Dec 092010
 

[I Watched This Game is a recurring feature at Pass it to Bulis, the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. It chronicles the insights and observations of two guys who watched a hockey game. To view this post and other foolishness insightful takes on the Canucks and the NHL, visit Pass It To Bulis.]

My favourite thing about come-from-behind victories is the following day’s media coverage. Despite a Canucks’ victory, articles are still overwhelmingly negative, because the journalists have pre-written pieces about a Canucks loss. When it becomes a win, they hold their tone. They’ll claim it’s because the Canucks shouldn’t be in a position to need a desperate comeback, but I suspect it’s because their workload just doubled with all the late revisions, and they’re pissed. Late comebacks of this sort force them into a corner where they have to majorly overhaul their story and still meet their deadlines. As Iain MacIntyre tweeted, last night’s outcome forced him to hammer out 800 words in about 35 minutes. Good thing he’s a pro.

I’d like to take this moment to welcome our new readers from Canucks Hockey Blog, where PITB’s popular I Watched This Game is now being cross-posted. Here’s how we do it:

  • Putting aside my massive Canuck bias, I do think the universe screwed Curtis McElhinney out of what would have been only his 11th career win in 5 NHL seasons. He played well enough to get it, and I’m pretty sure the rule in the NHL is that the play is blown dead when a goaltender gets hit in the mask, especially when he’s bleeding all over the place. I felt like Daniel Sedin’s goal, which came after Christian Ehrhoff’s high slapshot broke the McElhinney’s face, shouldn’t have counted. That said, and this is in poor taste, it can now be safely said that Daniel Sedin is literally out for blood.
  • Ryan Kesler was the night’s first star, and for the second game in a row, he was clearly the best Canuck forward. His powerplay goal supports my controversial theory that he’s the engine of the Canucks’ top unit. His game-tying goal (above) was ugly, but it exhibited the high level of effort Kesler puts out every night. No wonder he made a baby.
  • Let’s talk about Jeff Tambellini, the plucky, manic, little Port Moody forward. Tamby scored his 5th goal of the season last night, along with the shootout winner on a beautiful, sudden snapshot. It goes without saying that Tamby is a goal-scorer; his goals per game average is 0.42, which puts him third on the Canucks behind Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin. Tambellini contributes defensively, too. He had five hits to lead all Canucks forwards, the fourth game in a row that he’s done that. One of those hits was a brilliant backcheck, an Anaheim rush where Tambellini came all the way from behind the goal line to knock the Duck forward off the puck before he even reached the Canucks’ blue line. I’m with Iain MacIntyre; Tamby’s an NHLer.
  • The Ducks had about six or seven just crazy, blatant offsides, most courtesy of an overeager Bobby Ryan. Seriously, it was like he built a crappy time machine, and was living about three seconds in the future. Not since Bob Saget’s NSFW rendition of the Aristocrats has a man been so consistently offside.
  • The penalties in this game wreaked brief havoc on Canucks units and my fragile psyche in the third, as Tanner Glass took shifts on both the first and second lines. I broke a lamp. I nearly called 911. But, thankfully, he never got on the third line, so it all worked out.
  • I think the Canucks really miss Andrew Alberts. He averages 15:30 of physical, hitty hockey, and without him, the Canucks just aren’t as big. Consider that, after he missed the game against the Blues–the first game he’d missed all year–we suddenly started hearing about the Canucks lack of grit. It might have been an issue last night as well, but thankfully, Anaheim/Vancouver games are always bloodthirsty, physical affairs. These teams hate each other like cats hate dogs. Or other cats. Or humans. You know what? Cats are jerks.
  • Daniel and I often argue about Kevin Bieksa, but there’s no dispute over Bieksa’s fighting ability. He can chuck ‘em. He is the last Canuck I would ever fight. I suspect Aaron Voros now feels similarly.
  • The best Shorty & Garrett banter moment follows. Garrett, dubious of a Christian Ehrhoff penalty call: “Ehrhoff’s saying, ‘who’s holding whom?’” Shorty: “You really think Ehrhoff is saying that?” That’ll teach you to put words in Ehrhoff’s mouth. Whom? English is his second language!
  • Keith Ballard’s minutes finally went up, as he played 17:19, including a tasty 1:45 of powerplay time. Let us congratulate Alain Vigneault for having both Kevin Bieksa and Aaron Rome in the lineup and resisting the temptation to give them a single second of powerplay time. You’ve turned a corner, AV.
  • Correction: Aaron Rome got 15 seconds. I trusted you, AV.
  • Anyway, I thought Keith Ballard had a great game. I especially liked the way he was skating the puck out of his own end. Remembering how sluggish his legs were in the preseason, it was great to see him beating forecheckers with his speed.
  • This one should have been a laugher (the Canucks outshot the Ducks by 40 to 20), but there were two factors that kept this close. First, Anaheim blocking shots (they blocked 21), and second, Luongo not blocking shots. Both trends were unfortunate. But after you rag on Luongo for a few softies, remember to give him credit for his shootout performance. Before last night, he hadn’t stopped a shootout attempt all season, leading to two skills competition losses. Last night, he stopped them all, and we won. Coincidence? No. It’s a causal element.
  • Ryan Getzlaf played just under thirty minutes last night. That’s a ton of ice time, considering he’s a forward. I’ll tell you why Ducks coach Randy Carlyle has to do this: his defense-corps are not very good at starting the rush, and only the Ducks’ star forwards can create offense from their pitiful zone starts. The Canucks did a good job of exploiting this, too. They were turning the puck up ice faster than I’ve ever seen them, even gleefully dumping it in because the Anaheim d-corps was just going to turn the puck over anyway.
  • How do I know the puck spent an inordinate amount of time in Anaheim’s zone? Offensive zone starts. The Canucks took 21 offensive zone faceoffs, and only 13 in the defensive zone. Kesler and Malhotra won 8 of 11 in their own zone, but Henrik Sedin won the night, breaking his brief faceoff funk with a 15-for-24 showing.
  • And finally, a word about Henrik Sedin. His inclination towards passing the puck in traffic has made him fairly predictable, don’t you think? He needs to be a little more surprising. Here’s what you do, Henrik. Next time you’re in a fight along the end boards, lick the defender’s cheek. No one will expect that.

(Editor’s note: We here at CHB would like to thank the Pass It To Bulis boys for sharing this feature with us. There are more posts like this on their site: http://passittobulis.blogspot.com.)

Nov 082010
 
Andrew Alberts

When the Canucks bowed out in the second round of last year’s playoffs for the second consecutive time, Andrew Alberts was a favorite scapegoat. So much so that fans dubbed him, AHLberts.

The same Andrew Alberts, however, didn’t show up to training camp this summer. A lot of Canucks fans were against bringing back the 6’5″, 220 lb. brusing blue liner, but he’s quickly changing minds as he’s turned his play around. He seems to have undergone a Shane O’Brien-like transformation. We all know how penalty-prone and brutal the young SOB was when the Canucks first acquired him, but he must have given Alberts a few pointers because Alberts, be it through Roxy therapy or sheer determination, has really turned his game around.

Alain Vigneault, who has stood behind Alberts since he arrived in a trade deadline deal for the Canucks’ 3rd round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has always maintained that Alberts’ biggest problem last year was confidence. After spending the first part of his career in Philadelphia, Boston and Carolina, he thought Alberts wasn’t ready to handle the pressure of playing in a Canadian hockey market. (Come to think of it, SOB probably did give Albie some Roxy therapy to set him straight.)

Joking aside, Alberts came in to camp ready to earn a roster spot, our opinions be damned. While some think he earned his spot simply because of his price tag and lower cap hit, he really has looked impressive on the ice and the improvement in his play is obvious through these first twelve games of the season.

The biggest change in Alberts game is easy to spot.

Last year, he looked lost on the ice and got pushed around despite his size. He looked like he was singing Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself out on the ice when a forward entered the zone. My guess is he got that from Bieksa.

This season, he’s using his size to his advantage and has brought an element of grit to the Canucks blue line. He’s improved his positioning and is now starting to look more like the defenseman Mike Gillis envisioned last season. I think it’s safe to say he’s starting to get comfortable in Vancouver. His positioning is solid, he’s seeing the ice a lot better and he’s no longer getting danced around.

The physicality he brings to the Canucks is a huge plus in my books. The Canucks have missed that mean streak on their blueline, and while he’s no “Angry Bieksa” or “Fired Up Jovo”, he’s proven he truly deserves to be on this team. And he has a goal and assist to boot.

If there’s one area I’d love to see more from Alberts, it’s in the knuckle-chucking department. Maybe I just want to see more of the Alberts that played for the Bruins years ago, but the reality is, I haven’t seen a single one of his fights where he hasn’t lost or been decimated. Case and point: Peters, Thornton, White, and Walker who all just beat him silly. I’m just waiting for him to bring the pain the way he used to in Boston. He’s getting there. By season’s end, I hope he’ll be dishing out pain with a side of hurt. As one NJ commentator referred to his hitting “he’s had four of those kill shots tonight”.

Oct 252010
 
  • Finally the offence really shined. Hank and Danny got on the score sheet again but so did almost everyone else! Bellini looked confident playing with the Sedins and scored a goal. Manny Malhotra scored 2 goals and had an assist (bad ass). Jannik Hansen had 2 assists and was noticeable every time he was on the ice. The 2nd line finally gelled and had a goal and an assist. Even Andrew Alberts and Cory Schneider had a point!
  • Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff were very solid. Ehrhoff was a +5! And he didn’t have one point! He’s not called the Hoff for nothing. The Bieksa and Parent pairing only had me wincing a couple of times. Alberts is a completely different defenceman this year. I guess that’s what happens when you get comfortable with a new team and city.
  • Raffi Torres scored his 100th point and I got to sing Baby Beluga
  • Cory Schneider was very solid again. I really enjoy watching him in net. He’s so damn mellow and I don’t freak out when he goes to play the puck. His stats are quite sparkling. There are going to be whispers of ‘Goalie Controversy’ on the wind which is silly. I’m not totally sold on Luongo but he’s the Canucks stallion for better or worse. TWELVE YEARS is a marriage. Schneider is the scrappy young colt that you trade at auction for several other young colts. Sorry, I got a little too caught up in my horse analogy there.
  • The Wild have a player named Stoner. And he was born in BC. Was there ever a more perfect player for Vancouver? Trade ya, Minnesota!
Oct 042010
 

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Bill Sweatt, Vancouver Canucks

You won’t receive a lot of argument here if you say that this preseason was relatively boring. With a stacked roster, the Canucks had few openings. And of the players fighting for those jobs, no one stood out more than the others.

Still, some players managed to move themselves up or down the Canucks’ depth chart. Alex Bolduc and Guillaume Desbiens look like they’re going to make the team’s opening night roster, while Shane O’Brien and Darcy Hordichuk played their way down to Manitoba.

In an otherwise uneventful preseason, who did we think made the biggest impression?

J.J.: IMHO, the Sweatt brothers improved their stock considerably this preseason. What Lee lacks in size, he makes up for in speed, smarts and the ability to make the right play and move the puck quickly out of the zone. He’s smaller than the prototypical NHL defenseman, but he showed that he’s not scared to mix it up with the big boys in the corners. Billy obviously has big-league skill and big-league wheels. What he lacks is big-league finish. Much like Mason Raymond did a couple of years ago, hopefully Billy can work on this in Manitoba. I think he’s played himself into consideration to be one of this year’s first call-ups.

Richard: The Canucks have so much depth they don’t need to look at prospects to fill holes this year. That said, Victor Oreskovich’s play in the preseason and the way he’s used his size is something that’s definitely moved him up. The Canucks have lacked bottom-six size for years and Oreskovich, when he eventually makes the team, will be a welcome fit.

Chris: I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Andrew Alberts of all people has helped himself find his way into the 6th or 7th defensive spot. He’s shown that if given the appropriate number of minutes (say five or six.. okay.. maybe a few more), he’s a relatively decent addition to the blueline. If he were ever able to figure out what the word discipline means, and maybe understand how to better use his size in a manner that doesn’t draw the attention of the zebras, he’d be a beast of a player to see in front of you.

Sean from Nucks Misconduct: Alexandre Bolduc and Tanner Glass were terrific. They have earned roster spots. I liked Peter Schaefer more and more as preseason went along, but we shall see what Gillis and company have planned for him soon enough. Brendan Morrison played so well and it’s unfortunate he didn’t make the squad. But, management knows best. I still like the team moving forward.

Oct 012010
 

With just one preseason game left tonight against the Anaheim Ducks, the Vancouver Canucks still have several personnel decisions to make about their opening night lineup.

From Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):

The preseason means nothing. But it’s a lot easier to take when it’s about something.

If not winning games, then winning jobs. If not answering questions, then narrowing them. At the least, you hope for unexpected moments or look for unheralded players. You want to see them force difficult decisions. But not because there’s an abundance of safe, mundane, low-rish play. You want gusto and accomplishment. Reach for the brass ring, and who knows, maybe you’ll grab a second-line winger’s spot. Goodness knows, no one else has.

And when the Canucks finally do make their decisions after tonight, expect the salary cap to have played a major role.

And where do the Canucks stack against the salary cap?

First, a primer:

  • The salary cap for the 2010/2011 season is $59.4 million.
  • A team’s salary cap hit is calculated on a daily basis. This season, there are 186 days in the regular season.
  • That means that each team has a daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 (or $59.4 million divided by 186).
  • Placing a player on LTIR does not give teams more cap space. The LTIR player’s cap hit still counts against the team’s cap; however, teams are given some relief (i.e. exemption) and are allowed to go over the cap by a similar amount when replacing him on the roster.
  • The LTIR exemption cannot be banked – the amount not used on any given day doesn’t carry over for use the next day.

Here are the Canucks’ current cap numbers, including the players who I think, for all intents and purposes, are guaranteed to make the team.

PlayerAnnual Average SalaryDaily Cap Hit
Henrik Sedin$6,100,000.00$32,795.70
Daniel Sedin$6,100,000.00$32,795.70
Mikael Samuelsson$2,500,000.00$13,440.86
Alex Burrows$2,000,000.00$10,752.69
Ryan Kesler$5,000,000.00$26,881.72
Mason Raymond$2,550,000.00$13,709.68
Manny Malhotra$2,500,000.00$13,440.86
Raffi Torres$1,000,000.00$5,376.34
Jannik Hansen$825,000.00$4,435.48
Rick Rypien$550,000.00$2,956.99
Sami Salo$3,500,000.00$18,817.20
Dan Hamhuis$4,500,000.00$24,193.55
Keith Ballard$4,200,000.00$22,580.65
Alex Edler$3,250,000.00$17,473.12
Christian Ehrhoff$3,100,000.00$16,666.67
Kevin Bieksa$3,750,000.00$20,161.29
Shane O'Brien$1,600,000.00$8,602.15
Andrew Alberts$1,050,000.00$5,645.16
Aaron Rome$750,000.00$4,032.26
Roberto Luongo$5,333,333.00$28,673.83
Cory Schneider$900,000.00$4,838.71
Carryover$90,000.00$483.87
$61,148,333.00$328,754.48

As you can see, the Canucks already have $61,148,333.00 ($328,754.48 per day) committed to 10 forwards (including Burrows), 9 defensemen (including Salo) and the goaltenders. Assuming that they want to start the season carrying 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and Alex Burrows and Sami Salo on LTIR, that means they still have to add 4 forwards.

Here are the players fighting for those 4 forward spots.

PlayerAnnual Average SalaryDaily Cap Hit
Jeff Tambellini$500,000.00$2,688.17
Tanner Glass$625,000.00$3,360.22
Victor Oreskovich$575,000.00$3,091.40
Brendan Morrison*$750,000.00$4,032.26
Peter Schaeffer*$750,000.00$4,032.26
Joel Perrault$510,000.00$2,741.94
Guillame Desbiens$550,000.00$2,956.99
Alex Bolduc$500,000.00$2,688.17
Darcy Hordichuk$775,000.00$4,166.67

The Canucks will get some (temporary) cap relief by placing Burrows and Salo on LTIR. By doing so, they can exceed their daily cap amount by $29,569.89 (Burrows’ $10,752.69 + Salo’s $18,817.20) each day both are on LTIR. This means that, at least to start the season, the Canucks can spend $348,924.73 per day in player salaries.

The good news is, any combination of 4 bubble players won’t push the Canucks past their daily cap allowance. Even assuming Brendan Morrison and/or Peter Schaeffer are willing to sign for close to what Eric Belanger signed for in Phoenix ($750,000) – if either or both make the team – the Canucks can keep everyone on the roster and won’t spend more than $348,924.73 in daily salaries.

What does complicate things, however, is that, unless there are further changes to the roster (i.e. trades), the Canucks will most certainly exceed the daily cap allowance of $319,354.84 before the LTIR exemptions. This is important because if the Canucks want flexibility during the season – whether it’s to replace injured players or adding players at the trade deadline – they need to be under this amount and “save” cap space. The cumulative amount they save every day – i.e. the total amounts under $319,354.84 that they don’t use on any given day – is the amount in cap savings they can spend later in the season.

As an example, if the Canucks want to acquire a $2 million player at the trade deadline, they need to either get rid of a player making a similar amount from their roster, or have accumulated roughly $500,000 in cap savings. The latter requires them to have saved approximately $3,700 per day – i.e. they need to have only spent an average of $315,600 of their daily cap allowance – from the start of the regular season to the trade deadline. If you do the math, the Canucks need to shave about $28,000 in daily salaries from their current roster to get there. And if you look at the numbers, Kevin Bieksa’s and Shane O’Brien’s salaries add up pretty darn close to this amount.

Two points on this:

1) This is exactly why Salo’s injury sucks. While his LTIR status helps the Canucks get temporary cap relief, his salary still counts against the cap. If Salo was healthy, the Canucks could’ve iced a bottom-pairing with one of Salo or Keith Ballard on one side and one of Andrew Alberts or Aaron Rome on the other. What is more likely now – or certainly what may make more sense given their cap situation – is that the bottom pair will have one of O’Brien or Alberts on one side and Rome on the other.

2) Given point no. 1, the bigger decision for the Canucks will be on defense. There may be more roster spots up for grabs up front, but regardless of which forwards end up filling those spots, their cumulative impact on the salary cap is minimal. (In fact, I don’t see any salary cap impediment to signing Morrison to a contract.) If the Canucks want some cap flexibility during the season, the bigger moves to be made are on the back end where the big salaries are.

To put these points into context, it’s worth noting that the Canucks entered the last postseason with O’Brien, Alberts and Rome as their no. 5 to 7 defensemen; with Salo injured to start the season and Bieksa and O’Brien possibly on the trading block, the Canucks could enter this season with Alberts, Rome and Lee Sweatt in those depth positions. (Which then begs the question as to whether or not the Canucks actually have a deeper defense this year.)

Now, it’s possible that Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman feel comfortable operating over the salary cap and the Canucks don’t end up making any moves before the start of the season other than to send the bubble players to Winnipeg. Certainly, they can keep the depth they have now, though in the process they’ll have to sacrifice some flexibility during the season.

Sep 272010
 
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

In this week’s edition of “Ask Katie About the Canucks”, Katie talks about expectations, Lou’s hair, Kes for Captain, Burrows’ replacement, Todd Bertuzzi and puck bunnies.

Trent (an Oilers fan) asks: With all this talk about the Canucks being the team to beat in the west this year, do you think this will hamper or help them in the season and playoffs? Also, what if anything is missing from their line-up to put them over the top?

Katie: Last year a lot of people predicted the Canucks to win the Cup early on, and I don’t think they (the team) ever really paid attention to it, so no, I don’t think the pressure will affect them this year either. I think their worst enemy is themselves. They have to get past the second round this season. Personally I think what we’re missing is a big power forward who stands in front of the other team’s goalie, like Holmstrom, although Malhotra might fill that a bit. It’s a gap we’ve had since Bertuzzi left that’s never really been filled. Also, Luongo’s going to have to be back in top form this season now that we have a stacked blue line. We need him to shut the door and play like his old self.

JC (@hirearc) asks: What do you think Roberto Luongo uses in his hair to keep it all shiny and Sicilian looking? And can you confirm you’re dating Andrew Alberts?

Katie: I think Dippity-Do or possibly Crisco. And no, I can’t confirm that – LOL. I haven’t even met the dude. Can we cyber date?

Ingela (@FoxxyCanuck) asks: Some #Canucks fans are saying Ryan Kesler hates Canada, and therefore should not be Captain of the Canucks. Is there any evidence to support this?

Katie: I think what these (delusional) fans are trying to get at is what Kesler said during the Olympics to rile people up, which was along the lines of “I hate Canada” when he actually meant TEAM Canada, not the country. He cleared that up right away, and Burrows backed him. I was mad as hell at Kesler during the Olympics for his mouth, but am clearly over it now that I want him for captain. Kes was just out to stir the pot and distract Team Canada, and it worked. We love it when he does this for the Canucks; fans should realize that it’s just a tactic of his, and it’s a useful tactic (see Burrows, Avery, Ruutu, etc.). Fans saying that Kesler hates Canada need to do some research about exactly what went down and get over what happened at the Olympics. Canada won the gold and Kesler is back in a Canucks jersey. Isn’t that good enough?

@Canucks_BlueJay asks: Who do you think will start the season with the Sedins? I’d like to see Schroeder.

Katie: I like Samuelsson or Burrows with the Sedins, personally. I’m not sure if Schroeder will jump to the first line if he makes the team– I highly doubt it. More like third line. I think that while Burrows is recovering, Samuelsson will be on the top line.

Steph asks: What would you do if you met a Bertuzzi puck bunny and she tried to get all up in your grill?

Katie: I would ask WWBD (What Would Bertuzzi Do?) and go from there. She’d have to step off before I jersey her and show her how real Bertuzzi fans throw ‘em down!

Sep 232010
 
Andrew Alberts, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.com

Not much was expected from Andrew Alberts when the Canucks gave up a 2010 3rd round pick to acquire him from the Carolina Hurricanes at last season’s trade deadline. With Willie Mitchell still suffering from post-concussion symptoms at the time, Alberts’ mandate was simple: provide a physical presence by using his 6’5″ frame, and as a bottom-pairing defenseman, play his limited minutes solidly – uneventfully – and not become a defensive liability. As we all know, he failed to meet even these low expectations and performed miserably enough that Canucks fans started dubbing him “AHL-berts”.

But if he missed the memo last spring, it sure as hell looks like he’s got it now.

In back-to-back preseason games against Calgary and Edmonton – and yes I’m aware it’s only the preseason – Alberts was noticeably better. And by noticeably better, I mean, unlike at the end of last season, it was noticeable that you didn’t notice him on the ice. He played close to 19 minutes of ice-time in each game. He skated well, covered well and led the team in hits in both games. For the most part, he’s been mistake-free, though he does sport a minus-3 rating. At least in these early stages of the preseason, he’s playing like we all hoped he would when the Canucks first traded for him.

Does Alberts look good because it’s only the preseason? Or did it just take a while for him to finally understand the Canucks system? Or is he finally adjusting to playing in front of a pressure-packed, media-crazy environment in Vancouver? Whatever the reason is, he’s doing a good job of erasing (or at least starting to erase) the bad memories from last year. Most fans had him slated to start the season in Winnipeg, an expendable, salary cap casualty, but if he continues to play like he has so far, maybe there’s a spot for him on this Canucks roster after all.

Sep 182010
 

The CHB crew are up here in Penticton for Canucks training camp. The 58-man camp kicked off today and here are some things I noticed from day 1:

  • Eddie Lack looked good. The 6’5″ goaltender is the tallest of those checking into camp and covered a lot of space in net. Given Cory Schneider is likely going to be Luongo’s back up, Lack looks poised to take that starter’s position with the Moose.
  • Billy Sweatt (Canucks fans’ newest favourite Twitterer – follow him at @billysweatt) looked very good out there. He’s got great speed and seemed to always have the puck stick to his stick. He reminds me a lot of Mason Raymond from a few years ago. He doesn’t have any finish but if he can work on that aspect of his game. The kid could have a big year on the farm.
  • The Canucks bottom-six looks like it’s going to get bigger this year. Malhotra, Torres and Oreskovich are all upgrades on some of the players that filled bottom-six roles last year. The Canucks needed to get bigger and Gillis has done a god job of bringing in players that meet that requirement with sacrificing skill and speed. Torres looks mean, Malhotra looked good in some face-off drills, and Oreskovich was skating very well for a guy of his size. He also managed to plaster Billy Sweatt along the boards. The guy is going to bruise and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he made the Canucks fourth line.
  • Brendan Morrison was getting feisty when he had to. It was clear he’s here to take his PTO to the next level and the general buzz in the locker room is that he’s going to make this team. He brings a lot of leadership to the table and I’d go as far as say that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was given an ‘A’ if he makes the team.
  • Peter Schaefer, the other interesting invite to camp, didn’t look out of place. After training with Peter Twist for the last year, he seems as quick as ever.
  • On defense, Lee Sweatt and Dan Hamhuis looked particularly good. At one point, Sweatt, who loses four inches to Hamhuis, laid him out, picked up the puck and fired a laser under Louie’s glove. I know it’s just training camp, but it still looked good.
  • Hodgson skated with the Canucks C group that took no contact. This group included Alex Burrows Prab Rai, Steven Anthony and Shawn Weller amongst others. Jordan Schroeder, the other prospect everyone has their eyes on was almost invisible. He skated with the Canucks A group in the morning and was barely noticeable.
  • Sergei Shirokov continues to fly under the radar. He was out and skating, but without the hype surrounding him last year he just quietly did his thing without standing out.
  • After watching Andrew Alberts skate today I’ve come to the following conclusion: For a big guy he can skate really well. He’s a perfect number six or seven defenseman, however the Canucks moved him up to the fourth and fifth spot last year which placed him out of his comfort zone and amplified his flaws. His size would be a huge attribute to the blue line if we weren’t so stacked but he really didn’t look as bad as on the ice as he did last year.
Sep 132010
 

(Editor’s note: Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Ask Katie About The Canucks”. Every week, Katie Maximick – some of you know her as @canucksgirl44 on Twitter or as the Cantankerous Canuck on her personal website – will take questions from you and answer them in this space. We hope you enjoy her sass as much as we do. – J.J.)

First question from @BobSongs: “Who will wear the mantle of goat this season? Sundin, Welly and Alberts… who’s next?”

Katie:  Honestly, Bob, this year’s scapegoat may be Andrew Alberts again. Last season he was everyone’s favourite person to yell at near the end of the year, replacing Shane O’Brien who, surprisingly, ended his season with a +15 and 8 points. If Bieksa plays similarly to his 2009/2010 season, he may also become the new person to hate or blame for horrendous giveaways that lead to goals. Bieksa not surprisingly ended his season with a -5 rating. I can also see Raffi Torres becoming targeted. The announcement of Torres as an addition wasn’t received very well, and he’s known to be quite injury prone, so if he doesn’t contribute and gets hurt soon after, he’ll probably become the Goat pretty quick. Torres will have to work extra hard extra early to avoid this.

Darcy Hordichuk and his puppies

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

@NatashaCarpio asks: “What would you say to Darcy Hordichuk before training camp?”

Katie: I’d probably tell him not to HulkSmash any of the rookies at training camp. I would also thank him for routinely fighting Flames players last season, which made me happy, even if he got owned by McGrattan (who’s like a foot taller than Hordi). He also took on George “the Stache” Parros a few times and really held his own against the Anaheim Titan, who I’ve met and is also four inches taller than Hordichuk. I’d like to see Darcy keep this up this season. To me fighting is a strategic part of the game that Darcy and Rypien have mastered. They stir it up, entertain the fans and hold their own, despite their lack of size. Sure, they don’t score a million goals (Hordi only had 2 points last season) but they contribute in other ways that, to me, are pretty important to the game. I would also ask him if he did any more MMA training in the off season, a question not many other Canucks would be asked before training camp.

Jandee asks: “Do you think the Canucks like the Sedins and Raymond, etc., will have career years again? Out of the new Canucks, who do you expect the most from and why?”

Katie:  I would like to hope that the majority of the Canucks’ roster would continue to improve year-by-year, but it’s never really that easy nor is it predictable. Raymond, for example, just signed that 2 year $5.1 million deal, much higher than the Canucks wanted to pay for him, and so as Canucks fans, we would hope that Raymond would play up to his pay, right? But it’s not that simple (look at Luongo’s last season). Burrows and Kesler both had an amazing record season as well, Burr with 67 points and Kesler with 75, and for those two, I can only see room for improvement out there on the ice. They get better every year. The Sedins, on the other hand, are eventually going to plateau, so it’s hard to say if Henrik will have another award-winning season as amazing as 2009/2010, considering a lot of his success in the points race was caused by his brother’s injury. If they happen to surpass last year’s success, consider my mind blown.

For the second part of your question, a lot of people are expecting the most from either Hodgson (if he even plays) or our new blueline additions, like Hamhuis and Ballard. Personally I would like to see Manny Malhotra strengthen Vancouver’s offense, seeing as he’s a good-sized centreman with an average of 34 pts in the last two seasons. I’m also excited to see what youngster Jordan Schroeder can do. We have a stacked blueline, even with the loss of Mitchell and Salo (the former to LA and the latter to off-season injury), so it’s important to keep our offensive punch in tact and have more than two scoring lines. If we’re looking for depth, I think our blueline is covered, whereas we can never have enough scoring.

Sedins and NHL 11 EA Sports

Alain (no, not Vigneault) asks: “Who’s the better video gamer between cover athletes Hank and Dank (EAS Swedish Covers) and Kesler (2KSports)?”

Katie: Well I’m not exactly a gamer myself, so I have no idea who would outplay the other in front of a TV with game controllers in their hands. From what I’ve seen in the media, Ryan Kesler is a lot more involved with the promotion of NHL2K11 than the Sedins were with the EA Sports Swedish edition, which means Kesler is getting in a lot more practice. It also seems like he loves playing video games at home, whereas the Sedins probably spend their time in saunas eating knäckebröd. Personally I’d say Linden would whoop them all, since I saw his multi-tasking abilities shine in an interview with Global BC’s Squire Barnes. Trevor not only answered Squire’s questions, but did this while playing NHL10 at FutureShop. Then again, it’s Trevor Freaking Linden. He’s the best at everything. So my answer is Trevor Linden.

Apr 232010
 
Henrik Sedin and Canucks celebrate game 4 game-winning goal.

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

%d bloggers like this: