Nation Radio - February 18, 2012

February 19 2012 01:34PM



Playoffs are a distant hope for the third straight season in Edmonton this year. The focus now shifts to the pending trade deadline, the kids and, eventually, the draft. This week Allan visits with California hockey fan and writer Earl Sleek, welcomes various voices familiar with both pro and amateur Edmonton prospects and shares some reader/listener thoughts on the rapidly approaching deadline.

This is Nation Radio.

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Game #59 Preview: Children of the Corn

Thomas Drance
February 19 2012 11:33AM

And then bam! Stanley Cup. via thewonderofafairytale.

The Oilers are not a particularly good hockey team, which is largely the result of brutal management. After a hot and totally unsustainable start to the season, they've plummeted like a stone to the bottom of the standings, which, is where they belong. They don't belong there because I have any particular dislike for the Oilers - though I do - they belong there because the Oilers "brain trust" is composed of unserious, snake-oil salesman who've mastered the art of marketing false hope, and failing to back it up with any substance.

The Oilers sit 10 points clear of Columbus at the bottom of the Western Conference, so it's in their best interest to just lay down tonight, and dream of Nail Yakupov. Of course, the Oilers always get up to play the Canucks, especially when Vancouver's club visits their North Albertan barn. The Canucks are coming off of a clinical dismantling of the Maple Leafs last night, and this will mark the first game of a relatively difficult six game road-trip - the teams last extended road-trip of the season. Hopefully the Canucks can start their trip off on a winning note, which they'll do so long as they feel comfortable pummeling the hell out of some children.

A more detailed recap and underlying numbers after the jump!

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Canucks Ventilate Lifeless Leafs: Recap and Chance Data

Thomas Drance
February 18 2012 11:25PM

Henrik and Burrows celebrate Burrows' second goal in Saturday's 6-2 win over the Leafs.

Tonight's game between the Canucks and the Maple Leafs was decided early, and then descended into embarrassment for an out-matched Toronto club who looked lost on defense. Right from the outset, the Canucks dominated puck possession, and handily out-shot and out-chanced the Maple Leafs. By the game's 25th minute - the two points, and the clear victory were in the bag for Vancouver.

The Canucks top-line opened the scoring about eight minutes into the game, as Alex Burrows finished off a pretty pass from Daniel Sedin by going nine-hole on James Reimer. Daniel's  pass to set up the goal was lovely, and Burrows' finish was clinical - but that was some leaky goaltending on Reimer's part. I swear the puck beat the Leafs keeper through the logo. From there the Canucks continued to dominate, scoring their second goal just 90 seconds later when the fourth line put together a nice shift against Phil Kessel's line, and were rewarded when Manny Malhotra tapped-in a nice Maxim Lapierre feed for his sixth goal of the season.

In the second, Burrows potted his second goal on a blocker-side top-corner snipe that Reimer had no chance on. Burrows was left unmarked in the slot for this goal, and had all-day to pick his spot. Seriously, he was left alone for so long on this sequence that he got lonely, grew a beard and befriended a volley-ball named Wilson.

While Toronto's club generated a number of five-alarm chances against the Canucks, Luongo was mostly up to the task. The Leafs looked momentarily threatening as Phaneuf scored on a slap-stick sequence for Bieksa and Luongo in Vancouver's crease, which, cut the deficit to two - but from there it really went into the tank for the Maple Leafs.

First Clarke MacArthur slipped on the puck, leading directly to the easiest goal Daniel Sedin will score this season. Sedin's tally also ended James Reimer's night.  Then Matt Lombardi - who had a very weak game overall - limp-dicked a clearing attempt with an ice-cold Jonas Gustavsson in net, and his team short-handed. The Canucks power-play unit pounced on Lombardi's brain-fart and set up a Sami Salo slap-shot that beat "the Monster" and stretched Vancouver's lead to four. At that point a buxom woman wearing a Viking costume began an obnoxious madrigal, which, was only fitting as the game was functionally all over.

A more detailed recap, your statistical three stars and goats and scoring chance data after the jump!

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Gillis Takes a Shot at Toronto's Hockey Team and Sports Media

Thomas Drance
February 18 2012 12:30PM

Regrettably, the vandalism of Milan Lucic's families church was done in the Canucks name, or at least, in the "Canuks" name. In the aftermath of that incident, iconic Vancouver Sun sports-writer Cam Cole wrote a must-read take on the embarrassment a minority of over-zealous Canucks fans have caused the city, and the franchise. The take originally ran on-line in the National Post with a line about Mike Gillis not being able to be reached for comment. Late yesterday evening, however, the column was edited to include some  choleric comments from the Canucks general manager. 

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Game #58 Preview: Burke to the Future

Thomas Drance
February 18 2012 10:11AM

Other considered preview headlines: "Eviction Nonis" and "Baby got Burke!"

The last time the Leafs defeated the Canucks in Vancouver, the calender read 2003. Phil Kessel and I were in the 10th grade, Brian Burke was the architect of an entertaining Canucks team having a renaissance in the Vancouver market, and Dave Nonis was Burke's assistant general manager. Yep, a lot has changed since that day, and also, Dave Nonis is still Burke's assistant general manager. 

Tonight, in fair Vancouver where we lay our scene, two teams both alike in post-expansion indignity will renew acquaintances. With two former Canucks General Managers in the house, it promises to be more than just another mid-February game, so expect money on the board.

At this point, the Canucks are clearly Gillis' team but Nonis and Burke were the guys who grafted the adamantium onto the exoskeleton of Vancouver's, apparently Wolverine-like, contending hockey club. Between them, they brought in the Sedins and Luongo (in hilariously lopsided deals). They drafted Kesler, Raymond, Edler, Hansen and Cory Schneider (also, Patrick White). They were wise enough to sign Bieksa to an ELC after he punched out Fedor Fedorov, and unwise enough to give us the "Byron Ritchie: power-play quarterback" era. This was the management team which took a chance on Burrows, and also, stubbornly stuck with Dan Cloutier... 

The team Nonis and Burke bring with them tonight is not one of those limp-noodle, top-10 pick (Boston via Toronto), cough up a three goal lead at home to Alex Burrows (then trade half of your team the very next day) Leafs teams of the recent past. This season's Leafs are legitimately exciting to watch, they can score with anybody and, in the midst of a tight race to make the playoffs in the East, they should be desperate. 

A more thorough preview and underlying numbers for both teams after the jump!

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