The Canucks scored 2 goals in a game AND won?
— BC HAWK FAN (@BCHAWKFAN) March 9, 2014
After an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks return home for a two-game home-stand. They’ve only been away for a week, but, man, has so much happened since the last time they were in town. It’s hard to believe that the Ryan Kesler trade saga, the Heritage Classic goaltending fiasco, and Roberto Luongo’s subsequent trade to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline all happened in the last week. Welcome home, boys.
March 8 is a dark day in Canucks history. Exactly 10 years ago today, in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Todd Bertuzzi jumped Steve Moore, who then suffered a career-ending injury.
And wouldn’t you know it, but today is also the first meeting between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames since their line brawl on January 18th started the game, and Mt. Tortorella erupted during the first intermission and had to be restrained from entering the Flames’ dressing room. Torts was suspended 15 days by the NHL for his actions.
The Turning Point
The Canucks have won 5 in a row against the Calgary Flames, including all 3 games they’ve played this season.
But truth be told, unlike the Canucks, who are sinking faster than Lindsay Lohan’s once promising career, the Flames are headed in the right direction. Since that January 18th meeting against the Canucks, they’ve won 9 of 15 games. They’ve scored 4 or more goals in 7 of those 15 games, and have allowed 2 goals or less in 8 of them.
On the other hand, the Canucks have won just 3 games since Mt. Torts’ eruption (3-11-1), and have only scored 24 goals in those 15 games.
There were some reports Canucks players, especially the veterans, were upset at Tortorella for his actions that night, and looking at the results since, the question needs to be asked: Has Torts lost the room?
As the Canucks struggle to score, of course they also struggle to win. Heading into tonight’s game, the Canucks have scored 148 goals. The fewest number of goals ever scored by a Canucks team in a full season were the 192 scored by the 1989-1999 Canucks. To beat that number, the Canucks need 45 goals in their final 17 games – that’s asking the team to score a 2.64 goals per game pace over the final 17 games of the season when they’ve averaged 1.53 goals per game in the last 17 games they’ve played.
For those keeping track, Captain Henrik Sedin has not scored a goal in his last 22 games and is without a point in his last 11 games. Although he’s injured right now, Daniel Sedin has also not scored in his last 22 games and has just one point in his last 17 games. Alex Burrows has yet to score a goal this season.
Photo credit: cbc.ca
Some highlights and some lowlights about last night’s 3-2 shootout win against the Calgary Flames.
Some of you thought the game was entertaining. Some of you thought the sideshows that happened were classless and disrespectful. Whatever it was, the Canucks beat the Calgary Flames, and snapped a 3-game losing streak.
— Derek Bolen (@hurrrdurrr) January 18, 2014
We’ll take it.
After a rough, tough road trip that left them beaten physically, and perhaps, mentally and emotionally, the Vancouver Canucks are left nursing their wounds and Canucks fans wondering what it would it take to right the ship. The Canucks lost all 3 games on their just-concluded road trip, including one of their worst losses in memory, a 9-1 ass-kicking at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks. They scored a grand total of 1 goal in those 3 games, and to make matters worse, may have lost Henrik Sedin, their leading scorer, and Mike Santorelli, their fourth-leading goal scorer, to injuries. Oh, and David Booth too.
Perhaps the day off will help. And with 5 of their next 6 games at home, so may perhaps their return to the friendlier of Rogers Arena. It doesn’t hurt either that tonight’s opponents, the Calgary Flames are one of only two teams with a worst record than the Canucks have over the last 10 games.
Truth be told, no one from either team. With both the Canucks and Flames struggling to put the puck in the back of the net, they’re relying on their respective goaltenders right now.
The game against the Ducks aside, Eddie Lack has actually held up the fort well in Roberto Luongo’s absence. He’s allowed just a single goal against in 3 of his last 4 starts. Luongo, however, may be returning tonight.
For the Flames, Karri Ramo will likely get the start after Reto Berra let in 5 goals on 23 shots in Calgary’s last game on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. Ramo started back-to-back games earlier this week against the Nashville Predators and Carolina Hurricanes; against the Canes, he recorded his first NHL shutout.
Aside from Luongo, Alex Burrows is also back in the lineup for the first time since suffering a jaw injury in December.
Mike Santorelli left Phoenix with his right arm in a sling and isn’t expected to play. After suffering a rib injury (also against the Coyotes), Henrik Sedin is a game-time decision, which puts his 679-game, NHL ironman streak in jeopardy. Jordan Schroeder, Andrew Alberts, and Ryan Stanton are still out; however, Schroeder and Stanton skated today.
For the Flames, Michael Cammalleri and Curtis Glencross remain sidelined.
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).
— Elmee Baterina (@elmeebaterina) December 30, 2013
That sound you hear is another goaltender controversy slowly growing because, you know, that’s what we Canucks fans do.
The holidays were kind to the Canucks. Well, kind of. Not only did they post a 9-1-1 record going into the holiday break, they then had six days off to rest and recuperate. But also, in their last game on December 22nd, a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Canucks lost Roberto Luongo to a suspected groin injury. For now, Lu’s status remains day-to-day, and in his absence, the Canucks will lean on rookies Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson, and their combined 11 games of NHL experience – all Lack’s.
Tonight, Lack will be returning to the Saddledome where he had his first career start. With a 1.93 GAA (6th in the NHL) a .929 save-percentage (8th in the NHL), and a 6-2-0 record, including wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, Lack has been more than solid in relief. Backing up Lack is another Swede, Joacim Eriksson, who was called up from the Utica Comets. Eriksson brings an 8-10-1 record, 2.77 GAA and .907 save percentage from Utica; he had won his last 4 games with the Comets.
The Calgary Flames’ goaltending situation is less certain. Neither Reto Berra and Karri Ramo have seized the starting goaltender’s gig left available by Mikka Kiprusoff’s retirement. Both have identical .904% save percentages and both are allowing just under 3 goals per game.
The Flames have won only once in their last 6 games.
Tonight’s starter, Berra, hasn’t won 2 consecutive games all season, though he did play well in his last 2 starts, stopping 32 of 35 shots in beating the St. Louis Blues in a shootout a week ago, and then stopping 26 of 27 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday. He’s won 2 of his last 5 starts, and has a 1.97 GAA in that span.
So far in December, Ryan Kesler has 4 game-winning goals, including the shootout winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Canucks’ second-last game before Christmas.
Kes’ linemates have been equally hot. Mike Santorelli has 12 points in his last 13 games, and Chris Higgins has 9 points in his last 11 games.
Add Roberto Luongo to the list of injured Canucks; he is day-to-day with a suspected groin injury. Defensemen Ryan Stanton and Alex Edler, and forwards Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder are all still out as well.
For the Flames, defensemen Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman are both out, and forward Curtis Glencross continues to nurse an ankle injury.
Photo credit: canucks.com
Lately, the Calgary Flames seem to cure all things that ail the Vancouver Canucks. In the last 3 seasons, the Canucks have a 13-3-2 record against the Flames and have outscored them by a combined scored of 60-35 in those 18 outings. For all their offensive struggles in recent times (last night’s 6-goal explosion against the Oilers aside), they’ve somehow managed to average 3.33 goals per game against these Alberta rivals.
These days, both teams are going through somewhat of a transition period.
The Canucks, of course, are still learning a new system under new head coach, John Tortorella, and are doing so with much of the same roster. However, tonight, they’ll be even thinner up front with Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder out for a couple more weeks, Zack Kassian still serving his 8-game suspension for “accidentally” breaking Sam Gagner’s jaw with his stick.
On the other hand, the Flames are completely rebuilding their organization – finally – after missing the playoffs the last 4 seasons. Just before the start of this season, they hired ex-Canuck GM, Brian Burke, as their President of Hockey Operations. Even before that, they jettisoned long-time face of the Flames, Jarome Iginla, and franchise defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester. Long-time goaltender, Mikka Kiprusoff, also retired.
Both the Canucks and the Flames have won a game and lost a game to start the 2013/2014 season.
Last Year’s Meetings
The Canucks won 5 of 6 meetings last season, outscoring the Flames by an 18-10 margin. Burrows and Schroeder scored 5 of those goals, but neither will suit up tonight. Mason Raymond, Derek Roy and Max Lapierre chipped in with 4 goals, but all have moved on and replaced with Brad Richardson, Zac Dalpe and Mike Santorelli in the lineup.
Alex Tanguay and Mike Cammalleri paced the Flames with a couple of goals each, but Tanguay has since been traded back to the Colorado Avalanche and Cammalleri remains out of the lineup (perhaps for good).
Who to watch
Two defensemen: With 3 points each in their first 2 games, Jason Garrison from the Canucks and Mark Giordano from the Flames are off to hot starts. Garrison has 2 goals – one on the powerplay and one shorthanded (a slap shot, trick shot off the glass and into an empty net) – and an assist; Giordano has 3 assists.
The Canucks will get a first glimpse at prized Flames rookie, Sean Monahan, the 6th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. Monahan, who the Flames picked 3 spots before the Canucks picked Bo Horvat, has 2 points in 2 games, including scoring the team’s first goal of the 2013/2014 season.
Both Sedins have feasted on the Flames. Against the Flames in their careers, Daniel has 73 points (25 goals and 48 assists) in 71 games, and Henrik has 66 points (12 goals and 54 assists) in 73 games.
With the Canucks playing back-to-back games, Eddie Lack will get his first career NHL start.
Daniel Sedin – Henrik Sedin – Jannik Hansen
David Booth – Ryan Kesler – Chris Higgins
Brad Richardson – Mike Santorelli – Dale Weise
Tom Sestito – Zac Dalpe – Yannick Weber
Dan Hamhuis – Kevin Bieksa
Alex Edler – Jason Garrison
Ryan Stanton – Chris Tanev
Curtis Glencross – Matt Stajan – Lee Stempniak
Jiri Hudler – Mikael Backlund – TJ Galiardi
Sven Baertschi – Sean Monahan – David Jones
Lance Bouma – Ben Street – Brian McGrattan
Mark Giordano – TJ Brodie
Kris Russell – Dennis Wideman
Chris Butler – Shane O’Brien
On the eve of the start of the 2013/2014 NHL regular season, I preview the 30 teams, one division at a time.
Photo credit: Sportsnet
With newly-acquired Jakob Silfverberg, Kyle Palmieri, Nick Bonino, Emerson Etem, Cam Fowler, Luca Sbisa and Sami Vatanen, the Ducks have a lot of good, young players in their system.
These kids will be good, but the Ducks may be expecting them to take on a lot more and much too soon.
After a strong start to the 2012/2013 season, the Ducks faded down the stretch and lost to the no. 7 seed, the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs. If the kids can perform over an 82-game season like they did in the first 30 games of the shortened season, they’ll make the playoffs. But that’s a big if.
After years of confusion – should they go for it or should they go on a rebuild – Brian Burke, the Flames’ new President of Hockey Operations, should now give the organization some sense of direction. And that direction is a rebuild.
It’ll be a long year in Calgary. Sven Baertschi, Mikael Backlund, Max Reinhart and Sean Monahan provide some hope up front, but the cupboard is otherwise barren. It’s the same in the back end where they have Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie, but not much else.
By the time this season is all over and done with, the Flames may well be in a position to draft Max’s brother, Sam, who currently sits no. 1 in the 2014 NHL Draft rankings.
Aside from the injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, there’s a lot to like in Edmonton these days. Taylor Hall should make Team Canada in Sochi. Jordan Eberle should return to 30-goal form. Nail Yakupov is, quite simply, a helluva player. Meanwhile, David Perron and Boyd Gordon give the Oil some veteran help up front, and newly-minted captain, Andrew Ference, provides some much needed leadership and grit from the back end.
Adding Ference and drafting Darnell Nurse was a start, but overall, the Oilers are still a small bunch. Incredibly skilled and talented, but small.
The Oilers’ speed and skill rank up there with the best in the league. A bit more tinkering and it’s not inconceivable that they make the post-season for the first time in 8 years. They’re that close.
Los Angeles Kings
Like the Blackhawks, the Kings have enjoyed much post-season success recently and have managed to retain their core. With Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Justin Williams, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick all at their prime years and signed for a few more seasons, life should be good in La-la-land.
Sadly for Canucks fans, I can’t think of any.
Sadly for Canucks fans, the Kings are positioned to remain one of the best in the West.
There’s finally some stability in the Coyotes’ ownership situation – or at least there is until they lose their first $50 million. Goaltender Mike Smith re-upped long-term, and so did defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Signing Mike Ribeiro will help the league’s 25th-ranked PP.
Besides Ribeiro, and perhaps an improved Mikkel Boedker, the ‘Yotes don’t have a lot of offensive pop up front.
Smith will keep the Coyotes in most games, but unless they can improve on the NHL’s 21st-ranked offense, they’ll miss the postseason for the second consecutive season.
San Jose Sharks
Logan Couture may have slowly surpassed Joe Thornton as the Sharks’ no. 1 center. And it’s saying something when Joe Thornton is your no. 2 center. Add Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and promising rookie, Tomas Hertl, and the Sharks have some enviable depth up front.
The defense isn’t as deep, and neither is their goaltending. In fact, it’s scary to think what would happen if goaltender Antti Niemi ever suffered an injury.
This could very well be the last kick at the can for Thornton, Marleau and Dan Boyle – long-serving Sharks who are all unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
After 7 years of hearing the same message from head coach, Alain Vigneault, the Canucks fired AV and replaced him with the much more abrasive, John Tortorella. Torts vowed to play a more aggressive system and to make the Canucks a harder team to play against, which would be a welcome change to those of us who witnessed the passive and predictable system from the last couple of seasons.
Besides the coach, the biggest change was in goal, where Roberto Luongo is, by virtue of Cory Schneider being traded to the New Jersey Devils, once again the Canucks’ no. 1 goaltender. Elsewhere, the Canucks simply tinkered and Torts will have to make lemonade from pretty much the same group of lemons AV had.
Despite the resounding pessimism present in Canucks Nation, the Canucks should be able to compete for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
Cory Schneider’s got the flu so Roberto Luongo gets a start. And the Canucks had to sign University of Calgary Dino, Dustin Butler, to back him up.
No worries though. Lu’s got this – he made stopped 40 of 41 Flames shots en route to a 4-1 Canucks win.
Yeah, he’s not bad, eh?