This week's round table discusses the Canucks recent road trip, taking over the All Star Game in Toronto, and whether or not the Canucks should just go for it at the deadline and try to do the thing?
Once again, it's time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Round Table. I toss out some questions, and the NM writers offer up their completely sane and rational takes.
1- The Canucks have returned from their longest road trip of the season, and brought back 11 of a possible 14 points with them. So, pretty good... right?
KENT: Apart from the frustrating performance in St Louis, you really have to be excited about the way the Canucks handled an extremely tough road trip. Little rest, some really good teams, and a chance for the Canucks to battle their way through different scenarios and playing styles. All of these wins are going to help the Canucks come playoff time, especially the win over the Rangers. That was such an impressive win, a literal best on best of the two conferences and the Canucks absolutely clowned the Blueshirts. And even the loss in Columbus, given the epic journey they had to go through just to get to the game, getting a point out of that? Awesome. And what did we learn? Well, we still haven't seen their best hockey yet. We're seeing that the Canucks have a solid goaltending duo for the first time in almost a decade. We know they can adjust to different game plans against and find ways to win. And we know if you eat at Panda Express, bad things will happen.
jimmi - Pretty good? Astonishing. Stunning. Canucks became the 1st NHL team to win 15 games On The Road. That was not supposed to happen. This 7 Levels of Game Hell was specifically designed by the NHL Sadists and Schedulers Department to crush the Nucks, their fans and purge the established league pecking order of these wet coast interlopers. They failed. The Nucks did not. Other than that lousy start against the Blues and the trains, planes and buses to Carumbus ordeal, it was the best extended Nucking road trip I can recall from this century.
Westy - Should I continue with the gushing of praises? This road trip was a season crusher in years past. The resurrection of the Lotto Line was something that must have been discussed during the Holidays by the coaching staff and players, and the loss in St Louis was holy sign Taco saw to bring them back. The Trifecta in the Metro area was oh so sweet and it was good to see the Canucks play rough against Buffalo.
2- There are some who don't think the All Star Game is important, and an unnecessary distraction during the season. With this in mind, is it still not hilarious that the Canucks are sending more players to the game than the host Toronto Maple Leafs?
KENT: There are elements of the All Star Game that are great. The Skills Competition is fun, and makes for great tv. The game itself? Garbage. It bears little resemblance to the way the game is played, and so you see very little realistic game action. Not that we need scraps and dudes getting laid out, but if the All Star Game went away, we'd all survive, honest.
But anyway, even though they'll have the worst jerseys ever created, the Canucks with the most players (as well as Rick Tocchet and PA announcer Al Murdoch, best in the damn biz) in their barn in pretty funny. Not as funny as the dude tweeting about Nylander leading the voting when it showed Demko was over 100K ahead, but still funny.
jimmi - I'm not a fan or viewer of the league's PR spell-binding, self-congratulatory weekend of media fawning. But, is hilarious while CoTU is burning in controversy with the most important losing streak in hockey - will be required to be nice passive/aggressive hosts. To keep the NHL's Fluff Factor fun.
Westy - I am of the same ilk as Jimmi. I do not partake in All-Star viewing. As I have gotten older and crankier, I have less interest in watching the league trying to sell hockey to U.S. viewers. I am already a customer. I did vote for the 4 other Canucks to get into the All-Star game on NHL.com....multiple times. Fuck you Toronto.
3- So... those All Star Jerseys, eh?
KENT: But at least this year, the game isn't the worst thing about All Star Weekend, it's those godforsaken jerseys. True story: when the first picture dropped on Twitter (Get rekd, Elmo), I was in the ex-SBN Slack chat and I totally called it:
Just inexcusably awful and yet so on brand. Whoever thought this was a good idea should be publicly acknowledged, so that they can forever wear the shame of this abomination. I know the game needs to grow beyond the base of angry white dudes, but this ain't it, chief. Everyone's talking about the NHL because of this, but the old adage "There's no such thing as bad publicity" is a goddamn lie.
jimmi - Special weekend, special jerseys for the special fluff job.
Westy - Saturday morning cartoon edition. It shows that Bieber's people only let him use the primary colors, because the rest are so yummy to eat. I'm not sure who thought Bieber is the typical hockey fan and that I would relate to him. I'm not sure what age cohort is a Bieber fan anymore.
4- As of this writing, the Canucks are one point out of first place in the NHL again. In a year where we hoped that they'd be good enough to compete for a wild card slot, is it reasonable for the Canucks to say "Fuck it, Let's Do This!" and go all in at the trade deadline and load up for a potential Cup run?
KENT: The work that Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin and their staff have done since coming on board has already done two things: 1) Addressed the weaknesses the Canucks had through free agency signings, trades and better usage of assets they already had, and 2) shown us all just how incompetent the previous regime was.
If you see someone trying to give Benning any credit for the Canucks performance this season, you need to block them. No one needs a delusional bullshit artist like that in their lives. The organization was rotting from the inside, and between cleaning house in management, getting competent pro scouting, and making on ice personnel changes that paid immediate dividends, this is all on JR, PA and crew. You know things are good when we don't complain about this team's ownership. That alone, speaks volumes.
So, sitting in first in the division in mid-January, it should be obvious: Go for it. There are some prospects/roster players that, paired with this year's 1st round pick could help add a little more defensive depth and get that 2nd line center that can make the Canucks into a legitimate Cup threat. Yeah, I know it sounds crazy, but so did the St Louis Blues going from last place at Christmas to winning the Cup in the same season. They're close, and it would be nuts to try to do more than just be satisfied with making the playoffs.
jimmi - Alvin and the Cupmonks have done an excellent job. While they botched the Bruce firing, they've been firing on all cylinders since. Congrats to them. Frannie must be happy not to get harangued on the street anymore. Or more importantly, not vilified on NM in months.
Seems Trader Al (Trader Pat?) isn't going to stop now. 2nd line center does seem the obvious goto move. But, we will see if this is the time to trade the future, mortgage the farm team and go get a rental mercenary. Or two.
Westy - I am going to disagree with Kent just for the fun of it. GMPA has done a fine job of evaluating what was left behind and then made some changes. But.......Benning did draft Petey, Boeser, Hughes, Demko and traded for Miller. Was Benning a good GM or president? No...definitely not. He choices for coach were bad...his contract extensions were bad. His FA signings....bad
GMPA is now in a position that will define how we speak about him for the next 4 years. And Petey is making this decision more stressful by not negotiating during the season. The trade deadline might be a quiet one for this team because you might not want to fuck with the chemistry and secondly, you don't want to take on a contract that hurts the team next year or 3 years down the line. I personally would let this team ride out the year. It's easier to get by in for other changes if the team falters in the playoffs. Trade a player now and the team's ju-ju might change.
5- OPEN ICE: Here's your chance to let fly with anything you like or dislike about the season so far, Canucks related or not. And.... GO!
KENT: I have been impressed with the quality of the hockey in the PWHL so far in their debut. The jerseys leave something to be desired, but it's entertaining hockey, and it's going to do more to grow hockey than anything the NHL is doing right now. I love that the Canucks and Jets are doing so good. I'd love to see those two go head to head in the Western Conference Final.
As far as things I dislike so far, officiating continues to be an issue league wide. I know it's never going to happen, but some transparency and accountability for game officials, and a complete overhaul of the player safety department are long overdue.
jimmi - I dislike the Nucks have cheated us out of the incremental improvement scenario we were promised. As well as the anxious last wildcard spot chase.
I LIKE, really, really LIKE Nucks have cheated us out of the incremental improvement scenario. And spared us last wildcard spot nervosa. Conflicted fan feelings - NM mainstay for decades - has now been warped into a new, winning era. I'm trying to keep up.
Agree with Kent, as ever, the biased game-altering beer league officiating continues to be the NHL's forte. Can hardly wait for the Violence-On-Ice section of the league's May entertainment schedule. It's a delicate balance operating a TV Playoff War with that pesky rulebook being quoted on the internet.
Westy - I can't believe the two guys above me are still complaining about the refs after watching hockey for a combined 140 years. The only consistency is the refs inconsistency.
I hate the way the way Petey is fucking with the fanbase. Vancouver fans have been loyal to many players over 52 years and they desperately want another Swede to love and cherish. And yet it seems that Petey wants more.
I love Rick Tocchet so far. He is honest in his interviews and seems to have the players respect and they have bought into team, which has really helped some individuals improve their numbers.
I hate believing that this team is really good is the regular season, but thinking they won't have a playoff mode.