less penalties. Rypien and Hordichuk? Combined -8 and 8 points.

The impact this has had on the Canucks is rather apparent, especially on the road, where the home team has the last change advantage. When you have a fourth line consisting primarily of players whose main skill is fighting and are defensively inept, it essentially shortchanges your bench and makes it easy for opposing team's coaches to match up against your squad. A common complaint I see in game day threads or on Twitter is 'What is Steve Bernier/Kyle Wellwood doing out on the ice in the third period?' Well, the reason for that is because you can only shorten your bench so much. I'd rather have Bernier or Wellwood out there than Hordichuk or Johnson. When your bottom six is a mess, you have to go with the option that is the least likely to come around and bite you. Other teams, like Chicago, have a bottom six of players who can go out and play in key situations, a luxury that Vancouver doesn't really have.

So what can be done? Beyond the simple answer of 'Trade or Waive 'em!' I'd argue that the Canucks don't need to do a whole lot to try and fix things. But here's what I think Mike Gillis may be looking at:

- Getting a replacement centerman for the third line. I've been defending Kyle Wellwood for ages and have even done so in this blog post, but it's clear that he just isn't capable of getting it done: his lack of overall finish on the powerplay is evidence of that. A trade for a Matt Cullen type would be phenomenal and help out the third line a great deal.

- Stop playing Hordichuk/Rypien/Glass so goddamned much. I understand that Alain Vigneault likes the idea of a 'crash and bang' line, but when that group spends too much time in its own end of the rink you really should be dialing back the amount of icetime Hordichuk gets. Glass is probably the best forward out of the three listed, based on production and overall icetime: he's been the one seeing time on the third line and his overall icetime averages reflect that. Put him in a fourth line role, where he's not out of his element.

- Look at utilizing some of our 'skill' players down on the farm. This would involve waiving or trading individuals on the roster, as the Canucks are at the roster max presently. That said, Jannik Hansen, Michael Grabner and Matt Pettinger are all guys who could potentially fit with the Canucks (and regulate Hordichuk et al. to the pressbox.) Hansen is a solid skater who can also forecheck like mad. Pettinger is a guy who has NHL experience, is capable of chipping in some offense and can play on the PK. Putting those two guys with Johnson could give a fourth line that is defensively responsible and provide some options on the penalty kill…and may just improve it.

As for Grabner, he showed that he was capable of clicking with Kesler and Raymond earlier in the season. He has been cold as of late, but putting him on a line with Raymond and Kesler, arguably the two best Canucks as of late, could jumpstart him much in the same way pouring gasoline on a bonfire causes things to heat up. Failing that, you could bump him down to the third line and have him try and work something with Pavol Demitra, who is capable of playing the center position.

The proposed solutions may not work, but they'd be providing something different. With a Canucks squad that's been struggling offensively on the road, getting scored upon first and has had major problems with their bottom six a slight makeover might do the Canucks a world of good.

Trevor Presiloski is an avid fan of the Canucks. You can catch more of his thoughts, Canucks and otherwise, over at his website.

Trevor Presiloski


Okay, so this post will be dealing with the Toronto Maple Leafs a little bit, but I promise that it's for a good reason. There's also going to be a lot of Internet nerd talk going on here, so if neither of those points hasn't resulted in you running screaming into the night, thanks.

I caught a mention on Twitter not too long ago about how the Leafs are supposedly losing their young fans to video games. Avoiding the easy joke, that the Leafs are probably losing young fans because the Leafs are a horrible, horrible team and have been since the lockout, I found the article to be indicative of just how out of touch Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment are with things and representative of how much work they have cut out for themselves in getting back to being a respectable hockey club. Especially when you compare how the Leafs are handling the big, scary online world compared to how another team handles it. Such as, say, the Canucks.

The Vancouver Canucks have long been on top of things in the online world and I'm not necessarily saying that because I'm a fan of the team. Right from the very get go, the Canucks have been online, the earliest possible record I can find of a Canucks site is 1994. The earliest incarnation I was able to dredge up of the Leafs was 1996, not too bad, but amusing to see that one of the biggest NHL franchises has been a little slow in embracing new technology and ways of reaching out to fans.

Funnily enough, the more things change the more they continue to remain the same. Using Twitter, something that was elaborated on in the article I linked above, it looks as though the 'official' Maple Leafs Twitter account was being used by a fan or imposter before being utilized by MLSE proper. If you take a look at this snapshot of the account, you'll notice a discrepancy of roughly 700 Tweets recorded versus what is actually there. Unfortunately, there's no way to determine when precisely the Leafs took over the account as I've tried to confirm whether this was the case, but attempts to reach someone at the Leafs haven't yielded anything. That makes determining how long it took to get their fanbase difficult (the Leafs account has 6,692 followers at the time I wrote this.) Not too bad, I suppose, although you'd think that number would be a little higher given that the GTA is one of Canada's densely populated regions.

Especially when you look at the Canucks profile and see that they're sitting at a whopping 18,529 followers. What's most interesting to me, though, is looking at the number of Tweets made by each account. The Canucks account has made 1,942 Tweets, or roughly 9.5 followers per Tweet. The Leafs have made 2,287 Tweets for their 6,692 followers or, roughly 2.9 followers per Tweet. This indicates to me that the Canucks have a great online presence (which they do) and don't have to do a whole lot of work to get that fan support online, because fans are plugged in and have things like Twitter available to them.


For comparison, the Montreal Canadiens, who generally are neck and neck with the Canucks in terms of monthly site activity for being the #1 active official NHL team site, arguably have the most rabid and devoted NHL fans out there have over 30,000 followers and have done even less Tweeting than the Canucks. The Flames (@NHLFlames) are on pace with the Leafs in terms of followers/Tweets and the Atlanta Thrashers (@ATLTHrashers), a team that has one of the smallest fanbases in the league has, er, a staggering 3,102 followers on Twitter.

It's pretty bad that the Leafs are patting themselves on the back for hiring folks to deal with Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, a social networking site that is rapidly going the way of Friendster. Working in Toronto over the summer, I saw advertisements being made for these positions. At the time, I had assumed that they were recently vacated positions but the article seems to indicate that they were newly created roles, which is absolutely baffling to me.

Why? Well, two reasons. The first: the Leafs are specificially devoting time, resources and money to establish a presence online, specifically with sites like Twitter and they only have twice as many followers as the Atlanta freaking Thrashers. While the Canucks organization does have a huge fanbase that is passionate about the Canucks, simply having that fanbase isn't enough to drive traffic to your website or have people care about what you're doing. That the Canucks do a great job of providing a reason to check out the team online is what's important and has helped to hold onto these 'young fans' that are eluding the Leafs. Given that the Leafs site went up around 1996, it's sort of amusing that it only took them 14 years to figure that content = visitors.

The second reason, though, goes back to a point I made about the Canucks. As opposed to the Leafs, who are the Johnny Come Latelys to this 'Information Superhighway' and have only recently stopped waxing their modems (to try to make it go faster while they surf, you see) the Canucks have a long history of engaging their fans and treating them very well. While the Twitter account is simply the most recent in a long line of online initiatives for the Canucks, it's something that's been going on for a long time. For example, the Canucks.com forums have been up and running for years and have a large, devoted fanbase, one that ranks at the very top of the NHL in terms of overall activity. It's not often that the play of Jan Bulis could crash a website, but the Canucks faithful were able to do so.

Another example would be the offering of the Canucks.com e-mail accounts that were good up until a few years ago (signing up for them ended a long time ago and the accounts themselves have since been deactivated.) Going back to the 'losing young fans to video games' comment made in the original article, it's important to note that the Canucks are great at providing free and interesting content to fans. Younger fans typically don't have a lot of disposable income, but they are tech savvy (how many 'my 9 year old knows more about programming my VCR than I do' jokes are there?) and have a lot of time on their hands. Having a forum for fans to congregate together and giving them a ton of content, be it e-mail addresses, quality video from games, along with pre and post-game videos as well as things like Facebook and Twitter accounts are all great ways to engage fans and make them more likely to care about the club.

Also, the Canucks have been great at rewarding fans and granting them acknowledgement on the site. If you're a Canucks fan and are on Twitter, chances are you've run into Richard Loat, aka mozy19, who has been heavily involved in Canucks social media and has been featured on the site. Looking over at the Leafs site, the only real Twitter presence are from other MLSE employees. While it's important to have a strong online presence, it's also important to understand the social media is very much a two way street. You have to be careful not to appear as though you're talking down to your audience, keeping them out of arm's reach…especially if you're the Maple Leafs, as the reputation they have is one of being a corporate machine, interested only in their fanbase's money.

That's why I find MLSE's blaming video games as stealing away their fanbase to be a stupid argument. It's not because kids don't care about hockey or the Leafs. It's because 'the kids' have no real way to embrace the Leafs, even if it's to vent their spleen over how horrible they've been (misery loves company, after all.) While it may be easy to say that the Canucks have been a successful team and this sort of online love comes as a result of that I'd like to point out that the Canucks have had a ton of negative moments that would sour many fans. Getting eliminated by the Wild back in 2003, the heartbreaker series loss to the Flames in 2004, the Bertuzzi/Moore incident, missing the playoffs 2 seasons post-lockout, all things that can test the faith of most fans, yet the Canucks continue to grow and become stronger, both on the ice and online.

The Leafs? Floundering, behind the times and desperately trying to catch up. I'll let you decide whether I'm talking about the Internet or the on-ice product there.

Trevor Presiloski


Lots of talk being made about Edmonton radio personality Dan Tencer's postgame comments following the Oilers loss to the Canucks Wednesday night. Tencer, in what he described as his frustration taking over due to what was a poorly officiated game that saw some weak calls made against the Oilers (something which I did note and comment on in my postscript), commented that the Canucks have been mediocre and that their fanbase is cocky. Going the predictable route of an Oilers fan who is trying to win an argument involving his team, he was quick to make mention of the Canucks lack of championships and that he doesn't understand why the Canucks have a sense of entitlement.

Let me start off by saying fair enough to Tencer. As much as I hate admitting it, he is right that the Canucks have been a very mediocre franchise for pretty much their inception. Looking back at things, there have been some very dark days for the Canucks faithful. That doesn't mean the team is doomed to forever be a bad club, though, and it's an insinuation that bothered me when Tencer pitched his on-air fit.

You'll notice that I've been using a lot of past tense there. Sorry. It tends to happen when talking about Edmonton, a team that desperately wants to go back to the halcyon days of the 1980s, given how brutal things are these days. Now, nothing against the Oilers, those teams from the 80s are a thing of legend and Oilers fans have every right to be proud of their team and their history. That said, you have to wonder how long any past capital they've built up is good for and if there comes a time where you have to stop dwelling on the past and dealing with the present.


To clarify, I'm talking about both the Canucks and the Oilers here, teams that appear to be going in very different directions right now. I honestly can't think of a better time where everything related to the Canucks has been looking so good: they have one of the best goalies in the league locked up long term, a solid forward core with the Sedins, Kesler and Burrows, along with some bright spots in the system in the likes of players like Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Kevin Connauton and Anton Rodin.

After hitting a bit of a rough patch in the 90s and a somewhat messy ownership battle this decade, the Canucks have become one of the NHL's leading teams, being ranked fifth in revenue, behind only the Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens and Red Wings, all Original Six clubs, all teams located in the population-dense East and all considered to be financial juggernauts of the NHL. That the Canucks are right up there in terms of generating revenue means that they have some weight to throw behind their words now, something which they really haven't had the luxury of doing before now.


The Oilers, in comparison, have been on a long, painful decline since selling Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, a move that they were essentially forced to make. Like all Canadian teams, they were in serious financial troubles in the 90s, almost being relocated to Houston in 1998 (sidenote: where was Gary Bettman to protect the Oilers then?), and have only remedied things recently with passionate (and rich) owner Daryl Katz. Prior to Katz's arrival, the Oilers had trouble retaining talent (see: Gretzky, but also Coffey, Guerin, Weight, Arnott, etc.) With Katz, though, things are looking good as the Oilers have financial stability and should be able to retain young talent such as Jordan Eberle and Magnus Svensson-Paarjavi, both players who have bright futures ahead of them.

Lowe himself represents my point about how the past can only mean (and do) so much. The Oilers, I would argue, have suffered with their focus on the past by rewarding past players with jobs within the organization and no one better exemplified that than Lowe, whose tenure included being the Dallas Stars' whipping boy in the 90s and a laughingstock in the 00s.

He was quick to complain (note the use of that word) about how hard done the Oilers were as a small market team (they are currently the league's smallest market.) You'll notice that the Nashville Predators, also a small market team and operate under a self-imposed cap of $45 million or so, are routinely making the playoffs and seem to be doing fine. There was also Lowe's publicized feud with Brian Burke as well the complaints he made regarding Michael Nylander not signing with the club, to name a few of his mishaps while GM of the Oilers. It's strange that Tencer, in his blog post, would quote a Damien Cox article making fun of the Canucks voicing their concerns when the Oilers organization have been known to do the same. Regardless, Lowe's tenure as GM was fraught with many lowlights, excuses and complaints and saw him getting replaced by former Canucks executive Steve Tambellini. Additionally, Oiler alumni Craig MacTavish, seen by fans as being another inept hire and a move that rewarded faithful alumni, was given his walking papers and former Canucks coach Pat Quinn came aboard to try and make sense of the Oilers.

Sadly, Nylander is only one of many players who have had a problem in staying with Edmonton, as apparently the allure of playing for a team that won a bunch twenty years ago doesn't have the same charm to outsiders as it does to residents of Edmonton. In addition to Nylander's snub, there was also Chris Pronger demanding a trade for unspecified reasons and the efforts from this past summer which saw the Oilers beg and plead for Dany Heatley to accept a trade to Edmonton, a trade which he ultimately blocked and has seen him get booed when the San Jose Sharks come to play in the Oilers barn. This has become so problematic, that the Oilers ended up having to make a DVD and then send it out to the agents of NHL players in an attempt to try and woo some players to come and sign with them. Ouch.

And Tencer has the nerve to say Canucks fans are self-entitled? There's a saying about people in glass houses that fits here.

Additionally, the Oilers struggled in the post-season from 1992, where they lost to Chicago in the Conference finals, all the way to 2006, where they went on their Cinderella Cup Run before ultimately losing to the Carolina Hurricanes. In between, the Oilers went long stretches without making the playoffs and are set to make it a fourth consecutive year if things continue to be ugly here. As the years go by, the 80s are becoming ever more distant and you could ask where exactly do Oilers fans get off telling anyone how they should feel about their club, given that they haven't been relevant for the better part of 2 decades.


Yes, you can dwell on the past. Reward players from the 'glory days' while making excuses, while laughing at team who are making a conscious effort to improve and put their bad days behind them. Point to the Canucks failures, mock them for taking the steps to become one of the league's leading franchises. Complain about the diving while having a good on-air cry. Maybe eat a carton of rocky road and schedule a Sex In The City marathon, if it'll make you feel better.

Then you can sit back and remember when Kim Mitchell and Honeymoon Suite were seen as the best in rock and where mullets were seen outside of Edmonton's city limits. When Gretzky was on the team and things were looking oh so good. After all, things aren't looking that great now, so why not look back fondly on what was?

Me? I'd rather focus on the present, which sees the Canucks as a team on the verge of becoming a great franchise (they just need to take things to the next level) while the Oilers are on the verge of slipping completely into irrelevance (their bright future and potential lottery pick notwithstanding.) If that makes me cocky, to be happy for my team and enjoying their success, then all I have to say is that I'm glad I wasn't an Oilers fan back in the 80s, as I figure I'd be downright insufferable.

But, okay. Let's take a look back at the glory days of the Oilers. Here's a favorite clip of mine:


Those were the days.

Trevor Presiloski


So justice was meted out by Colin Campbell and the NHL tonight regarding Alex Burrows' comments pertaining to the officiating in Monday night's loss to the Nashville Predators. Burrows, for speaking his mind and accusing referee Stephane Auger of having a grudge against him, was fined $2,500 for doing so. According to Darren Dreger and Greg Wyshynski over at Puck Daddy, Auger is receiving no punishment and the matter is closed.

Understandably, this has folks in Canuckland seething. The fact that Burrows would be punished for his transgressions while Stephane Auger would get off scot-free doesn't make sense. Unfortunately, there are very strict rules that pertain to criticizing NHL officials and Burrows, no matter how justified he was in making his comments, was breaking those rules.


That Burrows was going to be taking a hit in the wallet should be of no surprise to anyone. What remained up in the air today was how severe Burrows punishment was going to be. As Wyshynski points out, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell could have dealt out far harsher punishment.


One can't help but draw comparisons to Jeremy Roenick's on ice tirade from 2004, which came after on-ice officials completely missed a high sticking call that resulted in blood being drawn against good 'ol JR. After some rather enthusiastic protestations, Roenick was ejected from the game, which only further infuriated him, as he lobbed a water bottle in the direction of the referee and then spoke his mind afterwards.

Incidentally, both the Burrows and Roenick incidents received widespread media coverage (gaining the attention of hockey-indifferent ESPN down in the United States) and both occurred at roughly the same point of the season.

The result? A $10,000 fine and a 1 game suspension. This, after an official's negligence resulted in a player losing a tooth and requiring stitches and no penalty being assessed against the offending team.

Burrows' $2,500 fine and being able to continue to play look rather tame in comparison and you can't help but wonder why. For all intents and purposes, it looks as though Burrows was only being punished because he had to be punished. The lack of a suspension or a more expensive fine, either to Burrows or to the Canucks organization speaks to that.


This, of course, can be seen as Burrows post-game comments being granted validity by the NHL, that he may even be right that Stephane Auger had a score to settle with him. It follows, then, that if Burrows was telling the truth about what happened in Monday's game, why hasn't Auger been punished? Surely if the NHL is letting Burrows off easily with a minimal punishment following his rather serious allegations, they would be quick to punish an official who wasn't doing his job.

Thus, the lack of punishment is a head scratcher.

That is, until you realize that the NHL prefers to do everything behind closed doors. Players aren't supposed to comment about refs (hence Burrows' fine) and the refs aren't made available to the media after games (like the players are.) They're well protected and any sort of discipline pertaining to them is only whispered about, being about as elusive as a date with Megan Fox. It's hinted that playoff officiating can be used to reward or punish referees, although nothing concrete has been proven regarding that claim.

I personally don't agree with the way the NHL handles things, and think the League would be better off if they made things more transparent in how they handle things like this and other questionable referee calls. Instead of protecting their officials, they should be making them accountable for their decisions on the ice. If a referee like Stephane Auger, who, according to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun, 'has a reputation for inconsistency and arrogance' and who 'amongst peers is not especially popular' was thinking about visiting retribution down upon Burrows had to face the music in the form of angry reporters or from a public disciplinary hearing, chances are he wouldn't have gone over to Burrows and said anything and this whole ugly matter wouldn't have happened.

It may have also prevented some previous incidents from occuring, such as his involvement with Shane Doan from a few years ago or the 'intent to whistle' no-goal call against Detroit earlier this season. Instead, Auger gets protected by the league and controversial incidents involving him continue to happen.

Much has been said about how Alex Burrows and the Vancouver Canucks shouldn't expect much sympathy from the officials now as they will be under a microscope for the immediate future. Stephane Auger should expect to be placed under the same scrutiny, though, scrutiny which I would argue should and would exist if the NHL was more transparent in how it dealt with their referees. It shouldn't have to come about as a result of a player speaking his mind and getting fined for it, it should already be there.


It may also help in other instances. Recall that NHL referee Dean Warren was fired for 'phantom calls' in two NHL playoff games two years after they had occurred. The resulting wrongful dismissal suit that Warren fired (he alleges that he was fired due to his activity with the NHL Officials Association and not due to subpar performance) has been in the Ontario courts for a while now and some embarrassing e-mails from Colin Campbell have come to light as a result. Had Warren truly been someone who, as ex-NHLOA director Stephen Walkom put it, 'cheapens the profession' dealing with him in a public manner would have saved the resulting legal battle and helped to keep other officials on their best behavior.

One of Campbell's e-mails about another official has him saying "We look absolutely stupid when we call mysterious hooks as there were in this game."

It'd be great to know if he shared this same sentiment about Stephane Auger and the calls he made Monday night against Vancouver. Sadly, given the NHL's closed door policy, we can only speculate on Stephane Auger's ultimate fate.

Trevor Presiloski


Kent, he of the We Are All Canuckleheads Podcast, is looking like a genius right now. I say this because he was one of the first people I saw making a case for Henrik Sedin for the Hart Trophy.

Talk of Henrik being a favorite for the Hart trophy picked up steam earlier this week with an article from Michael Farber over on Sports Illustrated's website (scroll down about midways) who named Henrik Sedin as his pick for the Hart Trophy. (Incidentally, no mention or love for Kesler in the Selke category. Boo.) Michael Traikos of the National Post also had some love for Henrik Sedin as he also picked him to win the Hart trophy. More recently, TSN's James Cybulski gave Henrik some love, saying that the Swedish twin is HIS pick for the Hart.

Taking a look at it, I have to say that Henrik has made a great case for himself in the first half of this season to be a leading candidate for the Hart Trophy.

The biggest point in favor of Henrik would be the fact that his brother Daniel went down with injury for a prolonged period of time. There are many people out there who will acknowledge that the Sedins are a great duo, but individually they suffer. That line of thinking took a beating reminiscent of

the other night as Henrik went on a tear for the Canucks, shouldering the offensive burden without his brother. In the 18 games Daniel was out, Henrik racked up an impressive 10 goals and 18 points, including one hat trick and 2 game winning goals. This is notable given that Henrik has habitually been portrayed as being more of a passer and less of a shooter.

Were that the only argument in favor of Henrik Sedin: that he puts up a lot of points and has been able to play well without his brother, it wouldn't make for a very convincing argument in favor of the Hart. Heck, Marian Gaborik scored a lot of goals for the Minnesota Wild and is now doing much of the same in New York (and getting talk of Hart nominations due to the spotlight being shone there. More on that in a second.) But no, there is more to Henrik's Hart and there's a strong argument that can be made in favor of him.

There's the fact that Henrik, along with his brother, actually makes players around them better. It's been a long-running joke in Vancouver that you could take anyone and have them play with the Sedins and they'd be made to look like perennial All-Stars.

As I mentioned in my 'Third Sedin' article last month, aging veteran Trent Klatt got driven to the airport due to being a Sedin linemate, Jason King got a 'Rookie of the Month' nod for playing with the Sedins, Anson Carter got a substantial pay raise due to being the Sedins linemate and Mattias Weinhandl has been able to take his play with the Sedins back in their SEL days and turn it into, ugh, an Olympic roster nomination.


There's also Alex Burrows (pictured above), the Sedins current linemate. Prior to playing with the Sedins, Burrows was a fixture on the team's checking line and wasn't exactly known for his offensive contributions, having scored 22 goals in the past three seasons. In an attempt to fix things for the Canucks, who were in the middle of a horrible losing streak last season, head coach Alain Vigneault decided to stick Burrows with the Sedins and see what happened. The result? Burrows ended up with 28 goals and 51 points by the end of last season and is on pace for the same amount of goals and 62 points this season. Not too bad for a guy who was playing ball hockey and toiling in the ECHL.

Burrows' improved play can be compared to the rub Jonathan Cheechoo got from Joe Thornton when they played together in San Jose. Back in 05/06, Cheechoo won the Rocket Richard trophy, the same year that Thornton picked up the Art Ross and Hart trophies. You could also point to Colby Armstrong benefitting from Sidney Crosby when he played with the Penguins, although Armstrong did have his greatest offensive totals while playing in Atlanta.

Henrik's linemates should also be noted when discussing other Hart trophy candidates. Unlike Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, Henrik doesn't have the luxury of playing with ridiculously talented forwards like Malkin, Jordan Staal, Hossa, Backstrom, Semin or Norris candidates like Mike Green and Sergei Gonchar. Not to mention guys like Joe Thornton, who get to play with Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. While the Canucks are a good team and Henrik doesn't suffer for lack of quality linemates, Burrows, no matter how driven he is, is a far cry from the likes of Heatley. Basically, not only is Henrik being a great player, he is helping to make other players look great as well.

Honest question, would Alex Burrows' back to back hat tricks have happened without Henrik Sedin? Probably not, as Henrik (and Daniel) assisted on 5 of Burrows 6 goals. It's a remarkable example of what Henrik can do for the players that play with him and his brother.

Some other stats to chew on and consider: Henrik is second in icetime amongst Canucks forwards, behind only Ryan Kesler. I'd imagine that Henrik might be leading the Canucks in icetime if they weren't one of the most penalized teams in the NHL (3rd worst as of last night's game) as Kesler spends a lot of his time on the PK, something which Henrik isn't as prolific with.

Henrik's 4 game winning goals puts him in a tie for fourth, tied with guys like Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Teemu Selanne. His brother Daniel is tied for third with his 5 game winners.

His +/- of +19 ties him with linemate Alex Burrows for fifth overall amongst forwards, behind only Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Zach Parise. Daniel, for that matter, isn't that far off, as his +17 puts him in a tie for seventh overall amongst forwards.

Did I mention that he's resting comfortably atop the NHL scoring race with 62 points right now? Should he continue this amazing tear he's been on for the rest of the season, there's a very good chance that he'll be in contention for the Art Ross Trophy. It should also be noted that 5 of the last 6 Hart Trophy winners (Ovechkin, Crosby, Thornton and St. Louis) also won the Art Ross, so being in contention (or even winning!) would be huge for Henrik.

There's also the accolades he's been receiving, as he was just named the NHL player of the month for December. He has also led the Canucks in the Molson Cup standings for 2 months now. Although the Molson Cup isn't an official award, it's useful because the Molson Cup standings are based on three star selections, meaning that Henrik Sedin has been getting named one of the three stars pretty frequently, which means his contributions on the ice have been significant.

Simply put, Henrik Sedin has been playing amazing. But what about his competitors? Well, let's take a quick look at some other potential Hart trophy candidates.


Marian Gaborik is essentially a one man show on the Rangers and is third in the NHL scoring race at the moment and was leading the league in goals scored. There's a good chance that he'll be able to keep up his rate of scoring, but he's one groin injury away from being tossed from Hart contention. There's also the fact that the Rangers are fighting for a playoff spot: they're only 3 points removed from 9th place Philly and 4 points away from the 10th place New York Islanders. Should they not make the playoffs, that will significantly hurt his chances.


Ryan Miller has been carrying the Buffalo Sabres on his back for most of this season and has been posting impressive goaltending numbers to boot, even when the team in front of him has been less than impressive. It's been said that members of the media (who vote on the Hart trophy) are reluctant to select goaltenders after Jose Theodore's Hart win and subsequent fall from grace. That said, Miller is no Theodore and will remain a strong candidate if he keeps it up…especially if he is able to take his play for Buffalo and transform it into Team USA medalling at the Olympics. It'll have everyone talking.


Sidney Crosby is another favorite and was Pierre LeBrun's pick for ESPN's mid-season awards. With Malkin cooling off this season, Crosby has had to pick up the slack and carry the Pens offense and has done so admirably. It doesn't hurt that Crosby is a one time Hart winner so he has the name recognition that some voters may opt for instead of taking a risk on someone like Henrik Sedin.


Alexander Ovechkin has won the Hart twice now and is another guy who is in the thick of the NHL's scoring race, this, despite missing some games earlier in the season. Everybody loves Ovi and it's going to be hard for some sportswriters to resist voting for Ovechkin to make it three consecutive seasons of winning the Hart trophy. The fact that he was just named captain also speaks of how valuable he is to the Capitals organization and will stand out for many.


Joe Thornton is also putting up big numbers and up until last night was tied with Henrik in the NHL scoring race. That said, he's playing on an absolutely stacked team with a potential Rocket Richard winner in Heatley, has guys like Rob Blake and Dan Boyle on the backend. Not to mention Thornton's other linemate, Patrick Marleau, who currently leads the league in goals scored. It's going to be hard to argue that Thornton is having the same impact on the Sharks that he did in 05/06 (when he won the Hart.) Compare Cheechoo, a guy who greatly benefitted from Thornton that season, with Heatley a guy who has absolutely killed pretty much since he's been in the league.

Assuming that Henrik Sedin manages to continue at the pace he's set for himself and continues to play at the high level we Canucks fans have been enjoying year round, it's going to be hard to say that Hank doesn't stack up against the likes of Crosby, Ovechkin or Joe Thornton. As big of a fan as I've been of the Sedins, even I am finding it hard to believe…but it doesn't mean I'm not enjoying this dominance.

Hard to believe that there were folks who thought this team would be better off without the Twins.

Trevor Presiloski is a Westerner stuck out East in Toronto. You can check out his website, which features more coverage on the Canucks, at http://www.trevorpresiloski.com. He can also be found over on Twitter at twitter.com/nettrashcan. He is an avid reader and loves the sport of falconry.

Trevor Presiloski


So the Canucks are set to play their first home game after going on the road for four. Since we'll be seeing a game in GM Place, chances are good we should be hearing a now familiar sound should the Canucks score a goal.

I am, of course, talking about the Woo. Started up by the Canucks sound guy, DJ Dave, the 'Woo' was apparently some sort of in-joke involving a soundboard based off of 'Runnin' With The Devil' by the David Lee Roth fronted version of Van Halen. Despite widespread belief, it's not an imitation of wrestler Ric Flair's infamous 'Woo!' which has

down in Carolina for Hurricanes games, (Flair himself calls Charlotte, NC home.) I originally thought it was a tribute to the woos Alex Burrows and some other members of the Canucks were doing last season after wins, but apparently not.

Lots of people hate the Woo. They are wrong, and what's worse, they hate everything that is good and pure in the world. They are people of questionable moral fibre and I doubt their commitment to

err, I mean, the Canucks. But that's not important. What is important is that the Woo is something that I like and that it's something that may actually be useful for the Canucks.

Useful to the Canucks. Okay, what the hell am I talking about here?

I'm a big proponent of crowd interaction at sporting events. Soccer games probably have the best instance of this, with chants, hooligans and sometimes even riots breaking out (and yet HOCKEY is the sport with a 'violent' reputation…) due to fans going crazy.

I think it can be useful for a team to have the crowd behind them, sometimes it can spark the team. Other times, it can intimidate the opposing team. Folks have heard how 'hard' it is for teams to enter the Pengrowth Saddledome: a bunch of people in Red and some yahoo with a trumpet apparently makes for an 'intense atmosphere.'

There's also the Bell Centre, where some players get intensely viewed by the Montreal Canadiens faithful. There's also

they've got going, as well as other things like booing the national anthem and generally being loud as hell.

Finally, for any diehard Canuck fan, the Fratellis will forever remain a hated group due to 'Chelsea Dagger', which plunged through the hearts of oh-so-many Canucks fans during the playoffs last year.

For those of you who hate the woo, think of how much the teams coming in to play at GM Place hate hearing the fans go 'Woo' every time the Canucks score. Sure, these are professionals, who have put up with jeering and booing and the such, but the woo is something different, which makes it harder to ignore, especially when it's being done in full force by the fans in GM Place. It's just one out of many, many things that Canucks fans are doing to make playing in GM Place that much harder. Because honestly, GM Place SHOULD be a pain in the donkey for visiting teams and they should be getting it from all angles: on the ice, in the stands, maybe taking a page out of the Ottawa Senators and poisoning opponents pregame meals. Not sure if David Spreight would be on board with having his meals interfered with, though.

There's the annoying (yet unimaginative) opposing team's goalie chants, a trend that started in the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4JeMfuzFZro, who has had a bit of a reputation for being a choker in the playoffs. Generally, this chant was reserved for the Canucks own goaltenders, but with the arrival of Luongo, fans have been able to rage against the other team. It's a welcome change of pace.

There's also the LOUUUUU chant, made whenever Luongo makes a big save. This has been going on pretty much since Luongo's arrived in Vancouver, so it's getting ever so slightly passe, but it's great to just LOUUUUU out the opposition whenever they get a chance.

More recently, there have been the http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-SrXKlHZFo. Inspired from It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, the Green Men have been taunting and baiting players who go to the penalty box. Dave Scatchard, as shown above, was annoyed with their gesticulations and ended up throwing a towel on top of the box camera. While they won't be able to make each and every game, when they're there, they're dynamite. Of course, Vancouver has had some notable fans getting attention at GM Place, including the Clapper, Heavy Eric (proof that there are worse things than the Woo) and MaximAfinogenov's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqSMftSKnIg.

Finally, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8oBzKfP2jc, but that's only for the playoffs. Having an entire arena waving white towels is a great visual and again, is a great show of support by the fans.

Mixed in amidst all of that, the Woo becomes yet another weapon in the crowd's arsenal. Given that GM Place can be deathly quiet and, dare I say it, boring at times, it's great to see SOME signs of life coming from fans at games. Especially ones that aren't coming from a megacorp like Pepsi. Who knows? Maybe the Woo detractors can come up with something else.

If not, well, there's some other things you can do with the Woo, besides the simple David Lee Roth 'Woo' that DJ Dave plays now. Here's some other famous 'woos' that could be incorporated into the antics at GM Place:


Blur –

'Woo Hoo' instead of just 'Woo' could make for a nice break from games and could be used for big goals, like ties or OT goals. Most people know the song and would be able to WOO HOO along rather easily.


Transplants –

Another 'Woo Hoo' song, but another upbeat one. It's also sung a few times in a row, so it could make for some nice call and response moments at games.


Busta Rhymes – (Woo Ha) Got You All In Check

For the rap fans and also because Busta is awesome. Had I any technical proficency, I'd throw a loop of the song's title with Willie Mitchell's check on Jonathan Toews up on the Jumbotron. It'd be great for Canucks/Hawks games, at the very least!


Deadwood – Mr. Wu

The leader of the Chinese community in the show Deadwood, Mr. Wu only knows three English phrases: "Swedgen" (his mispronounced name of main character Al Swearengen), "San Francisco" and one other term that isn't safe for the little ones. On one hand, he'd be great when the Canucks get scored on, on the other, it's probably too vulgar for an NHL arena.

John Woo

The famous director could direct some jumbotron clips during stoppages in play. I think even the most vehement and vocal woo hater could get behind this particular Woo. Fin squaring off against Harvey the Hound, Woo-style? Tell me that woo-uldn't be awesome.


Wu-Tang Clan

Anaheim's got Snoop Dogg, who apparently is a fan of the Ducks. Fitting with the 'Woo' theme of this post, why not go one better and bring in the Wu-Tang Clan?

See? From the looks of it, there's a 'Woo' for just about anyone. I'm sure there's folks out there who have some other 'woos' I may be forgetting about. If so, post 'em here!

Trevor Presiloski is a Westerner stuck out East in Toronto. You can check out his website, which features more coverage on the Canucks, at http://www.trevorpresiloski.com. He can also be found over on Twitter at twitter.com/nettrashcan. He is also known as Mr. Fahrenheit, because he travels at the speed of light.

Trevor Presiloski

Note: This is a slighty older entry from my blog, but I was invited to come here and contribute in the Fan Zone, so I'd figure I'd go the lazy route for my debut and go with reruns. The stats are a little off because I had written this prior to the Dallas game. That said, enjoy!


So we're officially at the midway point of the season. We have a relatively solid understanding on how things look right now in the NHL. For the Canucks, things are looking good, as they're starting to carve out a playoff berth and are playing some great hockey. It's a good time to do some evaluating of talent, which is what this post is about.

Today marked the announcement of America's men's hockey roster and as expected, Ryan Kesler was named to the squad, making it the first time he'll be representing his nation at the Olympic level.

That by itself is a major accomplishment and is something Ryan Kesler can take pride in. I would suggest, though, that Kesler's Olympic nomination provides a great opportunity for the 25 year old. Namely, that he has a great chance to capture the attention of the collective hockey media, a group that rarely has all of its attention focused on the west coast, nevermind Vancouver proper.

This isn't meant to be a 'TSN = Toronto Sports Network' jab. I understand that the majority of the larger markets are out east (Toronto, Montreal, New York, Boston, etc.) so it's understandable that most writers will be paying attention to teams that they cover. Given the fast turnaround you have to have with being a journalist, most publications don't have the luxury of staying up until midnight to cover west coast games.

Fortunately, they won't have much of a choice in the matter when the Olympics roll around, as the NHL shuts down to let their top players participate.

Why would this be important? Well, aside from having a shot at winning some hardware at the Olympics, Kesler also has a chance to gain some fans in the press that may not otherwise have watched him. This would have implications for winning the Selke trophy, awarded to the best defensive forward. The winner is selected by members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

Yeah, I think you can see where I'm going with this. While the Olympics won't have a direct impact on earning Selke votes, they're a good way to showcase oneself and get your name out there because everyone will be watching.


Fans of the Canucks know that Kesler is a great two way player and we also know that Kesler has really come on in recent memory. Prior to last season, he was typically tasked with shutting down the top forwards on opposing teams and has been a key component in the Canucks penalty killing unit pretty much since his arrival with the club. He was seen as a good defensive forward, but questions about his offensive capabilities abounded.Last season, most critics were silenced, as he went on an offensive tear, setting a career high in points. This season, he is well on his way to his third straight 20 goal season and is on pace to surpass 60 points, which would be a new career high for him.

We, the fans, know that Kesler is a great player. The problem is getting the message out there to the rest of the hockey world.

Kesler's got some brand recognition right now, thanks to the votes he received last season as he was the second runner-up for Selke voting. The Olympic nomination puts his stock at an all-time high and thanks to issues plaguing the other Selke finalists from last year (Detroit's injury woes and Philly just sucking in general), Kesler stands poised to earn his first piece of NHL hardware.

It's not all about making friends with the media, though I'd argue that it helps significantly. Kesler also has the stats to back up both a Selke nomination and a Selke win. For the purposes of this article, I'm going to compare Kesler against Datsyuk and Richards, as well as Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec and Travis Zajac, all players who have been getting some consideration for a Selke nod this season as well. I'll be looking primarily at their stats from this season and last to try and explain why Kesler has a great chance at winning the Selke.

Short Handed

Kesler logs a lot of time on the penalty kill. Last season, he spent more time on the PK than the other six players listed. His numbers are slightly lower this season, but that's because the Canucks have been taking less penalties and are on pace to actually take less minors than they did last season. In addition to playing slightly less, Kesler has also not been on the ice for as many goals against, on pace for 20 compared to 28 shorthanded GA last season.

Datsyuk, thanks to Detroit being such a disciplined team, doesn't log a ton of minutes on the PK, but when he is out there he is quite good as he only allowed 15 goals against on the PK last season and has only been around for 3 this season.

At first glance, Plekanec seems to compare well to Datsyuk on the penalty kill: the Hab was on ice for only 9 goals against shorthanded last season while getting a comparable amount of icetime to Datsyuk. This season, however, his minutes have more than doubled and he's on pace for 18 goals against.


Marleau tends to be rather consistent, year over year his penalty killing numbers are looking to be more or less on pace, although he has logged more time on the PK this season (due to the Sharks taking more trips to the sin bin.)

Richards and Zajac are two interesting players to compare, as Richards was a Selke nominee last year while Zajac is getting some praise this season. However, Zajac doesn't seem to be an effective penalty killer: despite seeing the 4th least amount of playing time last season and the 5th least of PK time this season, he was 2nd overall in shorthanded goals against in 08/09 and tied for third this season.

For Kesler, we see that he's a horse on the penalty kill and that his short handed goals against have been improving, as he was on the ice for 32 GA in 07/08, 28 last season and on pace for 20 this season (which would put him one better than his short handed GA in 06/07 of 21. Remember, Kesler was serving primarily in a shutdown role that season and was on our third line.) Marleau is arguably his biggest competitor here as he's been seeing more icetime without a noticeable increase in goals against.

Richards, who was 2nd in icetime last season, has seen a greatly reduced profile on the PK but is having a terrible season as a penalty killer. Plekanec and Zajac don't look that great when compared to Kesler, while Datsyuk remains quietly efficient.

Selke Nominees based on penalty kill: Datsyuk, Kesler and Marleau


5 on 5 Play

Note: Keep in mind that I'm referring to 5 on 5 play here, not +/-. Plus/Minus considers short handed goals scored, which is what I'm not really looking at here. So if you see discrepancies when I'm talking about players being plus or minus, that's why.

Kesler struggles a bit here, based on Goals For and Against. His differential is the smallest out of all the players being compared here as last season his differential was +6. It's better than Plekanec's -7. But when compared to everyone else, it gets pretty ugly. Richards and Marleau were both +13, Zajac was +24 and Datsyuk +36.

Things are a little better this season, as Richards and Datsyuk have both struggled and are both a +4. Zajac leads the way, as he's +17 5 on 5. Marleau is also looking good as he's a +15 this season. However, Kesler is a -1 5 on 5 and Plekanec is a +2. Not good company to be keeping.

A possible explanation for this would be that Kesler typically draws up against opposing team's top lines, while guys like Marleau, Datsyuk and Zajac are on teams that are stacked up front and are playing against lesser lines…but I'm not familiar with how players on these other teams are utilized by their coaches and in some instances there have been situations where the coaching staff has changed (notably with Jersey and Montreal, who both switched to more defensive minded coaches this season.) That said, Kesler isn't that great 5 on 5, while other players are, whatever the reason may be.

Icetime doesn't really explain it, either, as Kesler averages the least amount of even strength time per game and is middle of the pack for total icetime. Zajac and Marleau are the clear winners here, as they have a great 5 on 5 differential and they eat up a lot of even strength minutes. Richards as well, especially when you factor in how horrible Philly has been all season.

Five on five play is certainly Kesler's weakest area when thinking about Selke aspirations although he is no slouch.

Selke Nominees based on 5 on 5 play: Marleau, Richards, Zajac


Overall 'Defensive' Statistics

This is where things get interesting. Looking at some other stats, like blocked shots, giveaways, takeaways and faceoff percentage, we begin to see some players really start to assert themselves, both for bad and for worse.

Plekanec would be the worst of the lot. Looking at him year over year, an increased role seems to have hurt him, as he's coughing up the puck with more regularity and his faceoff stats have dropped below 50%, the only player in this group that has done so for this season. He has become far more adept at blocking shots, though, but when you factor in his PK and 5 on 5 performance, an increase in blocked shots is hardly cause for celebration, as he's regressed more overall, which has to hurt his chances.

Richards isn't the greatest faceoff guy (49% last season, 51.6% this season) and he is a turnover machine, but he is a great shot blocker, having led all forwards (alongside Chris Drury) in blocked shots last season. Richards is like Plekanec in that he is okay in some areas but excels in others (and is also vastly more talented than him!)

Marleau, on the other hand, has actually gotten better at hanging onto the puck, as he has slightly more takeaways than giveaways at the midway mark, a vast improvement compared to last season where he has 46 takeaways and 61 giveaways. He's also managed to slightly improve his shot block and faceoff percentage. If he can keep it up, having a demonstratable area of improvement will help.

Datsyuk is the model of consistency with these stats, as he continues to be very talented at stealing the puck, is on pace for the same amount of shots blocked (although he isn't a great shot blocker) and he remains at the head of the pack with a solid faceoff percentage (56% last season vs. 56.9% this season.) Zajac as well, although his faceoff percentage has slipped by about 3% this season (53.1% to 50.9%)

Kesler has been a beast in ALL of these categories. He had the third most takeaways last season (behind Richards and Datsyuk) and the second best ratio behind only Datsyuk this season. He's also a shot blocking fiend (2nd last year and leading the way this season) and is second best at faceoffs with 54% effectiveness last season and 55.4% this season (again, behind only Datsyuk.) No other player is as good as Kesler in all categories and this is why he is such a great two way player.

Selke nominations based on 'Overall Defensive Stats': Datsyuk, Marleau, Kesler


Offensive Performance

Like or not, offense is a factor when it comes to deciding who wins the Selke. The award is for the best 2 way forward, and the other end of the ice is where goals are scored, so, yeah.

Unlike last year, where Richards and Datsyuk were offensive juggernauts (80 and 97 points respectively), both players have cooled down significantly when it comes to offensive production. This is no doubt because of the Flyers struggling this season and the glut of injuries the Red Wings have suffered. While unfortunate, having them fall off the map does open things up for other players, as the offense is, more or less, on a far more even playing field.

Plekanec leads the way offensively, with 46 points. If there's one category that Plekanec has on lockdown it would be offense. That said, there are glaring problems in other areas, as discussed earlier, which really take the shine off of him being a great 2 way player and one worthy of Selke consideration. What is noteworthy here, though, is that Plekanec has had significantly less powerplay icetime than the rest of the players I'm looking at: most players are around the 125-130 mark for PP time, while Plekanec has only had 104. All but one of his points has come from 5 on 5 play.

Marleau is on pace to slightly improve his numbers from last year, but looks to be doing it primarily through scoring goals, as he's on track for 50. His offensive stats, when combined with his performance in other areas and being more or less consistent year over year makes him very attractive for potential Selke voters.

Zajac has also rbeen reliable with his offensive production, as he's on pace for more or less the same offensive totals as last season. Kesler is as well, but he has the added bonus of doing it essentially 'on his own', critics of Kesler would say that his going on a tear coincided with the arrival of Mats Sundin and that he rode both Sundin's and Demitra's coattails last season to career highs. Well, Sundin is retired and Demitra hasn't played all season, which means Kesler has been generating his offense with a combination of Mason Raymond, Mikael Samuelsson and Michael Grabner. Grabner is a rookie and Kesler can't be 'leeching' off of him. Raymond's been the only one to have shown any consistency through the course of the season, as Samuelsson has been streaky. It's an important distinction that has to be considered when looking at Kesler's numbers.

Selke nominees based on offense: Kesler, Marleau, Plekanec



I think that Kesler stands a very good chance of earning another Selke nomination if things continue along the pace that they're at for all players involved. He's great on the penalty kill, does all the 'little things' that defensive players do and is being consistent with his offense. The other two players I see making some Selke noise are Patrick Marleau and Travis Zajac, who garnered a number of votes last season.

Plekanec I can't see getting too many (outside of the Quebec based writers), as he seems to be struggling defensively with an increased role. This becomes especially true if his team doesn't manage to make the playoffs.


While things may be different if the Red Wings weren't the walking wounded or if Philly was playing better overall, Kesler is the only nominee from last year who is still looking dangerous. If he has a strong Olympics and is able to turn some heads and get his name out there by having a great tournament, he has an excellent chance at winning the Selke. Especially since it's entirely possible that Patrick Marleau may get lost in the shuffle amidst all the other great Team Canada players.

He's got the resume, he just needs to be able to win the 'interview', so to speak.

Trevor Presiloski is a Westerner stuck out East in Toronto. You can check out his website, which features more coverage on the Canucks, at http://www.trevorpresiloski.com. He can also be found over on Twitter at twitter.com/nettrashcan. He is also a fan of chinchillas and regularly partakes in Chinchilli Day.