Bob appears to be enjoying this a little too much..

These guys again, hey?

Last time out the Hawks escaped the Rogers Arena in Vancouver by the skin of their teeth, thanks mainly to an outstanding performance from Corey Crawford who withstood a late Nucks siege after the Hawks scored twice in nine seconds to erase an early 5-on-3 goal from Ryan Kesler. Since then both team have been hot as hell, with a successful Circus Trip for the Hawks leading onto a series of 6-goal games. The Canucks also went on a hot streak, winning 7 in a row until they lost in a Shootout to Minnesota and then got walloped by the Stars last night. Obviously, the Hawks had their own unhappy landings against Minny, Anaheim and Toronto. They also don’t have Crawford and Antti Raanta makes his 8th consecutive start tonight.

 

Vancouver’s hot streak has done little for them in the Pacific standings ( a sign of just how bloody tough that Division and this Conference is) as they’re still outside the automatic Playoff places behind Anaheim, LA and San Jose. They also have Phoenix breathing down their necks. Not a place for the faint of heart and there is still plenty of heart in this Nucks team. The Sedins are no longer being asked to play 25+ minutes a night and they seem to have found their 2nd line center in Mike Santorelli.

Roberto Luongo dropped a couple of Dummerheits last night that I’m sure he’d love to have back. Word from Vancouver is that capable back-up Eddie Lack may get the start tonight. As for the rest of the Nucks.. well, we know all about these guys by now, so I asked Kent Basky, who writes for the very fine Vancouver blog Nucks Misconduct, for his opinions on a few things. As ever, questions are mine, answers are in italics and all Kent.

 

How is the mood in Canucks nation about John Tortorella? Are there still apparent teething pains from adapting to his system?

 

I know that I felt like a lot of Canucks fans: ‘Yes, it’s time for Vigneault to go, but that seems to be a drastic change, no?’  A lot of what we thought we knew about Tortorella was based on his time in NYC, and there were concerns that it might be a little too much of a swing in the other direction.  Happily, everything Torts has said about trying to change the way he deals with things has happened, and the Canucks have responded well.  The Sedins really enjoy playing for him, and when you look at the way guys like Jason Garrison and Chris Tanev have responded very well, as has Dale Weise (stop laughing, the guy’s turning into a decent 3rd line option).  I don’t know if growing pains is the right wordmore like a work in progress.

 

Ice time for the Twins seems to be returning to a more manageable level. Is there still some uncertainty of how the lines should be drawn up/how Kesler should be deployed?

 

That seemed to be an issue until the Kesler/Higgins/Santorelli line was born, and man, that’s become a real threat.  As you could see if you watched the Boston game the other night, the Canucks were more than happy to let the Bruins and Chara to neutralize the top line, but they struggled to contain Kesler’s line and even the 3rd line played very well.

 

Luongo’s stats are on the rise again after an iffy start to the year but there were, of course, a couple of howlers last night. Where do you think he’s at, right now?

 

I thought Lu got off to a great start, which is not the the norm.  Usually he struggles in October, everyone freaks the fuck out, Tony Gallagher writes columns about how screwed the Canucks are and then November rolls around and everything returns to normal.  This year his October numbers were good, and his stats in November were good, he just wasn’t getting the goal support.  But if you look over the games he played, with just a handful of exceptions, he’s given the Canucks a chance to win every night.  They’re also really happy with Eddie Lack, who’s been great in a backup role.  As far as last night’s game, I didn’t get a chance to see much of it, but I was surprised with the back to back that he was starting given how much he’s played of late.  It seemed like a perfect start for Lack.  There’s been some talk Lack was going to get the start tonight, so we’ll see how that goes.

 

The Nucks are in the toughest Division in the NHL. Is catching the Californians still realistic or are they in a battle with PHX, MIN and DALfor the Wild Card slots?

 

Sure, why not?  The Canucks have played decently so far, and have a couple significant guys out of the lineup in Burrows, Edler and Ryan Stanton (which by the way was the nicest thing you ever did for us, so thanks, jerks!).  And is there a more loathsome triumvirate of scum than San Jose, LA and Anaheim?  Seriously, they’re all dicks.  The Sharks have emerged as the worst embellishers in the NHL (all teams dive, but they’ve made it an artform under the tutelage of Jerkin’ Joe Thornton.  Anaheim will be the most hated team in the league next year once Teemu Selanne retires, and why is it that there’s not such a thing as #KingsGoalieControversy yet?  Because LA STILL isn’t a hockey town.  Also, get your own slogan, assholes.  Fuck them.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, no the Canucks will be fine, one of these teams if not 2 will falter.

 

This will be the last time the Hawks & Nucks meet until, possibly, the Post Season. Are you going to miss us?

 

Will we miss you?  Like a whore misses herpes.  Heh.  In all seriousness I like the 2 meetings instead of 4, simply because it makes these games mean a little more again.  It’s always fun playing against you (except for Duncan Keith, who is a horrible human being, even if he helps Canada win gold in Sochi), so it does give us something to hope for in terms of another playoff date.  And there’s that whole common bond of hating the Bruins…

 

I also got to answer a few questions for Kent on NM, which you’ll find here

Hawks’ lines are as-you-were against Nashville. Puck drops at 8pm Central. Bartl will be along with Boxing after the event. Me?  I’ll be hammered. Let’s Go Hawks!

 

You can follow Kent on Twitter @KentBaskyNM and www.nucksmisconduct.com