Monday, September 13, 2010

I Watched This [YoungStars] Game: Canucks Prospects vs. Oilers Prospects, September 12, 2010

I Watched This Game is a recurring feature on Pass it to Bulis!, chronicling the observations and insights of two people who watched a hockey game.

If you're new to Pass it to Bulis, the I Watched This Game feature is our way of reviewing the Canucks games we just watched, with an eye towards the things we noticed, what to watch for in future games, and hilarious mishaps that absolutely must be documented. The I Watched This Game series is where terrible PiTB player nicknames, in-jokes and grudges are born, so it's always worth the read.

We decided that we would fire up the IWTG series for the YoungStars tournament, but I'm going to warn you in advance that this is likely a grave mistake on our part. Why? First, we hardly know any of these players, we don't know their numbers, and it's hard to make out who is doing what on a live stream of this quality anyway. Our observation skills are therefore limited. Let's take a moment, by the way, to recognize the incredible quality of CTV's olympic stream. It downright spoiled me; the typically rubbish Canucks preseason stream stung even harder this time around as a result.

Yes, the stream is better than usual, but is horrendously terrible really an upgrade over horrifically unforgivable? It crapped out on Skeeter and I several times yesterday early in the second period, then stayed down for the last half of the game. We wound up listening to the broadcast on the radio, and our observing skills suffered as a result.

This really is unacceptable. I think the YoungStars tournament is a brilliant idea. It gives GMs a chance to assess talent in a closed environment, it gives players a genuine chance to show their stuff, and it gives a small town an opportunity to host some games of import and meaning. But, it also gives fans of these teams a chance to whet their appetite for hockey, build excitement and momentum for the season, and spread the word about a team's future. From a marketing perspective, there are lots of positives. The problem is that all of those positives are negated when your stream sucks and the fans feel like you're not thinking of them. I recognize that everything about the quality of the broadcast has improved over the last three years, but it's still not good enough, and I know for a fact that it can be better.

That's the end of my rant. Here are some observations.

  • The Canucks prospects lost 4-1, but does anybody really care about the score? This is a chance to see bits and pieces of the Canucks potential future, and, in some cases, the potential near future. This is one of the few games that has little to do with overall team effort, and more to do with individual success stories.
  • Speaking of individual success stories, it was kind of frustrating that they were all on the Oilers side. Eberle, Pajaarvi and Hall were probably the three best forwards on the ice, but are we surprised? First, they're three of the top prospects in the world, and second, they were playing together. If Jordan Schroeder was playing with a healthy Cody Hodgson, I suspect that they might have stood out.
  • On the Canucks side, it was tough to know who was doing what, when. Aaron Volpatti stood out--he was a wrecking ball out there, creating chances and causing havoc. But he's twenty-five, and running around attacking all these kids isn't really that impressive. In fact, it's nearly an arrestable offense. Aaron Vol-Pedobear? Note: nicknames! I imagine him skating around, trying to lure the other players into his van, which he would likely call the Volpaddy Wagon.
  • Kevin Connauton had some defensive lapses, but boy, did he look good quarterbacking the power play. His goal was a bit of a softie, but I'm sure he'll take it. When you're the only one on your team's score sheet, and you're a defenseman touted for offensive upside, I'd say you're doing quite well for yourself. I am stoked to see more of this kid.
  • Schroeder was the best Canuck forward, but I was watching for him. I missed a lot of stuff.
  • I thought Stefan Schneider looked big, but he is big, so that's not that impressive.
  • Eddie Lack played tremendously. If he had played the whole game, it's possible it might have gone differently. Methinks he was a pretty good find.
  • What was the deal with the sound? It was bad. It was unsound. Thanks, I'll be here all night.
  • Those white helmets looked kind of dumb. What do you think was the thinking behind that? "These kids aren't ready for blue helmets! Are you trying to destroy their futures? Is that what you want? THINK!"

Here's hoping there's more to talk about after tonight's game. If you want to know a little more about these players, check out Skeeter's posts on the invitees to prospects camp and this YoungStars tournament.

Thanks for reading. I'm going to watch today's game, and if the stream is better and my boss doesn't realize what I'm up to, I'll have more to say tomorrow.

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