Feb 142014
 

With the NHL in full shutdown mode, and the Olympics underway it’s difficult to stay focused on the NHL standings and the teams that make up said standings. So we won’t – and I’m sure the Canucks vacationing in Barbados won’t bat an eye. Instead it’s time to shift our criticism and expertise to the team that holds the weight of a nation on their shoulders. As Allen Iverson once claimed- ”We talkin’ bout Team Canada” (or something along those lines). Now, if you think that the term “Team Canada” refers to a certain blue and white colored jersey adorned by players such as Phil Kessel and Dion Phanuef – you’re an idiot. The Canadian Olympic team is set to play Norway on February the 13th and is looking to get a good start to a tough tournament.

Roberto Luongo 2010 Olympics

Courtesy of Wikipedia

While the Norwegians don’t pose too many threats, at least in terms of superstars, there will be plenty of other teams and plenty of others players who will try their darndest to take our  red and white heroes down. Here are the biggest threats to another Canadian gold medal in Olympic Men’s hockey.

5) Ryan Kesler (USA) – Kesler may not be the most offensive or skilled player on Team USA but one could argue he loves beating Canada more than anyone. He has been a thorn in Team Canada’s side since his days in the World Juniors and scored two goals against Canada in the 2010 tournament.

4) Henrik Zetterberg (SWEDEN) – An excellent two-way player and a natural leader Sweden will look to Zetterberg to take the team under his wing with Henrik Sedin injured. Zetterberg is always dangerous and is very crafty on the big ice.

3) Pavel Datsyuk (RUSSIA) – Another two-way player with tremendous skill, Datsyuk will thrive on the open ice. Datsyuk is still very much a Russian at heart despite playing in Detroit for over a decade. Look to him to be a stoic leader in the Russian locker room, keeping the emotions at bay.

2) Zdeno Chara (SLOVAKIA) – With Chara anchoring the back-end, Slovakia has dark horse written all over them. Chara will be the best shut-down d-man in the tournament. Expect an upset at an unlikely time for the Slovaks, similar to the performance they put in at the 2010 games.

1) Alexander Ovechkin (RUSSIA) – This guy will be the most fired up player in the tournament, maybe even the entire Olympics. Expect goals, goals and more goals from Ovi. Oh and maybe a thunderous hit here and there too.

 

Feb 092014
 

I supposed all good things eventually had to come to an end. Before last night’s game, the Canucks had won 11 consecutive games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, dating back to November 2003.

So much for that.

But you know what’s still going? The Canucks’ losing streak.

This two-week Olympic break couldn’t come soon enough.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Feb 032014
 
A summary of Burrows' "puck luck" summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.  (Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

A summary of Burrows’ “puck luck” summed up in one picture. Puck drop is 4:30 pm/pst tonight against the Detroit Red wings at Joe Louis Arena.
(Photo courtesy of vancouversun.com)

After serving his 15-day suspension for going off the rails, er, “off the country” against the Calgary Flames, Canucks head coach John Tortorella is back behind the bench tonight as they face the Detroit Red Wings for the second and final time this season.

It probably couldn’t have come at a better time either, with the team struggling and losing playoff ground. Not too long ago, the Canucks seemed firmly in a wild card playoff spot, even threatening to overtake the Los Angeles Kings for 3rd place in the Pacific Division, but thanks to their 4-9-2 record in January are now just 2 points ahead of the 9th place Phoenix Coyotes and only 4 points ahead of the 13th place Winnipeg Jets.

With defensemen Kevin Bieksa, Chris Tanev, Yannick Weber and Andrew Alberts all still in the infirmary, the Canucks yesterday called up Yann Sauve from the Utica Comets, and this morning acquired Raphael Diaz from the Montreal Canadiens, giving up the Dutch Gretzky, Dale Weise. The defensive help will be welcomed, but they’re still woefully short up front with Henrik Sedin and Mike Santorelli still out as well.

Likewise, the Detroit Red Wings have injury concerns of their own. Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss are all nursing injuries.

Who’s Hot

If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Ryan Kesler seems to be awakening from a month-long slumber. Without Hank in the lineup, Kes has taken on top-line center duties and has 4 points (1 goal and 3 assists) in his past 2 games.

For the Red Wings, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader has picked up the scoring slack, accounting for 5 of Detroit’s 8 goals this weekend. Nyquist, in particular, has been hot, recording a hat trick yesterday, and he now has 8 goals and 11 points in his past 7 games.

Feb 012014
 

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Hey, look, Torts, Statler and Waldorf were at the game!
Photo Credit: canucks.nhl.com

Some highlights – sure, let’s call them that – about the Canucks’ 4-3 lost to the Winnipeg Jets last night.

  • Dear the guy who brought the giant Torts cut-out – that’s so much awesome.
  • Devin Setoguchi snapped his scoring drought, scoring twice, including the game-winner with just 2:56 remaining in regulation. Prior to his first goal, just 6 minutes into the game, he had gone scoreless in 7 games, and only had 1 goal in his last 26 games. There has to be a stat out there on slump buster teams – or teams likely to allow players to bust out of lengthy scoring droughts. Or first career goals. The Canucks must be at or near the top of this list.
  • The Jets scored back-to-back goals within 65 seconds in the first to give them an early 2-0 lead. Recently, it seems the Canucks have allowed a lot of goals and allowed them in bunches. Against the Blackhawks on Wednesday, they allowed 3 goals in 4:17 minutes and 4 goals in 7:41 minutes. In that 9-1 disaster against the Ducks, they allowed 2 goals in 2:02 and another 2 goals in 55 seconds after that. Earlier in January against the Penguins, they allowed 2 goals in 16 seconds with barely a minute left in the game and a 2-goal lead; the Pens of course came back and won that game in the shootout. How fragile are these guys right now?
  • Ryan Kesler was a bright spot. He scored in the second period to tie up the game momentarily, and added a couple assists on the other Canucks goals. More #beastmode Kes please.
  • Kesler, after the game, “We need to find a way to win, this is getting old. We don’t want to lose.” Well, no shit.
  • Hey guys, did you know Alex Burrows hasn’t scored a goal yet this season?
  • Torts will be back behind the bench on Monday when the Canucks face the Detroit Red Wings. Welcome back, coach. We missed you.
Feb 012014
 

4-9-2.

After losing 4-3 to the Winnipeg Jets last night, allowing Devin Setoguchi to score the game-winning goal with 3 minutes left in the third period, that’s the Canucks’ record in January.

4 wins. 11 losses.

And like cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the fudge on this January crap cake, they also lost Henrik Sedin, Mike Santorelli, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev to long-term injuries.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 302014
 
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A wake up call, a kick in the ass, a pep talk: whatever you want to call it-these guys need it. And while the whole team has been in a funk that could give Rick James a run for his money, the core group is on a level of its own. The top players that brought the Canucks to within one win of the coveted Stanley Cup have apparently fallen off the map into Mariana’s Trench. The leadership seems fragile (even more so with Henrik Sedin out) and the energy lacklustre. The upcoming Olympic break will hopefully bring some much needed perspective to a group that is struggling to find its place in a tough division.

If a change in momentum is going to happen its gonna have to start with the big boys. The guys who get paid the big bucks and have accepted the reins as team leaders. Cliches are starting to lose their cache  and the core need to put their money where their mouth is ( Yes, that was a cliche but shut-up). These guys have to jumpstart their seasons and in turn provide that spark for the rest of the team to follow.

These 5 Canucks need to WAKE UP:

5) Alexander Edler –  A two-time 40 point scorer and one-time all-star, Edler seemed poised to take the position as the number one d-man on the Canuck back-end. Injuries and a lack of confidence plagued the big swede and his struggles have continued under Torts. Edler’s at his best when he’s throwing the body around and working the powerplay.

4) Ryan Kesler – Despite leading the team in goals, Kesler has been too streaky to consider this season a success. He’s trying hard but seems to be a half step behind on the offensive side of the puck. Kesler thrives in the rough-and-tumble games but needs to put up points for this team to be successful.

3) Dan Hamhuis – This normally steady defenceman has had his ups and downs this season. Slow to adopt Tortorella’s aggressive style, Hamhuis has been caught up ice often and seems to be chasing the puck more than usual. Hamhuis needs a strong first-pass and a better-timed game to truly be effective.

2) Daniel Sedin – Could have put both Sedins in this position but since Henrik is injured he gets a break. This one-time 40 goal scorer currently sits at a pitiful 13 goals. At times looks completely lost out there. Danny needs Henrik, but even more so he needs some confidence- a multi-point game, possibly a powerplay snipe to show that he’s still the top-dog in terms of goal-scoring.

1) Alex Burrows – An absolutely epic slump, poor Alex has completely left behind his 20 goal days. There’s still hope he can regain form for a late season run but no goals in 23 games is devastating. The Canucks cannot be paying what they are for Burrows and get paid bagels in return.

Jan 212014
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (25-16-9)
Edmonton Oilers (15-30-6)

This is the third of five games between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks won the first two games (4-0 and 6-2). Roberto Luongo has stopped 40 of Edmonton’s 42 shots.

After snapping a 3-game losing streak on Saturday night with a rambunctious 3-2 shootout win over the Calgary Flames, the Canucks look to stay on the winning track tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. They’ll try to do this without coach John Tortorella, who was suspended by the NHL for 15 days after trying to get to Flames coach, Bob Hartley, in the Flames’ dressing room during the first intermission last Saturday. They’ll also try to push through without captain Henrik Sedin, who was the league’s Ironman and had played 679 consecutive games, but will miss tonight’s game with a suspected rib injury. Hank, who is officially listed as day-to-day, hasn’t missed a game since missing 4 games during the 2003-2004 season.

The Oilers are currently on a 4-game losing streak. They’ve lost 9 of their last 11 games and have allowed 45 goals against during that span. Sitting in 29th place in the NHL, they’re 3 points ahead of the last place Buffalo Sabres but have played 4 more games.

Who’s Hot

For the Canucks, Ryan Kesler got both a goal and an assist in the Canucks win against the Flames on Saturday.

For the Oilers, Jordan Eberle has goals in consecutive games.

Who’s Out

Besides Torts and Hank, the Canucks will be without Mike Santorelli, Ryan Stanton, Andrew Alberts and Jordan Schroeder.

For the Oilers, Nail Yakupov missed the previous game and Ales Hemsky has missed the past two. Philip Larsen and Corey Potter are also out.

Jan 142014
 
TGATT - The Game According to Twitter

To call last night’s 1-0 loss by the Canucks to the Los Angeles Kings a wild affair may be an understatement.

With Dustin Brown’s ninja kick to Roberto Luongo’s head still fresh in their minds, the Canucks went after him. First, Zack Kassian did just 9 seconds into the game. Then, Ryan Kesler dropped the gloves against 6 seconds into the second period.

As usual, Jordan Nolan was being a rat, charging at a Sedin again, like he did the last time these two teams met. On the very next shift, Tom Sestito had enough and took matters into his own hands. Nolan turtled, and the refs threw Testito out of the game.

Dale Weise slewfooted Drew Doughty. Kevin Bieksa tried to make life miserable for Jonathan Quick. Matt Greene tried to make him pay for it. There were scrums at practically every whistle, and by the end of it, the the two teams combined for 109 minutes.

And one goal. By Dustin Brown, of course, who scored 24 seconds into the third period. The only goal the Kings would need to beat the Canucks for the fourth time in four games this season.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 132014
 

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The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks fight for third place in the Pacific Division.
(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (24-13-9)
Los Angeles Kings (3-6-1)

If the Canucks were hoping for a quick re-do of their horrendous trip to SoCal the other weekend – a weekend in which they lost both games to the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings and outshot by a 98-48 margin – well, they get their wish. This week, the Canucks will embark on a 3 games in 4 nights road trip, starting in Los Angeles tonight and Anaheim tomorrow, before finishing up in the desert in Phoenix on Thursday.

The Kings are 3-0-0 against the Canucks this season. But if there’s a silver lining of sorts here, the Canucks are still within striking distance, and in fact, a win tonight will see them leapfrog the Kings and take over third place in the Pacific Division.

The Canucks are getting healthier too with Alex Edler is back in the lineup tonight. Also, while Eddie Lack is again getting the start, Roberto Luongo is traveling with the team, a sure sign he is close to returning. Up front, Alex Burrows is expected back on Saturday when they play the Calgary Flames back at Rogers Arena.

Who’s Hot

For the Canucks, Henrik Sedin has 5 assists in his last 4 games, Daniel Sedin has 4 assists in his last 4 games, and Chris Higgins has 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists) in his last 4 games.

For the Kings, Mike Richards has points in consecutive games, Anze Kopitar has 3 assists in his last 4 games, and Jeff Carter has 4 points (3 goals and 1 assist) in his last 4 games.

Who’s Not

Ryan Kesler only has 3 points (2 goals and 1 assist) in his last 11 games.

Jan 072014
 

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(source: nhl.com)

Vancouver Canucks (23-13-8)

Pittsburgh Penguins (31-12-1)

By giving up the game-winning goal with 0.6 1.3 seconds left in OT to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday, the Vancouver Canucks extended their winless streak to 4 games. And it doesn’t get any easier tonight as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins, who lead the NHL’s Metropolitan Division by 17 – yes, 17 – points and have won 15 of their last 18 games.

Oh yeah, and the Penguins just got Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang back from injury.

Tonight’s game marks the first of the Canucks short, two-game home stand before going back on the road for 4 of their 5 games. It is the second and final regular season meeting between the Canucks and Penguins. The Penguins won the first their first meeting in Pittsburgh in the shootout by a 4-3 score.

Who’s Hot

Daniel Sedin assisted on all 3 Canucks goals against the Ducks, and now has 6 points (1 goal, 5 assists) in his last 5 games.

Ryan Kesler has scored a powerplay goals in each of the last 2 games.

Unsurprising given their record, a few Penguins are on hot streaks right now. James Neal has 12 points (6 goals, 6 assists) in his last 5 games. Sidney Crosby is on a 5-game point streak with and has 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in that span. Malkin, who has been out since December 14th, scored twice and added an assist in his first game back on Sunday against the Jets.

Who’s Out

Injuries and injuries and injuries for both teams.

Luongo (ankle) remains day-to-day for the Vancouver Canucks along with forwards Chris Higgins (flu-like symptoms) and Zack Kassian, who got injured on Sunday against the Ducks when Tom Sestito accidentally got his skate up to his face. Defensemen Andrew Alberts (concussion), Alex Edler (lower body) and Ryan Stanton (ankle), and forwards Jordan Schroeder (ankle) and Alex Burrows (jaw) are on injured reserve.

For the Penguins, Chuck Kobasew (lower body) is day-to-day for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Goalie Tomas Vokoun (blood clot), defenseman Paul Martin (leg), and forwards Beau Bennett (wrist), Andrew Ebbett (ankle), Jayson Megna (lower body), Pascal Dupuis (knee) and Chris Conner (hand) are on injured reserve

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