Photo credit: CBC.ca
Not many of us hockey fans thought we would see an NHL game this season, but thankfully, the NHL and NHLPA finally came to their senses, agreed on a new CBA, and we can finally get back to talking, complaining and chirping about our teams and rivalries.
Though I’ll be honest and say that I’m not sure what Vancouver fans are more excited about: seeing the boys back in action or being able to buy all the hotdogs, popcorn and pop they want for only a $1 each, at least during the Canucks’ first 3 home games. I’m going to say it’s a pretty close race.
Saturday, January 19, 2013 vs. Anaheim Ducks (home game, 7:00 PM start time)
The Canucks and the Anaheim Ducks split 4 games last season, each team winning 2 games. Cory Schneider and Jonas Hiller backstopped their respective teams in those wins.
It should be an interesting season for the Ducks. Both Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf are entering the final year of their contracts and both will become unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne and Bobby Ryan are also in the top-six, but other than that, the Ducks have a lot of young players who will try to earn a spot and stick around in a tough shortened season. The Ducks did get bigger and stronger with the additions of Sheldon Souray, Bryan Allen, Daniel Winnik and Brad Staubitz.
Henrik Sedin led the Canucks with 5 points (1G-4A) and a plus-7 rating in the season series. Bobby Ryan led the Ducks with 7 points (2G-5A), but was a minus-3 in those matchups.
Sunday, January 20, 2013 vs. Edmonton Oilers (home game, 6:00 PM)
It’s clear that the Edmonton Oilers know how to win…. the first overall pick in drafts.
Kidding aside, the Oilers, for the third consecutive year, won the right to draft first overall in the NHL Entry Draft and used it to select Russian phenom, Nail Yakupov. Because of their talented, young core, which also includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and prized free agent-signing, Justin Schultz, many feel this is the time they start making a push in the NorthWest Division.
Now, many Canucks fans were disappointed that the BC-born Schultz decided to sign with Edmonton last summer, but hey, the Canucks just signed Jim Vandermeer and Cam Barker – don’t worry guys, we got this.
The Canucks won 5 of the 6 games last season against the Oilers. Alex Burrows led the Canucks with 8 points (3G-5A) while Eberle and Hall both led the Oilers with 6 points each.
Wednesday, January 24, 2013 vs. Calgary Flames (home game, 7:00 PM)
The Calgary Flames boosted their forwards with the additions of Roman Cervenka and Jiri Hudler, both of whom are welcome additions to a team that finished 24th overall in the league in scoring. They also added defenseman Dennis Wideman, who scored 11 goals and 46 points last season, by signing him to a hefty 5-year contract worth $26.5 million.
Turning 36 years old this season, it will be interesting to see how many games Flames workhorse, Miikka Kiprusoff, will get, especially since the schedule of this tough shortened season demands a lot of games in a short amount of time. Personally, because he’s in my hockey pool, I’m hoping he starts all 48 games.
The Canucks were 3-2-1 against the Flames last season. Alex Edler led all Canucks skaters with 6 points (1G-5A) while Mike Cammalleri, who was traded from the Montreal Canadiens back to the Flames in January, scored 4 goals in just 3 games played against the Canucks.
Friday, January 25, 2013 at Anahiem Ducks (away game, 7:00 PM)
Since this will be the second meeting between the two teams, I thought this would be a good time to bring up something that everyone notices, but not many people talk about – can we please address the unfortunate balding of Ryan Getzlaf? Great player, pretty good looking, bad genetics. Poor guy.
Sunday, January 27, 2013 vs. San Jose Sharks (away game, 5:00 PM)
The San Jose Sharks are always one of the top teams in the Western Conference. Well, at least they are during the regular season. With the likes of Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau, Martin Havlat, Logan Couture and Dan Boyle, the Sharks have a solid core group of players. Plus, this summer, they added some grit by signing Adam Burish and some veteran stability on the backend by signing ex-Wing, Brad Stuart.
The Canucks were able to get 7 out of a possible 8 points against the Sharks last season; their lone loss in the series came in the shootout. Kevin Bieksa led the Canucks with 4 assists in 4 games. Couture and Mini Joe each had 4 points for the Sharks.