Nov 262013
 

After outplaying the Los Angeles Kings for much of the game and carrying a lead late into the third period, the Vancouver Canucks, thanks to a couple of miscues, dropped a 3-2 decision in overtime. It was perhaps one of the best games they’ve played in this homestand but it wasn’t enough. Instead, they ended their 6-game homestand with 5 losses, and since dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Pavel Bure night, have now lost 8 of their last 10 games.

Yes it does.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Nov 232013
 
Shoot, score, win! (credit canucks.nhl.com)

Shoot, score, win!
(credit canucks.nhl.com)

The Vancouver Canucks had a huge win 6-2 last night against the Columbus Blue Jackets – their first win in 5 games (1-2-2) – and inched back to within 4 points back of a playoff position in the tough Western Conference.

The Canucks, who are 2-3-3 in their last 8 games, are hoping that last night’s game was a bit of a turning point, but a win tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks won’t come easy. The Blackhawks, who beat the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg by a 6-3 score on Thursday, have lost just 3 of their last 12 games, though 2 of those losses came on the road.

This is the first of three meetings this season between the two teams. Nothing like a Saturday night Hockey Night in Canada showdown to ignite their longtime rivalry. Tonight’s game should be intense, and it should be interesting to see the impact coach John Tortorella will have on these often-heated games.

The Canucks are looking to maintain some momentum after last night’s offensive outburst against the Blue Jackets. They 6 goals they scored matched their total from their previous 5 games combined. The Sedins played particularly well, especially after Torts reunited them after a brief period apart, and they combined for 5 points. Without Dave Bolland to pester them all game, they should see some time against Chicago’s top line.

For the Blackhawks, this is game 3 of their 7 game-road trip. They’ve broke even so far with a loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday before their win in Winnipeg on Thursday.

Forward Patrick Kane leads the team with 24 points, 13 of which have come in his last 9 games. Marian Hossa returned to the Blackhawks lineup Thursday after nursing a lower body injury for 3 games, and promptly scored a goal and added an assist.

Who’s Out

Jordan Schroeder remains out with an ankle injury. And also, speculation continues to surround David Booth as he was again a healthy scratch last night.

Chicago’s Bryan Bickell and Nikolai Khabibulin are both out with lower body injuries, and Michal Handzus is on injured reserve with an upper body injury.

Nov 202013
 

The Sedins and Alex Burrows celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks.

Photo credit: canucks.com

Glen Sather once proclaimed that a “fire hydrant could score 50 goals playing with Wayne Gretzky”, alluding to how The Great One made everyone around him better. Many would say the same about the Sedin Twins who seem to boost the stats of any player lucky enough to find themself flanked by the ginger duo. Simply put, these guys are just easy to play with.

That being said, the Canucks recent slump has forced John Tortorella to try different line combinations to spark the dried up offense. In the past week we’ve seen Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen join the top line to no avail. This isn’t the first time different players have been assigned to the top line, with some combinations lasting years while others dwindle after a few games. Everyone seems to have an idea of what kind of player would complement the Sedins best, but history has shown us it is not always the obvious choice.

Here are the top 5 greatest Sedin line combinations:

5) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Taylor Pyatt: This line, featured prominently in the 2006-2007 season, showcased Taylor Pyatt’s size and strength. Pyatt scored 23 goals and 37 points (both career highs) and helped the Canucks cruise to 48 wins and a division title. Here he provides a strong net presence while the Sedins do their thing.

4) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler: The most recently formed line on this list, the “Beastmodo” line is the sexiest on paper but simply has not been together long enough to be placed any higher. Dominant at times, with two accomplished trigger men in Daniel and Kes’, teams have struggled to match the firepower of this first line. Surely, we will see this line together again under the Torts’ regime.

3) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Trent Klatt: Not the most offensive linemate the Sedins have ever had, Klatt provided a veteran presence for the twins in the first few years of their professional career. The dominance of the “west coast express” line during this period allowed the Sedins to develop at their own pace and Klatt kept them at an even keel, while providing offence at a steady rate.

2) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Anson Carter: This combination only lasted a year but was wildly successful with Anson Carter leading the team with 33 goals. This year marked the coming out of the Sedins as the core offensive players and leaders on the team.  Carter’s ability to crash the net aided the Sedins’ cycling ability well.

1) Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Alex Burrows: The longest tenured player on the Sedin line and with good reason, Alex Burrows has spent the majority of the last 5 years playing with the twins. A tremendous reader of the game, Alex has gained the instinctual movement and know-how that the Sedins seemed to be born with. Burrows has become one of the more reliable goal-scorers on the Canuck squad and his presence on the top line has elevated the Twins stats as well with the two of them winning back to back Art-Ross trophies with Burrows at their side.

Nov 182013
 
So tell us how you really feel, John.

So tell us how you really feel, John.

The most popular topic stemming from last night’s 2-1 Dallas Stars victory over the Vancouver Canucks was the apparent Henrik Sedin power play goal that was called off early in the second period.  The official reason referee Rob Martell waved the goal off was because he felt that Daniel Sedin had made illegal contact with Stars’ goalie Kari Lehtonen just prior to Henrik’s shot.

Obviously, the goal could have been a huge momentum-changer, as it would have evened the score at 1-1 in a game that the Canucks were controlling the play.

Needless to say, Twitter exploded with conspiracy theories and charges of bias against the Canucks.  I was one beneficiary of this Twitter rage as my picture of “Angry Torts” (as above) had me trending atop the Trendsmap rankings for Vancouver for a short while.

CHB represent!

CHB represent!

I can safely say that this was the first time and likely the only time I will ever be trending in ANYTHING.  But I digress.

Thanks once again to you – the awesome people on Twitter – I have compiled yet another top 10 list.

Here are the Top 10 Reasons Why Henrik Sedin’s Goal Was Waved Off.

HM:  “Just to piss us off.” – submitted by @KevinBye1

HM:  “It was an action out of habit, as the refs all assume the Canucks can’t score.” – submitted by @A_L_ai

10:  “Ref made a human mistake but sh!tty rules allow that to happen with no recourse by team.” – submitted by @THECooop

9:  “Refs thought they were UFC judges.” – submitted by @greynotegroup

8:   “Coin came up heads.” – submitted by @skitzo12

7:   “The Henrik goal was waved off because the refs wanted to make the early bird special at the buffet. OT would have made them late.” – submitted by @HabsLions

6:  “Gary Bettman pressed the ‘Screw the Canucks’ button at NHL headquarters and activated the implant in the ref’s head.” – submitted by @b_cmack

5:  “Staches got in the way – too many participants for Movember.” – submitted by @elmeebaterina

4:  “Henrik farted in Lehtonen’s face. Heard that could give a guy pink eye.” – submitted by @cbaldwin74

3:  “One of them went to the Roxy last time they were in town. #herpesareforever” – submitted by @jennafabulous

2:   “The ref got confused that Henrik shot the puck. Thought it was an illegal move for him.” – submitted by @jasonclowers24

1:  “Ref didn’t want Henrik passing Don Lever on the all-time goal scoring list.” – submitted by @Steve_May

 

 

Nov 142013
 
Exactly one week ago today the Canucks bested the Sharks in a 4-2 win, can they do it again?

Exactly one week ago today the Canucks bested the Sharks in a 4-2 win, can they do it again? (Credit. cbc.ca)

Last Thursday, the Canucks won 4-2 against the San Jose Sharks – their first win against the Sharks in 9 games. Let’s pause and have a moment of appreciation for that.

Alright moving on.

Tonight, both teams meet once again, for a fourth and final time this regular season, kicking off the Canucks’ 6-game homestand at Rogers Arena. Unless they meet in the postseason – knock on wood – this could be the last time we see the Sharks this season.

The winning team in their 3 previous meetings scored 4 goals in their wins.

What to Watch

After a gruelling 4 games in 6 nights road trip culminating with back-to-back losses in California, against the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks had 3 days off to regroup and recharge. The Canucks will have rested legs and they will need them early. Last Thursday, they scored 3 of their 4 goals in the first period, and getting another early lead against San Jose certainly won’t hurt.

Who to Watch

The Sedins and Kesler were unstoppable in October with 14 goals and 18 assists, but in the last 4 games, they’ve been quiet with only 1 goal and 3 assists. Everyone goes through streaks and slumps so hopefully they snap out of this funk soon.

For the Sharks, Joe Thornton has a 5-game point streak. With a huge physical presence, the Canucks will need to battle hard to keep him under wraps.

Who’s Back

David Booth is back from his conditioning stint with the Utica Comets and playing in the AHL may have been the wake-up call he needed. Well, we hope it was anyway. He notched an assist in the Comets’ first victory of the season. And the hope now is that Booth can return and be the player we know he is capable of being, and that John Tortorella wants him to be.

Who’s Out

The Canucks still have Jannik Hansen (shoulder), Dale Weise (lower body) and Jordan Schroeder (foot) all sidelined, although Hansen practiced yesterday and will likely return when the Canucks go against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.

The Sharks have some bad injuries. Ex-Canuck Raffi Torres has a knee injury that needed surgery and 3-5 months of rehab. Adam Burish (lower body) and Brent Burns (upper body) are also out. All 3 are on injured reserve.

Nov 132013
 

Brad Richardson , Christopher Tanev, Jason Garrison, Mike Santorelli

Photo credit: canada.com

With 20 games now in the bag in the Vancouver Canucks’ 2013/2014 season, here are some good, some bad, and some surprises and disappointments.

It’s Torts’ team now.

It wasn’t a surprise when GM Mike Gillis decided at the end of last season to fire long-time Canucks coach, Alain Vigneault. It was, however, perhaps a bit more surprising when the guy he tapped to succeed AV’s gum-chewing, hands-off approach with a gruff, known taskmaster in John Tortorella. By the end of last season, much was made about the complacency that developed, maybe in part because of AV’s player-friendly approach, and Torts’ coaching style was as far-removed from this as possible.

He is, indeed, more vocal behind the bench – and off it, I suppose. He’s more hands-on, and we’ve seen him make in-game adjustments. He relies heavily on stars like the Sedins and Ryan Kesler, all of whom sit in the top 5 among forwards in average ice-time. He’s shown he’s willing to give more ice-time to players who are going, or sit those who aren’t. He’s not afraid to play anyone in any situation, except maybe the 4th line.

But despite this, the doom and gloom that a lot of us predicted hasn’t materialized. And in fact, we can argue that Torts has even had the desired effect on this team. For the most part, gone is the complacency and casual play. On most nights in this early season, the Canucks forecheck hard and battle hard along the boards. Regardless of the score, they play an aggressive style and keep their foot on the pedal, which has helped them overcome deficits – only 4 teams have more wins than the Canucks when trailing after the first period, and only 1 team has more wins than them when trailing after the second period.

At the Canucks’ Summer Summit, Tortorella said he wanted the Canucks to be aggressive and to be tough to play against. And 20 games in, we’re beginning to see this. It’s Torts’ team now, and it looks like the Canucks are buying what he’s selling.

The Sedins are still stars.

A few years ago, before they signed their current contracts, numerous armchair GMs wanted the Sedins gone. Believe it or not, back then, a fair number of Canucks fans were willing to trade them for a bag of pucks and then use the cap money they save to sign Olli Jokinen and Marian Gaborik. It’s unthinkable now, especially after a couple of Art Ross trophies, a Lester Pearson trophy, and some modest (by this franchise’s standards) playoff success.

Or so you’d think.

This summer, there were once again rumblings from the bandwagon that the Canucks were better off to let the Sedins walk through free agency. Or trade them to a true Cup contender and kickstart a rebuild. But once again, at least through the first quarter of the season, they’re proving their doubters wrong. With 20 points (3 goals and 17 assists), Henrik Sedin sits 13th overall in NHL scoring, just 3 points back of league leader, Sidney Crosby. He’s recorded at least a point all but 4 of the 20 games he’s played. (Though 3 of those 4 games were the Canucks’ last 3 games.) Daniel isn’t far behind either. With 17 points (7 goals and 10 assists), he sits 24th overall in NHL scoring. Even at 33 years old, they’ve both taken on more responsibility, now taking a regular shift on the penalty-kill and already logging more PK time through 20 games as they have in the last 2 seasons combined.

As a famous person once said, they get knocked down, but they get up again, and they’re never gonna keep them down.

The newbies have fit in nicely.

There are some of us who probably still have the memory of signing or acquiring the likes of Marco Sturm, Samuel Pahlsson and Cam Barker fresh in our minds so it was somewhat acceptable when we looked cynically at Mike Gillis’ reset this off-season, which included signing Mike Santorelli and Brad Richardson, and picking up Ryan Stanton from waivers.

But with 3 guys who were pencilled in the Canucks’ top-9 – Jannik Hansen, Jordan Schroeder and David Booth – spending significant time out of the lineup due to injuries, the newbies have actually done quite well in their place. Santorelli, who hails from Burnaby, sits 4th in team scoring – behind just the Sedins and Kesler – with 12 points (5 goals and 7 assists). Richardson sits 6th with 5 goals, including 2 shorties, and 10 points in just 13:33 minutes of average ice-time per game (8th among Canucks forwards). And Stanton has been dependable in his 14 minutes per game in a third pairing role. Plus, Stanton has also contributed 7 points (3rd among Canucks defensemen). Santorelli, Richardson and Stanton have been pleasant surprises early this season.

The powerplay has been powerless.

There was a stretch midway through last season during which the Canucks scored 2 powerplay goals in 52 powerplay opportunities – a whopping 3.8% success rate – in 20 games. They finished the 2012/2013 season with a 15.8% success rate (22nd in the NHL), which was 4 percentage points lower than their success rate in 2011/2012 (19.8%, 4th in the NHL), which was almost 5 percentage points lower than their success rate in 2010/2011 (24.3%, 1st in the NHL).

In response, out went Newell Brown and the drop pass. Well, at least out went Newell Brown. And in comes Jason Garrison to the first PP unit. Wait, never mind, scratch that.

Despite changes in their roster and behind the bench, the Canucks’ powerplay hasn’t changed much. Okay, it has. It’s even worse now than it was last season, sputtering at a woeful 9.7% (28th in the NHL, ahead only of the Winnipeg Jets and Florida Panthers), and having only scored 6 powerplay goals in 20 games this season.

At least the PK is okay.

With a penalty-killing rate of 89.4%, the Canucks currently have the best PK in the NHL. Not only that, they’ve also scored 3 shorthanded goals, which is tied for 2nd in the NHL. Add to this that they’ve been shorthanded longer than all but 7 teams, and you have to admit, the PK has been one of their bright spots.

Luongo’s been good, but he needs to be better.

By Roberto Luongo’s usual October standards, he actually had a good start to the season and currently sits in the top 10 in wins among all NHL goaltenders. But behind the 9 wins in 16 games – only 6 goalies have more wins than he does – are some pretty average numbers. His 0.911 overall save percentage ranks him just 26th among all NHL goaltenders. His 2.41 GAA ranks him 21st. He has a 0.910 save percentage on even-strength (51st), and a 0.914 save percentage when the Canucks are shorthanded (23rd). Lu’s been good. But if the Canucks have any hope in getting out of the tough, tough, tough Pacific Division, they need him to be better.

Nov 072013
 

9054506
The Vancouver Canucks top line. Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler.
(Source: faceoff.com)

Vancouver Canucks (10-5-2)
San Jose Sharks (10-1-4)

The Vancouver Canucks will continue their Pacific Division swing tonight as they once go up against the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks are looking for their first win of the season against the Sharks. Scratch that, the Canucks are looking for their first win against the Sharks after 9 (!) straight losses. This is the third of four games between the two teams this season, with the Sharks obviously winning the first two, both by a 4-1 score.

After winning 10 of their first 12 games, the Sharks have lost 3 straight now. Although, they’ve at least picked up a point in each one. In fact, they’ve picked up at least a point in 14 of their first 15 games this season. Their only loss in regulation so far was against the Boston Bruins in Boston a couple of weeks ago. As for the Canucks, they’ve lost 2 of their last 3 games (1-1-1).

Who’s Hot

The Canucks’ top line of Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Ryan Kesler continue to be hot. Daniel has 9 points (5 goals – 4 assists) in a 7-game point streak, Hank is on a career-high 12-game point streak (3 goals – 14 assists), and Kes has points in 7 of his last 8 games (6 goals – 4 assists – 10 points).

Roberto Luongo has also been playing well. He has a 0.950 save percentage in his last 3 games.

For the Sharks, Joe Pavelski is on a 4-game point streak (3 goals – 1 assist – 4 points) and leads the Sharks in scoring with 17 points (6 goals – 11 assists).

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are still without forwards Jordan Schroeder, Jannik Hansen, Dale Weise and David Booth. Booth is on a conditioning assignment in Utica, and isn’t expected to return until mid-November.

The San Jose Sharks are expected to play without forward Brent Burns (mouth). Forwards Adam Burish and Raffi Torres are both recovering from surgery and will not be playing.

Nov 072013
 
Photo source: www.canucks.com

Photo source: www.canucks.com

In the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, both Henrik and Daniel were among the Canucks skaters to shoot in the shootout. Daniel’s quick snapshot was stopped by Mike Smith, and Henrik lost the handle of the puck on his attempt, sealing the loss.

It still perplexes me as to how two of the most creative and offensively-gifted players in the entire league can perform so poorly in the shootout.  Perhaps they could spend some of their new $28 million on shootout coaches or lessons.

In the meantime, CHB readers offered up their suggestions on how the Sedins could improve their shootout performances in a “fill in the blank” version of the CHB Top 10.

“To score in the shootout, the Sedins ______________.”

HM:  “…need to spinorama.” – submitted by @harpsama

10:  “…need to practice on each other – Sedin Sync – seeing each other skate towards net.” – submitted by @tony_p_power

9:  “…must befriend Pavel Datsyuk.” – submitted by @manlycc

8:  “…should sit on the bench and watch.” – submitted by @MStoney21

7:  “…need a two pass minimum.” – submitted by @RusteeWatts

6:  “…should be on the bench until they allow twins to cycle in a shootout.” – submitted by @elmeebaterina

5:  “…have to go together.” – submitted by @transcendwebs

4:  “…need an empty net.” – submitted by @krissymchua

3:  “…need a skills session with Marek Malik.” – submitted by @mob1024

2:  “…need a cardboard cutout of a pass-ready Ryan Kesler in the net.” – submitted by @Rozzy80

1:  “…need to get the DeLorean up to 88 mph.” –submitted by @Swizzler16

Nov 052013
 
The Sedins and Kesler get plenty of attention, it's time for Kassian's closeup.  (Credit canucks.nhl.com)

The Sedins and Kesler get plenty of attention, it’s time for Kassian’s closeup.
(Credit canucks.nhl.com)

Another home stand has come and gone for the Vancouver Canucks and now it’s back on the road for a 4-game jaunt against 4 of the best teams in the Western Conference. Starting tonight in Phoenix, Arizona, the Canucks (10-5-1, 21 points) look to overtake the Coyotes (10-3-2, 22 points) in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes look to defend their home ice, where they haven’t lost in regulation yet this season (6-0-1). On the other hand, the Canucks take their newly-found confidence and swagger from their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and their impressive road record, second-best in the NHL (6-2-1), to a building in which they haven’t lost in regulation in four years.

What to Watch

A Team Canada battle.

Both Roberto Luongo and Mike Smith are candidates to be Team Canada’s goaltender for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Smith has some decent stats: 8-2-2 record, 2.87 GAA (28th in NHL) and a 0.917 save percentage (16th).

Luongo has been equally impressive: 8-4-1 record, 2.28 GAA (11th in NHL) and a 0.915% (19th). He also already has 2 shutouts this season, only 2 shutouts back of Patrick Roy on the NHL’s all-time leaders list.

Who’s Hot

The #beastmodo line – or Ry and Ginger line – of Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have combined for 14 goals and 18 assists in the 10 games they have played together. Against the Leafs, they played 2 shifts in the first 2 minutes of the game, built some early momentum, and then scored a rare powerplay goal early in the game. A good start is vital against Phoenix as the Coyotes haven’t lost a game yet this season when leading after the first period.

Who’s Out

David Booth is recovering from a lower body injury, and the Canucks announced on Monday that he has been assigned to the Utica Comets for a conditioning assignment. When the lower body injury subsides – and this latest wakeup call kicks in – he will hopefully use this stint in the minors to get his act together. Jordan Schroeder is out with a sprained ankle, as are Jannik Hansen (upper body injury) and Dale Weise (lower body injury).

The Phoenix Coyotes are not expected to have defenseman David Schlemko available this game with a lower body injury, and have a pair on the injured reserve list, Jeff Halpern and Rostislav Klesla.

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.

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