Weise-y, baby! [Image via Dave Stubbs]
The Vancouver Canucks are currently dealing with a lot of injuries, and as a result, they’ve had all sorts of difficulties trying to stay competitive over the past handful of weeks. There’s some good news coming out of the doctor’s office, but there’s also some news which, will not surprising, still stings. The Olympic break can’t come soon enough.
The Montreal Canadiens aren’t really dealing with very many injuries, but they’ve still managed to struggle lately because a Bond villain has taken over their team and is slowly but surely running them into the ground. At least they’ve got PK Subban, who’s infinitely more exciting to watch out on the ice than anyone the other team currently has. Then again, they’re signing cheques in Douglas Murray’s name, so that may very well negate all of the aforementioned fun.
This is truly shaping up to be a barn-burner between the 23rd and 24th ranked offenses in the NHL. Read on past the jump to pump yourself up! Weise-y, baby!
Puck Drop: 4:30 PM PST
TV: Sportsnet Pacific
Henrik Sedin will not play the next two games, Hamhuis is out tonight, but Richardson and Higgins are in. #Canucks
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) February 6, 2014
After my lengthy rant about how disturbed I was to see him look like a shell of himself while clearly labouring a in a bad way, you can probably guess how I feel about this news. Henrik Sedin should not be playing hockey right now, and his taking some time to rest and recover is in no way an indication that he’s not *tough*. I know there’s someone out there that thinks that, but that person probably isn’t reading this blog because.. well, he/she probably doesn’t know how to read in the first place.
As for just how much time he’ll get to lick his wounds, we don’t know yet. After this morning’s skate said "he’d prefer Henrik didn’t go to Sochi but it’s a delicate situation and when it comes to representing his country the player will decide". It’d be nice for him to take those couple of weeks to prepare himself for the stretch run – especially since the team that’s paying him $6.1 millon this year desperately needs his services – but he know how much playing in the Olympics means to these guys, and as Thomas Drance pointed out, Henrik probably knows this is his only chance to win anything this year. Can’t blame a guy for trying.
We still don’t quite know what Dan Hamhuis is out with, but a follower pointed something interesting out to me yesterday. If you look at the 4:15 mark of the video attached below, you’ll see Hamhuis take a skate to the head from Alex Burrows while he’s in a prone position on the ice. If he was dealing with some concussion-like symptomps, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It would explain how sudden his scratch the other night was, and why we don’t have any definitive word on his timetable yet.
It’s nice that Higgins and Richardson will be back in action tonight, particularly since the penalty kill really didn’t look like itself in Boston the other night. They’ll most certainly help out on that front. Also, it appears that Ryan Kesler has avoided sustaining any sort of noteworthy injury following his "heroic" attempt to block slapshots standings in front of an empty net with the clock winding down.
Let’s get to their underlying numbers:
|Corsi Close %||51.7% (10th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.27 (16th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.16 (11th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.12 (29th)|
|5v4 SF/60||57.9 (4th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.22 (4th)|
|4v5 SA/60||40.0 (1st)|
As a fan of hockey, what Marc Bergevin and his staff have done to the Montreal Canadiens really genuinely pisses me off. Last season, they were one of the biggest surprises in all of the league, as they went from a young team that wasn’t expected to do anything of note to a team that put forth a thoroughly successful regular season, making the playoffs.
They got bounced in the 1st round by the Ottawa Senators, and while they were beaten by a superior team, the way they lost made it seem as if it had happened because they were not physical or gritty enough to succeed in the postseason.
It’s because of that, that the narrative shifted for them. They went from a young, exciting team playing with house money, to a one that wasn’t able to put its place in the league into perspective. Instead of realizing that they had stumbled into something with all of these undersized guys who were genuinely legitimately hockey players, they got swept up by this mythical depiction of what a "playoff team" should look like. So they started adding bigger players, hoping to beef their game up. All they wound up achieving, though, was constructing a team that got markedly worse at playing hockey:
Ouuuuuuuuuch. A popular phrase on this platform has become "low point of the season", and I think it’s safe to say that the Montreal Canadiens reached theirs back on January 25th, when the Washington Capitals had more goals scored than they had shots on goal well into the 2nd period. Anyways, here are their full season underlying numbers:
|Corsi Close %||46.9% (26th)|
|5v5 GF/60||1.77 (29th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.15 (10th)|
|5v4 GF/60||6.17 (15th)|
|5v4 SF/60||51.7 (14th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.18 (3rd)|
|4v5 SA/60||46.4 (6th)|
[Stats via extraskater.com]
Words truly cannot express how bad I think that Douglas Murray is at hockey. I distinctly remember there being a report that the Canucks were "kicking the tires" on him back in the summer, and I vehemently pleaded with the team to pull the proverbial gun away from their head. Because signing Murray to a contract basically would’ve been the hockey equivalent to that.
Yet somehow, he has been even worse this year than even I thought he was capable of being. He plays the softest minutes imaginable, and gets absolutely eviscerated in them. I would assume that the opposition licks their lips every time they see him hop over the boards and onto the ice. And for some reason, the Montreal Canadiens continue to play him as if he’s in possession of some incriminating Marc Bergevin photos.
It’s either that, or it’s a case of the Habs buying into an NHL myth. That’s a really strong piece of work that I’ve linked there, and here’s the money quote:
"As the data gets better, we slowly inch toward a paradigm shift in hockey. Eventually, we will define a defenceman who lacks the passing and skating skills to begin transition as a poor defenceman, not a stay-at-home defenceman. Until then though, players like Murray will continue to get a regular shift and players like Diaz will be labeled soft and defensive liabilities."