Sep 132009
 
Kevin Bieksa

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’ll be going to training camp today so keep an eye out on my Twitter feed. In the meantime, here are some Canucks-related links on the Interweb:

May 082009
 
May 072009
 
May 052009
 

Through the game there were several names that people came with on Twitter instead of Byfuglien. I coined Byfuglidouche, there was B-Fug, DieFuglyOne, Buttfugly, and my personal favourite, (and no, I have no idea how you get the following nickname from Byfuglien) Barfing Lama. I’m sure there are a couple more out there. He’s starting to get on my nerves about as much as he’s bothering Luongo.

All Byfuglien nonsense aside, with the game time scratch of Demitra, it was Raymond bumped to the second line and Pyatt inserted for the first time since he left to mourn the passing of his fiancee. I’ll admit, before becoming Sundin’s harshest critic, (okay maybe second harshest, Iain MacIntyre is just ridiculous, he needed another Swede to rag on after Markus left) I was pretty rough on Taylor. Now I just fee bad ragging on him because of what happened, but in all seriousness he played much better than I expected him to.

I expected the odd gaff or two, missed pass, screwed up play. None of those from number 9 in an important game 3. In fact, Pyatt out there was part of a consistent 3rd line that played shut down hockey when we needed them to. He blocked a shot or two, he laid a few hits, none bigger than the one just before he took a penalty where he layed out a Blackhawk behind the Khabibulin’s net. It was good to have him back and it looks like the team was happy to have him back. He’s a big boy, he needs to start using that size of his.

The Canucks played a statement game. I said they would in my last post, and they came to play. Blowing multi goal leads three games in a row is a formula for nothing good and they showed they could shut it down when they needed to. While the bandwagon is slowly piling on again, this by no means is a sign the Canucks are home free. They played a better game. They played a full 60 minutes, but there are certainly a few more issues that need to be fixed. The Canucks look to be back on track. It took them 2 games to get their game back together, but they finally look like they did back in the St. Louis series. The Blackhawks if this continues are going to have to look for a few aces up Joel Quenville’s sleeve.

May 052009
 

With word that Demitra is a game time decision and the glass factory we acquired him from are not replacing him under warranty, word has it that if Demitra is out, Pyatt is in. Pyatt coming in bumps Raymond up to the second line and then it’s game on.

We’re playing a team that is fast. Reality check, they’re faster than a lot of our team. So why is Pyatt slotted in? We certainly don’t need his size. If Mitchell and Bieksa along with the rest of the blue line can do their job, then size shouldn’t be an issue. What this team needs is a bit more speed and Hansen who’s been a healthy scratch for the better part of the second half of the season needs to see some game time action. Heck, even throwing in Jeff Cowan would be better than Pyatt.

I’m not here to rag on Pyatt, I do that enough, but the bottom line is we need to start hitting harder, and skating faster. Right now the Blackhawks are beating us at both of those and they shouldn’t. We are bigger, and while we can’t necessarily skate faster, we can make minor adjustments to keep pace with them. Pyatt is a big body, but that’s not what we need in game 3. We need to step out there and start flying from the moment the puck drops. Flying both on the ice, and in the air.

Pyatt getting the start is going to be an interesting decision. While he’s been mentally exhausted as of late, he does come as a fresh body, then again so does Hansen. If he can play the same way he was playing towards the end of the second half of the season before tradgedy hit, we might be okay. He’s a big boy that handles himself like an awkward puppy at times. I still maintain we need speed over size and Hansen wins out in that category. Pyatt’s never been an energy player and that’s something I’d even be willing to turn to Cowan for. We have the depth, this is the precise situation Gillis planned for, it’s time to take advantage of that.

May 032009
 

The Canucks CAN win in Chicago. It’s not a matter of if they win. It’s a matter of how they win.

The Canucks sit in a position in which they haven’t been in, well ever. They have depth. After Salo scored his power play goal in first period the defense imploded. That was the turning point in the game. The Canucks defense fell apart, they collapsed in on themselves and before you know it, Kane was walking in on Luongo and the game was out of the Canucks control at that point.

During the season after games in which they collapsed and were handily beaten, their next game they rebounded. After falling to the Coyotes 5-1, they came back with a 5-2 win against Turco and the Stars. After losing 4-2 to the Blues in a game where the kids on St. Louis dismantled our defense, we came back with two convincing wins against the Avalanche (4-1) and the Blackhawks (4-0). Even after the 5-1 loss to the Capitals at the beginning of the season, the Canucks came back and beat the Red Wings.

Sami may be out, but Gillis’ heads up forward thinking is about to pay dividends. Insurance acquisition Ossi Vaananen who’s already seen playoff time to replace Salo at the end of the Blues’ series, has proved he can play as a replacement and be defensively responsible. The Canucks have depth on all levels. Stop to think about the fact that if Pyatt were to return, we are so deep he would/could be a 4th line player. Jannik Hansen has been scratched for the better half of the last 20 games, and if we were to lose another defenseman, we have the services of Rob Davison sitting in the press box.

The Canucks suffered a minor setback Saturday night. That shouldn’t affect how they do on Tuesday. They have an extra day to lick their wounds, and while the shot of Salo will be sorely missed on the point, the Canucks have the pieces in place to continue without major hiccups caused by injury. They rebounded during the regular season, and after facing their first post season loss in this year’s playoffs, it’s time for them to bounce back again.

May 022009
 
Apr 282009
 

Cody Hodgson was just named OHL Player of the year.

The other day someone asked, “If given the opportunity, would you trade Hodgson for the first round pick in the 2009 draft?” (Or work a trade that included Hodgson for the first round pick)

As speculation goes there’s a snowballs chance in hell, or Patrick Stefan’s chance at scoring on an empty net breakaway, that John Tavares will not go first overall in the 2009 draft. If it’s not him, it will be Victor Hedman. Tavares amongst the class of 2009 is the standout. There’s likely no one that will match his level of talent and skill in his draft year. But, he’s no Crosby, and looks closer to Stamkos than anything else. He also draws other parallels, they both were stand outs in the World Juniors. Stamkos so far has looked like a bust, maybe Tavares will, maybe he won’t. He’s proved he can be the big fish in the little pond, now let’s see if he can roll with the big boys. He’ll likely go to St. Louis, or Tampa, the usual bottom feeders, but it takes a Crosby level player to affect a cellar dweller team. That’s what Crosby did for the pens, that’s what Stamkos failed to do for the Lightning. But for all those things that they can do, I wouldn’t give up Hodgson for either of them. It’d have to be Gretzky reborn again or the second coming of Trevor Linden for me to give up Hodgson for Tavares or Hedman.

Cody Hodgson isn’t a showstopper, a heart breaker. He’s not a one trick pony and he’s not a selfish player. I’m not saying that the greats are selfish, but when you look at a lot of the greats their shoot to pass ratio is a lot higher. This kid isn’t selfish. He’s selfless. Take a look at his play at the World Juniors. Alongside the best this country has to offer, and the best of the 2009 draft he shone bright. He set a World Juniors record with 16 points, 5 goals and 11 assists. He beat out TSN’s favourite junior John Tavares, and while people like Eberle were getting the spotlight for late game heroics, and Tavares was played over and over again on the highlight reel for his lacrosse antics with a hockey stick, Cody Hodgson was flying under the radar. Maybe flying under the radar isn’t the right term as all of those world juniors were on a public stage. But he wasn’t providing last minute one off heroics. Hodgson was solid at both ends of the ice. Hodgson was timely, Hodgson was clutch.

When the Canucks chose not to give him a shot I admit I was pretty peeved about that. In hindsight though when you look at it the Canucks are preparing Cody for something different. They already have a pre-established plan for him. Sending him back to play with the Battalion is putting him in a pond where he’s not just the big fish, he’s the king fish. He’s going back to a team that is going to look to him when and if times get tough. A team that is going to rely on him to lead them through good and bad. Cody back on the Battalion is gaining a wealth of experience as, yes I’ll say it again, he’s being moulded into Trevor v2.0. There’s nothing wrong with that. This city needs another Captain Vancouver to get teary eyed over. Cody is that guy.

Mike Gillis knows how to play his cards right. Next season if he is able to sign Mats again and is also able to bring back the Sedins you’re going to find that once again Vancouver is extremely deep at center. Hodgson is going to join a group of centers which are amongst the best at what they do, invaluable experience for our future Mr. Canuck. Hodgson has the capability of playing at a second line level very soon. The Canucks have created an environment at the moment which will prove to be enormously helpful to the development of this young talent if the pieces of the puzzle all fit. Hodgson also coming into a situation where he’s surrounded by speed will allow him to play at his level. He’s a playmaker; the World Juniors has proved that. If you place him alongside anyone but Taylor Pyatt this kid is going to produce. So placing him with two wheeling and dealing wingers such as Hansen, Burrows, Raymond or Wellwood is likely to pay dividends soon. Now I may be putting the wagon before the horse here with all this speculation but this kid has proven himself to me early on. Even with his pre-season play at the start of this campaign he made a compelling case to fill a roster spot. Had it not been for the potential arrival of Mats, our superstar center Sedin, Kesler and the fact Johnson had been picked up that summer he might have gotten a shot.

Hodgson is young and has a lot to learn, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer he’s a class act. He’s your Trevor Linden and Joe Sackic all tied into one minus the leaf blower incident. He has me excited as a fan just because of what I hope he’s capable of. He may be a little smaller and lighter than is ideal at this point but the Sedins proved to us they could bulk up and with some work Cody’s NHL level of play will match an NHL size.

While he was sent down and his chance to play at the NHL level postponed, Cody is getting opportunities that are developing him as the future leader of the Canucks. His World Juniors experience was a fantastic demonstration of his growth as a player and just another reason for Canuck fans to get excited. I’m almost positive Hodgson will have a spot in the line up next year and with the budding wealth of talent the Canucks have right now this team is getting younger, faster, and I love every second of it. Cody is coming into an environment with playmaking veteran centers to learn from and if this season’s preseason was anything to go off of Cody is the future of this franchise, now.

So, if given the opportunity, would I trade Hodgson for the first round pick in the 2009 draft? Would you?

Apr 282009
 
Apr 262009
 
%d bloggers like this: