Game 36 Preview: Pre-Drinking

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 4: Maxim Lapierre #40 of the Vancouver Canucks and Matt Stajan #18 of the Calgary Flames fight during the third period in NHL action on December 04, 2011 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

It's the blogger meetup tonight-more info can be found below if you'd like to come.

Dennis Green's famous "THEY WERE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!" rant is all I can think of when the Vancouver Canucks have been brought up lately. A early season stretch of sub-par games led to speculation about injuries and Stanley Cup hangovers and the expendability of Roberto Luongo and on and on.

This is why I hate most Canucks fans so much-no one outside of the greater Vancouver area thought that Roberto Luongo wasn't still a top-5 goalie, yet here the rioters are ready to run him out of town yet again in favour of a ginger who's had the benefit of players such as Kesler and Malhotra driving play away from him in his ~40 game career.

Vancouver is absolutely still a quality team and even though I'm not sure they're the team to beat in the Western Conference anymore-that honour would go to the San Jose Sharks-they are still extremely dangerous in every facet of the game and stocked with great players.

Last season we pointed out reasons why Daniel (or Hank, I can't remember) Sedin shouldn't win the Hart trophy. One of the points brought up was a Zone Start percentage of 74.5%-only made possible because of Manny Malhotra's ZS of 25%. This season? It's even worse-a ZS of 78% while Manny flounders along at an 18.8% rate. Give credit to Vigneault for recognizing what his players can handle and taking advantage of it.

The Flames, as you all know, are on the second game of a back-to-back after beating Detroit in a rather lopsided game, despite what the score suggests. I'm doubtful they'll be able to maintain the type of effort they had last night, but who knows.

It's both Calgary and Vancouver's last game before Christmas.

Players to Watch

Tim Jackman-The noted Canuck-Killer had one of his best games of the season last night.

Alex Burrows-If only to admire the ways in which he flounders and dives.

Lastly...

It would be really nice if the Flames could beat Vancouver before the year is out.

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