Oct 232013
 

Last night’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders was an eventful, see-saw game; both teams took turns taking the lead, and then blowing it, before the Canucks eventually between the Islanders 5-4 in overtime.

David Booth was a scratch – in favor of Andrew Alberts, who played 1 shift and 37 seconds in the first 2 minutes of the game, no less. Ryan Kesler was elbowed in the head, though he didn’t miss a shift. Jannik Hansen was hurt, and missed the latter half of the game. And Kevin Bieksa – yes, Kevin Bieksa – continued his improved play, notching another assist, almost getting the game-winning goal in OT (Brad Richardson eventually got credited for it), and now 5 assists and an NHL-best (!) +10 rating.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Oct 172013
 
http://i1.wp.com/vansunsportsblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Kassian-grinning.jpg?resize=600%2C300

Zack Kassian may be a creep, but would it hurt him to be a physical, goal-scoring creep too? (Vancouver Sun)

As bad as the Philadelphia Flyers are in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres are just as inept. The two are toiling away in the bottom of the Eastern Conference and if their early performances have been any indication, they’ll be there for quite some time.

On the second leg of a seven-game roadie, the Canucks have a chance to pick up consecutive road wins with what should be an easy opponent in Buffalo. After coming from behind to defeat the Flyers late on Tuesday, Vancouver can build some momentum with another two points.

What to watch

Too often lately have the Canucks entered the third period trailing. Vancouver’s been behind going into the final 20 minutes the last three occasions (San Jose, Montreal, Philadelphia) and would be best served with a strong start. I mean, they say it isn’t about how you start and it’s about how you finish, but would it kill anyone to come out of the gate with a little fire and perhaps a one- or two-goal lead?

Who to watch

After being largely invisible for the early part of the season, the Canucks finally got some goal support from Ryan Kesler, who chipped in with a pair of goals. He’s minus-four on the year which is worst on the team and also very uncharacteristic of him, but perhaps RK17 has turned the corner at just the right time.

Ditto goes for Chris Higgins, who finally bumped a goal-scoring slump dating all the way back to a regular season game against Edmonton — a span of 16 regular games — to pot the eventual game-winning marker in Philadelphia. Now, if only John Tortorella can find a way to get the likes of David Booth and Zack Kassian going, a lot of those questions about scoring support will be answered.

Speaking of Kassian, he returns to Buffalo for the first time since being traded at the 2012 trade deadline for Cody Hodgson. Kassian’s been largely subpar since the trade, and so far since returning from suspension has yet to show any of the fire and spark that management expected from him when the deal was consummated. It’ll still be a long time before anyone can judge who won the trade, but the fact that Hodgson is leading the Sabres in scoring early (despite his defensive deficiencies) surely isn’t currying Kassian any favour among the Canuck faithful.

Sticking with the Sabres, they’re getting a nice bounceback campaign from Ryan Miller, who despite just one win in five outings has a .939 save percentage. Miller was Team USA’s goaltender in the 2010 Olympics and while most pundits have pegged the likes of Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson, and Jimmy Howard for the 2014 roster, Miller is showing early he’s ready to put up a fight.

Who’s out

This game marks the last we’ll see of Alex Edler on the sidelines as he sits out the final contest of a three-game suspension, meaning we’ll likely see Yannick Weber as a healthy scratch from here on, barring injuries.

Alex Burrows is still out with a foot injury.

For the Sabres, one-time free agent superstar Ville Leino is on injured reserve, so we won’t be able to watch him do nothing on the ice for $4-million a season. Patrick Kaleta is serving his umpteenth suspension for a dangerous hit — this one a ten-gamer — and centre Zemgus Girgensons is questionable after suffering a cut to the face last game.

Apr 272013
 

Henrik Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks scores against the Edmonton Oilers.

Photo credit: CBC.ca

In their last regular season game, which Canucks team will we see?

Your guess is as good as mine. Going into the playoffs, I know we’d all love to see a complete effort like they put together against the Chicago Blackhawks a couple of games ago. Certainly, we’d like to forget the uninspired performance against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. But tonight, against the golf course-bound Edmonton Oilers in a game that means nothing, the Canucks simply want to get out of the regular season (mostly) intact and healthy, and are resting some key players.

Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows, Jason Garrison, Alex Edler and Dan Hamhuis will all be munching on some popcorn watching from the press box. Henrik Sedin will be in the lineup, but only to keep his ironman streak alive, and will start between Dale Weise and Steve Pinizzotto. Kevin Bieksa will make his return to the lineup after suffering from a mysterious “lower-body” injury. Roberto Luongo gets the call between the pipes as Cory Schneider sits out his second game with the dreaded “body injury”.

After a promising start, the Oilers will miss the playoffs for a 7th straight season. With a team full of all sorts of young stars and firepower, they should be a force to be reckoned with. Instead, tonight will cap yet another disappointing finish to the season, one that’s already lead to GM Steve Tambellini being fired and replaced with Craig Mactavish.

Canucks Record

26-14-7, 59 points (1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference)

Season Series

The Canucks and Oilers have met 4 times this season already with each team winning 2 games each.

Taylor Hall torched the Canucks for a hat trick just 7:53 into the Oilers’ 4-0 win on March 30th, but the Canucks showed some pride and fought back with a 4-0 decision of their own in the two teams’ most recent meeting on April 4th.

Who’s Hot

Taylor Hall is coming off a 3-point game (1G-2A) against the Minnesota Wild last night. He’s had a solid campaign this year, sitting 9th in the NHL in overall scoring (48 points) and 10th in assists (32).

Who’s Not

Chris Higgins has gone pointless in his last 4 games, which, because of injury, is a stretch that dates back to the Canucks’ last game against the Oilers on April 4th.

Apr 102013
 

In this latest episode of CHB TV, Chris, Ed, Caylie and I went to Library Square in Downtown Vancouver and wondered whether or not the Canucks did enough to get prepped for the playoffs and whether or not retiring Pavel Bure’s jersey was the right thing to do. Damon Holowchak, Marketing Coordinator for the Donnelly Group, also joins us on the panel.

But also, Jay Jones, Executive Bartender and Brand Ambassador for the Donnelly Group whipped up some Canucks-themed drinks – the No. 5 Garrison, Dirty Higgins and Honey Badger – that will be on their menus at Library Square, Cinema and the Lamplighter on Canucks game days until the end of the playoffs.

The drinks were amazing and Jay kindly shared with us – to share with you, our loyal readers – how to make them.

No. 5 Garrison

Vancouver Canucks-themed drink: No. 5 Garrison

Local boy, Jason Garrison has come home. This cocktail stands to represent his strong character and play. Based around the design of a classic Old Fashioned, spiced whisky defines the depth and boldness of the drink, while brown sugar mellows the bite and whisky barrel-aged bitters lend further complexity. Orange zest creates great aroma and flavor in pairing with the vanilla of the whisky. Served ‘on the rock’ as a nod to his hometown of Whiterock, BC.

Recipe

1.5 oz Canadian Club Dock
no. 57 Spiced Whisky
1 Brown Sugar Cube
3 hard dashes Fee Brothers Whisky Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 large Orange Peel Zest

Method

1. muddle sugar with whiskey & bitters in a mixing glass
2. stir without ice to dissolve sugar
3. add cracked ice & stir to chill
4. loose strain into a small rocks glass (8 oz capacity)
5. place 1 oversized ice ‘rock’ in the glass
6. zest heavily with a large slice of orange peel
*garnish with spent orange peel

Dirty Higgins

Vancouver Canucks-themed drinks: Dirty Higgins

Gritty Canucks forward Chris Higgins isn’t a ‘dirty’ player, but he certainly gets his hands dirty fighting for pucks, goals and wins with relentless tenacity. The ‘Dirty Higgins’ pays respect to that character. The Bloody Caesar is a classic Canadian savoury cocktail and inspiration for this creation – Clamato juice creates the body, but instead of vodka, the strength of character at the core comes from Bourbon, an American classic, just like Higgins himself – Jim Beam ‘Devil’s Cut’ acknowledging his devilishly determined style of play. This drink gets dirty with traditional seasoning of Tabasco & Worcestershire sauces, but with the added flavor of pickle brine to create a truly unique flavor profile. A touch of lime juice freshens the palate, while baby pickles and balsamic onions make for a crunchy and tangy garnish.

Recipe

1.5 oz Jim Beam ‘Devil’s Cut’ Kentucky Straight Bourbon
1 oz Pickle Brine
4 oz Motts Clamato® Juice
25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
3 hard dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 hard dashes Tabasco sauce

Method

1. combine all ingredients and roll between mixing glasses
2. pour into a large rocks glass (12 oz capacity)
3. fill with large ice cubes- stir to chill
*garnish with cornichon and a balsamic onion

Honey Badger

Vancouver Canucks-themed drinks: Honey Badger

The Honey Badger is revered as the fiercest of all creatures – underestimated because of it’s appearance and size. Our beloved Dane, Jannik Hansen earned this nickname for the ferocious and fearless style of play he exhibits every single shift. Over the past seven years as a Canuck, his two-way skills and tireless drive have made him one of the most appreciated and respected players on the team. Somersby Danish apple cider is a nod to Hansen’s home country. Melon liqueur and vanilla-flavoured Galliano combine to add fruity, delicious honey-like tastes – in combination they pack a surprising wallop. The resultant colour is reminiscent of Canucks green – an easy-drinking and refreshing reward after hard work, or play.

Recipe

1.5 oz Bols Melon Liqueur
.25 oz Galliano Liqueur
Somersby Danish Apple Cider

Method

1. combine liqueurs in a draft beer glass
2. pack glass full with ice cubes
3. add ice and top with cider
*serve with a straw

(All photos courtesy of Jay Jones.)

Apr 062013
 

Chris Higgins of the Vancouver Canucks celebrates a goal he scored with teammate Derek Roy.

Photo credit: AP

For GM Jay Feaster and the Calgary Flames, the NHL trade deadline resembled more of a fire sale than anything. In a span of a week, they dealt their long-time captain, Jarome Iginla, to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and their no. 1 defenseman, Jay Bouwmeester, to the St. Louis Blues. In return, the Flames received nothing more than some depth prospects, a couple of first round picks, and perhaps some hockey tape and a used water bottle. But don’t fret, Calgarians, this is all part of the rebuild, right? RIGHT?!

If Flames fans can take comfort in anything, it’s that the team has finally admitted it needs to gut its aging core and move forward. After years of denying it needed to rebuild – even Feaster admitted he should have started this process earlier – it finally made the moves to start stockpiling younger assets. And in today’s NHL, where 19 of the top 25 scorers are under 30 years old, that’s a good thing.

Of course, the Flames will experience some growing pains. Since Iginla was traded on March 27, they’ve lost all 4 games and have been outscored 20-8. Against the Edmonton Oilers on trade deadline day, they blew a 2-0 lead and ended up losing 8-2. Last night against the San Jose Sharks, they took a 1-0 into the second intermission only to let the Sharks score twice in the third period – one a couple of minutes in and the other with a couple of minutes left – en route to a 2-1 loss.

And it doesn’t get any easier for the Flames the rest of the way. 7 of their remaining 12 games are on the road, where they’ve won just 3 times all season (3-12-3). They’re a dismal 0-11-1 in their last 12 games away from the Saddledome, including 10 straight losses.

Canucks Record

20-11-6, 46 points (1st in the Northwest Division, 3rd in the Western Conference)

Season Series

The Canucks are 16 points ahead of the Flames in the standings, but the Flames did win the last meeting between the two teams. In that game, Alain Vigneault took a questionable abuse of official penalty in the third period, and while the Canucks technically killed the penalty, the Flames scored 2 seconds after it expired to break what was a 2-2 tie at that point.

Cory Schneider and company have won 4 straight games at Rogers Arena, outscoring their opponents 11-3. Schneider posted shutouts in 2 of those games.

Who’s Hot

The only things “hot” about Calgary right now are the flames coming out of their logo.

Chris Higgins has a 4-game point streak that includes scoring in 3 of those 4 games. Fresh from signing a 4-year/$10 million contract extension, he had a particularly good game on Thursday against the Oilers, and if that game is any indication, his line with Derek Roy and Jannik Hansen could be the perfect tonic to the Canucks’ scoring woes.

What’s Not

The Canucks finally connected on the powerplay on Thursday – they scored during a lengthy two-man advantage – but they still rank 28th in the NHL in powerplay efficiency (13.1%).

Likewise, their penalty kill has been better (81.7%), but ranked 15th in the league, it’s still quite average.

With just 11 games left in the season, the Canucks may want to start getting their special teams in order, especially if they want to make a deep run in the playoffs.

Quickies

  • After a quick cup of tea with the big boys, Nicklas Jensen is going back to the Chicago Wolves. (Vancouver Province)
  • Mason Raymond and Dale Weise have recovered from their respective injuries and will return to the lineup tonight. (Vancouver Sun)
Apr 052013
 

The Canucks really couldn’t start a game than they did against the Edmonton Oilers last Saturday. I mean, they gave up 3 goals on 3 shots in the first 3 minutes. Would love for that not to happen again.

It really was an entertaining game. A 4-0 win against a streaking divisional rival, some big plays, big goals… and a return visit by the most exciting player to ever put on a Canucks jersey, Pavel Bure.

Here’s the game in your tweets.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Apr 022013
 

Another game, another 3-goal deficit.

Still ravaged by injuries, the Canucks couldn’t muster enough emotion to keep up with the San Jose Sharks until it was too, too late.

The Canucks eventually lost 3-2; here, in your tweets, is how you saw the game.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 292013
 

Talk about two teams headed in opposite directions.

After their 4-1 win last night over the Colorado Avalanche, the Canucks have now won 6 games in a row. The loss was the Avs’ 4th in a row and 8th in their last 9 games.

Also, with Alex Burrows reunited with the Sedins, the first line once again looks rejuvenated and accounted for 3 of the team’s 4 goals.

That’s good news for Canucks fans.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 212013
 

After Ray Whitney decided to take his talents to Dallas this past off-season, the Coyotes were left with a big hole in their offense. Whitney had a team high 77 points (24G-53A) last season, so without his production players like Radim Vrbata and Shane Doan were expected to carry the offensive load.

Shane Doan

Courtesy of Christian Petersen


To say that the Coyotes have struggled to score as of late is an understatement. They have not won in their last 4 games (0-3-1) while being shut out in 3 of those 4 games and outscored 11-2 altogether. In fact, the Coyotes went a franchise record 245:30 minutes of scoreless hockey before Shane Doan scored in the 3rd period in their last game against the Los Angeles Kings.

The notion of peppering shots on goal but not getting results is all too familiar for Canucks fans. And although the Canucks’ scoring troubles aren’t quite as bad as the Coyotes’ at the moment, there is still cause for concern – the Canucks have scored 2 or less goals in 9 of their last 12 games.

This is the second meeting between the two teams. By current standards, their last meeting in February was a “high-scoring” match-up when the Coyotes beat the Canucks 4-2. Kyle Chipchura led Phoenix with 2 goals that night.

Canucks Record

14-9-6, 34 points (2nd in Northwest Division, 6th in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Hard to say any of the Coyotes are “hot” right now, but Shane Doan has been the only ‘Yote to score more than once in their last 4 games. (He has 2 goals.) Doan is 1 point behind the team lead with 18 points (11G-7A) on the season.

Daniel Sedin is currently riding a 3-game point streak. He has 4 points (1G-3A) in that span.

Who’s Not

Radim Vrbata has been sidelined with injuries this season and has missed 16 games so far. In his 14 games played he has just 4 goals – a far cry from his 35-goal season last season.

Chris Higgins has gone pointless in his last 5 games and is a dreadful minus-7 in that span.

Quickies

  • With Chris Higgins, Steve Pinizzotto, Zack Kassian, Ryan Kesler and David Booth all injured, the Canucks have summonned Andrew Gordon from the Wolves and will likely play a defenseman as their 12th forward. In the over/under, pick the under. (Vancouver Sun)
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)
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