Dec 192013
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (20-10-6)
Dallas Stars (16-12-5)

This is the second of three games between the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars, with the Stars having beat the Canucks 2-1 in their first game on November 17th.

The Canucks’ perfect December and 7-game win streak came to an end on Tuesday night when the Minnesota Wild beat them 3-2 in a shootout. Still, their 7-0-1 record in December has helped them move up to 6th place in the Western Conference. They’re now just 2 points back of the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues, and 4 points back of the Los Angeles Kings, though all of these teams have games in hand over them. The Stars are coming off a 3-2 win over Colorado Avalanche and are looking to post consecutive wins for the first time since a 3-game win streak over a month ago.

Who’s Hot

Despite the shootout loss on Tuesday night against the Wild, Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo has been one of the best players for the Canucks – over his past six starts, Luongo is 5-0-1 with a .958 save percentage.

For the Stars, forward Ray Whitney scored two out of the three goals in the their Tuesday night win over the Avalanche. He has three points in his last three games (2 goals, 1 assist).

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are without forwards Alexandre Burrows (broken jaw), Jordan Schroeder (sprained ankle) and defensemen Alexander Edler (lower body), as well as Ryan Stanton who left Tuesday nights game against the Wild with a left ankle sprain.

The Dallas Stars are without defensemen Aaron Rome (lower body), Trevor Daley (sprained left ankle), Stephane Robidas (broken leg) and forward Vernon Fiddler (upper body).

Dec 182013
 
lou bad goal

You love when the Canucks score them but hate when they give them up. Those fluky goals that can pop up out of nowhere and change the momentum of the game at the drop of a helmet.  These goals are bizarre but admittedly entertaining.  Canucks fans have been “entertained” by them early and often so far this season with a number of bizarre goals going in already before the Olympic break. Coach John Tortorella has remained adamant that these moments even out over the course of an 82-game season but if that’s the case I think the Canucks may have already used all theirs up. It’s only December and we can already compile a list of wacky Canucks-related goals from this season!

Here are the top 5 bizarre Canucks-related goals from the 2013-2014 season thus far:

5) Alexander Edler – In an afternoon game Edler uses his booming slapshot to snipe a beauty from center ice….just kidding! Fleury bobbles it BIG TIME. We’re used to seeing Fleury lose the puck though (World Juniors anyone?).

 

4) Ryan Kesler-  A goalie’s nightmare, but a player’s fantasy. In a game against Philly, Ryan Kesler gobbles up a lucky bounce and distributes it into the yawning cage with ease.

 

3) Joe Thornton on Roberto Luongo – “Once it got on top of the net I was like: Oh S***! What’s going on here?”- Roberto Luongo on this insane bounce from a Jumbo Joe dump in.

 

2) Jannik Hansen – A recent goal from a memorable game this Jannik Hansen snipe looks more like an R.A. Dickey knuckleball then a slapshot. It helped shake up the confidence of Bruins goalie Tukka Rask and got the Canucks off to a good start against their Arch-rivals.

 

1) Lars Eller on Roberto Luongo via Dan Hamhuis – This was one fans hated. Not only was it completely avoidable but it led to a weak third period and an eventual loss. Still, it’s hard not to smirk at Lou’s stance as he carefully looks for the puck between his own legs.

 

Dec 172013
 

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Face-off between the two Captains, Koivu and H.Sedin
(Source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (20-10-5)
Minnesota Wild (19-11-5)

This is the first of three meetings between the Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks this season. Last season, the Canucks won the first 2 games of the season series, and then the Wild won the last 2 games with a home sweep. Currently. the Canucks lead the Wild by 2 points in the standings, but both are battling the Phoenix Coyotes for the two wild card playoff spots in the Western Conference.

The Canucks are so far undefeated in December (7-0-0). Their last win, last Saturday against the Boston Bruins, was particularly impressive as they scored 5 unanswered goals en route to a 6-2 win. Meanwhile, the Wild have won just 4 of their last 7 games, including a 2-1 shootout win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday that snapped a 3-game losing streak, though they’ve been great at the Xcel Energy Center this season with just 3 regulation losses in 18 games at home (13-3-2).

Who’s Hot

December has been a good month so far for Roberto Luongo and the Canucks. Luongo has started 5 December games during the team’s current 7-game win streak, and has a 5-0-0, 1.19 GAA and a 0.962 save percentage in those 5 games.

For the Wild, Josh Harding has won 4 out of his 5 December games, and has a 0.949 save percentage in those 5 games. He didn’t allow any shootout goals on Saturday night to give the Wild a 2-1 win over the Avs. His 0.939 save percentage for the season ranks 2nd among all NHL goaltenders.

Who’s Out

The Canucks are still without fowards Jordan Schroeder (sprain ankle), Alex Burrows (broken jaw) and defensemen Alexander Edler (lower body).

The Wild are without forward Mikael Granlund (concussion) who has been on injured reserve since November 27th; however, he practiced on Monday and is expected to join the team later this week.

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 142013
 
Luongo recorded his 65th career shutout last night against Edmonton. That was merely a warm up for the game tonight against Boston.

Luongo recorded his 65th career shutout last night against Edmonton. That was merely a warm up for the game tonight against Boston.

Canucks fans will never forget the 2010/2011 season. I mean, it was one of the most successful years in franchise history. And who could forget the dominance and ecstasy that season was or the heartbreak in the way it ended as tonight’s visitors, the Boston Bruins, won the Stanley Cup in Game 7 on our home ice? That Stanley Cup run brought out a gritty rivalry between the Canucks and the Bruins. It brought out a different level of hatred that’s extended even to fans and media from both cities.

Because of the NHL’s unbalanced schedule at the time and the lockout-shortened season last season, these two teams have only met once since the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals – a Vancouver visit to Boston on January 7, 2012, or as Mike Gillis called it, the day the Canucks’ 2011/2012 season started to go downhill. Cory Schneider was in net that game, a 4-3 Canucks win, and Cody Hodgson scored the winning goal, but the Canucks’ play sagged after that game. Despite having the league’s best record in the regular season, they were dispatched promptly in the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings.

Tonight’s tilt is the first of two meetings between the Canucks and Bruins this season; they meet again in Boston in February. This is the last game of the Canucks’ 5-game home stand. They’ve won the first 4 games so far, and wouldn’t it be something if they could cap off a perfect home stand with a win against one of their most hated rivals tonight? It won’t be easy though. While the Canucks have been playing well, the Bruins have been equally good. The Bruins have won 4 games in a row, including 3 consecutive wins in Canada (Toronto, Calgary and Edmonton).

Who’s Hot

Roberto Luongo was NHL.com’s second star last night after his shutout performance against the Oilers. More importantly, he’s won his last 4 starts. In that span, he’s only allowed 4 goals while stopping 114 of 118 shots (0.966 save percentage).

Jason Garrison continued his torrid scoring pace with 3 assists last night. He now has 13 points in his last 10 games, and his 22 points for the season ties him for 4th in scoring among all NHL defensemen.

With goaltender Tuukka Rask battling the flu, backup goaltender Chad Johnson started in goal in the Bruins’ last game against the Oilers on Thursday. He’s has made the most of his starts this season and has won 6 of the 7 games he’s played.

Jarome Iginla (yes I forgot he played for Boston as well) has 3 goals in his last 3 games. He currently sits in 4th in team scoring.

Who’s Out

The flu has made its way through the Bruins locker room with Tuukka Rask being one on of the latest victims. If you believe head coach Claude Julien, he may or may not play tonight, “We just have to play through it… so Rask may play through it tonight.”

The Bruins will also be without Chris Kelly, Loui Eriksson, Daniel Paille, Adam McQuaid and Dougie Hamilton, all out with injuries. Shawn Thornton is still sitting out his suspension, the full length of it to be announced later today.

The Canucks are still without Alex Edler, Alex Burrows and Jordan Schroeder.

Keep Calm

Nervousness is a perfectly normal feeling when the Canucks are playing the Bruins so here’s something to calm you.

You're welcome.

You’re welcome.

Dec 142013
 

With his preseason high-stick on Sam Gagner still fresh in mind, Zack Kassian entered last night’s match-up between the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers as public enemy number one. Threats of retribution followed immediately after that incident back in September, and for his part, Kass was ready regardless of whatever the Oilers threw his way.

Except the Oilers didn’t throw much of anything the Canucks’ way last night. The Canucks were as dominant as the Oilers were soft. Roberto Luongo recorded his 3rd shutout of the season, Jason Garrison had 3 assists, and hell, Dale Weise scored a powerplay goal. And Kass? He scored a goal to give the Canucks some breathing room just 2 minutes into the third period, and had irritated the crap out of the Oilers by the end of the night.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Dec 132013
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (18-10-5)
Edmonton Oilers (11-19-3)

This is the second of five games between the Oilers and Canucks. In their last meeting on October 5th, the Canucks beat the Oilers with an impressive home opening win of 6-2.

The Canucks will look to continue their perfect December (5-0-0), while the Oilers look to bounce back after a 4-2 home loss against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Oilers allowed three goals in less than eight minutes, scored two in the second period but came up short two goals in a dissapointing loss.

Who’s Hot

In his last five games, Chris Higgins has six points, getting the assist on both of the Canucks’ goals in their last game.

Roberto Luongo is 3-0-0 and has allowed only four goals in his his last three starts.

For the Oilers, David Perron has five goals in the Oilers’ past five games. Perron scored both of the Oilers goals against the Bruins in their 4-2 loss.

Who’s Out

The Vancouver Canucks are without both their Alex’s – Edler (lower body) and Burrows (broken jaw), neither of them are close to returning.

The Edmonton Oilers are without goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov (head) and forward Boyd Gordon.

Dec 112013
 

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: faceoff.com

As I am sure everyone is aware of by now, Roberto Luongo was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday. For the most part, Luongo has met or exceeded every reasonable prediction people had of him in the off-season. It is fairly well known that goalies that enter their mid-30s steadily decline in save percentage.  Luongo’s .918 is just a fraction off his .919 career average

That being said, during a season where save percentage is at its all-time highest, despite the league making goalie equipment smaller, Luongo has been an average at best starter.

At 5-on-5 play, Luongo’s save percentage is .923 and good enough for 16th best in the NHL among goalies who have played 50 percent of their teams games. Advanced stats for goalies lags behind the metrics for skaters but 5-on-5 play is the fairest way to evaluate goaltenders against each other as special teams stats are more heavily influenced by teammates play. Even if you account for the Canucks’ league best penalty kill, Luongo only gets bumped up to 12th with a traditional .918 save percentage.

To further demonstrate the issue, goalies such as Steve Mason, Jaroslav Halak, and Ondrej Pavelec have all posted a better save percentage at even strength.  You’d probably be pretty disappointed to have any of those guys are your team’s starter.

The good news for the Canucks is that teams are moving away from heavily depending on star goaltenders to win them the cup. There have been plenty of teams that have had average goaltending and made the playoffs in the recent past, however, teams like Minnesota, Colorado and Toronto have demonstrated that relying on goaltending to steal games can still get you a few extra wins that the Canucks could really use right now to get back into the Pacific Division race.

Now, if you follow the Canucks on a daily basis you’d probably notice that not much is being made about Luongo’s average stats. I believe that there are a couple reasons for this.  One being what I already mentioned, that Luongo has been playing up to the standards set for him early on this season. More likely though, people have shifted their criticism from Luongo’s play to the lack of scoring depth when the team loses low scoring games. Without Cory Schnieder on the team, the fans and media don’t have the default reaction we’ve been accustomed to – calling for the backup. Luongo has done his best to avoid the soft goals as well and continued consistency will be important going forward as well.

What we’re seeing from Luongo is probably about what we can expect for the rest of the season and that’s not necessarily bad thing considering the potential decline the Canucks could have been dealing with.

Dec 102013
 
Source:  Canucks.com (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Source: Canucks.com (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

John Garrett received a lot of flak (both serious and fun) from Canucks fans when he talked about Roberto Luongo’s shutout bid in the last few minutes of the Canucks game vs. the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night.  Whether you call it a jinx, circumstantial, or just horrible timing, Luongo was scored on with 7.1 seconds left in the game, and Garrett was left looking for a rock to hide under.

Wouldn’t you know it: just over 24 hours later, Eddie Lack was working on his first-ever shutout during a strong performance against the Carolina Hurricanes.  Even when Jannik Hansen scored an empty-netter to put the Canucks up 2-0, the fans were still uneasy.  And John Garrett knew better than to even broach the subject of a shutout.

So while John Shorthouse called the final minute of play, Garrett was left to ponder other things.  Here are the Top 10 Things that John Garrett was Thinking as Eddie Lack Closed in on his Shutout:

10:  “Garrett wasn’t saying anything.  Swedish (House) Mafia likely had a gun to his head so he wouldn’t spoil the…you know.” – submitted by @jortillan

9:  “I’ve got a hankering for some Cheez Whiz on Ritz minis. Mmmm, with Honey Nut Cheerio sprinkles…” – submitted by @PuckedInTheHead

8:  “If I say it again, Eddie won’t be able to match my NHL career shutout total!” – submitted by @b_cmack

7:  “If I say it again I’ll be banned from Subway for life. #cheechloveshissubs” – submitted by @jasonclowers24

6:  “I wonder what other cereals I can put honey on…Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout Shutout!” – submitted by @PPGoose

5:  “I wonder what I can eat from the Safeway Swipe & Win promotion this week?” – submitted by @JThompsonDesign

4:  “Meatballs.” – submitted by @elmeebaterina

3:  “What cheese isn’t yours?  NACHO CHEESE!”

2:  “Wait, wait, wait…what if I put Cheez Whiz…ON CHEEZ WHIZ! Garrett, you’re a genius!” – submitted by @ADanielWagner

1:  “Cheese on crackers. Cheese on apples. Cheese on toast. Cheese on eggs. Cheese on oranges. No. Cheese on burgers. Cheese on chips.” – submitted by @wronsweeney

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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