Mar 122010
 

I’m not Hordichuk’s biggest fan but one thing that’s been noticeable is how his presence, or lack thereof I should say, hasn’t been missed in the Canucks lineup. In fact the addition of Alberts has proven that the Canucks really don’t need Hordichuk’s skillset in order to get by. There was a time when the Canucks all around grit was lacking and there was the need for an enforcer. However as the team has evolved, Kesler’s grit factor has gone through the roof, Burrows retained his super pest attributes even though he skates on the top line, and anything Rypien can’t handle Glass will gladly take a stab at. Add to all that the recent acquisition of big boy Andrew Alberts and Hordichuk’s role becomes redundant.

When you look at the Canucks lineup you see a roster developed around Gillis’ MO of youth and speed. Gillis doesn’t go after players that are one dimensional and to that effect when he acquired Hordichuk it made sense. That being said on a team that has enforcers (and I use this term loosely as it’s referring to two guys who don’t physically fit the mould of an enforcer) that are smaller and can do the job they do the way Rypien and Glass do, that opens up a spot for another player who’s potentially more offensively inclined.

To that end, with the forwards log jam the Canucks have since Demitra’s return, Hordichuk’s sitting out has freed up a spot for Hansen. Hansen’s case actually amplifies my reasoning that Hordichuk’s taking up valuable bottom six space when he’s playing a role that’s not needed. On a bottom six that’s struggled Hansen’s made the most of his ice time making defensively sound plays and making the most of his offensive chances. Hordichuk wouldn’t have scored the back to back game winners Hansen scored. Hordichuk also has as many points as Matt Pettinger does, but he’s played six times as many games.

With Glass and Rypien taking care of the rough stuff, Kesler and Burrows getting in on a dance or two of their own, and Alberts’ size added to the Canucks lineup, going into the playoffs I really only see Hordichuk’s role being a limited reactionary one. The Canucks have finally found a way to play hockey that doesn’t require an enforcer. They’ve found an equilibrium of finesse and grit and taken the unnecessarily physical element out of the game. Unless the Canucks absolutely need an enforcer because they’re playing a team like Philadelphia, I wouldn’t give up a spot that a scorer could take for him. With Pettinger on a two-way contract I’d even go as far as to say if there was a further injury to the bottom six he deserves a call up over Hordichuk slotting in. Hordichuk’s game is a good one, and he can skate amongst the best Canucks, but when you’ve got other players that can skate as well and provide more offense, it becomes a no brainer.

Dec 172009
 

Darcy Hordichuk was brought to the Canucks for one reason and one reason only. To be a brute, to crush not just hit, and to chuck knuckles raining fists of fury. He was brought on to either to spark some energy via taking down, or at least taking on the other team’s heavyweight. He was brought on as our heavyweight and was expected to use his grit as retribution for a bad hit, a yapping Avery-type character, or dirty play.

Hordichuk is not on this team for his speed or his offense. His offense is a notch above Shane O’Brien. Actually, half a notch. Gillis said he brought him onto the team because he was a tough guy and a heavy weight, but also because he was not one dimensional. He could skate, had some hands, and could also use those hands to pummel opponents. I remember the Hordichuk that played for the Predators and Panthers. That’s the Hordichuk that I thought this team was landing. Unfortunately we’ve seen the complete opposite of what we expected.

Since coming to the Canucks his scraps have been Jeff Cowan-esque at best. This isn’t hug fest 2010. Last night his attempted fight further put things in perspective. Hell, even Shane O’Brien stood his ground against Chipchurra and put up a valiant effort. I haven’t seen him decimate someone the way he used to when he was in Florida. This season has put things into an even better perspective because Hordichuk’s orders are being covered by Rypien and Glass who will take on anything with two fists that looks at them the wrong way. Rypien doesn’t care how big a guy is he’ll chuck knuckles. When you have a guy like Rypien taking on the heavy weights, Glass taking on anyone else, and even Kesler trying to pick fights here and there, there is no need for Hordichuk taking up bench space. He’s here to fight, and since he’s not fighting all he’s doing is floating. This team has checkers and 4th liners a dime a dozen and the team would get more from a Mario Bliznak on the 4th line than they’re getting from Hordichuk.

He’s a role player, and his role is supposed to be an enforcer. If he’s not enforcing we don’t need him. He’s not fighting, he’s not hitting, and we don’t need a floater. The Canucks can use his spot for a number of players that would bring more to the game than he is bringing right now. The Canucks enforcer is getting shown up by two kids that can fight and provide an offensive aspect to their game. He’s gone from the multi-dimensional player Gillis saw he was, to playing dimensionless hockey. Remind me why he wasted his summer training with Chuck Liddell?

Sep 172009
 

I’ll admit it, I’m a big – like really big – fan of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother”. That one of the lead actresses, Cobie Smulders, is from Vancouver, and that the writers throw out a few Vancouver Canucks references, is a bonus.

Here is the latest (via CDC):

The full interview with Cobie Smulders is here.

Sep 122009
 
Canucks skate at UBC

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

If you can believe it, Canucks training camp opens today. The players will report to UBC for their medicals and then make themselves to available to the media.

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!

May 012009
 

The 10 day break was long and hard for fans and for the players. So much so that Bieksa and Kesler even got into it a little bit in practice. But that’s a good thing. It showed they still had their edge.

First game against the Blackhawks was everything people expected and then some. A rollercoaster of emotion GM Place went from being louder than a jet engine, to being so quiet you could hear mice scurrying around in the rafters. The Canucks didn’t show an abundance of rust, and they didn’t show an a lot of over confidence either. They played 45 minutes in a 60 minute game and one could argue came out on the lucky end of the draw.

In the first period the Canucks rust showed, they were unable to keep pucks in at the blue line, they were messing up routine plays. At the start of the third they let their over confidence show a little, and who better than the Canucks to show you how to blow a 3 goal lead. Hordichuck’s penalty was a bad one, a costly one, and a big turning point in the game.

While the Canucks did surrender 3 unanswered to blow that huge usually-safe-when-other-teams-have-it lead the reassuring thing was that none of the goals Luongo let in were bad. Luongo after letting in only 5 goals in the four games against St. Louis can now say he’s had his bad game. He looked solid despite the lack of game time in the last week and a half and the whole team looked like they used game one as a get-back-in-the-groove-of-things game. They escaped with the win and I’ve never seen Sami Salo so excited in my entire life.

In Game 2 the Canucks are going for a franchise record 6th straight playoff win, they’ve currently tied their franchise record of 5 playoff wins in a row which they accomplished twice during their ’94 cup run, and their 9th win a row including their last three games of the regular season. In that time Luongo is 8-0 with 3 shutouts.

The Canucks and Blackhawks both looked timid in the first game. The Canucks were getting back into things, the Blackhawks were still tired from round one and were struggling to find their game during the first two periods, and both teams were feeling out the refs. I have a feeling Game 2 is going to be faster, fiestier, and even better than the first game. The rust covered confidence the Canucks had in the first game is out the window. They found their legs towards the end of the game and as the game progressed you could tell they were falling into sync with each stride they took. What better matchup to headline Canada’s favourite Saturday past time, Hockey Night in Canada, than showcasing what is now “Canada’s Team”, the Canucks, as they are the last remaining Canadian team in the hunt for Stanley. Canucks and Blackhawks game 2 is going to see a lot more hitting and energy.

Oh yeah, and that Khabibulin guy, still hasn’t beaten us since 1998.

May 012009
 

Last night’s 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks was an important one. The obvious first reason is that it gave our Vancouver Canucks a 1-0 series lead. That’s cool, but also, the process by which they won will surely serve as a lesson for the remainder of the series.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first 40 minutes, the Canucks came out flat in the third period. For the first 18 minutes of the third period, their defensive coverage was sloppy and they showed about as much emotion as Freddie Prinze Jr. in character. As unthinkable as it seemed at the time, they allowed the Blackhawks to claw back and tie the game.

To be fair, the Canucks kept their composure, and in the end, they pulled off the victory anyway… but not before I hope they learnt, 1) to play the full 60 minutes, and 2) not to take these Blackhawks lightly.

*****

I love what Darcy Hordichuk and Rick Rypien has brought to this lineup, but man, the penalties they took last night were just dumb.

*****

Speaking of dumb…

You guys already know how I feel about the NHL’s method for disciplining players. I wonder how they will handle Ben Eager’s late hit to Rick Rypien’s head.

In a lot of ways, it’s similar to Donald Brashear’s hit on Blair Betts last week – a cheap shot that earned Brashear a six-game suspension. Take a look:

Both Brashear and Eager went out of their way to deliver late, late hits to the head. Both have a history of these sorts of incidents with the league. If one was suspended, shouldn’t the other be as well?

Apr 302009
 
Mar 242009
 
Mar 202009
 
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