- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Some highlights – sure, let’s call them that – about the Canucks’ 4-3 lost to the Winnipeg Jets last night.
- Dear the guy who brought the giant Torts cut-out – that’s so much awesome.
- Devin Setoguchi snapped his scoring drought, scoring twice, including the game-winner with just 2:56 remaining in regulation. Prior to his first goal, just 6 minutes into the game, he had gone scoreless in 7 games, and only had 1 goal in his last 26 games. There has to be a stat out there on slump buster teams – or teams likely to allow players to bust out of lengthy scoring droughts. Or first career goals. The Canucks must be at or near the top of this list.
- The Jets scored back-to-back goals within 65 seconds in the first to give them an early 2-0 lead. Recently, it seems the Canucks have allowed a lot of goals and allowed them in bunches. Against the Blackhawks on Wednesday, they allowed 3 goals in 4:17 minutes and 4 goals in 7:41 minutes. In that 9-1 disaster against the Ducks, they allowed 2 goals in 2:02 and another 2 goals in 55 seconds after that. Earlier in January against the Penguins, they allowed 2 goals in 16 seconds with barely a minute left in the game and a 2-goal lead; the Pens of course came back and won that game in the shootout. How fragile are these guys right now?
- Ryan Kesler was a bright spot. He scored in the second period to tie up the game momentarily, and added a couple assists on the other Canucks goals. More #beastmode Kes please.
- Kesler, after the game, “We need to find a way to win, this is getting old. We don’t want to lose.” Well, no shit.
- Hey guys, did you know Alex Burrows hasn’t scored a goal yet this season?
- Torts will be back behind the bench on Monday when the Canucks face the Detroit Red Wings. Welcome back, coach. We missed you.
Vancouver Canucks (27-17-9)
Edmonton Oilers (16-32-6)
For the fourth time this season, and the second time in just six days, the Vancouver Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks won all three previous games (6-2, 4-0 and most recently, 2-1).
After Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win for the Canucks, they’re looking to keep the momentum going and start a new winning steak. However, the Oilers are looking to start a new winning streak of their own. On Sunday, the Oilers ended a six-game winless streak as they beat the Nashville Predators 5-1.
As we all know, the Vancouver Canucks have experienced trouble scoring goals lately, but they sure didn’t have any problem on Sunday.
Kevin Bieksa scored twice, including the game winner in overtime, to lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory over the Coyotes.
Chris Higgins helped lift the Canucks to a 5-4 victory with one goal and two assist. He now has two goals and two assist in the past two games.
For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle extended his point streak to five games on Sunday (four goals, two assist).
Henrik Sedin (ribs) is still day-to-day. Forward Mike Santorelli (shoulder) and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) are on injured reserve. Jordan Schroeder, who has missed most of the season with an ankle injury, will not play tonight, but did start his conditioning assignment with the Utica Comets.
The Oilers are likely without defensemen Philip Larsen (illness) Andrew Ference (upper body), along with forward Ales Hemsky (ankle).
Vancouver Canucks (26-16-9)
Nashville Predators (22-22-7)
Only 5 NHL teams have scored less goals than the Nashville Predators so far this season. So of course they shored up their defense; yesterday, the Preds traded defenseman Kevin Kline to the New York Rangers for defenseman Michael del Zotto.
del Zotto is regarded as an offensive defenseman. He posted 9 goals and 37 points in his rookie season and set career-highs of 10 goals and 41 points a couple of years later. However, his production has slipped since and he has just 2 goals and 11 points in 42 games this season. He joins what is already a formidable defense core in Nashville with Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Seth Jones.
Now, if only they can put the puck in the net.
The Canucks aren’t without their own problems on offense. They’ve only scored 7 goals in their last 6 games, and when you think about it, it’s actually quite amazing they won 3 of those games, including their last 2 games against the Alberta teams. Some people will have you believe that Luongo is the worst goaltender on the planet, but quite simply, the Canucks don’t win against the Calgary Flames on Saturday and Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday without Luongo’s 0.952 save % in those games.
This is the second of three meetings between the Canucks and Predators. The Canucks have won four straight against the Preds dating back to February 22nd last year, including their most recent meeting on December 3rd. Ryan Kesler played Superman that game, as he seems to always do against the Preds, scoring a pair of third period goals to carry the Canucks to a 3-1 win.
The Preds’ Roman Josi has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in his last 4 games.
Henrik Sedin (ribs) still remains day-to-day. Mike Santorelli, Andrew Alberts, Ryan Stanton and Jordan Schroeder are all out. Schroeder, though, will play for the Utica Comets this weekend on a conditioning assignment.
Vancouver Canucks (25-16-9)
Edmonton Oilers (15-30-6)
This is the third of five games between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks won the first two games (4-0 and 6-2). Roberto Luongo has stopped 40 of Edmonton’s 42 shots.
After snapping a 3-game losing streak on Saturday night with a rambunctious 3-2 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, the Canucks look to stay on the winning track tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. They’ll try to do this without coach John Tortorella, who was suspended by the NHL for 15 days after trying to get to Flames coach, Bob Hartley, in the Flames’ dressing room during the first intermission last Saturday. They’ll also try to push through without captain Henrik Sedin, who was the league’s Ironman and had played 679 consecutive games, but will miss tonight’s game with a suspected rib injury. Hank, who is officially listed as day-to-day, hasn’t missed a game since missing 4 games during the 2003-2004 season.
The Oilers are currently on a 4-game losing streak. They’ve lost 9 of their last 11 games and have allowed 45 goals against during that span. Sitting in 29th place in the NHL, they’re 3 points ahead of the last place Buffalo Sabres but have played 4 more games.
For the Canucks, Ryan Kesler got both a goal and an assist in the Canucks win against the Flames on Saturday.
For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle has goals in consecutive games.
Besides Torts and Hank, the Canucks will be without Mike Santorelli, Ryan Stanton, Andrew Alberts and Jordan Schroeder.
For the Oilers, Nail Yakupov missed the previous game and Ales Hemsky has missed the past two. Philip Larsen and Corey Potter are also out.
Vancouver Canucks (24-15-9)
Phoenix Coyotes (21-16-9)
After last night’s embarrassing 9-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks are hoping to redeem themselves tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. You’ve all heard the narrative by now that January hasn’t been kind to the Canucks. And with a single win in January – and a 1-4-3 record in their last 8 games – you wouldn’t hear many Canucks fans arguing against it.
However, despite their struggles, the Canucks still hold one of two wild card spots in the Western Conference. They currently occupy 7th place in the conference, 6 points up on tonight’s opponents, the Coyotes, and with 2 games in hand. Part of the reason the Canucks have managed to stay up on the Coyotes is that the ‘Yotes themselves have struggled recently. Phoenix has lost 4 consecutive games and have a 2-6-3 record in their last 11 games.
This is the third of five meetings between the Canucks and Coyotes. They split their first two meetings of the season, with the Canucks winning the more recent match-up on December 6th.
Having scored a grand total of one goal in their last 2 games, I’m not sure if any Canucks qualify as being hot. Though, Zach Kassian did score again last night, his 2nd goal in 4 games, and he now has a career-high 9 goals this season.
Like the Canucks, the Coyotes are struggling on the scoresheet. Coyotes defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson, after going goal-less for 23 games, has scored in back-to-back games – his team’s only goals in their last two games.
Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo still remains day-to-day. Forwards Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and Jordan Schroeder (ankle), and defenseman Andrew Alberts (concussion) and Ryan Stanton (ankle) are on injured reserve.
Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body), who hasn’t played since December 17th, is still out and there is no timeline for his return.