Mar 112013
 

The Vancouver Canucks dropped their 4th straight loss – this one a 4-2 decision to the Minnesota Wild in Minnesota.

I didn’t get a chance to watch this game so instead I relied on some insight from one of my colleagues here at CHB:  Caylie King (@cayking).  Through the magic of WhatsApp, Caylie provided me insight on scoring, fighting, and injuries.

With the Minnesota win, they overtook the Canucks for first place in the Northwest Division for the first time since December 2011.  At that time, I wrote a song called “Under the Minneso” – a spoof of Justin Bieber’s “Under the Mistletoe”.   I’ve included it at the end of this CCC.

 

Mar 062013
 

The Canucks are back home against the San Jose Sharks, looking to bounce back after a loss to the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

There’s lots of baby talk prior to this game – baby honey badgers, baby Hansens, and now, baby Burrows.

I suppose we can thank the Kings for that circumstance, but for now, let’s go to the game.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 192013
 

On Friday, Henrik Sedin passed Markus Naslund as the all-time leader with points as a Canuck, Ryan Kesler returned from injury, and Canucks fans were getting a chance to vote on what they felt the boys in blue should skate out to.

Clay, Chris, Ed and back again as a special guest, Alan from the Hogshack in Steveston, ponder these and more in this latest episode of CHB TV. Apologies in advance for the singing.

Feb 072013
 

As the Canucks rack up a few wins in a row, maybe their slow start wasn’t such a slow start after all. In this episode of CHB TV, Ed, Clay, Chris and Chris Palliser from The Beat 94.5 talk about the team’s best start since 2006, goal cellys celebrations, Chris Tanev’s first career goal (an OT game-winner no less), and more.

Feb 052013
 

After falling 3-2 to the Oilers on home ice, the Canucks head to Rexall Place to seek revenge against the young guns.

Ouch. Now, on to the game.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 292013
 

Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

As I’m writing this, I’ll admit I’m drinking a bit of Mike Gillis’ kool aid.

In an interview on TSN last night, Gillis preached some patience on the Canucks’ 2-2-2 start this season.

I’m inclined to agree.

All things considered, the Canucks’ start was probably as well as could be expected. They’re still missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth, 2/3rd of their second scoring line, and with a shortened training camp and no exhibition games, it’s obvious most of the rest of the lineup are still in preseason mode.

But before we start a “Fallin’ for Drouin” campaign (or is it “Fallin’ for Mackinnon”?), there are some positives to take here.

While most of the vets have struggled, the Canucks have received more than expected contributions from the likes of Mason Raymond, Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and the Dutch Gretzky. Jannik Hansen has also been noticeable and Chris Tanev has probably been their most consistent defenseman. Coincidentally, these are pretty much all the players, give or take Andrew Ebbett, who were playing some hockey either in the AHL or in Europe during the lockout. Maybe something for players to think about in 2020.

May Ray, in particular, looks more like the May Ray from 2009/2010 rather than the May Ray whose career was almost ended by a cheap Johnny Boychuk hit in 2011.

At least through a few games, Kassian looks to be a good fit with the Sedins. Right-handed shot, power forward with good hands, good instincts and a good nose for the net. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid to play bodyguard for the twins – ask Ben Eager.

Schroeder has some obvious speed and skill, and as Gillis points out, he hasn’t really hurt the team on the defensive end. I mean, in his NHL debut against Calgary, he had a particularly memorable sequence in which the Flames bounced him around like a pinball, but if anything, he showed he’s got a hard compete level.

Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t cause for concerns.

The Sedins look out of synch. For all of their offensive zone starts, they don’t seem to be generating as much offensive pressure as they normally do.

The defense looks out of synch. It probably speaks volumes when the pairing of Tanev and Keith Ballard (!) is the one defensive pairing left untouched. Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison have been shuffled around already.

The special teams aren’t so special. The powerplay can’t score and the penalty-kill can’t kill penalties.

And already in 4 of their first 6 games, the Canucks couldn’t hang on to leads like Dustin Diamond couldn’t hang on to his dignity.

So should we worry?

As magnified as things seem in a shortened season with little room for error, I think 6 games is still a small sample size to adequately judge this team. Like Gillis says, let’s wait a few more games before we step off the ledge or jump off the bandwagon. In the meantime, hopefully the kids can keep it up and the vets can pick it up. And hopefully, it’s not too late by then.

Jan 192012
 

  • If a picture is worth a thousand words, the above video must be worth, well, a lot more than that.
  • With no less than 8 defensemen already on the roster, was Chris Tanev’s call-up yesterday a signal that the Canucks are ready to trade a defenseman? Or does it simply mean that Sami Salo will be out for a longer period of time? Regardless of the reason, I’m sure coaches AV and Bones are happy to have another right-side defenseman in their lineup, rather than having to play every other defenseman other than Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa on their wrong side.
  • I won’t go as far as calling Salo a Norris Trophy candidate, but there’s certainly no doubting his value and importance to this team now. Without Salo in the lineup, the Canucks are 3-5-1, but more importantly, the Canucks’ defense look out of synch and overwhelmed.
  • Unless Tanev proves he can handle top-4 minutes, I have to think that acquiring another top-4 defenseman would be on top of GM Mike Gillis’ shopping list before the trade deadline. At the start of the season, there was hope that Keith Ballard would be that guy, but between the healthy scratches and high-risk plays, that’s looking less and less likely to happen.
  • Don’t look now, but Cody Hodgson has 12 points (5G-7A) in his last 15 games. Quietly, he’s climbed up to 4th in overall rookie scoring (27 points in 47 games), behind just Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (35 points in 38 games), Adam Henrique (34 points in 40 games) and Matt Read (29 points in 41 games). Yes, he’s played more games than those guys, but he also averages about 5-6 minutes of ice-time per game less than them.
Oct 162011
 

[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

Canucks Record

5 GP, 2-2-1, 5 point (3nd in Northwest Division, 9th in Western Conference)

The Canucks are back home for the week and are looking for their first win in front of the home crowd.

Who’s Hot

In last week’s post I pointed out that Cody Hodgson has been given his best opportunity to show himself as a proven NHL player. Messaged received! Cody has undoubtedly been one of the best Canucks players on the ice every game. He has shown confidence and has done a commendable job on the 2nd line. Although he only has 2 points at the moment, if he keeps playing like he has been the goals and points will come. Canucks Nation is excited to see him play to his full potential.

Who’s Not

Last year, Chris Tanev came in towards the end of the season and played like a veteran. He fitted into the system like a glove and didn’t show many signs of his young age. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the best start to this season and has been scratched for 2 of the 5 games. He seems a little lost on the ice at times and has been involved in a fair share of the team’s defensive breakdowns. Hopefully he will start to gain his confidence again and get back to his game.

Who’s Next

Tuesday October 18, 2011 vs. New York Rangers (7:00 PM start, home)

The Rangers started their season on the other side of the pond in Sweden with two losses after regulation; they also recently lost to the kids on Long Island.

They did win the Brad Richards sweepstakes this off season, hoping that he could come in an help them this season. When he’s healthy, he’s still a point-a-game guy and he’s not that far removed from his Conn Smythe performance with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

So far, so good – Richards is leading the team with 3 points in 3 games.

In their one and only meeting last season, the Rangers beat the Canucks in a close 1-0 game at Madison Square Garden.

Thursday October 20, 2011 vs. Nashville Predators (7:00 PM start, home)

The Predators didn’t make any huge off-season acquisitions but will still be a strong team in the West with the leadership of Shea Weber and superstar goaltender Pekka Rinne.

David Legwand has had a great start to the season. He already has 8 points (2 goals – 6 assists) in just 4 games played, tying him for the early league lead in points with Phil Kessel and John Tavares.

Nashville went 11-6-3 against the Northwest Division last season. The Canucks and Preds tied 2-2 in their season series.

Saturday, October 22, 2011 vs. Minnesota Wild (1:00 PM start, home)

The Minnesota Wild improved their offense in the off-season with the acquisitions of Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks. Alongside captain Mikko Koivu and veteran goaltender Niklas Backstrom, the Wild will look to make a push in what seems to be a weak Northwest Division this season.

The Wild went an impressive 16-7-1 against the Northwest Division last season. However, the Canucks had the upper hand in the season series, winning 4 of the 6 games they played against each other.

Tough Crowd

Only 5 games into the season and I am already seeing tweets and comments on how we should trade Roberto Luongo and how the Canucks don’t have what it takes to make it to the Cup Finals again.

Let me reiterate we are ONLY 5 games in.

For all those Luongo haters, you have to realize that he never has a strong October. Sure he has let in some questionable goals, but the team in front of him hasn’t been clicking like they usually do. Signs of a Stanley Cup hangover are evident, but I advise you to wait until a few more games before making snap judgements.

Oct 152011
 

In the first episode of our new video podcast, Matt Lee, Chris Golden and Clay Imoo talk about the first week of the Canucks’ 2011/2012 season. Topics include: Roberto Luongo’s and the defense’s poor play, and Cody Hodgson’s good start.

Jun 212011
 
Eddie Lack

Photo credit: theahl.com

Now that Vancouver Canucks fans have (we hope) managed to begin the healing process from the emotional rollercoaster of the 2011 Playoffs, it’s time to shift the focus to the 2011 Draft, where the building blocks for future success are put in place.

Given that the 2011 crop has, for some time, been viewed as a generally weaker class than previous years, perhaps the Canucks would be best served to once again parlay their first-round selection in order to acquire the talent needed to win right now. But seeing as how the club already forked over their top pick last season along with Michael Grabner and Steve Bernier, perhaps its in the best interests of the organization to keep the 2011 draft choice and not gut an already thin prospect pool.

In the mean time, let’s get a sense of just where exactly the Canucks are at when it comes to their top prospects.

Centres: Unquestionably, this is the Canucks’ biggest strength. With Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler expected to play out the next five years of their career in Vancouver (and likely more), Vancouver doesn’t really have a need for some top flight talent down the middle. Because of the team depth at centre, Tony Gallagher of The Province recently posed the question of top prospect Cody Hodgson’s future with Vancouver, but don’t buy the notion just yet. Despite the fact Manny Malhotra is the team’s unequivocal third-line centre, Mike Gillis also noted that Malhotra also plays wing, which would allow Hodgson to potentially slot in the third line.

Jordan Schroeder, drafted in 2009 in the first round, is another intriguing player that oozes as much talent as he does mystery. On occasion with Manitoba last year Schroeder looked like an elite-level prospect but on others looked completely invisible. It’s clear he’s still a few years away from seizing any chance at getting into NHL action.

Wingers: Anton Rodin and Sergei Shirokov remain atop the Canucks’ winger rankings, with the latter finishing the season as the Manitoba Moose leading scorer (22-36-58). Shirokov’s brief audition with Vancouver this year was much better than the year prior, as he scored his first NHL goal in a two-game callup. However, the small winger still is a little fish in a Canuck pond, where the team needs for elite scoring wingers may be too demanding for him.

As for Rodin, he’s grown both physically and mentally, acclimating himself to the Swedish Elite League since beginning his tenure with Brynas in 2009. It’s argued that the next step for Rodin’s career would be to make the trek to North America, but it’s unknown if he will commit to the move just yet. (Editor’s note: Farhan Devji reported about a month ago that Rodin is indeed North America-bound, but I haven’t seen any official confirmation from the team yet. – J.J.)

The Canucks also recently signed left winger Steven Anthony, who played for the Memorial Cup champion St. John’s Sea Dogs. Anthony, who was once compared to Sidney Crosby not too long ago, only realized this season that success on the ice comes with hard work. The tantalizing prospect has so much skill but needs to up his compete level in order to achieve it.

Bill Sweatt is the other notable winger in the franchise prospect pool, finishing second in Moose scoring. Sweatt is still a few years away from making a major contribution, however.

Defense: Kevin Connauton entered 2010 as Vancouver’s most intriguing defensive prospect, and for stretches of the season carried over some of the offensive flare from his Vancouver Giants days which made him so highly regarded. Unfortunately, Connauton’s mobility has been an issue all season, resulting in a blueline-worst minus-11 rating. He’s still learning the professional game and needs more time.

Connauton was instead overshadowed by the steady play of Chris Tanev, who appeared in a handful of regular season games with Vancouver as well as a few playoff games over Keith Ballard. Tanev never panics in his own end and makes a smart outlet pass nine times out of 10, which is why the Vancouver coaching staff like his future with the big club. Of all defensive prospects, Tanev is the likeliest to earn a spot next year.

Meanwhile, Yann Sauve and Lee Sweatt continue to develop their skills in the AHL; both missed significant time due to injuries this season, which has stunted their professional growth. 2010 draft pick Patrick McNally just finished his first season with Harvard University.

Goalie: Eddie Lack is undoubtedly the prospect who made the biggest noise this season in the AHL. Lack was the team MVP on many nights and the sole reason the Moose made it to the North Division Final. “The Stork” arrived with little hype but all season long was so effective at taking away the bottom half of the net, forcing snipers to try and beat him glove side, which Lack has recently mastered as well. If the Canucks do decide to part ways with Cory Schneider, few would be hesitant to see Lack fill the backup void. He’s been that good.

Organization Direction: At this point it becomes simply a “best player available” approach for the Vancouver Canucks. Despite their strength at the centre position, there’s little to suggest the Canucks won’ take a centre in the first round if that’s the best player available. With the team’s “win now” approach, the club could very easily swap Hodgson or Schroeder or even both if it means acquiring the kind of immediate talent to put the team over the top. That said, it’s evident the team would love to draft a winger with scoring ability or a physically mature defenseman who has a quick learning curve.

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