Jan 022009
Burnaby J in his first game as a Canuck

Photo credit: canucks.com

Jason LaBarbera won his first game in a Canucks uniform, stopping 31 of 32 Nashville shots. Needless to say, he did a lot to try and strip himself of the LOLBarbera monicker that some Kings fans had given him. (BTW… good to see the Burnaby J nickname catching on.)

Some quick thoughts on his first game:

  • Burnaby J is a big boy. Like Lui, he covers up a lot of net.
  • I noticed he was well outside the crease on a few of his saves. For one game at least, he was confident challenging the shooter and that was good to see. On one play, he even managed to stretch back and swipe the puck out from what could have been a Nashville goal.
  • He’s good at making the first save, but he also gives up a lot of rebounds. This is obviously something the Canucks defense needs to be aware of.

Overall, LaBarbera played a pretty solid game. With him however, the trick is to play solidly more consistently. He won’t have to wait long to prove he can do that; The Province reported this morning that Burnaby J expects to get the start again tonight.

Jan 022009
Dec 312008

Maybe the Vancouver Canucks should take the Philadelphia Flyers off their schedule permanently. For one, the Canucks haven’t beat the Flyers at home in almost 20 years. Last season, the Canucks lost the game 8-2 to the Flyers, but also, lost Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo to long-term injuries watched as Jesse Boulerice played pinata on Ryan Kesler’s face the same night. Yes, last night’s game was great entertainment – definitely one of the more exciting games this season – but the Canucks fell short again on the scoresheet, and also, lost Curtis Sanford to a groin injury.

I’m beginning to think that nothing good ever comes out of playing Philly.

Sanford’s injury forced GM Mike Gillis to send a 7th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings and acquire goaltender Jason LaBarbera, a Burnaby guy the team has been looking to acquire for a couple of seasons now. With Sanford out for at least a week and maybe longer, the goaltending responsibilities will fall on Burnaby J. and rookie Cory Schneider. At the start of the season, goaltending was the one area the Canucks didn’t need to worry about. I’m not going to lie to you – I’m a bit worried now.

This is a low-risk, low-reward move and much depends on which LaBarbera we are getting. At one point, LaBarbera was considered the Kings’ goalie of the future. He signed with the Kings after the lockout and started the 2005/2006 season in LA; he won 8 of his first 10 games. The Kings then traded for Dan Cloutier in the offseason and LaBarbera was demoted to the Manchester Monarchs in the AHL. In the 2006/2007 season, LaBarbera shined in the AHL, where he was named the league’s top goaltender and a First Team All-Star, and the Kings rewarded him with a two-year contract extension.

This season has been a different story. He has been surpassed on the depth chart by Erik Ersberg and Jonathan Quick. Along with Jonathan Bernier, the Kings now see one of those three as their next goalie of the future. Due in part to injuries, LaBarbera’s numbers aren’t that good – 19 GP, 5-8-4, 2.83 GAA, .893 SV% – and some Kings fans are already calling his trade to the Canucks as payback for trading them Cloutier. (But hey, at least we didn’t give up two 2nd rounders for him.)

So which LaBarbera are we getting?

At this point, the Canucks don’t have much choice. They needed a goalie and Chris Levesque wasn’t an option. Now they got one, albeit one who has had an inconsistent career. Maybe a return to his hometown will give LaBarbera the boost he needs or maybe not. The Canucks have dealt with inconsistent goaltending for probably 35 of the 39 years they’ve been in existence. What’s another couple of weeks?

Dec 312008
%d bloggers like this: