Nov 292013
 

It looked like a road trip away from Rogers Arena was just what the Vancouver Canucks needed.

Against the Ottawa Senators last night, the Canucks, playing their first of 4 games on the road, won convincingly by a 5-2 score. But it wasn’t just the final score that was impressive. David Booth played perhaps his best game in two years, and had a goal and an assist. Jason Garrison scored his first goal in 25 games. Dale Weise and Mike Santorelli both scored greasy goals from in front of the net. And Roberto Luongo made 37 saves.

With games like that, totally should have.

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 142013
 

David Booth and Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: CTV.ca

John Tortorella has lived and died by his top two lines this season with the Sedins and Ryan Kesler easily on pace to destroy their career averages in ice-time.  While this is perfectly fine for now, I can’t see the Canucks’ top six forwards being able to stay at the top of their game at the tail end of the season if Tortorella is going to continue to ride them so hard, especially when you factor in that Daniel, Henrik and Kesler are certain to be traveling to Russia to compete in the Olympics.

I decided to take a look at just how reliable the third line has been this season and see if Tortorella is riding his top guys too hard, or if he really doesn’t have a competent third line to work with to take some pressure off the top-six.

Part of the problem with this is that the Canucks have had so many injuries that the third line hasn’t been very constant with players moving around and players like Dale Weise and Tom Sestito playing up when they obviously aren’t top-nine forwards.  For the sake of this argument I made the assumption that the Sedins, Kesler, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins are all entrenched on the top two lines and that David Booth, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli, Jannik Hansen, Jordan Schroeder and Zack Kassian are all guys who are likely to see time on the third line either now or in the future

One final prelude is what I actually think the Canucks’ third line should be capable of.  It is not realistic to expect these guys to be scoring a goal a night, but what they should be able to do is eat up some minutes while keeping the puck out of their own net and hopefully driving play with a Corsi percentage of 50%. I’m sure Tortorella would appreciate a low event third line as long as more time is spent in the opponent’s end than their own, you know if he paid attention to advanced stats.

Of the guys I mentioned above, Booth, Santorelli, and Hansen are players who are great at driving possession.  At 5-on-5, the Canucks have controlled 57.4% of shot attempts with Hansen on the ice, 53.3% with Booth on the ice, and 53.5% with Santorelli on the ice. Santorelli has benefitted the most from injuries and playing with Higgins but still, he appears to be a reliable player at this point.  As we head further down the depth chart the results are less encouraging with Kassian at 48.1%, and Richardson at 42.2%, even with his 5 goals. To put that in perspective, Richardson’s Corsi is in Weise and Sestito territory.

To take it a bit further, I took a look at how each player has played when teamed up with Kassian over the last 3 seasons (since he was traded to Vancouver) to see how they performed as a unit to try to minimize the effect of playing with other players.  Why Kassian as the constant? I figured he isn’t likely to move up or down the lineup much this season as Tortorella has used him almost exclusively on the third line. There isn’t much “with you” data for some players but I included them anyway.

Zack Kassian’s With You Stats (2011-2014)
Player Time Goals CF% GF/20 GA/20

David Booth

144:13 3 55.0 0.416 0.416

Brad Richardson

88:32 4 44.9 1.129 0.678

Mike Santorelli

48:45 0 53.0 0 0

Jannik Hansen

2:46 0 40.0 0 0

Jordan Schroeder

56:27 0 44.3 0 0.711

 

When teamed up with Kassian guys are more than less playing at the same level as they are with other players based on their Corsi percentage.  As a unit they’ve given up too many goals but in such a small sample size it’s probably not a huge concern. In an unrelated note, one thing that did surprise me was how little Hansen and Kassian have played together at 5-on-5 since “the trade”.  You’d think those two would have played more than three minutes together.

So, what does all this really mean? I think that the Canucks have a third line that is capable of eating up minutes without being a liability when you have Booth and Kassian on the ice. One of the reasons I didn’t agree with the “conditioning” assignment or scratching of Booth was that the team desperately needs him to play to take pressure off the top-six.  Yes, the Canucks would prefer he score goals at the price they’re paying him, but the team hasn’t been scored on with him on the ice this year which is pretty valuable too.  As more players return from injury, I’d feel pretty comfortable with a Booth-Santrorelli-Kassian line, and Richardson moving back down to the fourth line while being a valuable penalty killer. My hope is that Tortorella will too and allow the Sedins and Kesler to go back to around 18-21 minutes a game.

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 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.

Oct 312013
 

Are you still trying to figure out your Halloween Costume? Picking the perfect costume can be a real conundrum. Just in case some of our beloved Canucks players are still searching for the perfect costume, we here at CHB have put together some choice suggestions that are bound to score them lots of candy… and maybe a few laughs.

David Booth should go as Ricky Bobby

Ricky Boothy... I mean Bobby.

Ricky Boothy… I mean Bobby.

This is the perfect costume for Booth because it’s hillbilly-ish which suits him and I’m sure he uses delicious Wonder Bread to make his freshly killed Moose meat sandwiches… or deer meat or antelope or wookie or whatever else he’s killed lately. Only drawback is he has to carry the helmet around because you know he can’t cover that lucious flow. But turn that helmet upside down and it’s a candy bucket!

Tom Sestito should go as Frankenstein

Sestitostein

Sestitostein

This works for Tom because Frankenstein is all stitched together and Sestito has a lot of facial scars from where he’s been stitched together. Plus at 6’5 and 228 pounds he’s a monster even without the green face paint.

The Sedin twins should go as Twins

Twins as Twins

Twins as Twins

Hank and Dank probably have matching outfits lying around somewhere. All they have to do is slap them on and then one of them has to walk on his knees all night and BOOM! Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger from the ’80s chucklefest “Twins”. Get it? Get it? Hysterical! Okay, well maybe not our best work…. moving on.

Eddie Lack should go as Elf

Lack Elf

Lack Elf

I read the article about Eddie and Zach Kassian carving pumpkins at Canucks Place and they said it was the first time Eddie ever carved a pumpkin. That made me wonder – do they not celebrate Halloween in Sweden? Has poor Lack never experience the sugar rush of a pillowcase full of chocolate?! If that’s the case then the whole holiday might confuse him. Perhaps it’s best if he clings to a holiday he knows, like Christmas. Plus, I bet he’d look adorable in tights.

Roberto Luongo as Razor Ramon

razorluI’ll be honest, I have no idea who Razor Ramon is. I just want to see Lu with even more grease in his hair and  shirtless in a vest. Who doesn’t want that?!

Ryan Kesler should go as Wolverine

Keslerine

Keslerine

Kesler would make a perfect Wolverine this Halloween. He’s got the hair. He can grown the side burns. And he’s recently rediscovered his beastmode again. Plus I can’t think of one female that wouldn’t give him all their candy if he showed up in nothing but a pair of adamantium claws. Rawr!

Other costume ideas I didn’t have time to make images of but were still great include:

  • Zack Kassian as the Hulk
  • Daniel Sedin as Henrik Sedin and Henrik Sedin as Daniel Sedin
  • Zack Kassian as Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
  • Andrew Alberts as Mr. Potato Head

Do you have any costume ideas for Canucks players? What are you going as this Halloween? Tell CHB!

Oct 302013
 

Luongo looks to remain calm, cool and collected against the forceful red wings tonight in Vancouver.  (Credit thescore.com)

Luongo looks to remain calm, cool and collected against the forceful red wings tonight in Vancouver.
(Credit thescore.com)

Formerly bonded by the Western Conference, the Canucks look to take on the struggling Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7:30 PM. The Red Wings, having won only 6 of their last 12 games, seem like easy pickings for the Canucks. However, the Red Wings won 2 of 3 games in the season series last season and outscored the Canucks 14-7. Detroit is in for a ride with the always interesting, Tortorella-driven team, the Canucks will get the early lead tonight in Vancouver. (Power of suggestion works right?).

What to watch

The scoreboard. The Canucks have gotten into an anxiety-inducing habit of having to come from behind in the third period. Maybe scoring an early goal or two and maintaining a lead can help lot of premature heart attacks

Also keep an eye on the penalty box. The referees have made a few Canuck-deprecating calls so keeping momentum through those times will be key. The Red Wings’ powerplay ranks 11th in the NHL, clicking at 21.6%.

Who to watch

The Sedins against “brothers from another mother” Bertuzzi and Datsyuk. These first liners will match up their points against one another in the ultimate battle of “No I can do it better!”. Don’t let Bertuzzi and Datsyuk bully you Sedins, your mom has done only admirable things.

The Red Wings have moved their lines quite a bit, but seem to have settled with Datsyuk playing with Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg, while Daniel Alfredsson will start on the second line with Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary. Alfredsson currently leads the team with 8 assists. Both lines will cause trouble so this would be a good time for Kassian to activate “brick wall” mode and match their physicality.

For the Canucks, Ryan Kesler looks to extend his 5-game point streak. Now 3rd on the team in scoring (8 goals, 5 assists and 13 points) after a slow start, he’s played really well with the Hank and Dank, and their skill and his speed certainly complement each other. Kesler has never failed to impress in random bouts but consistency is what they need most from him.

Who’s out

The Wings have a few players out some with injuries. Johan Franzen is out with an undisclosed injury. Red Wings GM Ken Holland says odds are hopeful Franzen will be good for Friday’s game against Calgary, but the Canucks will not see him tonight. Darren Helm is out with back and groin injuries, Patrick Eaves is out with a leg injury, and their no. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard won’t be in net because of an upper body injury. The Wings’ healthy scratches include former Canuck Mikael Samuelsson, Brendan Smith and youngster Tomas Tatar.

The Canucks have been plagued with injuries as well. Jordan Schroeder is out 2 more months with an ankle injury, Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen are both out for 3-4 weeks, and David Booth is out for 1-2 more weeks.

Oct 252013
 

No forwards? No problem.

Already playing with just 11 forwards against the New Jersey Devils, the Vancouver Canucks lost David Booth and Dale Weise to unknown injuries in the first period. With only 9 healthy forwards – and Andrew Alberts – left up front, Hank and Dank Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Mike Santorelli and Chris Higgins all logged 21+ minutes of ice-time.

By the end of the game, it was obvious the Canucks didn’t have a lot of gas left in the tank. But Roberto Luongo came to the rescue, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the third period, when the Canucks were drastically outplayed, plus all 3 Devils’ shootout attempts.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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 072013
 

Welcome to the second TGATT of the Canucks 2013/14 season. Well, really it should’ve been the third by J.J. decided it was a good idea to get all hooped up on mai tais in Hawaii and dropped the ball! Talk about letting down the team, eh?

Anyhow, what did we expect from the Canucks last night? The lackluster effort like we saw in San Jose or the beating we saw them lay against the Oilers at home Saturday?

Sure you did.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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