Saturday, January 31, 2009

Game 50 - vs. Wild

A while ago, my wife made the observation that I was "the worst fan in the world," because I always expected the Canucks to lose.

Fair comment. And certainly my pessimism never made it easier to deal with the team's crappy performance year after year--nor did it convince the hockey gods to let us have some freakin' success for once.

So I've made a conscious effort to stay on the bandwagon this year. Apart from a couple slips, I have honestly continued to "believe". Even when I've predicted a loss in a specific game, I've felt that this team could succeed over the season as a whole. And despite the hilariously awful losses this Canucks team has coughed up over the last few weeks, I do still believe.

My prediction record so far is 5-3... and the 3 errors are the last 3 losses, which I predicted as wins. Sooner or later this team is going to turn it around, and god help me I think tonight's the night. Again. I mean, if I keep predicting wins, eventually I'll be right. They can't possibly lose every game for the rest of the year. They can't. Really. I believe.

Optimistic prediction: Sundin starts to shake off the rust. Matched up with Kesler and Burrows, he finally looks like he belongs. Burrows and Kesler each get goals, assisted by Mats. Willie Mitchell's anger transforms him into an offensive dynamo--8 shots, 1 assist, 1 goal. Luongo finally plays like we all know he can. Canucks win 4-2.

Pessimistic prediction: Same old, same old. Canucks get the first goal, but Minnesota knows it's playing a weak and pathetic opponent. Defensive lapses + offensive incompetence = failure failure failure. The only way this could be worse would be for Luongo to re-injure his groin. But that won' t happen... will it? Canucks lose 3-1.

As of almost 10 a.m. Saturday I am feeling pessimistic optimistic. Really optimistic. So full of optimism I could just puke. Go Canucks go. I mean it. Just go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Game 49 - vs. Predators

I'm just nauseous with optimism.

In fact, I've made a conscious decision to stay on the bandwagon this year. I think this is a good team, a talented team, and I think we'll make it.

As an aside, on Team1040 David Pratt says he wants to see "Vigneault literally snap!" What, like the Fonz?

Optimistic prediction: This team picks itself up by its bootstraps and punches Nashville right in the mouth. Sundin scores, Bieksa scores, Salo scores twice. Brutal performance by the Preds. 6-1 romp for the Nuckleheads.

Pessimistic prediction: Not again. A relatively good defensive effort is squandered by an impotent offense. Luongo tries to bar the door but it's not good enough. 2-0 loss to the Preds, with the second going into the empty net.

As of quarter-to-five tonight I am feeling: OPTIMISTIC! Go Canucks GO! Canucks win!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

We're in first place!

... if the criterion is "which NHL team has faced the toughest opponents so far this year?"

Unless I'm misunderstanding this site (and maybe I am), it seems like the Canucks' opponents so far this year have a winning percentage overall of 53%. This is the highest in the league, meaning that the Nucks have played the toughest schedule of anyone (not even considering travel).

Very interesting site. I'm noodling around to find other cool stuff--like here, for example, which shows that the Canucks can look forward to the easiest opponents of any team in the Western Conference, over the rest of the 08-09 season.

I have no idea if this is (a) correct or (b) predictive of anything. But it does make me feel better.

Look here as well, which predicts an approximate 52% chance for the Nuckleheads of making the playoffs, and here, which suggests that if we win even half of our remaining 34 games our playoff chances go up to 64%--and reach 86% if we win just one more game than that.

I'm clinging to the bandwagon with my toenails...

(All figures as of the All-Star break.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Game 48 - at Sharks

So I was wrong for the first time in ’09… but in my defense we SHOULD have won that game. Frankly I ought to have predicted a loss, because everyone knows the pattern goes like this:

1. winning streak
2. playing badly, but still winning games you should lose
3. losing streak
4. playing well, but still losing games you should win
5. winning streak

We’re on Stage 4 (God I hope we’re on stage 4…). After a loss against Columbus in which we played pretty well except for a 6 minute horror-show right in the middle, I think we’re set to do well in San Jose.

Optimistic prediction: Luongo continues to improve, Sundin continues to improve, hell, even Taylor Pyatt continues to improve. Methuselah (a.k.a. Claude Lemieux) wears an onion on his belt, which was the style at the time. Canucks edge out the Sharks 4-3 in regulation.

Pessimistic prediction: Canucks try hard—again—and lose. Again. A bad giveaway here (Edler!), a bad penalty there (Sundin!), and before you know it we’re down and out. Not a laugher, more of a cryer. Claude Lemieux scores all 6 goals for the Sharkles, spanking the Canucks for their 97th consecutive loss 6-3.

As of 9 a.m. I am feeling… a little queasy about this season, but DAMN IT ALL, THE DEVIL TAKE THE HINDMOST, LET’S WIN THIS ONE FOR THE GIPPER*! (*actual Gipper not included.) Canucks win in regulation in San Jose! The Stanley Cup parade will go across the Granville Street Bridge! Woot! Woot!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Game 47 - vs. Blue Jackets

I feel like I'm the only Canuck fan who doesn't want or expect to see major changes on this team. I mean, I think Taylor Pyatt is on the first line only because he's being shopped, but otherwise I think what you see is what you'll get, Vigneault included.


Optimistic prediction: Luongo shakes off the rust and shuts 'em down. Wellwood scores twice, including a powerplay marker assisted by Sundin, and Bieksa and Salo each add one. First Canuck win in a loooong time, 4-1 Nucks.

Pessimistic prediction: More of the same: an early goal sparks panic, and badness follows. Luongo is replaced by LaBarbera after the first, and it goes downhill from there. Yet another candidate for worst game of the season. 5-0 Jackets.

As of 2:30 today I am feeling... optimistic! The bleeding stops tonight. Canucks win!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Fire Coach V? Give me a break.

I just posted this as a comment over at Yankee Canuck's place, but I thought I'd stick it up here too.

The people who want to see the back of Alain Vigneault are wrong. This team was fantastic in November, and was fantastic in the second half of 06-07. They’ve been terrible since Christmas, and were terrible in the second half of 07-08. Same coach the whole time. I just don’t buy the argument that it’s the coach’s fault.

I think there’s three kinds of hockey teams: the great, the awful, and everyone else. This year it’s Detroit and San Jose and Boston that are great, Ottawa and Tampa that are awful. Everyone else is streaky: they have good runs, and bad runs. Vancouver just happens to be on a bad run. It’ll turn around–this team actually IS too talented to play like this for the rest of the season.

Part of the problem with sports analysis (and part of the problem with economic analysis, for that matter) is that it’s too easy for people to draw straight line projections from what’s happening RIGHT NOW.

“Vancouver housing market going up right now? Then it will always go up!”
“Stock market going down right now? Omigod it’s the Great Depression!”

I think Canuck nation should take a collective deep breath. This team is going to be fine. We’ll make the playoffs. We’ll even make the second round. Sooner or later, talent will win out. We’re fine.

In short: don’t just do something… stand there!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Game 46 - vs. Coyotes

Tough stretch for the Nuckleheads--losers of 5 in a row at home, all of them eminently winnable games. Naturally the yobboes are blaming Vigneault, forgetting that the same system that made this team 3-2-5 since Christmas is what has made them 8-3-2 in November. Clearly it's time to fire the coach!

With any luck at all, Vancouver will go on a little win streak now that Himself is back. Of course, luck has been in short supply these days...

Optimistic prediction: Luongo storms out of the gate, stoning the Dogs in the first, and letting in only 1 goal in each of the second and third periods. Daniel Sedin and Kevin Bieksa reply for the Canucks, setting up a shootout in which Sundin scores the winner. Nucks win 3-2 in the shootout.

Pessimistic prediction: Luongo storms out of the gate, stoning the Dogs in the first, and letting in only 1 goal in each of the second and third periods. Daniel Sedin and Kevin Bieksa reply for the Canucks, setting up a shootout in which the Canucks can't get a single shot past Bryzgalov (thanks in large part to the benching of a certain Wellwood, K.). In the fifth round of the shootout, Jovo pots one off the post and in behind Roberto. Nucks lose 3-2 in the shootout.

Very pessimistic prediction: I'll just say one word: groin.

As of 6:26 pm, I am feeling pessimistic (but not very pessimistic). Let's put my perfect record to the test: tonight, the Canucks dog it. Goin' down, boys. Sigh.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Game 45 - vs. Devils

We'll find out tonight if Assistant Coach Bowness can motivate his sad sack bunch of underachievers.

Optimistic prediction: A great performance by LaBarbera inspires his teammates. Bieksa and Wellwood each get one, and the Sedins add a pair between them. Sundin gets two assists. Demitra gets nuthin'. Hordichuk beats the crap out of someone. Canucks win 4-2.

Pessimistic prediction: Markus Naslund's leadership skills continue to infect this edition of the 'Nucks. Offense: zip. Defense: worse. Devils take it in a laugher 6-0.

Tonight I am feeling verrrrrrry pessimistic. Somehow we got the bad mojo working. Nucks lose. Nucks lose. Nucks lose.

I don't have to remind you that in the second half of the season I am 100% on predictions.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2nd half of the 08-09 season

Let me try to get back on teh interweb bandwagon with All-New All-Improved Predictions for the 2nd half of this semi-Luongo-less season.

I'm already a couple of games behind, though... but amazingly enough, my hindsight predictions were exactly correct:
Game 42 - at Oilers: I figured we'd win, and we did.
Game 43 - vs. Blues: I thought we'd achieve something of an epic fail... and true to form, we sucked eggs. I wonder what our record is over the last few seasons in Games Against The Worst Team In The League. My guess is: baaaad.

Onward and upward!

Game 44 - vs. Sharks

Optimistic Prediction: LaSanbera throws up a stone wall, allowing only a single Marleau power-play goal to ripple the twine. Daniel scores twice, and Sundin gets his first point--an assist. Hordichuk scores an empty netter, and the Canucks win in regulation 3-1.

Pessimistic Prediction: Sanford does a credible Schneider/Cloutier impression in the first period, letting in 3 (two from Marleau, and a shorty from Setoguchi) on 12 shots. LaBarbera starts the second, but doesn't do much better (2 from Clowe and Boyle). Demitra scores in the third but the outcome is never in doubt. 5-1 Sharks.

As of 4:25 pm today I am feeling very very very pessimistic indeed. My goodness, after last night's eye-gouging debacle, how could I not?