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 282014
 

And we were so optimistic after last night’s game, eh?

But now, after the Canucks’ 3-2 OT loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and the Phoenix Coyotes’ win over the New Jersey Devils, those slim playoff hopes we’re all clinging to are getting even slimmer. The Coyotes need 9 points in their last 8 games, the Minnesota Wild need 8 points in their last 8 games, and the Canucks’ season will come to a merciful end.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 272014
 
Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

 

Crazy Coach-Off

Forget who will score first or who will get the first penalty – the big moment here is which coach will spaz out first? Both Avs coach Patrick Roy and our John Tortorella are fiery and animated, to say the least. Both could go off like firecrackers if this game gets chippy or a team gets one too many bad calls. So keep your eyes on the bench, people. This could be fun!

In Booth We Trust

I have no idea how it came to this, but apparently David Booth is the Canucks’ best player right now. Followed closely by the man who gave up his looks for us, Zack Kassian. Booth has scored 3 goals in his last two games which leaves me wondering if the other teams have written him off like Canucks fans have so they just don’t bother to pay attention to him much on the ice. Let’s hope the Avs haven’t been reviewing the game tapes from the last couple of Canucks wins and they still think he can only hit the back of a deer and not the back of the net. And since the above picture shows he’s got a bit of a history with the Avs, I predict a Gordie Howe Hat trick for Boothie tonight!

Who Cares?

The Canucks. The Canucks should care about this win very much. A win here – and a Phoenix Coyotes loss to Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils – inches them that much closer to almost getting a playoff spot.

With only two wins in their last six games, the Avs are kind of slumping right now too so, yeah they’d love to stop that slide on us, but if they lose one more (this one) it’s not going to toss them right out of playoffs. They still have enough games to secure their spot (and their subsequent first round exit). So really, Avs, you shouldn’t try too hard tonight. Take it easy and give us just a little more hope to be dashed later on. Thanking you in advance.

Mar 272014
 

Nino Niederreiter elbows Alex Burrows in the head.

If you want to get your blood boiling early on a Thursday morning, watch the Minnesota feed of Nino Niederreiter’s elbow to the head of Alex Burrows.

“Ridiculous call”, they say. “Good, open ice hit”, they say.

In terms of homer announcers, this one tops the charts.

For all the heightened sensitivity to head shots and concussions and all that, the NHL, of course, agrees with them, and Niederreiter is scot-free and has been cleared to play in the Wild’s game tonight in St. Louis. In other words, the NHL has deemed his 2-minute trip to the box as sufficient penalty for coming at an opposing player from the blindside and lifting his elbow to hit his head.

I guess hits to the head are good hits again. His teammate, Matt Cooke, will be proud.

You be the judge.

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 262014
 
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Step 1: Draft hulking forward with average skating ability but flashes of offensive upside. Step 2: Thrust player into spotlight using unfair comparisons and unrealistic expectations. Step 3: Criticize said player’s slow development despite young age and minimal professional experience. Step 4: After a few years of disappointment, give player chance on second line or better because of a cavalcade of injuries. Step 5: Take credit for supposed 3-year plan when player succeeds.

And so goes the tale of the power forward – a much sought after, but rare commodity in the modern era of the NHL. These types of players often take longer to develop and can be frustrating as hell for management and fans, but with the right professional climate, can ripen into a force to be reckoned with. The Canucks have been searching for this type of player ever since they were bounced in the Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals by a group of nasty SOB’s in black and yellow uniforms.

Some of these guys fight, some of them drive wide, and some of them dole out bone-crunching hits. The bottom-line is they all do what they do with POWER.

The top 5 Canucks power forwards are:

5) Zack Kassian: The best is yet to come for this big-bodied winger, but this season has seen him take a step in the right direction. All but one of Zack’s 23 points have come at even-strength so just imagine what this guy will do when he gets a shot on the power play in the future.

4) Greg Adams: Not the edgiest player, but a big body and terrific balance, Adams lives on in Canucks lore for this famed goal that sent Vancouver to the cup final.

3) Ryan Kesler: He hits, he fights, he’s a big body and a terrific skater. Kesler doesn’t always get credit as a power forward but he does all the things a prototype power forward should. Solid on both sides of the puck, Kes often does battle with opposing teams’ power forwards as well.

2) Trevor Linden: The ultimate Canucks captain, Linden put his body on the line for the team time and time again. He was a major part of the Canuck run in ’94 and at times was dominant along the boards. Linden had excellent balance and what he lacked in skill he made up for in physicality.

1) Todd Bertuzzi: If a player is used as the model for the term “power forward”, you have to assume he was a pretty good one. Bertuzzi was dominant in the early 2000′s including posting a 46 goal, 97 point season on the Westcoast Express line. Despite this, Bertuzzi never really returned to form after being suspended in 2004 for the infamous “Steve Moore Incident”.

Mar 242014
 

How fitting was it that on the night Cody Godson Hodgson would return to Vancouver, on Henrik Sedin night, that Zack Kassian would notch a career-best 4 assists – a primary assist on each of the Canucks’ 4 goals on the night?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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 192014
 

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Nashville Predators

Nothing to Lose
Nashville is pretty solidly out of the playoffs. I find this to possibly be their biggest advantage in tonight. Teams with nothing to lose tend to play much better than teams with something to lose. Also I think this game will be scrappy because the Preds are probably bitter and angry that they’ll be missing the playoffs for the second consecutive year (and only the second time since 2003) and the Canucks will be panicky and feisty because they’re desperate. I predict a Sestito fight or two. But Canucks will need to keep their heads (I’m looking at you Kassian and Sestito…) and control the penalties or they’ll lose and lose big.

Death By Slap Shot
Shea Weber is a man I love for 2 weeks every 4 years. Because that’s when his ability to kill a man with a slap shot works in my favor because he’s doing it for his/my Country. Tonight he’s my enemy and so is Torts’ blocking shots strategy because it’s the worst possible thing to do when Weber’s the one taking them. The last thing we need is another broken foot or jaw to deal with. So the strategy should be just to keep them from getting the shots.  Own the puck and keep them out of our zone. This should help Lack who has been struggling and letting in softies.

Hell Hath No Fury Like A Goalie Scorned
Pekka Rinne was pulled in his last game against Edmonton, where Preds lost 5-1. This could be seen as a something that will squelch his confidence tonight however, Rinne isn’t a rookie. More than likely that embarrassing loss will spark a fire in him and he’ll have something to prove against us. Plus, let’s be honest, we’re not a goalie’s worst nightmare anymore. Even if Rinne wasn’t angry and looking to avenge his last performance, he’d still be a challenge to our struggling offense.

The Bright Side
Burrows is back – you know that guy who scores a lot? Thank the Hockey Gods for that. If he can stay hot we’ve got a good chance. Edler’s been playing better and Bieksa’s been solid. Add to that Jensen’s solid play and goal-scoring efforts -he’s had 2 goals and one assist in his last 3 games –and we have a glimmer of hope.

Mar 192014
 

 

UPDATE:  CHB writers are proud to commit at least $313 to the Canucks for Kids Telethon, comprised of:

  • $20 from Clay for 2 Canuck goals.
  • $20 from Sean (Clay’s son) for $5 for every Nicklas Jensen point…generously topped up by Arielle Tuliao by another $15.
  • $98 from Chris for $44 for Canucks shots (22 x 2).  Doubled because of the shutout and another $10 because Chris Tanev is Chris Tanev.
  • $30 from Lizz for 30 Eddie Lack saves.
  • $25 from Ashley despite Alex Burrows not scoring.
  • $20 from Delia for 2 Henrik Sedin points.
  • $50 from Victoria for the Alex Edler goal…she was very happy he did something right haha.
  • $50 from JJ for the Canuck win

Today is the Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon.

The Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon, presented by Chevrolet, is an annual radio and television telethon. The Canucks for Kids Fund dedicates its resources to assist charities which support children’s health and wellness, foster the development of grassroots hockey and facilitate and encourage education in British Columbia. Last year, the Canucks for Kids Fund granted $2.1 million to support the work of 15 organizations. Over its 28 year history, the Fund has raised more than $43 million for the children and families of our province.

Our very own Lizz Moffat and Jocelyn Aspa are proudly representing CHB on the telethon panel. Call in at 1-85KIDSFUND or 1-855-437-3863 to donate. You can donate online as well.

CHB Pledges

We’re a competitive bunch here at CHB, and we occasionally we like to remind ourselves that we really can do math after all, which is why we’re basing our pledges on Canucks stats tonight.

Clay Imoo: $10 per Canucks goal PLUS: $10 per David Booth assist and $20 per Booth goal.

Lizz Moffat: $1 per Eddie Lack save.

Chris Golden: $2 for every Canucks shot, with a doubling bonus for a shutout.  Plus $10 for Chris Tanev being Tanev.

Ashley Pothiboon: $15 for every Alex Burrows goal.

Delia Xenophontos: $10 for every Henrik Sedin point.

Jocelyn Aspa: $1 for each penalty minute awarded to Tom Sestito

Victoria Pattison Denault: $5 for every goal by a Canucks defensemen, plus a bonus $1 for each Tom Sestito penalty minute

J.J. Guerrero: $50 for a Canucks win and $50 for a Predators win.

Sean Imoo: $5 for every Nicklas Jensen point.

Want to match a CHBer? Or set a stats pledge of your own? Leave us a comment! If you get it in before 4pm we’ll add it to the post.  Let’s see how much CHB can raise!

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