The best part of the NHL‘s realignment plan that lasted for about six weeks was that the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Wild would go from meeting six times a year to two.
I have this theory, and it’s pretty out there, that Minnesota is a boring hockey team to watch.
Hosting the Wild is a mundane experience but playing in Minnesota is a soul sucking endeavour, one watched intently by mostly sold-out buildings who gladly pay money to see the on-ice product.
In the latest edition of what is sadly Minnesota’s most heated rivalry, nothing happened.
On to the Love ‘Em & Hate ‘Em for the Canucks vs. Wild on Thursday night.
1. Keslord & Saviour
Ryan Kesler‘s goal scoring troubles have been well documented this year. After missing time and getting back to speed at the start of the season, the goals, especially 5-on-5, weren’t coming.
It was enough to make many question if his 41 goal tally just a year ago was the high-water mark of his career. Many pointed to the fact that 33 of those goals came against non-playoff teams and that just eight of those goals, including a hat trick against the Wild, were in last 27 regular season games.
Well, his empty-netter at the end of this contest pushed his goal streak to five and his point streak to seven.
There’s still a very likely chance that he never tops 41 goals, but why would we ever expect him to? Instead, his value to the team has never been higher during this stretch as Kesler has heated up right as the Sedins have cooled off.
He’s still on pace for 30 goals and 60 points this year which, when combined with his Selke-calibre defensive play, makes him a pretty great value at $5 million.
2. BITZ BITZ BITZ
Like Aaron Rome, Jeff Cowan, Mark Mancari, Jason King and countless others, it seems Byron Bitz is the latest one-week wonder in Vancouver.
Like Taylor Pyatt, Anson Carter, Trent Klatt, Alex Burrows, Jason King and countless others, it seems Byron Bitz is the latest Sedin triplet in Vancouver.
No matter what happens the rest of the year with regards to his play, and personally I’m demanding at least 10 to 15 more goals by the end of the year, Bitz has two things going for him that should see him stick with the club: he’s a fourth-liner that fights, and he’s a fourth-liner that isn’t currently injured.
3. Henrik Will Not De-Feeted
The ongoing saga of Henrik Sedin‘s ankle the past few days has been an interesting one. First he was hurt, then he was fine, and then he was hurt, and then he was fine.
In the end the ironman streak was never really in jeopardy because Henrik is the type of guy who once amputated the end of his pinky while playing for MODO during the lockout just so he wouldn’t have to leave a game.
There is absolutely no way he ever missed a day of school in his youth. He probably also remembers when he leveraged Daniel’s foot injury into the Hart and the captaincy and would never give his brother a shot at revenge.
When We Win...You Win! Canucks vs. Wild Love’ Em & Hate’ Em
Daniel Sedin meanwhile was a game-time decision due to phantom sympathy ankle pains.
1. Sleepwalking Through Hockey
As much as the Canucks have looked disinterested since the Boston game (it always comes back to the Boston game), I have to admit I can see where they’re coming from.
Since we switched calenders, the Canucks have played such memorable teams as Anaheim, Edmonton, Colorado, the Florida twins, a couple of games against Minnesota, and one against Nashville. Two games against San Jose and one against Chicago brought some excitement, but at the same time the match against Detroit was a rare dud between the two teams.
This is a textbook #1stplaceproblem but despite this year being a near carbon-copy of last year in results, the magic doesn’t seem to be there. Are we so jaded? Is it April yet?
2. Dany F’n Heatley
Just thirteen seconds into the game, Dany Heatley opened the scoring. Like giving a mouse a cookie, if you give Minnesota a lead early in a game, a series of events unfolds that eventually has you watching a movie on AMC somewhere around the second period.
Thankfully this was not the case but let this be a warning to all on the dangers of trailing the Wild. It’s just not something a civilized society allows to happen, you’re only encouraging them and reinforcing their belief system.
3. Stop It Staubitz!
Brad Staubitz, aka the other bitz, sparked some excitement late in the game when he loitered around the Canucks bench and spit on their car.
The attempt to spark the game was a clear violation of Minnesota Wild club policies and in all likelihood Staubitz will be fined by the team.
The attempt was successful because it directly led to Kevin Bieksa tossing his glove at Cal Clutterbuck in an effort to demand satisfaction as well as Maxim Lapierre on the butt-end of a spearing major (his performance in this game, a goal, underwhelming fight, and a stick major should henceforth be known as a Happy Lappy Hatty).
Somehow Staubitz escaped unpunished, slipping through the cracks of the on-ice legal system. It’s a sad day we live in where violent offenders skate free while Cirque du Soliel understudies are locked up.
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© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. |
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