by Tyler Rowe
Smug Nation, y’all. Greatest Canucks blog to never post anything. I think Brian and I owe an apology to anyone who expected a torrent of original material this season a la the spring of 2012, when we were fo’ real bloggers. We sold our souls to James Duthie, but didn’t read the fine print, and therefore didn’t realize that we had to be poor in order to have time for blogging. Ok fine, there are others who make due. But Brian is at law school, and Aidan has become the newest member of Wu Tang Clan, part of their rebranding for the 20th anniversary edition of 36 Chambers. Me, I’m staying busy with a number of other projects (like The Contenders, a new podcast with Perry Hurley from spliffbreaks.com set to drop any day) and working full-time at a pretty sweet pub. Plus, my Kansas City Chiefs are 9-0. But I for one must make my stand against the silence right here and right now. We still watch the games, we still have opinions, and we still think we’re funny. Also, now that you mention it, we’re not sorry.
To get caught up, the great stories around the NHL are as follows: Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe The indomitable Brian Beitz, formerly of SmugNation (kidding!) and now a pupil at UVic Law, which he tells me was created solely to save the environment, actually managed to see though the green haze his life has become to point out something interesting the other day: Northwest Division (1999-2013) championships:
Vancouver Canucks – 7
Colorado Avalanche -5
Calgary Flames – 1
Minnesota Wild – 1
Edmonton Oilers – 0
Read past the jump for a whole lot more. Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe
Here at SmugNation, we recently had a conversation about reality. And as any idiot knows, there is nothing more real than professional wrestling. Last year, the Vancouver Canucks were made super by the lovely and talented Caley Rombout (who should really be doing her own blog, lazybones). You Smuggle-bugs loved it, and asked for more. Who are we to disappoint? Well, okay… we barely posted for almost a year. But with the playoffs upon us once again, we are lucky enough to have Caley back to bring us a new set of heroes, not of the caped variety, but the kind of heroes you find surrounded by stretchy ropes and readily available folding chairs. We are talking about professional wrestlers. And the Vancouver Canucks, rounding into beast-mode-form after the sound thumping they laid on the Chicago Blackhawks last night, are looking like a team ready for a shot at the belt. Read past the jump for the most fun you’ve had since Hulk Hogan overcame adversity to crush Sergeant Slaughter and General Adnan in Wrestlemania VII (nothing quite like xenophobia to get the blood stirring). Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe
The Vancouver Canucks last six games have been against Nashville, Calgary, Edmonton twice, Colorado and Phoenix, and these contests have been good to their division championship ambitions. Despite some lackluster efforts in those six games, the ‘Nucks have managed a 5-1 record, posting 20 goals for and 8 against over that span including two Cory Schneider shutouts. But Nashville, Calgary, Edmonton, Colorado and Phoenix aren’t going to the playoffs and none of those sides have been very good this year. None of them are particularly real (pronounced “rahl”). Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe
As of Monday morning, the Vancouver Canucks are getting odds between 10/1 and 15/1 from Vegas line-makers to win the Stanley cup, which is good for sixth to seventh most likely to win it all. Its likely that these odds will shorten before the playoffs should the Blue and Green continue their (what now seems oddly) cohesive play with the additions of healthy Ryan Kesler and newcomer Derek “shut-up-and-take-my-money” Roy. Still, this is an evaluation by big sports books that says “we do not believe this team will win, but we can’t make the odds too enticing just in case the better teams get injured”. The media outside of Vancouver tends to agree. The conversation around who the bona fide contenders are includes Chicago, Pittsburgh, L.A. and Boston of course, but also less whelming teams like Montreal and Anaheim who, lets be honest, really have no chance at raising the mug this spring. Vancouver seems to be omitted from that conversation, at least as of right now. Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe
Back in August I put a detailed draft package together to give to my friends so they could draft my various fantasy hockey teams for me while I was away on vacation from early-September to mid-October. I laboured over ranking 225 skaters and 20 goalies, complete with nuanced instructions on which players to let fall, which to snatch early, which goalies were acceptable choices in which corresponding rounds, and so on. And this was just for the three points-only leagues I participate in annually. For my 2 multi-stat roto leagues, I painstakingly crafted two pre-rankings lists for autodraft on two seperate websites. I think my Yahoo draft list was a work of art, nay a masterpiece more beautiful than a dozen new seasons of Deadwood. Continue reading
by Tyler Rowe
Hockey. Specifically NHL hockey, and even more pertinently than that, Canucks hockey. It has been six months and five days since our last post, and that was a drink recipe. It has been nearly seven months since our last post about Canucks hockey. I don’t remember how to write. There is a part of me that feels like the end of the lockout is like when Isildor didn’t destroy the one ring. What will the this dread force known as NHL hockey mean now that it is again let loose into our world? Well, since the lockout I have helped open a restaurant here in Victoria to some success. Brian is getting along very well at law school. I haven’t talked to Aidan in months, but am pretty sure he’s been good. Will this shortened season mean the undoing of these positive things? Let us not mince words: I am certain that the answer is yes. Continue reading
Welcome back, Smuglies. We now interrupt 6 weeks of radio silence to bring you… a cocktail recipe.
July 1st, known across this land of ours as either Canada Day or Free Agent Frenzy Day, is coming up on Sunday. This year, July 1st is also the speculative deadline day for a Roberto Luongo trade, since it is the date when RFA goalie-of-the-future Cory Schneider hits the offer-sheet market.
A day so fraught with both sports-fan tension and chest-thumping nationalism naturally pairs well with just about any alcoholic beverage. But since this is the day we might be saying farewell to the greatest goaltender in our troubled franchise’s history, it deserves its own special drink. Read after the jump for the recipe to a cocktail bursting with both flavour and symbolism: The Luongo.
by Tyler Rowe
He was injured, obviiiii. We knew that Kesler had a history of not fessing-up to the media about being hurt until the battle is over, as when last year when we found out that he would need surgery after The Finals That Musn’t Be Named, Part III, and it would seem things were no different this time around. Reports are out that Kesler played the final third of the season with a torn labrum (“a lip-like projection of cartilage on the human scapula surrounding the joint between the humerus and the shoulder blade”. Thanks Wiki); you can call Ryan Kesler a vain, pizza-eating show-stealer, but you can’t call him an excuse-maker. Also like last year, Kesler can look forward to a long summer without being able to fully train, if at all. The doctors have his recovery at six months, which would bring him back around the beginning of December, a full six weeks later than his return in 2011-12. The Canucks looked dismal last autumn in awaiting Kesler’s return and subsequent readjustment to full-time hockey this season, and if he returns on December 8th next season, it will be with at least 25 games in Vancouver’s rear-view on the schedule, good for nearly a third of the next movement.
Of course, after an unceremonious ousting by the good-as-they-should-have-been-from-the-get-go 2011-12 L.A. Kings, plus all the Luongo/Schneider talk, and the uncertain futures of Manny Malhotra, Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard and even coach Alain Vigneault, Vancouver is bound for at least some changes. Calls to blow up the roster of the consecutive President’s Trophy winner are reactionary, childish drivel of course, but I think we can agree that there will be at least some changes. What Vancouver Canucks team that Ryan Kesler comes back to could have a lot to do with their chances to right the ship in the 2012-13 campaign. But what is the correct course of action for #17 himself? Kesler beat his return date from his 2011 hip surgery by weeks, but perhaps never fully healed. His 2010-11 campaign saw him record 41 goals and 32 assists in 82 games, but in 2011-12 Kesler only managed 22 goals and 27 assists over 77 games.
Ryan Kesler has shown he’s the kind of guy who is willing to play the game he loves at all costs. Lets hope the Vancouver Canuck medical staff can help him see the long view. I for one would rather have a fully healthy RK17 for 50 games than an 80% healthy one for 82. For whatever Mike Gillis gets done this summer, let’s have Kesler come back when he’s good and ready, huh?
The Canucks season has come to, by almost anyone’s expectations, a premature end. How should Canucks fans fill the evening hours in the weeks and months to come? The barely pseudonymous aidanbc examines this in a three-part SmugNation investigation: “What Am I Going To Do With My Time!?” In last week’s “Part 1: Moar Spoarts!” he suggested you get behind Vancouver’s other three pro sports teams. How does he think you should spend your time this week? Make like Dan Hamhuis and give it away.
The Canucks have been eliminated from the playoffs, and now I’ve got a date at the cop shop. No, I didn’t engage in an unpublicized riot of one, and I’m not answering any charges . Let me explain.
by Brian Beitz
Each year, once the Canucks have been eliminated from the playoffs, I dread one question. No, not my co-worker asking me if I thought “Lagono was losing on purpose,” though as of yesterday that is now high on my list. I dread the inevitable question of “Who are you going to cheer for now that your team is out?” The wonderful part about last year’s playoffs was that when the Canucks were eliminated, that question was moot. No more rounds,
nothing to live for no more teams to cheer for. I dread this question because a) I’ve been fairly smug all year about my favourite team’s chances and b) I have very mixed feelings on this topic.
Of course, the default would be to go for a Canadian team, but I’m not built that way. I love my country, but if the Canucks aren’t winning the Stanley Cup, it’s not coming “home.” Don’t get me wrong. I’d certainly be pleased if a Canadian team won the damn thing, as long as it isn’t Toronto, Montreal, Edmonton, or Calgary. Winnipeg still falls into the lovable upstart category for me, and Ottawa’s win would show the Ontario market that a team could rebuild quickly without winning “a goddamned lottery,” right, Burkie?
Earlier today, Tyler talked about why he is cheering for the Capitals. As usual, he is wrong, wrong, wrong. I won’t be cheering for them. Nor will I be cheering for LA, St. Louis, Phoenix, Nashville, or Florida this year. Why? It’s simple. There’s only so many teams remaining in the league that have an ominous “Never” listed in the “Last Stanley Cup Win” column, and I’ll be damned if the Canucks will be sitting alone in that category like Phil Kessel at an All-Star game—maybe they’d pick you sooner if you didn’t cut your own hair, Phil.
Let’s look at some of the Stanley Cup droughts ongoing in the league, why I’m still able to take some solace when I look at Stanley Cup playoff history, and which teams Canucks absolutely cannot cheer for:
by Tyler Rowe
My playoff bracket is in almost-shambles. The Flyers are already through, and one more win for the Capitals, Senators, Panthers, Coyotes or
Kings means I wasn’t just wrong, but wrong, Wrong WRONG! I like being wrong about as much as Mikael Sammuelsson liked Sweden after the 2010 Olympic rosters came out. Things are looking pretty wild.
by Brian Beitz
I must admit, I’m confused about the Canucks’ current predicament. The team was awarded the 2011-12 Presidents’ Trophy, and that trophy, according to the NHL, is awarded to “the club finishing the regular season with the best overall record.” Best. And it only stands to reason that the club with the best overall record is the best club, right? So how did it come to pass that the Canucks found themselves down 0-3 and facing a sweep in the first round against the 8th seed LA Kings—the first such sweep in NHL history?
Surely, the explanation must be something other than “poor play.” Poor play is not indicative of the best team in the NHL. Poor plays are indicative of high school musical theatre. Wednesday night, in Game 4, the Canucks came out strong in the 2nd and 3rd periods, scoring 2 powerplay markers en route to a 3-1 victory. The difference between Game 4 and the first 3 games of the series, aside from the fact that the best team won, was that Daniel Sedin finally returned from injury after suffering a concussion at the
hands elbows of Duncan Keith. With Daniel’s return came a return of the Canucks’ top line, their cycle game, and the Team 1040’s annoying game of “Which twin said this?” It’s safe, and fairly obvious, to assume that the Canucks have struggled in large part because they have been without their leading scorer.
And since the Canucks are the best team in the NHL, as acknowledged by the league, they must just be unlucky. As you’ll see after the jump, this isn’t the only season where that’s been the case.
by Tyler Rowe
There has been a typically Vancouver-ly discussion this week about what it really means to see Cory Schneider as the Canucks’ backstop in games 3 and 4, and presumably in every game after that, since it would go against playoff logic to swap out the goalie who won the previous game. Of course, should the Canucks lose any one of the next three, there will be no more games. The discussion gets more interesting if Vancouver pulls off the <1% upset, but that’s not something we really have to start talking about until next week, thanks to some poor arena managment. I’ll tell you what the real problem is as far as scheduling goes: They wrote a song for you, and it was all yellow. But I digress.
The conversation on Schneider’s starts seems to largely be going like this:
by Brian Beitz
As many Canucks fans learned from watching Raffi Torres last season, he can be a valuable addition to a team. Unfortunately, he can also be a liability, as the gritty winger has a habit of making stupid, dangerous hits—perhaps none more dangerous than his hit Tuesday night on Marian Hossa at 12:42 in the 1st period of Game 3 of the Phoenix-Chicago series. Here is the video:
This is a stupid, dangerous hit. Torres will definitely be meeting with Shanahan in the very near future, and the Shanahammer will throw the book at him. Torres, the multiple repeat offender, travels a good distance to leave his feet while crushing an unsuspecting superstar player who doesn’t have the puck. The only thing missing would be slamming his head into the glass after the game had end– What? That wouldn’t add any games? Hmm… Still, I think we’ve seen the last of Torres in the playoffs, no matter how far Phoenix goes. This has become a real tragic part of Torres’ game over the last couple years, and Torres has already been suspended 2 times in just over a year and nearly suspended a 3rd. He definitely is developing a pattern, but maybe more specific of one than you would think…
by Tyler Rowe
I think the feelings of Vancouver Canucks fans have pretty much been summed up by Kevin Sorbo’s inability to read a script. I could probably end the post right here (alas, I could go on and on). We all know the statistics on teams coming back from a 3-0 deficit. The Leafs did it in 1942, the Penguins did it in 1975, and the Flyers did it in the 2010 Eastern Conference finals on their road to a game-6 cup loss to the Blackhawks. That’s three times ever. That’s not enough times. You might be particularly disappointed if you had launched a Canucks blog a few months ago and were counting on a long playoff run to help build momentum.
“That Drew Doughty!”, declares my mom. “I just can’t stand him, unless he’s playing for us in the Olympics.” Indeed, the scruffy, pudgy, impudent, and covetous Doughty isn’t a particularly easy guy to like, unless he’s improbably rear-guarding your national team to a gold medal at your hometown Olympic Games. Of course, Team Canada’s roster was full of players that Canucks fans spend most of their time cursing, headlined by the Blackhawks troika of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, and Jonathan Toews that we lustily cheered on in the red, white and black, only to vigorously jeer in the red, white, black, yellow, green and orange. And while you can pick hated opponents from throughout the lineup, it’s the 2010 Canadian blueline that seems to have a particular grudge against the Canucks—strange considering that 4 of the 7 grew up west of the Rockies. After the jump, check out the rogue’s gallery.
by Brian Beitz
Every once in awhile, Smug Nation likes to review the stories leading up to a game and compare them to the harsh realities that came to be. We want to know what the difference makers in the game were. Were the “keys to the game” really just hype? Essentially, after a win or a loss, we just want to know why this is the best or the worst day of our lives.
Find out what the stories were for Game 2 of the Western Conference Quarter Finals after the jump!
by Brian Beitz
In sports, for any team or individual, there are always highs and lows. For those of us who follow and root for a specific team, those highs and lows are experienced vicariously and empathetically. We feel elation after each win and grief after each loss, and those feelings are multiplied greatly by the deemed importance of the match or event. Heading into the 2012 playoffs, after the Canucks came so close to the ultimate prize in 2011, there has never been as much importance placed on a series of Canucks game, in my experience. I honestly believe that there is more pressure on the players now than in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. Last year, nothing short of a length playoff run would have been acceptable to the organization and its followers. This year, nothing short of a Stanley Cup will be tolerated.
With that said, it should come as no surprise that Wednesday night’s game at Rogers Arena, at which I was in attendance, made me sad. The Canucks lost 4-2 after what appeared to be a disjointed, lacklustre affair, ending a long streak of impressive Game-1 performances, and effectively derailing the fanbase’s overly optimistic season-long argument: “They’re just saving themselves for the playoffs.” Um, guys? You know the playoffs have started now, right? But while I felt a low when the game was lost, my sadness came from a very different source.
You see, what made me sad last night wasn’t the Canucks at all. It was the fans.
by Brian Beitz
After the Canucks’ tragic Game-7 loss to the Boston Bruins last June (spoilers!), many speculated that one of the main reasons for their downfall was a lack of overall “grittiness.” While I don’t know exactly what it means to be gritty, judging by the winning side I can assume it has something to do with $#!&@ giants. Actually, I assume that the critics felt the Canucks to be a team that shied away from post-whistle melees, fights, and big hits.
I, and many others, have always felt that to be a ridiculous sentiment. There were a few reasons that contributed to my tears, and toughness did not seem to come into it, nor did their league-leading 856 hits in the post-season (Boston was number two with 673). Had the Canucks been rolling a powerplay that was more frightening than a cuddly duck or, perhaps, had a center with an intact groin, the series could very easily have swung the other way. That said, everyone knows that we at Smug Nation are nothing if not impartial and unbiased (wait; did everyone go look at the $#!&@ giant link yet?), and in that vein we reviewed game tape from last year’s playoff run.
Once I had soaked up all my tears with my sparkly new Canucks President’s Trophy 2012 hat, I began to realize that grittiness was indeed the cause of the Canucks losing the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, but maybe not in the way many thought. As you’ll see below, it turns out the Canucks were too gritty, and I hope they don’t make that mistake again.
by Aidan Brand and Tyler Rowe
Friday, April 6 is a big day for Valeri Bure. It’s his famous wife Candace Cameron’s birthday.
It’s his even more famous Lord and saviour’s, um, well, day of crucifixion.
But most significantly for us at Smug Nation, it’s the day he decided to invite the onslaught of Canucks fan persecution that comes with any tweeted slight of the team, with a seemingly innocuous prediction. Continue reading
It will never be finally decided who has won the football. There’s still everything to play for, and forever to play it in!
I’ll admit I don’t quite follow how you, a man who lives over 200 miles away from the home ground of your chosen team can claim some deep attachment to a bunch of overpaid hired hands from all four corners of the globe who temporarily wear the same colour of shirt as you’re currently wearing. But then, maybe I’m a bit slow!
Despite our friend David Mitchell’s depressingly well-reasoned tirades on the futility and irrationality of sporting loyalties, fans of teams across the country take a real interest in the success of their own band of athletic mercenaries and seldom waste an opportunity to crow about their successes. Were we any different here at Smug Nation, we wouldn’t be… well, we wouldn’t be Smug Nation. But in a country that includes three of the top five all-time Stanley Cup-winning franchises, but hasn’t hosted a (planned-several-times-over) parade in 19 years, who exactly has bragging rights?
by Brian Beitz
Last year, Tim Thomas was the picture of consistency and confidence in net. Last year’s Vezina winner finished the season with a remarkable 2.00 GAA and a .938 SV%, and then went on to win three game 7’s in the postseason en route to winning a… Stanley Cup. Oh, did I mention he completed the playoffs with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 SV%? Lord knows we at Smug nation aren’t in the business of praising Bruins but… wow.
What we are in the business of, here at the Smuggest Canucks blog, is highlighting when Bruins falter, and this year, Thomas has faltered. While it’s hard to call a 2.48 GAA and .921 SV% faltering, we have little trouble with it when you look at his inconsistency this season. While Thomas has looked nearly untouchable on occasion, Thomas posted a mediocre 2.74/.913 in February and a stunningly bad 2.93/.884 in March. Thomas has spent some months basked in glory, and some months outside the proverbial White House looking in.
But as much as he has stumbled this season, I’ve been enjoying his… stumbling even more. Because Tim Thomas has been falling over a lot.
by Tyler Rowe
Only a short time ago, I wrote that the Vancouver Canucks were pretty much locked into the #2 seed in the Western Conference. I had already mapped out the scenarios, dreading a 2nd round date against the much improved Nashville Predators who, on the T-Rowe Sports Show (#2), I picked as my favourites in the West. (Provided their scoring by committee doesn’t dry up, I think the Preds at 20/1 is the best Stanley Cup futures bet available). But only a couple of weeks later, the Daniel Sedin-less Vancouver Canucks are riding a six-game win streak, and sit in the driver’s seat for top seed in the conference. With a little help from Manhattan, Vancouver could even capture their second straight President’s Trophy. While winning the Western Conference and the President’s trophy would both be nice feathers in Johnny Canuck’s tuque, there is a difference between one accomplishment and the other: winning the West could be a critical get, whereas winning the President’s Trophy doesn’t matter a lick.
by Brian Beitz
If someone had told me earlier in the year that one of the Canucks strongest runs would come with Daniel Sedin and Kevin Bieksa sitting out with injuries, I would have… I’d have… Well, I’d probably believe them. Despite their lackluster play in January and February, the Canucks play a strong system game and have always said that if they stick to that system, they give themselves a great chance to win no matter who’s in the lineup. Now, since Daniel went down due to a
mysterious upper-body injury cheap and brutal headshot—wait, did I cross out the wrong part there?—the Canucks have won 6 straight, their longest winning streak of the season. Really, with the schedule as it is, the Canucks could very well finish the season on a 9-0 run without their leading goal scorer. It’s like they don’t even need him!
The problem is, as you’ll find out after the jump, the Canucks seem to realize this as well…
As you might have noticed, we at Smug Nation are rather fond of cinematic references. And there are few better websites for movie buffs than FilmWise, where each week a set of “Invisibles” is posted: a still from a movie is shown with all characters’ faces or skin made transparent, and you must guess the movie based on clothing, props, surroundings, etc. We thought it would be fun to test your knowledge each week of scenes of Canuck-dom past and present—some famous, some not so much, from in-game footage to Behind the Lens stills. Here are six Canucks invisibles, with faces, numbers, and nameplates carefully redacted. Guess the name of the Canuck that has been invisible’d, not his totally visible teammate, dummy.
by Brian Beitz
A while ago, it came to light that the Canucks were employing a sleep doctor to help the team deal with the rigours of its incredible travel schedule throughout the season. While a little unorthodox, the Canucks organization felt it was one of the reasons the players were able to be as successful as they were last postseason. We also know that the team employs Len Zaichkowsky, a sports psychologist brought in to help the players prepare for games and to keep them calm, cool, and collected.
So when the federal government announced today that they would be cutting 10 per cent of Canucks nemesis CBC’s annual funding, we at Smug Nation became very suspicious. After some investigation, we’ve discovered the Canucks may have been more involved than we originally thought, and from there, the ball just kept rolling.
Smug Nation has just uncovered the five specialists the Canucks employ that you didn’t know about:
by Tyler Rowe
Listening to sports radio and television, a lot of words get thrown around about what is a “bad division” in the NHL. Earlier this year the Pacific looked like a bad division, but now that LA has picked up the slack a little bit and San Jose is back in the hunt, those sentiments have faded. The Southeast has been considered a bad division for years, and so has the Northwest—worse than Tracy Morgan when he’s not under Tina Fey’s watchful eye. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s no denying how good the Atlantic and Central divisions are this year. They’re Michael Jackson Bad, which is to say good. Other than the play of the New Jersey Devils, the dominance of those two divisions isn’t terribly surprising to me, but are those divisions really in another echelon all together?
by Brian Beitz
Saturday night, against the Colorado Avalanche, the Canucks were granted a prolonged 5 on 3 after an always-exciting delay of game, puck over the glass penalty. During that powerplay, the crowd rose to their feet to applaud Smugtoria native Ryan O’Byrne after he blocked 3 shots from the point. But what effect did that have on the final score? If you ask the Canucks, they might tell you “not much,” as they are almost always near the bottom of the league in that category. A few months ago, Pass it to Bulis considered the Canucks lack of shot blocking and what it indicated about the team. We at Smug Nation found this interesting, and decided to look a little deeper. Keep reading after the jump to see what we found!
by Tyler Rowe
One of the members of the HF Boards Canucks community, Caley Rombout, made these unbelievably sweet Canuck superhero photoshops, and when I saw them, I knew we had to put them on the site. Get ready to soak up some awesome, folks.
As you might have noticed, we at Smug Nation are rather fond of cinematic references. And there are few better websites for movie buffs than FilmWise, where each week a set of “Invisibles” is posted: a still from a movie is shown with all characters’ faces or skin made transparent, and you must guess the movie based on clothing, props, surroundings, etc. We thought it would be fun to test your knowledge of scenes of Canuck-dom past and present—some famous, some not so much, from in-game footage to Behind the Lens stills. Here are the first six Canucks invisibles, including four present Canucks and two former ones, with faces, numbers, and nameplates carefully redacted (big stick tap to Aidan, who spent way too much time and hard work on this). Guess the name of the Canuck that has been invisible’d, not his totally visible teammate, dummy.
Tweet your answers (from left to right and top to bottom) with the hashtag #SmugInvisibles or email them to sn.smugnation(at)gmail(dot)com, and we’ll post the answers in a week when the new Invisibles are posted. Each week we will track your successes and failures—oh the failures!— and will post the top invisiblers at the end of the Canuck playoff stretch (in June!). We hope you enjoy!
by Tyler Rowe
Whenever I was in big trouble as a kid, punishment never came right away. My parents would dismiss me from their presence, and call me down to the living room later on to dispense earth-shakers like, “We’re very disappointed in you” and “Your summer just got a lot shorter, buddy-boy.” When the law was laid down right away, it was always for more minor infractions. For serious discipline, the parental unit needed time to figure out exactly how they were going to serve justice, and they were almost always just (except when they made me cut off my sweet Kurt Cobain bangs in 1994—”Hair is a privilege, not a right” never seems just coming from someone who’s balding). So I know how Duncan Keith felt from Wednesday night until this morning, just sitting up in his room awaiting judgement. The waiting, as it has been said, is the hardest part. But then I was never in a situation where my parents might have been waiting to see how long the kid I bullied was concussed for before they punished me, so I guess its slightly different.
by Tyler Rowe
Lousy things happen by accident everyday. Peyton Manning is playing in the AFC West, but not for my Chiefs; Snooki is going to have a kid; Disney is going to lose 200-million on John Carter, hopefully not affecting the budget for Toy Story 4. All bad things. But when the aforementioned incidents took place, no one was being a jerk on purpose. Peyton Manning doesn’t know I hate the Broncos, Snooki probably didn’t get preggers by design and Disney films can’t be delightful 100% of the time, try as they might. When lousy things happen by accident with no undue recklessness, you can’t really be mad.
Lousy things happen on purpose every day too. They chose to kill off Dale in TV’s The Walking Dead [Spoiler Alert!], even though he was the most compelling character on the show. Some delinquents are partial to Irish rioting in London, Ontario (I don’t care how drunk you are – you don’t pitch bricks at cops unless you live under a dictatorship). Sometimes when I go over to Brian’s house, it takes him a whole 42 seconds to offer me a beer. When people do lousy things on purpose, they’re just like Good Canadian Boy Duncan Keith, who pulled a UFC move on Daniel Sedin Wednesday Night in the Madhouse on Madison.
Episode two of the T-Rowe Sports Show is out, with me, Tyler Rowe, co-producer Jason Saliani, and VI Sports Break’s Derry Hunley, Paul Hanson and Trevor Digby. 48 minutes of round-table hockey talk, covering our picks and projections for the NHL playoffs. Totally excellent, for almost all audiences (some adult language). Next show is Thursday, March 29th, when Brendan Norton comes into the studio to school us on some Football, March Madness, and everything else we can think of.
by Brian Beitz
Anyone who follows the boys from the Canucks’ AHL affiliate Chicago Wolves can tell you that the Twitter bug has hit this team big time, inspired in large part by Mike “Thumbs” Duco, a bit of a notorious figure in the world of tweets. I guess when you’re part of a league where long, frequent bus rides are prevalent, there has to be ways to pass the time. But what happens when a Wolves skater decides to stray from Twitter and, say, watch a movie? Well that’s exactly what Billy Sweatt did on Sunday during a roadtrip to Toronto when he decided to open up a classic sports film on his iPad.
by Tyler Rowe
A fair amount of belly-aching has taken place over the Canucks’ play since the big game in Boston on January 7th, and with good reason. In that time, Canada’s Team (see our tagline, jerk) is 17-7-5, or 17-12 if you feel the way we do about rewarding losers. A respectable record for some teams I suppose, but not for a contender, especially when attained in spite of some not-so-respectable play. The more disturbing portion is the last 10 games, where the Canucks are 3-5-2 (3-7), including consecutive losses to two teams that are likely first-round opponents in the Coyotes and Stars.
While many slumps were bumped in the 5-4 loss to Phoenix last Wednesday, and more still on Saturday night when the Canucks just barely beat the worst team in the league, the team is definitely not firing on all cylinders. Last night’s game in Minnesota was almost un-watchable, and while Minnesota’s new coach Mike “Yo” Yeo is clearly trapping-down in the vain hope of keeping his job going into ’12’-13, the Canucks were mediocre at best. They were out-shot, out-hit and won only 43% of their face-offs. Cory Schneider was more impressive than (the actually pretty darn impressive) Josh Harding on the night, not because he suddenly became a show-off, but because he had to be. Kevin Bieksa for one spent the whole night giving it up like the audience at the start of the Arsenio Hall Show.
Mercifully the Canucks aren’t the only ones who are puttering along at this late hour in the ’11’-12 season. The Bruins and Red Wings also wallow in their own crapulence. Maybe, just maybe, we can learn a little about what’s up with the Canucks by looking/laughing at their struggles.
by Brian Beitz
Yesterday, Brian began his exciting tale as he ventured into the depths of Gator country to learn all he could about the elusive Floridian hockey fans. If you missed yesterday’s piece, see it here before reading on. When we left off, the puck was about to drop at the Tampa Bay Times Forum…
by Brian Beitz
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to sunny Orlando, Florida, to
take a vacation and hangout at Disney World go on assignment for Smug Nation and spend some time learning about an NHL franchise that we in BC don’t get to see too often. See, what a lot of people don’t know is that Tampa Bay is also in Florida, and there’s an NHL team there! That’s right, the count for NHL franchises is:
So how can Florida support 2 franchises when most provinces and hockey markets can take 1? My assignment: disguise myself as a Tampa Bay Lightning fan during the Lightning/Leafs game last week in order to learn how the other half live. (The “other half” in this instance are fans of a team located in a non-traditional southern hockey market.) I wanted to learn why Floridians bothered to show up (if not en masse) for games when they a) weren’t raised around hockey and b) can go to Gators games anytime they want. In short, I felt like ridiculing these hapless fans and their limited hockey knowledge. The results were, unfortunately, not in accordance with what one would expect from true NHL fans.
Wednesday, after a 3-day rest, the Canucks took on the Phoenix Coyotes at Rogers Arena. The team was looking to right a
sinking no-longer-buoyant-but-still-somehow-staying-in-the-exact-same-position-on-the-surface ship. Many of the players have been mired in scoring slumps lately, the powerplay has been dismal, and for some reason when you add those two items together and combine them with shaky goaltending and defensive breakdowns, the results are worse than Terrence Maddox’s last blood test.
But now is not the time to panic, my little Smuglies. No, that time was 2 games ago. Now is the time when you slump to the ground, exhausted by your own hysterics and dehydrated from the excessive sobbing and drooling and start to realize there is still good in the world. You see, not every loss is a complete loss and not every win is a complete win (mostly because some wins are shootouts). We here at Smug Nation don’t believe that the Canucks’ cup is half empty, and we certainly don’t believe that the cup is half full. Only losers have half-full cups. At Smug Nation, all cups usually runneth over with optimism, hope, and enough alcohol to keep those first two things intact. Today, the Canucks’ cup runneth over with the momentum gained from breaking nine slumps on Wednesday and getting several individuals off the proverbial “schnide” (also getting them off the non-proverbial Schneid, who would prefer that players stop sitting on his lap for comfort following a loss).
Let’s take a look at some of the slumps bumped by the Canucks on Wedneday night:
by Tyler Rowe
I was over at Nucks Misconduct a few minutes ago, where I found a poll exploring which first round opponent The Misconductors would prefer for the Vancouver Canucks. Next stop was the HF Boards’ Canucks page where the same question was posed. And Google tells me that no fewer than three other orca-centric hockey blogs have postulated similarly. Never one to miss out on a bandwagon, like Pappy O’Daniels on the Soggy Bottom Boys, I figured a look at this question was something Smug Nation should not miss. Fortunately, we have something the others don’t: the super not-gimmicky, Choo-Choo-Choose-O-Meter!
Much like the surprise ending of Life of Pi, there are often two stories: the one supported by facts, and the better, happier, easier to digest narrative (Oh, um… spoiler alert!). With that in mind, have a chew on the following little tale of the Canucks’ recent line shuffle.
I’ll admit it: I’ve been bitten by the Alex Burrows bug. Despite some antics that have made me want to pull my hair out, #14 has become my favourite Canuck. It’s not difficult to finger the moment when this took place: a last-minute-shorthanded-tie-breaking-game-winning-deke-to-the-backhand-shelf goal against the Carolina Hurricanes that famously chopped a 9-game losing streak. Mix in 2 overtime series-clinching tallies, heat for 4 years at $2 million per, drain off a Ron MacLean hatchet job, and you’ve got the makings of a fan favourite: a humble-rooted inexpensive French Canadian—the poutine of hockey players. So while most of the pundits are talking about Alain Vigneault’s decision to “promote” Mason Raymond to the “first line”, I am more interested in Burrows’ ostensible dive to the third line, where he’ll be teamed up with Sammy Pahlsson and Jannik Hansen. Continue reading
Mike Gillis has only one job: to make a good team better. He doesn’t have to rebuild a bad team, because the Canucks are already good. He doesn’t have to worry about selling tickets for a struggling franchise by signing players with flashy skill-sets, because attendance is not an issue (even when a night in the cheap seats with a few oat sodas is going to run you a hundy). He doesn’t have to spend to an internal cap, worry about the coaching staff or talk to any petulant superstars about their attitude. For crying out loud, the Canucks only have one or two bad contracts on the whole roster, and neither of them are even a 5 on the Redden-scale. But this doesn’t mean that his job is easy—he works in one of the NHL’s most rabid media markets, his stars aren’t shining that brightly these days, and fan expectations could not be much higher. Gillis’ job is not easy, it’s just not quite as multi-faceted as it is for some other GMs.
by Brian Beitz
It’s official, the Canucks are slumping. The boys in blue and green have gone 4-4-2 in their last 10, outscored 23 to 20 in that span. This is not the way we have come to expect this team to perform, and nearly every player is in a season-worst funk. There has been much debate since the embarrassing 3rd-period folding versus the Canadiens last night as to how the Canucks should spend their 3-day break before playing Phoenix on Wednesday. If you’re Alain Vigneault, what do you do? Bag skate them? Give them a few days away from the rink to clear their heads? Perhaps an ideal game of Battling Tops?
No. What the Canucks need is to realize that what they’re going through now has been gone through by many before them, on the silver screen. Winning isn’t about resting or practicing; it’s about watching movies and seeing how the real heroes turn their games around and defeat the villain/win the big game/get Thor’s hammer back. Here’s the Hollywood scenarios Smug Nation would suggest each slumping Canuck go through in order re-find his game:
by Tyler Rowe
The number 16 holds a lot of significance to us North Americans, for many different reasons:
The number 16 is very important for Canucks fans as well:
With our eyes smugnaciously narrowed, lets turn our gaze to the final 16 games of the season and what it means for the Canucks and their silvery ambitions.
by The Cleated Traveller, Tristan Noble
Since the lockout, the Canucks have won the Northwest division title all but two times—in ‘06 (Calgary) and ‘08 (Minnesota). As of today, 18 points above 2nd place Colorado in the standings, the Canucks look poised to raise their fourth straight Northwest Division banner to the rafters. While the Canucks are a polished product that is (almost) always firing on all cylinders, the rest of the division is in disarray. The following is a survey of the rest of the Northwest division denizens, what problems they suffer from, and their budding stars that look to change shape of the Northwest Division.
As well as launching this website most fine, we’d also like to tune you in to my brand-spankin’-new podcast, the T-Rowe Sports Show.
by Brian Beitz
Today should be a sad day. Today, we said goodbye to an exciting player and prospect. Today we watched our “friend” (I put the word “friend” in quotes because the definition of that word is not “guy whom we watch at home in our underwear and secretly wish we knew”) leave the gentle womb of Smug Nation and enter the dangerous world of sabres and buffaloes (everyone knows if there’s one animal you don’t give a sword to it’s a buffalo). And yet today, as Canucks fans and players alike bid Cody “Franchise” Hodgson a fond farewell, wishing him all the best as he moves on to a team that will provide him with the playing minutes he so craves and deserves, we find a silver lining. That is because today, Smug Nation welcomes a new prospect to the Blue ‘n’ Green in Zack “Whistles” Kassian.
by Tyler Rowe
Like bear cubs who fight for their whole adolescence only to become fast lovers in the bright light of adulthood, so it was with Cody Hodgson and the Vancouver Canucks. They came together, they tussled, they created something beautiful, and just like that, it was over before it started; a beautiful union that for our collective memory will never lose its brief but brilliant gleam. Ok, that’s laying it on thicker than Jesse Spano on a speed crash. But for a short time, 63 games from October 6th, 2011 to February 27th, 2012, Cody Hodgson changed the Vancouver Canucks.
by Brian Beitz
Alain Vigneault must be an Arnie fan, because he had a smirk on his face when he announced that he’d be splitting up the Sedins to start a game against the Nashville Predators last week. Surely that smirk could only be attributed to having watched Twins recently: AV knew the hilarity and hijinks that would ensue whenever the twins were reunited. And, much like the famous—if not identical—duo, the Sedins’ split led to gun fights, sleeping with Kellie Preston, and eventually being reunited with a long-lost maternal figure. OK, so the analogy breaks down a bit here. But the twins were separated after a Danny Devito of a month that still provided some Schwarzenegger-like results.