Apr 142014
 

It’s been a memorable season, though mostly for the wrong reasons. Last night, the Canucks handed out their awards; today, it’s our turn to handpick some of the best of the best and the worst of the worst of the 2013/2014 Canucks season.

*****

Manny Malhotra Award for Most Underappreciated Forward
(presented by Clay)

Winner: Mike Santorelli

Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks

Mike Santorelli, Vancouver Canucks

It’s no coincidence that the Canucks’ woes started at around the same time that Mike Santorelli went down thanks to Martin Hanzal of the Phoenix Coyotes. Up until that point, Santorelli was enjoying a career year with 28 points in 49 games, including a wonderful stretch of 12 points in 11 games in late November and early December. He played mostly at centre (with a bit of time on the wing) and gave the team some depth and a different look. It will be interesting to see if Trevor Linden is able to lock up him to a new contract.

Runner-Up: Brad Richardson

Brad Richardson has quietly put together a strong year and his 23 points in his second-best career total. He is a reliable penalty killer and strong in his own end, as he is one of the few Canucks with a positive +/- rating. He is the anchor of the Canucks’ third line that has been a pleasant surprise and best line for the team at times.

*****

Dana Muryzn Award for Most Underappreciated Defenseman
(presented by Matt)

Winner: Chris Tanev

In a season where just about everything went wrong, Chris Tanev was one of the few bright spots from the blueline. Tanev retained his defensive stalwart status and rarely looked out of place, and even made some strides offensively by potting six goals and adding eleven assists, which by Tanev standards is quite pleasant.

Runner-Up: Ryan Stanton

Stanton, who gets our honorable mention, proved to be a stabilizing force as a third pairing blueliner. Not bad for a waiver wire pickup.

*****

Jason King Award for Most Promising Young Player
(presented by J.J.)

Winner: Zack Kassian

In just his second full NHL season, Kassian posted 14 goals, 15 assists and 29 points, all but 1 goal on even-strength, and mostly while playing in the bottom-six. Kass’ development – his physical play, presence and control improved immensely as the season went on – should be encouraging for the Canucks, who have been clamoring for a big and skilled winger for a long time.

Runner-Up: Eddie Lack

At one point this season, Lack was among the league’s best in GAA, save percentage and shutouts. His numbers dipped in the last couple of months as Torts started him in 19 consecutive games after the Olympic Break, but still, it’s been a season to build on for the rookie goaltender, who, barring the Canucks acquiring another big-name goaltender in the summer, will be the team’s starter moving forward.

*****

Barry Pederson Award for Most Disappointing Player
(presented by Matt)

Winner: Alex Burrows

For everything that could be said about the lack of production from the Sedin twins, Alex Burrows was supposed to be the constant. Troublesome and untimely injuries limited him to just five goals in 49 games, but valid excuses aside, this is a player who was a mortal lock for 25+ goals annually. Are those days gone?

Runner-Up: David Booth

Expectations were tempered from the start so it’s hard to say he was disappointing when you’re not expecting a whole lot.

*****

Alexander Mogilny Award for Best Player in a Bad Season
(presented by Delia)

Winner: Mike Santorelli

Despite being out since late January, Mike Santorelli was the Canucks best player in this bad, bad season. When healthy, Santorelli was a very consistent player – played well, scored goals, and assisted on many goals. In fact, despite missing the final 33 games of the season, Santorelli still sits in 6th place on the Canucks points leaderboard with 28 points (10 goals, 18 assists).

Runner-Up: Eddie Lack

The Canucks sure lacked a lot this season, but for the most part, they didn’t lack goaltending. After Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers, Eddie Lack was left with the number one job, and he certainly did not disappoint. Since February 26th, Lack played 19 consecutive games, and had an 8-9-2 record with 2 shutouts in that period.

*****

Brandon Reid Award for Best Callup
(presented by J.J.)

Winner: Nicklas Jensen

While the Canucks’ top-six were dropping like flies mid-season, Canucks fans repeatedly asked for Jensen to be called up from the Utica Comets. After getting passed over by 4th line guys like Darren Archibald and Kellan Lain initially, Jensen finally got his opportunity on March 8th, and he proceeded to post 5 points (3 goals and 2 assists) in his first 7 games.

Runner-Up: Kellan Lain

In Lain’s first game in the bigs, he logged a grand total of 2 seconds, yet ended up with a fight and 15 minutes in penalties. In his second game, he scored a goal on his second shift. It’s about as memorable a start to an NHL career as anyone’s.

*****

The Martin Rucinsky We Probably Won’t Miss You When You’re Gone Award
(presented by Lizz)

Winner: Alex Edler

David Booth may have seemed like a shoo-in for this one. After all he does seem like the most likely candidate for being bought out this summer, but I find the argument that Edler is actually the better long-term buy-out choice pretty convincing, and even if he’s not, new President Trevor Linden has already revealed that he’s not against asking a player to waive a no-trade clause, so we could see Edler submitting a destination list this summer.

So why exactly won’t we be missing him? Well since signing his new six-year extension in early 2013, he hasn’t exactly done much to convince anyone he’s earned it.

Edler also finished the season with a league-worst (!) minus-39 rating. Now you may say plus/minus doesn’t mean much of anything, and I agree it’s not the most insightful stat, but that is still an awful lot of time to be on the ice when goals are being scored against your team.

It’s really only a symptom of a larger issue.

Edler hasn’t been making smart plays, he’s often found out of position, production is down, and overall he’s been ineffective at his role, so congratulations Alex Edler, you’ve won our 2013-14 Martin Rucinsky We Probably Won’t Miss You When You’re Gone Award.

*****

Cody Hodgson Award for Best Drama
(presented by Ashley)

Winner: John Tortorella’s intermission showdown vs. the Calgary Flames (January 18, 2014)

John Tortorella takes home the Cody Hodgson Award for Best Drama. His performance behind the bench – i.e. how he lead practically every Canuck to have career-worst seasons – contributed to this, but his breakout performance was his storming of the Calgary Flames’ locker room during the first intermission of their home game on January 18th.

Tortorella’s confrontation was captured live during Hockey Night In Canada and led to a 15-day suspension, without pay and no contact with his team. I’m sure in Torts’ acceptance speech a big thanks will go out to Bob Hartley for his supporting role.

Runner-Up: The Heritage Classic goaltending controversy (March 2, 2014)

Coming in a close second is the Heritage Classic goaltending controversy. Seemingly out of nowhere, a goaltending controversy was created – Eddie Lack was given the starting position for the Heritage Classic, a decision that didn’t sit well with the fans, who thought Roberto Luongo had earned that starter spot, and deserved to be starting this historical game; their issue was not with Lack, but with the organization. The drama came to a head as fans made their displeasure known during the starting line-up announcement, “Eddie Lack” was announced to resounded “Boos” and “We Want Lu!” chants.

*****

Esa Tikkanen Award for Best Comedy
(presented by Jocelyn)

Winner: The line brawl against the Calgary Flames on January 18, 2014

Everything about this event gets the award: the Flames starting the 4th line; Bieksa taking the face-off; Kellan Lain getting 2 seconds of play in his first NHL game before getting a game misconduct, while his parents flew all the way from Ontario to see him play; Sestito’s comment after the game and, of course, John Tortorella’s infamous reaction, including him storming to the Calgary dressing room. This moment will go down as one of the most infamous moments in Canucks history.

Runner-Up: Twitter’s reaction after the Canucks’ third period collapse against the New York Islanders on March 10, 2014

The Canucks were up 3-0 going into the third period and ended up losing 7-4. The Islanders scored SEVEN GOALS in one period of hockey — something that would truly only happen to the Canucks, and this season especially. Many people, like myself, had traded the game during the second intermission (the Canucks were winning, after all) to go to other things, so the post-game reactions were what really made this event truly comical. Never forget.

*****

Roberto Luongo Award for Quote (or Tweet) of the Year
(presented by Ed)

Winner: Roberto Luongo’s ugly Christmas sweater tweet

Clearly the Roberto Luongo Award for the best tweet of the season has to go to the man that took us all on a wild social media joyride for several seasons: Roberto Luongo. Lu was once again on top of his Twitter game this year, proving to us all that he’s one of the funniest (and weirdest) people in sports. He even sent us a few pleasantries from that wacky Florida place where he plays now.

If you’re a Canucks fan, I don’t think I have to explain to you why this picture just rules. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ryan Kesler this happy before.

*****

Shane O’Brien Award for Headscratcher of the Year
(presented by Victoria)

Winner: Tom Sestito

My SOB Award goes to Tom Sestito. Because he managed to get head scratchingly ridiculous penalties this year. 27 minutes of penalties in 1 second of ice time. And let’s not forget (how could we forget?) the unheard of 7 minute penalty he earned in our ‘moral victory’. Also he got a game misconduct in the final minutes of the last game of the season for reasons I still can’t figure out.

Apr 082014
 
Source: Canucks.com

Source: Canucks.com

I was at Rogers Arena last night to see the Vancouver Canucks lose 3-0 to the visiting Anaheim Ducks.  It’s crazy to think that just three short years after witnessing the Canucks clinch their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy (on March 31, 2011), I was watching them being eliminated from playoff contention for the first time since the 2007-2008 season.

With three minutes to go in the third period, a very audible “Fire Gillis” chant broke out in the arena and it went on for a considerable amount of time.  Obviously, the Canuck faithful are restless and are demanding a change – whether it be Gillis, Tortorella, or maybe even both of them.

With the Canucks playing two of their final three regular season games at home (Thursday vs. Colorado and Sunday vs. Calgary), I went to Twitter to ask what other chants we might expect from the crowd.  You responded, and thus we have the Top 10 Chants That Are Likely to Break Out in Rogers Arena:

10.  “Ref You Suck!” – submitted by @Adamcanucks17

9.  “Go Leafs Go!” – submitted by @jehovasvictim

8.  “Bring Back Lu!” – submitted by @FearTheBeard13_

7.  “Shoot the Puck!”

6.  “Blow Canucks Blow!” – submitted by @BlahvBlahvBlah

5.  “We Want AV!” – submitted by @maggiecanuck

4.  “We Want McDavid!” – submitted by @elliottneck

3.  “C-H-B! C-H-B!”

2.  “We Want Free Beer!” – submitted by @waterboy99troop

1.  “Woe Canucks Woe!” – submitted by @MartinvandenH 

Apr 042014
 
injury

It is truly hard to pinpoint one reason why the Canucks will be on the outside looking in this spring. It would be unfair to blame their failures on one key thing. So I’m going to go ahead and name five.

It’s been an abysmal year for the Canucks and unless some youth is injected into the lineup next season, we may be in store for a few more. The core which seemed so indestructible just two short years ago is imploding and many of the veterans seem nonchalant and indifferent to the failures of this season. Injuries took their toll and the team’s plethora of “experience” is just starting to look like old age. Here’s hoping that management looks at this objectively and realizes that their window has closed and a new one in a different room needs to be opened. Tacky clichés aside, virtually everything that could go wrong did, so this should be pretty straight-forward.

5) Power Play Troubles: The power play struggles go back almost two years now. A huge reason why the Canucks have become one of the lowest-scoring teams in the league - the man advantage, serves as more of a momentum swing for the opposing team’s PK. Here’s a nice Hamhuis own goal I’m sure you all remember well.

4) Goaltending Fiasco: Whether it was the Schneider trade at the draft or the Luongo trade at the deadline, this year has been a mess when it comes to  goaltending. The trades weren’t necessarily bad, but the distractions were too much for an already weakened squad.

3) Injuries, Injuries, Injuries: Coaches always say injuries are not an excuse but if that was the case we wouldn’t pay certain guys millions of dollars more than others. Simply put, when your best players are injured your team sucks more.

2) Coaching Decisions: John Torterella has had a rough year. Between over-playing players and storming opposing teams’ dressing rooms he’s certainly left his mark on this season. His future with the organization remains unclear.

1) SLUMPS: Scoreless droughts for a number of key-players making millions plagued the team. This culminated in an epic 35 game drought for Alex Burrows, a one-time 35 goal scorer.

Apr 012014
 
With the Canucks outside looking in on the playoff race, there has been plenty of speculation around the Tortorella coaching regime, to add more fuel to the fire, former Canucks' coach Alain Vigneault returns tonight with his post-season bounce New York Rangers. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

While the Canucks are outside looking in on the playoff race, there has been plenty of scrutiny around the Tortorella coaching regime, to add more controversy, former Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault returns tonight with his post-season bound New York Rangers.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

With only 6 games left in the regular season, the likelihood of our Vancouver Canucks making the post-season sits at 0.3%.

If you’re the most optimistic of fans, then yes, absolutely, there’s still a chance at a miracle finish here. But the reality is, the injuries, the inefficiencies on the power play, the inability to protect leads, especially in the third period, everything that has plagued them this year, have caught up, and we’re left to grind about the many questions facing this team the rest of the season, and in all likelihood, the off-season.

With the New York Rangers in town tonight, and coach Alain Vigneault returning to Rogers Arena behind the visitors bench, perhaps one of the most prominent questions is, was AV really the problem?

In Av’s time here, he led the Canucks – with the same core of players as John Tortorella has – to six Division titles, two Presidents Trophies, a Stanley Cup Final appearance, and a 313-170-57 record. Obviously, they struggled in the post-season in his last two seasons – the Los Angeles Kings, who barely clinch the 8th and final playoff berth in the West, beat them in 5 games in 2012, and the San Jose Sharks swept them last season – but hey, at least they made it. I don’t think this was entirely his fault, and in fact, you can argue he got the best of whatever Canucks roster he had – even made them Stanley Cup contenders – and he’s doing the same now with the Rangers, who have much of the same players that Torts had. On the other hand, the Canucks, under Torts, have done worse, much worse, this season. Regardless, the consensus last year was that the Canucks had gone stale and that they needed a new voice.

Was the coaching change the right call? Maybe. Did they hire the right replacement? I don’t know, and maybe, that’s the better question.

Mar 112014
 

titanic-canucks

Do you have your life vests on, Canucks fans? If not, grab a door floating in the choppy waters and hope for the best! Because the Canucks are sinking.

We’ve known this for a while now, haven’t we? With every trade GM Mike Gillis made in recent years the return seemed to be less and less, at least it seemed to me anyway. It was like, when the Canucks ship started leaking, Gillis started trading giant buckets for teacups. David Booth? Well that didn’t quite go as planned. Keith Ballard? He didn’t get to reach hipcheck greatness because that’s hard to do from the press box. Zack Kassian? Those flashes of potential haven’t sparked into what we were told they would. And then away went our “number one goalie” Cory Schneider. And then away went our old… I mean new number one goalie. And now the sweetest Swedish kid in the league with a smile brighter than the sun is drowning, locked in the third class cabin as the Titanic that is the 2013/2014 Vancouver Canucks goes down.

So let’s first talk about Lack. What angered me the most last night about the Canucks’ third period meltdown is the way a few fans hung the whole thing on the newly-appointed, unexpected starter. And when the attacks were coming from the same people who continuously defended every single goal Roberto Luongo ever let in… well, it’s a miracle I didn’t punch my Twitter timeline in the face. You know why you should have apathy for Lack even more so than you did for Luongo? Because Lack is a rookie. Lack didn’t have a so-called outstanding record on another NHL team before he landed the #1 spot. Lack also isn’t making MILLIONS of dollars. Luongo was making $6.71 million a year. Lack makes $850,000. Also Lu came into Vancouver as the starter. Lack was supposed to be in the clearly defined back-up role this year. Schneider was declared the number one guy last year. Lu was supposed to be traded. Then Gillis traded Schneider and re-crowned Lu, and we all thought we know what was what. Even I accepted what I considered the biggest mistake this franchise had made, and jumped on the Luuuuu bus. Then Gillis gave Luongo to Florida. This isn’t supposed to happen to Eddie Lack yet. So with all due respect, Luongo-mourners, STFU and blame the right person for this mess – Mike Gillis. Not Eddie Lack.

As for John Tortorella, I think we all agree he’s a failed experiment. But I doubt there’s a single thing we can do about it until the season – and playoffs – are lost. Then, just like Rose did to Jack, we can unhinge Torts’ fingers from the reminants of the Canucks and watch him drift to the bottom of the ocean… or into a commentator position for NBC.

Let’s get some things straight, fellow Canucks fans, since we’re going to be treading water with each other for a while – and fighting for space in lifeboats – can you please stop whining that “real fans” don’t “attack” their team. Because, well, it’s not true. The Montreal Canadiens have arguably the most passionate and dedicated fan base in the league and yet, they boo their players on a regular basis. They don’t have to be in a long-term slide, they will boo the Habs after one bad game in a solid season. When things got really rough in the late ‘90s, they stopped buying tickets. Yes, the great Habs, an Original Six franchise, winners of 24 Stanley Cups, had low tickets sales. Canadiens fans expect nothing less than the best.

If fans truly do make a difference in the motivation and playing ability of a team (I don’t think we do, but some of you think it) then complaining and getting angry at your team isn’t a bad thing. In my opinion, if you keep dumping money on them for expensive tickets and merchandise when they drop 7 goals in 1 period, you’re part of the problem.  Why would the Aquilinis change anything if they’re still making giant bank? They won’t. The biggest reason an owner wants to win a Stanley Cup is because it increases sales. So then it makes sense that an owner would feel more pressure to make huge, sweeping changes if the see their revenues decreasing.

And please keep in mind there is a difference between expressing your discontent and giving up all together. I will still watch the Canucks on TV, when I can, without making it the priority it used to be. I will still hope for a miracle. I still want them to win. Most of the angry and vocal fans feel the same way. But we know better than to follow them blindly and sink with the ship. This is not something that can be fixed with hugs, people. The Canucks need an overhaul, not lifeboats.

Mar 112014
 

Canucks GM Mike Gillis and new coach John Tortorella

Photo credit: PNG

Gary Mason wrote an amazing article in last weekend’s Globe and Mail.

When Mr. Tortorella stormed an opposing team’s dressing room between periods of a game earlier this year, it alarmed everyone in the organization, including his players. If you want to chart the radical decline of the Canucks this season, you can begin at that moment. The team went into a nosedive after the incident, for which Mr. Tortorella was suspended six games. While he apologized profusely for his antics, it hasn’t changed the perception a loose cannon is in charge.

Since that January 18th game against the Calgary Flames, the Canucks have won 4 of 17 games (4-12-1), and have looked disorganized and disheartened doing so. In some games, they look like they’re simply going through the motions. Too often, it feels like they’ve already tuned out the coach.

Last night against the Islanders, they entered the third period with a 3-0 lead, but then proceeded to allow 7 goals in the last 20 minutes en route to a 7-4 loss. Poor Eddie Lack was in net for all the Isles’ goals except for the empty-netter, and heard the bronx cheer from the stands for his troubles.

The thing is, Lack has been solid all season long. Leading up to the Heritage Classic, he’d allowed just 12 goals in 8 games; but since getting the tap to start the Heritage Classic ahead of Roberto Luongo, he’s allowed 16 goals in his last 5 games.

It’s almost as if the controversy that accompanied that start at BC Place was a turning point for Lack. Canucks fans booed him, not because of his play, but because they wanted to see Luongo. Even Lack knew enough to understand the goaltending history in this city, unlike Tortorella, who insisted afterwards he considered the situation, but placed Lack in an untenable situation anyway. He could’ve started Luongo, and perhaps Luongo would still be a Canuck, rather than handing the team to his rookie goaltender who had all of 25 NHL games experience at the time and who doesn’t appear to be quite ready for the full-time starter’s gig yet.

Seemingly at every wrong turn of this forgettable season, Torts is in the middle of things. When you factor in that he’s running a system that doesn’t utilize the strengths of his personnel, that his players look uncomfortable executing it, and that this version of the Canucks is about to set all sorts of franchise lows (despite decades of futility), you can’t help but ask if Torts is the type of coach this team needs. You have to wonder if the centerpiece of GM Mike Gillis’ reset last summer is, in fact, its biggest problem.

If the Canucks continue along the disastrous arc they are now travelling, Mr. Aquilini will have some major decisions to make. And the first may be whether he keeps a coach in the first year of an expensive five-year contract who has presided over one of the worst seasons in recent team history. Missing the playoffs costs a franchise buckets of money. Owners will not want that to become a habit.

In firing Mr. Tortorella, Mr. Aquilini might have to spend money to make money.

In the late 90′s, John McCaw gave Mike Keenan 108 games to right the Canucks ship. The way things are going this season, it’s very possible the Canucks give John Tortorella less than that.

Mar 082014
 

463593867_slide
The line brawl between the Vancouver Canucks and the Calgary Flames that started their last game.
(Photo credit: nhl.com)

After an embarrassing 6-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks return home for a two-game home-stand. They’ve only been away for a week, but, man, has so much happened since the last time they were in town. It’s hard to believe that the Ryan Kesler trade saga, the Heritage Classic goaltending fiasco, and Roberto Luongo’s subsequent trade to the Florida Panthers at the trade deadline all happened in the last week. Welcome home, boys.

March 8

March 8 is a dark day in Canucks history. Exactly 10 years ago today, in a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Todd Bertuzzi jumped Steve Moore, who then suffered a career-ending injury.

And wouldn’t you know it, but today is also the first meeting between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames since their line brawl on January 18th started the game, and Mt. Tortorella erupted during the first intermission and had to be restrained from entering the Flames’ dressing room. Torts was suspended 15 days by the NHL for his actions.

The Turning Point

The Canucks have won 5 in a row against the Calgary Flames, including all 3 games they’ve played this season.

But truth be told, unlike the Canucks, who are sinking faster than Lindsay Lohan’s once promising career, the Flames are headed in the right direction. Since that January 18th meeting against the Canucks, they’ve won 9 of 15 games. They’ve scored 4 or more goals in 7 of those 15 games, and have allowed 2 goals or less in 8 of them.

On the other hand, the Canucks have won just 3 games since Mt. Torts’ eruption (3-11-1), and have only scored 24 goals in those 15 games.

There were some reports Canucks players, especially the veterans, were upset at Tortorella for his actions that night, and looking at the results since, the question needs to be asked: Has Torts lost the room?

Rock Bottom

As the Canucks struggle to score, of course they also struggle to win. Heading into tonight’s game, the Canucks have scored 148 goals. The fewest number of goals ever scored by a Canucks team in a full season were the 192 scored by the 1989-1999 Canucks. To beat that number, the Canucks need 45 goals in their final 17 games – that’s asking the team to score a 2.64 goals per game pace over the final 17 games of the season when they’ve averaged 1.53 goals per game in the last 17 games they’ve played.

The Struggling

For those keeping track, Captain Henrik Sedin has not scored a goal in his last 22 games and is without a point in his last 11 games. Although he’s injured right now, Daniel Sedin has also not scored in his last 22 games and has just one point in his last 17 games. Alex Burrows has yet to score a goal this season.

Feb 042014
 

Just when you didn’t think the Canucks could play any worse, they put together a listless effort like last night’s against the Detroit Red Wings.

After some woeful losses over the last month, they should’ve been buoyed by coach John Tortorella’s return from his 15-day suspension or by captain Hank Sedin’s return from injury. Instead, they put up little fight, getting shut out 2-0 by the Wings, the third time they’ve been shut out in their last 11 games.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 032014
 
A summary of Burrows' "puck luck" summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.  (Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

A summary of Burrows’ “puck luck” summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.
(Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

After serving his 15-day suspension for going off the rails, er, “off the country” against the Calgary Flames, Canucks head coach John Tortorella is back behind the bench tonight as they face the Detroit Red Wings for the second and final time this season.

It probably couldn’t have come at a better time either, with the team struggling and losing playoff ground. Not too long ago, the Canucks seemed firmly in a wild card playoff spot, even threatening to overtake the Los Angeles Kings for 3rd place in the Pacific Division, but thanks to their 4-9-2 record in January are now just 2 points ahead of the 9th place Phoenix Coyotes and only 4 points ahead of the 13th place Winnipeg Jets.

With defensemen Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts all still in the infirmary, the Canucks yesterday called up Yann Sauve from the Utica Comets, and this morning acquired Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens, giving up the Dutch Gretzky, Dale Weise. The defensive help will be welcomed, but they’re still woefully short up front with Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli still out as well.

Likewise, the Detroit Red Wings have injury concerns of their own. Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss are all nursing injuries.

Who’s Hot

If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Ryan Kesler seems to be awakening from a month-long slumber. Without Hank in the lineup, Kes has taken on top-line center duties and has 4 points (1 goal and 3 assists) in his past 2 games.

For the Red Wings, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader has picked up the scoring slack, accounting for 5 of Detroit’s 8 goals this weekend. Nyquist, in particular, has been hot, recording a hat trick yesterday, and he now has 8 goals and 11 points in his past 7 games.

Jan 292014
 
Tonight the Canucks play their third game in four nights, and possibly their most difficult. The Chicago Blackhawks are in town for a 7:30 pm/pst puck-drop. (Photo Credit vancouversun.com)

Tonight the Canucks play their third game in four nights, and possibly their most difficult. Rivalries are sure to boil over as the Chicago Blackhawks play the Vancouver Canucks for the third time this season.
(Photo Credit vancouversun.com)

The Canucks and the Chicago Blackhawks usually bring the best out of each other. That’s hopefully the case tonight.

The fact is, neither team is playing their best hockey right now. The Canucks’ woes are well-documented, having lost 10 of their last 14 games, including a disheartening 4-2 loss to the last place Edmonton Oilers. Meanwhile, the Blackhawks, after dropping a 5-4 decision in OT to the Calgary Flames last night, have now lost 4 games in a row. They’ve also lost 6 of their last 7 road games (1-1-5), though despite that, the Blackhawks are still a top-3 team in the league and still lead the league in scoring (3.44 goals per game).

If the Canucks want to exploit anything, it’s that the Blackhawks are playing their 3rd game in 4 nights, and their 5th game in 8 nights. I guess that’s something.

Who’s Hot

With Henrik Sedin still out, and Daniel Sedin, Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler snake-bitten, the Canucks have had to rely on everyone else to provide their offence. After returning from a lengthy stay on IR, Jordan Schroeder returned on Monday against the Oilers and scored both Canucks goals that night. Kevin Bieksa has also stepped up with 3 points in his past 2 games, including 2 goals – and the game-winning OT goal – against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday. Ditto Chris Higgins, who also had 3 points against the Coyotes.

For the Blackhawks, Marian Hossa scored twice last night against the Flames and has 4 goals in his past 5 games. Patrick Kane, who also scored last night, has 4 points in 3 games, and he currently sits 4th in the NHL in scoring (60 points).

Who’s Out

The Blackhawks have a healthy roster except for their backup goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who is out with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

For the Canucks, Hank is still out as are Mike Santorelli and Andrew Alberts. Tonight will be game 5 of John Tortorella’s suspension – he’ll miss 6 games while serving his 15-game suspension – and hopefully he’s relaxing in Hawaii or something.

TortsBeach

%d bloggers like this: