January 24 2013 11:57AM
This is a weekly feature that will highlight The Good, The Bad and The *fill in the blank* exciting things that are currently happening in the NHL. Hockey is back and we’re almost at the playoffs (Good) With such a tight schedule there is an increased risk of injury (Bad) The Canucks are not the only team with goalie problems.
SO MUCH HOCKEY ALL AT ONCE!
The NHL is back! The Canucks are back (sort of)! Gary Bettman is still evil! And the last five days have been a delicious buffet of non-stop NHL action.
The saying “You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is true for many things, but not for hockey. We all knew what was gone. Now it’s back and we never want it to leave again. The lovely gesture of NHL Center Ice offering itself for free until the end of January makes it hard not to go all in and gorge on as many games as possible. Some people say “hockey never went anywhere because there are still other leagues like the AHL.” Though true, the AHL simply does not generate the excitement that the NHL does and the hockey isn't quite as good.
NHL players are truly the ‘it factor’ for this level of hockey. That includes their tantrums, their on ice rivalries as well as their skill and personalities. Kevin Bieksa is much funnier in locker room interviews pre or post games. Sidney Crosby belongs on the ice in front of those who appreciate the precision of his skill and see him as far more than a commodity. Ryan Miller’s colorful comments are far more entertaining when talking about the game, not the lack of it. So yes NHL hockey, we welcome you back with open arms. Well most of us. I’m sure the Dutch Elite team still misses Dale Weise, but such is life.
It's amusing how quickly the terror sets in when a team does not immediately start off with a shutout and points from all its top players in the first two games. The fact that it is a shortened season will be a hindrance to teams that are used to taking a couple of months to find their groove, but it is nowhere near time to panic!
Yes the Canucks' first game was a catastrophe but it certainly was entertaining. That is of course if you like subjecting yourself to things that look like comedies where everything that can go wrong always does... But once it is all over you try to force yourself to forget the horror which you have just seen.
The Canucks have started their season the same way they always do. Slow. Without the luxury of a full season, or the presence of Ryan Kesler, the pressure is really on. The Canucks have more and more to prove each season further removed from the 2011 Finals where they had the best chance of going all the way and winning the Stanley Cup with this core. The Roberto Luongo era has "ended" but what truly adds an element of uncertainty and perhaps awkwardness, is that he is still on the team. Dressed in his Canucks gear and sitting on the bench.
But with three games down the Canucks are starting to emerge as the team that has the potential to play hard and win big. Of course once Ryan Kesler returns to the lineup along with David Booth, the Universe will be realigned and unicorns will start parading around Rogers Arena on game days. Until then, let's just hope the goaltending is solid!
...And the "Goaltending Controversy"
This happened last season: The Canucks and their goalie conundrum. Of course things are a bit different now in that the Canucks are starting the season with "two number one goalies," though whether or not they will finish the season the same way remains to be seen.
Vancouver's unique and highly publicized goalie situation became parodic during their home opener against the Anaheim Ducks. Cory Schneider, the anointed one, being pulled was a highlight across the league. I know you’re trying to forget but here is what happened: we suspect that Luongo cast a spell on Schneider making him forget how to stop pucks so when he let in five goals midway through the second period, he got pulled. Luongo didn’t exactly stand on his head that game either but come one, Luongo never starts the season in top form so he is excused.
Now Henrik Lundqvist on the other hand is not supposed to get pulled from the Rangers home opener before the second period. Yet he did. King Henrik, current Vezina Trophy winner, was pulled after letting in four goals on eighteen shots. To make things worse, the New York Rangers have one of the most terrifying coaches in the entire league. They lost 6-3 to the Penguins that night. The Oilers had a similar situation on Tuesday night for their home opener against the San Jose Sharks. After having let in six goals in the first period, Devan Dubnyk was done for the night. Jonathan Quick hasn't looked too nimble in the early going either...
The point being that everyone faces pressure and everyone will have off nights and everyone will bounce back. Cory Schneider, for his part, managed to come out in the shootout and help the Canucks win game three against the Flames on Wednesday. Naturally he is now a hero who did what Luongo failed to do the night before. But no, there is no goalie controversy here.