Monday Musings #1: March 20, 2017

Illustration by Julian Yu

by Scott Rosenhek

Today’s Monday Musings brought to you on a Tuesday because of life. Monday Musings is a new weekly series that I want to try out for this site. Similar to Elliotte Friedman’s “30 Thoughts,” I will talk about recent news in the hockey world and anything else that piques my interest (“anything else” will be important when the hockey news becomes sparse in the summer). Without further ado, let’s do this!

Alex Burrows’ letter to Canucks fans

Alexandre Burrows is a real class act to Canucks fans. His twelve seasons in a Canucks jersey has left a lasting impact on me. Off the ice, his generosity knew no bounds. Whether it was the volunteering done at Canucks Place or the promotion of positive mental health in the Canucks Break the Silence initiative, Alex gave back a lot to a community that he could call home.

On the ice, Alex was known around the league as a pest and an agitator, but to the fans in Vancouver, he was so much more. Of his many names, the one that I and many fans will remember forever is dragonslayer.

Video from TheHockeyChannelHD on YouTube

It has been nearly 6 years since Alex scored this legendary goal and I still get chills to this day. Every time I watch it, I think back to the incredible story that brought Alex Burrows to this point. I could go over his ultimate underdog story, from humble beginnings in the East Coast Hockey League to his incredible rise to the NHL. However, I think Alex tells his story best in this story he published in The Players’ Tribune.

https://www.theplayerstribune.com/alex-burrows-thank-you-vancouver/

Alex takes us on his emotional journey to Vancouver, illustrating both the successes and shortcomings along the way. The ride has been incredible and Alex was even kind enough to make a trade with another team happen to help improve the Canucks in the future. He never had to agree to do this, but did what was necessary to give something to Canucks fans one more time.

Alexandre Burrows will forever be a Canuck, blue and green to the core. Even though he wears a different jersey now, he will be remembered in this city for years to come. I just have one final thing to say: Merci beaucoup, Alex! Bon chance!

Brent Burns vs Erik Karlsson

After watching Hockey Night in Canada over the weekend, the panel’s discussion brought up the nominations for the Norris Trophy. Brent Burns is well in the lead at the moment with 27 goals and 70 points. Burns has the chance to be the first defenceman to score 30 goals since Mike Green in 2008-09. I mean just look at that beautiful, bearded mug.

burns
Photo Credit: Drew Stafford

There was talk of Erik Karlsson being an underrated dark horse in this year’s race for the best defenceman in the league. Karlsson has been an offensive dynamo for the Ottawa Senators since his third season in the league, but the biggest knock on his game was a lacking in defensive acumen.

Guy Boucher has reinvigorated the Ottawa Senators, taking a lottery team from last year and operating a team competing for a divisional lead. From the eye test, Karlsson’s defensive game is improved from earlier in his career. Some have argued that since this was the thing holding him back from being the best defenceman, fixing this aspect of his game should make him a shoe-in for the Norris, right?

giphy25
Via Giphy

Well, that is not the case this year and I can see the perspective as to why this is the current outlook of this competition. Brent Burns has been consistently improving this season, becoming one of the best personalities in the game today. His incredible shot and physical play are complimented by his famous facial hair and TV spots.

Video from SanJoseSharks YouTube channel

Erik Karlsson has 65 points, which is nothing to scoff at. However, many people really value defensemen who score goals and having a defenceman that may score 30 (something most forwards are unable to do) in one season is just a great way to sell the best players in this league.

The Rookie Race

rookie standings

This year’s race for the Calder Cup has been incredibly exciting and it is not over yet. A lot of the media buzz has put close eyes on Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews. Laine is currently leading rookies in goals and points and dare I say it, but he really could be the modern incarnation of the Finnish Flash (Teemu Selanne).

Video from SPORTSNETCANADA on YouTube

With this, Laine is the youngest player to record three hat tricks, per Bleacher Report. The 2016 NHL draft is proving to be incredibly exciting to watch between the achievements of both Laine and Matthews. Another 2016 draftee is making quite the splash this season is Matthew Tkachuk. He is fifth in rookie scoring, raising headlines in more ways than one (see further down below).

The focus has largely been on Laine and Matthews, but the Toronto Media will never let us forget about Mitch Marner and William Nylander. The pair is right behind Matthews, taking third and fourth place in rookie scoring. Marner has had an incredible season and could be a darkhorse Calder candidate, but it does not seem likely with all the buzz around the top two.

Lastly, I would like to throw in my two cents about Zach Werenski. He is leading all rookie defencemen in scoring with 11 goals and 46 points. Werenski has taken a huge step this year after a Calder Championship win last year in the AHL. His play has been important in turning the Columbus Blue Jackets into a legitimate playoff contender this year.

As to who wins this rookie race at the end of the season, who knows? Personally, my vote goes to Patrik Laine because he is so much fun to watch. Every goal is met with so much enthusiasm and his presence just electrifies the ice he skates on.

Is Matthew Tkachuk a dirty player?

8 ball Yes

Full disclosure, Matthew Tkachuk is a player that I appreciate a lot. Ever since tracking his draft year with the London Knights, I was hoping the Canucks would select him when we lost out on the Draft Lottery. Jim Benning ended up drafting Tkachuk’s teammate, Olli Juolevi, citing a need for a defenceman over a winger.

However, this segment is not about who I wanted to draft. I want to discuss Tkachuk’s style of play and its ramifications. Firstly, Matthew Tkachuk likes to play with an edge. He is an agitator; whose goal is to throw the opposition’s focus on the puck by directing it towards himself.

Video from SPORTSNETCANADA on YouTube

Tkachuk’s physical play is right on the line between right and wrong, which is where he can get himself and specifically other players into trouble.

Video from SPORTSNETCANADA on YouTube

In this first video, Tkachuk clearly slewfoots Martin Marincin as time expires. Not only is the act dangerous, but unnecessary as the game was a 4-0 blowout. Marincin could have injured himself in the way that he fell and frankly, it was just an unnecessary action.

Video from SPORTSNETCANADA on YouTube

Now we get to his worst offense of the season. Drew Doughty and Matthew Tkachuk usually engage in a physical matchup when the Kings play the Flames. However, Tkachuk took this too far with a blatant and dangerous elbow to Doughty’s face. The elbow was dirty and has no place in this game. Fortunately, the league is having a hearing with him about the incident. If the league truly cares about player safety, Tkachuk should be facing a 2 game suspension for such a dangerous play. Will this happen?

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