Dec 172009

According to Elliott Pap (Vancouver Sun), there’s good news on the Canucks injury front.

First, on Alex Edler:

“Eddie has gone from week-to-week to day-to-day but obviously not tomorrow,” Vigneault said after preparing his skaters for Friday’s date with the soaring Washington Capitals.

Edler hurt his left shoulder Dec. 8 in Nashville when checked into the sideboards by Shea Weber. The hard-shooting Swede has been skating for five days so his conditioning is not an issue. He’s just concerned about the shoulder’s ability to withstand body contact.

Second, on Michael Grabner:

Meanwhile, rookie Michael Grabner is also close to returning, although he’ll likely start in Manitoba with the Moose. Grabner broke his right ankle Nov. 1 in a bizarre pre-game soccer warmup in the hallways of GM Place. At the time, he was on a call-up to replace the injured Daniel Sedin.

Grabner thinks he is close to 100 per cent. He practised fully with the team on Thursday.

Practices will soon become a lot lonelier for Pavol Demitra.

Also, Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province) is reporting that Aaron Rome may replace Mathieu Schneider in the lineup tomorrow night. (Hat tip to Nucks Misconduct.)

Nov 252009

With all the injuries at the start of the season the Canucks managed to get out of a sticky situation with too many players on the roster. They didn’t have to deal with the bubble players, and they tapped the Manitoba Moose dry of NHL worthy players. With players gradually returning from injury, the question of who deserves a roster spot has to be revisited. The Canucks blue line has been stocked full of players and fortunately hasn’t been hit by the injury bug, however when you look at the forwards roster, it looks like now is the time to figure out who’s earned a spot on this team. As far as players on the injury list, there’s one player who doesn’t factor into the issue and that’s Alexandre Bolduc. With the return of Jannik Hansen and the way Hansen has been playing, Bolduc’s playing on a team where there’s a lot of depth at his position. Unless Rypien or another one of the bottom six goes down to injury, Bolduc will be sent down to the Manitoba Moose.

In past years, Vigneault has made it very clear that he has no problem benching a player that doesn’t deserve to be on the ice. He showed that earlier in the season by benching Darcy Hordichuk and it payed off. With Grabner approximately 3-4 weeks through a 4-6 week ankle injury, now’s the time to start thinking about what to do upon his return. With complete and utter lack of production from Wellwood on all fronts, it seems ridiculous not to bench Wellwood, or send Wellwood down to the farm team in favour of the Austrian Canuck. In Grabner’s 9 games he’s amassed more points (5) than Wellwood (2) has in 23 games. He also proved to have great chemistry alongside Kesler and Raymond. Wellwood needs someone to light a fire under him, and Grabner’s return would be just that.

With that in mind, it looks like Burrows has found his game with the Sedins which means he’ll likely stay with Henrik and Daniel if he can regain that offensive touch now that Daniel’s returned. With that in mind though, A Canucks team with one more Grabner and one less Wellwood is a more offensive team. Burrows was, and can still be a 3rd liner. To allow for Grabner’s return I would be willing to see Burrows return to the 3rd line and play alongside Bernier and Johnson leaving Samuelsson to join his compatriots, the Twins. This opens up a spot on the second for Grabner to return and play with Raymond and Kesler. He has the speed, and it’s clear there was chemistry. Wellwood needs time off the ice to sort out his head. He’s not playing good hockey at all, and although he earned a roster spot with his play in the pre-season, we’re 23 games removed from that audition and it’s time to re-evaluate if the Canucks want to start playing something more than .500 hockey.

Oct 142009
Michael Grabner

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Three years after the Canucks selected him with the 14th overall draft pick, Michael Grabner will finally make his NHL debut.

The Vancouver Canucks have recalled forward Michael Grabner from the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose.

Grabner, Vancouver’s first-round draft choice in 2006, will make his NHL debut Friday when the Canucks play in Calgary.

The 23-year-old Austrian is considered a scoring winger, a better finisher than playmaker. He has four goals and six points in five games with Manitoba this season. Over the last two AHL seasons, Grabner has 52 goals.

Grabner’s early season play had earned him some encouraging words from Moose coach, Scott Arniel, and veteran teammate Mike Keanel, and no doubt a recommendation to Mike Gillis for him to replace the lost offense thanks to long-term injuries to Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo.

Presented with a second chance now, Moose head coach Scott Arniel said it will be up to Grabner to seize the moment and prove he belongs in Vancouver, not Winnipeg.

“It’s nice to see him get a chance. He’s earned it and now it’s up to him,” Arniel said this morning prior to his team’s skate at MTS Centre in preparation for tonight’s game against the Abbotsford Heat.

“He could be up there as long as Daniel is out — and if he really shows well, he could be up there the rest of the year. It’s up to him. Hopefully he makes the most of his opportunity.”

The sentiment was echoed by Moose captain — and three time Stanley Cup champion — Mike Keane. “He’s got big-league talent,” said Keane. “He’s obviously got big league skill — it’s going to be up to him up there to make the adjustment.”

Better than he did in the preseason, we hope.

Oct 132009

I’m actually not surprised that the first call-ups this season worked out to be Tanner Glass, Guilluame Desbiens and Aaron Rome, over say, Michael Grabner. Remember that the Canucks promoted Mason Raymond to the second line to replace Sergei Shirokov, and promoted Steve Bernier to the first line to replace Daniel Sedin; and thus, they needed to replace Shirokov and Raymond on Kyle Wellwood’s third line. At the time, the Canucks were looking for defensively-responsible bottom-six players and Glass and Desbiens fit that profile better than Grabner.

But the lineup in Sunday’s win against the Dallas Stars had mixed results. Getting the two points was nice (which by the way I’m not complaining about), but it was obvious that the Canucks’ offense didn’t have the same pop as when they averaged of 38.8 shots per game in their first four games. Against the Stars, the Canucks threw 25 shots at Marty Turco, 17 of them from the top two lines.

With Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo out for 4 to 6 weeks, the question is the kind of team the Canucks want to ice in the next little while.

If the Canucks want to play a more conservative style while their leading goal scorer and best overall defenseman recover from their injuries, then they’ll probably recall a Matt Pope or give Desbiens another chance. (Incidentally, Desbiens probably played as well as could be expected from a bottom-six player – just over 9 minutes in playing time, a couple of hits, some good forechecking, some bad giveaways, and a minor penalty – before being sent back down to the Manitoba Moose today.)

If the Canucks want to return to playing three scoring lines, then look for Grabner or Shirokov to get the call. Grabner will be an intriguing choice because his less-than-stellar preseason has been well-documented. That said, he’s off to a fast start in the AHL and already has 8 points (5G-3A) in the Moose’s first six games, and a call-up to a team that is looking for more offense is perhaps now well-deserved.

Sep 282009
Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner celebrate a goal

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Since Mike Gillis took over as Canucks GM, there has been a lot of talk about pouring more resources into scouting and player development. After two off-seasons now, it’s easy to see the positive impacts this has had in the system.

I don’t think it’s a secret that Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner disappointed this preseason, but looking at the bigger picture, we’ve now found out that the organization is deep enough that the team doesn’t have to rush them into the big leagues. They can afford to keep guys like Jordan Schroeder (NCAA), Anton Rodin (Sweden) and Kevin Connauton (WHL) where they can develop better. And while it’s disappointing to see that Hodgson and Grabner aren’t ready for regular NHL duty, it’s easier to digest because others like Sergei Shirokov, Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood seem ready to take on bigger roles.

The pro scouting has improved as well. It wasn’t long ago that the Canucks were signing players like Tommi Santala and Brad Isbister to round up the roster. This summer, Gillis signed college players Eric Walsky and Evan Oberg and under-the-radar players like Tanner Glass, Matt Pope, Aaron Rome and Michael Funk – all of these guys made good impressions on the Canucks brass, and Glass and Rome specifically may have moved right up to the top of the team’s depth chart.

IMHO, the Canucks just finished what was probably their most competitive training camp in their history. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that it happened at a time when there are players on the bottom part of the system that are able to push the ones on top.

Sep 212009

When I went to UBC to watch the first day of Canucks training camp, one of the things I immediately noticed was how frustrated Michael Grabner looked. His body language sagged and he muttered under his breath with every missed scoring chance – odd responses considering that he was coming off his best season in the AHL. His frustration and lack of confidence has obviously carried over into his preseason play.

While guys like Mason Raymond, Sergei Shirokov, and to lesser extents, Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen have stood out positively in the last week or so, Grabner has grabbed attention for all the wrong reasons. Take Saturday night’s game against Ducks for example. The Canucks won 3-1 and extended their preseason record to 4-0, but Grabner was practically non-existent.

With Shirokov out with a knee injury, Grabner will get yet another chance to turn his preseason around. He’ll dress against the Flames tonight and play alongside Cody Hodgson and Steve Bernier – the opportunity to impress doesn’t get much better with linemates like that. And in case Grabner didn’t get the message, Alain Vigneault added:

“I saw him last year in Manitoba and he was a dominant player in that league [AHL] with his speed and being able to use his shot to create scoring opportunities,” Vigneault said about Grabner.

“He hasn’t been able to do it so far at our level. If his expectations are to be with us this year, he’s going to have to have a better week.”

Like a lot better.

Jun 132009

So, it’s been a while, eh? This lovely summer weather hit and I turned into a total blogger slacker. I do apologize my lovelies.

- The Penguins win last night delighted me. There’s a lot of guys I like individually on the Wings but I just wanted it more for the Penguins. Tangers made me weep when he mentioned Luc Bourdon and winning it with him. That is why I wanted the Penguins to pull it off. Geno Malkin was ALL KINDS of adorable in his post game interview. Oh the broken English “Big day…my life…my friends happy…I happy” Ahhhhh. So precious. I want to skip down the street arm and arm with him and have him sing me songs. Max Talbot is a folk hero and I assume he is locked up long term in Pittsburgh but damn. He and Burrows would make one sexy, charming, French Canadian sammich. Next time I’m near a fountain I’m going to wish that so hard.

- Should we talk some Swedins? Lately I’ve been calling them the soft peepers thanks to a blog friend of mine. I kind of like it. It’s pretty cute. Now, if they want 7 million, I say that’s too much cabbage. We’ll have to say hejda (that’s goodbye in Swedish). But if it’s for less than 7 let’s get it done. We need those two crazy kids. With their complexions, they wouldn’t do well in Tampa or LA or other steamy locales. I think for their skins sakes they should stay in Vancouver. Just to do our part, we should try to do everything we can to get them to sign.

Write them haikus. If they were in Swedish and scented to give a little something extra that would be even better.

Send them for massages at the Swedish Touch Massage parlour. Offer to drive the bus. Also, spring a surprise stop at IKEA for meatballs and affordable furniture. If you are at all mechanical offer to put their newly purchased affordable furniture together for them.

Buy apples and carrots for their racehorses. Oh and suger cubes. Horses love that shit.

Wash their volvos.

- The poor little Moosies were eliminated last night. Don’t worry little babies, you’re still totally rad and got further than your parent team did by a long shot. Heh. There’s always next year. Those Bears will…go into hibernation next time.

- Rumour on the street is that the Canucks have signed Sergei Shirokov and he may be coming over for training camp in the fall. Oooooh. We haven’t had a Russian in a while. I always love when the Canucks get more international. This hasn’t been confirmed so we’ll just have to wait and see but there could be some fun competition at camp. Cody Hodgson will be putting shaving cream in Michael Grabner’s skates and Grabby will be shrinking Sergei Shirokov’s sweater. Heh.

- I’m going to be at the draft in Montreal and it will be an epically good time. There will be tons of cooing over the Canucks draft picks and lots of schenanigans around Montreal. If you hear of a girl getting arrested for dancing on a table with underage defence draft picks, it’s most likely me. Send bail money if you’re so inclined.

- There’s only 110 days until the regular season starts! The Canucks will be making us cry and hit the bottle in no time at all.

May 222009

- It appears I’m jumping on the Penguins bandwagon for the rest of the playoffs. The Wings don’t need another Cup. As much as like a bunch of their players, as a whole team I just can’t get behind them. I’ve tried embracing this crush on the Blackhawks that the NHL keeps pimpin, but I can’t do it. They’re kind of whiney and I find I giggle too much when they do badly. The Canes are pretty cool actually. But I’m chillin with the Penguins because of two things

1) MALKIN. His hat trick last night, especially the third goal, was mesmerizing. I could watch it over and over. He makes me want to learn Russian and have him over to make perogies and drink vodka. We can play his highlight video in the background. And how adorable were his parents in the stands?

2) LETANG! He is beautiful to watch skate and he has the most magical long flowing hair. I mean I really do want to ask him what product he uses because my hair never looks that good. TSN had a lovely but rather heartbreaking interview with Letang about how he still thinks of Luc Bourdon. H/T to wraparoundcurl. It’s hard to believe it was almost a year ago. RIP. You can’t help but cheer on Letang’s team, honestly.

- I’m not too fond of this Neidermayer brother rumour. I’d rather they worry about getting the identical brothers we already do have re signed. I’m not particularly fond of either of them, but even looking past my lack of fondness, I don’t think there’s enough cash. Scott would probably average what 5 or 6 million? Then his bro would probably want around 1.5/2 ish? It seems like Rob wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the third/fourth line guys we already have. I suppose Scott by himself would make some sense. I’m still thinking Gillis walks away from this though.

- The Flyers are rumoured to have offered the Canucks Jeff Carter for Lui and the rights to negotiate with Matty Ohlund with possible other smaller profile players involved as well. Now, I am not on this weird trade Lui train at all and I know Gillis said he wouldn’t but Jeff Carter would be pretty damn nice to have around. Just close your eyes and imagine it for funsies. That wrist shot makes me purr…

- I think next season will be fun to watch with this little youth movement that’s starting to happen. Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner have a shot to make the team. I hope Gillis manages to make offers to Jannik Hansen and Welly and Ripper. SOB was an adventure this year but was also really solid at times. I hope he gets re signed. It’s certainly not going to be boring at the very least. I’m already jonesing for new Canucks hockey. Is it September yet?

May 152009

- Cody Hodgson made his Moose debut tonight and scored his first pro point as the Moose took game one against the Aeros 2-1. That’s so exciting! If Canucks fans get what they’re hoping for, Cody won’t spend much time at all with the Moose, but it’s nice to see he’s fitting in so well. It sounds like Cory Scheider was great as well because the baby Canucks were outshot 32-18. It’s going to be good news for Gillis if guys like Cody, Cory, and Michael Grabner can step in for the big team next season. Game summary here

- The Canucks website is putting out specials about the mum’s trip and the players that brought their mummies and they are absolutely charming. So far we’ve learned that Willie Mitchell was in the shower when the Devils drafted him and asked his Grandma to take a message, Ryan Kesler was the only 8 year old that knew what backchecking was, Alex Burrows’ mummy asked him to speak to her class of students, and Mason Raymond knows how ride a horse and played hockey with his dog.

- Darcy Hordichuk wrote his last blog of the season and it is pretty delightful. It’s been fun learning a bit more about him behind the scenes and he really seemed to love playing in Vancouver this past year.

- Richard and J.J are doing a great job of covering the Canucks UFAs and the whole discussion over keeping Lui or not, so I figured I would do a little research about some of the baby draft picks the Canucks could possibly pick in June. I went to the draft last year and it was a total blast. These little babies in suits make me cooo. You just want them to do well. We’ve got to pass this off season somehow, so look for that in the next few days.

- My most favourite Swede and hockey boyfriend Matty Ohlund is really sounding like he’s leaving Vancouver. It makes me a sad panda but I guess all good things have to come to end eventually. He’s a classy gent and he understands and I’m sure he’ll be fab wherever he goes. But anyways, darlings, this means I’m going to be out a favourite player next season. Any thoughts on what Canuck I should line up for next season? I might do a series of posts on that later in the off season. It’s going to be jumping around here don’t you worry!

Mar 072009
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