Jason Garrison and Derek Roy are on the same team this time (photo by Jeff Vinnick from Canucks.com)
While the Canucks’ performance on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues was admirable – they certainly held their own against a much more physical Blues team – they certainly have some more work to do before the playoffs begin. For starters, regardless of their injury list, they need to be able to generate more offense. They need to dictate more of the play instead of just absorbing hit after hit after hit, and giving up as many scoring opportunities as they did. The point was nice, but let’s face it – Cory Schneider was the reason they got that point. I doubt they win a seven-game series while playing mostly on their heels. With four more practice runs before the playoffs begin – and three of those against potential playoff dance partners – it’s as good as time as any for the Canucks to work on their systems, and get in an offensive groove.
First on tap tonight are the Dallas Stars.
Looking back at the trade deadline, it sure seemed like the Stars were already starting to rebuild for next season. They shipped out team captain Brenden Morrow, star forward Jaromir Jagr, and another top-6 forward, Derek Roy. Yet instead of “not winning for Mackinnon”, they went on a bit of a run, and now find themselves just 4 points out of a playoff spot with 6 games remaining. And they have 2 games in hand over the Columbus Blue Jackets, who currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
24-12-7, 55 points (1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference)
Both the Canucks and the Stars have won a game apiece in the season series.
Before the Stars’ 5-2 loss against the Blackhawks in their last game, they were riding a 5-game win streak. They are 5-3-0 in the month of April.
Ray Whitney has been the hottest Dallas Star of late. Currently riding a 5 -game point streak (3G-6A-9P), he is tied for the team lead in goals (10) with Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.
Kari Lehtonen has been out with groin issues, but will make is return tonight against the Canucks. Prior to the injury, Lehtonen had won just 2 of his last 6 starts.
In an effort to create more offense (or in an effort to maintain his reputation as a chronic line juggler), Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault made news by putting Ryan Kesler on the wing alongside recently-acquired centreman Derek Roy in practice. While I was looking forward to seeing them play together, many Canucks fans were up in arms at the move, citing Kesler’s preference to play in the middle and the potential of unbalanced forward lines (from a scoring perspective).
By game time, all was right with the world as Kesler took his centre position back while Roy was the one shifting over to the wing. Kesler supporters were happy and so was I – the two of them were still going to play together.
The result against Nashville was good: both Kesler and Roy had two points apiece in the Canucks 5-2 win. The duo was tamed in the subsequent game – a 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis.
So why is playing centre so much better? Along with the help of some loyal CHB readers, I present to you The Top 10 Reasons Why Playing Centre is Better Than Playing on the Wing:
10. One word: faceoffs. Or is that two words: face offs?
9. The centre is the one who makes the line what it is. (Submitted by @RyanGuevs)
8. Centre of attention makes sense. Wing of attention doesn’t.
7. Because he won the friggen Selke. (Submitted by @BrowntoBure)
I think my Twitter-buddy Dave mistook the topic to be “Top 10 Reasons Why Kesler Should Stay at Centre” but I’ll accept it nonetheless. Then, as a reply to my reply, Dave added:
I actually prefer wing…it’s less work.
6. The wingman never gets the girl. (Pat on Facebook)
I hope he’s not speaking from experience.
5. Centres can be smooth like the centre of a Caramilk. Wings can be good too…with hot sauce. (Submitted by @Rozzy80)
I think my buddy Jay mistook the topic to be “Top 10 Ways to Relate This Hockey Blog to Food”.
4. Who would you rather be? Ricky Bobby or Cal Naughton Jr.? If you ain’t first, you’re last. (Submitted by @lyteforce and @mattlee61)
Yes, it takes 2 CHB contributors to come up with one entry: one of them to suggest it, the other to correct it.
3. Playing centre, it doesn’t matter if you’re a right-handed shot on the right side, a right-handed shot on the left side, a left-handed shot on the left side, or a left-handed shot on the right side. Either side will be your strong side because you’re in the middle of the ice.
2. Both of these guys won the Art Ross. But only one of them won the Hart.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick
1. No guy dreams of becoming Goose. You dream of becoming Maverick. (Submitted by Jason on Facebook)
No doubt this will make fellow CHBer @lyteforce proud. Very proud.
Even after the departure of Ryan Suter, the Nashville Predators stayed true to their identity. They don’t score a lot, but play their defense-first system to a tee, especially because their only true superstars, Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber, are back there, and this has, at least in recent years, allowed them to keep pace with the rest of the West.
But right now, with only a handful of games left in the regular season, here the Preds sit in 13th place in the Western Conference and 9 points out of a playoff spot. They’re decimated by injuries – with the likes of Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher out – and with youngsters like Filip Forsberg and Daniel Bang in the lineup, just getting their feet wet in the National Hockey League.
Strap in, Canucks fans. This game should be a doozy.
With the Canucks playing a set of back-to-back games today and tomorrow, Roberto Luongo will get his 18th start of the season. As we near the homestretch before the playoffs, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the last start for “Numero Uno” during the regular season. Or maybe ever.
After a lackluster perfomance against the last place Colorado Avalanche on Saturday – I believe Ryan Kesler eloquently called their performance “shit” – the Canucks are looking for a much better effort.
23-12-6, 52 points (1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference)
The Canucks will be looking for the season sweep tonight in Music City. The Canucks won 1-0 back on February 22, and as well, a high-scoring 7-4 affair back on March 14.
The Predators are on the end of their own back-to-back set; the Detroit Red Wings shut them out 3-0 last night. They are currently on a 6-game skid and have gone just 1-7-2 in their last 10 games.
Dan “The Hammer” Hamhuis is currently riding a 5-game point streak (5 GP, 2G-3A-5P). @lyteforce may like to go streaking when Chris Tanev scores; personally, I’m hoping to put on my moon pants and scream “STOP, it’s Hammer time” when Hamhuis does something noteworthy.
Ryan Kesler will start the game as a right wing, playing along side Derek Roy and Alex Burrows. After the Roy signing, many believed that Kesler moving to the wing would be the next step in order to utilize our top 6 forwards. Let the experiment begin. (Vancouver Sun)
Ryan Kesler didn’t mince any words after the Canucks blew two, third period leads to the last place Colorado Avalanche yesterday. “We played like shit for 40 minutes,” he said. “We gave them everything they got with turnovers and miscommunication and not getting the puck out. It was shit,” he added.
In this latest episode of CHB TV, Chris, Ed, Caylie and I went to Library Square in Downtown Vancouver and wondered whether or not the Canucks did enough to get prepped for the playoffs and whether or not retiring Pavel Bure’s jersey was the right thing to do. Damon Holowchak, Marketing Coordinator for the Donnelly Group, also joins us on the panel.
But also, Jay Jones, Executive Bartender and Brand Ambassador for the Donnelly Group whipped up some Canucks-themed drinks – the No. 5 Garrison, Dirty Higgins and Honey Badger – that will be on their menus at Library Square, Cinema and the Lamplighter on Canucks game days until the end of the playoffs.
The drinks were amazing and Jay kindly shared with us – to share with you, our loyal readers – how to make them.
No. 5 Garrison
Local boy, Jason Garrison has come home. This cocktail stands to represent his strong character and play. Based around the design of a classic Old Fashioned, spiced whisky defines the depth and boldness of the drink, while brown sugar mellows the bite and whisky barrel-aged bitters lend further complexity. Orange zest creates great aroma and flavor in pairing with the vanilla of the whisky. Served ‘on the rock’ as a nod to his hometown of Whiterock, BC.
1.5 oz Canadian Club Dock
no. 57 Spiced Whisky
1 Brown Sugar Cube
3 hard dashes Fee Brothers Whisky Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 large Orange Peel Zest
1. muddle sugar with whiskey & bitters in a mixing glass
2. stir without ice to dissolve sugar
3. add cracked ice & stir to chill
4. loose strain into a small rocks glass (8 oz capacity)
5. place 1 oversized ice ‘rock’ in the glass
6. zest heavily with a large slice of orange peel
*garnish with spent orange peel
Gritty Canucks forward Chris Higgins isn’t a ‘dirty’ player, but he certainly gets his hands dirty fighting for pucks, goals and wins with relentless tenacity. The ‘Dirty Higgins’ pays respect to that character. The Bloody Caesar is a classic Canadian savoury cocktail and inspiration for this creation – Clamato juice creates the body, but instead of vodka, the strength of character at the core comes from Bourbon, an American classic, just like Higgins himself – Jim Beam ‘Devil’s Cut’ acknowledging his devilishly determined style of play. This drink gets dirty with traditional seasoning of Tabasco & Worcestershire sauces, but with the added flavor of pickle brine to create a truly unique flavor profile. A touch of lime juice freshens the palate, while baby pickles and balsamic onions make for a crunchy and tangy garnish.
1.5 oz Jim Beam ‘Devil’s Cut’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 oz Pickle Brine
4 oz Motts Clamato® Juice
25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3 hard dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 hard dashes Tabasco sauce
1. combine all ingredients and roll between mixing glasses
2. pour into a large rocks glass (12 oz capacity)
3. fill with large ice cubes- stir to chill
*garnish with cornichon and a balsamic onion
The Honey Badger is revered as the fiercest of all creatures – underestimated because of it’s appearance and size. Our beloved Dane, Jannik Hansen earned this nickname for the ferocious and fearless style of play he exhibits every single shift. Over the past seven years as a Canuck, his two-way skills and tireless drive have made him one of the most appreciated and respected players on the team. Somersby Danish apple cider is a nod to Hansen’s home country. Melon liqueur and vanilla-flavoured Galliano combine to add fruity, delicious honey-like tastes – in combination they pack a surprising wallop. The resultant colour is reminiscent of Canucks green – an easy-drinking and refreshing reward after hard work, or play.
1.5 oz Bols Melon Liqueur
.25 oz Galliano Liqueur
Somersby Danish Apple Cider
1. combine liqueurs in a draft beer glass
2. pack glass full with ice cubes
3. add ice and top with cider
*serve with a straw