Mar 222011
 

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and gives her take on the Canucks in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@KMaximick)]

After spending the weekend on Bowen Island I realized how close to Vancouver this little getaway spot was – and not a lot of the island is populated, making it easy for elusive creatures to hide there, like a sasquatch or the notorious “wolf dog” running wild on Bowen right now, or even former NHL players who needed somewhere to go and forget their problems.

Which brings me to our first question…

Caylie (@CayKing) asks: What ever happened to Dan Cloutier?

Katie: After his failed attempt to return to the NHL, then even the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs, Clouts made the decision to retire from hockey last August due to reoccurring injuries (however, he did re-emerge in Vancouver for Markus Naslund’s retirement ceremony in December).

He could very well be living on Bowen Island. I did go explore a cave with a flashlight and came across a frog, salamander, a set of chairs and unlit candles. That may or may not have been Cloutier’s living room and pets.

However, as fun as it is to imagine Clouts or the likes of Jan Bulis hiding away on some small island along the west coast, my research suggests that Cloutier is currently in Barrie, Ontario. Why? Well, he’s the goalie coach for the OHL team, the Barrie Colts. He is finishing off a one-year contract with the team. It is not known whether this will be extended or not.

At least he has a home on Bowen if he ever needs a place to hide out. He can befriend all the dolphins I saw on the ferry ride there.

Stephanie (@axeguitar) asks:  Did you take photos of the dolphins?!

Katie: No.

Moving on.

Herve (@1stLineCenter) asks: What is the news on Malhotra?

Katie: Unless you live under a rock, you’d have heard that Malhotra will not be returning to the roster this season, not even for playoffs.

Dave (@merlynbc) asks: Can the Canucks fill the void caused by Manny Malhotra’s injury?

Katie: This is a big loss for the team, yes, but will his absence prevent the team from going far in the playoffs? I doubt it. Yes he’s our face off guru, an amazing leader and great for penalty killing, but one reason the Canucks are estimated to go so far this season is because of their depth and team cohesion, and it’s this depth and solidarity that’s going to make the difference this post-season. In fact, Kesler told The Province on Monday that Malhotra’s injury will bring the team even closer together because they’re one big family. The Canucks also said that Malhotra’s leadership will not be missed because it will not be gone; Malhotra plans on being an off-ice leader as best he can during his recovery.

No he cannot be replaced, but the recent acquisitions of Lapierre and Higgins is looking like quite the blessing for the team right now. Lapierre joined the third line in Malhotra’s absence against Phoenix and was 64 per cent in face offs. Not bad, and if this arrangement doesn’t work out, Higgins can always take a turn with Torres and Hansen.

The Canucks also have a talented pool of call ups in Manitoba itching to play. Nonetheless this classy player will be missed by fans and players alike. All the best to Manny, and let’s all hope for a speedy (and full) recovery in the off season.

Tony (@smoboy) asks: What is a poor Canucks fan to do with so much time between games?

Katie: Do what Oilers and Sens fans have been doing this season to forget their troubles – drink! That or expand your mind with extensive reading. Your call.

After this semi-long break the Canucks’ next game is a 4:30 start on TSN, Wednesday versus the Detroit Red Wings – and Todd Bertuzzi, of course. Katie like.

Mar 212011
 

The Canucks made it official today and announced that Manny Malhotra will miss the rest of the season, including the playoffs.

In his post last week, Richard sounded more optimistic than I feel right now. It’s true that the Canucks have faced adversity all season and have had guys step up and contribute. However, most of their injuries were in the back end, and I just don’t think replacing Manny and what he’s given the Canucks this season can be easily done.

All season long, the Canucks have rolled out their three-headed monster down the middle. There are very few teams that can roll out a Hart and Art Ross Trophy winner and two Selke Trophy candidates to center their top three lines.

But even as good as Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Manny Malhotra have been, there were always questions about the Canucks’ depth down the middle. They’ve auditioned many players at center without extended success, which was why GM Mike Gillis acquired Maxim Lapierre and Chris Higgins at the trade deadline. While Lapierre and Higgins are beginning to get comfortable playing within the Canucks’ system, it remains to be seen if they can do what Manny did.

On the penalty-kill, it’s usually Manny who takes the first faceoff in the Canucks’ zone and he ranks third in the league in faceoffs won while short-handed (145 FOW) behind only Sammy Pahlsson and Paul Gaustad. He also leads all Canucks forwards with a 2:45 average TOI while shorthanded. And he does this for the second-best penalty-kill in the entire league.

On even-strength, Manny is usually on the ice against some of the opposing teams’ best players. Pass It To Bulis actually did a good analysis of this a few weeks ago. Because Manny has taken over as the Canucks’ checking center, it’s freed up the Sedins and Kesler to concentrate on the offensive side of things.

All this while also scoring 11 goals and 30 points.

Of course, this isn’t to say that the Canucks are done without Manny in the lineup. Like Richard, I hope somebody does step up in his absence. Henrik and Kesler will most likely be asked to take more faceoffs. Likewise, Higgins and Lapierre will need to work on their faceoff skills. Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen will need to take their bulldog checking to another level. Tanner Glass and Mason Raymond will have to chip in more on the PK. And others will need to take on a moew leadership role.

It’s not impossible to replace Manny. It’s just not easy.

Mar 212011
 

[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]

Canucks Record

73 GP, 47-17-9, 103 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Captain Henrik Sedin has done a commendable job of keeping up with brother Daniel in the NHL scoring race. He’s scored in 7 of his last 8 games and has 11 points (2G – 9A) in that stretch. It doesn’t look like he’ll reach his career-high, franchise-record of 112 points that he set last season, whilst winning the Hart and the Art trophies, but still leads the league with 68 assists. His 86 points has him currently tied with Steven Stamkos for second place in NHL scoring, 7 points behind Daniel.

Who’s Not

Mason Raymond has 2 goals in his last 14 games with a minus-7 rating. Although the effort looks like it’s there, he’s been struggling to score consistently all season long . With the recent injury of Manny Malholtra, AV has demoted May Ray to fourth line center; while giving Chris Higgins a turn on the 2nd line. Higgins has looked great so far, using his speed and generating scoring chances; he has fit into the system seamlessly. Hopefully Higgins’ good play will put some fire under Raymond; I wouldn’t mind him scoring consistently come playoff time.

Who’s Next

Wednesday, March 23, 2011 vs. Detroit Red Wings (4:30 PM start, away)

After four days off, the Canucks head into Detroit to take on Pavel Datsyuk and friends. How else do you describe the Wings’ consistent play, year in and year out? They are one of the best hockey organizations in the league.

Detroit has won 4 of their last 5 games and are holding onto 2nd spot in the Western Conference. (They have been for quite some time now.) This game could very likely be a Western Conference final preview.

The Wings have won 2 of 3 games this year against the Canucks this season. Both of their wins came in extra time: one in the shootout and the other thanks to an overtime winner by Henrik Zetterberg. Speaking of Zetterberg, he has 2 goals, 3 assists and is a plus-2 against the Canucks. He also leads the team in scoring with 72 points (20G-52A), averaging a point a game.

If you happen to be in “Hockey town”, the Red Wings have some great deals for families – 2 premium tickets, 2 cokes, and 2 hot dogs for $78. I think you can get about 4 beers at Rogers Arena for the same price.

Friday, March 25, 2011 vs. Atlanta Thrashers (4:30 PM start, away)

The Canucks head into Atlanta for the first and only meeting of the season. ATL is led by a few of our friendly foes, ex-Hawks, Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. The Thrashers had a great first half of the season, but have been dropping consistently in the second half. They have 1 win in their last 6 games and currently sit in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, 6 points out of a playoff spot.

BC boy and Thrashers captain Andrew Ladd has 8 points (4G-4A) in his last 10 games, however he is a minus- 7 in his last 3 games. Ladd also leads the team in scoring with 26 goals and 53 points but he is a minus-11.

Arguable the most effective player in the last couple of playoff series against the Canucks, we don’t mind that we only see Buffy once a year now. He’s moved from forward to defenseman, which has translated into a career year for him in assists (31), points (50), and goals (19).

Sunday, March 27, 2011 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (2:00 PM, away)

The Blue Jackets hopes of making the playoff is hanging by a thread. They sit 8 points out of a playoff spot and have not been helping their cause by going 2-4-4 in their last 10 games.

This is the last meeting of the season; the Canucks have won all 3 previous matchups.

Captain Rick Nash had a huge 4 point (2G-2A) night, in their last game against the Wild, and he leads the team in scoring with 31 goals and 65 points, all while being a plus-player.

Events of the Week: The Good, The Bad, and The “Did he really just call a major penalty?”

The Good: This week, the Canucks became the first team in the NHL to reach the century mark. In the process, they clinched the Northwest Division and a playoff spot. The boys in blue sit 9 points ahead of Detroit for the Western Conference lead and 7 points ahead of Philadelphia for the President’s Trophy race. (The Wings and Flyers do have 1 and 2 games in hand, respectively.)

The Bad: In the game against the Avalanche on Wednesday, the Canucks suffered a huge blow to the team and locker room. After getting hit in the eye with the puck, Manny Malholtra skated rapidly to the locker room, while blood was pouring from his face. We were all hoping he would get stitched up and be out by the next period. Unfortunately, Manny suffered a serious eye injury that required surgery and places him out indefinitely. Uncle Manny is a huge part of this team’s leadership core, on and off the ice, and more importantly is a fantastic person. We wish him all the best in his recovery. We miss you already!

The “Did he really just call a major penalty?”: In the last game against the Coyotes, Burrows was called for a major penalty against Vernon Fiddler, which give the Yotes a five minute powerplay and Burr was kicked out for the remainder of the game. Yes he did hit him in the numbers. Yes Fiddler did an excellent job of going into the boards in an awkward position. But a MAJOR penalty? I do believe Burr deserved a two for boarding, but the call on the ice changed the entire game, seeing Phoenix score 2 goals on the PP. I hate to blame the refs for a loss, but all I ask for is consistency throughout the game.

Mar 182011
 

The old adage that defense wins championships is one we’ve seen proven true year after year. The Blackhawks proved that last year. So did the San Francisco Giants when they won the World Series last year on stellar pitching and field play. And in the case of recent Super Bowl champions, the Green Bay Packers, there’s no doubt in my mind that the winning formula is a complement of defense and offense.

That said, the loss of Manny Malhotra isn’t one to panic over. There is no denying that Malhotra’s contributions to this team’s penalty kill and bottom-six has been integral to the team’s success this season, but all teams win as a team and lose as a team. No one player is the team and that rings true even more so on this Mike Gillis team.

The Canucks are no strangers to adversity this season. Their roster has been plagued by various injuries to various forwards and defensemen; despite that however, the Canucks have kept winning. If anything, they’ve demonstrated throughout the course of the season that it’s their system that is winning games for them. Take for example the Canucks in January and February. In a three week span, they lost six defensemen (all of them of top-four calibre), and rattled of a 7-2 record. Whether it’s losing Rick Rypien to personal issues or Mason Raymond to a hand injury, someone has stepped up to fill the void.

With how this team is built, Manny’s loss shouldn’t be treated any differently. The Canucks have been fortunate this season to realize great potential in players who have stepped up to fill the voids created by injury. Chris Tanev is one such example. Manny has been a catalyst for the play of Jannik Hansen and Raffi Torres this season, and I think we’ll see more how much he’s positively impacted their play. When the Canucks lost Daniel Sedin last year, it made them a better team. It challenged Henrik Sedin to push forward and taught him how to play a more selfish game which ultimately won him the Art Ross and Hart Trophy. Growth comes in the wake of adversity and the Canucks have had no shortage of it this season.

This season’s Canucks team is built differently from previous seasons. They’re deeper and they’re not placing all their eggs in one basket the way they did in 06/07 when they expected Luongo to win all four rounds of the playoffs singlehandedly. They’re not expecting the Sedins to be a two-man line on a one-line team and carry the team to the Stanley cup. In fact, one of the marks of this year’s Canucks team is their ability to stick to their game plan regardless of circumstance. Whether it’s injury or a multi-goal deficit, their play doesn’t change and it’s that consistency that is going to be what will dictate a deep playoff run. The Canucks have one of the strongest cores of players in the league, are backed by one of the most skilled and deep blue lines and have the best one-two punch in net this league has to offer.

When one door closes, another one opens. Malhotra’s exodus from the lineup, indefinitely for the time being, is simply another opportunity for someone else to excel. While Malhotra will be missed, his 16 minutes of ice-time per game can (hopefully) be replaced as the team prepares for the playoffs. It’s not time to hit the panic button, it’s not hugely damaging to our playoff chances, it’s a part of the regular season and something to take in stride.

Mar 172011
 

On the day after the Canucks clinched the Northwest Division, they received some bad news on the Manny Malhotra front.

The Canucks say it will be a couple days before they know the scope of Manny Malhotra’s eye injury.

What they do know is that he had surgery Wednesday night and there is concern about his vision. He will see a specialist later today.

To say this is a big blow to the Canucks is an understatement. Save for a stretch in December, Uncle Manny has been key to the Canucks’ depth all season long. I mean, how do you replace a guy that is great on faceoffs, great on the PK, and is more than dependable playing in just about every situation? Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre seem to get more comfortable and get better every game, but let’s face it – they’re not Manny.

When Mattias Ohlund was hit in the eye by a puck early in his Canucks career, he had to have eye surgery to correct his vision and missed nearly half the season. Obviously we don’t know the severity nor do we have a timeline for Manny’s injury yet. All we can do right now is hope that he gets healthy and gets better soon.

Mar 142011
 
Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: National Post

There are a few hockey adages that nearly always ring true. Adages like “throw it on net, and good things happen”, or one of a similar vein, “go to the net and good things happen”, litter not just hockey but all sports. There is no sport where being flashy and being pretty wins games. More often than not, it’s the hard-earned garbage goals that are more effective or have a larger impact than the fancy toe-drag dangle after a coast-to-coast rush.

This year’s Canucks team is loaded with depth, talent and a will to win but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect in every area. While the gears are turning and lines are transitioning from hot to cold amidst return from injury and re-injury the Canucks are in most cases primed for the postseason. After all, a playoff spot is all but locked up, the powerplay and penalty-kill units are still top-tier, and a few players are vying for end of season hardware.

That said, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this turns into a different game when game number eighty-three begins.

One thing the Canucks have seen time and again has been the other team’s persistence in the crease. Their persistence to get garbage goals, their persistence to crash the net, and their persistence to get to the Canucks’ netminder. The Canucks have fallen victim to it two years in a row as the Blackhawks riding Dustin Byfuglien have sent the Canucks home empty-pocketed save perhaps Patrick Kane’s $0.20. Crashing the net though isn’t just a strategy successful against the Canucks, it’s successful against most goalies. It’s part of a winning strategy yet the Canucks have yet to employ it consistently.

The Canucks have shown glimpses of net presence this season. Their powerplay has evolved to feature Ryan Kesler as your new breed of power forward. Gone are the days when Todd Bertuzzi would park himself in front of the net and have pucks bounce off him. Instead, Kesler brings to the Canucks offense a net presence which has proven effective all season and which is one of the main reasons the powerplay sits first in the league. (For what it’s worth, those Blackhawks sit in second.) It doesn’t take rocket science to figure out the effect of a body in front of the net and the effect of the screen, and if there’s one criticism of the team this season, it’s that they don’t employ this strategy nearly as often in their even-strength game.

The good thing is, the Canucks seem to be getting the message in preparation for the playoffs. We already know that Kesler scores many of his goals from the dirty areas. Of late, Manny Malhotra’s and Jannik Hansen’s success have also come from going to the net. But also, Alex Burrows has notched his points from in close. If the Canucks want to go deep this year, it’s going to need to be a more regular part of their game plan, and with four great forechecking lines and big centers, they certainly have the personnel to implement big-bodied offense in the net area.

Looking at the close playoff race in the Western Conference, it’s conceivable the Canucks could face any of the Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames, Dallas Stars and Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings boast big boy and deadline pickup Dustin Penner, the Flames have Tim Jackman and Olli Jokinen, the Stars have havoc-maker Ben Eager, and the Coyotes have Marty Hanzal to terrorize Luongo’s crease. Looking further ahead, the Canucks could also face a physical Philadelphia Flyers team with Scott Hartnell and others who have no issue with taking liberties in front of the net. Game momentum is going to be dictated by crease crashers in the postseason as it is every year and the Canucks need to get with it.

Good regular season stats mean nothing when the postseason starts. It’s a fresh slate for every team and while external regular season factors may impact the playoffs to a degree, the postseason is an entirely different game. Players elevate their game, it’s more physical, and every single goal counts. There’s no such thing as a good loss in the playoffs. The Canucks have the players to go to the net, they have to start using them. Perimeter play may work for the Sedins, but Malhotra, Kesler and who ever fits the revolving role of fourth line center need to impact the scoreboard, starting in the crease.

They say the best defense is a good offense. Well in the words of the Hunter Hearst Helmsley, it’s time to play the game.

Feb 282011
 

[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]

Canucks Record

63 GP, 39-15-9, 87 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

When the Canucks signed Manny Malholtra to a 3-year/$7.5 million contract in the summer, no one expected him to be one of the top scorers of the team. He was signed for his faceoff domination, penalty-killing and veteran leadership. But no matter what anyone says, scoring goals and getting points is one of the best parts of the game. After going 19 games without recording a point, Uncle Manny has 7 points (3G-4A) in his last 8 games, including the game-winner against the St. Louis Blues this last Thursday.

Who’s Not

After a career year in goals, assists and points (25G-28A-53P) last year, Mason Raymond has been very disappointing this season. He seems to be making better decisions and getting more chances recently, but in the last game against Boston, AV decided to bump him to the fourth line in place of Tanner Glass.

May Ray hasn’t recorded a point in 5 games and is a minus-4 in that stretch; the last time he scored a goal was at the beginning of February against the Coyotes. It might take a stint on the fourth line or possibly scratching him, and giving Jeff Tambellini a go on the second line, to wake Raymond up. All I know is that Canucks nation is anxiously awaiting the resurgence of Mr. Dimples, #WeAreAllCardboardRaymond!

Who’s Next

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets (7:00 PM start, home)

Columbus is hot, going 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. They’re making a serious push for a playoff spot and are only 4 points behind 8th place Dallas and Chicago with a game in hand on both.

The Canucks have won both meetings this season, the more recent one a 7-3 shellacking just before Christmas.

Rick Nash, captain of the Blue Jackets and Olympic gold medal winner, is having an excellent season. He is currently on a 6-game point streak; he has 10 points (5G-5A) during that stretch. He leads the teams the team in goals with 29 and in points with 56.

The Blue Jackets recently boosted their defence by picking up Craig Rivet off re-entry waivers from the Sabres.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 vs. Nashville Predators (7:00 PM start, home)

Points-wise, the Nashville Predators are tied with Dallas and Chicago for the 8th and final playoff spot; the Stars and Blackhawks have a game in hand though. The Preds beat the Blue Jackets last night, but had lost 4 games in a row before that.

The Canucks and Preds have split both meetings to-date this season. Martin Erat scored a goal and added 2 assists in those meetings. Despite missing 16 games, Erat is 4th in team scoring this season with 32 points (10G-22A).

Saturday, March 5, 2011 vs. Los Angeles Kings (1:00 PM start, away)

The Kings are playing some of their best hockey, as of late, going 8-1-3 in their 12 February games so far. They are currently on a 3-game win streak and sit fourth in the Western Conference.

The Kings have won both meetings against the Canucks this season, outscoring them by a combined score of 6-2.

Captain Dustin Brown leads the team with 2 goals and 1 assist in the two previous matchups. He has 4 points (2G-2A) in his last 5 games and is 3rd in team scoring with 43 points (20G-23A).

Sunday, March 6, 2011 vs. Anaheim Ducks (5:00 PM start, away)

The Canucks are in Anaheim for the second game of a back-to-back. The Ducks are fighting for a playoff spot and currently sit 11th in the Western Conference, only 2 points back of the 8th playoff spot. They’ve been up and down all month, winning 4 games in a row at one point and then losing 5 in a row. They beat the Colorado Avalanche last night.

Getzlaf and company are 2-0-1 against the Canucks this season. Don’t get the wrong idea, all 3 games have been very close and decided by one goal.

In just 3 games against the Canucks, Getzlaf and his balding head has a goal, 5 assists and a plus-3 rating. In their last meeting, Getzlaf had a questionable hit on Dan Hamhuis, which resulted in Hamhuis missing some games due to a concussion. Although Getzlaf missed some games due to injuries earlier this season, he is still 4th in team scoring with 48 points (15G-33A).

Should We Be Worried?

It’s hard to look at the standings, see the Canucks leading the league, and describe their play as inconsistent. But when you look at their last 9 games, they’ve alternated between wins and losses. That said, should we be worried? Absolutely NOT!

Sure the Canucks haven’t posted consecutive wins in 3 weeks, but let’s not overlook that in 4 of 5 losses, they were only been beaten by a single goal. Let’s also not forget that the Canucks have had a handful of injuries on the backend, which means that a lot more pressure has been placed on our top players. Like Mike Gillis said yesterday on HNIC Afterhours, the team is just physically and mentally fatigued. So before you jump off the side of the bandwagon, think about this: don’t you want the inconsistency now instead of in April?

Feb 102011
 

I’ve taken to calling the line of Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres and Jannik Hansen the “Roberto Duran Line”.

For those too young to remember, Roberto Duran is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all-time and an inductee in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He was the Manny Pacquiao of an earlier generation of boxing fans. His nickname was “Hands of Stone” and he has a biography with the same name.

Which brings us back to Manny, Raffi and the Great Dane.

After last night’s game, Malhotra is now pointless in 2011, a stretch of 19 games. Torres is goalless in the same stretch, though he does have 4 assists. Hansen has been the most productive of the three with 5 points (2G – 3A) in 19 games.

For what it’s worth, they were probably more noticeable last night than they have been for most of the last 6 weeks. They managed to create their fair share of scoring chances, including a couple of odd-man rushes, but unfortunately were unable to finish them.

Again, hands of stone.

To be fair, we know this trio has been good on the defensive end of the ice this season so it’s not like they’ve been completely useless. Malhotra’s faceoff ability and work on the PK has been well-documented. Hansen, too, has progressed enough as a player that the coach doesn’t hesitate to put him out in any situation. But while the Canucks don’t expect much offense from them, I think they would welcome at least a little contribution here and there.

Feb 062011
 

[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]

Canucks Record

53 GP, 34-10-9, 77 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Daniel Sedin is currently on a 8-game point streak. He has 11 points in that stretch, though surprisingly, he only has 1 goal and seems somewhat content to leave the scoring to his teammates. Daniel has easily been one of the most consistent Canucks this season. He leads the team in scoring with 28 goals and 41 assists. He’s in the top-four in the NHL in goals and assists. He briefly took over the league scoring lead after Friday night’s game and now sits second (to Steven Stamkos) with 69 points.

Who’s Not

Although the Canucks rely mostly on Manny Malholtra for faceoff and penalty-kill duties, it’s still worth noting that he hasn’t recorded a single point in 17 games and is a minus-4 in that stretch. Fortunately the Canucks are winning games, and that’s the most important thing, but the team’s depth – specifically, the third line – will be counted on to be a very important factor come playoff time. Hopefully, Manny can also start to contribute more offensively.

Who’s Next

Monday, February 7, 2011 vs. Ottawa Senators (7:00 PM start, home)

I think it’s safe to say that Ottawa has been one of the biggest disappointments this season. The Senators have gone 1-10-3 in their last 14 games and have not won a game since January 13, 2011.

The Canucks are 3-1-1 against Northeast Division teams this year and have a winning record of 9-3-2 against Eastern Conference opponents.

Captain Daniel Alfredsson and rookie Erik Karlsson lead the team with 30 points each, but are a dreadful minus-18 and minus-30, respectively, for the season.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 vs. Anaheim Ducks (7:00 PM start, home)

The Ducks come into town with a 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games. Both the Canucks and the Ducks have won a game apiece in the season series so far, with the Canucks winning their latest meeting on December 8th, 2010.

Corey Perry is on pace to have a career year in points. He has been on a hot streak, as of late; he has 14 points (8 goals – 6 assists) in 14 games since the Ducks lost Ryan Getzlaf to injury. He had a hat-trick in their last game against the Avalanche.

Speaking of Getzlaf, he’s targeted this game as his return from nasal fractures; he’s been out since December 28, 2010.

Saturday, February 12, 2011 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)

The Flames come to Rogers Arena on the end of back-to-back situation. They have been one of the hottest teams since they fired Darryl Sutter stepped down as GM. They are currently on an 8-1-2 run and have clawed themselves to within one point out of a playoff position.

The Canucks hold a 2-0-1 edge in the season series against the Flames, though the Flames did win their last meeting on January 22, 2011 in a shootout.

Alex Tanguay has been a big part of the resurging Flames. He is currently on a 3-game point streak (2 goals – 3 assists). His 42 points (14 goals – 28 assists) on the year is second on the Flames to Jarome Iginla’s 49.

Most Deserving of a Shoutout: Christopher Tanev

Since being called up from the Manitoba Moose on January 16th, Chris Tanev has fit nicely into the lineup. Although he has only recorded 1 assist, he has been averaging just over 13 minutes of ice time per game, and is a plus-1. Tanev seems to get better and more confident with each game, his first pass out of the zone has been one of his best qualities. With the injuries on the back end, Tanev has been exactly what the Canucks needed. With Aaron Rome regressing a bit and Sami Salo close to returning, Tanev’s play will force Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault to make an interesting roster decision.

Jan 242011
 

[Every Monday, Katie Maximick takes your questions and gives her take on the Canucks in her own cantankerous style. If you have any questions about the Canucks, send it to her via Twitter (@canucksgirl44)]

Mason Raymond

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

The Canucks are finishing the month of January at a less-than-inspiring L10 record of 4-2-4, a bit of a slump compared to how they began the New Year (7-0-3). Shootout woes, the injury bug and scoring slumps have been plaguing the team for most of the past month. After a month of near perfection and little to complain about, suddenly many fans finally have something (or a lot) to talk about.

Stephanie (@stephnav) asks: What do you think the Canucks need to do to break out of their mini slump?

A lot of Redbull or a swift kick in the ass. You decide.

The Canucks aren’t exactly tanking, as they are managing to at least get a point when they lose in the shootout, but is this type of performance good enough for a Cup contender? Frankly, no. Although Henrik Sedin pointed out that if the team had won in their last two shootouts, that their performance wouldn’t be a big issue, I disagree. They’ve already lost the top spot in the league to the Flyers, and Detroit is hot on their heels to overtake them in the Western Conference if this play continues; the Canucks are lucky that the Red Wings are battling injury problems of their own.

Many Vancouver forwards scorers aren’t scoring (to be discussed below) and this is what’s affecting the team the most. Luongo has been playing very well, and despite injuries, the Canucks’ blue line is doing the best that it can and is often producing more goals than the team’s forwards, like Alex Edler against the Flames.

Kayli (@CanuckKayli13) asks: What do you think is the key to breaking those scoring slumps of the few forwards?

There are quite a few scoring slumps on the roster to mention here. Daniel Sedin hasn’t scored in four games but this is nothing compared to five other Canucks forwards who are scoreless in over 10 games. As I mentioned in my post last week, the third line hasn’t scored in almost a month, and to quote The Province’s Ed Willies: “Jeff Tambellini is 0-for-his-last-13 games. Mason Raymond is 0-for-11. Manny Malhotra is not only is goal-less in his last 12, he’s also pointless. The list is actually longer but there are space limitations here.”

So what to do? Is there even anything that can be done aside from demoting or benching some of these forwards (like Samuelsson or Malhotra) until they smarten up? Even I’m at a loss for words about what to do with this problem. And that, my friends, says a lot.

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