Thursday, June 16, 2011

Riot, Not Canucks, Shame Vancouver

As if 40 years of franchise futility was not enough, Canucks' faithful had to endure an embarrassing spectacle on the league's greatest stage - and no, I'm not talking about the game on the ice.  The riot that took place after the game was a bunch of complete crap from morons who normally patrol Granville on a Saturday night.  Morons who traded in their Ed Hardy douchebag wear for a Canucks jersey, as an excuse to blend in with real fans and make a mockery of our city, our neighbours, and Canucks fans everywhere.  No wonder the team changes logos so often.

Imagine how you'd feel 10 years from now as Ryan Kesler or Roberto Luongo watching your jersey be forever immortalized in videos of complete idiots burning cars, taunting police and other generally stupid things reserved for those who's parents taught them nothing in life.  Morons like Brock Anton (the poster 'boy' because he certainly hasn't earned the title 'man' for the riot) are stupid enough to commit such incredibly ridiculous acts are thankfully equally as stupid to brag about it on Facebook.

It looks like the right message about Vancouver is slowly getting out, that we aren't all idiots, it's a small minority of losers, much like any city in the world.  If anything, it shows Vancouverites that we're not above some ridiculous behaviour and have no right to judge other cities.  The story over the next couple of days however should revolve around the tremendous community spirit in the city, and the powerful role Social Media is playing in organizing a clean up, rallying outcry, and apprehending the aforementioned losers who are thankfully dumb enough to brag about their acts online.  Good luck getting a decent job any time soon within the city limits.

Regardless of political leanings, it's pretty awesome that Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has stepped up and said this riot will not impede future public viewings, as that would be letting the losers win. Kudos also to BC Premier Christy Clark, who is at least talking tough so far about publicizing the offenders' names.  Let's make these morons famous. So famous and shamed that they can't get a job within the city limits.

Anyways, with the venting and absence of original content out of the way, let's analyze what went wrong for the Canucks.

Why did the Canucks fall short?
First, you aren't going to hear any mention of a lack of heart or guts here.  The list of injuries that have come out thus far (Kesler with torn groin and hip labrum, Edler with two broken fingers, Higgins with a broken foot, Ehrhoff requiring shoulder surgery, Henrik Sedin with an undisclosed injury, and of course playing without Dan Hamhuis, Mikael Samuelsson, Aaron Rome and a combination of Manny Malhotra or Mason Raymond) did not help matters.

You could drum up a pretty strong case that the Canucks simply ran out of gas, but that wouldn't be entirely sufficient.

You could suggest that the officials put their whistles away and allowed the Canucks to be slashed, whacked, and abused post-whistle, but the Canucks did their share, knocked the Bruins best all around forward out of the lineup, and failed to capitalize on the power play chances they had anyways.  Sure there were some bad calls, and missed calls, but refereeing was lousy all playoffs.

The bottom line is, the Canucks failed to get the job done.  2-0 and 3-2 series leads were squandered, and the most offensive team in the league had more trouble scoring than Tony Gallagher in a women's prison, and the Canucks' defense and goaltending were suspect.

When you subtract Dan Hamhuis and Aaron Rome, play with 50% of Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler, you're instantly relying too much upon Andrew Alberts, Chris Tanev, and/or Keith Ballard.

Ballard was overwhelmed and underwhelming in his one game, but who could blame a guy coming into a Stanley Cup final ice cold.  Chris Tanev and Andrew Alberts played quite well, but their limited ice time placed a greater burden on the top four.

At forward, the Canucks third line played great.  Maxim Lapierre, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen chipped in offensively and were fairly solid all around.  Manny Malhotra's return provided the Canucks with some additional depth, but the real problem were their top two lines.

By the time Game 6 rolled around, the Canucks second line had all of two assists in the series, but had combined for a broken back, broken foot, torn groin and torn hip labrum.  Ouch.

Sedin Twins and Roberto Luongo
The Sedin twins and Alex Burrows were nowhere near as dangerous as they needed to be, and only Alex Burrows had a respectable series.  The Sedins were a frustrated -4 apiece in the deciding game - on ice for every goal against, but it's tough to call their leadership into question.

They've been consistent producers their entire careers, so it's hardly fair to slap a label of inconsistency on them now because they were shutdown against a Norris Trophy Defender and likely Vezina winning goaltender.  In fact, the Sedin twins may have garnered respect for their ownership of the loss for not scoring enough.  Eight goals in seven games is simply not enough, it's true.  However, once the dust settles and disappointment subsides, Canucks fans should realize that Henrik Sedin took his team as far as Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl, all in his first year as captain.  Not bad.

Sure, this Canucks team had higher expectations, especially after their dream regular season, but when you add up the injuries, and the tremendous opposition that the Bruins provided, it's hard to argue anything other than the Bruins deserved the Stanley Cup this year based on the Final series.

If there is anywhere else where fingers could be pointed though, it may be at Roberto Luongo.  Despite enjoying a great regular season, Roberto failed to impress fans or instill confidence in his team all playoffs long.

The Canucks got past the Blackhawks based on some amazing games in front of him, where the defense swallowed up any potential second chances.  Luongo was good against Nashville, despite some ugly or unlucky goals depending on how you look at it.  He continued his strong play against San Jose and into the Boston series, but was pulled twice in Boston, should have been pulled in an 8-1 loss in Game 3, and did not make many big saves the entire series.  He was solid in Game 5, and Game 1-2, but never appeared to steal a game for the Canucks for the duration of the playoffs, with the potential exception of Game 5 against San Jose.

Luongo's future in Vancouver will be interesting.  He's a good goaltender and played well, albeit inconsistently.  His blowout losses were often due to the team giving up, but Lou didn't seem to fight much, and either he or the team failed to regain their composure at key times in the Final, allowing Boston to blitz the scoreboard with 3-4 quick goals far too many times.  By my math, the Bruins had three or four 4-goal periods in the last five games of the series.

Anytime you give up more shorthanded goals then you score powerplay goals, and any time you're outscored 21-4 over the last 5 games of the series, you really don't deserve to win.  Sad but true for Canucks fans.

In any event, the anger and shame of the riot likely masked any disappointment or sadness over the Canucks effort for the last 50 minutes of Game 7, and the failed attempts at bringing the Stanley Cup back to Vancouver.

For Canucks fans, it's another chance to say 'maybe next year'.  The team will likely look very different on the blue line next season, and Vancouver will certainly wonder if the forwards and netminders are getting any revisions also.

Either way, the Canucks entered the year as Cup contenders/favourites.  Their regular season was a joy to watch and heightened expectations.  Their playoff run provided some great memories for Canucks fans, and some reasons for optimism next year with Cory Schneider, Cody Hodgson, and Chris Tanev.

Big off-season questions lie ahead, but for now, the players should be applauded for a great season.

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