March 01 2014 05:28PM
Dating all the way back to April 17th, 2013 when the NHL announced that the Canucks and Senators would be competing in the "Heritage Classic" (as part of the 6 outdoor games to be played in the '13-'14 season), there appeared to be quite a few flaws with the plan.
Looking past the fact that it was an oversaturated and transparent cash grab by the league, from a storyline perspective it sure seemed odd to have the game feature two teams that have as little history with each other as possible, having played only 31 total times since 1992.
When your main marketing angle is "these two franchises played for the title back in 1915!", you're reaching. Then there was the fact that it was set to be played in March, which in Vancouver, generally doesn't lend itself to prototypical outdoor hockey weather (though apparently they knew something we didn't, because it has been snowing up here in the past week).
Even taking all of that into acocunt, there were still plenty of people that were excited about the fact that their city would be hosting an outdoor game, and that they'd get to witness it up close and personal (even if it meant spending their life savings). But leave it to the Vancouver Canucks to Canuck it up by creating a self-inflicted goaltending controversy on the eve of the game, which has somehow, someway managed to overshadow a regular season game between these two well known rivals. Even if it's being played in a CFL stadium.
The news that Eddie Lack will be reportedly getting the nod over Luongo against the Senators on Sunday afternoon is just the latest chapter in the fascinating case study being run by the Canucks over the past two seasons. I'm sure that they'll be able to gather some very telling information as it relates to how far you can push a rational human being before he finally snaps. They'd have already reached their conclusion if not for the fact that they picked the most modest, patient, persistent subject around.
In all seriousness, though, there are two ways to approach this news.
a) Eddie Lack has stopped 42 of the 43 shots he has faced in the team's two games since the Olympics (and 70/72 dating back to his last start against Detroit before the break). While he didn't exactly have to carry the team in front of him against the Blues and Wild, he was still very solid in earning 3 of the possible 4 points from those contests.
On the season his numbers (2.05 GAA, .925 save percentage) are superior to Luongo's (2.38 GAA, .917 save percentage), though I would mention that he has also started 22 fewer games, which means that we need to be cautious when comparing the two. Regardless, Lack has far and away exceeded all expectations in his first season in the league, and has at least made it a legitimate conversation as to not only which goalie the team should ride as recently as next season, but also which one gives the team the best chance to win right now.
I still lean Luongo (sample size is very important, and don't you ever forget it!), but I'm open to having a debate, and that speaks volumes to how impressive Lack has been. Taking all of that into account, there's also..
Luongo said he had been looking fwd to this game from start of year— Jason Botchford (@botchford) March 1, 2014
Those that know me know that I usually try to refrain from letting emotions dictate how I evaluate and analyze situations. When you're trying to win games and get ahead of the competition, there's very little room for sentimental value.
But what's the end-game here? Unless they're on the verge of pulling off a trade involving Luongo (which I highly doubt), why do they feel the need to continue treating the best goaltender in franchise history - who, I should note, is still very good at his job - like he's an unwanted red headed stepchild? How they've handled everything related to him seems awfully bizarre to me, and somehow continues to unpleasantly surprise me.
This tweet sums up my thoughts on the matter pretty aptly:
The Canucks will have cap space in the coming years, but if you're a star player watching all of these events develop from a distance, would you really want to come here? Don't think that players don't watch and take note of all of this stuff. It's hard to believe Ryan Kesler wants out, really.
Judging from Twitter (which is, granted, always dangerous to do) people in Vancouver are furious about all of this. And while I tend to preach calmness and "logging off", I think the outrage in this particular instance is pretty well justified. #FreeLuongo.
I spent some time going through all of the games involving these two teams in the past decade or so, trying to compile a "Top 10" list of the best moments, or something to that effect. The task proved difficult; quite frankly, very few noteworthy things have happened involving the Canucks and the Senators, and to do so there would've been a whole lot of self-indulgent, tongue-in-cheek anecdotes involved. So instead I just figured I'd pass along some of the things I found interesting along the way:
The time their matchup was built up as a potential "Stanley Cup Finals preview"(!!!):
No, seriously. Read this. Looking back on it 8 years later, it's kind of hard not to enjoy a good laugh about it all. The sentence "Vancouver also moved into a first-place tie with the Calgary Flames in the Northwest Division." was unironically written. It's also amusing that Alex Auld beat Dominik Hasek in a shootout. He has some thoughts on it:
.. me neither, Alex. For the record, the Canucks actually failed to make the playoffs that season, while the Senators, as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, fell to the Sabres in 5 games in the 2nd round. I don't blame you if you've erased all memories of a season that ended with an Oilers/Hurricanes Stanley Cup Final from your brain.
The Sami Salo Trade:
Ah yes. Salo went on to put up 236 points in 9 memorable seasons as a Vancouver Canuck. That puts him 5th on the all-time franchise list. Peter Schaefer, the player traded for him in a 1-for-1 swap, had 155 points in 4 seasons with the Senators before playing for the Bruins, coming back to the Canucks, and then retiring. I'd say the Canucks won that trade.
The first game home following the '10 Winter Olympics (RIP, Pavol):
Markus Naslund's wicked end-to-end rush (which got me thinking: what's a "goal"?):
Alex Burrows DoorGate (in which Burrows opened more doors than he has goals scored this season..):
Daniel Sedin's 300th goal (which happened earlier this year, so you should remember it!):
|5v5 Corsi Close %||52.1 (9th)||51.6 (11th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.16 (19th)||2.49 (6th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.12 (10th)||2.68 (28th)|
|5v5 PDO||99.9 (T-16th)||99.5 (20th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.22 (T-27th)||6.12 (16th)|
|5v4 SF/60||57.5 (4th)||50.3 (17th)|
|4v5 GF/60||4.36 (2nd)||6.92 (24th)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.0 (1st)||48.5 (T-9th)|