Apr 292009
 

It’s almost over. Canucks fans were in an unprecedented situation where they had time to watch the other series while their players were on a 10 day break thanks to a first round sweep of the Blues. After a thrilling first round which saw upsets and stunners, everything from the President Trophy winner getting ousted by the 8 seed in the west, to the Hurricanes stunning the Devils in the last minute of the third period. If the second round is anything like the first we’re in for a treat.

The series is going to come down to the usual keys: goaltending, special teams, defense – but the most important factors are going to be home ice, wear and tear, and experience.

The Canucks have been solid on home ice this season and it looks like that last minute surge that saw them grab the top spot in the Northwest is paying dividends after all. Their home record speaks for itself and with a rested squad you know the Canucks are ready to go.

Series predictions are built on ifs and buts, and as always everything depends on if the Canucks come out flying, if Luongo is on his game, if the defense can shut things down, and if the scoring is there. The Canucks proved that they are here to play. One of the key factors is going to be who can out last the other. The Blackhawks faced a Flames team that was depleted, but which gave Chicago a much more physical series than they wanted. The Blackhawks are more a finesse team and in the fight to win 4 through 7 games they’ve been battered and bruised with only have a couple of days to recoup. On the other hand, the Canucks have had over a week to heal up, get themselves mended and are going to come out with fresh legs. Everyone’s worried about the Canucks coming out flat, that’s not going to be an issue. With Bieksa and Kesler showing that they still have that edge, getting at each other in practice, it’s clear the Canucks are still ready to go, as feisty as ever, and haven’t lost that spark.

The wear and tear factor is going to be put to the test. The way the last regular season meeting between these two teams went there’s bound to be some bad blood in the first game and if the Canucks can keep their emotions in check they might be able to take advantage of the careless mistakes Ben Eager and the fourth line are likely to make in their 45 seconds of game ice time. The Canucks have the edge up again because when it comes to bumping and bruising, we have a team that can hit, and hit hard. That and I’m sure Bieksa’s out to lay the body on a couple of Blackhawks in particular.

I’m not bought into the whole “experience” being a tangible factor and difference maker in a series. That’s a discussion for a different post, but when you look at the ‘Hawks, Khabibulin has close to, if not more playoff experience than the whole team put together. (oh right, they also have that Brent Sopel guy who played a few games for us in the playoffs. He’s also the guy that threw out his back picking up a cracker. Just saying) The Canucks have a couple playoff freshmen of their own, but on th whole you’re looking at a team with some solid playoff experience which has taught them lessons they’ll never forget. Just ask Luongo, I’m sure he’ll tell you after the Anaheim series he re-read his contract and realized it wasn’t his job to play referee and it isn’t in his job description at all.

When you look at the series, everything points in the Canucks favour. Their special teams are clicking, their ‘Tending is hot, the defense is on lock down so tight you’d think they were quarantining swine flu, and the Sedins have come to play. The Canucks have the edge up on the Blackhawks in almost every way. The series is going to be hard fought. The Blackhawks aren’t just going to give up, and we’re going to see some of the best hockey of this playoffs so far. Khabibulin after splitting the season starting with Huet has elevated his game and with Luongo’s play as of late this is going to be a goalie’s duel for the ages.

Apr 282009
 
Apr 092009
 
Apr 022009
 

The Crazy CanucksToday’s episode unfortunately comes to you without John, Rebecca or Dave, but Alanah and J.J. do have a special guest to help them run down the latest Canucks news: Hosea Cheung of Vancouver’s 24 Hours newspaper, and his hockey blog Canucks 24/7.

Click here to listen to the episode.

Mar 312009
 
Mar 302009
 
Mar 292009
 
Kevin Bieksa shushing the Chicago Blackhawks

Photo credit: canucks.com

Shortly after the Canucks scored and made it 3-0 in the 3rd period against the Chicago Blackhawks tonight, the Blackhawks decided to show how tough and resilient they are. First, Dustin Byfuglien punched Roberto Luongo in the face. A few seconds later, Dave Bolland punched Daniel Sedin while the puck was a good 30 feet away from him.

Yeah, real tough.

Alain Vigneault was pissed off at Chicago coach Joel Queneville and rightfully so. Sending their tough guys going after the Canucks’ best players was a chicken shit move and it’s the kind of “fighting” the league needs to eliminate. (To be fair, I thought the refs did a good job of trying to eliminate it from this game.)

Full credit goes to the Canucks for their response. Kevin Bieksa, Shane O’Brien, Alex Burrows and even Mats Sundin stepped in and stood up for their teammates, and Ryan Kesler eventually scored a powerplay goal to make it 4-0. It was the best response, and in more ways than the final score, the Canucks showed they were the better team.

Video of Byfuglien’s cheap shot on Luongo and ensuing brouhaha is here:

Video of Bolland’s cheap shot on Daniel Sedin is here:

[update: 03/30/2009, 6:52 AM]

Added sweet Bieksa pic on top and the Sportsnet feed of the fights below:

Mar 062009
 
Mar 052009
 
Mar 042009
 

Good morning boys and girls. It’s 5:19 AM and I just rolled out of bed and wife’s annoyed. We go through this same routine every trade deadline day. I set my alarm for 5:00 AM, I wake up, and she wonders why the heck I do this. No worries. I know she follows along at work. I hope you will too.

But first, coffee.

[update: 03/04/2009, 5:23 AM]

From Bruce Garrioch via Hosea Cheung:

League sources say the Canucks are offering D Kevin Bieksa, LW Mason Raymond and a No. 1 pick for Bouwmeester.

That package is about what I figured would be the starting point for Bouwmeester. To be honest though, I’m not sure it’s enough to get it done. But then again, I never would have thought Florida would trade Roberto Luongo for Todd Bertuzzi.

[update: 03/04/2009, 5:38 AM]

The TSN panel just mentioned that Tim Connolly, a UFA in the summer and one of the guys rumored Mike Gillis is after, is close to a contract extension with the Sabres.

[update: 03/04/2009, 5:44 AM]

I’m curious. Who would win a fight between two pugilists turned panelists? Matthew Barnaby or Nick Kypreos?

[update: 03/04/2009, 6:20 AM]

Sportsnet is talking about whether or not the Canucks should pick up Miroslav Satan to play with the Sedins.

It’s like 2006 all over again.

[update: 03/04/2009, 6:33 AM]

canucks.com is getting in on the trade deadline day action with a dedicated page for today, complete with a picture of a dreamy Scott Rintoul.

[update: 03/04/2009, 6:55 AM]

Sportsnet is reporting that the Bruins are after Mattias Ohlund. TSN is saying that Ohlund is not available.

[update: 03/04/2009, 6:59 AM]

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our 1st trade of the day.

Pascal Leclaire and a 2nd round pick goes to Ottawa; Antoine Vermette goes to Columbus.

Did Leclaire’s stock drop that much or did Vermette’s go up?

[update: 03/04/2009, 7:40 AM]

Just reading Jay Onrait’s blog on TSN. Funny stuff, like this entry:

9:42 – Chris Finlay writes in to ask:

“Are you going to keep blogging past 3 p.m to ensure you don’t miss any trades?”

Sure. Rub in the fact that a few years ago I stopped blogging at 3 p.m due to exaustion, only to miss the Ryan Smyth trade, the biggest one of the day. I took a lot of heat for that, but at least I didn’t read about the Ryan Smyth trade on New York Newsday’s website and try to pass it off as my own. Or worse, report that Smyth had signed with the Oilers, only to have Edmonton trade him hours later.

[update: 03/04/2009, 7:57 AM]

Lost in all this trade deadline talk is the waiver deadline for all those players waived yesterday. In an hour, we should find out who goes where.

I’m on the fence on whether or not the Canucks should put in a claim for Brendan Morrison. I love the guy, and if he’s healthy, he’d suit the 3rd line center role more than Kyle Wellwood. I’m not sure he’s completely recovered from all his injuries in the last couple of seasons though.

[update: 03/04/2009, 8:15 AM]

Via Jason Botchford’s Twitter feed, the Canucks aren’t interested in Brendan Morrison. There goes that.

[update: 03/04/2009, 8:24 AM]

Bob Mackenzie is reporting that the Flames and the Coyotes are working on a deal that will send Olli Jokinen to Calgary. As a Canucks fan, that’s scary.

[update: 03/04/2009, 8:31 AM]

Is it just me or does a $1.6 million per season raise for two seasons for Tim Connolly seem high? Yeah, he’s almost a point-per-game guy, but he makes Sami Salo look like an iron man and has only played 79 games in the last 2.75 seasons.

[update: 03/04/2009, 8:50 AM]

Calgary just acquired Jordan Leopold for Lawrence Nycholat, prospect Ryan Wilson and a 2nd round draft pick 2010. Basically, they got a top-4 defenseman without giving up anything from their roster.

I hate to admit it… but nicely done.

[update: 03/04/2009, 9:05 AM]

The waiver wire list:

Martin Gerber to Toronto
Brendan Morrison to Dallas
Craig Adams to Pittsburgh

I echo TSN’s sentiments on Gerber. Why?

[update: 03/04/2009, 9:19 AM]

A couple of minor deals: Buffalo acquires Mikhail Tellqvist from Phoenix for a 4th round draft pick, Blues trade Andy Wozniewski to Pittsburgh to Danny Richmond.

Lots of chatter, not a lot of action. I wonder if I have time to run out and get another coffee.

[update: 03/04/2009, 9:39 AM]

Per TSN, Calgary acquires Olli Jokinen for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a 1st round draft pick. That’s a steep price to pay but the Flames just got a lot deeper.

The salaries don’t work – the Flames are about $3 million over the cap at this point – so Sutter must have something else brewing.

[update: 03/04/2009, 9:54 AM]

Vesa Toskala’s going on injured reserve, which explains the Gerber pickup.

I suppose that means TO is still very much in the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes.

[update: 03/04/2009, 9:58 AM]

A quick hit on the Canucks seeing that I haven’t really talked about them in this post.

Jason Botchford and Hosea Cheung are both reporting that Mike Gillis is chasing hard after Jay Bouwmeester. I think this is significant because it underscores Gillis’ philosophy in managing this team.

With Sundin’s signing and Burrows’ re-signing, it shows he’s willing to chase and pay big bucks for players who are very good at what they do. If they’re going to get paid, they damn well have a significant impact on the team. On the flip side, he won’t spend much time on average players who only make his team marginally better.

Look at the makeup of this team right now. It’s tough to point to a player who is considered “overpaid”. Gillis has gotten bang for his buck. It’s the moneyball philosophy.

So I’m not surprised to hear the Canucks are still in the Bouwmeester sweepstakes. He’s the kind of guy who will make this team much, much better. He’s the kind of guy who could take this team over the hump. The only question left really is whether the Canucks have the assets to pull it off.

[update: 03/04/2009, 10:25 AM]

More on Bouwmeester.

Apparently, Florida want Cody Hodgson as well.

Not saying it’s gonna happen, and actually, if I was Gillis I’d probably just hang up. But if it does and Hodgson goes the other way, then the Canucks best well win the Stanley Cup this year.

[update: 03/04/2009, 10:42 AM]

I’m trying hard to keep up on the Twitter updates and I also have a Skype chat going on with other Canucks bloggers.

The rumor of the moment is that the Canucks and the Panthers have agreed on Raymond and a 1st for Bouwmeester, but the Panthers also want Kevin Bieksa. (Incidentally, this was the rumored package from earlier today.)

Keeping in mind Gillis’ moneyball approach, is adding an unsigned Bouwmeester and removing a signed Bieksa worth it? Is it a significant improvement on the Canucks’ ‘D’?

[update: 03/04/2009, 10:57 AM]

Boston’s been busy:

  • Boston acquires Mark Recchi and a 2nd round pick in 2010 from Tampa Bay for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums
  • Boston acquires Steve Montador from Anaheim for Petteri Nokelainen

[update: 03/04/2009, 11:03 AM]

Bill Guerin’s on his way to Pittsburgh for a conditional draft pick.

Per TSN, the return is a 5th round pick. If the Penguins make the playoffs, it becomes a 4th round pick. If they win a round, it becomes a 3rd round pick.

[update: 03/04/2009, 11:40 AM]

20 minutes left and only 8 trades so far.

A lot of names haven’t moved yet – Jay Bouwmeester, Derek Morris, Nik Antropov – and I’m wondering now if they would be.

Big finish boys. Big finish.

[update: 03/04/2009, 11:47 AM]

Phoenix acquires Scottie Upshall and a 2nd round draft pick; Daniel Carcillo goes to Philadelphia.

Damn. Upshall would have looked good on the Canucks’ 3rd line.

[update: 03/04/2009, 11:52 AM]

Nik Antropov is Broadway-bound; the Leafs receive a 2nd round draft pick and a conditional draft pick.

So much for Burke’s asking price of a prospect and a 1st round draft pick.

[update: 03/04/2009, 12:00 PM]

Derek Morris is on his way to the Rangers as well. The Coyotes get Nigel Dawes, Dmitri Kalinin and Petr Prucha in return. Not a bad return, I might add.

[update: 03/04/2009, 12:07 PM]

Buffalo acquires Dominic Moore from Toronto for a 2nd round draft pick.

A 2nd round draft pick? Wow.

[update: 03/04/2009, 12:12 PM]

Hosea Cheung just let us know that it’s official and that the Canucks are standing pat. Mike Gillis has a press conference scheduled at 12:45 PM.

I’ll gather my thoughts on today and post again later tonight. Remember that I’m also on Jacked In With Jessica (Kelowna AM 1150) at 4:20 PM.

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