Comparing the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks to the 1993-94 version

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Every once in a while, something so weird (and coincidental) happens that you just have to shake your head. While the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks with one of the strangest overtime game-winning goals you’ll ever see, maybe we should have seen the ultimate result coming from a mile away.

Just look at the similarities in the way the 2010-11 Canucks and 1993-94 model made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Both teams made their way through the Western Conference finals by scoring game-winning goals in overtime; Greg Adams scored the ’94 team’s winner on a rebound against Felix Potvin while Kevin Bieksa beat Antti Niemi on a rebound of a different kind. Strangely enough, both double OT wins happened on May 24, too. It’s almost as if Bieksa’s bizarre tally celebrated the 17th birthday of Adams’ goal.

Such similarities left us wondering: what things do these two Canucks teams have in common and what makes each squad different? Let’s take a look. (Hockey-Reference.com was an excellent source for some of this information.)

The 1993-94 Canucks at a glance

Record: 41-40-3 (second in Pacific division); Goals For: 279 (14th place out of 26 teams); Goals Against: 276 (17th out of 26); PP %: 18.82 (league average: 18.64); PK %: 81.66 (league average: 81.36)

The 2010-11 Canucks at a glance

Record: 54-19-9 (Presidents’ Trophy); Goals For: 262 (1st place out of 30); Goals Against: 185 (1st out of 30); PP %: 24.32 (league average: 18.02); PK %: 85.58 (league average: 81.98)

As you can see, the ’94 Canucks were average or worse going into the playoffs while the current Canucks put together one of the most dominant regular seasons in recent memory. Seriously, this bunch was at the top of almost every category imaginable. If you want to simplify things to death, the ’94 Canucks were David and this year’s Canucks are Goliath.

(Please note that scorers are ranked according to regular season totals, although playoff numbers will be provided as well.)

’93-94 top scorers

Pavel Bure- 107 Points (31 in playoffs)
Geoff Courtnall- 70 Points (19 in playoffs)
Clifford Ronning- 68 Points (15 in playoffs)
Trevor Linden – 61 Points (25 in playoffs)

’10-11 top scorers

Daniel Sedin- 104 Points (21 in playoffs)
Henrik Sedin- 94 Points (16 in playoffs)
Ryan Kesler- 73 Points (18 in playoffs)

Both teams featured a 100+ point scorer, although the two players couldn’t be much more different (aside for their supreme talents). Bure was a singular force – he scored 37 more points than Courtnall – while Daniel Sedin is considered 50 percent of a tremendous two-headed hockey monster. Bure was a flashy Russian stud who probably inspired the likes of Alex Ovechkin. Daniel is a funny looking redhead whose efficient game probably translates best to hardcore fans.

’93-94 scorers among defensemen

Jyrki Lumme -55 Points (13 in playoffs)
Jiri Slegr- 38 Points (n/a)
David Babych- 32 Points (8 in playoffs)

’10-11 scorers among defensemen

Christian Ehrhoff- 50 Points (11 in playoffs)
Alexander Edler- 33 Points (9 in playoffs)
Dan Hamhuis- 23 Points (6 in playoffs)
Kevin Bieksa- 22 Points (9 in playoffs)

High-scoring defensemen might be one of the better shared traits between the two teams. (I must admit, it’s a trip down memory lane to see the name “Jiri Slegr” again.)

’93-94 starting goalie

Kirk McLean

Regular season: 23-25-3, 2.99 GAA, 89.1 sv pct.; Playoffs: 15-9, 2.29 GAA, 92.8 save pct.

’10-11 starting goalie

Roberto Luongo

Regular season: 38-15-7, 2.11 GAA, 92.8 save pct.; Playoffs: 12-6, 2.29 GAA, 92.2 save pct.

Obviously, Luongo’s career outshines McLean’s by a wide margin. It’s stunning how similar their postseason numbers are, though, aren’t they? It’s almost as if someone offered McLean the chance to be Luongo for a few months.

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These two teams entered their respective playoffs with very different expectations, yet they produced similar results up until the Stanley Cup finals. That magical ’94 run ended thanks to the famous play of Mark Messier and the New York Rangers. Whether it’s the Boston Bruins or Tampa Bay Lightning, this year’s Canucks will be the favorites going into the Cup finals this time around.

The question is: will their magic run out or will they be different from the ’94 version in the most important way by winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history? We’ll just have to wait and see about that one.

Andreas Athanasiou, Red Wings finally settle on one-year deal

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The contract stalemate between the Detroit Red Wings and Andreas Athanasiou is finally over.

On Friday, TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the two sides struck a deal that will see the 23-year-old forward back in the lineup, at least for this season. It’s a one-year deal worth $1.387 million.

Due to Detroit’s tight salary cap situation, the deal has not been officially announced because general manager Ken Holland needs to free up space in order to fit Athanasiou’s contract.

Athanasiou, who was a restricted free agent this summer, was seeking a two-year deal worth around $2.5 million per season. The Red Wings, meanwhile, were holding firm on a one- or two-year deal carrying a $1.9 million AAV. As the stalemate dragged on, he began practicing with Swiss side HC Lugano, but did not sign a contract. He had until Dec. 1 to make an NHL return in order to be eligible to play this season. The KHL card was played, but as Torey Krug showed, that move is always a clear bluff.

The one-year pact is essentially a “show-me” deal for Athanasiou, who scored 18 goals and recorded 29 points last season. He finished second on the Red Wings in even strength goals (17) in 2016-17 and tallied a pair of overtime winners. A good year and with some salary off the books next summer, he can cash in with a longer-term contract. He’ll once again be an RFA next summer, so Detroit will control his rights, but he’ll have arbitration rights.

According to MLive.com’s Ansar Khan, along with the contract Athanasiou has been promised a minutes bump from the 13:27 he played last season, as well as regular time on both special teams units.

Detroit is off to a 4-3-0 start and averaging 3.14 goals per game. Once Athanasiou arrives from Switzerland and gets up to speed — possibly with an AHL conditioning stint — his presence will certainly be a boost to the Red Wings’ lineup.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.:

 

NHL admits off-side challenge error that cost Avalanche a goal

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The NHL admitted on Friday that a decision denying the Colorado Avalanche a tying goal against the St. Louis was wrong.

Mikko Rantanen’s goal late in the third period was overturned after Sven Andrighetto was ruled to be off-side following a video review challenge issued by the Blues.

Now here’s where the fun starts.

Because Andrighetto was not ruled off-side by the linesman when he touches the puck in the Blues’ zone, when he leaves and re-enters the zone that’s considered a (clean) second zone entry. So the goal should have counted and the Avs should have had a power play for a failed off-side challenge.

Here’s the NHL’s statement:

“St. Louis requested a Coach’s Challenge to determine whether Sven Andrighetto of Colorado was off-side prior to the Avalanche goal. The video review decision determined the play was off-side but that determination was based on a play prior to the puck clearing the zone. 

Per Rule 78. 7 (Note 1) Coach’s Challenge: ‘Goals will only be reviewed for a potential “Off-Side” infraction if: a) the puck does not come out of the attacking zone again; or (b) all members of the attacking team do not clear the attacking zone again, between the time of the “Off-Side” play and the time the goal is scored.

Although there was an off-side, it occurred prior to the puck clearing the zone which nullifies any goal review related to that off-side. The entry in to the zone immediately prior to the goal was on-side, therefore the goal should have counted.”

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong, appearing on Sportnet’s Hockey Central at Noon on Friday, said he believes the wording of the rule will change in the future.

“The call on the ice was correct,” he said. “The wording in the rulebook is wrong, and that’s where we’re going to have to work with. I think that’s why the rulebook always changes because you come up with unintended consequences, and that was one of them. I don’t think anyone that watched the game last night think that’s a goal we want to count.”

Let’s just go with NHL ’94 rules and turn off-side off, yeah? That’ll stop games from being paused and goals being taken off the board because a player’s skate blade was a millimeter off-side entering the offensive zone.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Canucks’ Gudbranson suspended 1 game for boarding Vatrano (Video)

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Vancouver Canucks defenseman Erik Gudbranson will miss Friday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres after he was suspended one game for boarding Frank Vatrano of the Boston Bruins.

The hit occurred early in the first period during Thursday’s 6-3 Bruins victory. Gudbranson was given a majors for boarding and fighting, along with a game misconduct. The Bruins would take advantage with three power play goals. Vatrano would retun to the game later in the period.

Here’s the Department of Player Safety’s explanation:

Look at many of the suspensions the NHL’s DoPS has handed out for boarding and it’s the same thing over and over again. The suspended player has time to make a better decision on a hit, but fails to do so. Here, Gudbranson could have changed his angle, minimized contact with Vatrano or tie him up along the boards instead of plastering him into the glass.

Gudbranson will see $18,817.20 of his salary go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Adam McQuaid’s broken leg is the latest injury to hit Bruins

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Another day, another Boston Bruins player exiting the lineup due to injury.

The team announced on Friday that defenseman Adam McQuaid will miss the next eight weeks recovering from a broken right fibula. The injury was suffered during Thursday night’s win over the Vancouver Canucks when he blocked two shots on the same shift in the final period.

“Adam has been doing that for years around here,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said afterward. “He’s one of the unsung heroes in that locker room. Doesn’t get a lot of credit for what he does, the tough parts of the game, blocking shots, sticking up for your teammates.”

The Bruins were happy to get Patrice Bergeron (four points) back in their lineup, but that was after Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion. Losing McQuaid to a broken leg and David Krejci to an upper-body injury was not ideal despite the two points. Cassidy said he expected Bergeron and Krejci to return to the lineup Saturday versus the Buffalo Sabres after sitting out Friday’s optional skate.

Stick-tap Reddit user and Walking Dead fan RickvsNegan for the video

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.