The Trash Heap: The Canucks Still Stink
Another week gone by, another pile of garbage to sift through. I’ll be honest, there wasn’t a lot of sports watching going on, so chances are I missed something. Nevertheless, here’s the later-is-better-than-never edition of the Trash Heap.
I love me some Chris Jericho as much as the next guy, but why is Hockey Night in Canada (and by extension the NHL) cross-promoting for a fake fighting company pay-per-view event? If you want to have a good ol’ Canadian kid talk about his dad and his memories of watching hockey I’m all for it, but please spare me the “wrestling and hockey are the same” rhetoric. I was happy to have Y2J on my TV screen, but then they wrecked it:
I guess when you’re trying to sell a fake fight that saw a 49 year-old who hasn’t performed in 12 years “defeat” an actual UFC Heavyweight Champion in three minutes, you need all the extra advertising you can get. Hockey Night in Canada, you just made the list.
4. NHL Officiating
For the most part, the NHL actually has some of the better referees in comparison to the other major sports leagues in North America, but it’s been a tough week for the zebras. There have been multiple (warranted) complaints about the treatment of star players from both coaches and players across both conferences. Connor McDavid has been getting mugged on a nightly basis with no calls for weeks now. The Flames lost Johnny Gaudreau to a broken hand after being on the receiving end of 21 (!) unpenalized slashes against the Wild. I guess there technically isn’t anything about “amputating an opposing player’s extremities” in the rule book though, so that one’s probably on Johnny.
Nick Foligno faked a decapitation late in a game against Washington and the Jackets scored the winner on the phantom penalty call. Patrick Kane voiced his displeasure with what star players have had to deal with, and during a Sabres game, the zebra called a penalty while carrying a stick. I mean there’s nothing wrong with that, but it was funny nonetheless:
Watched hockey for 30+ years. First time I have ever seen a ref make a call with a stick in his hand. pic.twitter.com/v1vBe0eGaP
— Mike Corcoran (@MikeCorcoranNHL) November 18, 2016
3. The Arizona Coyotes
The Vancouver Canucks have a challenger, folks! The Coyotes have very quietly become the second-most hilariously bad team in hockey, dropping four of their last five games to fall to last place in the West. What’s most concerning for Dave Tippet’s club is their advanced metrics suggest they should be even worse. We’re all used to a Coyotes team full of no-names and OEL, scrapping and clawing their way to a 20th place finish, but now they’re actually playing down to expectations.
They’ve already lost to Vancouver, Calgary, Colorado, the Islanders, and Ottawa this year and have only played four teams that made the playoffs last year. Radim Vrbata, Brad Richardson, and former summer hockey teammate Jordan Martinook are three of their top four scorers. Shane Doan, Max Domi and Anthony Duclair have combined for only four goals all season. Louis Domingue rocked a 3.37 GAA and .902 save percentage in the 13 games he started, although Mike Smith is back healthy and should be able to improve on those numbers.
The mighty Oil get these bums twice this week, and finishing with any less than four points will be a big disappointment.
The middle of November has been a terrible time for the NHL and its fans after a number of stars suffered long-term injuries. Steven Stamkos is once again going to miss the majority of the regular season after suffering a freak knee injury against the Rangers. This is the third time in the last few years that Stammer has missed significant time due to freak injuries. There was the time he broke his leg on the goal post, then had serious blood clots last year, and now this.
Half of the Dallas Stars Top-9 has missed most of the season, and although Jason Spezza and Patrick Sharp returned against the Oil on Saturday, Ales Hemsky, Mattias Janmark, and Jiri Hudler remain out, plus Valeri Nichushkin bolted for the Motherland. The Flames are without Ellen Page for the next six weeks after suffering a broken finger against the Minnesota Wild. 21 uncalled slashes will do that. Jonathan Quick and Marian Gaborik are still sidelined with no return dates set, Taylor Hall is gone for four weeks, while more second-tier forwards in Darren Helm, Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kunitz, T.J. Oshie, and Bryan Little have all gone down and will miss significant time.
Regardless of who you cheer for or where your loyalties lie, the NHL is a much worse place with those guys on the sidelines.
1. The Vancouver Canucks
The ‘Nucks banked 5 points during their four game homestand this week, and would’ve had more if they didn’t go full-Canuck a few times. They kicked things off with a big overtime win against Dallas last Sunday (because Canucks regulation wins don’t exist) and picked up another OT win against the aforementioned Coyotes on Thursday. Sandwiched in between those two wins was a 7-2 crushing at the hands of the NY Rangers ,despite only giving up 25 shots. Then on Saturday, they took a 3-0 lead into the third period against the Western Conference Blackhawks. They of course lost 4-3, because Vancouver. Fun fact, Chicago actually scored twice in the extra frame. Only the ‘Nucks could lose 5-3 in OT.
They now carry a record of 7-10-2, good for second-last in the West (shout out to Arizona) and 28th overall (the Islanders are shockingly bad), which is way better than any of us expected. Consider that if the NHL didn’t have overtime, their record would be 2-10-7. They’re actually 4-1 in the overtime period, which for sure isn’t an anomaly and definitely won’t regress back to .500 or worse, no sir. Their next matchup is on Wednesday night in Arizona, which will incentivize approximately zero people to make the trek out to Glendale. Can’t wait for that one.
As an extra bonus, somebody retweeted this Jim Benning feature from a couple years ago and it’s hilarious. The big board. Because it’s “too difficult” to flip between teams on a computer. He also spelled “Philadelphia” wrong.
What a franchise.