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THE MOJ: Canucks what we expect them to be, as the NFL keeps playing with us

It’s hard to figure out what you’re going to get on the gridiron on any given Sunday
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Vancouver’s Quinn Hughes celebrates a goal in Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida. photo courtesy Canucks.com

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Five games into the season and it’s been pretty much as expected from the Vancouver Canucks.

There’s been the good – most notably an 8-1 trouncing of Edmonton in the season opener, as well as a 5-3 win in Florida against last-year’s Stanley Cup finalist. There’s been the bad (a disappointing 4-3 loss in Tampa) and the ugly (a 2-0 loss to Philadelphia in which the Canucks effort was a major issue).

It’s pretty much what can be expected from the hockey club this season as the Canucks don’t have enough talent to overcome sub-par efforts or games in which they don’t play with structure.

The good news is that the team is trending in the right direction according to some.

“They’re definitely playing with more structure. The head coach (Rick Tocchet) is encouraging a harder work ethic and to play with more discipline,” one NHL scout told me.

“The depth on the blue line and with the bottom six forwards has been improved but is still a work in progress,” they added.

The scout also felt that Vancouver is a team that is on the playoff bubble and will need a solid season from goaltender Thatcher Demko if they are to qualify for the first time in three years.

ON ANY GIVEN SUNDAY

Trying to figure out the NFL is an exercise in futility. If someone can explain to me how the Detroit Lions can get beat 38-6 by the Baltimore Ravens or the Buffalo Bills can lose 29-25 to a one-win New England Patriot team, please let me know.

Or how about the Las Vegas Raiders going into Chicago and losing 30-12 to the Bears that also only had one win until Sunday?

Adding insult to injury in that game was that the Bears started Tyson Bagent at quarterback, who got the nod with starter Justin Fields out of the lineup due to a dislocated thumb.

Bagent became the first NCAA Division Two quarterback to start a game in the NFL since Jon Kitna did so for Dallas in 2010.

Covering the CFL, I’ve pretty much heard of most of the smaller schools in the U.S. that play football. Mention Incarnate Ward, Colorado State Pueblo or Tiffin and I can somewhat relate. I’ve never heard of Shepherd University -the school that Bagent was starting for last year at this time.

“The details, a lot of details. Obviously, the team I’m going against Sunday is a little bit better than West Chester. There are quite a bit more details than there were a year ago,” Bagent said after being asked by chicagobears.com about the difference between playing the Raiders in front of 60,000 at Soldier Field versus the 2,123 that were on attendance when Shepherd went into West Chester, Pennsylvania and defeated West Chester College 47-14 last year at this time.

THE BATTLE FOR TEXAS

I know 87% of baseball fans in this country have checked out of the post-season since ‘Toronto’s team’ got eliminated again but the American League Championship series was very entertaining.

The Battle of Texas featuring the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers had it all with the Rangers eventually coming out on top in seven games. This agent took great glee in watching the Astros being knocked out of the post-season by losing 11-4 in game seven in their own ballpark and by blowing a 3-2 series lead in the process.

I know most of the players are gone from those teams that were involved in the sign stealing scandal but as long as I see Jose Altuve in an Astros uniform, I’ll be cheering against them.

It’s too bad too. Altuve’s journey to the majors is stuff that movies are made of. Unfortunately, every time I see him I think of the 2019 ALCS when, as he’s just about to touch home plate after a series winning homer, he tells his teammates not to rip his shirt off because he was allegedly wearing a buzzer.

I SURVIVED

During the course of the year, we’ve managed to add some ‘extra value’ for our B.C. Lions sponsors by hosting position group events at various locales.

Last week, the linebackers visited Resurrection Spirits and were treated to a great night. This past week, the defensive backs were guests of Guyle Clark from Clark Woods LLP in Coquitlam. We were invited to ‘The Bunker’ – a games room featuring a simulator with various sports including golf.

A defensive back who I will not name decided to hit a driver. The tee shot hit the corner of a sidewall on a 45-degree angle and came screaming back at around 150 MPH through an area in which most of us were sitting. All I saw was a blur to my left and felt the ball graze the outside of my jacket.

Rusty Johnson, the champion BBQ king who provided some of the best smoked brisket you will ever taste for the guests, was sitting to my left and felt the ball skimming over his right hand on its way out an open door. Luckily no one was hurt and we all got a chuckle out of it. The simulator was changed to something a little less dangerous (a quarterback throwing challenge) a few minutes later.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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