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"Exposing the Canucks"

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If you were to listen to Mike Milbury, you might start to think the Canucks are a team that is not for real. One loss and the "nervous nellies" come out. Two losses and he amps up his predictable disrespect directed at Daniel and Henrik Sedin - the "twinkies" he calls them. Nothing new. The twins have been emasculated throughout their career because they are not seen as man's men. It's a good thing that Milbury is not the GM of the Canucks - he'd likely pull off one of his infamous trades sending them to a rival in exchange for a Big Turk.

You could complile a long list of players who are not primarily physical presence players - that are not the target of the same sort of hard-headed disrespect. Two consecutive Hart-quality seasons as the most durable, productive, and consistent stars in the NHL hasn't changed that. Two games and the old nonsense re-emerges. They are arguably the most interesting players on the planet to watch. If they have yet to earn "respect", one has to wonder what "respect" consists of? Are the Sedins and the Canucks being exposed?

The Canucks won game three despite playing far too much of that game short-handed. At the risk of over-simplifying what has taken place, the Canucks have played the last two games like a team trying to avoid the penalty box. It's not hard to understand why. Between a rash of soft penalty calls (pardon the sarcasm but some of the penalties have been basketball calls - touching, breathing, and ironically, too many men...) - and the Torres hit on Seabrook - the Canucks have found themselves playing tentatively.

I was very annoyed last season with the amount of liberties Chicago was allowed to get away with in their playoff series with Vancouver. They are a team that crosses the line regularly. To hear them whining about calls and playing victim was laughable. This is a team that mocked veteran players like Brendan Morrison as they left the ice injured this season.

I am a Canadian who has a lot of respect for Brent Seabrook and consider him a cornerstone of team Canada - to see all the hits he has suffered lately leaves a sick feeling in the stomach. I agree with Gary Valk, however, that the Torres hit was a hockey play, as unfortunate as the result was. Torres hit all of Seabrook - it was not a head shot. That hit is not what changed this series - the penalty box parade has changed the series. It disrupts the Canucks top-line. It shifts play to the Canucks end of the ice. It reduces the effect of depth, and gives the Hawks the edge they could not gain 5 on 5. The tentativeness has the Canucks backing off, forechecking less, giving up space they normally don't. Do the Chicago Blackhawks play the kind of clean hockey that should result in a significant disparity of penalty calls? If you were to review the last two series between these clubs, I doubt you could come to that conclusion.

An equal amount of official "respect" would go a long way. The Canucks are still the team that all things being equal, will defeat the Chicago Blackhawks. The distractions and lack of context may have people forgetting that. The first three games were examples of a team with more depth simply forcing the issue. The last two games, and to a great extent, game 3, were examples of games where the Canucks have had their game interfered with - in game 3 they did not allow it to make the difference, in games 4 and 5, a different result.

Chicago, as good as Keith, Seabrook and Toews may be, are getting more respect than they deserve and people are getting a little carried away over-rating them. Predictable is the disrespect and underestimation of the Canucks that is taking place - that is what is about to be exposed.

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