The ABC's of the Canucks game: Release the Cracknell

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The Canucks finished off their baby road trip with a 3-0 shutout win over the Lucic led LA Kings. Jake Virtanen had his first career NHL game, Luca Sbisa actually played really well, and Brandon Prust had another fight where he looked absolutely dead inside.

But what does this all mean for the fake awards you ask?? Let’s find out!

 

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The Ace: Alex Edler

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Ryan Miller was so dialed into the zone that he even got involved with a shutout by his team mates after his big win. However, Ryan won this award last night, and although he did play great, let’s mix things up a bit and give it to Alex Edler, if for no other reason than this:

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Edler boooooooomb.

Alex Edler is one of those guys who rides the waves of anger and happiness in Vancouver much like Captain Ahab Bieksa before him. Edler burst onto the scene and blew people away with his skill set but seemingly got caught up in the fans idea of “potential future top 10 d-man” which he never quite seemed to attain. As a result, he has a tendency to frustrate fans who feel he never “lived up to his potential”, regardless of whether it was real or imagined potential.

Back injuries, inconsistent play, model runway looks not meant for battles on the ice, whatever theory you want to ascribe to, Edler’s play has certainly wavered over his time in Vancouver.

What you can’t deny is how valuable Edler is to the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks are by far a better team when he is in the lineup, and tonight he continued his ice time munching ways, eating up 25 minutes. The next closest person? Brandon Sutter at 21 minutes.

Edler chipped in a goal and an assist, played heavy along the boards, and bounced up from a big Lucic hit like it was nothing, which you just know had to have hurt Milan’s feelings a little bit. “Doesn’t he know who I am??” Milan whispered furiously to himself.

The Kings, although showcasing an anemic offence as of late (it’s LA, you have to be dieting at all times), still have enough weapons to burn a lazy team. The Canucks, however (led by Edler), went out and shut the Kings down, giving up only 15 shots on net, despite one guy who was really near the TV mic constantly encouraging Drew Doughty throughout the game.

“You got this Drew…..come on buds, you got this! Let’s go Drew! Need a goal here Drew!”

 

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The Brace: Adam Cracknell

There is a very legitimate case to be made that Luca Sbisa could have won this award, but he won it last night. In the name of keeping it fresh, this award goes to Adam Cracknell, who opened the scoring for Vancouver:

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It’s not just the goal that gets Cracknell this award tonight, it’s the fact that he has fit in very nicely in that fourth line role for the Canucks. He’s embraced the role so much that he laughed off a suggestion of power play time from Dan Murphy during the intermission, saying to not get too far ahead of things. That’s a man who knows where his bread is buttered! (I just randomly used that saying, I hope it works).

Now, it might be a dated ideal to envision a tough, grind them out fourth line (NES Hockey taught us at an early age about archetypes in hockey, damn you NES Hockey, damn you!), but Cracknell has done a great job of winning puck battles, getting to loose pucks, and chipping in with a couple of goals. He is being the stereotypical “fourth line centre” Don Cherry always tells us about.

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(You see, you want a fat guy to hit people, a skinny guy to go fast, and then another fat guy because screw that average player)

With the way Willie D seems to want to roll his fourth line, it’s hard to envision Linden Vey being more effective than Cracknell has been. It’s also nice to cheer on a guy who has struggled to land a job in the NHL, finally “put it all together” and go on a nice extended run in The Show.

Plus it really is fun to shout “Release the Cracknell!” after he scores.

 

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The Cross-Check to the Face: Sven Baertschi

The cross-check to the face award can mean many things. It can be used to award the player that played the worst. It can be given to the other team for doing something stupid. It can also be given to someone whose future is in doubt, such is the case with Sven.

Sven didn’t play particularly bad, but his game isn’t a flashy one at the best of times. As a result, in tight games, it can kind of feel like he’s not doing much, even when he isn’t playing that poorly. From what we’ve seen of Sven, he is at his best when he is dishing out smart, sneaky passes. He is at his best when you forget that he was the guy who sent Bo Horvat in on the breakaway. Remember that game where Horvat, Virtanen and Baertschi were on fire? Sure, it was just pre-season, but that was the final form of Baertschi people envisioned when the Canucks traded for him.

The problem Sven is running into is with the fans who fear another wasted 2nd rounder on a “soft” player. The problem is also with a coach who seemingly has very little trust in him. Sven had the least amount of ice time on the team tonight, and although it was a bit of a defensive game, you have to wonder how much rope Willie D is going to give him.

When the going gets tough, Willie D has shown an inclination to push Prust or Dorsett throughout the lineup versus a player like Sven. Now, was this simply done because LA is a bigger team? If this was against a flashy team like Tampa Bay, what with their hippy hair and long sideburns, would Willie D be more open to utilizing Sven? We’ll have to find out.

In the meantime, it will be interesting to see if Baertschi ends up sitting a game or two while Virtanen continues his NHL audition.

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Wyatt Arndt Wyatt Arndt is a freelance writer who currently writes for The Province, Canucks Army, Canucks.com and Vancity Buzz. He's probably written in bathroom stalls near you as well. You can find him on Twitter where he is most likely making fun of Eddie Lack's goalie mask.
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