Dec 042013
 

Kevin Bieksa fights Brian Boyle at the end of the Canucks/Rangers game.

Photo credit: Yahoo

It’s been an angry month for the boys in blue.

The struggling Canucks have tried to keep it together, but every once in a while the anger bubbles through and we see their frustrations manifested through some sort of outburst.  It can be a John Tortorella “pecking” Jannik Hansen with his finger or a Kevin Bieksa challenging  the ogre, Brian Boyle, to a meaningless post-game fight. These guys maintain a calm front and an air of professionalism, but it’s hard to believe they don’t want to break their 300$ sticks over the cross-bar from time to time. The Canucks are no stranger to emotion, with coaches and players alike joining in on the fun throughout the years. And while in the game of hockey angry moments are a dime a dozen (i.e. every Brian Burke press conference), here are a few that stand out.

The top 5 angry outbursts from Canucks are as follows:

5) Ryan Kesler: Hobbies- taking wrist shots, killing penalties and being angry. Kesler was known more for his temper and trash-talking before he won the Selke trophy in 2011. Here we see vintage Kes’ testing the durability of his stick after a missed call.

4) Rick Rypien: Despite his small stature, Rypien was known as one of the most ferocious fighters in the league in his prime. Willing to take on any combatant, Rick even ventured into the crowd to dole out some punishment during a blowout loss to Minnesota.

3) Alex Burrows: Anyone can feel the wrath of Alex Burrows, even the refs. Here, Burr rants about some unfair officiating and an alleged vendetta against him by referee Stephane Auger. Warning: angry Frenchmen often warrant a translator.

2) Entire Canuck Squad: Yellow and black to a Canuck is like red to a bull. The Canucks hate the Boston Bruins and their passion came out with a vengeance in this Stanley Cup final rematch. A line brawl erupts as resentments of season’s past boil over.

1) Gino Odjick: I’m guessing someone peed in Gino’s cornflakes the morning of this game. The big man goes commando style taking down anyone and everyone who comes across his path in a bout against the Blues. Holy cow that guy scares me.

Nov 222013
 

185443526_slide
(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (11-8-4)
Columbus Blue Jackets (8-11-3)

The Blue Jackets are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks for their second and final meeting this season. In their last meeting in Columbus on October 20th, the Blue Jackets won 3-1. Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney, was impressive with 37 saves.

The Canucks are looking for their first win in 5 games. Their current 5-game losing streak is their longest since an 8-game losing streak back in January 2009. And we all remember how they bumped that slump, right?

As for the Blue Jackets, they have won 2 out of their last 5 games.

Who’s Hot

Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger has recorded a point in the last 3 out of 4 games (2 goals and 1 assist). Defensemen James Wisniewski is the Blue Jackets leading point scorer; he also has 3 points in the Blue Jackets’ last 4 games.

Despite the Canucks’ recent play, goaltender Roberto Luongo has been doing well with a 0.924 save percentage in November, including a 0.933 save percentage in his last 3 games.

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are still without Jordan Schroeder (ankle), who’s on IR and not expected back until late December.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are missing quite a few players. Brandon Dubinsky, the Blue Jackets second-leading scorer (5 goals) injured his foot in Tuesday’s game and will be out. The Blue Jackets are still without Nathan Horton (shoulder), Cody Bass (thumb), Matt Calvert (abdomen), Dalton Prout (back) and Marian Gaborik (knee).

Nov 202013
 

The Sedins and Alex Burrows celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks.

Photo credit: canucks.com

Glen Sather once proclaimed that a “fire hydrant could score 50 goals playing with Wayne Gretzky”, alluding to how The Great One made everyone around him better. Many would say the same about the Sedin Twins who seem to boost the stats of any player lucky enough to find themself flanked by the ginger duo. Simply put, these guys are just easy to play with.

That being said, the Canucks recent slump has forced John Tortorella to try different line combinations to spark the dried up offense. In the past week we’ve seen Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen join the top line to no avail. This isn’t the first time different players have been assigned to the top line, with some combinations lasting years while others dwindle after a few games. Everyone seems to have an idea of what kind of player would complement the Sedins best, but history has shown us it is not always the obvious choice.

Here are the top 5 greatest Sedin line combinations:

5) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Taylor Pyatt: This line, featured prominently in the 2006-2007 season, showcased Taylor Pyatt’s size and strength. Pyatt scored 23 goals and 37 points (both career highs) and helped the Canucks cruise to 48 wins and a division title. Here he provides a strong net presence while the Sedins do their thing.

4) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler: The most recently formed line on this list, the “Beastmodo” line is the sexiest on paper but simply has not been together long enough to be placed any higher. Dominant at times, with two accomplished trigger men in Daniel and Kes’, teams have struggled to match the firepower of this first line. Surely, we will see this line together again under the Torts’ regime.

3) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Trent Klatt: Not the most offensive linemate the Sedins have ever had, Klatt provided a veteran presence for the twins in the first few years of their professional career. The dominance of the “west coast express” line during this period allowed the Sedins to develop at their own pace and Klatt kept them at an even keel, while providing offence at a steady rate.

2) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Anson Carter: This combination only lasted a year but was wildly successful with Anson Carter leading the team with 33 goals. This year marked the coming out of the Sedins as the core offensive players and leaders on the team.  Carter’s ability to crash the net aided the Sedins’ cycling ability well.

1) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Alex Burrows: The longest tenured player on the Sedin line and with good reason, Alex Burrows has spent the majority of the last 5 years playing with the twins. A tremendous reader of the game, Alex has gained the instinctual movement and know-how that the Sedins seemed to be born with. Burrows has become one of the more reliable goal-scorers on the Canuck squad and his presence on the top line has elevated the Twins stats as well with the two of them winning back to back Art-Ross trophies with Burrows at their side.

Nov 132013
 

Chris Higgins of the Vancouver Canucks scores against the San Jose Sharks.

Photo credit: CBC.ca

The game of hockey is all about streaking. No, I’m not talking about Will Ferrell running down the street in his birthday suit a la “Old School”; I’m talking players and teams doing good or bad things for a consecutive period of time. Whenever we analyze or preview a game we talk about who’s on scoring streaks which teams are winning and which teams are losing. These streaks dominate our fantasy pools, for better or worse, and allow the casual fan to determine who is playing well and who isn’t.

Last Thursday, the Canucks snapped a 9-game losing streak (excluding pre-season) to the San Jose Sharks. They played a confident and complete game, getting contributions from players not named Sedin or Kesler – secondary scoring – and handed the Sharks a rare loss in the mighty “Shark Tank”. They’ve had their hand in other streaks, some great, others downright depressing.

Here are the top 5 streak-related moments in Canucks history:

5) Alex Burrows (2012) – During the 2011/2012 NHL season, the Detroit Red Wings had put together a miraculous streak of 23 wins in a row at home. The Canucks were itching to end the streak even stating to the media that they hoped the Red Wings kept winning so they could take a crack at them. The game ended up going to a shootout where Alex Burrows pulled off his signature backhand deke to complete the epic barn-burner.

4) Harold Druken (2001) – The Canucks had not made the playoffs in 4 years and were desperate to get back to the big dance. With a young core and some promising leadership, they managed to put themselves in a position to clinch the 8th and final playoff spot. Unsung hero Harold Druken provided the dramatics in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings.

3) Roberto Luongo (2008) – Lu showed us why he made the big bucks with this franchise record shutout streak in November of 2008. He strung together nearly 243 minutes of shutout hockey, and if not for injuries, would have surely been in contention for the Vezina.

2) Alex Burrows (2009) – This shorthanded goal from Alex Burrows ushered in the new era of Canuck dominance and effectively snapped an 8-game losing streak. Never has a team been more relieved to beat the Carolina Hurricanes in regular season play.

1) Alex Burrows (2011) – Yes, another Alex Burrows goal. Apparently this guy is clutch. This goal ended an era of Chicago Blackhawks playoff dominance over the Canucks and set the stage for a long playoff run that brought us within one game of the Stanley Cup. Burrows picks off a pass in overtime of game 7 and blasts one home to avoid 3 straight years of playoff defeat to the Blackhawks.

Nov 092013
 
The Saturday meeting between Vancouver and Los Angeles is the first of five.  (Credit. nhl.com)

The Saturday meeting between Vancouver and Los Angeles is the first of five this regular season.
(Credit. nhl.com)

If you’ve been a Canucks fan for the last couple of seasons, you’ve probably wished a plague on the entire Los Angeles Kings roster at one time or another. Between the heated playoff battles, the taunting tweets, the mimicked slogan, there’s no love lost between these 2 teams, and the thought of a casual Saturday game between them likely sends you into a fit of anxiety.

It’s a brand new season, of course, and now both teams to renew their rivalry, with the first of 4 regular season meetings in La-la-land tonight at 7:00 PM. The Canucks won 2 of 3 meetings with the Kings last season, and were 1-0-1 at the Staples Center. As of this morning, they’re 4 points up on their now division rivals, but the Kings have 2 games in hand.

What to Watch

Another battle of Olympic proportions.

Jonathan Quick may very well be Team USA’s starting goaltender for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. And of course, Roberto Luongo, and his pretty darn good start to the season, surely has him still in competition for a spot with Team Canada.

Luongo’s numbers are just a tad better than Quick’s at the moment. Luongo’s 0.916 save % is 19th in the NHL, while Quick’s 0.901 save % is 35th. Luongo’s 2.23 GAA is 16th in the NHL, while Quick’s 2.48 GAA is 24th.

Luongo is playing just a tad better as well. He hasn’t allowed more than 2 goals a game in his last 7 starts, and has a 0.935 save % in that span.

Before Quick posted a shutout against the Buffalo Sabres in his most recent start on Thursday, he had allowed 3 or more goals in 8 of the 13 games he’d played.

Who’s Hot

Coach John Tortorella has juggled the Canucks’ lines in the early season, and his most recent line combinations have been working really well. At the very least, the team’s secondary scoring concerns have been somewhat alleviated as the second, third and fourth lines have produced 8 of the Canucks’ last 10 goals.

In particular, the second line has been quite effective. Mike Santorelli, perhaps the biggest surprise of the season, has a 3-game point streak, and has a total of 5 goals and 12 points in 18 games. Linemate Chris Higgins with 6 goals and 10 points in 18 games as well, including 5 points in his last 6 games. Alex Burrows, who just recently returned from injury, recorded his first 2 points of the season in the Canucks’ most recent game, a win against the San Jose Sharks last Thursday.

For the Kings, Anze Kopitar has 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists) in a 3-game point streak, and leads the team with 16 points. Likewise, Mike Richards has 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in a 3-game point streak; he sits 2 points behind Kopitar for the team lead in points.

Who’s Out

No new additions to the Canuck’s injury list, thank goodness. Jordan Schroeder remains out along with Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen. Meanwhile, David Booth is with the Utica Comets on a conditioning stint. He notched an assist last night as the Comets finally won their first game of the season.

For the Kings, Jarret Stoll is questionable for the game, and Jeff Carter, who is currently tied for the Kings’ team lead in goals (5), is on the injured reserve and won’t play.

Nov 052013
 

Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks stops Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals on a penalty shot.

After a long, grueling road-trip the Canucks were looking to ease their way back into the game with a nice home-start against the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately for them, the “Hockey Gods” had other plans and granted the Caps a penalty shot less than two minutes into the game. But hey, at least the shooter was only Alex Ovechkin, league leader in goal-scoring and the reigning Hart Trophy winner (SARCASM).  Fortunately for the ‘Nucks, Bobby-Lou was on his game and held Ovi off the scoresheet, allowing our boys to cruise to a 3-2 victory. 

The Canucks have had a few historical moments involving the “most exciting play in hockey”, some glorious, others heartbreaking. But regardless of the penalty-shot outcome we can all agree wholeheartedly, none were forgettable. Here are the top 5 memorable penalty shot moments in Canucks history.

5) Alex Burrows vs. Corey Crawford. In arguably the most important game in Canucks history, Alex Burrows was granted a penalty shot against Corey Crawford to give the Canucks a 2-goal lead in game 7 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals. Despite Burrows failed attempt he did get the last laugh putting a knucklepuck past Crawford in overtime to win the series.

4) Pavel Bure vs. Damian Rhodes. Not an especially important goal in terms of the bigger picture, but fun to watch for the cocky call by the Russian Rocket. Read his lips when he’s talking to the ref. Gotta love Pav.

3) Henrik Sedin vs. Chris Mason. One would think that Hank has nightmares about coming down on a goalie without a pass option. This cheeky move seems to prove otherwise, as the Canuck captain puts in a beautiful insurance marker late in a game versus Nashville.

2) Sidney Crosby vs. Roberto Luongo. The best player in the world versus one of the greatest goalies in the world in overtime. Need I say more?

1) Pavel Bure vs. Mike Richter. It’s hard to put a play where the Canucks come out on bottom this high on the list, but no one can deny the sheer excitement of this moment. The most dynamic goal-scorer in the league taking a penalty shot in game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals – heart-breaking result but thrilling nonetheless.

Nov 022013
 

vanleafs

(Photo credit: National Post)

Vancouver Canucks (9-5-1)
Toronto Maple Leafs (10-4-0)

On Pavel Bure night tonight, the Vancouver Canucks will attempt to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs for the 11th straight meeting. Meanwhile, the Leafs will attempt to complete a 3-game sweep as they close out their Western Conference road trip.

Because of the lockout last season, the two teams haven’t met since February 2012. In that game, the Sedins and Alex Burrows combined for 10 points (3 goals and 7 assists) as the Canucks won handily, by a 6-2 score.

The Leafs are definitely improved since that 2012 meeting. Last season, they broke a 7-season postseason drought, and took the Boston Bruins to Game 7 of the first round of the NHL playoffs. This season, they sit 1st in the Eastern Conference and 4th in the overall NHL standings with 20 points in 14 games (10-4-0). The Canucks, however, aren’t too far behind with 19 points in 15 games.

Who’s Hot

The newly-extended Daniel Sedin, who scored the Canucks’ lone goal in their last game against the Detroit Red Wings, extended his point streak to 5 games (5 goals, 3 assists and 8 points). Henrik Sedin, who, like his brother, was signed to a contract extension yesterday, has a 10-game point streak himself (3 goals, 9 assists and 12 points).

For the Leafs, James van Riemsdyk has 2 goals and 5 assists on his current 5-game point streak.

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks will be playing without forwards David Booth (lower body), Jordan Schroeder (ankle), Jannik Hansen (upper body) and Dale Weise (lower body).

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be playing without defenseman Mark Fraser (knee), and forwards Nikolai Kulemin (ankle) and Tyler Bozak (lower body).

Oct 282013
 

Capitals-vs_-Canucks-Recap-630x415

Washington Capitals (5-6)
Vancouver Canucks (8-4-1)

After an impressive seven-game road trip (5-1-1), the Vancouver Canucks are back in Vancouver and will take on the Washington Capitals.

As the Capitals look to start a new winning streak after their three-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night with a 5-2 loss against the Calgary Flames, the Canucks look to continue their own three-game winning streak tonight.

We welcome the Canucks back home, but also, we (expect to) welcome back Alexandre Burrows, who has been out since injuring his foot while blocking a shot on October 3rd during the Canucks season opener against the San Jose Sharks. With Burrows ready to play, he should add some extra energy to a tired team that has just spent the last 7 games and 11 nights on the road.

Who’s Hot

After leading the Canucks to a win against the St. Louis Blues with 2 goals, including the game-winner in overtime, Ryan Kesler now has 7 goals this season. He has scored in three straight games and has 7 points (4 goals and 3 assists) over the past four games. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals has 4 goals and 2 assists in the past four games.

Who’s Out

The Canucks are expected to be playing without Jordan Schroeder (foot), Jannik Hansen (upper body) and Dale Weise (lower body).

The Capitals will be playing without defenseman Jack Hillen (lower body – leg) who is on long-term injured reserve.

Oct 122013
 

Vancouver Canucks vs. Montreal Canadiens

Photo credit: canucks.com

The good news for the Vancouver Canucks is, tonight’s opponents aren’t the San Jose Sharks.

The bad news is, the Canucks haven’t beaten tonight’s opponents, the Montreal Canadiens, at Rogers Arena since October 7, 2009.

To complicate things for the Canucks, they’ll have to go against the storied Habs without top defensemen, Alex Edler, who was suspended for 3 games because Tomas Hertl lowered his head and skated it into Edler’s shoulder for his head shot on Tomas Hertl. Former Habs defenseman, Yannick Weber, who has been playing as a winger, is expected to move back and replace Edler’s spot on d.

Who to watch

Second-year players, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher, are 1st and 4th in Habs’ team scoring, respectively, picking up nicely where they left off last season. Gallagher, especially, has been a revelation. Not much was expected of the diminutive, former Vancouver Giant who was selected in the 5th round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft – only two picks earlier, the Canucks selected Adam Polasek – but all Gallagher has done at the NHL level is produce; in 48 career games, he has 33 points, including 18 goals.

Who’s back

6’3″ Canucks power forward (in the making, we hope), Zack Kassian, is expected to make his season debut tonight after serving an 8-game suspension for breaking Sam Gagner’s jaw with his stick. Kassian was on a line with David Booth and Brad Richardson during the morning skate.

Who’s out

Besides Edler, Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder remain out of the Canucks lineup due to injuries.

Habs captain, Brian Gionta, will miss tonight’s game due to a family emergency.

What to watch

For all the ups and downs of the Canucks’ early season, one thing that has been consistent is their penalty-kill. After 5 games, their PK has been perfect, killing all 18 powerplays against them.

Oct 052013
 
Weise and Brown Reacquainting Themselves - courtesy of Canucks.com

Weise and Brown Reacquainting Themselves – courtesy of Canucks.com

Getting themselves off to a fantastic start in the first 10 minutes of the game two nights ago, Canucks nation held out hope that the team was quickly gelling under John Tortorella. But Vancouver dug themselves a hole, forced to kill off a two-minute 5-on-3 before a handful of turnovers led to two quick Sharks goals.

Tonight, Vancouver looks for their first win of the year and have the chance to get it in front of their fans as they host their home opener against the Edmonton Oilers.

Canucks Record

0-1-0, 0 points (6th in the Pacific Division, 12th in the Western Conference). After only ONE game (you can breathe again).

Season Series

It’s the first matchup between the two teams of the regular season, but this also marks the first time the two meet since Zack Kassian’s errant stick broke Sam Gagner’s jaw (and Dale Weise’s dangerous hit on Taylor Hall). Kassian is still suspended, but Weise will be in the Vancouver lineup, creating the potential for some fireworks if the game gets out of hand for either team.

Who’s Hot

Alex Ovechkin, he of 3 goals for 5 points in 2 games. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the cut of your jib) he’s not playing for the Canucks or Oilers.

Who’s Not

The Canucks offence. Beyond a strong effort against a light Phoenix squad in the preseason, the hometown team could very well be part of Team PowerSmart considering the lack of goal lights they’ve been turning on.

Who’s In, Who’s Out

Alex Burrows won’t be in the lineup for the next few weeks, as Tortorella announced at this morning’s pre-game skate that Burrows broke a bone in his foot blocking a shot. In  his place, Torts said the Canucks aren’t calling up an additional forward and will instead dress an extra defenceman… So, uh, the Sedins are currently playing with a mystery linemate for now.

Tonight’s Lineups

Vancouver

Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – ???

Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Jannik Hansen

David Booth – Mike Santorelli – Brad Richardson

Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Dale Weise

Dan Hamhuis – Kevin Bieksa

Alex Edler – Jason Garrison

Ryan Stanton – Chris Tanev

Roberto Luongo

Eddie Lack

Edmonton

Ryan Smyth – Taylor Hall – Ales Hemsky

Jesse Joensuu – Boyd Gordon – Jordan Eberle

David Perron – Mark Arcobello – Nail Yakupov

Luke Gazdic – Will Acton – Mike Brown

Andrew Ference – Justin Schultz

Ladislav Smid – Jeff Petry

Nick Schultz – Anton Belov

Devan Dubnyk

Jason Labarbera

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