The Provies: The Sedin bounce, The Flow’s impact, and an Ode to a Legend

 

 
 
 
 
Daniel Sedin and the Canucks poured shots at San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones and scored four times including the overtime winner.
 
 

Daniel Sedin and the Canucks poured shots at San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones and scored four times including the overtime winner.

Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Province

BEST OLD TIMERS

The Canucks needed the Sedins.

It’s not the first time. It won’t be the last.

And if they keep playing like this, it may not even be their last season.

Subtle as it’s been, the Sedins are bouncing back.

And I’m not talking about from Nashville.

Abandoned, and counted out not that long ago, the Sedins are punching their way back into NHL relevance.

In the past 16 games, Henrik has 17 points.

It’s not enough to move planets, which is the type of force they’re going to need to generate to get the Canucks into a playoff spot again.

It is enough, however, to make you think:

Damn, there’s a lot left here.

There sure was tonight.

They started the game with some of their best shifts of the season. And they ended it with a message to anyone who thought they were done.

Deep into OT, they were fast, elegant and precise. And, oh ya, fun. A whole hell of a lot of fun.

They were the 27-year-old Sedins and they were that at 37.

Henrik is now on a 55-point pace. His brother is right behind him.

What does it mean?

For the first time since Horvat went down, there is hope they won’t simply get demolished for the next four weeks.

It’s still only a sliver of the stuff but it’s there.

And so are the Sedins.

BEST LEADERSHIP

Green: “In the coaches’ room, we were talking tonight. We needed a big game out of those guys.

“Not just because they’re front-line players. But because they’re leaders. You want guys to step up and play good games.”

The Sedins did that.

They made Vanek better.

Boeser made Gagner better.

Together, it made for one of the most entertaining games of the season.

Well, that and the fact SJ was playing the backside of back-to-backs.

BEST POLL

What’s been the biggest difference for the Sedins’ points run?

More ice time?

Less Brandon Sutter?

Boeser on their power play?

All of the above?

Throw a dart, you won’t be wrong.

BEST STAT

NHL goal leaders since Nov. 1.

Once you get past No. 6, check out who is at No. 1.

BEST PERSPECTIVE

That seems like a lot.

Is that a lot?

BEST EXCHANGE

JPAT: “Does it speak to Boeser’s confidence that on his goal, he took on Brent Burns, and then looked angry he didn’t score?”

Green: Laughs

JPAT: “Is that a sign of confidence?”

Green: “I don’t think he was angry and just said, ‘I’m going to score because I’m mad.

“I wish it was like that. I think a lot of guys would score more if it were that easy.”

Yeah, except it was just like that.

Boeser had told JPat he was upset he rang his first shot off the iron.

“I really wish I had scored on that one, and I wanted get the puck back right away.”

More of that, please.

BEST DANGLE

Goldy and JV18 weren’t bad together.

BEST POP QUIZ

Willie is the coach. The team loses 7-1 to Nashville.

Things look bleak. All those injuries.

Pop quiz time:

Are the lines changed?

I’m going to go with no.

More importantly, does Willie urge his team to be aggressive or does he think tying a game at one is the only way his group is going to get a point?

Green couldn’t be more different.

“We’re not going to sit back. To me, that’s a slow death in a game,” he said.

Boy, he just described months of the last two seasons in one sentence.

“We want to be aggressive.”

Henrik is a Willie survivor. You think he has any shade for the way things were back in the day?

“You can’t back out (when you have injuries). If you want to win in this league, you have to be aggressive.

“Even more so when you have guys out who play a lot of minutes.

“It’s tough for a young guy to come in and you tell him to sit back and play on the right side.

“Then, you’re playing on your heels.

“It’s too tough of a league to do that. You have to play on your toes.

“You have to play with jump and you have to be excited. If you just sit back, you get no speed.”

That may be the best explanation I’ve heard on why staying aggressive is arguably more important for understaffed teams.

WORST PLAY

Yeah, so Stecher and Hutton together.

It was not their finest moment. They sat out the final four minutes in regulation and neither got a shift in OT.

That giveaway which led to the Sharks’ second goal late in the middle frame didn’t do themselves any favours.

Stech has been making more plays like this than you’d think.

It didn’t help them that Biega was going bananas, beaver-tailing all night like this:

And crashing the net like this:

And laying the body like this:

BEST REQUEST

Can I be there when Markstrom asks Edler about this one?

How about you let the goalie manage the goal line?

BEST SCOUTING REPORT

Boeser on the Sharks’ aggressive penalty killing:

“We watched film on them and knew they were going to pressure hard on one side of the ice.

“We knew we could exploit them if we could get a quick-strike pass from that aspect.”

Well, that worked.

BEST IDEA

Uh, Brent Burns, The Flow leads the league in goals since November.

May not want to back up when he has the puck.

BEST DEBUT

Has anyone in the history of reviews got a better reaction than Sat did tonight on the panel?

He’s the Baby Driver of intermission panellists.

Everyone loves this guy.

You think it ended there?

I am here to tell you.

It did not.

 

TV is not supposed to be this easy.

BEST DEBATE

Speaking of the panel, so this happened:

Whoa, that’s something.

Didn’t hear it, but I’m guessing the rationale is that PP2 has been good too?

Thing is, Boeser has 14 power play points.

He is eighth. In the entire NHL.

You add a top-10 power-play point producer to a power play, it’s going to have a much larger impact than anything a coach can do.

How many would he have if Newell had started the season with The Flow in The Spot?

Pretty sure the answer to that is: More.

And, it seems, we the people weren’t the only ones who wanted Boeser there.

“We made those changes with Boeser,” Henrik said.

“That’s the one thing we …. not asked for …. ”

His voice trailed off as he caught himself.

Hmmm. I’m actually going to now guess you did ask for it.

“It makes such a huge difference,” Henrik then continued.

“To have a guy who can shoot the puck like that back there.

“They’re scared of him. And it opens up a lot of room for other guys.

“We had Vrby there for a while and he worked really well. And now Boeser.”

I feel like there were some guys in between we’re missing ….

“It’s a good fit.”

Brough then asked Henrik if it feels like now he has more time with the puck.

“I don’t know about me, but once we’re set up, they have to respect him.

“That’s what you see with other teams. They have righties over there who can shoot the puck and it’s tough to cover.”

I think some of the rest of us noticed those “other teams” too.

“If they’re too hard on me, Danny and Eddie, then he’s going to be open.

“If they (cover him), it’s going to give Danny time in the middle to make plays.”

The Canucks power play is now fifth. If you want to credit Newell, more power to you.

Maybe you’re not wrong, but you are incorrect.

BEST COACHING

It’s not like Newell hasn’t had an impact. One of the most important things he had to fix was breakouts.

“I’m on the right side now, so I’m in my spot as soon as I cross the blueline in their end,” Henrik explained.

“It’s made a big difference.

“Before, I was coming from the left side all the way over.

“It was tough to get set up. At least, tougher.

“Now, I can make plays right away.”

BEST RESPONSES

BEST REALITY

Who was more thrilled than Granlund?

JPat.

His 24-goal prediction has been weighing him down like stones tied to his ankles.

He’s barely been able to sleep.

Sleep well, tonight, Flat One.

Tonight you shined.

BEST CAN’T UNSEE

I can’t unsee how fast Gagner looked on that goal.

Sam, going to need to see more of this:

BIGGEST BREAK-THRU

It took until mid-December. But who cares?

It happened.

JV18 bull-rushed. That speed. That power. That play.

Oh my.

A big hit last game.

A massive bull rush this one.

Just imagine him putting it all together. All in one game.

We are getting closer.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Patience.

We’ll take it.

A young Bernier is actually a huge improvement from where things were a month ago.

BEST PHOTO SHAP

You hear Moj today?

Railing about a parking ticket he got for illegally parking his car. Thought he should get off because he was delivering jambalaya.

You can’t make this ish up.

BEST PLANET EARTH

Truth is, Biega has played like this before.

The problem is, he hasn’t been able to sustain it.

He’s like an NFL player. He needs a week between games.

BEST MAKE THE WORLD BETTER

If A&W is The Provies Darth Vader, Sportsnet Eric is the Jar Jar Binks.

His reaction to his arrival here, in The Provies, is a symptom of a disorder which has engulfed society at large, particularly social media.

No one can take an L anymore.

I call it the Binksification of North America.

George Lucas was warned, during filming of I, his beloved character Jar Jar Binks was a poor construct.

He wouldn’t listen and when the reaction was overwhelmingly negative, Lucas never could fully give up on him. He made sure to include him in Sith, even though he had just two words.

He also hilariously calls Jar Jar his favourite Star Wars character. Like, ever.

Lucas never could take the L.

And that brings us to Sportsnet Eric, who, yes, called out The Provies, repping 650.

SNET Eric called out integrity and did, admittedly, lead to a predictable full-throated defence.

The result?

The rise of Passive-Aggressive Eric.

How Passive-Aggressive did things get?

SNET Eric turned himself into a living, breathing billboard for The Provies.

He essentially changed his Twitter to “The Provies” and even dressed in “The Provies” attire.

There was so much Passive-Aggression to choose from.

Playing the victim?

Oh, Eric. We could have been buds.

To be accurate, I never called PA Eric a loser and this is The Provies. It’s no article.

What did I say?

— He likes bad jokes (subjective).

— He lifted a nickname from The Provies and helped write a song about it (fact).

— His suggestion a report was misleading was incorrect (subjective, but there are people at 650 who agree with me).

— Historically, I have been far harder on the people I work with than those who I don’t (indisputable fact).

Essentially, I went to great lengths to try and sway Sportsnet Eric, and to prove his premise flawed.

I swung and missed.

He conceded zero.zero of my case.

He moved not an inch.

There was no self-reflection. No acknowledgment there may have been a misinformed cheap shot along the way.

No, he doubled down instead.

Oh Eric, this is The Provies, no one is unimportant. No one insignificant.

All of it was so unfortunate.

It’s also reflective of the world around us. Taking an L is increasingly only for the heroes.

No longer for mere mortals, taking an L is for those who are the most courageous among us.

The strong. The brave. The lionhearted.

Make the world better tomorrow.

Take an L.

BEST SHOT/CHASER

SHOT:

CHASER:

BEST FILL IN THIS BLANK

Complete the meme:

BEST FEAR

Am I aware of the theory Jar Jar Binks is a Sith Lord?

I am.

Do I worry SNET Eric is really Darth Jar Jar?

I do.

BEST THE MORE YOU KNOW

That Kovalchuk story isn’t real.

If you know, you know. If not, don’t worry about it.

BEST LEGEND

Sekeres has one of the best “Gallagher is a legend” stories there ever was.

It’s the early 2000s. A subscription-based website called TSN Max is launching.

The plan is to be, well, The Athletic. So only a decade-and-a-half ahead of its time.

Every Canadian NHL city is to have a beat writer. Sekeres is expected to take the Toronto job, covering the Leafs. But he’s given his choice, asked to rank the cities by his priority.

He picks Vancouver No. 1. He always wanted to live here.

His editor at the Globe and Mail, Neil A. Campbell, sees the list. He is alarmed.

Loosely, the conversation goes something like this:

“Matt, what have you done?”

Sekeres: “I’ve always wanted to live in Vancouver.”

“No, you’re too young for Vancouver. Tony Gallagher will eat you alive. We’re not going to have you eaten alive.

“You’ll stay here with us in Toronto.”

It worked out just fine for Matt in the end, btw.

When it came to the competition, Gallagher did a lot of eating people alive.

Go ahead, open a page. He is cited all over that must-have Halford-and-Drancer penned book “100 Things Canucks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die.”

As one researcher put it, “There is a 20-year period where Gallagher dominated the media in Vancouver like no one in the media has dominated any city in Canada.”

Who knows, maybe the world?

His 20-odd year run of dominance began in the late ’70s. He asked questions in a way that had not yet been done in Vancouver.

He asked questions of management, about its decisions. He held those in power accountable.

He was tough. He was aggressive. He was good. And he was important.

From 1976 to 1991, the Canucks were under .500 every season. Let that marinate for a moment or two.

These were the real dark days. Gallagher was Batman.

When word started spreading about what Gallager was doing here, agents began calling him. Soon, bombshells were being delivered to his door.

There are so many wonderful scoops to remember. None are bigger than this:

My favourite story, however, is a couple of years later. It’s in the middle of the McSorley-Brashear trial. Gallagher was actually a witness, and so was Wayne Gretzky.

The Great One had agreed to be a character witness for McSorley and travelled to Vancouver for court.

It was a huge deal. Massive news.

Upon his arrival, Gretzky was meeting McSorley at the Water Street Cafe for lunch.

He invited Tony.

It led to an amazing scoop, which featured this amazing exchange. Gallagher recounted it in The Province.

It went like this:

“When McSorley arrived, Gretzky got up and the two embraced.

And the while the mood was clearly not that of a normal reunion, neither was yet seated before the barbs began flying.

”You’re going grey,’ Gretzky opened.

‘You look heavy,’ McSorley shot back to considerable laughter from everyone, including the former No. 99.

‘Nice smile,’ came another salvo from the accused.

‘Blame the baby,’ said Gretzky, of his less than perfect dental work. ‘He swung his arms up and broke my cap.’

‘That’s ’cause I wasn’t there to protect you,’ quipped McSorley, and the two went on kidding each other, the tough guy clearly happy to receive support from his higher profile ex-teammate.”

Yes, it was the stuff of legends. I’ve heard the court/news reporter for The Van Sun was called to the carpet for getting crushed by a “sports guy,” and as the urban legend goes, was pulled off the story.

I’m not sure all of that is entirely true, but it makes for a helluva mythology.

All of this, and so much more, led to Gallagher’s induction this week into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

His induction rights last year’s injustice. In Gallagher’s first year of eligibility, he was passed over.

Some wondered if that meant he’d never get in. But membership changed, and, so I’ve heard, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame received letters of support from influential people.

I don’t have the names for the record yet, but the rumours I’ve heard are fascinating.

I spent more than a decade on this beat, working with Tony. I have never seen readers respond to any writer the way they respond to Gallagher.

They want to be around him. They want to tell him their stories. They want to listen to all of his.

And he really does have the best ones. By far.

He is threaded throughout Canucks history like some players, coaches and executives.

I find it kind of odd he hasn’t been honoured yet by the Hockey Hall of Fame.

But that’s a battle I will fight another day.

Until then, recognize.

The Legend.

Is all of this over the top?

A little.

Tony is my friend.

But the stories are true. And they’re real, journalist’s stories.

With him, that’s what it was all about.

Not how many times someone got drunk at the Calgary Stampede.

 
 
 
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Daniel Sedin and the Canucks poured shots at San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones and scored four times including the overtime winner.
 

Daniel Sedin and the Canucks poured shots at San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones and scored four times including the overtime winner.

Photograph by: Jonathan Hayward, The Province

 
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