The Canucks scored 2 goals in a game AND won?
— BC HAWK FAN (@BCHAWKFAN) March 9, 2014
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 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?
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.
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.
There are no reasons. HAHAHA!
I’M KIDDING, of course. Chin up, kids. Sure, we’re all a bit shell-shocked at the events that have (or have not) transpired over the past two days but let’s take a deep breath and try to find a silver lining. I’m not going to talk about potential deals. I’m not going to talk about draft picks. I’m not going to talk about prospects, hearsay, speculation, fairy dust. I’m going to talk about what Ryan Kesler, personally, brings to a team with oh so many holes in it. Let me remind you that, without Kesler, this season would be toast. Tag on toe. But as slim as it seems, with him in the lineup, the Canucks still have a chance to make the big dance. I don’t know about you, but I will be clinging to the hope of playoffs until game 82 (or whenever they are mathematically eliminated). Kesler gives the Canucks a shot at least for the last few weeks of this season and if the time comes to move him later on, I look to the NHL entry draft. But that’s all in the distant future.
Kesler is here now and there are a number of reasons to be happy about this, despite what the critics may say. It should come as flattering and a testament to how good a player he is, that so much talk this deadline surrounded Kes. He’s here to stay (at least for now) and here are 5 reasons why that is a good thing for the Canucks.
5) His Penalty-Killing: Kesler established himself as a defensive forward long before he broke out as an offensive threat. A Selke award winner and one of the best two-way forwards in the league, his strengths lie on both sides of the puck. This shorthanded goal took place only a week ago proving this guy is still making an impact despite the recent drama.
4) His One-Timer: It’s no secret the Canucks have struggled mightily on the powerplay the last couple years. We’ve seen small measures of success when Kesler is near the point or in the slot tapping his stick for a one-timer. Here he absolutely destroys a puck top corner against San Jose in last year’s playoffs.
3) His Hitting: When Kesler gets angry he likes to through his big frame around, and with his speed and size, he can do some pretty good damage. Playoff time is where you really see Kesler let loose. Case and point: Niklas Hjalmarsson pasted into the glass, 5 feet in the air.
2) His Wrist-Shot: One of the reasons Kesler scored 41 goals in 2010-2011 was that no one knew about his wrist shot. He was able to walk across the blue-line and surprise goalies from far out with a blistering wrister. Now they know better, but he still puts away 20+ goals every year with this bad boy.
1) His Tenacity: This guy plays with an edge. The biggest reason why Kesler was such a sought after commodity was that he plays with some playoff-attitude night in and night out. He sticks up for his team and doesn’t shy away from the gritty aspects of the game.
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 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.
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.
Rebuild? Reset? Retool?
I feel like going thru a rebuild is a lot like becoming single again. At first it's all exciting and then you realize it sucks. A lot.
— Matt Lee (@mattlee980) March 4, 2014
Buckle up, Canucks fans.
After eight memorable and exciting seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, goaltender Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers on March 4, 2014.
Thus, Marie Hui and I wanted to bid Bobby Lu a proper farewell. Inspired by Boyz II Men, we proudly present our version of their smash hit “End of the Road”.
Make sure you get to bridge of the song at the 3:11 mark…you won’t be disappointed.
Photo credit: CBC
J.J.: Two memories stand out: The first was the moment Luongo was acquired by the Canucks. The second was Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Boston Bruins. Both stood out because of the pure ecstacy I felt when it happend.
I still remember thinking my buddy was playing a joke on me when he called me to say that Luongo was a Canuck. With all due respect to Dan Cloutier and the others, for the first time in a long time, the team had a legitimate superstar goaltender. I still remember thinking the Canucks, with the likes of Markus Naslund and the Sedins up front, Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo in the back end, would finally won the Cup.
I was at Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Bruins. After Max Lapierre scored near the end of the third period – the only goal of the game – and Lu posted his second 1-0 shutout of the Finals – only the second time in NHL history someone had accomplished this feat.
Matt: Of all the Roberto Luongo moments it’s difficult to find just one which stands out above the rest. You could make a case for many: How about his very first playoff game as a Canuck, when he turned aside 72 shots (a playoff record!) against the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of the first rounds? Or how about the cajones it took for Bobby Lou when he painted a ‘C’ on his mask when he was named team captain?
For me, one of the best moments is when which few seldom remember. It was the first time Roberto tossed his stick over the glass to a young fan after he was named a game’s first star. Love him or hate him, Luongo inspired dozens of young fans with a simple gesture like that. And that’s something that none of his critics can ever take from him.
Clay: It was a great birthday present (albeit one day late) when Luongo was acquired by the Canucks on June 23, 2006. Luongo has had a stellar career in Vancouver (with six strong seasons and an Olympic gold medal) and he single-handedly ended the use of the term “goalie graveyard” in this city. Whereas some may remember him for playoff meltdowns, I prefer to remember him as the winning goalie for two of the most exciting hockey games ever played in this city (2010 Winter Olympic gold medal game and Game 7 vs. the Blackhawks in April 2011).
Victoria: My favorite Luongo moment was when he took over Martin Brodeur and won an Olympic gold medal for Canada. It isn’t exactly a Canucks-related moment, but the Olympics made me realize how proud I was to say he was a Canuck. “That’s my goalie!” I told all my friends around the world. And you know what? He’ll always be my goalie. I know it’s the right time for him to go, but I also know that he always gave the Canucks his all – I’ll always respect him for that. Good luck, Bobby Luuuuu!
Lizz: My all-time favorite Luongo memory was the Christmas I surprised my little brother by getting his favorite jersey autographed by his favorite goalie so I let him help me pick our favourite LUOOOOO moment.
We settled on the 2011 Chicago series.
Personally, I was partial to a game 2 save he made against Brian Campbell, where he needed every inch of his ridiculously large size 13 feet to stop the puck.
But we eventually agreed on the game 7 OT stop on Patrick Sharp, because without it, my boy Alex Burrows would have never had the chance to slay the dragon.
Caylie: What’s most disappointing for me this season isn’t the lockout, but instead is the departure of Roberto Luongo. Luo has meant a great deal to this city. I know the drama and trade speculation of the last few months overshadowed a lot of the bright moments we witnessed during his tenure, but I’ll always remember his Vezina nominations, the Stanley Cup run, his 47-win season, and becoming the franchise leader in wins.
Ed: Younger fans might not remember the absolute misery the Canucks had in goal after Kirk McLean stood between the pipes. With a cast that included Garth Snow, Kevin Weekes, Martin Brochu and Alfie Michaud, among others, I’m not kidding when I say that my favorite goalie during that era was Bob Essensa. Roberto Luongo was the franchise’s first superstar goaltender. Make your case for Captain Kirk or even King Richard Brodeur, but in Luongo, despite all the haters, for the first time the Canucks could make a case for having the best goalie in the league. He’s the best we’ve ever had and it’s too bad he got treated and run out-of-town by some like he’s Felix Potvin.
Chris: Much like Ed, it pains me to see Roberto being shown the “Un-Welcome to the City of Vancouver” sign. I’ve always looked upon Roberto as the Canucks version of Grant Fuhr. I understood that he was never going to be the guy we saw suit up in the 2006/07 season – a goaltender with a chip on his shoulder that carried a mediocre hockey team. Whether it was his stellar play against Dallas in the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs (I was at Game 1. You know.. THAT Game 1) or his more recent forays in to social media, that’s the Luongo I’ll choose to remember.
It didn’t seem like it at times because of the flak he’s received over the years here, but Roberto Luongo’s work in Vancouver was appreciated. Just look back to this weekend, when Canucks fans so obviously wanted Lu to start the Heritage Classic.
The fact is, Luongo shattered the long standing perception of Vancouver as a goalie graveyard. All you need to do is look at the list of Canucks’ goalies in the 10 years prior to his arrival – Corey Hirsch, Arturs Irbe, Garth Snow, Sean Burke, Kevin Weekes, Felix Potvin and Bob Essensa, among many, many others – and it’s easy to see just how much he’s stabilized the Canucks’ goaltending position.
His accomplishments here are undeniable.
He won 252 regular season wins (1st in franchise history) and posted 38 regular season shutouts (1st in franchise history) in a Canucks jersey.
He holds the Canucks’ single season records for games played (76), wins (47), shutouts (9) and longest shutout streak (242:36 minutes).
Lu won 32 games in the playoffs, 2nd only to Kirk McLean, though his playoff GAA (2.53) and save percentage (0.916) are better than Captain Kirk’s. Like McLean, he won 15 games in one playoff season and took the Canucks to within one game of winning the Stanley Cup. Never mind the team in front of him was decimated by injuries in the Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins and couldn’t score – the Canucks scored just 8 goals in 7 SCF games – he posted 2 shutouts – only the 2nd goaltender in NHL history to post 2 1-0 shutouts in the Final – and carried them on his shoulders.
He was nominated twice for the Vezina, once in 2009 and again in 2011, and if the Canucks had gone on to win the Cup in 2011, chances are, he likely would have won the Conn Smythe.
During the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, he took over an embattled Martin Brodeur in net and won a gold medal for Canada. He again represented Team Canada in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, where he shut out Team Norway in his lone start.
Not bad for a goalie who supposedly can’t win when it matters the most.
The truth is, expectations from Lu were always sky-high. Often, they were even unreasonable. Maybe it’s because he was able to keep his old, weak Florida Panthers teams competitive for so many years. Or maybe it’s because, he took Canucks teams, some of which couldn’t shoot a puck into a soccer net if they wanted to, from missing the postseason and into the second round of the playoffs, and then from there to the team’s return to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years.
But despite Lu’s obvious success, too many fans eventually turned on him and openly called for the new, sexy redhead or the outgoing Swede with the great sense of humor in net to take over. For his part, Lu was nothing but a consummate professional and teammate, even to the end.
As Luongo leaves Vancouver, he also leaves behind the most successful goaltending era in Canucks history. Some may not agree with this sentiment, but I think most do. And when you think about it, the last thing he heard from Canucks fans was on Sunday at the Heritage Classic when 50,000+ fans were chanting, “We want Lu.”
And to that we add, thank you, Lu.
Much has been made of Roberto Luongo’s plight here in Vancouver in recent years. Starting with the Stanley Cup Finals in June 2011, it’s been two and a half years of turmoil, tension, and drama.
The Luongo saga took yet another fascinating turn this past weekend when Eddie Lack was named the starter for Sunday’s Heritage Classic game at BC Place versus the Ottawa Senators.
Lack played the first game coming out of the Olympic break, shutting out the St. Louis Blues 1-0 on Wednesday night. Made sense given that Luongo returned to Vancouver from Sochi just a couple of days prior.
Lack was also given the next start, a tight 2-1 shoot-out loss to the Minnesota Wild. Although Lack played very well, the loss – albeit a close one – opened the door for a Luongo start on Sunday.
As word broke on Saturday that Luongo would not be starting, Twitter erupted with people arguing both sides.
For what it’s worth, I tweeted: “Backup goalie is supposed to play well (which Lack has) and ensure no significant drop off. Lack has done his job, let Lu do his tomorrow.”
Many people cited Lack’s strong play of late as giving the Canucks the best chance to win. And I get that we’re in a dog fight to make the playoffs.
I said it before the game and I’ve said it since: the Canucks needed to look at the “bigger picture” here. The bigger picture to me says that Luongo was not treated fairly last year (losing his job to Schneider before watching Schneider – and not him – get traded) and was deserving of the Heritage Classic start. This doesn’t have anything to do with emotions; Luongo’s last start was a solid shutout victory in the Olympics.
And just as there was no drop-off going from Luongo to Lack, there certainly was no drop-off going from Lack to Luongo. Luongo needed to start. Truthfully, I would be saying the same thing if the Canucks had won the game, or even if Lack had pitched another shutout.
So there I was on Sunday afternoon with my son Sean, soaking in the sights and sounds of the world’s largest indoor hockey game. I was able to snap some pretty good pictures (see them all here) including one of poor Roberto Luongo sitting on his own at the end of the bench.
After Ottawa took a 3-2 lead in the second period, an audible “We Want Lu!” chant broke out in the stadium. It was quite a surreal moment, magnified by the fact that there were 35,000 more fans than usual watching the game live and millions watching on TV across the country. It was a tense and awkward few seconds.
It reminded me of the feeling that I got watching the first game of the lockout-shortened 2013 season. In the home opener on January 19, 2013, Cory Schneider got the start as the newly-anointed starting Canucks goalie. The Canucks lost that game 7-3 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks, and Schneider was pulled early in the second period after allowing 5 goals on only 14 shots, including goals on 3 straight shots.
I vividly remember the mood in the crowd that evening: the fans were desperate for hockey and excited to see the Canucks back in action. But as each shot got past Schneider, the mood in the building became more and more tense, culminating in a tense buzz as Luongo skated out to replace Schneider (start at the 2:23 mark in the video below).
The same sort of tense buzz I felt at the Heritage Classic this past weekend. And as you’ll hear my friend Mike exclaim in my Clay’s Canucks Commentary at the 2:53 mark:
“THIS IS MESSED UP!”