Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Magicpie Power Rankings

Well it's been about a month since the season's started. Time for more power rankings. As always the West leads off:

1. Detroit. Every year I predict that this is the year they drop off, and every year I'm wrong. As a side note, I've thoroughly enjoyed Thomas Holmstrom's career progression so far: from random fourth liner, to good checking line forward, then legitimate secondary scoring threat, and now to playing with Zetterberg and Datsyuk on the first line. All this happerning slowly over about 10 years, not within his first two years as he was breaking into the league. Good to see someting like that. Also, doesn't it seem that Detroit is one of the only teams in the league on which things like this ever happern happern?

2. San Jose. Good teams know they're good, allright? They don't need to actually start off the season well to prove that to people. They're not insecure like that. They leave that stuff for the Minnesotas of the world.

3. Minnesota. Started the season 7-0-1, went 0-3-1 over their last 4. I'd still pick them over anyone in the NW though.

4. Calgary. They've scored the second most goals in the conference as of today. They've also allowed the third most, with 37 (two teams have 38). What the fuck has happerned to the Calgary Flames??? It seems to be working for them, though. At least for now.

5. Columbus. Allright you caught me. I just go by the standings. I'm as disturbed at having them here as anyone else, and I'm not even sure there aren't laws against this, but how much lower can I reasonably put them?

6. Colorado. This is the only team in the NHL from which you can pick second line players on your fantasy team and have absolutely no fear that they're not gonna produce.

7. Los Angeles. They're a good team, damnit.

8. St. Louis. They're no Columbus, but they also get the job done.

9. Vancouver. Of the three Western playoff teams currently underachieving horribly (Dallas and Anaheim being the others) they probably have the best chance to turn things around as things stand right now. But the expectations for the season have officially been lowered significantly. Sixth seed here we come.

10. Anaheim. The biggest thing I want to know about them is how much of this is due to the Stanley Cup Hangover, and how much of it is due to Scott Neidemayer and Teemu Selanne being MIA. I'm saying it's more the hangover.

11. Chicago. They've got a pretty good (for them) record of 6-6-0 so far, but they pulled this crap last year too and still ended up at the bottom of the league in the end. The future certainly looks bright with Towes and Kane, but the future's not here yet.

12. Dallas. Everyone predicted their colapse this year, but they're still clinging to a .500 record, refusing to go gently into that good night. It's coming though. Sticking them down here in anticipation.

13. Edmonton. The league's most entertaining train wreck. Lots of teams fail, but no other team's failiure is so entertaining to watch.

14. Phoenix. At 4-6 they're probably overachieving. At least we get to find out what it would be like if an AHL team was allowed to play in the NHL for one year. For some reason I really want them to do well, though. This team having a movie-script-type season and somehow finishing third or fourth would be a really cool thing to see happern. And you know what, I don't rule it out. They're so bad, and expectations for them are so low, that in a weird way it kind of makes you feel like anything's possible. Yes, I know that makes no sense. Stop looking at me like that.

15. Nashville. Assuming that the team would be moved in the end no matter what, do you think Nashville fans would have chosen "slow protracted struggle spanning years, with the team essentially tanking the whole time" or "just get it over with as fast as possible"? Me too. Look, I know what's gonna happern, you know what's gonna happern, everyone knows what's gonna happern. Why are we torturing these people like this?

I would do my Eastern Conference power rankings now, but I don't really care about the Eastern Conference. There I said it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

They don't have it this year

Bill Simmons, one of my favourite sports writers, used to have a running story in his column about a yearly ritual between him and his dad. A few months into every baseball season, after yet another losing streak, and Bill would ask his dad what he though about the Red Sox that year. His dad would respond with "They don't have it this year." and they'd start talking about something else. Over time this yearly pronouncement came to mark the unofficial end of the Red Sox season for Bill, the point at which he kind of accepted that, while there were still games to be played, the season was done.

So what does this have to do with the Canucks? Well, ten games into the season there's a defenite sense of "they don't have it this year" about this team, what with the weird snap personel moves three games into the season, Markus Naslund's emergence as media whipping boy, and the lack of a full 60 minute effort during any game so far. The "20 guys who genuinely got along and played hard every night" vibe that this team gave off last year doesn't look like it's there this time.

In my oppinion chemistry, or "a team working together" or whatever you want to call it, is a huge factor in hockey, more so than the other 3 major sports (just look at how a 6th or 7th seed gets hot for 2 months and makes it to the cup final every year). Comparing this year's team with last year's kind of provides an example of that. I think most people would agree that this year's team's got a better overall lineup, but for whatever reason they just don't have it together the same way they did in 06/07, and the result has been a far worse team on the ice.

This isn't to say I'm writing off the season. Just the first half. Every year there's always a couple teams that aren't quite up to snuff during the first half of the season, but get their shit together right about the time of the all-star break and finish things up on tear. Here's hoping that happerns.

(And yeah, I know this is exactly what happerned last year: crappy team hovering around .500 for the first half, awesome team tearing up the league in the second half. The difference, though, is that last year's team was playing hard from the begining. The issue for them during the first half of the season was just everyone learning their roles and overcoming huge scoring slumps from a lot of the forwards. This time around it's the playing hard that's the problem.)

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yet Another Random Thoughts Post

  • Does anyone else get the impression that the whole point of those "after hours" interviews at the end of Hockey Night in Canada is to dig up as many embarrassing pieces of information from the past of the person being interviewed as possible? Last night it was Willie Mitchell and they had: a picture of him as a wrestler when he was like 11 years old, the revelation that he used to take figure skating (complete with his former instructor calling in), Roberto Luongo noting how he actually has more points than Mitchell right now (he picked up an assist on friday), and like 3 other things I can't recall off the top of my head. Why do the players even subject themselves to such shabby treatment?

  • Speaking of Hockey Night in Canada, it's good to see Sean Burke working again.

  • That shift the Sedins had midway through the second Edmonton game, where they kept the puck in the Edmonton zone for the entire powerplay before finally scoring after 2 mins and 15 seconds, was probably the coolest moment of the season so far.

  • Is it just me or does Roberto Luongo look kind of tentative/twitchy in net? He's getting the job done for now, but something seemed a bit off about him the past two games. I blame Aaron Miller. And society. Always good to blame society.

  • The strangest sub-plot of the season so far? Minnesota bringing all the players moms to their games. I could actually research why this happerned and maybe find out that it's a moving and heartwarming story. Or I could just point and laugh. Hmm.

  • As of this writing, the Canucks have the 6th best powerplay in the league. By the way, the worst pp in the league, at a woeful 4%, is Edmonton. Considering a lot of people's reaction after they brought in Pitkanen, Souray and Tarnstrom was probably "Well, at least their powerplay will be good", this is not a good sign for them.

  • I still expect great things from the LA Kings. (Hey cool that rhymes) Just wait till they get the kinks out. Every year there's one or two teams that go insane after the All-Star Break, and this year the Kings will be one of them. This will happern. It will. I keep telling myself this.

  • One of my favourite things about the first few weeks of the season is the yearly ritual that is the "so and so is on pace for 234 goals right now " jokes. By the way, Brendan Morrison is on pace for a 50 goal season. Just saying.

  • Everyone who took Markus Naslund in their pool is feeling pretty smart right now.

  • Overall for some reason I just don't feel as good about this year's team as last years. Whenever they score too many goals they make me uncofortable. That's just not the Canuck way.

  • By the way, did you hear that Minnesota's players brought all their moms to a game? HAHAHAAHAHA.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Canucks Season Predictions

Biggest Dissapointment: Taylor "I'm not with the Sedins anymore" Pyatt. Although he still has one thing both Shannon and Raymond lack, namely size, and that may be enough to put him back in his old role this year. If he's not with the Sedins, they should consider playing him with Naslund where he can fill in as a worse version of Todd Bertuzzi.

Biggest Positive Surprise: Trevor Linden. Yes hes old, but for the love of God, he's not that bad. He's still an effective 3d/4th line player. He's still as effective as almost everyone else on the team on a points/60 mins basis, he just doesn't get the ice time needed to put up better numbers.

Biggest Surprise That's Not Really That Surprising: Ryan Shannon ends up being pretty good.

Markus Naslund Points Prediction: 75.

Kevin Bieksa Points Prediction: 35. Just have a bad feeling about him for some reason (that's my hard-hitting, in-depth statistical analysis for you).

Sami Salo Games Played Prediction: 65.

Canucks End Of Season Lineup Prediction: Sedin-Sedin-Shannon, Naslund-Morrison-Pyatt, Cooke-Kesler-Raymond, Cowan-Linden-Burrows.

Aspect of the Team That Will Be Better Than People Think Prediction: Secondary scoring.

Aspect of the Team That Will Be Worse Than People Think Prediction: The Bulis-less PK. No seriously. Shut up. Stop laughing.

Playoff Finish Prediction: Third Round Exit.