Feb 182013
 

Having throughly erased the third period of Friday night’s game from our collective memory, we’re back for a Sunday night game against the Blues.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 112013
 

The Canucks are back from a short two-game roadtrip where they potted four solid points and are looking to douse the Flames.

And with Chris Golden manning the CHB TGATT desk tonight, you all know what that means:

That’s right. Top Freaking Gun!

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 082013
 

The Canucks are in Minnesota, the second – and last – stop of their mini two-game road trip.

Zach Parise would now like his name to be pronounced ‘Par-easy’. Obviously, everyone makes fun of him for his pronunciation preferences.

Remember when Cody Hodgson tried to correct all of our pronunciations of his last name? Good times.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 292013
 

Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

As I’m writing this, I’ll admit I’m drinking a bit of Mike Gillis’ kool aid.

In an interview on TSN last night, Gillis preached some patience on the Canucks’ 2-2-2 start this season.

I’m inclined to agree.

All things considered, the Canucks’ start was probably as well as could be expected. They’re still missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth, 2/3rd of their second scoring line, and with a shortened training camp and no exhibition games, it’s obvious most of the rest of the lineup are still in preseason mode.

But before we start a “Fallin’ for Drouin” campaign (or is it “Fallin’ for Mackinnon”?), there are some positives to take here.

While most of the vets have struggled, the Canucks have received more than expected contributions from the likes of Mason Raymond, Zack Kassian, Jordan Schroeder and the Dutch Gretzky. Jannik Hansen has also been noticeable and Chris Tanev has probably been their most consistent defenseman. Coincidentally, these are pretty much all the players, give or take Andrew Ebbett, who were playing some hockey either in the AHL or in Europe during the lockout. Maybe something for players to think about in 2020.

May Ray, in particular, looks more like the May Ray from 2009/2010 rather than the May Ray whose career was almost ended by a cheap Johnny Boychuk hit in 2011.

At least through a few games, Kassian looks to be a good fit with the Sedins. Right-handed shot, power forward with good hands, good instincts and a good nose for the net. He’s also shown that he’s not afraid to play bodyguard for the twins – ask Ben Eager.

Schroeder has some obvious speed and skill, and as Gillis points out, he hasn’t really hurt the team on the defensive end. I mean, in his NHL debut against Calgary, he had a particularly memorable sequence in which the Flames bounced him around like a pinball, but if anything, he showed he’s got a hard compete level.

Of course, this isn’t to say there aren’t cause for concerns.

The Sedins look out of synch. For all of their offensive zone starts, they don’t seem to be generating as much offensive pressure as they normally do.

The defense looks out of synch. It probably speaks volumes when the pairing of Tanev and Keith Ballard (!) is the one defensive pairing left untouched. Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler and Jason Garrison have been shuffled around already.

The special teams aren’t so special. The powerplay can’t score and the penalty-kill can’t kill penalties.

And already in 4 of their first 6 games, the Canucks couldn’t hang on to leads like Dustin Diamond couldn’t hang on to his dignity.

So should we worry?

As magnified as things seem in a shortened season with little room for error, I think 6 games is still a small sample size to adequately judge this team. Like Gillis says, let’s wait a few more games before we step off the ledge or jump off the bandwagon. In the meantime, hopefully the kids can keep it up and the vets can pick it up. And hopefully, it’s not too late by then.

Jan 262013
 

Almost a week after the Anaheim Ducks ruined the Canucks’ season and home opener, the Canucks get their opportunity for revenge. And boy, did they get it.

The game had everything – pretty goals, big saves, big fights, a penalty shot, and even phallic-shaped light sabers.

Yup, they had that and more.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 242013
 

One team in tonight’s match up will see their first win of the season. I, for one, can’t stand to see Calgary get a win before us, so let’s hope we take it. Maybe the Shaft theme song will help us here. It can’t hurt.

If that didn’t get you pumped for the game, maybe Gary Valk can.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jun 142012
 
Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: PNG

In 2009/2010, his 2nd full season with the Vancouver Canucks, Mason Raymond scored 25 goals and 53 points.

In 2010/2011, he was on pace for almost 50 points had he not been sidelined for 10 games by a hand injury.

And then in the Stanley Cup Finals, as we all know by now, the Boston Bruins’ Johnny Boychuk gave him the ol’ can opener early in Game 6 and pushed him into the boards with enough force to break his back.

A lot of Canucks fans, myself included, had written May Ray off after that and with good reason. There was a time that he himself wasn’t sure he’d be able to play in the NHL again.

But in December last year, May Ray came back, scored 3 goals and 7 points in his first 9 games, and it looked like his career was back on track. Unfortunately, he would just score 7 goals and 13 points in his last 46 games, and just like that, his stock among Canucks fans fell faster than, well, Mason Raymond at the blueline.

So when the Canucks elected to take May Ray to arbitration, a move that essentially maintains his RFA status and allows the Canucks to retain his rights, reaction was divided. One segment of Canucks Nation would much rather have seen him not qualified and off to unrestricted free agency. Another segment sees him for what he his – an asset. An undervalued asset, but an asset nonetheless.

From Jim Jamieson (Vancouver Province):

The Canucks filed for rarely used cut-down arbitration on the lightning fast winger, with the intention of reducing the $2.6 million in salary he made last season on a new one-year deal.

The move allows the club to take Raymond off the market on July 1 when he was due to become a restricted free agent. They can ask an arbitrator to cut Raymond’s salary in his new contract by as much as 15 per cent, to $2.21 million.

Whether we want to believe it or not, May Ray is a legit NHL player. His 53 points in 2009/2010 ranked him among the top 80 scorers in the NHL. Had he hit 50 points in 2010/2011, he would have been among the top 100 scorers in the league. (And that’s not counting all the little things he does but we don’t see.) Mike Gillis and Laurence Gilman see this and won’t give him up for nothing.

Now, it’s obvious May Ray’s play regressed this past season. But is that because, at 26, he’s peaked as a player? Or is it because he was recovering from what was almost a career-ending injury? Just as much as there’s a chance his hockey career is fading, there’s also a chance he’ll bounce back.

More importantly, do the Canucks still see a role for him on this team? The Canucks don’t want to pay $2.6 million to find out, but rolling the dice may be more palatable at closer to $2.2 million. And not just more palatable for the Canucks, maybe other teams as well, should the Canucks later decide to take their roster in another direction.

Apr 232012
 
Cory Schneider, Vancouver Canucks, Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings shake hands

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’m not going to rant. I’m not going to rage. I would probably cry but I don’t want to short-circuit my keyboard so I won’t even do that. Instead I’ll keep this brief. And then I will eat chocolate.

Where We Went Right

Ryan Kesler was incredible on the penalty kill. He may not have scored goals but in this game his shot blocking and clearing was equally if not more important. If it wasn’t for Kesler and Cory Schneider the score would have been 8-1 for the Kings by the end of the third.

And that leads me to the second thing we did right – we had the right goalie in net. Schneider was calm and collected despite slashes by Mike Richards and bodies flailing in his crease. He never fell down and stayed down and he never lost his stick – both traits Luongo is famous for.  Cory did every thing you could ask of a goalie and more. He earned his spot as our number one netminder and I will be shocked and horrified if that’s not exactly what he is next season.

Where We Went Wrong

One goal is not going to win you a series when you are down 3 games to 1. Putting David Booth on a line with the twins is not going to get you goals. Putting Mason Raymond on the ice at all is not going to get you goals. For me, Alain Vigneault’s coaching decisions were almost as epically bad as Alex Edler was on defence. And they of course, are a reflection of what Mike Gillis has given him to work with. The trades this year have no been the glorious additions Max Lapierre and Chris Higgins were last year. Not even close.

I Don’t Blame Hamhuis

I honestly don’t. Hammy was about the only defenceman trying in Games 1 and 2. He made 1 mistake at a very inopportune time. If we’re going to crucify individual players here we need to nail Raymond and Booth and Edler. End of story. Their complete and utter uselessness, or in the case of Edler his plethora of mistakes, are what cost us the first two games. We wouldn’t have been in a hole if it wasn’t for those 3 more than anyone else. And Kesler diving instead of taking shots. And Duncan Keith elbowing Daniel to in regular season and taking him out of the first 3 games. There are so many more reasons we lost than simply Dan Hamhuis falling down. We need to take a good hard look at all of those reasons – on the bench and behind it – and make some changes before October.

It’s been an honour and a pleasure writing for the Canucks Hockey Blog. I hope I can do it next season while I cheer on our boys in Blue – no matter who those boys may be. (But it better not be Raymond).

Apr 192012
 

I don’t know about you guys, but I was full of questions all day long. Could the Canucks do it? Is starting Cory Schneider the right move? Will one extra Sedin really make that big a difference? The answers to all those questions wouldn’t come until the 2nd period but when they came, they were all yes.

The Wonderful Wonder Twins

I’ll be honest. I thought Henrik was doing okay without Daniel. He was working hard. He had to think more but he was setting up everyone he could and taking shots. And then Daniel came back and I remembered what I was missing. 19 minutes (each) of blind passes, beautiful set-ups and a beauty of an insurance goal. It took a period for the spark to catch fire, but Daniel’s return ignited virtually the entire team. The passion was back. And most importantly, the powerplay was back. And unlike the Flyers-Pens series, you can’t blame tonight’s outcome on LA’s goaltending. Quick was solid. The Canucks weren’t given any easy goals, so they went out and got the hard ones.

Number 35 Is Number 1. Deal With It.

I’ve said all season long that the Canucks have two #1 goalies. Unfortunately we don’t have two nets to put them in at the exact same time so someone has to sit on the bench. When Schneider was announced as the starter in Game 3 and again in Game 4, Lu-lovers were angry. They had reason to be. Lu was solid in Game 1 and 2. We will never know the exact reason Alain Vigneault replaced him. Maybe AV feels the team has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe AV himself has more confidence in Schneids. Maybe he just flipped a coin. Here’s the reality of it – you shouldn’t care. Because it worked.  Schneider was incredible tonight. He kept the score 1-0 while his teammates found their mojo. He stopped 43 shots, including a penalty shot. He deserves to start the rest of this series.  Does it suck for Luongo? Yes. And I feel bad for him. But not bad enough to mess with what’s working and risk a chance at a Stanley Cup. Thankfully, I think AV feels the same way.

It’s Not All Redheaded Saviors

The still have problems to fix. Even Sedin Wonder Twin Magic can’t improve David Booth’s output. Although he assisted on Kevin Bieksa’s goal, he still isn’t scoring. And then there’s Mason Raymond.  Completely whiffing on checks is his new hobby. I guess falling down got old. Why he goes for checks at all instead of lifting the stick I’ll never know. He was the goat on the Kings’ only goal. Then he gave the puck away about 3 minutes later. Yes ladies he’s cute but if he’s on the bench instead of the press box next game we’re in trouble. Last but not least, the beast that’s inside Ryan Kesler is still in a coma nap. We need to solve a few of these issues pretty quick. I don’t think it’ll take the Kings 3 games to figure out they need to shut down the twins.

 

Apr 112012
 

While we can’t take credit for coining the term “Smylosphere” – my apologies but I can’t, for the life or me, remember who came up with it – here are some of our favorite Canucks-related links today:

  • If the above video, doesn’t get you excited for the playoffs, I don’t know what will. (Youtube via HFBoards)
  • Get to know your first round playoff opponents, the Los Angeles Kings. (Nucks Misconduct)
  • Why the Canucks will beat the Kings, using my kind of math. (Legion of Blog)
  • According to Jon Haggqvist, a writer for the Swedish newspaper, Allehanda, Daniel Sedin won’t be playing tonight. (Twitter @jonhaggqvist: 1, 2, 3, 4)
  • Zack Kassian, Keith Ballard and Jeff Carter are pretty close to returning. (Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province)
  • Mason Raymond seeks redemption from a woeful regular season. (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)
  • For Canucks fans, it’s Stanley Cup of bust. (Mark Spector, Sportsnet)
  • Not your typical no. 8 seed, can the Kings upset the Canucks? (Eric Duhatschek, The Globe and Mail)
  • It’s not a goaltending controversy, it’s a goaltending tandem. (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)
  • An article on Vancouver businesses’ preparations for this year’s playoffs, including a quote from yours truly. (CP via CTV)
  • And finally, a great read from Thomas Drance. Relax, Canucks fans, and enjoy the ride. (Canucks Army)
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