Ashley Pothiboon

Student who's old enough to do everything--mature enough to do nothing. I've loved the Canucks for eternity and I can still fit into my 6th grade Markus Naslund jersey.

Apr 012014
 
With the Canucks outside looking in on the playoff race, there has been plenty of speculation around the Tortorella coaching regime, to add more fuel to the fire, former Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault returns tonight with his post-season bounce New York Rangers. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

While the Canucks are outside looking in on the playoff race, there has been plenty of scrutiny around the Tortorella coaching regime, to add more controversy, former Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault returns tonight with his post-season bound New York Rangers.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

With only 6 games left in the regular season, the likelihood of our Vancouver Canucks making the post-season sits at 0.3%.

If you’re the most optimistic of fans, then yes, absolutely, there’s still a chance at a miracle finish here. But the reality is, the injuries, the inefficiencies on the power play, the inability to protect leads, especially in the third period, everything that has plagued them this year, have caught up, and we’re left to grind about the many questions facing this team the rest of the season, and in all likelihood, the off-season.

With the New York Rangers in town tonight, and coach Alain Vigneault returning to Rogers Arena behind the visitors bench, perhaps one of the most prominent questions is, was AV really the problem?

In Av’s time here, he led the Canucks – with the same core of players as John Tortorella has – to six Division titles, two Presidents Trophies, a Stanley Cup Final appearance, and a 313-170-57 record. Obviously, they struggled in the post-season in his last two seasons – the Los Angeles Kings, who barely clinch the 8th and final playoff berth in the West, beat them in 5 games in 2012, and the San Jose Sharks swept them last season – but hey, at least they made it. I don’t think this was entirely his fault, and in fact, you can argue he got the best of whatever Canucks roster he had – even made them Stanley Cup contenders – and he’s doing the same now with the Rangers, who have much of the same players that Torts had. On the other hand, the Canucks, under Torts, have done worse, much worse, this season. Regardless, the consensus last year was that the Canucks had gone stale and that they needed a new voice.

Was the coaching change the right call? Maybe. Did they hire the right replacement? I don’t know, and maybe, that’s the better question.

Mar 232014
 
Two years after the Canucks traded Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Zack Kassian , the comparisons remain. Who won the trade?

Two years after the Canucks traded Cody Hodgson to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Zack Kassian , the comparisons remain. Who won the trade?

It’s been two years since the Vancouver Canucks traded formerly golden boy, Cody Hodgson, to the Buffalo Sabres for Zack Kassian. And ever since then, we’ve been trying to establish whether or not the trade was a good trade or bad trade.

There have been a ton of articles written about the two and how, statistically, they’ve performed for their new teams. But personally, both are different players – they have different strengths and faults – and I’m not sure how you compare the two.

Hodgson is a 6’0″ smart, playmaking centre; Kassian is a 6’3″ power forward in the making.

Right now, Hodgson is expected to make plays and score on the last place Sabres’ top-six, if not on its top line. With 16 goals and 20 assists this season, averaging 19 minutes of ice-time per game, he’s done that for the most part. However, his -24 rating and soft play without the puck leaves a lot to be desired.

On the other hand, the Canucks’ expectations of Kassian for now are a bit different. Of course they hope he can eventually put up top-six numbers (he has 11 goals and 19 points – both career-bests – so far this season), but, playing on the bottom-six for about 14 minutes a game, GM Mike Gillis and coach John Tortorella first and foremost want him to learn to play more responsibly at both ends of the ice and take the body and provide a physical presence more consistently.

As it stands, analyzing Hodgson’s and Kassian’s points is, excuse the pun, pointless. Hodgson has better numbers, but he’s also been placed in a more offensive role than Kass.

Does this mean that the Sabres won the trade?

For now, the jury is out. In my opinion, it’s too early to tell which team won the trade. Both Hodgson and Kassian seem to address their respective teams’ needs: the Sabres’ need for a scorer and the Canucks’ need for size. At the time, the trade perhaps made sense for both teams, and at least for now, both players are providing what’s been expected of them.

Welcome back, Cody (Part 2)

Kassian scored a goal, but Cody’s Sabres beat the Canucks 5-3 in their last visit to Rogers Arena shortly after the 2012 NHL trade deadline.

Canucks fans don’t like divas, and in his short time here, Hodgson certainly came across as one. Even the vets gave him a hard time about it – remember Luongo playfully advocating for more ice-time and the players taping a “C” on his jersey just a few hours before he was traded. As always, it should be interesting to see the kind of reception he gets from the hometown faithful.

One Up, One Down

The Canucks get Daniel Sedin back from injury. Unfortunately, they’ve lost Alex Burrows again. Too bad too. Burrows had 5 goals in his last 5 games, including a couple of 2-goal games.

Honoring Henrik

Henrik Sedin played his 1,000th NHL game last week. The Canucks will celebrate his milestone tonight.

Mar 142014
 
The Canucks have already met and beaten the Capitals once this season, can they do it again? (Photo Courtesy: canucks.nhl.com)

The Canucks have already met and beaten the Capitals once this season, can they do it again without Kesler?
(Photo Courtesy: canucks.nhl.com)

The Canucks won their last game against the Winnipeg Jets last Wednesday.

Alex Burrows not only scored his first goal of the season, but he scored twice.

Chris Higgins and his washboard abs scored the winning goal in the shootout. (Yes, the Canucks won in the shootout.)

Wait, aren’t we supposed to be tanking?

The playoff race continues tonight for the Canucks as they face a similarly-desperate Washington Capitals team. Both the Canucks (30-28-10) and the Caps (30-27-10) have 70 points, good for 10th place in the Western Conference and 11th place in the Eastern Conference, respectively. The playoff door hasn’t shut completely for either team, but unless they can string together some a lot of wins, it’s surely about to close pretty quickly.

The Great 8

While it’s been a disappointing season overall for the Caps, Alex Ovechkin at least is having another good season. He leads the league with 44 goals; meanwhile, on the other side of the ledger, the Canuck’s big 3, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler have combined for 45 goals all together. Not that this matters much tonight with Danny and Kes both out with injuries, but the stat kinda makes you cringe, eh?

Zack is Back

Zack Kassian is back tonight after serving his 3-game suspension.

Burr is Back

Well, we hope so anyway. With 2 goals, 6 shots and 5 hits, Burr is coming off what is easily his best game of the season. Maybe with the proverbial monkey off his back now, let’s hope Burr is back for good.

Kes is Out

It sounds like Kes suffered a sprained knee from Jim Slater’s knee-on-knee hit last Wednesday and will miss a couple of weeks. The injury looked a lot worse when it happened. That he’ll be able to come back for the last couple of weeks of the regular season is good news or bad news, depending on which side of the “should the Canucks tank” you fall on.

With Brad Richardson out as well, we may be looking at a lineup with Hank, Shawn Matthias, Jordan Schroeder and Zac Dalpe down the middle.

Scary.

Mar 122014
 
"Let's just get this over with."- A quote from every current Canucks fan. (Photo Credit theglobeandmail.com)

“Let’s just get this over with.”- A quote from every current Canucks fan.
(Photo Credit theglobeandmail.com)

“There’s rock bottom, then 50 feet of crap, then me.” – Rachel Green, Friends

It can’t possibly get worse than this, right?

Just when we thought the Canucks had hit rock bottom – the Heritage Classic loss, the Heritage Classic drama that lead to the Roberto Luongo trade, losing games consistently and in spectacular fashion – they, on Monday night against the New York Islanders, put together one of the worst third period meltdowns in NHL history (with all due respect to the Leafs’ meltdown against the Bruins in Game 7 in last year’s playoffs). Up 3-zip going into the final frame, the Canucks allowed the Islanders to score 6 goals in the first 12 minutes of the third period, and proceeded to lose by a 7-4 score.

The Canucks, only two seasons ago the best team in the NHL, are now so bad they’re setting record lows. And that’s saying something considering how bad they were for the first 30-something years of their existence.

All that said, I refuse to say this is rock bottom. But only because saying so would probably just give the Canucks the opportunity to try and *ahem* top themselves again.

The Playoff Picture

After the Dallas Stars’ win last night, the Canucks are now 6 points back of the Stars for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, despite having played more games than the teams they’re chasing.

Tonight, they play the Winnipeg Jets, another team ahead of them in the standings, for the third and final time this season. Home ice has been an advantage for both teams in this series; both the Canucks and the Jets split the first 2 games with the home team winning each time.

For what it’s worth, the Jets are the only team with a worse record (1-1-4) than the Canucks since the Olympic break.

The Injured

For the Canucks, Daniel Sedin, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts are all still on the mend. Zack Kassian will also miss the game as he serves the final game of his 3-game suspension. Ryan Stanton has missed 3 games, but practiced yesterday; he may be a game-time decision.

For the Jets, Mark Scheifele, Chris Thorburn, John Albert, James Wright and Grant Clitsome are all out with injuries.

Mar 072014
 

This pretty much sums up last night’s 6-1 ass-kicking to the Dallas Stars.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 062014
 
Ryan Kesler remains a Canuck as the trade deadline has come and gone. Time to accept the team we've got and move past the trade rumours.  (Photo Credit vansunsportsblogs.com)

Ryan Kesler remains a Canuck as the trade deadline has come and gone. Time to accept the team we’ve got and move past the trade drama.
(Photo Credit vansunsportsblogs.com)

The NHL trade deadline has come and gone, but you can’t say Canucks fans are clearer about the direction this team is going. Sure trade clouds are no longer looming over the dressing room, and the team you see now is the team you’ll see for the remainder of the season, but can you really see any better what bodes ahead for this group?

Maybe the players can revert their attention back to playing hockey. Maybe they’ll actually string together a few wins and inch back up the standings. Maybe they can start scoring more than a goal a game. Or a goal a game. Or maybe they’ll just slowly fade into the sunset and wait until Canucks brass – whoever they are at that point – to make changes.

It’s Lack’s Team Now

It’s hard to believe that Roberto Luongo now dons the jersey of the Florida Panthers. Only 4 days ago, over 50,000 Canucks fans were chanting “We Want Lu”. But if you think about it, Lu’s last game as a Vancouver Canuck was almost a month ago before the Olympics when the Canucks faced the Leafs in Toronto.

Regardless, this is Eddie Lack’s team now, and Jacob Markstrom will serve as his backup. How long until the inevitable Lack/Markstrom goalie controversy starts?

Every Point Matters

Tonight’s opponents, the Dallas Stars, currently hold the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. But of course with 20 games left in the season, their hold on that spot is anything but final. The Canucks, the Winnipeg Jets and the Phoenix Coyotes are all within 2 points. It’s cliche to say, but every game, every point counts from here on out, especially if the Canucks have any ambition to make the postseason. It won’t help them though that they’ve gone 1-9-1 in the past 11 games. And neither will not having Daniel Sedin, who is out indefinitely with a leg injury, in the lineup and replacing him with Darren Archibald.

The Newbies

The always charming Tim Thomas was traded to the Dallas Stars yesterday, but the Canucks will likely face Kari Lehtonen, who’s started 50+ games so far this season.

The Canucks are welcoming some new faces of their own. Besides Markstrom, 6’4″ center Shawn Matthias will be playing his first game with the team, wearing Sergio Momesso’s old no. 27. If it makes anyone feel any better, Matthias bringing over a point-streak with 5 points in his last 2 games. For those wondering, the Canucks have 5 goals in their last 313 minutes of game time.

The Injured

Besides Dank, Mike Santorelli, Andrew Alberts and Yannick Weber remain out of the lineup.

The Stars had been without Rich Peverley for the last 2 games because of an injury he sustained Monday night, but he may play tonight.

Feb 262014
 
(Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

(Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck)

With Team Canada’s gold medal performance in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi still fresh in our minds, it’s time once again to try and focus on the battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup. The quick change-over from teammates to opponents to teammates again is all part of the Olympic experience. But now that their country’s flag on the front of their jersey has been replaced with the NHL logos, it’s time to reacquaint themselves for the stretch run. That means, no more giveaways, *ahem* Daniel Sedin, though Canada appreciated the assist on Sunday morning. In all, 10 St. Louis Blues players and 7 Vancouver Canucks players were on Olympic rosters, and all, save for a few exceptions, should be back on the ice tonight at Rogers Arena.

Tonight marks the start of a 3-game homestand for the Canucks. Believe it or not, despite their troubles this season, the Canucks have won every meeting against the Blues this season. Sure their last matchup, back on January 10th, was in the midst of better times for the Canucks, but what the hey, with how the last couple of months have turned out, it’s good to cling on to something good.

The Canucks have 22 games left this season, and as we speak, they’re outside the playoff picture. But if we were to look for reason for hope, they’re also still within striking distance of a wild card spot and the 3rd seed in the Pacific Division. In fact, a couple of points tonight could move them back into the playoff picture, although the teams around them all have games in hand.

The Bachelor

With fresh legs, the well-rested Eddie Lack will be in goal tonight to give Roberto Luongo the night off.

Lack had a good two weeks. Well, mostly. He did get to watch The Bachelor, but he also had time to make – and lose – an ill-fated bet.

I wish I was kidding.  (twitter.com/eddielack)

(twitter.com/eddielack)

I wish I was kidding.

Ironman 2

Henrik Sedin is expected to play tonight after missing 9 games with a rib injury. Of course, the injury kept him off Team Sweden for the Olympics, but I heard they did alright without him.

Not-So-Wonder Twins

Hank hasn’t scored a goal in 19 games; Daniel hasn’t scored one in 17 games. Their usual linemate, Alex Burrows hasn’t scored, well, since last season. It really doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why the Canucks are 24th in the league in scoring.

The Missing

Ryan Kesler won’t play tonight and is day-to-day with a hand injury. Chris Tanev, Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts are no-gos as well.

For the Blues, Jordan Leopold and Vladimir Sobotka will not be in the lineup tonight.

Feb 032014
 
A summary of Burrows' "puck luck" summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.  (Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

A summary of Burrows’ “puck luck” summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.
(Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

After serving his 15-day suspension for going off the rails, er, “off the country” against the Calgary Flames, Canucks head coach John Tortorella is back behind the bench tonight as they face the Detroit Red Wings for the second and final time this season.

It probably couldn’t have come at a better time either, with the team struggling and losing playoff ground. Not too long ago, the Canucks seemed firmly in a wild card playoff spot, even threatening to overtake the Los Angeles Kings for 3rd place in the Pacific Division, but thanks to their 4-9-2 record in January are now just 2 points ahead of the 9th place Phoenix Coyotes and only 4 points ahead of the 13th place Winnipeg Jets.

With defensemen Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts all still in the infirmary, the Canucks yesterday called up Yann Sauve from the Utica Comets, and this morning acquired Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens, giving up the Dutch Gretzky, Dale Weise. The defensive help will be welcomed, but they’re still woefully short up front with Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli still out as well.

Likewise, the Detroit Red Wings have injury concerns of their own. Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss are all nursing injuries.

Who’s Hot

If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Ryan Kesler seems to be awakening from a month-long slumber. Without Hank in the lineup, Kes has taken on top-line center duties and has 4 points (1 goal and 3 assists) in his past 2 games.

For the Red Wings, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader has picked up the scoring slack, accounting for 5 of Detroit’s 8 goals this weekend. Nyquist, in particular, has been hot, recording a hat trick yesterday, and he now has 8 goals and 11 points in his past 7 games.

Jan 292014
 
Tonight the Canucks play their third game in four nights, and possibly their most difficult. The Chicago Blackhawks are in town for a 7:30 pm/pst puck-drop. (Photo Credit vancouversun.com)

Tonight the Canucks play their third game in four nights, and possibly their most difficult. Rivalries are sure to boil over as the Chicago Blackhawks play the Vancouver Canucks for the third time this season.
(Photo Credit vancouversun.com)

The Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks usually bring the best out of each other. That’s hopefully the case tonight.

The fact is, neither team is playing their best hockey right now. The Canucks’ woes are well-documented, having lost 10 of their last 14 games, including a disheartening 4-2 loss to the last place Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, after dropping a 5-4 decision in OT to the Calgary Flames last night, have now lost 4 games in a row. They’ve also lost 6 of their last 7 road games (1-1-5), though despite that, the Blackhawks are still a top-3 team in the league and still lead the league in scoring (3.44 goals per game).

If the Canucks want to exploit anything, it’s that the Blackhawks are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, and their 5th game in 8 nights. I guess that’s something.

Who’s Hot

With Henrik Sedin still out, and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler snake-bitten, the Canucks have had to rely on everyone else to provide their offence. After returning from a lengthy stay on IR, Jordan Schroeder returned on Monday against the Oilers and scored both Canucks goals that night. Kevin Bieksa has also stepped up with 3 points in his past 2 games, including 2 goals – and the game-winning OT goal – against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday. Ditto Chris Higgins, who also had 3 points against the Coyotes.

For the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa scored twice last night against the Flames and has 4 goals in his past 5 games. Patrick Kane, who also scored last night, has 4 points in 3 games, and he currently sits 4th in the NHL in scoring (60 points).

Who’s Out

The Blackhawks have a healthy roster except for their backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is out with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

For the Canucks, Hank is still out as are Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts. Tonight will be game 5 of John Tortorella’s suspension – he’ll miss 6 games while serving his 15-game suspension – and hopefully he’s relaxing in Hawaii or something.

TortsBeach

Jan 262014
 
Offense-schmoffense when push comes to shove, just eat your opponent.  (Photo Courtesy canucks.nhl.com)

Offense-schmoffense, when push comes to shove there’s no penalty for eating an opponent.
(Photo Courtesy of  canucks.nhl.com)

For the second time in just 10 days, the Canucks take on the Phoenix Coyotes. You may or may not remember their most recent meeting on January 16th. On the one hand hand, it was memorable for the sole reason that Martin Hanzal was a one-man wrecking crew for the Coyotes in the third period, taking out with Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli and David Booth with crosschecks. But then again, the game was boring as heck so we’ll forgive you if you stopped watching before Hanzal went all Donatello on the Canucks.

None of the three injured Canucks finished the game, and in fact, Hank and Santorelli remain out of the lineup, which has Dale Weise speculating some sort of response to Hanzal.

“I think we’re trying to build a team identity here that we don’t get pushed around,” Weise continued. “I think we stood up for ourselves good against Calgary. Dustin Brown kind of had to answer the bell there — and he did. I don’t think Dustin Brown had to drop the gloves but he was forced into it. Eventually if you get enough guys challenging you, I think the peer pressure kind of wears on you and you have to answer the bell.

“I’m not sure what’s going to happen tomorrow (with Hanzal). We have a lot of guys who might have a few choice words for him and then we’ll see what happens.”

Like against their games against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks the other week, the Canucks can’t let their emotions get the better of them. The Coyotes are hot on the Canucks’ tail in the Western Conference for the last playoff spot in the Western Conference; the Canucks have a slim 4-point lead on the Desert Dogs, who also has a game-in-hand on Vancouver.

Who’s Hot

If there’s any positives for the Canucks, it’s been their goaltending. They’re not scoring, but they’re staying in games thanks in large part to Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, both of whom are in the top 10 in the NHL in GAA and save percentage. The Canucks have the 7th best goals against per game in the league (2.38), and Luongo, specifically, is looking better than ever and has a 0.949 save percentage in his last 4 starts.

Up front, tough guy Dale Weise has 2 assists in his past 2 games, and for the Coyotes, Mike Ribeiro, who leads the Coyotes in scoring, has 4 points (2 goals and 2 assists) in a 3-game point streak.

Who’s Out

Henrik Sedin remains day-to-day with a rib injury and is expected to miss tonight’s game. Mike Santorelli remains out with a shoulder injury and Andrew Alberts remains out with a concussion. Jordan Schroeder, who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury, will not play tonight, but did start his conditioning assignment and played for the Utica Comets on Friday and Saturday against the Abbotsford Heat.

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