Delia Xenophontos

Mar 292014
 

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(Photo credit: cbc.ca)

Talk about different circumstances.

While the Vancouver Canucks are fighting to keep their diminishing playoff dreams alive, the Anaheim Ducks are fighting for first place in the Pacific Division.

With a win tonight, the Ducks can match a franchise record for victories. With a win tonight, the Canucks’ chances of making the playoffs will still be at around 3%.

Ass-Kicking in Anaheim

Without a doubt, the Ducks will not be an easy team to beat. Heck, the Canucks have yet to beat them this season. Remember that brutal 9-1 loss in Anaheim in January? Remember the Ducks’ 7-minute, 5-on-3 power play in the third period while already leading by 6 goals?

Good times.

Duck Domination

The Ducks have outscored the Canucks 16-5 in their first 3 games this season.

Not Lacking Goaltending

Rookie goaltender, Eddie Lack, has started 14 games in a row. Sure, he’s had his ups and downs, but for the most part, he’s given the Canucks some solid goaltending. He’s 3-0-1 with one shutout (against the Nashville Predators) and a 0.929 save percentage in his last 4 games.

Top Sixtito

If you want a reason for the Canucks’ lack of success against the Ducks this season, consider that Tom Sestito is the only Canuck to score two goals against them this season. (Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa have the other goals.) However, in their last matchup, Sestito finished with a game-high 22 penalty minutes. Incidentally, Sestito leads the NHL with 201 penalty minutes. Less fighting, more goals, please?

Corrado Called Up

The Canucks today recalled Frankie Corrado from the Utica Comets in case Kevin Bieksa, who suffered some sort of injury last game, can’t play. For what it’s worth, Bieksa’s on the ice for the morning skate.

Mar 262014
 

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(Photo Credit: nhl.com)

Despite their modest two-game win streak, the Vancouver Canucks have gained no ground in the standings because, well, the teams in front of them are keeping pace. (I mean, how hard is it to win 2 games in a row?? Oh yeah, the Canucks have won back-to-back games only for the first time in two months.) To make the playoffs, the Canucks must still move past the Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes, of course, but with only 9 games left in the regular season and still 6 points back of the 8th place Coyotes, they have no margin for error. Consider this: the Canucks can win all of their remaining 9 games, but they must still hope that both the Coyotes and Stars lose almost half of their remaining games in order to pass them.

Henrik Out Again

It seems like ages ago when Henrik Sedin was the league’s ironman. Now, after getting injured on an awkward hit on Sunday, he’s out again for the second time this season. He won’t make the Canucks’ two-game road, which makes their fight for a playoff spot that much tougher.

Lineup Change

With a goal and 2 assists in Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, Shawn Matthias must have impressed the coaching staff enough to earn a spot on the first line with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Jensen. (Well, that and the Canucks don’t really have a heck of a lot of options these days, eh?)

Predictions

Not sure how many people would agree with me, but as a confident Canucks fan, I think they’ll pull through and win this crucial game. I definitely think it’ll be a close game, but a Canucks win nonetheless. 3-2, maybe?

Mar 172014
 

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(Photo credit: lightning.nhl.com)

After defeating Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers yesterday afternoon, the Canucks are hoping to close their 4-game road trip with back-to-back wins, which, if they pull off, would be their first win streak in a couple of months. But more importantly, it would keep their faint hope of making the playoffs alive, potentially inching to within a point of the 8th place Dallas Stars, who currently hold the final wild card playoff spot. The Stars will, however, have 4 games in hand.

Nevertheless, hope, right?

Celebrating a Cup Win

The Tampa Bay Lightning will end a 6-game home stand tonight by celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Stanley Cup win in 2004. Torts, of course, coached the Lightning back then, and will likely receive a hero’s welcome from the home crowd. (Cynically, we’ll suggest there are some Canucks fans who would prefer he stays there.)

We honestly don’t know what’s more depressing – that Torts hasn’t been able to coach the Canucks this season with the same amount of success as that 2004 Lightning team, or that the Tampa Bay freaking Lightning have won a Stanley Cup.

Top Line Sighting

The top line has come alive in the last few games. After a loooong scoring drought, Alex Burrows has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games. Nicklas Jensen, who is filling in for the injured Daniel Sedin has goals in back-to-back games. There hasn’t been many bright spots for the Canucks this season, but seeing Jensen have some success at the NHL level – at least for now – is one of them.

Mar 162014
 

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(Photo credit: windsorstar.com)

The Vancouver Canucks will take on the Florida Panthers in a noon time matinee today. On this road trip so far, they’re 1-1-0, and finish off with a back-to-back today and tomorrow night against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But despite every point being so crucial to the Canucks, despite every remaining game of the season being a make-or-break game – and you can throw every other cliche out here – today, forget everything else. All everyone wants to talk about is facing long-time face of the franchise and winningest goaltender in Canucks history, Roberto Luongo, since he was traded at the trade deadline.

Their thoughts

It’s a huge game for us, it’ll be fun to see him again but we’re focused on getting the win – Henrik Sedin

Playing against Roberto in the first game is going to be a tough game. – Eddie Lack

What Lu can’t see, he can’t stop. – Alex Burrows

His thoughts

It’s going to be weird. I was in that locker room a week-and-a-half ago, so it’s the first time really I’ve been traded during the season. I don’t know how I’m going to feel but it’s definitely going to feel weird. – Roberto Luongo

Our thoughts

Please don’t shut us out. Please don’t shut us out. Please don’t shut us out.

Mar 082014
 

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The line brawl between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames that started their last game.
(Photo credit: nhl.com)

After an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks return home for a two-game home-stand. They’ve only been away for a week, but, man, has so much happened since the last time they were in town. It’s hard to believe that the Ryan Kesler trade saga, the Heritage Classic goaltending fiasco, and Roberto Luongo’s subsequent trade to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline all happened in the last week. Welcome home, boys.

March 8

March 8 is a dark day in Canucks history. Exactly 10 years ago today, in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Todd Bertuzzi jumped Steve Moore, who then suffered a career-ending injury.

And wouldn’t you know it, but today is also the first meeting between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames since their line brawl on January 18th started the game, and Mt. Tortorella erupted during the first intermission and had to be restrained from entering the Flames’ dressing room. Torts was suspended 15 days by the NHL for his actions.

The Turning Point

The Canucks have won 5 in a row against the Calgary Flames, including all 3 games they’ve played this season.

But truth be told, unlike the Canucks, who are sinking faster than Lindsay Lohan’s once promising career, the Flames are headed in the right direction. Since that January 18th meeting against the Canucks, they’ve won 9 of 15 games. They’ve scored 4 or more goals in 7 of those 15 games, and have allowed 2 goals or less in 8 of them.

On the other hand, the Canucks have won just 3 games since Mt. Torts’ eruption (3-11-1), and have only scored 24 goals in those 15 games.

There were some reports Canucks players, especially the veterans, were upset at Tortorella for his actions that night, and looking at the results since, the question needs to be asked: Has Torts lost the room?

Rock Bottom

As the Canucks struggle to score, of course they also struggle to win. Heading into tonight’s game, the Canucks have scored 148 goals. The fewest number of goals ever scored by a Canucks team in a full season were the 192 scored by the 1989-1999 Canucks. To beat that number, the Canucks need 45 goals in their final 17 games – that’s asking the team to score a 2.64 goals per game pace over the final 17 games of the season when they’ve averaged 1.53 goals per game in the last 17 games they’ve played.

The Struggling

For those keeping track, Captain Henrik Sedin has not scored a goal in his last 22 games and is without a point in his last 11 games. Although he’s injured right now, Daniel Sedin has also not scored in his last 22 games and has just one point in his last 17 games. Alex Burrows has yet to score a goal this season.

Mar 032014
 

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(Photo credit: nhl.com)

  • First off, can we talk about Eddie Lack getting the start over Roberto Luongo? Complete lack of respect. Yes, Lack has done well lately, but Luongo is your starting goaltender. He’s shown nothing but class and grace while the team botched their goaltending situation the last couple of years, and he definitely should have played in net today. Honestly, when will Lu get a chance to play in a game like the Heritage Classic again?
  • The game started off great for the Canucks. They took a 2-0 lead in the first 11:27 of the game, and for a while it looked like they were ready to blow the closed roof out of BC Place. Jason Garrison opened the scoring with a power play goal their first power play goal in 4 games – hey, at least the Canucks bumped one slump – and then Zack Kassian followed it up with his 11th goal of the season.
  • Speaking of which, Alex Burrows still hasn’t bumped his scoring slump. For those keeping track, he’s nearing 10 months since he last scored a goal. Just sayin’.
  • But of course, the Canucks blew a 2-0 lead, allowing the Senators to score twice in a span of 1:47 to tie up the game later in the first period. Classic Canucks blowing leads.
  • After the first period, things just went downhill for the Canucks. Cody Ceci put the Senators up 3-2 in the second period, and the Canucks didn’t have many chances to get even. And then of course Colin Greening sealed the deal with an empty-net goal with a minute and a half still remaining in the game. Anyone else thought it was too early to pull Lack for the extra attacker? Another bad decision by Torts?
  • Injury report: After one Sedin (Hank) returned from an injury, the other one went down to one. Daniel was hit into the boards by Marc Methot and remained down on the ice for a few minutes before slowly skating off the ice. He went straight for the Canucks dressing room and return for the rest of the game.
Mar 022014
 

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(Photo credit: nhl.com)

Ottawa Senators (26-23-11) at Vancouver Canucks (28-24-10)

The Vancouver Canucks will take on the Ottawa Senators at BC Place for the 2014 Heritage Classic. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s snowing as we speak in downtown Vancouver.

Cold Snap

Just as cold as the weather outside is the Canucks’ offence. They’ve scored a grand total of 6 goals in their last 6 games, and not surprisingly, they’ve lost all but 1 of them. The Sedins, though they’ve been playing a bit better since the Olympic break, haven’t scored in 2013. Alex Burrows hasn’t scored since the 2012/2013 season. In fact, much of the Canucks’ offence over the last quarter of a season has been provided by Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, and Kesler, who has goals in consecutive games and leads the Canucks with 21 goals for the season, may or may not want to be traded before Wednesday’s trade deadline.

Goaltending Controversy, pt. 10438

According to TSN, it is expected that backup goaltender, Eddie Lack, will be getting the start today. If he does, it will be his third consecutive start. It will also be a huge slap to the face of starting goaltender, Roberto Luongo. “I’ve always wanted to play in an outdoor game, so I was excited when I saw we got one this year and I was looking forward to it.” Luongo said. Unfortunately, that might not happen. Canucks coach, John Tortorella, said he will announce the starting goaltender today before the game. Let’s hope saner heads prevail.

Feb 082014
 

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(Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (27-23-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (31-22-6)

First, the good. When the Vancouver Canucks face the Toronto Maple Leafs this afternoon, they’ll be going for their 12th straight victory against the team from the center of the universe; the Leafs haven’t beaten the Canucks since November 2003. In their last meeting earlier this season, the Canucks blanked Toronto 4-0 as Roberto Luongo stopped all 21 shots he faced. That night was also the night the Canucks retired Pavel Bure’s jersey and raised it up to the rafters.

However, now may be as good a time as any for the Leafs to break out of their misery against Vancouver. Quite simply, they’re on a roll right now. One of the hottest teams in the league, the Leafs are have won 10 of their last 13 games (10-2-1), and they’ve moved all the way up to 5th place in the Eastern Conference after sitting in 10th place before this streak began.

Decimated by injuries, the Canucks only wish right now to get back on the winning track, let alone start another lengthy win streak. After a 5-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night, the Canucks have lost 6 games in a row – their longest losing streak in 15 years. They’re struggling at both ends of the ice, averaging less than 2 goals a game over the last 23 games, but yet allowing more than 3 goals against per game in that same span. Even their penalty-kill, the best in the league for most of the season, has dipped, allowing at least a power play goal against in each of the last 3 games and in 9 of the last 12 games; including that 9-1 debacle in Anaheim, they’ve now allowed 15 power play goals against in the last 12 games.

This is the final game for both teams before the Olympic break. For the Canucks, it sure would be nice to at least head into it with a win. Especially against the Leafs.

Feb 062014
 

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(Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (27-22-9) at Montreal Canadiens (30-21-6)

To say that the Vancouver Canucks are struggling is an understatement. For starters, they’ve lost 5 games in a row, and are 4-11-3 in their past 18 games. They can’t score – averaging just 1.88 goals per game over their last 18 games – and they can’t keep the puck out of their net – allowing an average of 3.16 goals against per game over that same span. They’re battered physically – the injury list includes regulars Henrik Sedin, Chris Higgins, Mike Santorelli, Brad Richardson, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev – and I’m sure mentally as well.

Tonight’s opponents, the Montreal Canadiens, are faring a bit better. At least they are now. After losing 5 of 6 games a couple of weeks ago, the Habs have bounced back nicely and are 3-1-1 in their last 5 games. Goaltender Carey Price has had a lot to do with that turnaround, stopping 130 of 134 shots (0.970 save %) and posting 2 shutouts in that span.

This is the second and final meeting between the Canucks and Habs this regular season. The Habs won the first meeting back on October 12th, and of course, Price paid a huge part in that victory, stopping 40 of 41 Canucks shots that night.

Tonight’s game is being billed as the battle for the starting goaltender spot for Team Canada in Sochi in just a week from now. (Poor Mike Smith.) Winner gets first crack at the starter’s spot? Or maybe first pick of beds in the Athletes Village? I’m sure Luongo – and the Canucks – will settle for getting the two points tonight.

Feb 042014
 

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(Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (27-21-9) at Boston Bruins (35-16-3)

Remember when the Canucks met the Boston Bruins last time in December? Remember how good they looked in beating them 6-2 at Rogers Arena?

Neither do I.

As good as the Canucks were that night, they’ve been far from outstanding since then. Since scoring 6 goals that night, they’ve scored just 42 goals in 22 games – for those counting at home, that’s a 1.91 goals per game average over an entire quarter of a season. They were shut out by the Detroit Red Wings last night – the third time they’ve been shut out in the last 11 games – and they’ve now lost 4 games in a row. Or more importantly, they’ve only won 4 games since the calendar turned to 2014.

On the other hand, the Bruins seem to be doing okay. They’ve won 3 of their last 4 games, and don’t seem to have a problem finding the back of the net; their 3 wins were by scores of 6-3, 6-2 and 4-0.

#silverlinings

If there are any silver linings in the Canucks’ recent play, it’s that Eddie Lack and Roberto Luongo have consistently shown up and given their team at least a chance to stay in games.

Eddie Lack has been great. Last night against the Red Wings, he made 28 saves on 29 shots, many of them of the sensational variety. In his last 6 starts, he’s allowed just 1 goal in 4 of them; but in perhaps what typifies the Canucks’ offensive woes right now, they somehow managed to win just 1 of those 4 games.

After Lack started the last two games, Roberto Luongo will be back in net tonight. His save percentage (0.920) and GAA (2.30) this season are still among the top of the league. He stopped 41 of 43 shots against the Bruins in December; however, he hasn’t played in Boston since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. For those of you who have repressed those memories already, Lu gave up 15 goals on 66 shots and was pulled twice in 3 starts.

Dun dun dun.

The objects in your rear view mirror are closer than they appear.

As the Canucks continue to struggle, their grasp on the final wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference is also weakening. After last night’s game, they’re a single point ahead of the 9th place Phoenix Coyotes, who, by the way, hold two games in hand over the Canucks. They’re also only 4 points up on the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, who are all tied with 59 points and currently hold 10th, 11th and 12th place, respectively, in the Western Conference.

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