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Winds of Change in the Air

Heading into Wednesday night’s Western Conference Game4 between the Canucks and Kings in Los Angeles, things were looking rather dire and foreboding for the road team.  Fresh off a frustrating 5-3 loss on Monday in a game where it seemed even the NHL itself was against them, things looked even worse what with an injury to D-man Aaron Rome and with Dr.Evil himself Gary Bettman in attendance to put out any conspiracy theory fires before the game and to tell all who would listen that there are never any problems in the NHL…EVER…not steroids, uninterested markets, or fixed games…’no way, not here’ said the commish.

The Canucks headed into this game desperately needing a win and a penalty kill.  They found both, but not before the LA Kings scared the bejesus out of them and their fans by scoring on their first 2 power plays.  It really was more of the same for the first two periods as the Canucks looked the lesser team..unable to kill penalties or win battles for loose pucks at either end.  The Canucks were not able to get their shots through the Kings checkers or complete passes with the Angelinos clogging all the passing lanes.

Then, something happened.  Something…somehow..changed.  One could almost feel the air become still..then start to change direction…a different feel.  The Canucks were able to kill off not, one but TWO STRAIGHT LA power-plays!  Suddenly, their legs felt lighter, they seemed to skate faster, suddenly getting to loose pucks ahead of the now hesitant Kings.  In fact, other than the Kings tying goal in the third, I dare say the Canucks carried the play and owned just about every shift for the last 10 minutes of the game…something we haven’t seen since Game1.  Yes, the Canucks were skating stronger, with more vigour, asserting themselves shift by shift, reminding themselves that they were the best third period team in the league with 11 third period comebacks.  Yes, they suddenly seemed themselves.  It was as though the fog that was covering them through games two and three and the first two periods of Game4 was lifting and they could complete more than one pass in a row, they could get a shot to the net, they could get to a rebound, they could cycle the puck in the offensive zone, they could make a few very key saves,  and they could score three goals in the third.

It was certainly a big difference from what we had seen earlier.  What a difference a period makes.  Now, the Canucks seem to have gotten their game back, have tied the series, regained home-ice advantage, and now carry the momentum heading into the, now, best of 3 series starting Friday at GM Place in front of what should be a revitalized crowd.

It was beginning to look as though the Canucks were starting to slip into, perhaps, another playoff disappointment where they hadn’t shown their best.  At least now, no matter what happens from here on out, the Canucks have had their say in this series, they didn’t go quietly, and they spoke with a voice so loud that not even Gary Bettman, Mike Murphy or the league itself could silence them.

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There is OBVIOUSLY no conspiracy…right?

April 20, 2010 1 comment
Vancouver Voodoo

Vancouver Voodoo Vexes Smyth and Kings

In the last few days there has been much talk in local hockey circles about there being some sort of bizarre, far-fetched conspiracy involving Gary Bettman and the NHL controlling outcomes of Stanley Cup Playoff games to ensure their preferred teams win games and advance.  As the theory goes, the Vancouver Canucks, and all Canadian-based NHL teams, are NOT among the league’s preferred teams, thus suffering uneven officiating from both the on-ice and off-ice officials.

Now, any objective, logic-thinking observer with a clear mind can clearly see that there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that Gary Bettman and the NHL would ever even entertain the idea of preferring certain teams to succeed over others…yes, yes I KNOW that the league now owns the Phoenix Coyotes and they’re suddenly having their 1st good season in about a decade..but that has more to do with the players trying harder this year than they have the last number of years than anything else.

Now, just to finally put this “Bettman and the NHL hate the Canucks and all Canadian Teams” conspiracy theory to rest, let’s take a look at what is driving these crazy, tin-foil hat wearing Canucks fans to feel so paranoid.

First off, let’s absolve NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of any wrong-doing.  Bettman’s 1st full season as commissioner was the 93-94 campaign…that year saw the Vancouver Canucks make it to the Stanley Cup finals for the 1st time in 12 years against the New York Rangers who hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1940 and who’s home arena is just down the street from the NHL’s head office and represent the largest TV market in the NHL.

Now, those crazy Canucks fans will tell you that they got jobbed in that series…laughable!  The Rangers CLEARLY asserted themselves as the better team taking a commanding 3-1 lead in the series…sure, those younger, plucky Canucks, so used to grueling cross-continent travel, were able to win the next 2 games against the tiring, much older Rangers who seldom had to travel out of their time zone and were often at home in their own bed even after most road games.  That’s just a myth…after all Ranger’s captain Mark Messier still had enough energy at the end of game 6 to almost decapitate Canucks captain Trevor Linden with a vicious, cross-check to the head that went un-penalized and garnered no suspension from the league…so you can’t say that the Rangers were more tired than the Canucks and that’s why the league decided to move Game7 back an additional day to give the older Rangers an extra day of rest…ridiculous!  Now onto Game7 of the Stanley Cup finals…sure, the younger Canucks had ALL the momentum heading into that game, but come on did they really think they could match the Rangers after they were able to recuperate with an extra rest day? Come on…let’s be real!  Sure, the Ranger’s got  a 2-man advantage in a close game…but let’s face it…the refs give out 2-man advantages like they’re candy in game7’s right?  The only reason Trevor Linden needed to score short-handed to keep his team in it was because they were killing penalties for half the game…and sure there was a rumour going around that Bettman felt it would be better for the NHL if the New York rangers won the cup….you see where I’m going with this? Its just simply tin-foil hat stuff.

I mean, just because 8 of the 10 Stanley Cup winners, before Bettman’s 1st full year were from Canada and there has been ZERO since, is no reason to think that there is a conspiracy at play here….it is simply another coincidence people, nothing more.

Canucks fans also point to last year’s playoff series against the Chicago Blackhawks claiming that the Hawks were favoured because they were a large TV market that was trying to re-establish itself as a competitive team for the 1st time in many years after playing in front of nearly empty arenas…HAH!  Why would the league want them to succeed just because of that?  Sure, 90% of the Blackhawks’ goals were scored with at least one of their forwards sitting on Canucks’ goaltender Roberto Luongo’s lap in the back of the net…but come-on you can’t expect the refs to do anything about that can you?  A good goal-tender would still be able to make those saves…

Of course this is the same, tired excuse those silly Canucks fans are using this year.  This time substitute the upstart LA Kings…sure, they’re the second largest TV market in the States and they haven’t made the playoffs in 8 years…that doesn’t mean anything…its not like some playoff success would help turn-on those long-gone, fickle LA fans and potentially revitalize a US TV market.  I mean iffy, too-many men on the ice penalties are ALWAYS called against the home team in overtime of a playoff game, right?  right?  And just because the Canucks scored a goal that was disallowed because the puck was ‘propelled into the net by not a distinct kicking motion but a kicking motion’ by the player who wasn’t looking at the puck but was, somehow, able to ‘twist his toe’ at the puck thus propelling it intentionally into the net…or something like that…the rule is so convoluted that it can be interpreted any which way the league prefers it…wait…league preferences?  NAHHHH!!!! Just a coincidence…another in a long list of coincidences…

I bet those paranoid Canucks fans are wishing one, just ONE, of those coincidences would go their way…who knows?  Maybe they’ll win the Stanley Cup the year after Bettman retires or is fired!  …  Now THAT would be a coincidence.  Yeah..that and maybe bitter referee Stephane Auger and Alex Burrows will go for beers, and Colin Campbell and Mike Murphy will suddenly feel the need to go on CBC to explain and justify it as simply Burrows showing Auger an example of a distinct kicking motion.

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