Apr 042014
 
injury

It is truly hard to pinpoint one reason why the Canucks will be on the outside looking in this spring. It would be unfair to blame their failures on one key thing. So I’m going to go ahead and name five.

It’s been an abysmal year for the Canucks and unless some youth is injected into the lineup next season, we may be in store for a few more. The core which seemed so indestructible just two short years ago is imploding and many of the veterans seem nonchalant and indifferent to the failures of this season. Injuries took their toll and the team’s plethora of “experience” is just starting to look like old age. Here’s hoping that management looks at this objectively and realizes that their window has closed and a new one in a different room needs to be opened. Tacky clichés aside, virtually everything that could go wrong did, so this should be pretty straight-forward.

5) Power Play Troubles: The power play struggles go back almost two years now. A huge reason why the Canucks have become one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league - the man advantage, serves as more of a momentum swing for the opposing team’s PK. Here’s a nice Hamhuis own goal I’m sure you all remember well.

4) Goaltending Fiasco: Whether it was the Schneider trade at the draft or the Luongo trade at the deadline, this year has been a mess when it comes to  goaltending. The trades weren’t necessarily bad, but the distractions were too much for an already weakened squad.

3) Injuries, Injuries, Injuries: Coaches always say injuries are not an excuse but if that was the case we wouldn’t pay certain guys millions of dollars more than others. Simply put, when your best players are injured your team sucks more.

2) Coaching Decisions: John Torterella has had a rough year. Between over-playing players and storming opposing teams’ dressing rooms he’s certainly left his mark on this season. His future with the organization remains unclear.

1) SLUMPS: Scoreless droughts for a number of key-players making millions plagued the team. This culminated in an epic 35 game drought for Alex Burrows, a one-time 35 goal scorer.

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 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 182014
 

Hmmm… Where was this Alex Burrows earlier this season? With a couple more goals last night, Burr now has 5 goals in 3 games.

Silver lining, I suppose, amidst the Canucks’ pretty much closed playoff window.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 172014
 

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(Photo credit: lightning.nhl.com)

After defeating Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers yesterday afternoon, the Canucks are hoping to close their 4-game road trip with back-to-back wins, which, if they pull off, would be their first win streak in a couple of months. But more importantly, it would keep their faint hope of making the playoffs alive, potentially inching to within a point of the 8th place Dallas Stars, who currently hold the final wild card playoff spot. The Stars will, however, have 4 games in hand.

Nevertheless, hope, right?

Celebrating a Cup Win

The Tampa Bay Lightning will end a 6-game home stand tonight by celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Stanley Cup win in 2004. Torts, of course, coached the Lightning back then, and will likely receive a hero’s welcome from the home crowd. (Cynically, we’ll suggest there are some Canucks fans who would prefer he stays there.)

We honestly don’t know what’s more depressing – that Torts hasn’t been able to coach the Canucks this season with the same amount of success as that 2004 Lightning team, or that the Tampa Bay freaking Lightning have won a Stanley Cup.

Top Line Sighting

The top line has come alive in the last few games. After a loooong scoring drought, Alex Burrows has 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 4 games. Nicklas Jensen, who is filling in for the injured Daniel Sedin has goals in back-to-back games. There hasn’t been many bright spots for the Canucks this season, but seeing Jensen have some success at the NHL level – at least for now – is one of them.

Mar 162014
 

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

The Canucks stroll into Florida, face Roberto Luongo and the Panthers, blow a late lead, and then win a shootout.

Again, the kids – especially Nicklas Jensen and Eddie Lack – played well.

All things considered, I guess we can’t ask for more than that.

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.

Jan 302014
 
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A wake up call, a kick in the ass, a pep talk: whatever you want to call it-these guys need it. And while the whole team has been in a funk that could give Rick James a run for his money, the core group is on a level of its own. The top players that brought the Canucks to within one win of the coveted Stanley Cup have apparently fallen off the map into Mariana’s Trench. The leadership seems fragile (even more so with Henrik Sedin out) and the energy lacklustre. The upcoming Olympic break will hopefully bring some much needed perspective to a group that is struggling to find its place in a tough division.

If a change in momentum is going to happen its gonna have to start with the big boys. The guys who get paid the big bucks and have accepted the reins as team leaders. Cliches are starting to lose their cache  and the core need to put their money where their mouth is ( Yes, that was a cliche but shut-up). These guys have to jumpstart their seasons and in turn provide that spark for the rest of the team to follow.

These 5 Canucks need to WAKE UP:

5) Alexander Edler –  A two-time 40 point scorer and one-time all-star, Edler seemed poised to take the position as the number one d-man on the Canuck back-end. Injuries and a lack of confidence plagued the big swede and his struggles have continued under Torts. Edler’s at his best when he’s throwing the body around and working the powerplay.

4) Ryan Kesler – Despite leading the team in goals, Kesler has been too streaky to consider this season a success. He’s trying hard but seems to be a half step behind on the offensive side of the puck. Kesler thrives in the rough-and-tumble games but needs to put up points for this team to be successful.

3) Dan Hamhuis – This normally steady defenceman has had his ups and downs this season. Slow to adopt Tortorella’s aggressive style, Hamhuis has been caught up ice often and seems to be chasing the puck more than usual. Hamhuis needs a strong first-pass and a better-timed game to truly be effective.

2) Daniel Sedin – Could have put both Sedins in this position but since Henrik is injured he gets a break. This one-time 40 goal scorer currently sits at a pitiful 13 goals. At times looks completely lost out there. Danny needs Henrik, but even more so he needs some confidence- a multi-point game, possibly a powerplay snipe to show that he’s still the top-dog in terms of goal-scoring.

1) Alex Burrows – An absolutely epic slump, poor Alex has completely left behind his 20 goal days. There’s still hope he can regain form for a late season run but no goals in 23 games is devastating. The Canucks cannot be paying what they are for Burrows and get paid bagels in return.

Jan 182014
 
After a tough trip the Canucks are back at Rogers Arena taking on division rivals the Calgary Flames.  (Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com)

After a tough road trip the Canucks are back at Rogers Arena taking on division rivals the Calgary Flames.
(Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com)

After a rough, tough road trip that left them beaten physically, and perhaps, mentally and emotionally, the Vancouver Canucks are left nursing their wounds and Canucks fans wondering what it would it take to right the ship. The Canucks lost all 3 games on their just-concluded road trip, including one of their worst losses in memory, a 9-1 ass-kicking at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. They scored a grand total of 1 goal in those 3 games, and to make matters worse, may have lost Henrik Sedin, their leading scorer, and Mike Santorelli, their fourth-leading goal scorer, to injuries. Oh, and David Booth too.

Perhaps the day off will help. And with 5 of their next 6 games at home, so may perhaps their return to the friendlier of Rogers Arena. It doesn’t hurt either that tonight’s opponents, the Calgary Flames are one of only two teams with a worst record than the Canucks have over the last 10 games.

Who’s Hot

Truth be told, no one from either team. With both the Canucks and Flames struggling to put the puck in the back of the net, they’re relying on their respective goaltenders right now.

The game against the Ducks aside, Eddie Lack has actually held up the fort well in Roberto Luongo’s absence. He’s allowed just a single goal against in 3 of his last 4 starts. Luongo, however, may be returning tonight.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo will likely get the start after Reto Berra let in 5 goals on 23 shots in Calgary’s last game on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. Ramo started back-to-back games earlier this week against the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes; against the Canes, he recorded his first NHL shutout.

Who’s Back

Aside from Luongo, Alex Burrows is also back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a jaw injury in December.

Who’s Out

Mike Santorelli left Phoenix with his right arm in a sling and isn’t expected to play. After suffering a rib injury (also against the Coyotes), Henrik Sedin is a game-time decision, which puts his 679-game, NHL ironman streak in jeopardy. Jordan Schroeder, Andrew Alberts, and Ryan Stanton are still out; however, Schroeder and Stanton skated today.

For the Flames, Michael Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross remain sidelined.

Dec 062013
 

Vancouver Canucks vs Phoenix Coyotes

Photo credit: faceoff.com

After a successful 4-game road trip, in which they went 3-1, the Vancouver Canucks are back at Rogers Arena to take on the Phoenix Coyotes. Both teams played a month ago with the Coyotes winning in the shootout and Antoine Vermette getting the shootout winner.

The Canucks, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of October, are looking to maintain some momentum as they start a 5-game home stand. They also hope to not lose any more players to injury as they’ve lost key players the last couple of games. Against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, Alex Burrows was hit by a puck and had to have surgery for a broken jaw; he and is expected to be out for at least a month. And against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, Alex Edler suffered a knee injury and will be out indefinitely. Andrew Alberts will fill. *shudder*

The Coyotes currently occupy the 8th playoff spot in the Western Conference. Thanks to the Edmonton Oilers, their lead on the 9th place Canucks is only a single point. Needless to say, tonight’s game is critical for the Canucks, as a win in regulation would push them back in a playoff position, although the Coyotes do have 2 games in hand.

Who’s Hot

Ryan Kesler is back in beast mode. He has 4 goals in 2 games, and his 14 goals so far this season is good for 8th in the entire league.

Defenseman Jason Garrison also seems to have shaken off his scoring slump. He has 4 assists in 2 games, and has recorded 3 multi-point games in his last 4. He now has 17 points this season, which is 14th among all NHL defensemen.

For the Coyotes, defenseman Keith Yandle has goals in back-to-back games. Captain Shane Doan, who is second with the team in scoring, has 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in his last 2 games.

Who’s Out

Remember last week when we only had one player on injured reserve? Ah the good ol’ days. Unfortunately our injured reserve count has tripled. The 2 Alexes – Burrows and Edler – join Jordan Schroeder, who is still weeks from returning.

Phoenix will be without defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) and forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body).

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