Mar 142013
 

I look at the good, the bad, and the interesting from the Vancouver Canucks’ 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena.

I doubt that anyone predicted 11 total goals in this contest between two teams that have had difficulty scoring this season.  The fans were treated to a highly entertaining contest that had a bit of everything: nice goals, fights, defensive breakdowns, and even a penalty shot.

I touch on Jannik Hansen, Andrew Ebbett, Mason Raymond, Henrik’s penalty shot, David Booth, Kevin Bieksa’s tough game, our crowded blueline, and a little trip I’m taking.

Thus, I’ll be taking a one-week break from creating these postgame commentaries.

 

Mar 122013
 

Matt Calvert, Columbus Blue Jackets vs Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Lancaster Eagle Gazette

The Vancouver Canucks have easily dominated the Northwest Division in recent years. Heck, they’ve dominated it early this season, going 6-2-1 in their first 9 games against NW foes to-date (versus a 4-5-6 record against the rest of the Western Conference). But after a lackluster effort in Minnesota a couple of days ago, the Canucks have allowed the Wild to pass them in the standings.

In fact, at the halfway point of this shortened season, the Canucks have just 28 points in 24 games – good for a 6th place with 3 other teams in the Western Conference – and only 4 points up from tonight’s opponent, the Columbus Blue Jackets. They’ve been wildly inconsistent, especially in the last couple of weeks, and the frustration is clearly mounting among the team’s faithful.

In the meantime, the Blue Jackets are in the midst of one of their more successful stretches in their franchise’s history. Fresh off sweeping the Detroit Red Wings in a home-and-home series this past weekend, and unbeaten in their last 7 games (5-0-2), they are currently the NHL’s hottest team.

Add to that, they have the NHL’s hottest goalie. On Monday, Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL’s first star of the week after going 4-0-0 with a 0.77 GAA and 0.972 save percentage.

Think the Philadelphia Flyers are having a bit of seller’s remorse right now?

And as for the Canucks’ own goalies, well, right now, they’re struggling to make the critical saves at critical points in the game. Like, in the game’s first minute or so.

Canucks Record

24 GP, 11-7-6, 28 points (2nd in Northwest Division, 6th in Western Conference

Who’s Hot

After going goalless in the first 13 games of the season, Henrik Sedin has a 3-game goal scoring streak and a 7-game point streak (4G-5A-9P). Chris Higgins has 4 goals in his last 7 games.

For the Blue Jackets, Nick Foligno has 7 points (1G-6A) in his last 7 games. RJ Umberger has a 3-game point streak (2G-1A-3P).

Quickies

  • Roberto Luongo gets the start. (Vancouver Province)
  • Jordan Schroeder has been sent back down to the Chicago Wolves. It’ll be up to Andrew Ebbett now to get Dale Weise and Tom Sestito going. (TSN)
  • Manny Malhotra is also heading to Chicago to help the Canucks prospects with faceoffs. (Vancouver Sun)
Jun 272012
 
Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

1. Some fallout from the NHL Draft: Is it possible that, after the Cody Hodgson fiasco, the Canucks are doing more “background checks” on possible NHL draft picks? I found it interesting when Mike Gillis said that Brendan Gaunce has “good parents, good potential, and good leadership”. Wait, good parents? Sounds familiar.

2. You could make the argument the Canucks were ecstatic that Gaunce was available to them at pick 26. Outside of the offensive upside, there isn’t a ton separating Gaunce and Hodgson. Gaunce wore an ‘A’ for Belleville last season and is close to a lock when it comes to getting a spot on the Canadian world juniors team next winter.

3. Are the Canucks just steering clear of drafting WHL players completely? The club has now made 25 consecutive selections without taking a single WHL player. The last was Morgan Clark (2008, 7th round), and for the last ‘successful’ WHL pick outside of the traded Michael Grabner, you’d have to go all the way back to 1995 when Brent Sopel was a 6th round selection.

4. There was a rough reception for the Canucks on Day 2 of the draft, when they selected all overage players with their remaining picks. A lot of people cried uncle when the team could easily have signed the players over the summer without sacrificing picks. Perhaps the club wants to draft more mature players who could be ready in 2 years as opposed to 3 or 4.

5. How sold are you on the “draft the best player available” mentality? The Canucks certainly aren’t, given most of the drafted players could’ve been available later.

6. One team that didn’t draft the best player available was the Calgary Flames, who took Mark Jankowski when they could’ve arguably had him in the second round. Canucks fans who went through the Patrick White fiasco in 2007 know the pitfalls that can follow when a marginal prospect goes in the first round.

7. The Canucks didn’t make qualifying offers to Victor Oreskovich, Marc-Andre Gragnani or Andrew Ebbett, allowing all to become unrestricted free agents. Oreskovich and Ebbett aren’t total surprises, but steps had to be taken for Gragnani to avoid becoming a UFA in the first place, so the fact the club didn’t extend a qualifying offer is a bit shocking.

8. The problem with Gragnani is that he’s a good to great player in the AHL, but a fringe player in the NHL. Either the Canucks didn’t think he was worth a contract, or Vancouver has another defenseman coming into the system soon…

9. Also sounds like Aaron Rome won’t be returning to the Canucks. Unfortunately, the biggest impact Rome had in a Canucks uniform was for his hit on Nathan Horton which arguably cost the Canucks the Stanley Cup. Rome certainly wasn’t an impact player on the blueline during the run, but the team had been crippled by injuries beforehand so his suspension didn’t help matters.

10. With Rome and Gragnani cast out by the Canucks, who’s going to fill the void? It’s been floated around the Twitterverse that Sami Salo will be back for another year, but that still leaves a spot or two on the blueline open.

11. You can put together an opinion that Vancouver is opening a roster spot for high-profile UFA Justin Schultz to come to the Canucks, but nothing can be certain at this point. You could also argue the Leafs traded Luke Schenn so that they could free a roster spot for Schultz as well.

12. Is Toronto off the table for the Canucks and Roberto Luongo? Trading Luke Schenn, who was rumoured to be offered straight up for Luongo, certainly seems to answer that question.

13. Florida is said to be the frontrunners for Luongo now, but GM Dale Tallon questions whether or not the Cats can fit a gargantuan contract like Luongo’s into the equation, though reportedly, Florida ownership have no problems having to pay Luongo ten more years.

14. The other problem is the Canucks are said to be asking for one of Florida’s top young players: Erik Gudbranson, Jonathan Huberdeau, Dmitry Kulikov, and Quinton Howden. The first two are unlikely acquisitions, given they were top three selections in the NHL drafts the last two years.

15. Big congratulations are in order for Pavel Bure, who was elected to the HHOF yesterday. As a fan who grew up idolizing Bure as a child, the Russian Rocket spawned a generation of hockey fans in this city. And whether or not you believe he deserves to have his jersey hanging in the rafters of Rogers Arena, his place in the Hall is simply unquestioned.

Apr 132012
 

As it turns out, the term “Smylosphere” was born out of a conversation between PITB’s Harrison Mooney and Thomas Drance. Giving credit where credit is due – good job, guys. It’s a great term to describe the Canucks’ online community.

Now, without further adieu, like Ryan Kesler, let’s dive into today’s Canucks-related links:

  • Keith Ballard and Andrew Ebbett draw into the lineup; Aaron Rome and Byron Bitz are out. And of course, no one knows what the heck’s going on with Daniel Sedin. (David Ebner, Globe and Mail)
  • As a fan, I found it hilarious that the LA Kings organization – and make no mistake, their official Twitter account is a representative of their organization – would see it fit to troll Canucks fans and our beautiful province. Whether or not this is a good move for them from a marketing or brand management perspective is a different question altogether. I do think that’s it speaks volumes that Kings management felt the need to apologize for the tweet afterwards. (David Shoalts, Globe and Mail)
  • Though some didn’t think an apology was even warranted. (Scott Stinson, National Post)
  • Maybe if these tweets were real. (Legion of Blog)
  • Canucks haters will never buy into this, but believe it or not, the Canucks may not be the most hated team in Canada. That honor belongs to the only NHL team to have not made the playoffs since the lockout. There goes that theory that teams are only hated because they’re good. (MacLean’s)
  • One more piece on the hate-on for the Canucks, complete with a calling out of professional Internet troll Toronto sports writer, Damien Cox. (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province)
  • Setting up Game 2. (Nucks Misconduct)
  • How to tie this series with four simple adjustments. (Canucks Army)
  • Did you catch Chris on News 1130 today pimping out his participation in the NHLPA Beardathon Challenge? (News 1130)
  • Finally, Sportsnet Magazine dared ask the question: Are the Canucks cursed? God, I hope not. Matt chips in with a couple of quotes. (Mike McCullough, Sportsnet Magazine)
Dec 292011
 

[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.]

I know it’s been three weeks since my last “Things That Make You Go Hmmm”, but I was a bit pre-occupied with Christmas and creating this year’s Canucks Christmas Carol called “Under the Minneso”. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it was rendered irrelevant on Boxing Day when the Canucks passed the Wild to take over top spot in the Northwest Division. So check it out now if you haven’t seen it yet, before it fades into YouTube oblivion.

For my last “Things That Make You Go Hmmm” column of 2011, I am going to focus solely on Andrew Ebbett’s overtime goal that lifted the Canucks to a thrilling 3-2 win over the Sharks in San Jose last night. I have three things that made me go hmmm:

  1. Kevin Bieksa left wide-open… three times on one play. Do you want to know why Kevin Bieksa was so wide open on the game-winning play? First, Bieksa and Jannik Hansen took off on a two-on-one when Brent Burns was caught pinching. Shortly after Bieksa’s shot was saved by Antti Niemi, the four Sharks skaters did their best impression of a Timbit hockey team: they were all within six feet of each other and they had no semblance of positioning because they were all dead tired. The two worst offenders, Dan Boyle and Patrick Marleau, were both on the ice for a whole minute before the goal went in. We’re not talking about a first-period shift here; this is after playing 63 minutes of frenetic hockey. Boyle came onto the ice with 2:45 left in OT, Marleau with 2:37 left (which was coincidentally the same time that Bieksa came onto the ice). Add Brent Burns and Ryan Clowe, who both came onto the ice with 2:25 left, and you had four tired Sharks out there. By contrast, Andrew Ebbett and Hansen came over the boards with 2:20 left and Alex Edler barely got into the play, jumping on the ice for Dan Hamhuis at the 1:53 mark and not touching the puck before Ebbett tipped home Bieksa’s shot with 1:37 left on the clock. On Bieksa’s slap shot with 1:46 left, Boyle was too slow to get out to him. And when Bieksa let go the final wrister, it was Clowe slow to mark him. All this time, Marleau stayed in front of Edler at the other point, likely hoping that the puck wouldn’t come in his direction. Whether it was superior conditioning or a bit of puck luck, the Canucks looked absolutely dominant for the last 20 seconds of the game.
  2. San Jose fans must hate Kevin Bieksa. After all, the Canuck defenceman scored one of the most memorable (and fluky) goals in Canucks history when he alertly pounced on a loose puck that had deflected off a stanchion at Rogers Arena, finishing off the Sharks in 5 games in last year’s Western Conference Finals. Not to mention, he was a plus-3 in that double overtime game. Bieksa notched one assist in the Canucks 3-2 win over the Sharks back in November, and then Bieksa has two assists in last night’s win. Simply put, he’s been a beast against San Jose. Except on last night’s game-winning goal, he didn’t need a stanchion… he only needed an Ebbett.
  3. Ebbett celebrates by himself. Fellow CHB writer Ed Lau pointed this out as well: the Canucks jumped off the bench and swarmed Bieksa after the overtime goal, while Ebbett raced into the corner to celebrate with himself apparently. A few seconds after you see Bieksa jump into the waiting arms of Daniel Sedin and Manny Malhotra, you see Ebbett leap into the pile, ramming his own face into Max Lapierre’s glove. It’s understandable: the Canucks were elated to win the game, and they had no idea that Ebbett deflected Bieksa’s point shot. Ebbett trying to get included in the celebration brought back memories of Victor Oreskovich doing the same thing after Alex Burrows’ goal in game 7 vs. Chicago last April.

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