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A win in Game 5 at the United Center keeps the Canucks' hopes of re-writing history alive as their quest to avoid having a similar fate this year against the Blackhawks as they did in 2009 continues for at least one more game. And since this year's theme for the playoffs is History Will Be Made, Number Crunching explores some of that history that has already been re-written so far in the 2010 playoffs for the Canucks. SPEED KILLS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/05/may0510_flying_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">To say the Canucks' start to Game 4 on Friday was their worst ever start in a playoff game is no exaggeration. Brent Seabrook's goal just 18 seconds into Game 4 set a new record by a Canucks' opponent for fastest goal to start a playoff game. The previous fastest goal to start a playoff game by a Canucks' opponent came from Jeff Halpern of the Dallas Stars back on April 13, 2007. Halpern scored 24 seconds into Game 2 of the Stars' Quarter-Final series against the Canucks that year. Seabrook's tally, however, was nowhere close to the all-time Blackhawks record for fastest goal to start a playoff game. That record belonged to forward Ken Wharram who set the mark way back on April 13, 1967 with a goal nine seconds into a playoff contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The NHL's all-time record for fastest goal from the start of a playoff game belongs to Don Kozak of the Los Angeles Kings who tallied six seconds into a contest against the Boston Bruins on April 17, 1977. OVERPOWERED <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/05/may0910_hawks08_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">The four power play goals surrendered by the Canucks in Game 4 on Friday not only was a high for the Canucks in the 2010 post-season, it established a new dubious franchise record for most power play goals against in a single playoff game. Vancouver's previous record for most power play goals surrendered in a single playoff game was three - something they had fallen victim to eight previous times most recently in Game 3 of their opening round series against the Kings. Three of the Blackhawks' power play goals on Friday came off the stick of Jonathan Toews, who incidentally tied an NHL record for most power play goals in a single game. Toews became just the 11th different NHL player (12th time overall) to score three power play goals in a single NHL playoff game. The record was initially set by Red Wings' forward Syd Howe (no relation to Gordie) on March 23, 1939 in a game against the Montreal Canadiens. The most recent player to accomplish the feat prior to Toews was Valeri Kamensky of the Colorado Avalanche. Kamensky notched the feat, coincidentally, in a 7-0 win on April 24, 1997 over the Chicago Blackhawks. The other players who have tallied three power play goals in one playoff contest are: Sid Smith (DET), Phil Esposito (BOS), John Bucyk (BOS), Denis Potvin (NYI), Tim Kerr (PHI), Jari Kurri (EDM), Mark Johnson (NJD), and Dino Ciccarelli (x2, DET). FIRST-MINUTEMEN <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/05/may0910_hawks10_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Goals coming in the opening minute of a game involving the Canucks were a rarity during the regular season so it was a bit unusual to see it happen this week in back-to-back games. During the 2009.10 regular season, the Canucks were involved in just five games where a goal had been scored in the opening minute. While it may seem like a huge advantage to have a lead less than one minute into a game, it didn't quite work out that way in the regular season at least as far as games involving the Canucks were concerned. Teams that scored one minute or less into a regular season contest involving Vancouver this season won just two of the five games where it occurred although in the playoffs they are a perfect 2-0. The following is a list of the first minute scorers in games involving Vancouver this season: October 27 vs DET - Henrik Sedin @ 0:30 - 5-4 Red Wings November 10 @ STL - Andy McDonald @ 0:18 - 6-1 Blues January 30 @ TOR - Phil Kessel @ 0:52 - 5-3 Canucks February 12 @ CBJ - Rick Nash @ 0:22 - 4-3 Canucks March 30 vs PHX - Alex Burrows @ 0:37 - 4-1 Canucks *May 7 vs CHI (Game 4) - Brent Seabrook @ 0:18 - 7-4 Blackhawks *May 9 @ Chi (Game 5) - Christian Ehrhoff @ 0:59 - 4-1 Canucks *Denotes playoff game. A MESSAGE TO THE BOYS FOR GAME 6 Statistics and other information appearing in this blog are for entertainment purposes only and a sense of humour is recommended when reading. E-mail the author here or follow him on Twitter.
When I tell people I live and breathe hockey, one of the most common answers I get is: "You like hockey? Really!? It's so barbaric! They fight all the time!" In a way, it is true. Grown men on skates in post-whistle scrums hacking, pushing, shoving, punching, trash-talking, fighting. What most people don't understand, and most often than not it's because they've had very little exposure to the sport either by watching or playing, is that there is a "hockey code" involved. I once tried to explain this to a friend of mine to justify all the "barbaric" things that happen on the ice but there were times where I really stumbled on my words to convey my message. It's not something easily understood. There's a certain honour when it comes to dropping the gloves and hitting someone, something that has clearly been lost as evidenced by this week's crazy sequence of events. It's hard to pinpoint exactly when hockey players lost respect for one another. Hits to the head, elbows, kneeing, slew foots have been just a few of the instances this year in which hockey players lost their ability to make good decisions. Mike Richards' hit was a poor decision. As was Matt Cooke's hit on Marc Savard, Patrice Cormier's elbow on Mikael Tam, and most recently James Wisniewski's hit on Brent Seabrook. It certainly doesn't help hockey's image when papers like the Boston Herald are actively calling for a punishment on Matt Cooke. This is head-hunting at its best. This all gives hockey a bad image. I'm a little shocked that Gary Bettman hasn't publicly said anything about the matter or the Herald's front page (... on second thought, I'm actually not). The last time an (alleged) head hunt was called ended in a nasty situation that involved a season-long suspension and fractured vertebrae. The NHL took huge five steps forward with the success of the Olympics with an all North American final but its image has once again suffered because the league has proved incapable and inefficient once again to really address the issues. In fact, I think the Pittsburgh-Boston game Thursday night was a great example of why the league really needs to get rid of the instigator rule. <img src="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/rids/20100319/i/r3602461247.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">First, I thought the Bruins responded in a great way to the incredible amount of pressure on them to exact revenge on Matt Cooke. Cooke knew what was coming too and obliged when he was challenged by Shawn Thornton in a spirited tilt (kudos to both). Thornton was tossed from the game for throwing punches when Cooke was vulnerable on the ice, but I'm glad that it didn't get worse, because really, it could've. Never mind the Bruins lost, that was asides from the point. Had Cooke declined the offer to drop the gloves (and he does have a history of doing that) the pent up rage of the entire Bruins squad and Boston crowd could've escalated into something much worse. In regards to Wisniewski's hit on Seabrook, had there been no instigator rule, I don't think the hit would've happened. Instead, Wisniewski would've dropped the gloves whether Seabrook was willing or not. In some ways, a spirited tilt in which the play is dead and the referees and linesmen's focus is on the fight, and in which Seabrook doesn't necessarily have to be as aware of the surroundings around him, makes it a much safer option than skating 20 feet and slamming Seabrook into the boards when he isn't looking. At least in a fight Seabrook has a chance to defend himself. It was clear Wisniewski wanted to send a message. I find it hard to believe that retaliation wasn't something he had in mind when he skated from his own bench and flew into Seabrook like a RPG. Fighting needs to stay in the NHL. Blindside hits and the instigator rule have to go. Respect, for the players and sport alike, needs to be earned again.