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When players are in the corner, the battle has to happen
Ed Willes, The Province
Monday, December 04, 2006

One of the keys to successful column writing is to set small, manageable goals -- and ours today is to be as entertaining as the Vancouver Canucks. If you're still reading, here are the Monday morning musings and meditations on the world of sports.

- The NHL, in general, aspired to a noble goal when it sought to remove obstruction from the game but the league now has to be concerned about legislating against competitiveness in the process.

In the last three Canucks games, a disturbing number of penalties were assessed during battles for the puck. Unless you're Chris Pronger, a tug on the arm during these engagements has become part of the overall crackdown, and that was never the intent.

The aim of the reinterpretation was to restore speed and flow to the game, and the rules should be enforced when players are in motion or carrying the puck. But when they're locked up against the boards or in the corner, the battle has to take place.

Speed and skill make the game great but without the physical contact, they are meaningless

- When Denis Savard took over for Trent Yawney in Chicago, it marked the 101st coaching change in the NHL since Lindy Ruff took over in Buffalo in 1997.

- You wonder how long it will take before the Canucks start looking at the available free agents to solve their offensive woes. There are glaciers that move faster than Jason Allison but he can make a power play go. The Canucks aren't at that point yet, but if their scoring problems continue, you get the feeling the call will be made.

- Interesting exchange with old pal Adrian Dater of the Denver Post on Saturday night, who was amused at the hand-wringing over the Canucks in Vancouver. There are, Dater posited, three or four good teams in the Western Conference and everyone else is pretty much the same. That means most games are decided by whichever of the mediocre teams happens to score the extra goal.

Tell me if that doesn't describe the Canucks season perfectly?

- Anyone else remember when the Northwest was the best division in hockey? Now it's like one large crisis centre.

In Edmonton, the Oilers are coming off a home-ice loss to Columbus and are without Ryan Smyth and Ales Hemsky for the foreseeable future. Colorado is a shadow of its former self. Calgary was supposed to be the best team in the division but they are two games over .500 and have almost as much trouble scoring as the Canucks.

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