Feb 162013
 

The Canucks look for a win against Dallas after a pedantic win over Minnesota.

And back after a spell with Chris Golden & Victoria Pattison behind the CHB TGATT desk tonight, you know Lizz will be bringing here A game. Just like Aaron Freaking Rome:

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 242012
 

[Every week, Clayton Imoo sits down and talks hockey with a CHB follower and fellow fan.  If you're interested in being featured in "Shooting from the Hip", send us a tweet at @canuckshockey or @CanuckClay.]

Aaron Gnome is, well, a garden gnome. Made in China, he immigrated to Vancouver in a packing crate and somehow along the way developed sentient qualities. After coming here he became a huge Canuck fan and that love, combined with a garden gnome’s innate love of travel, led to AG’s first ‘road trip of a lifetime’ this past December. Aaron and six friends travelled to California where they watched the Canucks play in Anaheim and LA. To share his joy of the Canucks and travel, and because frankly his ego is much larger than he is, Aaron decided to create a twitter account before the trip – @AaronGnome29. Since returning he has continued to use the account to share his musings with his growing number of adoring fans. What makes AG unique, other than the fact that he is a talking gnome, is that he often speaks in the third person.

Aaron Gnome took some time between tweets to talk California, Aaron Rome, and some potential Canucks’ trade deadline targets.

1.  What were your most memorable moments from your December trip to California?  Did you ever fear for your safety?

Aaron Gnome’s trip to California was a phe-gnome-enal experience! So many memories. We took in two games, Anaheim and LA. Both were memorable and cool in their own right. At the Ducks game, there were some very friendly and knowledgeable Ducks season ticket holders sitting behind us – they do exist! The game was a little anti-climactic, with the Ducks putting up very little fight. Obviously, the Ducks players were discouraged by the fact that there was more blue and white in the stands than green and black. The postgame celebration with the countless Canucks fans in attendance was gi-gnome-ous!

The LA game was a whole different experience. Though Canucks fans dominated the nearby Yard House restaurant/bar – AG highly recommends it – the Staples Centre was full of hostile Kings fans. Props to the Kings fans for their passion. Intimidation was definitely a theme on the night. On the ice the Kings took the game to the Canucks physically, and in the stands, Bailey, the King’s mascot, beat up stuffed Sedin dolls and generally encouraged the fans to verbally berate the visitors on and off the ice. Was Aaron Gnome afraid for his safety? Aaron Gnome is not afraid of anyone or anything. He is the Tiger Williams of the Gnome world. As a side note, AG is sometimes referred to as “the Little Chuck Gnorris”. Anyway, the Canucks didn’t put on a great show for the fans in LA, but the production value in the arena was very high, the atmosphere was like a playoff game, and it was still a memorable experience.

Away from the rink there were a number of highlights. Disneyland was great, especially getting to see my gnomies on ‘It’s a Small World’. At Six flags, we had some issues with height requirements. I thought we had put that kind of discrimination behind us, but apparently California isn’t quite as progressive as Canada. And of course AG is a hit with the ladies everywhere he goes, and California was no different.

2.  How excited are you that Aaron Rome has returned to the line-up?  Do you still see Norris Trophy potential in Aaron Rome?

It’s great to see Big Poppy Rome in the line up again. The man is just an absolute rock back there on the blue line. (Editorial note: Aaron Gnome later explained to me that being called a rock by a garden Gnome is one of the greatest compliments a man can get.) Do I see Norris trophy potential in the big guy? Is water wet? Does Max Lapierre talk a lot? Do the Sedins have telepathic abilities? Please! The single greatest injustice this NHL season is that Aaron Rome was not picked to go to the All Star game.

3.  Do you think the Canucks will be/need to be active at the trading deadline?  If so, how?

The Canucks are a great hockey team. This is basically the same team that got within one game last year and they are just as capable of doing it this year. I think Cody Hodgson is slowly becoming a star and he could be a difference maker for us in the playoffs. I mean, anyone with a silent G in their name is going to be pretty special. The loss of the Hoff hurts us, but between Tanev’s coolness and Sulzer’s German-ness, I think we’re going to be fine on D. As a little guy himself, Aaron Gnome is a big fan of some of the smaller players, and I think Keith Ballard is eventually going to redeem himself to AV.

As for a trade, I would kill to see Shea Weber in a Canucks jersey, but realistically we’d have to give up too much to get him. I think we’ll end up getting a little bit of depth on D and adding some grit up front. Whether that comes through a trade, or the free agent signing of a feisty, undersized, winger with a long white beard, I’m not sure.

4.  Who are some of your other favourite players?  Or your biggest rivals?

Aaron Gnome has several rivals around the league. JeGnome Iginla is first on the list. The Flames may not be the Canucks’ biggest rival at the moment, but the hatred still burns. Scott Gnomez used to be a rival, but AG recently received an invitation to the party to honour the one-year anniversary of the last time Gnomez scored a goal, so “Rival” is probably a bit strong. Signome Gagne would be if he could stay healthy. Oh, and of course the natural enemy of all garden gnomes is the rat, so Brad “Nose Face” Marchand is close to Iginla at the top of the list.

Other favourite players? Other than Rome and Coho, Steamer was the man when I was growing up. I’m also a fan of Andrew Ebbett and I think Jordan Schroeder is going to be a real player one day. Basically if they’re under 6 feet tall and in the Canuck organization, Aaron Gnome is a fan. Don’t even get me started on Steve Kariya!

5.  Why should people follow you on Twitter?

Well, Clay, I think that’s obvious. Everyone should be following @AaronGnome29 on Twitter because Aaron Gnome offers the best Canucks commentary from a gnome that you will find. No one else can give you hard hitting opinions, gnome-related puns, deep hockey insight and irreverent, trivial banter all from the perspective of a well travelled garden gnome.

Dec 132011
 

[Every week, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

I think it’s safe to say that the Stanley Cup hangover has passed. The Canucks are playing the game that they’ve wanted to play and the hockey Canucks Nation has come to expect out of this team. Bobby Luo and company are currently on a 4-game win streak and have won 10 of their last 12 games.

Canucks Record

29 GP, 18-10-1, 37 points (2nd in Northwest Division, 6th in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Jannik Hansen has been on fire as of late. He is currently riding a 5-game point streak and has 4 goals and 2 assists in that span. In his last 15 games, Honey Badger hasn’t gone more than 1 game without recording at least a point.

Hansen has really shown his versatility this season. He’s played on all 4 forward lines this season and is a regular on the penalty kill. In only 29 games, he’s already tied his career-high in goals (9).

Who’s Not

Aaron Rome started off his season scoring goals in 3 of his first 4 games. The magic’s worn off since and Romer hasn’t scored a goal in his last 8 games; he only has an assist and is a -2 in that stretch. Extremely disappointing considering AV was probably getting excited about the possibility of having a Norris Trophy nominee on his team. (Yes, that was sarcasm.)

Who’s Next

Tuesday December 13, 2011 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (4:00 PM start, away)

Looking at the standings, it would be easy to mark a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets as an easy victory. Let’s be honest, Columbus has only 8 wins in 29 games played and is sitting in dead last in the Western Conference. That being said, the Canucks can not take these kinds of games for granted – the Jackets are actually playing .500 hockey (6-5-3 record and 15 points in their last 14 games).

The Blue Jackets and Canucks met at the end of November. The Canucks won 4-1 with Danny, Kesler, Booth and Burrows each scoring a goal and Cory Schneider stopping 47 of 48 shots. Columbus hasn’t had much luck against Northwest division opponents going 2-5-1 so far this season.

Vinny Prospal has recorded a point in 4 of his last 5 games and leads the team with 23 points (7G-16A).

In their two games against each other so far this season, Alex Burrows leads both teams in scoring with 3 points (2G-1A).

Thursday December 15, 2011 vs. Carolina Hurricanes (4:00 PM start, away)

The Canucks head to Carolina for another Eastern Conference matchup. Vancouver has a record of 5-2-1 against Eastern Conference teams so far this season. The Hurricanes have had a horrible start to the season and recently fired head coach, Paul Maurice, and replaced him with Kirk Muller. The ‘Canes sit in last place in the Eastern Conference.

In the two teams’ only meeting last season, the Canucks won 5-1 and Mason Raymond had 2 goals and 1 assist.

Jeff Skinner may look like he is just about to graduate middle school but he is having another great season. He is certainly not feeling the effects of the dreaded sophomore slump and is leading the team in goals (12) and points (24). It’s hard not to like a kid that has so much potential and has that silly smile on his face whenever he scores a goal.

Saturday December 17, 2011 vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (4:00 PM start, away)

Every year, I make a bet with my cousin-in-law (@GoodHustle) on the Leafs and Canucks game; usually I win this bet and have the joys of boasting before, during and after the game. This year is a little different, I’m not sure whether the world is ending or whether I’m in the twilight zone but the Maple Leafs are actually playing… well.

No matter how well either team is doing, a Canucks/Leafs game is always exciting to watch and it will be no different come Saturday. The Leafs have had a lot of success against Western Conference teams this season, going 5-1-2 so far.

Phil Kessel leads the NHL with 18 goals and is ranked second with 36 points. He hasn’t gone consecutive games this whole season without recording a point. In his last 3 games, he has 2 goals and 2 assists. He also leads the Buds with 103 shots and 3 game-winning goals.

Nov 162011
 

For long-time readers of this blog, you’ll know that my family has a soft spot for Nolan Baumgartner.

This started during one memorable April weekend in 2003. I was coerced convinced by friends to join them for a night out at the Cellar. Don’t get me wrong. I quite enjoyed the scandalous nature of the Cellar back then (and maybe it’s still as scandalous today), but I wasn’t feeling up to snuff that night. Plus, I had tickets to the Canucks’ last regular season game of the 2002/2003 season the following day, and the game started at an unusually early time.

While at the Cellar, I met a woman named Tracy. She was blonde, beautiful, smart and obviously intoxicated. We talked, we drank, we danced, and we drank some more. Afterwards, we went to a local coffee shop and continued our conversation. And then before we parted that night, she gave me her email address and a wrong phone number.

*****

The following day – or a few hours later, I suppose – I met my sister and we went to GM Place to watch the Canucks play the Los Angeles Kings.

It was Fan Appreciation Day and the Canucks were finishing off a storybook season. They had won 45 games – at that time, a franchise record. A win and they would’ve won the Northwest Division. A couple of points and Markus Naslund would’ve won the Art Ross Trophy. Instead, the Kings, who won only 33 games that season and missed the playoffs altogether, shut out the Canucks, and Naslund would say two words that still have a prominent place in Canucks lore, “We choked”.

*****

During the game, they drew out seat numbers of about 25 lucky fans who would receive the jersey off a player’s back; to my shock and surprise, mine was one of them.

I don’t usually win in raffles like this so I was speechless. On the other hand, my sister was as excited as a teenage girl at a Justin Timberlake concert so with a few minutes left in the game and the Canucks down 1-0 on Mikko Eloranta’s goal, I gave her my ticket and she went down to the Olympia tunnel to wait with the other winners.

As soon as the game ended, she strolled on to the ice and opened an envelope containing a Canuck player’s name. It said Nolan Baumgartner. Moments later, Baumer, wearing a sharp suit, came out and handed her his jersey.

*****

A few days later, Tracy and I went on our first official date – game 1 of the Canucks’ first round series against the St. Louis Blues. She had never been to a hockey game before. So of course, the Canucks treated her to a 6-0 shutout playoff loss.

Regardless, we started dating and got married three years later. But a few months before the wedding, we gave ourselves a wedding present – a Shih-Tzu/Bichon Frise we named Baumer, and who is still very much a part of our family today.

*****

We still remember that first date like it was yesterday, and we reminisced about it last Sunday when we took our now two-year old daughter, Mia, to her first ever Canucks game.

The Canucks beat the Islanders 4-1, and while the game itself was mostly uneventful and certainly didn’t have the playoff atmosphere like that game against the Blues, defensive depth defenseman Aaron Rome had a career game. Rome, who was kicked out of the Ducks game only a couple of days earlier for a high hit, scored a goal and added 2 assists. His 3 goals in 4 games this season already equal his combined career total from 152 previous regular season and playoff games; his 5 points to date already matches the career-high he set in 56 games last year.

In all likelihood, Mia won’t remember this game or that she was clapping, cheering and dancing every time they played the Canucks goal song.

But Tracy and I will definitely remember taking her.

And who knows? If we get another puppy in the future, maybe we’ll name him Romer.

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