Jan 222013
 

The Canucks waiting to give away their jerseys

For my first CCC of the 2013 NHL season, I share some of the sights and sounds from the Canucks’ opening weekend at Rogers Arena. Unfortunately, the weekend consisted of two losses: 7-3 to Anaheim on Saturday night and 3-2 to Edmonton on Sunday night.

It was certainly an intriguing weekend as both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo got starts. As well, the Canucks’ secondary scoring (or lack thereof) was quite evident.

My buddy Mike also captured some neat footage from ice level as he was chosen to receive the jersey off of a player’s back.  He ended up getting the jersey of David Booth and had a pleasant exchange with him.  As well, we got footage of Chris Higgins removing his jersey…much to the delight of numerous female fans.

Jan 202013
 

Hello hockey fans. I’m still having a little trouble believing it, but we’re back baby. It’s been a long 8 months, but the contracts are signed, the ice is prepped, and we’re ready to go.

* cue ominous tone *

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 142013
 

Clay with Arielle, Gary, Marie and Joseph

For my first Clay’s Canucks Composition of 2013, I assembled four of the most talented Canucks fans around to put together a song to mark the start of the shortened 2013 season. Thus, I’m thrilled to present to you Season of Cup (based on Seasons of Love from RENT).

You’ll likely recognize most of the singers in this fun video.  Marie Hui helped me with my Canucks Medley in November 2011 while Arielle Tuliao and I got together for Don’t Stop Believing back in April for the Canucks’ playoff run.  I’ve been wanting to get these two amazing ladies together for a collaboration and I’m thrilled we made it happen! The guys aren’t too shabby either.  Joseph San Jose is the star of all of my Canucks Christmas carols, and my good friend Gary de Guzman has one of the most pure voices around. Put the four of them together (with me pounding on the piano) and you get a powerful anthem for the Vancouver Canucks as they look to get back to the Stanley Cup.

This is Our Team, Our Way…and Our Time.

PS:  See if you can figure out the “one hundred seventy-two thousand eight hundred seconds” part.

Dec 312012
 
Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins

Photo credit: National Post web. REUTERS/Adam Hunger

Hopefully the holiday season has you in a much more festive mood than the current state of the NHL, and if not, we here at CHB ask that you please drink more Rum & Egg Nog (pretty sure Tom provided the best recipe last year).

Anywho, with the year winding down and us in need some content to keep the dust bunnies from collecting on the site, I sent out the call to our contributors to see what they could remember from the past year & what they can foresee for the next (which you’ll learn more about tomorrow).

J.J. Guerrero (@canuckshockey)

2012 was supposed to be the year the Canucks would take that one final step towards winning their elusive first Stanley Cup. With a largely intact roster from the 2011 team that fell one win short and the addition of a second-line power forward in David Booth, they were certainly poised to make another run at it.

However, as GM Mike Gillis admitted, the Canucks peaked seven days into 2012. Led by Cory Schneider and Cody Hodgson, they exacted revenge on the Boston Bruins, beating them in a Saturday matinee in Beantown, a win which probably ranks among the most memorable in this franchise’s history.

It’s just too bad the calendar read January 7, 2012 instead of June 15, 2011.

The Canucks were physically and emotionally-spent after that win and played less than stellar hockey the rest of the way. They somehow snagged a second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy, but were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings.

With Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler coming off major surgeries, the Sedins, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa a year older, and the salary cap expecting to shrink with a new CBA, the window for this core may be closing and 2012 may prove to be a year of “what-ifs”, unfortunately one of many in the Canucks’ 41 years.

Matt Lee (@mattlee61)

2012 was a pretty bizarre year for the Canucks not only on the ice, but off of it, too. Going into the season, a lot of the talk was about how Vancouver would tackle the Stanley Cup hangover (which was of course answered with their season ending in 5 playoff games). But on the ice, you’d be hard pressed to find any particular game which gave you a reason to stand up and cheer. For me, only a couple games seemed to stood out, one of which was the Boston Bruins rematch back in January. The highlights speak for themselves, though:

Almost hard to believe the Canucks called it “just another game” after watching that, huh?

The other game which also proved memorable was the Canucks in Detroit back in February. The Red Wings had a lengthy home winning streak going at the Joe, and Vancouver was still the cream of the crop in the NHL standings. The game had the makings of a classic, and it was in every possible way.

But again, off the ice it was a circus. The fallout from their abrupt first-round playoff exit ushered the era of Cory Schneider and the (still going) exodus of Roberto Luongo. If the NHL lockout ends any time soon, it’ll just be a matter of time before the Luongo trade rumours swirl once again.

That doesn’t even include some other bizarre happenings: The Cody Hodgson trade rocked the city, Ryan Kesler’s continued rehab from another major surgery sparked worry among fans about how ready he will be in the event of a shortened season, and the signing of Jason Garrison in July was met with some cheers and some jeers… And the guy hasn’t even played a game yet.

Clay Imoo (@canuckclay)

2012 started off with so much promise. The Canucks entered the year having just passed the mighty Minnesota Wild for the Northwest Division lead – a lead they would never relinquish for the rest of the season. Then came that fateful game in Boston on January 7.

In the highly anticipated Stanley Cup Finals rematch, the Canucks prevailed 4-3 in a fight-filled affair. At the time, Canucks fans were on top of the world having just defeated their nemesis. However, the team struggled at times for the rest of the season despite locking up a second consecutive Presidents’ Trophy. In fact, even General Manager Mike Gillis admitted that the game may have taken an emotional toll on the team.

Add in a struggling power play and Duncan Keith’s dirty elbow on Daniel Sedin, and Vancouver looked over-matched in their first-round playoff series against the eventual Stanley Cup winners the Los Angeles Kings.

Victoria Pattison (@concretefluff)

Looking back on the 2012 season for the Canucks, I have to say it peaked early for me.

January 7, 2012 was the only game that really mattered to me in 2012. It was the game that should have happened on June 15, 2011. But it was more than just beating the dirty bears, it was also the first sign of the big changes the Canucks would make in 2012.

My favorite gum-smacking coach may say that he only started Cory Schneider because he wanted to let him play in his hometown, but no one believes that. It was a chance for Luongo to redeem himself and Vigneault didn’t trust him enough to let him have that chance. Schneider, was epic in that game. He played himself into the number one goalie spot.

Every game after the Boston game, seemed to be lack luster. Even when we won games, it seemed to me like it was by happenstance not due to actually working hard. I don’t blame the Canucks. Having a short summer break after a long, hard season with a heartbreaking Game 7 loss I didn’t think we would actually make it that far again.

That said, I didn’t think we would go down to the Kings in Round 1. The only thing more painful than watching Raymond fall down and Edler’s defensive meltdowns in Round 1 was reading the LA Kings snarktastic twitter posts.

Oct 182012
 
Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa and Cory Schneider of the Vancouver Canucks prior to the Bieksa's Buddies Charity Game

Photo credit: The Globe and Mail

Kevin Bieksa proved that you can’t lock out the heart of a Canuck. Knowing that charities like Canuck Place, Canucks Autism Network and Canucks Family Education Centre were probably also suffering thanks to the NHL lockout, he organized Bieksa’s Buddies – a charity hockey game between NHL players and special guests and the UBC Thunderbirds.

I was lucky enough to snag a ticket in the 20 minutes before it sold out. Here’s my recap.

The Pre-Game

As I got out of the car and made my way to Thunderbird arena, I was swimming in a sea of blue and green. Oh how I missed it! Contrary to talk in social media circles that fans were hesitant to wear Canucks colors, many came out wearing them anyway. I’m okay with that. Regardless of which side you support, that is, if you support either side, during this NHL lockout, the charities benefiting from the evening’s events all have the word “Canucks” in their name so it felt right.

The pre-game festivities included an introduction for each player. Besides current Canucks and ex-Canucks, there were some other exciting additions like Marty Bieksa and Martin Nash. Michael Buble and Willie Mitchell, listed as players on the program, turned out to be  “game-time decisions” and the decision was they would coach alongside Ryan Kesler and Alex Edler. Buble later admitted he “chickened out” of playing. As for Willie, my guess is his Stanley Cup ring was too heavy and throwing off his balance when he skated. Lucky guy.

The Game

The first period started off with a lot of back and forth action. UBC scored, then Bieksa’s Buddies scored, then UBC scored again, then Bieksa’s Buddies again.

The second period turned into a bit… okay a lot… of a runaway for the Thunderbirds. With 4 unanswered goals, it made it feel even more like I was at an NHL game. I mean, it wouldn’t be a Canucks game if there wasn’t a coma nap in the middle, am I right? By the end of the second period, the score was 7-3 for UBC. Still, the mood was upbeat. I, myself, was giddy because it meant I could use my favorite hashtag – #windaturd!

And win da turd they did!

Bieksa’s Buddies came back strong in the third period. It started with a Bieksa goal – a Marty Bieksa goal! Then Chris Higgins started taking shots. Like shots as hard as his abs shots. Like shots so hard I could hear the slap of the puck against the Thunderbirds goalie’s pads from my seat in the very last row of the arena. And when he finally scored, it was a zinger and I was surprised it didn’t slice through the net. After Manny Malhotra tied the game came some Sedin magic mojo – a beauty of a cross-ice pass from Daniel to Henrik, who then passed the puck back to Daniel for a pretty much open net goal as the UBC goalie tried to get over his motion sickness. Canucks fans sighed a giant sigh of relied – the twins still got it!

Bieksa’s Buddies eventually won by a final score of 8-7.

Some other highlights:

Max Lapierre’s tenacity. Lappy was intense from the get go. He dug in the corners, he was hard on the puck and did everything but scored a goal.

Penalties. Most notably, the first penalty of the game for elbowing. I mean, who elbows in a charity game? Tanner Glass, that’s who! It got a lot of chuckles from the crowd. Almost as many laughs as the penalty called by Daniel Sedin. He got slashed, referee Al Bieksa didn’t see it, but after Daniel did some pointing and explaining, it was called. If only NHL refs would listen to Danny like that.

Marty Bieksa. He played incredibly well which left me wondering if we could trade Mason Raymond for him once the season starts.

Cory Schneider’s charitable acts. Buble may have donated $100,000, but Cory was definitely in a giving mood as well. Not only did he give up 7 goals, but when UBC pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, with UBC down by a goal and a minute left to play, Schnoo skated off the ice (to Darth Vader’s theme song) and watched from the bench and gave UBC a free shot at the open net.

From the game itself, Bieksa’s Buddies raised $100,000, after which Buble matched it with a $100,000 donation of his own, bringing the total raised to a whopping $200,000 going to Canuck Place, Canucks Autism Network and Canucks Family Education Centre. In spite of the bickering and pettiness and greed we’ve seen from the NHL lockout in the last 6 weeks, we were reminded last night of the good hearts of many of these guys, and in the process, fans got a chance to watch their hockey heroes again and deserving charities were blessed with much-needed funds – a win-win for all.

Jun 292012
 
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks

Early yesterday evening, Mike Gillis confirmed Cory Schneider has come to terms with the Vancouver Canucks. The deal, rumoured to be worth $12 million over 3 years, didn’t shock anyone. With it, the organization has made it clear that they wanted Schneider to stick around.

But the deal is also most likely the final nail in Roberto Luongo’s Vancouver career.

The long-brewing goalie controversy has not divided the two goaltenders, who by all accounts have nothing but respect for each other. As soon as the deal was announced @strombone1 tweeted, “Well deserved, really happy for him. He will be a star in this league.”

Unfortunately, the majority of fans aren’t as rational as their goalies.

Twitter has taught me one thing: there is no fence sitting in this debate. You’re either a Luongo supporter or a Luongo hater.  And being a Luongo supporter means not giving Cory one ounce of credit or support.

As soon as the Schneider deal was announced, several Lu supporters were angrily tweeting that “idiot fans” will drive Schneider out of Vancouver “the way they did Luongo”.  Let’s be clear here people – Luongo was not driven out of Vancouver by fans. He did not request a trade because fan criticism was too much to handle. In fact, we don’t even know if he even requested a trade at all. What we know is that he agreed to waive his no-trade clause if the Canucks organization asked him to, and that Schneider’s agent and Gillis have publicly stated they could bring both goalies back.

Others like to hide their blind and irrational Luongo love under what they think is a smart veil of concern. Tweets about Cory being unproven ran rampant last night. No, he’s never handled 65 games. He only played in 33 games this past season (a career-high) and started 28 of them, but he stood on his head in every one of them. He stopped almost 94% of the shots (0.937 save%, 2nd in NHL) he faced, including every single penalty shot. He won against the Boston Bruins in Boston. That he was in net in the Stanley Cup playoffs would lead me to believe that he’s probably done enough to earn the team’s confidence. I don’t have the proof but I’m fairly certain Vigneault does not play a drunken game of Rock Paper Scissors with Rollie Melanson to decide these things.

This ‘You’re Either With Lu or Against Him’ mentality has gone on all season long and it makes me want to scream a line from A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in baseball!” Because guess what? Same thing applies to hockey. Just like all professional sports, it’s a business. Even with the cap increasing, it isn’t a smart business move to spend $9 million in goalie salaries so logic dictates one of Luongo or Schneider needs to be moved. In the end, going with the younger option with a stronger technical game and mental focus seems the smart business decision.

Coming to this conclusion in no way takes away from the fact Luongo gave us his best and won us many games, the most any goaltender has in this franchise’s history. He was brilliant when he was brilliant. Do I think Luongo can win us a Stanley Cup? No. I don’t think any one player can win a Cup for an entire team. But I also think that if we’re going to go the distance any time soon, we’re going to do it with Cory Schneider.

This does not mean I hate Luongo. I once slept on the couch because I was so furious at my husband for saying Luongo didn’t earn his gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics, so there’s your proof. I will never boo him when he comes back as the visiting team and I will always be grateful for all the games he won for us.

All Canucks fans should be a little forlorn that it has to end this way. But accepting it doesn’t mean you hated the guy.

Jun 192012
 
Tom Wilson, Plymouth Whalers, NHL Entry Draft 2012

Photo credit: Sportsnet

The last time the Canucks drafted 26th overall in the NHL Entry Draft was in 2004 when they drafted a certain red-headed goaltender, Cory Schneider.

Schneider was the fourth goalie drafted that year, behind Al Montoya (6th overall, New York Rangers), Devan Dubnyk (14th, Edmonton Oilers) and Marek Schwartz (17th, St. Louis Blues).

It’s not likely the Canucks will draft another goalie with the 26th pick this year; in fact, since that 2004 draft, only 10 other goalies were picked in the first round.

As we approach draft day on Friday, the consensus seems to be that it is weak and unpredictable. There are some top-end talent in the first few picks, but after that, all bets are off.

Given their organizational depth and the general direction of the league, chances are Mike Gillis and company are looking for some big players up front. Big players who can skate and score.

Here are some of the guys who may fit that mold and what the experts are saying about them.

Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth (6’4″, 195 lbs., shoots right)

TSN: His skating continues to improve and he gets to the necessary places so as to create the literal and figurative impact in the game. Very good sense and he doesn’t run around aimlessly and his puck skills should not be underestimated because with the room he creates, he also can finish.

The Hockey News: The Plymouth Whalers power forward uses his big frame to punish his opponents and create scoring chances. And if someone doesn’t like it, he’s happy to drop the gloves.

The Scouting Report: Wilson is one of the biggest forwards in this draft and has developed into a true power forward. He’s an imposing winger who plays a gritty brand of hockey that has certainly caught the eye of NHL teams. He can change the complexion of a game when he engages physically and he has the ability to create a lot of space for his linemates through effective cycling.

Future Considerations: He skates very well for his size, wins the little battles along the boards, and in front of the net where he has a knack for scoring, and plays a solid north and south game. He is your prototypical power forward that can change the course of a game with a goal, a big hit, or a fight and holds the same potential to be an impact player in junior and at the pro level.

Brendan Gaunce, C, Belleville (6’2″, 215 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He is smart and plays the game well both with and without the puck. He makes plays and because he’s smart he gets scoring chances and an improved shot can make him that much better offensively. He works without the puck and is also capable of playing on the wing which adds a component of versatility to his game.

NHL.com: A scout said if he were building a team from ground-up, Gaunce would be his first pick.

The Hockey Writers: Brendan Gaunce is a meat-and-potatoes type of player willing to enter the gritty areas and engage in puck battles. His defensive awareness, positioning on both sides of the puck and faceoff prowess earn him tough minutes as a shutdown option. Offensively, Gaunce plays a power game complemented by above-average passing skills and an ability to unleash a hot wrist in tight quarters.

Hockey Prospectus: Gaunce is a bulking two-way power forward who can also finish and distribute the puck at a high level. He is a really smart hockey player with tremendous instincts and vision on the ice. Even though he’s an aggressive checker, he also has the ability to pull up along the side boards, control a power play and be a very effective distributor.

Martin Frk, RW, Halifax (6’0″, 204 lbs., shoots right)

TSN: Martin is a goal scorer. He wants to score, is hungry to score and is that player who is lurking for the chance to score. He plays a straight ahead game and is more of a shooter. He has a good shot and can beat goaltenders with it down the wing and it’s a heavy shot.

MyNHLDraft.com: Frk’s commitment and drive has been questioned at times during his time with Halifax however it is quite clear when he is motivated he is the best player on the ice. This guy has an NHL shot and can shoot holes through the net. He already has a body that can withstand the physical punishment that the NHL offers and as well has a magnificent skill set to compliment his big body presence.

The Hockey Writers: A typical high-risk, high reward prospect, Frk could turn out to be an early second-round steal if he is developed properly by the team that drafts him.

Dobber Prospects: Frk is one of the top draft eligible players coming out of the QMJHL this year. Durability and consistency concerns could see him fall in the draft. He struggled once he returned, but started to produce during the last quarter of the season. His biggest asset is his booming shot, which might be among the best in the entire 2012 draft. He has a nasty, gritty side and is very strong on the puck.

Tomas Hertl, C, Slavia (6’2″, 198 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He takes a cerebral approach which finds him in proper position on the ice but always ready to take advantage of opportunity. He forces opponents into mistakes without the puck and when he gains the puck, his awareness, vision and puck skills allow him to threaten offensively. He is a very good passer but given the opportunity to shoot, he can be dangerous.

NHL.com: Big and skilled, and already a star in the Czech league.

The Hockey News: Ice awareness and his ability to make plays are Hertl’s strongest assets.

Hockey Prospectus: Hertl is a gifted puck-handler who is above-average to plus in that area with good creativity and hand-eye coordination. He has a nice frame and is pretty hard to strip the puck from in the cycle game due to his hands and puck protection abilities. Hertl’s physical game is pretty solid all-around as he is strong, with a good sized frame, will go to the net, and doesn’t mind getting a little chippy.

Scott Laughton, C, Oshawa (6’0″, 177 lbs., shoots left)

TSN: He has excellent hockey sense and is capable of playing any situation in the game. He is smart defensively. He is smart offensively. He can adjust to different circumstances and excel. He leaves himself in strong position on the ice so he’s always ready to make the appropriate play for the situation.

OHL Prospects: I’ve said it before, but Laughton reminds me a lot of Mike Richards at the same age and I think there’s a chance he’s put himself in conversation for the back end of the first round.

The Hockey Guys: Despite competing heavily for ice-time on a veteran filled Generals’ team, Laughton proved that his strong two-way responsible game and tireless work ethic was too impressive to limit his minutes. As a true character player, Laughton has commendable offensive skills highlighted by above-average puck control and protects the puck exceptionally well. His vision and knack for reading his opponents is what makes him such a well-balanced pivot at both ends of the rink.

The Scouting Report: With no shortage of offensive firepower in Oshawa, Laughton’s minutes are not what they would be on other teams and he sees less powerplay time as a secondary option. With that being said, Laughton did show flashes of his offensive upside during the second half of the season while continuing his strong two-way play. Laughton isn’t an overly big player nor is he going to blow you away with speed, but he competes hard and is a strong checker.

Jun 122012
 

1. The Los Angeles Kings have begun their royal coronation, and they got on that championship road by defeating the Canucks in the first round in five games. That means that for three straight years Vancouver has been defeated by the eventual Stanley Cup champions (Chicago, Boston, and now Los Angeles). I’m not one for superstition but how many teams would like to line up against the Canucks in the first round next spring?

2. When watching the rest of the NHL playoffs, I always find it a little unnerving when Canucks fans cheer for the team that ousted them, in this case the Kings. Canucks fans feel better about the fact they lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champions. Sure, it means the Canucks lost to the best team, but it doesn’t mean the Canucks were the second-best team in the postseason. To me, a loss is a loss; there is no second place when there’s 16 teams and just one champion.

3. Love him or hate him, Drew Doughty was fantastic and a huge reason why the Kings got to the promised land. He was delivering production close to a point per game and was +11 in the process. Most memorably, his Bobby Orr-like goal in Game 2 of the Finals turned out to be a real turning point in that series. Canucks fans have to ask themselves if they have anyone like Doughty in their system. Is Alex Edler the answer? I don’t think even Canucks management knows for certain.

4. The pace of games in the playoffs were at a snail’s pace on occasion, depending on the team you watched. Vancouver has built its team around an up-tempo style, but considering the success of guys like Dustin Penner this spring, you have to wonder if that philosophy needs to change. The Canucks picked up David Booth in November for the purpose of making their team faster, but I’m not sure anymore if that’s a winning recipe.

5. Craig MacTavish resigned as head coach of the Canucks’ AHL affiliate yesterday in order to become the senior VP of hockey ops with Edmonton. You get the sense that once he learned Alain Vigneault would be back behind the Canucks bench next season, MacT had little reason to stay. It’s obvious he wants to be a head coach at the NHL level again and he knew that wouldn’t happen with Vancouver any time soon.

6. That leaves a head coaching hole with the Chicago Wolves that the Canucks need to fill. There are a few good candidates to take the spot; a week after hiring Bob Hartley as their next head coach, the Flames decided to let Craig Hartsburg go. Hartsburg has coached Canada to world juniors gold in 2008 and prior to taking the associate coach position with Calgary was the Everett Silvertips bench boss.

7. Another option to take over is Scott Arniel, who was canned from the Columbus Blue Jackets this past season. Sure, Arniel had a rough go in his time in Ohio, but any coach would with Steve Mason between the pipes. Arniel was treasured during his time with the Manitoba Moose and while he currently works for the Canucks as a scout, you know he’ll be eager to get behind a bench once again. Both Hartsburg and Arniel would be excellent choices.

8. Sticking with coaching talk, no one knows what was said in the meetings leading up to Alain Vigneault’s renewal, but it’s clear there needs to be a change in how Vigneault approaches his players. Vigneault is a coach known to loosen the reins on his players a bit, but that will have to be different this upcoming season. Fans weren’t happy with the dives and yapping coming from players, and the leadership to remedy those problems starts with the head coach. Vigneault would be best served by implementing a tighter ship; dive and yap and you can find yourself stapled to the bench.

9. Call it a hunch, but I suspect trade activity will pick up considerably as the NHL Draft gets closer. There’s a ton of uncertainty with regards to a possible work stoppage and the temporary increase in the salary cap, but that shouldn’t deter general managers from bolstering their teams. The increase in cap space should give teams incentive to make moves they wouldn’t normally make, and perhaps the Luongo trade saga fits that equation.

10. Only Mike Gillis holds the cards, but the Luongo saga continues to unfurl. Some fans want assets coming back that can help the Canucks win now, but isn’t freeing up $5.3-million in cap space the biggest asset? This summer isn’t exactly a ground breaker in terms of free agents available, but freeing up that much space and adding an extra million in a cap increase could give Vancouver the chance to land a really, really big fish.

11. Continuing on with the Luongo rumours, a lot of people have thrown out Jake Gardiner and Luke Schenn’s name when mentioning the Toronto Maple Leafs, but how about Cody Franson? The Memorial Cup winner with the Vancouver Giants is a product of the Nashville system where defencemen are bred like prized racehorses, and at 24 is still a blueliner with potential.

12. Some have asked about what the real chance the Canucks have at signing soon-to-be free agent Justin Schultz. Schultz is a product of the U of Wisconsin and while there teamed up with current Leaf Jake Gardiner. Now both players were once draft picks of the Anaheim Ducks, but Gardiner was traded to Toronto in a package for Francois Beauchemin. Hard to say for certain, but perhaps Schultz’ feelings towards Anaheim soured when they traded his partner. This isn’t to say Schultz will follow Gardiner to Toronto, but if the Canucks could land Gardiner in a deal for Luongo…

13. If the Canucks are hoping to sign Cory Schneider to a new contract, they better get it done soon. Not just because Schneider could be eligible to receive offer sheets, but because of the Tim Thomas effect. Now that Thomas is taking a year off from hockey, Tuukka Rask’s bargaining power as a restricted free agent just got bigger. Rask and Schneider are goalies with similar career trajectories, and if the Canucks want to avoid paying Schneider upwards of $4-million a year, they’d best get a contract hammered out before Rask does.

14. For those in the trade Schneider camp, word is that Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is being lured by a KHL team. A restricted free agent in July, the potential offer from the KHL team is said to be substantial. If Pavelec pulls a Radulov and bolts, a certain redheaded Canucks goalie is known to be a fan favourite in the ‘Peg. Hmm…

15. The NHL Draft is on June 22 and fans are wondering who the Canucks will target at 26th overall. I’ll have more in my draft preview, but given Jordan Schroeder and Anton Rodin’s strong strides in development this past season, the team should be looking at a defenseman with this year’s pick. And considering the abundance of blueliners in this year’s crop, that’s a pretty safe deduction to make.

Apr 232012
 
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks, Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings shake hands

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’m not going to rant. I’m not going to rage. I would probably cry but I don’t want to short-circuit my keyboard so I won’t even do that. Instead I’ll keep this brief. And then I will eat chocolate.

Where We Went Right

Ryan Kesler was incredible on the penalty kill. He may not have scored goals but in this game his shot blocking and clearing was equally if not more important. If it wasn’t for Kesler and Cory Schneider the score would have been 8-1 for the Kings by the end of the third.

And that leads me to the second thing we did right – we had the right goalie in net. Schneider was calm and collected despite slashes by Mike Richards and bodies flailing in his crease. He never fell down and stayed down and he never lost his stick – both traits Luongo is famous for.  Cory did every thing you could ask of a goalie and more. He earned his spot as our number one netminder and I will be shocked and horrified if that’s not exactly what he is next season.

Where We Went Wrong

One goal is not going to win you a series when you are down 3 games to 1. Putting David Booth on a line with the twins is not going to get you goals. Putting Mason Raymond on the ice at all is not going to get you goals. For me, Alain Vigneault’s coaching decisions were almost as epically bad as Alex Edler was on defence. And they of course, are a reflection of what Mike Gillis has given him to work with. The trades this year have no been the glorious additions Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins were last year. Not even close.

I Don’t Blame Hamhuis

I honestly don’t. Hammy was about the only defenceman trying in Games 1 and 2. He made 1 mistake at a very inopportune time. If we’re going to crucify individual players here we need to nail Raymond and Booth and Edler. End of story. Their complete and utter uselessness, or in the case of Edler his plethora of mistakes, are what cost us the first two games. We wouldn’t have been in a hole if it wasn’t for those 3 more than anyone else. And Kesler diving instead of taking shots. And Duncan Keith elbowing Daniel to in regular season and taking him out of the first 3 games. There are so many more reasons we lost than simply Dan Hamhuis falling down. We need to take a good hard look at all of those reasons – on the bench and behind it – and make some changes before October.

It’s been an honour and a pleasure writing for the Canucks Hockey Blog. I hope I can do it next season while I cheer on our boys in Blue – no matter who those boys may be. (But it better not be Raymond).

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