Dec 292013
 
The Luongo-less Canucks are starting Eddie Lack tonight in Calgary, letting Lu recover from an undisclosed injury suffered last Sunday against the Jets. (photo credit: vansunsportsblogs.com)

The Luongo-less Canucks are starting Eddie Lack tonight in Calgary, letting Lu recover from an undisclosed injury suffered last Sunday against the Jets.
(photo credit: vansunsportsblogs.com)

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.

Who’s Hot

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.

Who’s Out

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.

Dec 202013
 

Can we just look ahead to tonight’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks and forget the Canucks’ 4-1 loss to the Dallas Stars last night didn’t happen?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 152013
 

As far as rivalry matches go, you couldn’t ask for much more. Roberto Luongo was great. Tuukka Rask wasn’t. Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli were in beast mode. Milan Lucic wasn’t. The Sedins didn’t back down. Brad Marchand was being a dick. As usual. David Booth scored on a helluva snipe of a shot. Chris Tanev scored. Shorthanded, no less. But most importantly, in the Boston Bruins’ first visit to Rogers Arena since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks won. And won in convincing fashion.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 142013
 

With his preseason high-stick on Sam Gagner still fresh in mind, Zack Kassian entered last night’s match-up between the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers as public enemy number one. Threats of retribution followed immediately after that incident back in September, and for his part, Kass was ready regardless of whatever the Oilers threw his way.

Except the Oilers didn’t throw much of anything the Canucks’ way last night. The Canucks were as dominant as the Oilers were soft. Roberto Luongo recorded his 3rd shutout of the season, Jason Garrison had 3 assists, and hell, Dale Weise scored a powerplay goal. And Kass? He scored a goal to give the Canucks some breathing room just 2 minutes into the third period, and had irritated the crap out of the Oilers by the end of the night.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 132013
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (18-10-5)
Edmonton Oilers (11-19-3)

This is the second of five games between the Oilers and Canucks. In their last meeting on October 5th, the Canucks beat the Oilers with an impressive home opening win of 6-2.

The Canucks will look to continue their perfect December (5-0-0), while the Oilers look to bounce back after a 4-2 home loss against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Oilers allowed three goals in less than eight minutes, scored two in the second period but came up short two goals in a dissapointing loss.

Who’s Hot

In his last five games, Chris Higgins has six points, getting the assist on both of the Canucks’ goals in their last game.

Roberto Luongo is 3-0-0 and has allowed only four goals in his his last three starts.

For the Oilers, David Perron has five goals in the Oilers’ past five games. Perron scored both of the Oilers goals against the Bruins in their 4-2 loss.

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are without both their Alex’s – Edler (lower body) and Burrows (broken jaw), neither of them are close to returning.

The Edmonton Oilers are without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov (head) and forward Boyd Gordon.

Dec 112013
 

With the recent emergence of Mike Santorelli as a legitimate piece of the Canuck Puzzle, it’s clear Mike Gillis is the guy you want next to you on “Black Friday”. This guy can find a bargain. And while he’s had the disapointments that every GM has during their tenure, he’s also had an abundance of pleasant surprises. Sure, the “fairweather fan” is quick to point out the Keith Ballard debacle or the Luongo/Schneider escapades but the true fan can see that, despite those controversies, Gillis has put together a pretty successful squad. He has brought in players to complement the core and has developed a cache of depth to account for injuries and ailments.¬† Not only that but we’ve seen the most successful Canuck team in the history of the franchise and numerous records broken in his era. This list compiles the mark Gillis has made on the Franchise since his induction as president and general manager.

Here are the top 5 Mike Gillis Acquisitions:

5) Manny Malhotra: A faceoff percentage among the league’s top 5 and 30 points. What every coach wants their third line center to do and what Manny Malhotra did. Unfortunately, a freak injury disrupted what could have been a symbiotic relationship between player and team. But for the few years Manny was here he was effective both on the ice as a player and in the dressing room as a leader.

4) Mikael Samuelsson: This trigger happy swede put up 106 points in 155 games for the Canucks before being traded to the Florida Panthers. His game fit in nicely with the Canucks both on second line duties and with his fellow compatriots the Sedins. The Canucks miss his 30 goals to this day.

3) Christian Erhoff: Acquired in a deal with the San Jose Sharks, Erhoff proved to be an offensive force on the blueline. The german had a seeing-eye shot and tremendous puck-moving skills helping the Canucks to a league-best powerplay. Unfortunately his stay was shortlived as his elevated play allowed him to sign for a bigger contract with the Sabres.

2) Chris Higgins: The ultimate utility player, Chris does it all. He plays a hardnosed game with a bit of touch and is the type of player teams covet in the spring. It’s no surprise Mike Gillis resigned him after initially trading for Higgins at the deadline as a rental.

1) Dan Hamhuis: Hamhuis is the type of player who makes those around him better. His arrival instantly brought out the best in Kevin Bieksa’s game and together the two became one of the more dominant shut-down pairs in the league. Hamhuis is a mainstay on the backend for the Canucks and is the only player besides Luongo to get shortlisted for Team Canada at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Honorable mention: Pavol Demitra, Maxim Lapierre, Mats Sundin, Cody Hodgson.

Nov 202013
 

Another game, another loss. With their 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers (!), the Vancouver Canucks have now lost 5 games in a row for the first time in nearly 5 years.

The good news is, they scored more than a single goal in a game for the first time in almost 2 weeks. And Roberto Luongo again had a solid game, stopping 34 of 36 shots in regulation and 2 of 3 Panthers in the shootout. But the Canucks’ offensive woes extended into the shootout, and again, no Canucks shooter was able to beat Tim Thomas mano-a-mano; in 4 games that went to the shootout this season, they’ve only scored on 2 of 15 shootout attempts.

Yeah, sure, let’s go with that.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Nov 092013
 
The Saturday meeting between Vancouver and Los Angeles is the first of five.  (Credit. nhl.com)

The Saturday meeting between Vancouver and Los Angeles is the first of five this regular season.
(Credit. nhl.com)

If you’ve been a Canucks fan for the last couple of seasons, you’ve probably wished a plague on the entire Los Angeles Kings roster at one time or another. Between the heated playoff battles, the taunting tweets, the mimicked slogan, there’s no love lost between these 2 teams, and the thought of a casual Saturday game between them likely sends you into a fit of anxiety.

It’s a brand new season, of course, and now both teams to renew their rivalry, with the first of 4 regular season meetings in La-la-land tonight at 7:00 PM. The Canucks won 2 of 3 meetings with the Kings last season, and were 1-0-1 at the Staples Center. As of this morning, they’re 4 points up on their now division rivals, but the Kings have 2 games in hand.

What to Watch

Another battle of Olympic proportions.

Jonathan Quick may very well be Team USA’s starting goaltender for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. And of course, Roberto Luongo, and his pretty darn good start to the season, surely has him still in competition for a spot with Team Canada.

Luongo’s numbers are just a tad better than Quick’s at the moment. Luongo’s 0.916 save % is 19th in the NHL, while Quick’s 0.901 save % is 35th. Luongo’s 2.23 GAA is 16th in the NHL, while Quick’s 2.48 GAA is 24th.

Luongo is playing just a tad better as well. He hasn’t allowed more than 2 goals a game in his last 7 starts, and has a 0.935 save % in that span.

Before Quick posted a shutout against the Buffalo Sabres in his most recent start on Thursday, he had allowed 3 or more goals in 8 of the 13 games he’d played.

Who’s Hot

Coach John Tortorella has juggled the Canucks’ lines in the early season, and his most recent line combinations have been working really well. At the very least, the team’s secondary scoring concerns have been somewhat alleviated as the second, third and fourth lines have produced 8 of the Canucks’ last 10 goals.

In particular, the second line has been quite effective. Mike Santorelli, perhaps the biggest surprise of the season, has a 3-game point streak, and has a total of 5 goals and 12 points in 18 games. Linemate Chris Higgins with 6 goals and 10 points in 18 games as well, including 5 points in his last 6 games. Alex Burrows, who just recently returned from injury, recorded his first 2 points of the season in the Canucks’ most recent game, a win against the San Jose Sharks last Thursday.

For the Kings, Anze Kopitar has 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists) in a 3-game point streak, and leads the team with 16 points. Likewise, Mike Richards has 5 points (2 goals and 3 assists) in a 3-game point streak; he sits 2 points behind Kopitar for the team lead in points.

Who’s Out

No new additions to the Canuck’s injury list, thank goodness. Jordan Schroeder remains out along with Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen. Meanwhile, David Booth is with the Utica Comets on a conditioning stint. He notched an assist last night as the Comets finally won their first game of the season.

For the Kings, Jarret Stoll is questionable for the game, and Jeff Carter, who is currently tied for the Kings’ team lead in goals (5), is on the injured reserve and won’t play.

Nov 032013
 
TGATT - The Game According to Twitter

Fittingly, on the night the Vancouver Canucks retired Pavel Bure’s number up to the rafters, they played perhaps their most exciting, most entertaining game of the season.

On a typical Saturday Fall afternoon in Vancouver, the Canucks took on the Leafs and slugged it out with them. All four lines scored and Roberto Luongo recorded his 64th shutout – yes, his 64th shutout, just 2 shutouts behind Patrick Roy, who had 66 shutouts in 269 more games, in the NHL’s all-time shutout leaders list – en route to a 4-0 dismantling of the Eastern Conference-leading Leafs.

It sure looked like it, eh?

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Oct 262013
 

Hands up, anyone who foresaw the Vancouver Canucks going 5-1-1 on this 7-game, 11-night road trip.

Written off by everyone – and seriously, if you had gone on Twitter and the message boards, or listened to the talking heads on TEAM 1040 yesterday, you would’ve thought the Canucks already had their bags packed for YVR even before last night’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

The Canucks weren’t great, but they were good enough. Eddie Lack, in only his 3rd NHL start, made some terrific saves, especially in the third period when the Blues tried to get their game to another gear. Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler were in #beastmodo, and Kesler eventually potted the game-winning goal in overtime, his 2nd goal of the night and his 6th on this road trip.

Add to that the great fun and company enjoyed at the official Canucks Tweetup, and all-in-all, it was a good night.

And a beautiful end to a successful road trip.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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