Apr 142014
 

It’s been a memorable season, though mostly for the wrong reasons. Last night, the Canucks handed out their awards; today, it’s our turn to handpick some of the best of the best and the worst of the worst of the 2013/2014 Canucks season.

*****

Manny Malhotra Award for Most Underappreciated Forward
(presented by Clay)

Winner: Mike Santorelli

Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks

Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks

It’s no coincidence that the Canucks’ woes started at around the same time that Mike Santorelli went down thanks to Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes. Up until that point, Santorelli was enjoying a career year with 28 points in 49 games, including a wonderful stretch of 12 points in 11 games in late November and early December. He played mostly at centre (with a bit of time on the wing) and gave the team some depth and a different look. It will be interesting to see if Trevor Linden is able to lock up him to a new contract.

Runner-Up: Brad Richardson

Brad Richardson has quietly put together a strong year and his 23 points in his second-best career total. He is a reliable penalty killer and strong in his own end, as he is one of the few Canucks with a positive +/- rating. He is the anchor of the Canucks’ third line that has been a pleasant surprise and best line for the team at times.

*****

Dana Muryzn Award for Most Underappreciated Defenseman
(presented by Matt)

Winner: Chris Tanev

In a season where just about everything went wrong, Chris Tanev was one of the few bright spots from the blueline. Tanev retained his defensive stalwart status and rarely looked out of place, and even made some strides offensively by potting six goals and adding eleven assists, which by Tanev standards is quite pleasant.

Runner-Up: Ryan Stanton

Stanton, who gets our honorable mention, proved to be a stabilizing force as a third pairing blueliner. Not bad for a waiver wire pickup.

*****

Jason King Award for Most Promising Young Player
(presented by J.J.)

Winner: Zack Kassian

In just his second full NHL season, Kassian posted 14 goals, 15 assists and 29 points, all but 1 goal on even-strength, and mostly while playing in the bottom-six. Kass’ development – his physical play, presence and control improved immensely as the season went on – should be encouraging for the Canucks, who have been clamoring for a big and skilled winger for a long time.

Runner-Up: Eddie Lack

At one point this season, Lack was among the league’s best in GAA, save percentage and shutouts. His numbers dipped in the last couple of months as Torts started him in 19 consecutive games after the Olympic Break, but still, it’s been a season to build on for the rookie goaltender, who, barring the Canucks acquiring another big-name goaltender in the summer, will be the team’s starter moving forward.

*****

Barry Pederson Award for Most Disappointing Player
(presented by Matt)

Winner: Alex Burrows

For everything that could be said about the lack of production from the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows was supposed to be the constant. Troublesome and untimely injuries limited him to just five goals in 49 games, but valid excuses aside, this is a player who was a mortal lock for 25+ goals annually. Are those days gone?

Runner-Up: David Booth

Expectations were tempered from the start so it’s hard to say he was disappointing when you’re not expecting a whole lot.

*****

Alexander Mogilny Award for Best Player in a Bad Season
(presented by Delia)

Winner: Mike Santorelli

Despite being out since late January, Mike Santorelli was the Canucks best player in this bad, bad season. When healthy, Santorelli was a very consistent player – played well, scored goals, and assisted on many goals. In fact, despite missing the final 33 games of the season, Santorelli still sits in 6th place on the Canucks points leaderboard with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists).

Runner-Up: Eddie Lack

The Canucks sure lacked a lot this season, but for the most part, they didn’t lack goaltending. After Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers, Eddie Lack was left with the number one job, and he certainly did not disappoint. Since February 26th, Lack played 19 consecutive games, and had an 8-9-2 record with 2 shutouts in that period.

*****

Brandon Reid Award for Best Callup
(presented by J.J.)

Winner: Nicklas Jensen

While the Canucks’ top-six were dropping like flies mid-season, Canucks fans repeatedly asked for Jensen to be called up from the Utica Comets. After getting passed over by 4th line guys like Darren Archibald and Kellan Lain initially, Jensen finally got his opportunity on March 8th, and he proceeded to post 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists) in his first 7 games.

Runner-Up: Kellan Lain

In Lain’s first game in the bigs, he logged a grand total of 2 seconds, yet ended up with a fight and 15 minutes in penalties. In his second game, he scored a goal on his second shift. It’s about as memorable a start to an NHL career as anyone’s.

*****

The Martin Rucinsky We Probably Won’t Miss You When You’re Gone Award
(presented by Lizz)

Winner: Alex Edler

David Booth may have seemed like a shoo-in for this one. After all he does seem like the most likely candidate for being bought out this summer, but I find the argument that Edler is actually the better long-term buy-out choice pretty convincing, and even if he’s not, new President Trevor Linden has already revealed that he’s not against asking a player to waive a no-trade clause, so we could see Edler submitting a destination list this summer.

So why exactly won’t we be missing him? Well since signing his new six-year extension in early 2013, he hasn’t exactly done much to convince anyone he’s earned it.

Edler also finished the season with a league-worst (!) minus-39 rating. Now you may say plus/minus doesn’t mean much of anything, and I agree it’s not the most insightful stat, but that is still an awful lot of time to be on the ice when goals are being scored against your team.

It’s really only a symptom of a larger issue.

Edler hasn’t been making smart plays, he’s often found out of position, production is down, and overall he’s been ineffective at his role, so congratulations Alex Edler, you’ve won our 2013-14 Martin Rucinsky We Probably Won’t Miss You When You’re Gone Award.

*****

Cody Hodgson Award for Best Drama
(presented by Ashley)

Winner: John Tortorella’s intermission showdown vs. the Calgary Flames (January 18, 2014)

John Tortorella takes home the Cody Hodgson Award for Best Drama. His performance behind the bench – i.e. how he lead practically every Canuck to have career-worst seasons – contributed to this, but his breakout performance was his storming of the Calgary Flames’ locker room during the first intermission of their home game on January 18th.

Tortorella’s confrontation was captured live during Hockey Night In Canada and led to a 15-day suspension, without pay and no contact with his team. I’m sure in Torts’ acceptance speech a big thanks will go out to Bob Hartley for his supporting role.

Runner-Up: The Heritage Classic goaltending controversy (March 2, 2014)

Coming in a close second is the Heritage Classic goaltending controversy. Seemingly out of nowhere, a goaltending controversy was created – Eddie Lack was given the starting position for the Heritage Classic, a decision that didn’t sit well with the fans, who thought Roberto Luongo had earned that starter spot, and deserved to be starting this historical game; their issue was not with Lack, but with the organization. The drama came to a head as fans made their displeasure known during the starting line-up announcement, “Eddie Lack” was announced to resounded “Boos” and “We Want Lu!” chants.

*****

Esa Tikkanen Award for Best Comedy
(presented by Jocelyn)

Winner: The line brawl against the Calgary Flames on January 18, 2014

Everything about this event gets the award: the Flames starting the 4th line; Bieksa taking the face-off; Kellan Lain getting 2 seconds of play in his first NHL game before getting a game misconduct, while his parents flew all the way from Ontario to see him play; Sestito’s comment after the game and, of course, John Tortorella’s infamous reaction, including him storming to the Calgary dressing room. This moment will go down as one of the most infamous moments in Canucks history.

Runner-Up: Twitter’s reaction after the Canucks’ third period collapse against the New York Islanders on March 10, 2014

The Canucks were up 3-0 going into the third period and ended up losing 7-4. The Islanders scored SEVEN GOALS in one period of hockey — something that would truly only happen to the Canucks, and this season especially. Many people, like myself, had traded the game during the second intermission (the Canucks were winning, after all) to go to other things, so the post-game reactions were what really made this event truly comical. Never forget.

*****

Roberto Luongo Award for Quote (or Tweet) of the Year
(presented by Ed)

Winner: Roberto Luongo’s ugly Christmas sweater tweet

Clearly the Roberto Luongo Award for the best tweet of the season has to go to the man that took us all on a wild social media joyride for several seasons: Roberto Luongo. Lu was once again on top of his Twitter game this year, proving to us all that he’s one of the funniest (and weirdest) people in sports. He even sent us a few pleasantries from that wacky Florida place where he plays now.

If you’re a Canucks fan, I don’t think I have to explain to you why this picture just rules. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ryan Kesler this happy before.

*****

Shane O’Brien Award for Headscratcher of the Year
(presented by Victoria)

Winner: Tom Sestito

My SOB Award goes to Tom Sestito. Because he managed to get head scratchingly ridiculous penalties this year. 27 minutes of penalties in 1 second of ice time. And let’s not forget (how could we forget?) the unheard of 7 minute penalty he earned in our ‘moral victory’. Also he got a game misconduct in the final minutes of the last game of the season for reasons I still can’t figure out.

Apr 062014
 

Yup, the Canucks are still alive.

Something happened during the second intermission. Trailing 1-0 to the Los Angeles Kings going into the final frame, it’s as if the Canucks decided that, hey, they should be playing up-tempo hockey. And the result was probably their best third period of hockey in a long, long time, and a 2-1 win.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 262014
 
Kes-burr

Well the Olympics have come and gone with Canada seizing glory and a gold medal to boot. It was fun while it lasted but now it’s time to shift our focus back to the remainder of the NHL season and a Canuck team in disarray. The upcoming stretch drive will surely be tense and stressful on fan and player alike as teams scramble to cement their position in the post-season.

As of late, there have not been many smiles within the Canucks locker room as they have suffered an abysmal start (if you can still call it that heading into March) to the year 2014. The players look sullen, depressed and aggravated in post-game interviews and media scrums. Perhaps, in this lies the problem. Anyone who has played sports knows that when you have fun you play well and when you play well you have fun. Yes, I realize these are professional athletes making millions of dollars but all of them started playing hockey not for money but for the love of the game. The team camaraderie and locker room horseplay constitute a large part of what makes this game so great. The Canucks have a history of comedic moments and they often coincide with strong team-play (Kesler’s 2010-2011 interview bomb-skills anyone?) Perhaps a little humor and laughter could spice up what seems to be a stale energy in the locker room.

Here are some of the funnier off-ice moments from past seasons:

5) Rookie Dance-Off – Alex Edler, and the late Luc Bourdon show off their moves in an epic battle at a charity event. Who knew quiet and solemn Edler was such an accomplished break-dancer?

4) Luongo Poetry – Roberto shows off his linguistic skills in a TSN segment. Lou wearing spectacles, a scarf and a paper-boy hat whilst referencing Byfuglien’s “big ass”. Need I say more?

3) Ryan Kesler Interrupts Pelvic Exam – This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Kesler calls a doctor with some good news and catches him in a somewhat “compromising position”. Hilarity ensues.

2) Dale Weise and a Missing Helmet – Someone hides Dale’s helmet and panic starts to set in. I wonder if he would have been this worried when Vigneault was the head coach?

1) Kesler Bomb – En route to a 40-goal season Kesler started a new trend in the locker room which became known as the “Kesler Bomb”. No one was safe – everyone was a potential target.

Feb 072014
 

Can we at least beat the Leafs on Saturday night?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 012014
 

4-9-2.

After losing 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets last night, allowing Devin Setoguchi to score the game-winning goal with 3 minutes left in the third period, that’s the Canucks’ record in January.

4 wins. 11 losses.

And like cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the fudge on this January crap cake, they also lost Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev to long-term injuries.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 302014
 
0605burrows-e1311477330412

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 132014
 

460685415_slide
The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks fight for third place in the Pacific Division.
(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (24-13-9)
Los Angeles Kings (3-6-1)

If the Canucks were hoping for a quick re-do of their horrendous trip to SoCal the other weekend – a weekend in which they lost both games to the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings and outshot by a 98-48 margin – well, they get their wish. This week, the Canucks will embark on a 3 games in 4 nights road trip, starting in Los Angeles tonight and Anaheim tomorrow, before finishing up in the desert in Phoenix on Thursday.

The Kings are 3-0-0 against the Canucks this season. But if there’s a silver lining of sorts here, the Canucks are still within striking distance, and in fact, a win tonight will see them leapfrog the Kings and take over third place in the Pacific Division.

The Canucks are getting healthier too with Alex Edler is back in the lineup tonight. Also, while Eddie Lack is again getting the start, Roberto Luongo is traveling with the team, a sure sign he is close to returning. Up front, Alex Burrows is expected back on Saturday when they play the Calgary Flames back at Rogers Arena.

Who’s Hot

For the Canucks, Henrik Sedin has 5 assists in his last 4 games, Daniel Sedin has 4 assists in his last 4 games, and Chris Higgins has 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in his last 4 games.

For the Kings, Mike Richards has points in consecutive games, Anze Kopitar has 3 assists in his last 4 games, and Jeff Carter has 4 points (3 goals and 1 assist) in his last 4 games.

Who’s Not

Ryan Kesler only has 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist) in his last 11 games.

Dec 242013
 

Santa has made his list. He’s checked it twice. Here’s which Canucks are naughty and which are nice! (See what I did there? I’m such a poet!)

Santa Loves Bobby Lu & Boothy

Santa Loves Bobby Lu & Boothy

Santa’s Nice List

David Booth. I think even Santa is stunned about this turnaround. David wasn’t exactly on the naughty list (well maybe with the reindeer who fear for their life). He was mostly not on any list. I’m not even sure Santa knew where he was what with the whole conditioning Utica drama. You can call it a Christmas miracle, but David Booth has cemented himself on the Nice list with his play of late. He’s skating fast and hard, he’s making smart plays and he’s scoring. Yes, scoring goals not more antlers for his mantle.

Roberto Luongo.  I half expected him to maybe not play that hard since he kind of acted like he was being forced to stay in Vancouver (and he was). But Lu put on his big boy pads and stepped up. Sure there was the standard October – as @strombone1 accurately labeled it ‘How did that go in?’ – but then Bobby Lu turned it around. As if that isn’t enough he beat the Boston Bruins. Santa hates the Bruins.

Eddie Lack. He beat the Hawks. We love when we beat the Hawks and Eddie did that for us – in a shootout no less. That’s enough to earn him a sweet spot on the Nice List.

Ryan Kesler. Kesler is doing well under Torts. He’s blocking shots, he’s taking shots, he’s scoring in a shootout, he’s fighting Iginla…yeah even Santa was confused by that but he’ll let it pass. Ryan won’t get coal this year.

Chris Tanev. He takes hits that would knock other players into next season and keeps on playing. Tanev’s a Goonie. He never says die. Santa likes Goonies.

Kassian and Edler are getting coal

Kassian and Edler are getting coal

Santa’s Naughty List

Alex Edler. The nicest thing Alex Edler has done for his team this season is get injured. We’ve done better without him that we did with him. Ever since last season, Edler has struggled. He’s made stupid mistakes and he’s been a little careless with his hits, drawing penalties or suspensions. Santa doesn’t take kindly to reckless plays or repeatedly giving the puck away. It’s coal for Alex.

Zach Kassian. He just isn’t living up to expectation this year. Sure the toothless grin is cute but Santa doesn’t like slackers. Zach needs to pick it up and contribute more if he wants more than coal next year.

Andrew Alberts. I think he peed in Rudolph’s water bowl… or in Torts’ cereal. Or in the Hockey Gods’ coffee. He did something wrong because Andrew Alberts isn’t playing good hockey… on the rare time when he gets to leave the press box or dungeon or wherever it is they keep him.

 

Dec 182013
 
lou bad goal

You love when the Canucks score them but hate when they give them up. Those fluky goals that can pop up out of nowhere and change the momentum of the game at the drop of a helmet.  These goals are bizarre but admittedly entertaining.  Canucks fans have been “entertained” by them early and often so far this season with a number of bizarre goals going in already before the Olympic break. Coach John Tortorella has remained adamant that these moments even out over the course of an 82-game season but if that’s the case I think the Canucks may have already used all theirs up. It’s only December and we can already compile a list of wacky Canucks-related goals from this season!

Here are the top 5 bizarre Canucks-related goals from the 2013-2014 season thus far:

5) Alexander Edler – In an afternoon game Edler uses his booming slapshot to snipe a beauty from center ice….just kidding! Fleury bobbles it BIG TIME. We’re used to seeing Fleury lose the puck though (World Juniors anyone?).

 

4) Ryan Kesler-  A goalie’s nightmare, but a player’s fantasy. In a game against Philly, Ryan Kesler gobbles up a lucky bounce and distributes it into the yawning cage with ease.

 

3) Joe Thornton on Roberto Luongo – “Once it got on top of the net I was like: Oh S***! What’s going on here?”- Roberto Luongo on this insane bounce from a Jumbo Joe dump in.

 

2) Jannik Hansen – A recent goal from a memorable game this Jannik Hansen snipe looks more like an R.A. Dickey knuckleball then a slapshot. It helped shake up the confidence of Bruins goalie Tukka Rask and got the Canucks off to a good start against their Arch-rivals.

 

1) Lars Eller on Roberto Luongo via Dan Hamhuis – This was one fans hated. Not only was it completely avoidable but it led to a weak third period and an eventual loss. Still, it’s hard not to smirk at Lou’s stance as he carefully looks for the puck between his own legs.

 

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).

%d bloggers like this: