Nov 222013
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (11-8-4)
Columbus Blue Jackets (8-11-3)

The Blue Jackets are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks for their second and final meeting this season. In their last meeting in Columbus on October 20th, the Blue Jackets won 3-1. Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McElhinney, was impressive with 37 saves.

The Canucks are looking for their first win in 5 games. Their current 5-game losing streak is their longest since an 8-game losing streak back in January 2009. And we all remember how they bumped that slump, right?

As for the Blue Jackets, they have won 2 out of their last 5 games.

Who’s Hot

Blue Jackets forward RJ Umberger has recorded a point in the last 3 out of 4 games (2 goals and 1 assist). Defensemen James Wisniewski is the Blue Jackets leading point scorer; he also has 3 points in the Blue Jackets’ last 4 games.

Despite the Canucks’ recent play, goaltender Roberto Luongo has been doing well with a 0.924 save percentage in November, including a 0.933 save percentage in his last 3 games.

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are still without Jordan Schroeder (ankle), who’s on IR and not expected back until late December.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are missing quite a few players. Brandon Dubinsky, the Blue Jackets second-leading scorer (5 goals) injured his foot in Tuesday’s game and will be out. The Blue Jackets are still without Nathan Horton (shoulder), Cody Bass (thumb), Matt Calvert (abdomen), Dalton Prout (back) and Marian Gaborik (knee).

Nov 132010
 

[Every weekend, Canucks Hockey Blog goes out of town as Tom Wakefield (@tomwakefield88) posts his thoughts on what's happening around the NHL.]

Hockey Canada and Team Quebec?

Photo credit: Montreal Gazette

Rarely under Bob Nicholson’s leadership has Hockey Canada ever courted controversy.

This makes their decision to support an international tournament that features a Quebec team all the more puzzling.

As Hockey Canada rightly points out, provincial and regional teams regularly play against national teams from other countries.

But it’s hard to believe Hockey Canada were naive enough to think this would be just another hockey tournament.

The notion of a Team Quebec filled with NHL players has been the dream of separatist Quebec for decades.

And it’s taken no time at all for Quebec nationalists to jump on board the bandwagon and politicize the decision.

So what could have motivated Hockey Canada?

The bottom line, for one.

Hockey Canada has never turned down a chance to make a buck. A Quebec Cup tournament, featuring the provincial team against France, Italy and Switzerland would do mega business in La Belle Province.

In fact, you could argue that a tournament featuring a Team Quebec would be more significant than any tourney that featured a Team Ontario, Team British Columbia or Team Alberta.

Expect Hockey Canada to earn a nice return on licensing fees and other revenues associated with the tournament, all the while playing the innocent “this is not a big deal” card.

******

How good could a Team Quebec be?

On the surface, the lineup doesn’t look too bad – fast, skilled, deep in goal but lacking grit and defensive-depth:

Martin St. Louis (RW)
Jason Pominville (RW)
JP Dumont (RW)
Patrice Bergeron (C-RW)
Simon Gagne (LW)
Danny Briere (C-LW)
Guillaume Latendresse (LW)
David Perron (LW)
Vincent Lecavalier (C)
Mike Ribeiro (C)
Antoine Vermette (C)
Eric Belanger (C)
Jason Demers (D)
Bruno Gervais (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Stephane Robidas (D)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D)
Francois Beauchemin (D)
Martin Brodeur (G)
Roberto Luongo (G)
Jonathan Bernier (G)

Extra Forwards:

Alex Tanguay (LW)
Derick Brassard (C)
Max Talbot (C-RW)
Alex Burrows (RW)

Extra Defensemen:

Mathieu Roy
Alex Picard

Extra Goaltender:

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

That being said, there’s been little comment so far from the NHLPA, and it’s doubtful NHL players would line up to shorten their already brief off-season.

Francophone NHL’ers who’ve played for the Habs would also be among the first to tell you that the language politics surrounding hockey in Quebec can be a negative distraction.

One suspects then that Team Quebec will be filled with also-rans and players from overseas, who see this as one last chance to catch the interest of an NHL team.

If this is the case, what happens to Quebec nationalists if the inaugural winner of the Quebec Cup is not the home team?

THOUGHTS ON THE FLY:

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