Vancouver Canucks Voices From The John

With so much being said in the world’s 3rd most livable city of 2011, where could be a better place to listen to the thoughts of the hockey fans than standing in line for the men’s bathroom at Rogers Arena during and after game two.

“Ref’s win another game for an American team, well done NHL”

While the officiating in game two was not great by any means, the green men (penalty) count was actually fairly even with the Kings sitting in the box for seven 2 minute penalties and the Canucks sitting for six 2 minute penalties, two of which were Hansen’s 4 minutes for roughing, as well as two 10-minute misconduct penalties to Hansen and Lapierre.

Up until the nine minute mark of the third period, the Canucks had 4 power-play chances while the Kings only had two, the major difference being the Canucks could not score for the 8 minutes while the Kings scored on both short-handed opportunities and then capitalized on the their second power-play, scoring three out of their four goals with either a man up or a man down.

It seems the Canucks can only blame themselves for squandering the opportunities given to them and allowing the two shorthanded goals rather than the officiating. Despite the ‘ref you suck’ chant heard often in the third period, it seemed to only turn the officials against the home-team, especially when Hansen lost his cool for a few minutes and looked like he wanted to take on the entire Kings team at once.

“Sucks that Hansen got the misconduct, he was our best player tonight, where was Hank?”

Hansen was everywhere in game two and his speed and grit made fans look twice to see if there was more than one number 36 on the ice during some plays. Hansen may never be the top scorer of the club or become the face of the franchise but without him and other grinders such as Higgins and Lapierre, the Canucks would not be where they are today as these are the guys that work tirelessly every night and battle for every puck they can get their stick on, while some others just take their roster spots for granted.

Henrik Sedin is the captain of the Canucks and the face (well one of the two similar looking faces) of the franchise. Since the loss of his brother Daniel to injury on March 21st following a vicious elbow from Duncan Keith, much has fallen on the shoulders of captain Hank to provide the leadership needed for a long playoff run. While Henrik has not been playing badly, it seems evident that the torch has been passed to fellow centreman Ryan Kesler, with Kesler seeing almost 4 more minutes of play in the first two playoff games.

Comparing Henrik’s numbers to Hansen’s, the Canucks captain is a +2 with 1 goal and 4 assists in his last 5 games with a total of 99 minutes of ice-time while the speedy Dane has 2 goals and 2 assists with a +2 rating in the last 5 games, seeing 71 minutes of ice-time. With Hansen earning just over a million a season and Hank just over six million, it seems the older Sedin brother has to bring his game to another level if the Canucks are to have any chance of beating the Kings. Hopefully the return of line-mate Daniel in the next games will provide the inspiration to see the brothers return back to the form of old.

“Could have used Cody out there tonight, looks like Kassian is a bust”

If the Canucks organisation had of come out and said that Hodgson (and his management group) had asked for more ice-time and wasn’t happy in Vancouver then life would be much easier for the 21-year-old Kassian. By keeping the matter behind the closed doors, the fans now expect Kassian to be the new Hodgson but that’s just not what he was brought to Vancouver for.

Kassian is a 6’3, 215 pound hard-hitting winger that will be groomed to protect the first-line players such as the Sedin’s from the face-washing and agitating antics that they have been susceptible to in the past, most commonly in the Stanley Cup finals series of 2011 against Boston. He is still young and learning his role within the team but given some time and encouragement from the fans, he may turn into the Lucic-type player that everybody wants to see, or better yet the Kassian-type player who scored 77 points in 56 games for the Windsor Spitfires in OHL during the 2010/11 season.

While the Kassian/Hodgson trade would have made more sense at the end of the season rather than in February, one can understand the Canucks moving a player that did not seem to be happy with the third line role he was given and replace him with a true third line centreman in Sami Pahlsson while also acquiring a hard-hitting winger that has huge potential. While Hodgson`s scoring will be missed by the Canucks, his departure is not the reason the team has lost the first 2 games of  round one and Kassian`s time to shine will be just around the corner.

“Just remember, Boston lost the first two games of the 2011 playoffs”

Not a bad point. On April 14 and 16 of 2011, the Bruins lost the first two games of the opening series against the Montreal Canadiens, only to come back and win the series in 7 games and go on to win the Stanley Cup. Optimism is what the Canucks need right now and this the type of fan the team needs. The series is not over by any stretch and one win is all it will take to get the Canucks back on track.

The most intriguing part of the talk around the stadium was that not many were blaming the goal-tending of Roberto Luongo, most in fact saying he has kept the Canucks in with a chance. Usually when things go wrong for the Vancouver team, Lu will be the first head on the block but it seems he has done enough to keep the confidence of fans, some even saying they would like him play the rest of the series and not to call upon super-backup Cory Schneider at this stage.