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 152014
 

Lose a bunch, win one, lose one, win one, lose two – the story of the Canucks’ 2013/2014 season.

The Canucks did play well. Even their power play looked like a real power play with scoring chances and stuff you should expect to have when you have one more guy on the ice than the other team does. But we’re way past the point of relishing moral victories. And with last night’s 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals – and the Dallas Stars getting a point against the Calgary Flames – they fall further back of the playoff picture.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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 132014
 
horvatbo640

We all could have predicted the epic slumps by the Sedins, Burrows, Edler, and Booth right? Well, maybe Booth, but for the most part this year has been a huge surprise and not in a good way. The offence has completely dried up and the players look fatigued, unemotional and simply out of sorts. Management is underfire constantly from the fans and media and change could be coming soon.

I, for one, consider this year an anomaly. Typically, when players get into the twilight of their careers, their play simply goes a bit downhill, not right off a cliff. I believe this core still has some good hockey left in it and I expect to see some more predictable stats next year. That being said, on the EXTREMELY rare chance that I am wrong, we may have to look to a younger, greener core, one with lots of questions, albeit lots of potential. In this countdown, I’ve compiled a list of those young hopefuls that the organization expects will eventually fortify a solid team. We’re going with the youngins’ here so only 90′s babies allowed (sorry Chris Tanev and Eddie Lack). A lot of ifs and maybes on this list, but hey, that’s the fun of being a sports fan, isn’t it?

The top 5 up and coming Canucks are:

5) Frankie Corrado: A young, composed d-man who seems to be cut from the same cloth as Chris Tanev. Not an offensive force but reliable and poised. Probably no less than a year removed from being a mainstay on the Canuck blueline.

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4) Hunter Shinkaruk: Not exactly a physical force or an intimidating player, Shinkaruk relies on his skill and positioning to provide offence. One of two 2013 first round draft picks, Hunter looked like one of the better young prospects during the preseason and even chipped in with a few goals.

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3) Nicklas Jensen: The Canucks’ first round draft pick in 2011, Jensen brings size and skill to a team which needs both. The big Dane has been slow to develop but was the most productive Utica Comet before his latest call-up to the big squad.

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2) Zack Kassian: Already a regular on the Canucks, Kassian is getting better every game. While he was coveted for his grit, it’s his passing and powerful skating that has kept him with the club. If Kassian can crack the top 6, expect good things offensively.

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1) Bo Horvat: The number 9 overall pick in the 2013 NHL entry draft came at a heavy price. In losing Cory Schneider, the Canucks gained Horvat, a skilled, clutch forward with future captain written all over him. They need Bo to step in and be an impact player. Plain and simple.

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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 122014
 

Piano_Keys

I’ve always wanted to play the organ at a Vancouver Canucks game.  And when I go to watch the Canucks play at Rogers Arena, I like to take in the sights and sounds of the entire arena experience – and not just the game itself.

As a musician, I pay particular attention to the music:  both from the DJ and from the organ.  And I’ve come up with a medley of songs that I typically hear at Canucks games.

You’ll see it’s a nice mix of hockey standards (chants and cheers) and actual pop songs.

The timing of my O Canada reprise is quite epic. You’ll see what I mean.

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Mar 112014
 

titanic-canucks

Do you have your life vests on, Canucks fans? If not, grab a door floating in the choppy waters and hope for the best! Because the Canucks are sinking.

We’ve known this for a while now, haven’t we? With every trade GM Mike Gillis made in recent years the return seemed to be less and less, at least it seemed to me anyway. It was like, when the Canucks ship started leaking, Gillis started trading giant buckets for teacups. David Booth? Well that didn’t quite go as planned. Keith Ballard? He didn’t get to reach hipcheck greatness because that’s hard to do from the press box. Zack Kassian? Those flashes of potential haven’t sparked into what we were told they would. And then away went our “number one goalie” Cory Schneider. And then away went our old… I mean new number one goalie. And now the sweetest Swedish kid in the league with a smile brighter than the sun is drowning, locked in the third class cabin as the Titanic that is the 2013/2014 Vancouver Canucks goes down.

So let’s first talk about Lack. What angered me the most last night about the Canucks’ third period meltdown is the way a few fans hung the whole thing on the newly-appointed, unexpected starter. And when the attacks were coming from the same people who continuously defended every single goal Roberto Luongo ever let in… well, it’s a miracle I didn’t punch my Twitter timeline in the face. You know why you should have apathy for Lack even more so than you did for Luongo? Because Lack is a rookie. Lack didn’t have a so-called outstanding record on another NHL team before he landed the #1 spot. Lack also isn’t making MILLIONS of dollars. Luongo was making $6.71 million a year. Lack makes $850,000. Also Lu came into Vancouver as the starter. Lack was supposed to be in the clearly defined back-up role this year. Schneider was declared the number one guy last year. Lu was supposed to be traded. Then Gillis traded Schneider and re-crowned Lu, and we all thought we know what was what. Even I accepted what I considered the biggest mistake this franchise had made, and jumped on the Luuuuu bus. Then Gillis gave Luongo to Florida. This isn’t supposed to happen to Eddie Lack yet. So with all due respect, Luongo-mourners, STFU and blame the right person for this mess – Mike Gillis. Not Eddie Lack.

As for John Tortorella, I think we all agree he’s a failed experiment. But I doubt there’s a single thing we can do about it until the season – and playoffs – are lost. Then, just like Rose did to Jack, we can unhinge Torts’ fingers from the reminants of the Canucks and watch him drift to the bottom of the ocean… or into a commentator position for NBC.

Let’s get some things straight, fellow Canucks fans, since we’re going to be treading water with each other for a while – and fighting for space in lifeboats – can you please stop whining that “real fans” don’t “attack” their team. Because, well, it’s not true. The Montreal Canadiens have arguably the most passionate and dedicated fan base in the league and yet, they boo their players on a regular basis. They don’t have to be in a long-term slide, they will boo the Habs after one bad game in a solid season. When things got really rough in the late ‘90s, they stopped buying tickets. Yes, the great Habs, an Original Six franchise, winners of 24 Stanley Cups, had low tickets sales. Canadiens fans expect nothing less than the best.

If fans truly do make a difference in the motivation and playing ability of a team (I don’t think we do, but some of you think it) then complaining and getting angry at your team isn’t a bad thing. In my opinion, if you keep dumping money on them for expensive tickets and merchandise when they drop 7 goals in 1 period, you’re part of the problem.  Why would the Aquilinis change anything if they’re still making giant bank? They won’t. The biggest reason an owner wants to win a Stanley Cup is because it increases sales. So then it makes sense that an owner would feel more pressure to make huge, sweeping changes if the see their revenues decreasing.

And please keep in mind there is a difference between expressing your discontent and giving up all together. I will still watch the Canucks on TV, when I can, without making it the priority it used to be. I will still hope for a miracle. I still want them to win. Most of the angry and vocal fans feel the same way. But we know better than to follow them blindly and sink with the ship. This is not something that can be fixed with hugs, people. The Canucks need an overhaul, not lifeboats.

Mar 112014
 

Canucks GM Mike Gillis and new coach John Tortorella

Photo credit: PNG

Gary Mason wrote an amazing article in last weekend’s Globe and Mail.

When Mr. Tortorella stormed an opposing team’s dressing room between periods of a game earlier this year, it alarmed everyone in the organization, including his players. If you want to chart the radical decline of the Canucks this season, you can begin at that moment. The team went into a nosedive after the incident, for which Mr. Tortorella was suspended six games. While he apologized profusely for his antics, it hasn’t changed the perception a loose cannon is in charge.

Since that January 18th game against the Calgary Flames, the Canucks have won 4 of 17 games (4-12-1), and have looked disorganized and disheartened doing so. In some games, they look like they’re simply going through the motions. Too often, it feels like they’ve already tuned out the coach.

Last night against the Islanders, they entered the third period with a 3-0 lead, but then proceeded to allow 7 goals in the last 20 minutes en route to a 7-4 loss. Poor Eddie Lack was in net for all the Isles’ goals except for the empty-netter, and heard the bronx cheer from the stands for his troubles.

The thing is, Lack has been solid all season long. Leading up to the Heritage Classic, he’d allowed just 12 goals in 8 games; but since getting the tap to start the Heritage Classic ahead of Roberto Luongo, he’s allowed 16 goals in his last 5 games.

It’s almost as if the controversy that accompanied that start at BC Place was a turning point for Lack. Canucks fans booed him, not because of his play, but because they wanted to see Luongo. Even Lack knew enough to understand the goaltending history in this city, unlike Tortorella, who insisted afterwards he considered the situation, but placed Lack in an untenable situation anyway. He could’ve started Luongo, and perhaps Luongo would still be a Canuck, rather than handing the team to his rookie goaltender who had all of 25 NHL games experience at the time and who doesn’t appear to be quite ready for the full-time starter’s gig yet.

Seemingly at every wrong turn of this forgettable season, Torts is in the middle of things. When you factor in that he’s running a system that doesn’t utilize the strengths of his personnel, that his players look uncomfortable executing it, and that this version of the Canucks is about to set all sorts of franchise lows (despite decades of futility), you can’t help but ask if Torts is the type of coach this team needs. You have to wonder if the centerpiece of GM Mike Gillis’ reset last summer is, in fact, its biggest problem.

If the Canucks continue along the disastrous arc they are now travelling, Mr. Aquilini will have some major decisions to make. And the first may be whether he keeps a coach in the first year of an expensive five-year contract who has presided over one of the worst seasons in recent team history. Missing the playoffs costs a franchise buckets of money. Owners will not want that to become a habit.

In firing Mr. Tortorella, Mr. Aquilini might have to spend money to make money.

In the late 90′s, John McCaw gave Mike Keenan 108 games to right the Canucks ship. The way things are going this season, it’s very possible the Canucks give John Tortorella less than that.

Mar 112014
 

It looked for 40 minutes, didn’t it? They had a 3-0 lead entering the third period. I mean, how the hell do they blow a 3-goal lead in the first 3 minutes of the third period?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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