Saturday, December 1, 2007

No Leafs, No Sens: Go Coastal

~TSN’s Darren “The Dregs” Dreger guesses out loud that Ryan Kesler is due to be traded to Philadelphia and pretends to be reporting an inside scoop, which makes me throw a pillow at the set and also sends my daughter to bed early from woe: “First Jovo, now him,” she says. Kesler is a Canucks-Hockey specialist—defensive, surly, big, mobile, Lindenian—and won’t be going anywhere so we can afford a slow-developing and intermittent Jeff Carter. Dregger also suggests that Alex Edler could sweeten the deal. Edler is now playing in every key situation—offensive, defensive, up one, down two, shutout (or three) to protect—and most nights looks like Nick Lidstrom as a much younger man. He’ll stay, too. But remember: All the TSN boys predicted at the start of the season that Vancouver would miss the playoffs and practically guffawed in glee at the possibility. This was before surly bright boy, Kevin Bieksa, had most of his leg cut off and Sami Salo got a full-metal face.

~Todd Bertuzzi returns to oppose for the first time as a Duck. He looks great during the press conference: slim, bright-eyed, mocking and yet semi-respectful. He gets some cheering from the few thousand who attend the warm-up at 6:30 and then gets nothing else from the fans. Game broadcaster TSN repeatedly reports that the fan response to him is lukewarm and muted, his return a non-event, and implies that Bertuzzi doesn’t interest fans here. I left GM Place the Sunday night before, after the game versus Chicago, and the young mouthy guys striding up Dunsmuir St. behind me were all, “Ya, I hope Bert scores a goal—I do—but I hope we score more” and “I totally wish him well.” The absence of booing or cheering or responding whenever Bert touched the puck was the highest form of flattery and respect from very smart and still wrecked Vancouver fans; it was the only way to show him the sort of deep and enduring feelings they have: we love you and so we’ll let you be.

~The morning after that game I attended versus Chicago, I caught a floatplane home from Vancouver harbour at 7:30 a.m. And there’s Brendan Morrison sipping a coffee, big legs stretched out, off to do some fishin’ before tomorrow’s game, and the sky’s not yet bright. Game-winning goal the night before, a cheery-faced and lisping coastal fun-lover the next morning.

~Versus Anaheim: Ryan Kesler chest-to-chest with Ryan Getzlaf: provoking, challenging, mocking. Kesler scored twice that night despite a rib-cracking post-goal crosscheck by Chris Pronger. My friend Hoggwild suggests that Colin Campbell is likewise afraid of Pronger’s wife.

~Coyote Jovo’s suspended a game for bonking Marian Gaborik on the head with only seconds to play. Is it possible this was a cross-fertilizing retaliation for Gaborik’s elbow to the head of Ryan Kesler, the game in which Mattias Ohlund was suspended four for a bone-breaking whack on Mikko Koivu’s ankle after the Finn’s elbow somehow found Ohlie’s noggin? Nope, but my daughter would like to think Jovo still has feelings for us all.

~The unbelievable Pinky and the Brain live and in person.

~Last night, I attended a local ECHL game and watched the Victoria Salmon Kings (and super-dancer Marty the Marmot) get down 4-1 in the first period versus the Phoenix Roadrunners and come back to win 5-4 in overtime after losing their starting goalie.

~All I want for Christmas: the Derek Sanderson nude which sold this week in Boston:

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