Unfortunately, the Calgary Flames managed to dig themselves out of the Alberta snow and make it to Vancouver to face the Canucks on Hockey Night in Canada for their final visit to British Columbia this season.
On a night where the Canucks probably deserved a much better fate, the Calgary Flames prevailed largely on the back of AHL goaltender Joni Ortio. Once again, Vancouver managed to make a fringe NHL goaltender look like a Vezina Trophy candidate and cost themselves yet another crucial two points in the Western Conference standings.
— Mike Stefanuk (@Mike_Stefanuk) January 11, 2015
There’s nothing worse than losing to a division rival, especially if you happen to reside in the same country as that rival. So for now, the Calgary Flames have all the bragging rights while Vancouver limps onto a five-game road trip out East.
It was just one of those games for Vancouver:
So with that in mind, I think it’s time for a drink. Or six.
Good thing we have the Vancity Buzz #Sixpack to help ease the pain of losing to Calgary!
Final score: Flames 1 – Canucks 0
None. Notta. Zilch
- Mikael Backlund (4th goal) – Assisted by David Jones and Johnny Gaudreau
1. The NHL “All-Star” Game
Before I get into the events Vancouver v. Calgary, I wanted to quickly discuss a rather touchy subject that tends to arise every year that the NHL graces us with an All-Star game.
Inevitably, the NHL All-Star game tends to provide loads of controversy for fans despite it being one of the most pointless events during the season. One of the most prominent issues is the fan voting for the starting lineup which is a problem that doesn’t even deserve to be discussed because of the massive joke it has become. Zemgus Girgensens flanked by five Chicago Blackhawks? Are you kidding me? How does no one at the NHL Head Office think to themselves that perhaps this system is a tad broken when the leading vote getter was dictated by voters in Latvia because they felt like it was a good idea? It’s almost as bad as this near miss:
The other issue is the selection of the rosters themselves which, thankfully, is not controlled by a group of fans that reside in Chicago or in a small European Parliamentary Republic. I’ll concede that it’s a tough job to make room around all the Blackhawks on the roster, but how Henrik and Daniel Sedin were left off the final roster while Radim Vrbata is included is beyond comprehension.
Vrbata an all star? Really? Were Daniel and Henrik busy?
— Rob Williams (@RobTheHockeyGuy) January 10, 2015
Don’t get me wrong, I really like Vrbata and think he is an excellent player. But is he an NHL All-Star? Absolutely not.
Yes, the Sedins have slowed down in recent years but they are still All-Star calibre players that are well-suited to represent the NHL in a game as loose as whatever the hell is on display when all the “best” players in the NHL get together to appease the sponsors.
The big issue with the roster selections is that, unfortunately, all 30 teams must be represented and for the most part, the NHL did an okay job at trying to spread the love. With the traditional East vs. West format changed to include a draft, the NHL just needs to select what they feel is the best group of players to represent the league. Does this group really need to exclude PK Subban and Erik Karlsson though?
The host team must also have decent representation as well and Columbus has three entrants: Sergei Bobrovsky, Ryan Johansen, and Nick Foligno. But do you really have to sacrifice having both Sedins in the All-Star game so Nick Foligno can attend?
Apparently you do.
2. Frankie Corrado Makes his Debut
Frankie goes to Hollywood North. No Weber in warm-up skate. Corrado in. #Canucks
— Ben Kuzma (@benkuzma) January 11, 2015
Despite already being called up three times this season but never actually getting on the ice, Frankie Corrado made his 2014-15 NHL Season debut on Saturday night against the Flames. I think I speak for everyone when I saw that it’s about damn time!
As if playing in your first NHL game of the season wasn’t difficult enough for young Corrado, coach Willie Desjardins decided to give him one of the tougher assignments for the game. And by tougher assignments, I mean his own defence partner…
I feel really bad for not playing Corrado year…. So I'm gonna pair him with Sbisa cuz he's really good… really good defense partner.
— Willie D (@Coachdesjardins) January 11, 2015
3. Second Line Chris Higgins Needs to Stop
Chris Higgins and the second line had a stellar start to the season but have tailed off over the past couple of months. And by tailed off, I mean they have crashed and burned worse than a NASCAR accident.
Not sure how long Willie can keep Higgins on 2L. He's doing nothing and Hansen is basically his only player that's flying tonight
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 11, 2015
So far this season, Willie Desjardins has shown the patience of a freaking saint. But we’ve already witnessed his breaking point with his scoring lines as Alex Burrows was shifted up to play with the Sedins and Vrbata was relegated to play with Nick Bonino and Higgins in an attempt to provide a spark to that rain soaked fire pit. And just like trying to light a fire in the rain, it’s probably not going to work.
As useful and versatile as Higgins has been since arriving in Vancouver in 2011, he has been miscast in the second line winger role this season. Like Jannik Hansen, I believe that Higgins would be better suited on a third line while also providing spot duty on a scoring line when required.
Here’s the problem though: Who do the Canucks have to replace him on the second?
The only real potential fits are Zack Kassian and Hansen, but chances are Kassian won’t be seeing any type of promotion soon and Hansen has really found his groove playing with Derek Dorsettt and Bo Horvat. Although Hansen had a spectacular game tonight:
Whatever Jannik Hansen ate today needs to become a regular thing.. Just flying, puck is stuck to his stick, amazing.
— Blake Price (@BlakePriceTSN) January 11, 2015
Unless Trader Jim Benning has an ace up his sleeve, it looks like we may be stuck with the dreaded Bonino-Higgins combo for a little longer.
4. So How’s Mason Raymond Doing in Calgary?
mason raymond, scratch
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) January 11, 2015
Mason Raymond down…as a healthy scratch vs #Canucks
— Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff) January 11, 2015
Apparently, not too great…
Probably not the worst thing for Calgary considering what happened last time Raymond played at Rogers Arena:
I think most Canuck fans were a little sad that we wouldn’t get to see Mason Raymond in action. Considering we had to witness his ineffectiveness strengthen over the course of the season and into the playoffs, the least the Flames could have done is show how he is someone else’s problem now.
— Bryan (@kesrows) January 11, 2015
— Ryan Biech (@ryanbiech) January 11, 2015
Low blow Biech. Low blow…
5. Sometimes Luck Just Isn’t On Your Side
CLANK – #Canucks ring one off the post…
— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) January 11, 2015
That happened at least four times in the game (I stopped counting). If you watched the video of Mason Raymond scoring into his own net in the last segment, you would understand that luck plays a huge part in hockey. Last time the Canucks faced the Flames, Vancouver had all the luck.
Tonight? Not so much:
Henrik on chances – "When you hit four cross-bars it's not like the chances weren't there." #Canucks
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) January 11, 2015
The Canucks played a lot better than their Albertan rivals yet came away with the loss. It wasn’t all luck though as Calgary did a great job of getting into lanes and deflecting shots. Still, you would hope that at least one of those deflections ended up in the Flames’ net. Is that really too much to ask?
If the upper netting was the goal, the Canucks would be up by 20 goals. #DeflectionCity
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) January 11, 2015
6. Looking Ahead at the Schedule
Now that the Canucks have botched their five game home-stand (2-3 record), the team will now embark on a five game trip where things won’t get any easier for them.
Their first stop of the trip takes them to Nashville to take on Carrie Underwood and the Predators in what should be a huge test for the Canucks. Thankfully, the Preds have a new coach that doesn’t suck the fun out of life.
Their next four stops are in Philadelphia, Carolina, Florida and Tampa Bay. Other than Carolina, those are four very talented squads that will pose all sorts of problems for the Canucks.