Dec 302013
 

No Luongo? No problem.

For the second time in his last 3 starts, Eddie Lack recorded a shutout as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 in Calgary. For the season, he now has a 7-2-0 record, a 1.74 GAA (3rd in the NHL) and 0.933 save percentage (6th in the NHL).

That sound you hear is another goaltender controversy slowly growing because, you know, that’s what we Canucks fans do.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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.

 

Mar 152013
 

The Canucks were back home against the Nashville Predators, having stumbled to and from Ohio, and were looking to set the tone for their second half journey in the shortened NHL season.

So what kind of game did we see?

Alberts almost scoring and people going streaking. Who knew Chris could be a trendsetter?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 132013
 

In a serious case of déjà vu, it took more than overtime for the Canucks to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets and salvage the road trip.

I wonder how fans feel about that?

Oh my.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 092013
 

Much like the Canucks had problems getting going against the Columbus Blue Jackets, we had some technical difficulties of our own.

#TGATT is a day late, but don’t worry, it promises to be more exciting than the game itself.

Well, anyway, let’s just get to it.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 252013
 

It’s an early game in Detroit today. Luckily NASCAR finished on time, so there were no TV conflicts in my house. None of the duct taped cars won, so I was pretty disappointed.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 032012
 

In this episode of the CHB TV video podcast, Clay Imoo, J.J. Guerrero and Chris Golden discuss the Canucks’ team toughness (or perceived lack thereof).

Dec 092011
 

[Inspired by Arsenio Hall's "Things That Make You Go Hmmm…", Clayton Imoo talks about Canucks-related things that make him go hmmm… You can follow Clay on Twitter at (@canuckclay) or on his website, Clay's Canucks Commentary.]

Cody Hodgson, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

With their 4-3 shootout over the Montreal Canadiens last night, the Vancouver Canucks have won 3 straight games and 8 out of their last 9 contests.  With their make-shift forward lines and Luongo’s hyped return to Montreal, the table was set for an entertaining game.  We certainly weren’t disappointed, as always there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm…

  1. Third Period Prowess. As the Canucks rack up wins, it’s hard not to compare them to last year’s team at this point in the season.  As I detailed in last week’s post, the Canucks went on a torrid 17-1-2 run (in games 21 through 40) from November 24, 2010 to January 7, 2011.  This season the Canucks are 7 and 1 in games 21 through 28.  Where the Canucks really seem to be distinguishing themselves is in the third period of games.  In their last 5 games, Vancouver has out-scored their opponents 11-2 in the final frame, compared to 8-3 in the second period.  Conversely, in the first period, the Canucks have been outscored 6-4.  The team has started off games slowly more often than not, but they’re proving once again that they have outstanding conditioning and poise.  In last night’s game, I never felt that a comeback was impossible, even with the Canucks down 3-0 early in the second.  They don’t seem to panic; rather they pick up their play as the game nears its conclusion and are relentless on the attack.  The numbers bear that out as well: in the last 5 games, the Canucks have out-shot their opponents 54-47 in the third period.  Take out the Columbus game (game #24) and the Canucks have out-shot their opponents 42-25 in the last four.  That’s pretty dominant.
  2. Lack of Forward Depth. The sudden injuries to second-line wingers Chris Higgins and David Booth exposed a lack of depth at the forward position.  With a healthy Higgins and Booth, the Canucks have balanced scoring throughout their top 9 forwards, especially with the return of Mason Raymond.  However, without them the Canucks had Billy Sweatt make his pro debut and defenceman Andrew Alberts playing as a forward on the fourth line.  Sweatt barely broke one, as he logged only 6:18 of ice time and Alberts had even less, playing a measly 5:36.  The defenceman-turned-forward-likely-turning-back-to-defenceman had a rough first period as he was caught down low on both of Montreal’s first-period goals.  I guess habits are indeed hard to break, as both times Alberts was below the faceoff dots chasing around Canadiens forwards leaving the point unmanned (his linemates Malhotra and Weise didn’t fare much better).  With Sweatt and Alberts combining for only 12 minutes, if left the other forwards to pick up the slack.  Due also in part to coach AV shortening the bench in a bid to catch up, Kesler (24:35), Henrik (23:17), Daniel (22:37) and Burrows (22:15) saw significantly higher ice time – 3 to 5 minutes higher than their season averages.  Even Mason Raymond, in only his third game back from his back injury, logged over 19 minutes of ice time. Strangely, Cody Hodgson played only 10 minutes despite having a decent outing and scoring a goal.  Good to see that the limited ice time didn’t affect him, as Hodgson was the only player to score in the shootout.  It will be interesting to see who plays on Saturday against Ottawa.
  3. Ballard vs. The World. Did you happen to catch Keith Ballard’s mesmerizing end-to-end rush half-way through the overtime period?  After picking the puck up in his own zone between the faceoff circles, he held the puck for a total of 11 straight seconds covering 160 feet: he rushed out of the defensive zone (avoiding Eric Cole), dashed past the Canucks bench (evading Lars Eller), cut across the middle (making Frederic St-Denis miss his check), bat the puck down with his glove (with Cole draped all over him), gained the blue line and skated into the corner (while fighting off Hal Gill), and then threw it behind the net to Daniel who centered it to Henrik.  Only a great pad save by Carey Price robbed Ballard of what would have been one of the most memorable second assists in recent memory.  It was somewhat appropriate that the Superman theme song was played during the next stoppage in play as Ballard’s effort was indeed super.
  4. Movin’ On Up…Not Really. Despite the Canucks’ strong play of late, they can’t make up any ground on division leader the Minnesota Wild.  The Wild have rattled off 6 straight wins (all on the road) and have won 11 of their last 13 games.  Thus, Vancouver sits 6 points back of Minnesota with one game in hand.  The Canucks can’t even break free from the pack to take sole possession of fourth place in the Western Conference, as both Detroit and St. Louis are also playing extremely well.  All three teams are deadlocked with 35 points, ahead of the Sharks who have 3 games in hand.  I just can’t get used to seeing Minnesota on top of the entire league.

The Canucks have a great opportunity to continue racking up the points as their next games are against Ottawa, Columbus and Carolina.  While the defense and the goaltending seem to have solidified, all the questions are up front.  Will Higgins return soon?  Will Billy Sweatt make like Victor Oreskovich and return to the farm after just one game?  And will Andrew Alberts ever play on the fourth line again?  There are a few things that make me go hmmm.

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