Apr 112014
 

In the Canucks’ first game in the Trevor Linden as President era, they lost 4-2 to the Colorado Avalanche and slipped to 12th place in the Western Conference, just ahead of the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. On the bright side, as it stands right now, they look to be on track for another top 9 pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 282014
 

And we were so optimistic after last night’s game, eh?

But now, after the Canucks’ 3-2 OT loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and the Phoenix Coyotes’ win over the New Jersey Devils, those slim playoff hopes we’re all clinging to are getting even slimmer. The Coyotes need 9 points in their last 8 games, the Minnesota Wild need 8 points in their last 8 games, and the Canucks’ season will come to a merciful end.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 272014
 
Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

Jeff Vinnick , NHLI via Getty Images

 

Crazy Coach-Off

Forget who will score first or who will get the first penalty – the big moment here is which coach will spaz out first? Both Avs coach Patrick Roy and our John Tortorella are fiery and animated, to say the least. Both could go off like firecrackers if this game gets chippy or a team gets one too many bad calls. So keep your eyes on the bench, people. This could be fun!

In Booth We Trust

I have no idea how it came to this, but apparently David Booth is the Canucks’ best player right now. Followed closely by the man who gave up his looks for us, Zack Kassian. Booth has scored 3 goals in his last two games which leaves me wondering if the other teams have written him off like Canucks fans have so they just don’t bother to pay attention to him much on the ice. Let’s hope the Avs haven’t been reviewing the game tapes from the last couple of Canucks wins and they still think he can only hit the back of a deer and not the back of the net. And since the above picture shows he’s got a bit of a history with the Avs, I predict a Gordie Howe Hat trick for Boothie tonight!

Who Cares?

The Canucks. The Canucks should care about this win very much. A win here – and a Phoenix Coyotes loss to Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils – inches them that much closer to almost getting a playoff spot.

With only two wins in their last six games, the Avs are kind of slumping right now too so, yeah they’d love to stop that slide on us, but if they lose one more (this one) it’s not going to toss them right out of playoffs. They still have enough games to secure their spot (and their subsequent first round exit). So really, Avs, you shouldn’t try too hard tonight. Take it easy and give us just a little more hope to be dashed later on. Thanking you in advance.

Jan 222014
 

Kellan Lain takes on Kevin Westgarth of the Calgary Flames

Photo credit: canada.com

Love em’ or hate em’ no one can deny the pure entertainment value of a good old-fashioned dust-up. Young and old, alike, left their seats on Saturday to take in a few minutes of rock em’- sock em’ hockey as the Canucks and Flames unexpectedly erupted into a brawl seconds after the opening faceoff. Was it neccesary? Probably not. Did it make the league and the teams look bad? Probably. But we all know this league isn’t a morality convention – it’s a business. And until something can usurp the popularity of fighting, we’re sure to see a few more of these situations in the future.

The Canucks have struggled all year to find an identity that works for them and as of late, the identity seems to be that of the tough guy. Players like Tom Sestito and Zack Kassian have climbed to the top of the penalty minute leader rankings and the Nucks’ penalty killing has been put through the ringer. Only time will tell if this identity sticks but it isn’t the first time we’ve seen the boys frustrations boil over into chaos.

As I’m sure all of you have seen clips of Saturday’s brawl replayed ten times over, I chose to exclude that moment from the list, but here are 5 other memorable brawls from the Canucks past:

5) Vancouver vs Edmonton: A regular season game with no real meaning, this brawl erupted in the closing minutes out of Oiler frustration. Highlighted by a Gagner-Kesler tilt, this one involved some unexpected combatants.

4) Vancouver vs New York: A classic and tense conflict that foreshadowed a heated Stanley Cup Finals. Mike Keenan and Pat Quinn may have been the most heated people in the rink.

3) Vancouver vs Colorado: Forever a black mark on the Canuck franchise, this night infamously ended the career of Steve Moore. Todd Bertuzzi seeks retribution for his fallen comrade Markus Naslund, through a brutal sucker-punch and an ensuing pile-on.

2) Vancouver vs Boston: The follow-up to the heated series a year prior, this game had been marked on both teams’ calendar for months. An entertaining and spirited brawl that reignited this rivalry and helped keep it burning to this day. On a sidenote, I loathe these Boston commentators – note their undying bias.

1) Vancouver vs Chicago: The moment that started one of Vancouver`s great modern rivalries. This one had it all: the Burrows hair pull, Ben Eager fighting Kevin Bieksa, Dustin Byfuglien punching Luongo in the face- just classic.

Dec 092013
 

Don’t get us wrong, the Canucks’ 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche was nice. But seriously, losing a shutout with 7.1 seconds left, and former Canucks goaltender turned Canucks colour man John Garrett bringing the jinx? Gah!

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 082013
 

Colorado Avalanche v Vancouver Canucks
(source: sports.yahoo.com)

Vancouver Canucks (16-10-5)
Colorado Avalanche (20-7-0)

As the Colorado Avalanche close out their 3-game road trip against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, the Canucks will play game 2 of their 5-game home stand. This is the first of three meetings between the two teams.

With 3 consecutive wins, the Canucks have gained some ground in the Western Conference standings. They beat the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday to tie them with the 8th most points in the conference (though the Coyotes do have 2 games in hand), and are just 2 points back of the Minnesota Wild, the other team on top of the Canucks for a wild card playoff spot.

Meanwhile, the Avalanche have cooled off slightly after their torrid 14-2-0 start. They’re 1-1-1 in their last 3 games, and 6-5-0 in their last 11.

Who’s Hot

Daniel Sedin notched another 2 assists against the Coyotes, and he now has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in his last 5 games, and 11 points (3 goals and 8 assists) in his last 8 games.

Jason Garrison also scored the Canucks’ first goal on Friday night, and he now has 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists) in his last 5 games, and 9 points (2 goals and 7 assists) in his last 7 games since breaking out of his 14-game pointless streak.

For the Avalanche, their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, is on a 4-game point streak. He has 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in that span.

Who’s Out

The Canucks will be playing without Alex Burrows, Alex Edler and Jordan Schroeder. Let’s hope no one else gets added to this list.

The Avalanche will be playing without defenseman Jan Hejda, who is out for 10-14 days with a knee strain, defenseman Ryan Wilson, and forward Alex Tanguay.

Sep 302013
 

On the eve of the start of the 2013/2014 NHL regular season, I preview the 30 teams, one division at a time.

Chicago Blackhawks

Photo credit: Grantland

Chicago Blackhawks

The Good

The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013, and may very well have a chance at a repeat performance. After all, they retained much of their players, with Dave Bolland perhaps the only significant subtraction from the roster. Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy and Marcus Kruger all seem ready to take on more responsibility.

The Bad

Especially with the hard salary cap and increased parity, it’s pretty darn tough to repeat in this league. The last team to be able to do so were the 1996/1997 and 1997/1998 Detroit Red Wings.

The Outlook

As much as it hurts to say this, I think the Blackhawks are, once again, the team to beat this season.

*****

Colorado Avalanche

The Good

After a few seasons in the cellar, the Avalanche are slowly assembling a good group of players up front. Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon are as good a young forward core as any team can ask for.

The Bad

Their defense is weak and their goaltending is inconsistent.

The Outlook

There may be hope on the horizon for the Avs, but at least for this season, they’ll have to go through some growing pains.

*****

Dallas Stars

The Good

The Stars may have given up first-line winger, Loui Eriksson, to the Boston Bruins, but in Tyler Seguin, they received someone with no. 1 center potential. In the same deal, they also managed to get Rich Peverley, who has potential to produce as a no. 2 center. Jamie Benn, a 6’2″ forward who averaged 0.80 points per game last season, is an emerging star. 23-year old Alex Chiasson and 2013 1st round draft pick Valeri Nichushkin look like they will fill some key roles in the lineup.

The Bad

There’s not a lot of depth in the back end after Alex Goligoski, Stephane Robidas and Trevor Daley. 39-year old, UFA signing Sergei Gonchar will help, but other than that will rely on guys like Brendan Dillon, ex-Canuck Kevin Connauton, Jamie Oleksiak and Jordie Benn to improve.

The Outlook

This may be a bridge year for the Stars. The kids will get opportunities to play and gain some much-needed experience.

*****

Minnesota Wild

The Good

By signing Matt Cooke and trading for Nino Niederreiter, the Wild did well to improve their bottom-six.

The Bad

The top-six is top-heavy. After the no. 1 line of Mikko Koivu-Zach Parise-Jason Pomminville, the Wild will have to rely on youngsters, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, and hope that Dany Heatley can stay relatively healthy and able to chip in offensively.

The Outlook

After making a big splash and signing Parise and franchise defenseman Ryan Suter last year, there was a lot of optimism in St. Paul to start the 2012/2013 season. Expectations should be more tempered this season.

*****

Nashville Predators

The Good

Goaltending and defense will, of course, once again be the Predators’ strong suit. They had Seth Jones drop into their laps at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and Roman Josi looks like the real deal.

The Bad

The Preds’ offense finished dead last in the NHL last year; this year won’t be any better.

The Outlook

Sometime in the future, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and Taylor Beck may well provide Nashville with the offense they need. Just not with any regular frequency this season.

*****

St. Louis Blues

The Good

The Blues have incredible depth throughout their lineup and should once again be one of the hardest teams to play against. Already with David Backes, Alex Steen, Chris Stewart, Patrick Berglund and Vladimir Tarasenko, they went ahead and added Magnus Paajarvi from Edmonton and ex-Canucks, Derek Roy and Maxim Lapierre. Their defensive corps consisting of Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk, Barret Jackman, Roman Polak and Jordan Leopold may be the best in the league.

The Bad

The Blues have only won one playoff round – in 2011/2012 – in the last ten seasons.

The Outlook

The Blues should easily make the post-season in the new Central Division, and certainly, they have the pieces to finally make it out of the second round of the playoffs.

*****

Winnipeg Jets

The Good

The Jets’ top-3 on d – Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian – can produce with the best of them. Up front, they added some depth behind Andrew Ladd, Evander Kane, Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little by signing versatile Michael Frolik and 20-goal man, Devin Setoguchi.

The Bad

Their defense isn’t that great defensively, playing in the same division as some very good defensive teams.

The Outlook

The Jets should be able to compete for one of the Western Conference’s wildcard spots.

Apr 142013
 

Ryan Kesler didn’t mince any words after the Canucks blew two, third period leads to the last place Colorado Avalanche yesterday. “We played like shit for 40 minutes,” he said. “We gave them everything they got with turnovers and miscommunication and not getting the puck out. It was shit,” he added.

Just about sums it up perfectly.

Here’s how you, Canucks fans, 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 282013
 

Vancouver Canucks celebrate a goal against the Colorado Avalanche

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

A few weeks ago, the very thought that Roberto Luongo could be traded by next week’s trade deadline scared many fans. The Canucks were in a slump, having won just 3 of their 11 games, and in part because their $9.3 million goaltending duo of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo were battling inconsistency between the pipes. At that time, neither Schneider or Luongo had taken the reigns of the team’s no. 1 goaltending spot. Regardless of their play, on some level, having both in the lineup perhaps provided a sense of safety in numbers.

Before the Canucks’ current 5-game win streak, Schneider, specifically, was struggling. His timing was off and he seemed out of position at times. For a one-month stretch between February 15 and March 19, he was a rather pedestrian 2-3-3 with a 2.82 GAA and a 0.902 save percentage. And let’s not even get into his puckhandling adventures. Obviously, the Canucks’ struggles weren’t all his fault – he wasn’t getting much support from his defense and the team continues to struggle to score – but for that stretch, it seemed like he couldn’t make the big save when the Canucks needed him to, and that had Canucks fans a bit spooked.

Now, that sense of fear appears to have dissipated.

Going into tonight’s game against the last place Colorado Avalanche, Schneider, who will make his 6th consecutive start, is playing his best hockey of the season. He’s won his last 5 starts, which coincides with the Canucks’ 5-game win steak, and has a 0.98 GAA, a 0.962 save percentage and 2 shutouts in those games. Quickly, he’s worked his way back to more expected numbers, and for the season, he now has an 11-5-3 record with a 2.19 GAA (9th in the NHL), a 0.923 save percentage (3rd in the NHL), and 3 shutouts (4th in the NHL).

There will be very little room for error for Schneider if the much-anticipate Luongo trade occurs before the trade deadline. But it’s a great sign to finally see him settle in his role, and certainly, his play is helping alleviate fans’ fears of moving forward with him as the Canucks’ starting goaltender.

Canucks Record

18-9-6, 42 points (2nd in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference)

Season Series

The Canucks won the most recent meeting last Sunday. The Avs have actually had a dreadful month of March with only 3 wins in 12 games (3-8-1). They’re winless in their last 10 road games (0-7-3) and are dead last in the Western Conference. With 16 games to go, they’re still 10 points out of a playoff spot.

Who’s Hot

PA Parenteau is on a 3-game point streak (2G-3A-5P). He leads the Avs in goals (14) and points (33).

Who’s Not

Milan Hejduk has just 2 points in his last 8 games. Usually a big part of the Avs offense – he’s averaged 25 goals in his past 6 seasons – he’s had trouble finding the net and has just 4 goals and 7 assists in 25 games.

Quickies

  • Keith Ballard has a minor fracture in his foot and won’t play tonight. (Vancouver Province)
  • Roberto Luongo patiently waiting. Sitting and waiting. (Vancouver Sun)
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