"Sure, I could give you an autograph…but then I’d have to kill you." (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/Canucks.nhl.com)
This is a regular Friday feature — running on Saturday this week — combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you’d like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let’s start a textual relationship (wink).
1. The Canucks went 3-1 this week, outscoring their oppoents 14-7, but the highlight was seeing Ryan Kesler back in the lineup. Suddenly finding themselves with three top-6 centremen in their lineup, the Canucks ran amok over Phoenix, keeping the foot on the gas despite playing the whole game with the lead. We were watching the team we’d been waiting all year to see. But in classic Canucks fashion, it didn’t last very long.
2. After a lot of "purple monkey dishwasher" on Twitter, it has been revealed that Chris Higgins has a mild knee sprain and should be back in a couple of weeks, and Mike Gillis seems to think Chris Tanev won’t be far behind. That’s great news, as it’s difficult to imagine where this team would be without The Two Christophers. We’re entering that time of year where you really can’t take anything a team says about injuries at face value — especially when it’s coming from Alain Vigneault, who would have trouble diagnosing his own hangnail.
3. With the injuries, there was a bit of a shakeup in this afternoon’s game against the Avs: Hansen with the twins, Burrows with Kesler and Kassian, and Roy with Raymond and Weise. Hansen’s promotion came after a benching in his previous game. I think it’s clear with the way AV is handling his lines right now that he’s trying to build these guys up rather than tear them down before a playoff run.
4. The potential of the Kesler-Kassian pair has been quick to emerge over the past week. Zack’s best chance to stay in the lineup is showing he can be the playmaker that Kesler has always needed. That combination could be a handful in the playoffs. Kassian’s challenege will be limiting his mistakes on a stage where every play is magnified.
5. With 7 games left my fingers are crossed that we never see Cameron Barker again. The little bit of luster he may have had in his first handful of games has worn off completely, as his possession numbers have been cratering lately. Plus, is it just me or does his face look like it’s rendered in CG? I think he’s part of some grand James Cameron experiment.
6. Nobody is talking about David Booth anymore, but I can’t help but think how downright scary this forward group would look with him in it. Meanwhile, he hasn’t answered my offers on Twitter to write his biography for him. I even have the perfect title: NO CHURCH IN THE WILD.
7. The Dustin Butler story from the Calgary game was one of the highlights of the year. Not only did the Canucks manage to find an emergency backup goalie, they were able to fulfill their ginger goalie quota without Cory Schneider. I think this has something to do with Mike Gillis’ "human performance plan".
8. Roberto Luongo deserves major respect for the performance he put up against Calgary after sitting for 11 games. Not only for the 40 saves, but for his comments about wanting to show the group that he’s still committed to the team and not just going to check out mentally and wait for summer. Luongo stands in stark contrast to crybabies like Mike Smith or Ryan Miller, or a nutjob like Tim Thomas. He steps up to the plate when he needs to and is a true pro. When he is traded, the organization will lose a rare breed of hockey player, as much for his on-ice ability as the way he’s steered this leaky ship all season.
9. The playoff races in each conference are entertaining as hell right now. What a difference a week makes: had the Oilers beat the Canucks on April 4 they would have been 3 points back. Today, 13 points separate the two teams. Edmonton’s close-but-not-quite attempt at a playoff berth this year is best summed up by this GIF.
10. If you missed it, a moose was on the loose in a Safeway in Smithers, BC, wreaking havoc on the flower arrangements. This is what happens when Dan Hamhuis isn’t around. What’s next? A bear at Tim’s?