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Spitballin on Sedinery, an improved blueline, and first-line centre Brandon Sutter

Spitballin’ (or S uper P ass I t T o B ulis: All In , if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

The Sedins are still good. Phew.

I'll admit it: the first game of the season is always stressful for me. It's not about the outcome. Whatever about that. The first game hardly counts. But every year, I fear that I'm about to tune in to game one of The Season Where the Sedins Aren't Good Anymore™.

After Wednesday, my fear has been assuaged. After watching the Sedins make mincemeat out of the Flames, I'm pretty sure that season won't be this season.

My favourite play isn't even one of the three goals they generated. It's the one they almost generated -- the two-on-one where Daniel perfectly timed a whack at Henrik's wobbly saucer pass, and came a highlight-reel save away from tucking it under the crossbar.


My word. The skill. The hand-eye. The chemistry. These guys are magic. 

There's no doubt the twins don't shoot the puck as hard as they used to. They're among the weakest shots on the team, probably. But velocity hardly matters when they shoot it so well. Another example:

Not the first time we've seen Henrik score from there, either.

So now I'm excited, because it looks as though we're in for another edition of The Season Where the Sedins Are Good™.

Brandon Sutter: first line centre

I know it's not quite as bold a statement now as it would have been after the preseason, but I like Brandon Sutter with the Sedins. It's not the points, though. It's the cover he provides Henrik Sedin in the offensive zone.

Sutter is playing the wing, but he's also sort of not. On several occasions Wednesday night, he was effectively the centre, taking draws on Henrik's off-side, and shouldering the defensive responsibility in the O-zone as the Sedins stayed down low, trying to create something. In previous years, they've been willing to abandon their offensive push so Henrik could be the first forward back like a good centre. But versus Calgary, Sutter handled those duties, effectively playing between the Sedins so they could focus on offence. 

Canucks defence corps is faster now  

It really isn't much of a surprise that the Canucks beat the Flames last night. They are, after all, built to beat Calgary.

It seems pretty clear to me that Jim Benning made many of this summer's roster decisions in response to how his team fared in that six-game playoff series with the Flames. Players who underperformed or struggled in that series (Nick Bonino, Kevin Bieksa) are gone. And the defence, which was simply too slow to escape the Flames' forecheck last spring, has been considerably souped-up by the additions of the speedy Ben Hutton and Matt Bartkowski. The Canucks are suddenly much faster in transition.

They move the puck faster as a unit. We saw it in Jannik Hansen's goal, when Hutton savvily sent the puck up to an unchecked Jannik Hansen. But they also just skate it out of danger with more effectiveness. On several occasions, Bartkowski and Hutton turned on the jets and took the puck through the neutral zone themselves. The Flames seemed completely unprepared for this upgraded blueline, as Thomas Drance notes:

Vancouver’s transition game, far from being a weakness on Wednesday, was a strength. It was a big part of what permitted the Canucks to throttle Calgary, who were out-shot 28 to 8 in a decisive 30-minute stretch that extended from late in the first period until early in the third. By then, it was too late for the Flames.

Fortunately for the Canucks, they get to play this the Flames before facing a different team, at which point we'll know if these Calgary-specific upgrades are effective against anyone else.

Frankie not a Willie guy

I'd suggest the new defensive philosophy (which is really just the philosophy of the Gillis era prior to the Boston loss) is also part of the reason the Canucks were willing to part with Frank Corrado: his game doesn't have enough speed to match their current direction. I know the Canucks compared him to Chris Tanev at one point this offseason -- a silly suggestion that seems, in hindsight, like a vain attempt to juke his trade value -- but the guy he's always been most like is the departed Bieksa. That's not what Willie Desjardins is after.

Jason Botchford alluded to this philosophical shift in Wednesday night's Provies:

My sense, and this is just an educated guess having done the interviews, is Corrado was not a Willie guy and that wasn’t likely to change.

Torts really liked Corrado when he was here. He was a big part of the Torts vision. With Willie, it wasn’t like that.

Noted. And time will tell if Willie's vision proves to be a good one. But Torts was building the slowest, shot-blockingest team in the NHL, and he was fired after, like, a week. So it seems to me that if Corrado was a Torts guy and not a Willie guy, that doesn't really speak well of Corrado's game.

Sbisa still the glaring weakness we feared

While we're talking defence, a word on Luca Sbisa, whom I fear we'll be picking on a lot this season. Admittedly, picking on someone is always fun, right up until they start crying like a baby, but I don't really like picking on the Canucks. I'd prefer them all to be unassailable. Unfortunately, Sbisa's pretty easy to assail.

The Flames' lone goal Wednesday came by pressuring Sbisa into a turnover, and after looking at how aggressively the two forecheckers chased him down, I have a sneaking suspicion that other teams know about Sbisa's penchant for pizza deliveries. Or maybe the Flames just remembered from last pkayoffs.

Either way, the pizza delivery was a pretty predictable outcome. But it didn't really bother me. Not when Dave Romanuk's sparing call pretty well sums up the Luca Sbisa experience:

"Sbisa....... puck rolls down, Hudler scores!!!"

No need to fill in the gap there. We all know precisely what's happening.