Apr 072010

[Editor's note: With the Manitoba Moose starting its AHL playoff run, CHB would like to welcome Jimmy Mac to the blog as a Moose correspondent. He is a professional stand-up comedian who has travelled for over 19 years performing across our great continent. He also worked in television for 7 years as a host for a morning show, fill-in color for the Manitoba Moose broadcasts and current goaltender for the NHL/Winnipeg Jets Alumni & Friends Charity Hockey Team. Being a goaltender, his opinions are expressed from the "crease" point of view. Though he is not officially affiliated with the organization, he is a big fan of the Manitoba Moose and expresses all his opinions as a fan. You can also follow on Twitter (@winnipegmac). We hope you enjoy his posts.]

Jimmy Mac suiting up for the Winnipeg Jets Alumni & Friends Charity Hockey Team

Photo credit: Travis Golby

Yes I said MANITOBA! All of you Canucks fans who are wondering where all the new players are coming from that’s the place. The Manitoba Moose who are based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. For all of those people who have no idea where that is you should have paid more attention in school! Head west east from GM Place, and 5 hours after Saskatchewan, you will stop at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg where the Vancouver Canucks’ farm team plays.

I have heard that there are a few people who would like to know more of what’s going on in the AHL with the new Abbotsford Heat franchise popping up so why not follow your FARM TEAM? I shall try to keep you posted as best as possible thru the second season this year when it comes to the MOOSE.

As it stands right now, the Moose are sitting in 4th place in the AHL North Division and would be playing the 1st place Hamilton Bulldogs in the first round of the Calder Cup Championship. Why should that be of interest? How about that a former Canucks goalie is in the way of Manitoba moving on – Curtis Sanford. Once cheered, Sanford is now the enemy and is the wall who loves to face us. We too have our own wall in the nets who has appeared a few times with the green, white and blue – #35 Cory Schneider, who sits with a .917 Save Percentage going into the quest for the Calder Cup. Cory carried the Moose all the way to the finals last year only to lose out to the powerful Hershey Bears. If the Moose are going to move on, Schneider will have to be LARGE between the pipes for Manitoba.

Until next time…

Jimmy Mac

Jan 132010

Last night I had the chance to watch the Moose play as they came to town to take on the Calgary Flames affiliate the Abbotsford Heat. One thing I was looking forward to seeing was Sergei Shirokov play. I was all over the kid in the pre-season, and foolish enough to think he was ready to play on the Canucks roster this season. Brian from Canucks Corner put me in my place, but after watching Shirokov play last night things make a little more sense.

I like many others was wondering why players like Desbiens and Grabner were being called up over players like Shirokov but after watching the Moscow talent play last night there are certain facets of his game that need addressing before he’s ready for the NHL. I think the biggest concern at the moment is Shirokov has no defensive responsibility. His back check doesn’t exist and almost every shift he was on the ice, if the Moose had possession he was wandering off by the Heat’s blue line waiting for the stretch pass or a chance to cherry pick. The difference was when you saw the way Grabner approach the play he not only backchecked but he wasn’t wandering waiting for that breakaway chance rendering himself completely ineffective otherwise.

That’s the only major issue I saw with Shirokov last night but one that made sense. For a small guy he’s going to have to fight to make this league, but he’s strong on the puck, he can skate and he’s got a wicked shot. Several times his shot handcuffed the Heat goaltender unfortunately though neither resulted in a goal. Shirokov was in on two of the goals though picking up two assists on the night and assisting on Nycholat’s game winning goal in overtime after the Moose clawed back from down 2-0 at the end of the first to win 4-3 in OT.

It’s clear Shirokov’s still learning the North American game and he’s got a little way to go. Next year depending how the free agent market pans out there’s a good chance we might see him in the lineup. That said, the best place for the 23 year old Russian is the Moose and it’s great that he’s leading the team offensively and showing he can put up points. That’s the best way to show he can show he’s ready to head up to the big leagues. Through 39 games played with the Moose he leads all Moose regulars in goals, points, shooting percentage, and plus/minus and is 2nd in shots power play goals and short handed goals. He’s proving he can lead that team offensively and with that will come his development and understanding of the game.

Sep 212009
May 292009

The Canucks season may be over, but the Canucks affiliate the Manitoba Moose are ripping up the post season in the AHL which has those Canucks fans still around, excited about a few things.

There’s been one thing the Canucks have had problems over the last few seasons. Scoring. Scoring comes from shooting. Some of the most promising Canucks prospects, Hodgson, Grabner, and my personal favourite, Bolduc have just been racking up shots in the playoffs. One of the most telling stat of the Mooose’s playoff success thus far has been their shot dominance. Grabner has a whopping 68 shots 14 playoff games so far. Hodgson has 22 shots in 6 games and Bolduc has 26 shots in 10 games. Second leading shot getting is Jason Jaffray with 60 shots in 16 games.

Aside from shots, what’s impressed me is how Hodgson has fit in. He’s made is pro debut in the middle of the Moose’s run and in 6 games he has 3 points, 1 goal and 2 assists and as mentioned, 22 shots. He’s already showing that he’s closer and closer to being ready for the jump to the NHL as he’s fitting very nicely in with the Moose. In his 6 games he’s also a +2.

One guy that’s impressed me on the back end (which could be important if Ohlund goes and we don’t fill that void with a top 4 defenseman) is Shaun Heshka. He’s got 20 shots on goal, 3 assists, and is tied for the team lead in +/- with +10. Looks like he’s the Willie Mitchell of the Mooose, and had the Canucks not had so much depth on defense at the start of last season, I think he would have made the lineup. He’s developed into a very solid defenseman. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was one of the legitimate contenders for the blue line next season.

The Baby Canucks top players have also been producing on the score sheet. Grabner is averaging just under a point per game. What’s impressed me most is the play of Bolduc. He’s played 6 games less than most of the other players, and yet he’s also averaging a point per game. He’s making his time on the ice count. Krog leads the team in points with 18 points in 16 games, Jaffray is second on the scoring list and Grabner sits 3rd.

The fact that all these kids are playing so well only adds to the Canucks depth charts. Say we do lose Wellwood to Free Agency, bringing up one of the young guns from the minors wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Hodgson is making his bid for the big team next year, he just has to keep consistent. I think next year Bolduc is going to get his break. If Pyatt is gone (and I hope Gillis doesn’t re-sign him) that would be a nice spot for Alexandre “Bold Duck” Bolduc to slot in. Either way, Moose are in the Calder Cup Finals, and there’s nothing more important that that team can take away from all this, than learning how to win. If they can learn how to win at a minor level, thats one step closer to learning how to win in the NHL.

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