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TDL day

Today's as good a day as any to make a blog post, I guess. What with the #yardsale7, Vrbata and Hamhuis on the block after the Canucks have slid even further from a playoff spot, and with new, young, more exciting players coming in to play after earlier deals and recalls and the like, the Canucks seemed poised to move on. There were plenty of rumours from teams that could have genuine interest and be a good fit. OK, maybe not so much for the #yardsale7, but for Vrbata and Hamhuis it seemed a possibility.


So what happened? We all saw Vrbata move off the first line and down the lineup as the season progressed, only to end up with an injury just before the deadline, but it still seemed someone might want to kick his tires at least for a lesser price. Hamhuis was certainly in the media spotlight - as much for teams' interest as for his interest to stay in Vancouver - but the teams that seamed plausible moved on and those that weren't even had a look.


Hamhuis for me is the least disappointing. Sure, he could have brought back the best return (Russell, the guy formerly on waivers and traded for a 5th, gets a possible 1st, a player and a prospect!) but if we do have designs on him coming back next year then to keep him and ride out the Edler injury so the games don't become a tire fire makes a lot of sense too. So long as he was playing ball on a few options and it came down to those teams not offering near enough (let me say that again: near enough, as in table scraps rather than not what we hoped for) then so be it. If we could get a 2nd/conditional 1st from the deal and anything else at all that's a move I make though, and hope to find something in the other assets.


Vrbata is a tough sell though, I get it. He had some value but that continued to drop so teams weren't going to give us a 1st for him. We'd still hope for a 2nd, but then when you have Brandon Pirri get only a 6th you have to wonder what's going on. Then again, Jiri Hudler got the Flames a 2nd and a 4th, and he's been underwhelming this year as well even if it was still better than Vrbata. You get a 6th for him like Pirri? You take it and move on, but you'd think you could retain salary on a pending UFA and get a 4th or 5th.


Now I know we never hear everything that goes on behind the scenes, but the talk we did hear was all only about Hamhuis, and frustratingly so. There seemed so much promise in Dallas and Chicago having a serious look, even if Washington seemed out early and LA seemed unlikely, and it looked like we could get Hamhuis a chance with a good team and get something back to help the Canucks. Then marginal names like Erhoff and Scuderi plus overhyped names like Russell entered the picture. But still it seemed Hamhuis could go to those same teams, and yet it still never materialized.


The way it all went down suggests some different things. Did Benning paint himself into a corner? Did he ask for too much? Did he leave other options until too late? Did he forget about everyone else he had up for offer? This is especially important after we saw a move that seemed to help the team right now at a redundant position while taking away from another area we could use help on in future, with fans wondering why and only being able to come up with a wait and see attitude in case it all came clear in other trades. It brings up the concern some have had about Benning with early trades and signings: is he able to assess and get proper value for NHL or near-NHL players?


This isn't a Benning is the worst GM ever reaction. His drafting has been good, and he's had some decent UFA pick ups and even trades that look promising at this point. He's certainly had the opposite too though, and in the very least there's an argument to be made he gives up a little too much in deals where he doesn't necessarily need to.


The supporters will tell you not all trades work out and Benning is willing to go after what he wants when he wants it, but then where are the results when deals seem to be out there for our players? It's one thing to overpay to bring in players you want, but another thing to take less when moving players out when rumours of better deals are there.


Those arguments have all been said again and again, and I think Benning can be a good GM based largely off his drafting, but I legitimately have concerns over his trade and signing track record.


There are lots of stats you can trot out to make an argument of one versus the other, or that this obviously shows AV is playing favourites versus this stat shows he's playing the guys who provide the best chance to win. Many have tried to use subjective statements to show how obvious it must be, or even the basic stats used by the NHL every day.

Well, I wanted to try and show the reality of how our defencemen our performing beyond our top 4. Settle in for a (hopefully) good read if you're willing.

NAME		GP	TOI/60	Corsi Rel QoC	Corsi Rel	Corsi On	Off Zone St %	Off Zone Fin %

AARON ROME	17	12.44	-0.142		-13.2		-0.57		42.3		43.3

KEITH BALLARD	40	13.79	-0.452		-15.8		-1.96		46.3		48.9

ALEX SULZER	12	14.91	-0.084		-2.1		-2.35		41.5		51.1

ANDREW ALBERTS	31	13.15	-0.604		-13.4		-4.42		39.3		50

Lets start with the easy stuff: Bieksa, Hamhuis, Edler and Salo are our best 4 d-men, so I've dropped them from the comparisons for now. Of the remaining 4, Ballard has the most games followed by Alberts (31) then Rome (17) and Sulzer (12). Rome's been held back by injuries so likely would have played more. For the rest of the stats, they are strictly 5 on 5 (no PK or PP), since that's the best indicator of their overall play versus any specialized minutes. Of the bottom 4, TOI per game is led by Sulzer (14.91), then Ballard, then Alberts, then Rome. Rome has had less time 5 on 5, two and a half less than Sulzer and over a minute less than Ballard, but there is the time for PP and PK that would factor in if you're worried about that alone. The other stats are meant to augment the 5 on 5 play so let's look at them. Ballard and Alberts are given the easiest quality of competition (Corsi Rel* QoC) out of anyone on our team, and Sulzer and Rome are closer to average opponents (with Rome being almost exactly neutral). Rome, and then Sulzer should have a harder time while Ballard and Alberts aren't challenged as much. *The relative Corsi is a better version of +/- to measure shot differential (goals, saves, missed shots and blocks) for the difference between when a player is on the ice or off it and the QoC version in the table measures the opposition players relative Corsi. For example if a player has more chances for in a game than he does against, he'll have a positive Corsi on ice. If the Corsi when that player is off the ice isn't as good, that player's relative Corsi would be higher still, meaning he contributes more to the team's chances to score. Each of the bottom 4 D's relative Corsi is included (as well as just their Corsi on ice) to show how the chances rate. The bottom 4 typically have more goals, saves, missed shots or blocks against them than they do for them (which you might expect given they don't start as much in the offensive zone), and that's amplified in the relative Corsi since most of our chances 5 on 5 occur when the top 4 are on the ice. Ballard gets the most offensive zone starts of the bottom 4 and Alberts gets the least, but it's interesting to note both Alberts and Sulzer have significant increases from their starts to their finish % in the offensive zone. That means they're doing a decent job of getting the puck back from the opposition (in Alberts case, most likely after a chance where Sulzer may be preventing chances generally to gain possession). Rome trends more towards a defensive zone player and Ballard is slightly more balanced. For comparison, here's the same results for the top 4.

NAME		GP	TOI/60	Corsi Rel QoC	Corsi Rel	Corsi On	Off Zone St %	Off Zone Fin %

KEVIN BIEKSA	46	17.66	0.791		7		11.3		47.7		50.7

ALEXANDER EDLER	46	16.25	0.588		6.6		11.24		58.4		54.2

DAN HAMHUIS	46	17.05	0.715		6.1		10.78		48.7		49.6

SAMI SALO	38	13.99	0.599		1.2		9.14		55.4		53.3

You can see their games played and TOI per game is much higher (although Salo is being rested more at even strength). The top 4 D are all 0.6-0.8 roughly for Corsi Rel QoC rather than negative like the bottom 4, so they face the toughest players and the third pairing gets sent out when the bottom lines are on the ice. Salo's a little more neutral in his personal relative Corsi 5 on 5, so that's also worth noting.

The top 4 also have higher offensive zone start and finish percentages (where Ballard leads the bottom 4), and you can see Edler and Salo get a lot of shifts in that zone, as they play with the Sedins most often.

The end result for the bottom 4? In my opinion Rome and Sulzer have been the most reasonable depth guys. Alberts contributes more because of his size and physicality than actual ability, and Ballard isn't obscenely bad but still can't contribute more than the others despite lesser opposition and more offensive zone time 5 on 5.

For the obvious Rome vs Ballard comparisons, Rome plays a simpler, physical game and does well enough, while Ballard has done not quite as well. For his price, he should be better even if his style is limited to less of a risk/reward role than he's used to and it hasn't justified a larger role over anyone, much less Rome.

Data source:, table sorted by Corsi On Ice.


I came up with this a little earlier and posted the screencapture to my deviantart account, but I'll link them all here. Let's start with the Youtube video:

And the screencapture:


And now the main part of the whole ordeal, I got this going after so many people tried to say all hipchecks were illegal as a result of this ruling, and they commented on Ballard and Hamhuis as frequent hipcheckers. They also brought up Raymond's hit which is less defensable, but I wanted to clear the air about hipchecks and I'm using the video above as a clear cut comparison. You can use the screenshot as a more obvious reference than pausing the video as I ask below.


To play along with this post, please pause the video and go to the 15 second mark (the closeup of the intial contact on Hamhuis' hipcheck). We'll be using that as our reference point going forward. This is also a good time to note the camera angle isn't level with the play, it's up higher, basically from the stands area. Hopefully I haven't caused any Bruins fans to disagree yet.

You can see Hamhuis' head appears slightly lower than the stripes on Lucic's jersey, which are at the top of or above his hips. If you consider that camera angle I talked about before, his head must be closer to level with those stripes and at least level with his hips. Obviously his head is attached to his torso, so that's where we're going next - stay with me on this.

His torso isn't quite parallel to the ice - his shoulders are slightly higher. They are also angled towards Lucic meaning that's more the initial point of contact than the hips. That doesn't make it *not* a hip check, as he's still travelling towards him with the hips like he's angling into his path going backwards to initiate the contact (pretty much the definition of a hip check). Let me know if you disagree with that assessment.

You can see the back of his sweater is actually in contact with Lucic's elbow (now, no one start calling Lucic a monkey and say his arms hang lower than a regular human's, that's not true or nice). Stand up and put your arms to your side - are your elbows above or below your hips? Lean forward a little even, like Lucic is doing, and then keep leaning down until you can finally get your elbows at your hip level. For me, that's maybe halfway towards being bent over 90 degrees at the waist and Lucic clearly isn't bent over even halfway. Now, if you can, bend over 90 degrees and you'll find your elbow is almost at your knees when you let it hang down. Take it easy coming up, I don't want anyone passing out from being lightheaded.

If you look at Hamhuis' left arm at the 15 second mark as well, you'll see it's hanging mostly down (maybe 45 degrees out from his body at highest) from his side, versus parallel to his side and perpendicular to the ice. His elbow is about the same level as Lucic's trailing knee (don't forget that camera angle, and note Hamhuis has his knees bent, otherwise his elbow would be higher compared to Lucic). His knee closest to Lucic is also only a little lower. Just using your eyes on that one, no exercise.

Remember when I had you bend over about half way before? Now bend over to almost 90 degrees and put your arm out a little from your side and let you hand hang down. One more step, bend your knees like Hamhuis has in the paused video. Where is you elbow in relation to your hip, above or below? For me it's lower than my hip, which is level with my tricep. No worries, no more exercise after this, unless you consider thinking exercise.

Alright! For those that stuck with me, congrats, you're really a trooper. Your last task is think about where Hamhuis' hip (the lowest point that would make contact in a hipcheck) must be if his elbow and knee are lower than his hip, and his elbow is level with Lucic's knee, and Hamhuis' back is touching Lucic's elbow and his head is above or at least level with Lucic's hip?

If you've done the math right (and you are a human that isn't horribly disproportionate to the average), you've figured out that his hip is at worst in full contact with the thigh. Remember, that's his lowest point of contact and much of the contact was with the lower part of his torso (top of the hips and under the ribs).

Now, there's a super secret step, but it doesn't require a decoder ring, and it's all on you. Repeat the above steps we just went through with the 31 second mark of the video and post your results here. I'll send the first trinket I can find in my desk (ooh, a deck of playing cards) to the winner!



The dinner was a little different from an average night out at a restaurant, and not just because of the turducken. It was set as a long table for all 25 guests, and it was a great idea.

Just like a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, it encouraged people to talk with the other diners - but without any family fights. Everyone was mixed together, couples across the table from other couples, families and friends in between, but most of us didn't know one another prior to sitting down to eat. Violet and I sat across from a local Maple Ridge couple and we talked about how we had found the restaurant, what we liked for food and in general about what was going on. Just good food, pleasant company, and a good night out.

As much as the company and setup was a nice change of pace, the real star was the food. Violet and I had eaten there before, we got engaged there earlier this year in fact. The food did not disappoint either, with a three course meal all laid out for us. The appetizer was a white bean puree with truffle oil topped with caramelized onions and carrots. It was a nice start to set up our tastebuds for later.

And our tastebuds hardly needed any warming up, what with a turducken for the main course. They brought it out whole at first so we could all get a look at it (and to get us salivating as it smelled - and looked - amazing) before bringing it back to the kitchen to carve and then serve to each person. While we waited for the carving, the sides were brought out as well, which further got our appetites going. The potatoes were roasted with rosemary sprigs in the bowl, and there were some darkly soaked in red wine. The yams were smooth and creamy, with marshmallows melted on top, and the stuffing was nice and moist. I even ate the brussel sprouts, which had chunks of bacon and were very good considering my aversion to them usually. The heirloom carrots were back for the entree to add the final side, with the purples, oranges and yellows making for some more nice colour on the plate (and of course they were very tasty as well). Gravy was ready at hand to drizzle over top of course, and there was no shortage of food. Sometimes it's good to have leftovers!

While everyone was talking about how good it was (and how full we all were), they took our orders for coffee and then reminded us of the dessert soon to come. At first, when they were listing off the menu for dessert, we thought it was our choices, but it was in fact pieces of one dessert. It included an apple crisp coffee cake, topped with a lemon/white chocolate brittle and yam sorbet. That all came with a side of cinnamon chocolate soup which was meant to drizzle all over everything, and when it was eaten together, was an excellent combination. Despite being quite full, people were asking for more of the yam sorbet and cinnamon chocolate soup in particular.

The executive chef, Chris Roper, seemed to very much enjoy not only cooking the whole meal but sourcing the ingredients from local vendors. Robert Klaus, the head waiter and partner in the restaurant with Chris, kept us entertained with trivia about turducken and other things, as well as enticing us with tidbits about potential future long table dinner events. Which brings us to the best part, they'll be doing this again next month!

There are already plans in the works to do a roasted goose for dinner, and it'll be on November 21st. Pricing is still being determined, but whatever it is will definitely be worthwhile. I'd recommend you keep that Monday open for a dinner in Maple Ridge, and also that you act fast when they announce it officially, since those 25 spots will fill up fast if tonight was any indication.

Here's some of my photos of the food: Turducken dinner.

If interested in trying out their next long table dinner, or just a regular night even, check out their website: and of course they have FB and Twitter available from there.

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