The Good, The Bad and the Working Overtime

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. Is Seattle really going to get an NHL team? Wouldn’t it be funny if Rick Nash didn’t get traded from Columbus at all? Will Bleacher Creatures ever make an Alex Burrows plush doll? Hockey: the excitement it creates is contagious.

The Good: David Booth

Has there been any Canucks player as exciting as David Booth lately? In my house the answer is no. We are very Booth friendly here. I remember back in October when yet another Canucks/Panthers trade was announced. Ryan Kesler needed a new line mate and who better than someone that he’d already played with (in the junior and minor league.)

When that tanned American with the permanent grin came up from the sunshine state, he had no idea what he was getting into. I actually thought he was going to cry in his first interview with the media; probably from the realization that it rains a lot in Vancouver and his tan was diminishing by the minute. Or perhaps he had heard the rumors that being a Canucks player means that you are basically signing away the rights to your privacy and that everything you do on and off the ice will be scrutinized. Fortunately for Booth, Vancouver has no shortage of tanning establishments. It’s almost like the real thing, minus the Vitamin D.

His chemistry with Ryan Kesler was as promised: they had it and it was magical. It took him 15 days to score his first goal as a Canuck and he was quickly embraced as the fresh meat of the franchise. Another thing that Canucks fans require in their hockey players is a presence on twitter. Once again, David Booth did not disappoint. He is very fan friendly.

Oh yeah, and he can also score goals. Big goals. Fast goals. In Wednesday’s game against the Avalanche, it took 13 seconds and a pass from Mason Raymond for the Booth show to begin. The game before that, Monday against the Coyotes, it was also David Booth who not only scored first, but scored the only Canucks goal in regulation. He has been a solid presence in the Canucks lineup since returning from a knee injury in mid January. He is dependable, dynamic and electrifying to watch on the ice. With all this, I cannot wait to see what he brings to the Canucks team come playoff time. I will own his jersey by then, yes I will.

The Bad: Chris Higgins

“Why Marda? Why would put Chris Higgins in the bad list? Have you no heart?”

Calm down. I have nothing bad to say about Chris Higgins (I’ve seen the famous abs, come on). I don’t think anyone in the NHL could find anything bad to say about Higgins and certainly not with those dreamy eyes of his. He has been a tremendous addition to the team since being acquired at last year’s trade deadline and brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the Canucks lineup. Enter the “bad” portion: his time in the lineup and the reason that accounts for its absence. I wish there was a way to revamp, or just completely replace, Higgins immune system so that he could repel the horrors that the staph infection has caused him to endure. Screw you staph infection. You’re like Mark Messier. Vancouver hates you! Yes, I just compared Mark Messier to a staph infection. They’re both gross.

Not having control over your health is a terrifying thought. Higgins has been out of the lineup three times now due to complications from this evil staph infection; most recently it was his body’s adverse reaction to the medication he was taking to treat it. This bug needs better drugs. There is only so much one can do to ensure and maintain their health. When you think about the access that professional athletes have to doctors, trainers, specialists, not to mention that their bodies are machines that are carefully tuned with exercise and nutrition, it almost makes you think they would be impervious to suffering from any ailments at all. Then you think about the abuse that their bodies endure on a daily basis, it makes you appreciate everything they sacrifice and do to win. Or attempt to win.

What is going to happen to the career of Chris Higgins? Will he be healthy enough to deal with the pressure and intensity come playoff time? Will this infection come back and cause him to miss games? Is there any way that we can blame Messier for this?

And Working Overtime

Those Canucks just insist on getting as much ice time as they can. They apparently love playing games so much that it is nearly impossible to get them off the ice after 60 minutes. They are like that kid who doesn’t want to get out of the swimming pool until he goes down the slide just ONE more time. Only one more time turns to ten more while his dad is yelling that he’s been in there long enough and it’s time to go. 70 minutes is the new 60 minutes. Welcome to the new Canucks hockey.

In their last 14 games, only 4 were completed in regulation. 10 games went to overtime and 8 went on to shootouts; 5 of which were won by the Canucks. Really though, I can’t blame them since their first game of the year went to a shootout. My mom used to say that how you spend the first day of the year will determine how you spend the rest of that year. If we believe the logic of my mom, who does not think that Rick Nash is getting traded to Vancouver so she is a fairly credible source, then the Canucks are only following what they established in early January.

The good news is that all this overtime work that they are putting in is good for them. They are getting used to the grueling physical demands that the playoffs will require. Playing just one OT, that is a piece of cake. But how are the shootouts helping? They are, I assure you. The pressure of a ‘must win’ mentality is not something to be taken lightly. And I think we can all agree that the more pressure Luongo faces in shootouts, the better his mental agility will develop and that is something that he is going to need in the playoffs. As long at the Canucks keep winning, I don’t mind them putting in the extra time. Of course, now I also have higher expectations of their playoff performance and expect them to prove me right.