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.

Jan 172014
 

After going 0-fer on this Pacific Division road trip, scoring a grand total of 1 goal in 3 games, and then potentially losing Henrik Sedin, David Booth and Mike Santorelli to injuries, I bet the Canucks can’t wait to get back home.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 112014
 

The Canucks got their offense from some unlikely combinations last night. Zac Dalpe, playing with the Sedins, opened the scoring early in the second period, and playing on a line with Darren Archibald and Dale Weise, Mike Santorelli scored the game-winning goal in the third period.

The Blues pressed in the final minute of the game though. And oh man, did they press hard. But at the end of it, the Canucks held on and won 2-1, breaking a 5-game losing streak.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 302013
 

No Luongo? No problem.

For the second time in his last 3 starts, Eddie Lack recorded a shutout as the Vancouver Canucks beat the Calgary Flames 2-0 in Calgary. For the season, he now has a 7-2-0 record, a 1.74 GAA (3rd in the NHL) and 0.933 save percentage (6th in the NHL).

That sound you hear is another goaltender controversy slowly growing because, you know, that’s what we Canucks fans do.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 292013
 
The Luongo-less Canucks are starting Eddie Lack tonight in Calgary, letting Lu recover from an undisclosed injury suffered last Sunday against the Jets. (photo credit: vansunsportsblogs.com)

The Luongo-less Canucks are starting Eddie Lack tonight in Calgary, letting Lu recover from an undisclosed injury suffered last Sunday against the Jets.
(photo credit: vansunsportsblogs.com)

The holidays were kind to the Canucks. Well, kind of. Not only did they post a 9-1-1 record going into the holiday break, they then had six days off to rest and recuperate. But also, in their last game on December 22nd, a 2-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, the Canucks lost Roberto Luongo to a suspected groin injury. For now, Lu’s status remains day-to-day, and in his absence, the Canucks will lean on rookies Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson, and their combined 11 games of NHL experience – all Lack’s.

Tonight, Lack will be returning to the Saddledome where he had his first career start.  With a 1.93 GAA (6th in the NHL) a .929 save-percentage (8th in the NHL), and a 6-2-0 record, including wins against the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues, Lack has been more than solid in relief. Backing up Lack is another Swede, Joacim Eriksson, who was called up from the Utica Comets. Eriksson brings an 8-10-1 record, 2.77 GAA and .907 save percentage from Utica; he had won his last 4 games with the Comets.

The Calgary Flames’ goaltending situation is less certain. Neither Reto Berra and Karri Ramo have seized the starting goaltender’s gig left available by Mikka Kiprusoff’s retirement. Both have identical .904% save percentages and both are allowing just under 3 goals per game.

The Flames have won only once in their last 6 games.

Who’s Hot

Tonight’s starter, Berra, hasn’t won 2 consecutive games all season, though he did play well in his last 2 starts, stopping 32 of 35 shots in beating the St. Louis Blues in a shootout a week ago, and then stopping 26 of 27 shots in a 2-0 loss to the Edmonton Oilers last Friday. He’s won 2 of his last 5 starts, and has a 1.97 GAA in that span.

So far in December, Ryan Kesler has 4 game-winning goals, including the shootout winner against the Chicago Blackhawks in the Canucks’ second-last game before Christmas.

Kes’ linemates have been equally hot. Mike Santorelli has 12 points in his last 13 games, and Chris Higgins has 9 points in his last 11 games.

Who’s Out

Add Roberto Luongo to the list of injured Canucks; he is day-to-day with a suspected groin injury. Defensemen Ryan Stanton and Alex Edler, and forwards Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder are all still out as well.

For the Flames, defensemen Kris Russell and Dennis Wideman are both out, and forward Curtis Glencross continues to nurse an ankle injury.

Dec 152013
 

As far as rivalry matches go, you couldn’t ask for much more. Roberto Luongo was great. Tuukka Rask wasn’t. Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Mike Santorelli were in beast mode. Milan Lucic wasn’t. The Sedins didn’t back down. Brad Marchand was being a dick. As usual. David Booth scored on a helluva snipe of a shot. Chris Tanev scored. Shorthanded, no less. But most importantly, in the Boston Bruins’ first visit to Rogers Arena since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the Canucks won. And won in convincing fashion.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 112013
 

With the recent emergence of Mike Santorelli as a legitimate piece of the Canuck Puzzle, it’s clear Mike Gillis is the guy you want next to you on “Black Friday”. This guy can find a bargain. And while he’s had the disapointments that every GM has during their tenure, he’s also had an abundance of pleasant surprises. Sure, the “fairweather fan” is quick to point out the Keith Ballard debacle or the Luongo/Schneider escapades but the true fan can see that, despite those controversies, Gillis has put together a pretty successful squad. He has brought in players to complement the core and has developed a cache of depth to account for injuries and ailments.  Not only that but we’ve seen the most successful Canuck team in the history of the franchise and numerous records broken in his era. This list compiles the mark Gillis has made on the Franchise since his induction as president and general manager.

Here are the top 5 Mike Gillis Acquisitions:

5) Manny Malhotra: A faceoff percentage among the league’s top 5 and 30 points. What every coach wants their third line center to do and what Manny Malhotra did. Unfortunately, a freak injury disrupted what could have been a symbiotic relationship between player and team. But for the few years Manny was here he was effective both on the ice as a player and in the dressing room as a leader.

4) Mikael Samuelsson: This trigger happy swede put up 106 points in 155 games for the Canucks before being traded to the Florida Panthers. His game fit in nicely with the Canucks both on second line duties and with his fellow compatriots the Sedins. The Canucks miss his 30 goals to this day.

3) Christian Erhoff: Acquired in a deal with the San Jose Sharks, Erhoff proved to be an offensive force on the blueline. The german had a seeing-eye shot and tremendous puck-moving skills helping the Canucks to a league-best powerplay. Unfortunately his stay was shortlived as his elevated play allowed him to sign for a bigger contract with the Sabres.

2) Chris Higgins: The ultimate utility player, Chris does it all. He plays a hardnosed game with a bit of touch and is the type of player teams covet in the spring. It’s no surprise Mike Gillis resigned him after initially trading for Higgins at the deadline as a rental.

1) Dan Hamhuis: Hamhuis is the type of player who makes those around him better. His arrival instantly brought out the best in Kevin Bieksa’s game and together the two became one of the more dominant shut-down pairs in the league. Hamhuis is a mainstay on the backend for the Canucks and is the only player besides Luongo to get shortlisted for Team Canada at the upcoming Olympic Games.

Honorable mention: Pavol Demitra, Maxim Lapierre, Mats Sundin, Cody Hodgson.

Dec 092013
 
Source: www.fanpop.com

Source: www.fanpop.com

Are the Canucks ready to break out after this latest swing of positive results? We sure hope so and we’re confident that they’ll catch fire again tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes. Here are five reasons why:

Santorelli on fire!

Last night Mike Santorelli showed another sparkling performance with two goals and an assist and was a whisker away from completing his hat trick in that 3rd period. Whether he’s the second line centre or working on the wing with the Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins line, Santorelli has been a welcome surprise in the season so far. Already on pace to reach 20 goals and 50 points this season.

Canucks drive for five

Turning over the Avalanche extended the current win streak to four games and improved the season record to 17-10-5. The Canucks are beginning to learn lessons and not repeating the same mistakes from previous games. It was a strong performance, turning a 1-0 lead heading into the 3rd period into a 3-1 win. Albeit the late, late goal which John Garrett jinxed with 7.1 seconds to go, the Canucks were strong in the third period, adding a couple of goals from Santorelli and Kesler.

Learning their lessons

After throwing away a 2-goal lead against the Phoenix Coyotes in the previous game, you could forgive the Rogers Arena crowd for being a little nervous last night heading into the third period. On Team 1040, they were calling for the Canucks to be positive, to not sit back, and instead, to look for that next goal and not let the Avs back into the game. The Canucks are even beginning to find points up and down the lineup with Chris Higgins, Dale Weise, Jannik Hansen and David Booth combining for 9 points between them in the last 5 games.

“If you want to be successful in this league, you’ve got to be able to hold on to leads. Tonight, I think we did it the right way.” -Mike Santorelli

Don’t repeat at home what happened on the road in Carolina

Only a week ago, the Canucks faced the Hurricanes in the second game of a road back-to-back. We don’t want a repeat of their efforts in the early part of the second period of that game when they Canucks surrendered 2 goals and squandered a 2-0 lead just 49 seconds out of the break. Thankfully, Kesler hit back almost immediately to re-establish the lead. (Kesler had also opened the scoring only 3:24 into that game.) Much like they did against the Avs last night, the Canucks do need to come out hard and continue to put teams away.

Special teams getting special again

After a terrible early season slump, the powerplay has scored in 7 of the past 8 games and is now a source of strength. Maybe it’s no coincidence that the power is back in the powerplay now now that Jason Garrison has hit his stride with 6 powerplay points in his last 8 games.

Against the Canes last week, the penalty-killing units got the Canucks through the game, killing off all 6 Carolina powerplays – 11:33 worth of penalty time – and since then, the Canucks have killed 11 straight penalties. Even without Alex Burrows, they still look good.

Dec 092013
 
Ryan Kesler is happy as a kid on Christmas about his performance the past 4 games.

Ryan Kesler is happy as a kid on Christmas about his performance the past 4 games. (Photo credit vansunsportsblogs.com)

A “Battle of the Bros” takes place tonight at Rogers Arena with the Carolina Hurricanes gusting into town. ‘Canes captain, Eric Staal, and his brother, Jordan Staal, are here to take on our Sedin twins. This is the second and final meeting between the Canucks and the Canes this season. They met a little over a week ago with the Canucks winning 3-2 in Raleigh and kick-starting their 4-game win streak.

Since that loss, however, the Hurricanes have won 3 straight games themselves, including an impressive win on Friday night win against the San Jose Sharks. In that game, they battled back from a 2-goal first period deficit and scored 4 goals in the third period en route to a 5-3 win.

The Canes haven’t played since Friday and should be well-rested for tonight’s match-up. On the other hand, the Canucks played – and won – last night and tonight’s game will be their 3rd in four nights.

The Canucks will likely look to Eddie Lack to play. Roberto Luongo, who has been brilliant in his last 3 games (0.960 save percentage), was 7.1 seconds away from a shutout last night and may have the evening off.

Who’s Hot

Mike Santorelli had a hand in all 3 Canucks goals last night, scoring on 2 of them and assisting on the other, and was awarded the post-game Haida hat. He now has 7 points (3 goals and 4 assists) in his last 6 games, and 21 points (8 goals and 13 assists) in 32 games this season.

Jason Garrison has really stepped up his game with Alex Edler still injured. He notched an assist last night to extend his point-streak to 4 games; he has 6 points (1 goal and 3 assists) in that span.

With his goal last night, Ryan Kesler now has 5 goals in his last 4 games, and 15 goals this season. The latter ties him for 8th in the NHL with Sidney Crosby and Tyler Seguin. Beast mode activated.

For Carolina, Jeff Skinner has 7 points (6 goals and 1 assist) his last 5 games, including a couple of 3-point games during the current Canes win-streak.

Eric Staal is on a roll as well 5 points (1 goal and 4 assists) in his last 4 games. His 23 points for the season lead the Canes, and also leads all other Staals in the league.

Who’s Out

Same IR list for the Canucks with Alex Edler (knee), Alex Burrows (jaw surgery) and Jordan Schroeder (ankle) all still out.

The Canes will definitely be without Mike Komisarek, Drayson Bowman and Patrick Dwyer. Alexander Semin is also day-to-day recovering from a concussion, and is not expected to play tonight.

Dec 092013
 

Don’t get us wrong, the Canucks’ 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche was nice. But seriously, losing a shutout with 7.1 seconds left, and former Canucks goaltender turned Canucks colour man John Garrett bringing the jinx? Gah!

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

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