Jan 202013

Hello hockey fans. I’m still having a little trouble believing it, but we’re back baby. It’s been a long 8 months, but the contracts are signed, the ice is prepped, and we’re ready to go.

* cue ominous tone *

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 182013

The collective Canucks fan base can breathe a sigh of relief, Alex Edler doesn’t look like he’s going anywhere.

Alex Edler Meets Taylor Hall

Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis abruptly announced (over Twitter!) that the Canucks have locked up the defenseman to a six-year contract extension, worth $30-million. That means the silky blueliner will be making $5-million per season.

It also means that he becomes Vancouver’s highest-paid defenceman, but perhaps that was to be expected. With all due respect to his teammates Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, and Jason Garrison (we’ve omitted Keith Ballard’s name for obvious purposes), Edler still has immense upside compared to them.

Even though the Swede put up a career-high 11 goals and 49 points last season — the healthiest season of his career, we should mention — some believe he could’ve put up even more. There’s one, two, or three 50+ point seasons in Edler yet, and the Canucks are banking on him rising to that level within the next six seasons.

You’d be nuts to not believe the Canucks regard Edler highly. Here’s a quote from assistant coach Rick Bowness back in 2010, before Edler had even cracked the 40-point barrier:

Nick Lidstrom was 31 [when he won his first Norris Trophy]. That’s seven years from now for Alex. You figure where Alex is and where he’s going to be seven years from now. That’s why you have to look at the big picture.

Pretty lofty expectations to set for Edler, sure; hard to compare one player to his arguably the second greatest defenseman of all-time. But that’s just how much the Canucks value their now highest-paid defenceman.

But as much as you’d like to praise Edler’s newest contract and his high potential, the contract doesn’t come out with at least some trepidation. He missed 31 games in 2011 after back surgery and last summer had back surgery again to fix a bulging disc. Edler says now that he feels as healthy as he’s felt in a very long time, but also that he might never feel 100 percent ever again.

That has to raise at least some concern.

Assuming though, that the Canucks medical and training staff can keep Edler happy and healthy, and the coaching staff don’t over-exert him over the course of long regular seasons, the back issue should be a non-concern.

And while six years — as with any long-term contract — can create some cap-related concerns, the Canucks can at least take solace that there are several defencemen across the league that make even more money than he will. Take for example, the following list of less-than-Edler blueliners:

  • Jay Bouwmeester, 29 years old, five years @ $6.68-million per season
  • Tyler Myers, 22 years old, seven years @ $5.5-million per season
  • Matt Carle, 28 years old, six years @ $5.5-million per season
  • Dennis Wideman, 29 years old, 5 years @ $5.25-million per season

There could be far worse options than Alex Edler at $5-million for the next six years.

And taking a look at the potential free agent defencemen crop for next summer:

  • Kimmo Timonen
  • Lubomir Visnovsky
  • Sergei Gonchar
  • Ron Hainsey
  • Mark Streit

It’s easy to suggest Edler would’ve been the best defencemen available of the bunch. There very likely would’ve been a team that wouldn’t flinch at throwing him a contract with a longer term and for even more money.

The Canucks did well to lock up Edler. And for the next six seasons, you can look forward to some more of this:

Apr 232012
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks, Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings shake hands

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’m not going to rant. I’m not going to rage. I would probably cry but I don’t want to short-circuit my keyboard so I won’t even do that. Instead I’ll keep this brief. And then I will eat chocolate.

Where We Went Right

Ryan Kesler was incredible on the penalty kill. He may not have scored goals but in this game his shot blocking and clearing was equally if not more important. If it wasn’t for Kesler and Cory Schneider the score would have been 8-1 for the Kings by the end of the third.

And that leads me to the second thing we did right – we had the right goalie in net. Schneider was calm and collected despite slashes by Mike Richards and bodies flailing in his crease. He never fell down and stayed down and he never lost his stick – both traits Luongo is famous for.  Cory did every thing you could ask of a goalie and more. He earned his spot as our number one netminder and I will be shocked and horrified if that’s not exactly what he is next season.

Where We Went Wrong

One goal is not going to win you a series when you are down 3 games to 1. Putting David Booth on a line with the twins is not going to get you goals. Putting Mason Raymond on the ice at all is not going to get you goals. For me, Alain Vigneault’s coaching decisions were almost as epically bad as Alex Edler was on defence. And they of course, are a reflection of what Mike Gillis has given him to work with. The trades this year have no been the glorious additions Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins were last year. Not even close.

I Don’t Blame Hamhuis

I honestly don’t. Hammy was about the only defenceman trying in Games 1 and 2. He made 1 mistake at a very inopportune time. If we’re going to crucify individual players here we need to nail Raymond and Booth and Edler. End of story. Their complete and utter uselessness, or in the case of Edler his plethora of mistakes, are what cost us the first two games. We wouldn’t have been in a hole if it wasn’t for those 3 more than anyone else. And Kesler diving instead of taking shots. And Duncan Keith elbowing Daniel to in regular season and taking him out of the first 3 games. There are so many more reasons we lost than simply Dan Hamhuis falling down. We need to take a good hard look at all of those reasons – on the bench and behind it – and make some changes before October.

It’s been an honour and a pleasure writing for the Canucks Hockey Blog. I hope I can do it next season while I cheer on our boys in Blue – no matter who those boys may be. (But it better not be Raymond).

Apr 162012
Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

Where to begin? I’m dazed and confused right now. I’m devastated. I’m lost as to exactly what I can say that will make any sense of this for any of you because it’s just ridiculous to think the Presidents Trophy winners are one game away from elimination. But here’s what small thoughts my brain could wrangle up on Game 3 of the Canucks-Kings series.

You want a controversy? I’ll give you a controversy!

When AV announced Cory Schneider was starting, heads exploded all over the internet. I don’t understand why Canucks fans think this our BIG controversy right now. We have 2 starter goalies. I’d venture to say Schneider’s performance tonight along with Lu’s in Games 1 and 2 prove that. Accept it and move on.

Tonight also proved what the real controversy is: our talented, trophy-heavy team can’t score goals. We have a Hart Trophy winner, a Selke Trophy winner, an Art Ross Trophy winner and several clutch scorers and we just got blanked. Other than Burr and Hansen, our goals this series have been scored by Edler and Pahlsson. 4 goals in 3 games. No Kesler or Henrik goals, obviously no Daniel ones. But other clutch players like Higgins and Lapierre aren’t netting anything either. And Booth and Raymond… don’t even get me started.

Canucks fans, get your knickers in a knot over THAT. The fact that Vigneault can pick between a redheaded American who stops 3-on-1s or an Italian-Canadian who stands on his head is a luxury not a controversy.

Did we trade one too many puzzle pieces?

I honestly do not believe missing Daniel Sedin is having this big an effect. That is because, in the past playoffs, the Sedins together have been quite easily controlled. Last year players like Kesler took the playoff lead. Burrows slayed the beast known as Chicago. Bieksa and his stanchion-rific goal got us through San Jose. Lapierre and Torres scored clutch goals against Boston. So although it would be easy to say Duncan Keith ruined our playoffs chances, it would be erroneous.

I do think though that management may have tinkered one too many times with the winning machine. Dumping Samuelsson, Hodgson and picking up Booth, Kassian, and Pahlsson might have seemed like good ideas but did it tilt the balance? This game alone Booth fanned on a pass, missed the net and lost the puck. Pahlsson took a dumb penalty and then, after shoving Dustin Brown into the corner, thought his work was done and left Brown to get up, take a pass and nail the back of the net. Kassian gave a puck right to a King and made no physical impact. We may have traded ourselves out of contention. That said if someone would offer us a bag of magic beans and a unicorn for Edler and Raymond right now I would take it. Even if the unicorn can’t skate it would be a step up.

Let’s hear it for Hammy

I want to make sure that, even if this is all over in two days, the valiant efforts of Dan Hamhuis do not go unrecognized. He was the best defensemen out there tonight. He hip checked like a king. He took shots. He pinched pucks. And for the second time in two games Hammy was our real back-up goalie, blocking shots like a boss. Hamhuis wants this. Let’s put him in net and make Luongo and Schneider Hank’s new wingers and see where that goes. After all, we only have everything to lose.

All we can do now, Canucks fans, is believe. Believe that our team paid special notice to how the Blackhawks marched their way thru us to a game 7 last year. Believe Ryan Kesler will find the back of the net. Believe Mason Raymond won’t fall down. Believe Booth will get his mojo back. Believe whatever alien life form has been occupying Edler’s body will get bored with being a blonde and give him back to us. Believe, Canucks fans. Believe.

Apr 142012
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks gets crosschecked into Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’m in Seattle. This was not the best place to be for the Canucks-Kings game because, although I could easily watch the game, I had to endure NBC’s version of coverage. This includes Mike Milbury’s infuriating opinions and coming back late from commercials so I missed Jannik Hansen’s goal. Also, it involved drinking to get through the game without crying so bear with me, people.

Can We Drop Kick the Drop Pass?

The Canucks’ drop pass needs to be banned from the Canucks play book, especially on the power play. The drop pass on the PP caused two short-handed goals. In this one little game the Canucks allowed half the short-handed goals they allowed in the entire regular season. The Canucks power play had already hit rock bottom. Adding the drop pass to it is like picking up a shovel and digging. Also, can we stop with the habit of chipping/dumping the puck into the opponent’s zone and hope someone gets there to play it.  It’s so lazy and ineffective it makes me want to punch kittens.

Vancouver: Where the Hockey Team is Suddenly as Unbalanced as the Weather

I don’t know what to say here. We saw improvement and deterioration in this game – sometimes from the same player. Kesler seemed more focused, he paid attention to the net, not the drama. Lapierre’s production dwindled from game 1 to 2 and, according to Twitter (because I couldn’t hear a thing from the TV commentators over the bar noise), he got kicked out of the game. Hansen was amazing and then gone – literally. Honey Badger scored a goal and then got kicked out for a dust-up by Quick’s net. I couldn’t hear the commentary on TV to explain what caused him getting tossed. It looked like it might have been a little bit of an over-reaction by the refs, in my opinion. But whatever, the battle was too uphill by then. Luongo had another solid night, except for maybe that goal where he was doing his best dead starfish impersonation. Edler was also consistent. He stayed the same deep level of horrible he’s been since the playoffs began.

And the Upside….

After much wine, I have decided it’s not all doom and gloom going into Game 3. We’re going into Los Angeles, which when it comes to fans, is simply a warmer, more affordable Vancouver. We’ve got a ton of supporters there who should be out in force, squelching any unwelcoming atmosphere at Staples Center. Let’s shake things up – we’ve got nothing to lose. Change the lines. Bench Edler. Yes. I said it. BENCH EDLER. And – brace yourself – start Cory Schneider. Luongo played strong and hard. But changing the goalie might change the momentum. Don’t think of it as Lu being punished. Think of it as Lu being saved. He’s played too well to have to carry this team of underachievers any longer. It only takes one win to turn momentum around. Let’s get that one win.

If you’ve got ideas on how the Canucks can fix all that is broken and pull off a win in Game 3, we’d love to hear it! Leave us a comment.

Apr 122012
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

A brief look back at the good, the bad and the ugly from Game 1, Round 1 of the Canucks-Kings series.

The Good:  Bobby Lu Tried to Win It for You.

If there are still Luongo-haters out there after tonight’s game, even I think you’re crazy. I’m an undeniable Schneider-supporter and although I’m not a Luongo-hater, I am a Luongo-realist. And realistically tonight, the man was a God. He couldn’t have done more to keep the Canucks in this game. He deserved to win this game. I’m confident that if the Canucks play the same way in Game 2 that they did tonight, Lu will also be the only thing that keeps the game from being 18-2. I’m also positive that Luongo can’t keep this up forever so the rest of the team better shake off the playoff cobwebs and get it done.

The Bad: No Love for Lapierre.

Did Maxim Lapierre steal Vigneault’s chewing gum or something equally worthy of punishment between the end of the regular season and this game? Because it sure seems like the coach has an issue with him. Previous to tonight’s game, Lapierre was on the first line with Henrik Sedin. He was scoring and pulling off a multi-point games. So why did AV drop him from that line? Why was Lappy’s ice time also diminished? He finished last night’s game at 11 minutes when in past games he averaged over 12.5 minutes? Not to be deterred by his apparent demotion, he helped David Booth crush Drew Doughty in the opening minutes of the game and assisted on Edler’s second period goal. Can’t help but wonder what more he could have done with a little more time and Hank by his side.

The Ugly:  The Hot and Cold that is Alex Edler.

When I look back on Alex Edler’s regular season play, the lyrics to Katy Perry’s Hot n Cold run through my head. He’s been up and down all year and tonight was no different. In the first period Edler took a delay of game penalty. In the second he came back with a much-needed goal, tying the game. Then in the third, Edler’s clearing attempt landed directly in Mike Richard’s chest, ultimately giving the Kings their third goal of the night. To be fair, Edler wasn’t the only sloppy player – not by a long shot – but he was the sloppiest defencemen. And we can’t afford defensive mistakes when our offense is acting like scoring goals is so 2011.

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