Nov 072013
 
Photo source: www.canucks.com

Photo source: www.canucks.com

In the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night, both Henrik and Daniel were among the Canucks skaters to shoot in the shootout. Daniel’s quick snapshot was stopped by Mike Smith, and Henrik lost the handle of the puck on his attempt, sealing the loss.

It still perplexes me as to how two of the most creative and offensively-gifted players in the entire league can perform so poorly in the shootout.  Perhaps they could spend some of their new $28 million on shootout coaches or lessons.

In the meantime, CHB readers offered up their suggestions on how the Sedins could improve their shootout performances in a “fill in the blank” version of the CHB Top 10.

“To score in the shootout, the Sedins ______________.”

HM:  “…need to spinorama.” – submitted by @harpsama

10:  “…need to practice on each other – Sedin Sync – seeing each other skate towards net.” – submitted by @tony_p_power

9:  “…must befriend Pavel Datsyuk.” – submitted by @manlycc

8:  “…should sit on the bench and watch.” – submitted by @MStoney21

7:  “…need a two pass minimum.” – submitted by @RusteeWatts

6:  “…should be on the bench until they allow twins to cycle in a shootout.” – submitted by @elmeebaterina

5:  “…have to go together.” – submitted by @transcendwebs

4:  “…need an empty net.” – submitted by @krissymchua

3:  “…need a skills session with Marek Malik.” – submitted by @mob1024

2:  “…need a cardboard cutout of a pass-ready Ryan Kesler in the net.” – submitted by @Rozzy80

1:  “…need to get the DeLorean up to 88 mph.” –submitted by @Swizzler16

Nov 052013
 
The Sedins and Kesler get plenty of attention, it's time for Kassian's closeup.  (Credit canucks.nhl.com)

The Sedins and Kesler get plenty of attention, it’s time for Kassian’s closeup.
(Credit canucks.nhl.com)

Another home stand has come and gone for the Vancouver Canucks and now it’s back on the road for a 4-game jaunt against 4 of the best teams in the Western Conference. Starting tonight in Phoenix, Arizona, the Canucks (10-5-1, 21 points) look to overtake the Coyotes (10-3-2, 22 points) in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes look to defend their home ice, where they haven’t lost in regulation yet this season (6-0-1). On the other hand, the Canucks take their newly-found confidence and swagger from their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday, and their impressive road record, second-best in the NHL (6-2-1), to a building in which they haven’t lost in regulation in four years.

What to Watch

A Team Canada battle.

Both Roberto Luongo and Mike Smith are candidates to be Team Canada’s goaltender for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Smith has some decent stats: 8-2-2 record, 2.87 GAA (28th in NHL) and a 0.917 save percentage (16th).

Luongo has been equally impressive: 8-4-1 record, 2.28 GAA (11th in NHL) and a 0.915% (19th). He also already has 2 shutouts this season, only 2 shutouts back of Patrick Roy on the NHL’s all-time leaders list.

Who’s Hot

The #beastmodo line – or Ry and Ginger line – of Ryan Kesler, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin have combined for 14 goals and 18 assists in the 10 games they have played together. Against the Leafs, they played 2 shifts in the first 2 minutes of the game, built some early momentum, and then scored a rare powerplay goal early in the game. A good start is vital against Phoenix as the Coyotes haven’t lost a game yet this season when leading after the first period.

Who’s Out

David Booth is recovering from a lower body injury, and the Canucks announced on Monday that he has been assigned to the Utica Comets for a conditioning assignment. When the lower body injury subsides – and this latest wakeup call kicks in – he will hopefully use this stint in the minors to get his act together. Jordan Schroeder is out with a sprained ankle, as are Jannik Hansen (upper body injury) and Dale Weise (lower body injury).

The Phoenix Coyotes are not expected to have defenseman David Schlemko available this game with a lower body injury, and have a pair on the injured reserve list, Jeff Halpern and Rostislav Klesla.

Nov 012013
 

Ryan Kesler of the Vancouver Canucks scores against the St. Louis Blues.

Photo credit: CBC.ca

With Ryan Kesler on pace for 44 goals, is it safe to assume that he’s back into the form that made him one of the league’s elite players and the 2011 Selke Trophy winner?  Or has Kesler simply been opportunistic while playing with the Sedins and the beneficiary of lucky bounces like the gimmie in Philadelphia? For my first article on Canucks Hockey Blog I take a look at the underlying numbers to find out if ‘Kes’ is indeed back into Selke form.

If you’re not familiar with advanced stats, otherwise known as #fancystats, most people put a fairly large emphasis on a player’s Corsi rating and a team’s Fenwick rating.  Both stats attempt to measure which players and teams are best at possessing the puck.  These stats are much more reliable than stats such as goals, which have a large luck component.  Over the course of the season you’ll see teams that have the best possession ratings end up near the top of the standings while those that have poor ratings finish near the bottom.

Corsi is generally reserved for evaluating players while Fenwick is used for teams.  When a shot is directed towards the opponent’s net, whether missed, on-net or blocked, a player will get a plus-1 in Corsi and when the opponent directs one towards a player’s net they will receive a minus-1.  Depending on what site you visit, Corsi can be displayed per 60 minutes of ice-time or as a percentage.  Fenwick has the same definition except it excludes blocked shots.  Pretty simple stuff, and even if you don’t follow those stats regularly, you probably understand that more shots towards the opponent’s net and less towards your own is a good thing.

So, back on the topic of Kesler, we can compare the Corsi ratings of his two seasons to help determine if he has been as dominant this season as he was back in 2010-11.  With only 15 games played so far this season, there is still noise in the data but it should still suit our purpose well enough.

In 2010-11, Kesler finished the season with a Corsi rating of 17.73 meaning for every 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play with Kesler on the ice, the Canucks directed almost 18 more shots towards the net then their opponents.  That, by the way, was good enough for third best in the league among players who played at least 60 games.  So far in 2013-14, Kesler only has a Corsi rating of 2.62.

Those stats alone would suggest that Kesler isn’t driving or dominating shifts as much as he did during his award-winning season even though he has been filling the net lately.  Based on those numbers, it is probably safe to assume that the goals are going to slow down soon, especially if he ends up being replaced on the top line by Alex Burrows as Kesler has no doubt gotten a boost in both Corsi and goals by playing with the Sedins – two of the best possession players in hockey.

That said, part of the gap in Kesler’s ability to drive play can be attributed to the fact that he has played against much tougher opponents then 2010-11.  Without getting into how to interpret Quality of Competition statistics in this article, Kesler has gone up against the other team’s best players  more often than any other Canucks forward and only Alex Edler has played against tougher competition overall.  That is a big difference from 2010-11 when the toughest defensive assignments were generally given to Manny Malholtra and occasionally Max Lapierre.

Basically, a healthy Kesler is back to being a great player, significantly better than at any time in the last two seasons, but not quite as great as the guy who helped the Canucks reach the Stanley Cup Finals.

Oct 312013
 

Are you still trying to figure out your Halloween Costume? Picking the perfect costume can be a real conundrum. Just in case some of our beloved Canucks players are still searching for the perfect costume, we here at CHB have put together some choice suggestions that are bound to score them lots of candy… and maybe a few laughs.

David Booth should go as Ricky Bobby

Ricky Boothy... I mean Bobby.

Ricky Boothy… I mean Bobby.

This is the perfect costume for Booth because it’s hillbilly-ish which suits him and I’m sure he uses delicious Wonder Bread to make his freshly killed Moose meat sandwiches… or deer meat or antelope or wookie or whatever else he’s killed lately. Only drawback is he has to carry the helmet around because you know he can’t cover that lucious flow. But turn that helmet upside down and it’s a candy bucket!

Tom Sestito should go as Frankenstein

Sestitostein

Sestitostein

This works for Tom because Frankenstein is all stitched together and Sestito has a lot of facial scars from where he’s been stitched together. Plus at 6’5 and 228 pounds he’s a monster even without the green face paint.

The Sedin twins should go as Twins

Twins as Twins

Twins as Twins

Hank and Dank probably have matching outfits lying around somewhere. All they have to do is slap them on and then one of them has to walk on his knees all night and BOOM! Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger from the ’80s chucklefest “Twins”. Get it? Get it? Hysterical! Okay, well maybe not our best work…. moving on.

Eddie Lack should go as Elf

Lack Elf

Lack Elf

I read the article about Eddie and Zach Kassian carving pumpkins at Canucks Place and they said it was the first time Eddie ever carved a pumpkin. That made me wonder – do they not celebrate Halloween in Sweden? Has poor Lack never experience the sugar rush of a pillowcase full of chocolate?! If that’s the case then the whole holiday might confuse him. Perhaps it’s best if he clings to a holiday he knows, like Christmas. Plus, I bet he’d look adorable in tights.

Roberto Luongo as Razor Ramon

razorluI’ll be honest, I have no idea who Razor Ramon is. I just want to see Lu with even more grease in his hair and  shirtless in a vest. Who doesn’t want that?!

Ryan Kesler should go as Wolverine

Keslerine

Keslerine

Kesler would make a perfect Wolverine this Halloween. He’s got the hair. He can grown the side burns. And he’s recently rediscovered his beastmode again. Plus I can’t think of one female that wouldn’t give him all their candy if he showed up in nothing but a pair of adamantium claws. Rawr!

Other costume ideas I didn’t have time to make images of but were still great include:

  • Zack Kassian as the Hulk
  • Daniel Sedin as Henrik Sedin and Henrik Sedin as Daniel Sedin
  • Zack Kassian as Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
  • Andrew Alberts as Mr. Potato Head

Do you have any costume ideas for Canucks players? What are you going as this Halloween? Tell CHB!

Oct 302013
 

Luongo looks to remain calm, cool and collected against the forceful red wings tonight in Vancouver.  (Credit thescore.com)

Luongo looks to remain calm, cool and collected against the forceful red wings tonight in Vancouver.
(Credit thescore.com)

Formerly bonded by the Western Conference, the Canucks look to take on the struggling Detroit Red Wings tonight at 7:30 PM. The Red Wings, having won only 6 of their last 12 games, seem like easy pickings for the Canucks. However, the Red Wings won 2 of 3 games in the season series last season and outscored the Canucks 14-7. Detroit is in for a ride with the always interesting, Tortorella-driven team, the Canucks will get the early lead tonight in Vancouver. (Power of suggestion works right?).

What to watch

The scoreboard. The Canucks have gotten into an anxiety-inducing habit of having to come from behind in the third period. Maybe scoring an early goal or two and maintaining a lead can help lot of premature heart attacks

Also keep an eye on the penalty box. The referees have made a few Canuck-deprecating calls so keeping momentum through those times will be key. The Red Wings’ powerplay ranks 11th in the NHL, clicking at 21.6%.

Who to watch

The Sedins against “brothers from another mother” Bertuzzi and Datsyuk. These first liners will match up their points against one another in the ultimate battle of “No I can do it better!”. Don’t let Bertuzzi and Datsyuk bully you Sedins, your mom has done only admirable things.

The Red Wings have moved their lines quite a bit, but seem to have settled with Datsyuk playing with Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg, while Daniel Alfredsson will start on the second line with Stephen Weiss and Dan Cleary. Alfredsson currently leads the team with 8 assists. Both lines will cause trouble so this would be a good time for Kassian to activate “brick wall” mode and match their physicality.

For the Canucks, Ryan Kesler looks to extend his 5-game point streak. Now 3rd on the team in scoring (8 goals, 5 assists and 13 points) after a slow start, he’s played really well with the Hank and Dank, and their skill and his speed certainly complement each other. Kesler has never failed to impress in random bouts but consistency is what they need most from him.

Who’s out

The Wings have a few players out some with injuries. Johan Franzen is out with an undisclosed injury. Red Wings GM Ken Holland says odds are hopeful Franzen will be good for Friday’s game against Calgary, but the Canucks will not see him tonight. Darren Helm is out with back and groin injuries, Patrick Eaves is out with a leg injury, and their no. 1 goaltender Jimmy Howard won’t be in net because of an upper body injury. The Wings’ healthy scratches include former Canuck Mikael Samuelsson, Brendan Smith and youngster Tomas Tatar.

The Canucks have been plagued with injuries as well. Jordan Schroeder is out 2 more months with an ankle injury, Dale Weise and Jannik Hansen are both out for 3-4 weeks, and David Booth is out for 1-2 more weeks.

Oct 282013
 

Capitals-vs_-Canucks-Recap-630x415

Washington Capitals (5-6)
Vancouver Canucks (8-4-1)

After an impressive seven-game road trip (5-1-1), the Vancouver Canucks are back in Vancouver and will take on the Washington Capitals.

As the Capitals look to start a new winning streak after their three-game winning streak came to an end on Saturday night with a 5-2 loss against the Calgary Flames, the Canucks look to continue their own three-game winning streak tonight.

We welcome the Canucks back home, but also, we (expect to) welcome back Alexandre Burrows, who has been out since injuring his foot while blocking a shot on October 3rd during the Canucks season opener against the San Jose Sharks. With Burrows ready to play, he should add some extra energy to a tired team that has just spent the last 7 games and 11 nights on the road.

Who’s Hot

After leading the Canucks to a win against the St. Louis Blues with 2 goals, including the game-winner in overtime, Ryan Kesler now has 7 goals this season. He has scored in three straight games and has 7 points (4 goals and 3 assists) over the past four games. Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin of the Capitals has 4 goals and 2 assists in the past four games.

Who’s Out

The Canucks are expected to be playing without Jordan Schroeder (foot), Jannik Hansen (upper body) and Dale Weise (lower body).

The Capitals will be playing without defenseman Jack Hillen (lower body – leg) who is on long-term injured reserve.

Oct 262013
 

Hands up, anyone who foresaw the Vancouver Canucks going 5-1-1 on this 7-game, 11-night road trip.

Written off by everyone – and seriously, if you had gone on Twitter and the message boards, or listened to the talking heads on TEAM 1040 yesterday, you would’ve thought the Canucks already had their bags packed for YVR even before last night’s game against the St. Louis Blues.

The Canucks weren’t great, but they were good enough. Eddie Lack, in only his 3rd NHL start, made some terrific saves, especially in the third period when the Blues tried to get their game to another gear. Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler were in #beastmodo, and Kesler eventually potted the game-winning goal in overtime, his 2nd goal of the night and his 6th on this road trip.

Add to that the great fun and company enjoyed at the official Canucks Tweetup, and all-in-all, it was a good night.

And a beautiful end to a successful road trip.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Oct 232013
 

Last night’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders was an eventful, see-saw game; both teams took turns taking the lead, and then blowing it, before the Canucks eventually between the Islanders 5-4 in overtime.

David Booth was a scratch – in favor of Andrew Alberts, who played 1 shift and 37 seconds in the first 2 minutes of the game, no less. Ryan Kesler was elbowed in the head, though he didn’t miss a shift. Jannik Hansen was hurt, and missed the latter half of the game. And Kevin Bieksa – yes, Kevin Bieksa – continued his improved play, notching another assist, almost getting the game-winning goal in OT (Brad Richardson eventually got credited for it), and now 5 assists and an NHL-best (!) +10 rating.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Oct 172013
 
http://i1.wp.com/vansunsportsblogs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Kassian-grinning.jpg?resize=600%2C300

Zack Kassian may be a creep, but would it hurt him to be a physical, goal-scoring creep too? (Vancouver Sun)

As bad as the Philadelphia Flyers are in the standings, the Buffalo Sabres are just as inept. The two are toiling away in the bottom of the Eastern Conference and if their early performances have been any indication, they’ll be there for quite some time.

On the second leg of a seven-game roadie, the Canucks have a chance to pick up consecutive road wins with what should be an easy opponent in Buffalo. After coming from behind to defeat the Flyers late on Tuesday, Vancouver can build some momentum with another two points.

What to watch

Too often lately have the Canucks entered the third period trailing. Vancouver’s been behind going into the final 20 minutes the last three occasions (San Jose, Montreal, Philadelphia) and would be best served with a strong start. I mean, they say it isn’t about how you start and it’s about how you finish, but would it kill anyone to come out of the gate with a little fire and perhaps a one- or two-goal lead?

Who to watch

After being largely invisible for the early part of the season, the Canucks finally got some goal support from Ryan Kesler, who chipped in with a pair of goals. He’s minus-four on the year which is worst on the team and also very uncharacteristic of him, but perhaps RK17 has turned the corner at just the right time.

Ditto goes for Chris Higgins, who finally bumped a goal-scoring slump dating all the way back to a regular season game against Edmonton — a span of 16 regular games — to pot the eventual game-winning marker in Philadelphia. Now, if only John Tortorella can find a way to get the likes of David Booth and Zack Kassian going, a lot of those questions about scoring support will be answered.

Speaking of Kassian, he returns to Buffalo for the first time since being traded at the 2012 trade deadline for Cody Hodgson. Kassian’s been largely subpar since the trade, and so far since returning from suspension has yet to show any of the fire and spark that management expected from him when the deal was consummated. It’ll still be a long time before anyone can judge who won the trade, but the fact that Hodgson is leading the Sabres in scoring early (despite his defensive deficiencies) surely isn’t currying Kassian any favour among the Canuck faithful.

Sticking with the Sabres, they’re getting a nice bounceback campaign from Ryan Miller, who despite just one win in five outings has a .939 save percentage. Miller was Team USA’s goaltender in the 2010 Olympics and while most pundits have pegged the likes of Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson, and Jimmy Howard for the 2014 roster, Miller is showing early he’s ready to put up a fight.

Who’s out

This game marks the last we’ll see of Alex Edler on the sidelines as he sits out the final contest of a three-game suspension, meaning we’ll likely see Yannick Weber as a healthy scratch from here on, barring injuries.

Alex Burrows is still out with a foot injury.

For the Sabres, one-time free agent superstar Ville Leino is on injured reserve, so we won’t be able to watch him do nothing on the ice for $4-million a season. Patrick Kaleta is serving his umpteenth suspension for a dangerous hit — this one a ten-gamer — and centre Zemgus Girgensons is questionable after suffering a cut to the face last game.

Oct 152013
 

Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.com

We’re 6 games into the 2013/2014 regular season, and already, it seems like, on offense, not much has changed for the Vancouver Canucks. That is, the Canucks are still unable to generate much on offense. And what little offense they generate is usually generated by the Sedins.

Consider this: Henrik Sedin’s goal, which tied the game late in the second period against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, was only the Canucks’ 5th goal in 3 games.

Consider this as well: 4 of these 5 goals were scored or assisted by Henrik or brother Daniel.

In fact, of the Canucks’ 17 goals this season, 10 were scored while the Sedins were on the ice, and Henrik or Daniel scored or assisted on 9 of them.

This isn’t a new phenomenom either.

En route to being swept by the San Jose Sharks in the 2013 playoffs, the Canucks only managed to score 8 goals in 4 games and the twins had a hand in 4 – half – of those goals.

In the last month of last season, a span of 13 games, the Canucks scored 34 goals and the Sedins were involved in 17 of them.

Against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2012 playoffs, the Canucks scored 8 goals in 5 games and the twins either scored, assisted or were on the ice for 6 of those 8 goals.

I think you get the point by now.

There was some optimism at the start of this season that a healthy Ryan Kesler, an injection of youth, and a more aggressive approach would help. Except two weeks into the season, Kesler isn’t the highest scoring Ryan on the team (defenseman Ryan Stanton has 3 points to Kes’ lone point); and the youth, Bo Horvat, Brendan Gaunce and Hunter Shinkaruk, are piling on points back in junior and not in the NHL.

I realize it doesn’t help that Alex Burrows (injured), Jordan Schroeder (injured) and Zack Kassian (suspension) haven’t played much this season. And I know Kesler and David Booth missed most of last season as well. But these don’t change that this is a long-standing problem, and the fact is, the Canucks haven’t had much scoring depth, outside the Sedins, for almost 2 years now.

As it stands, it’s too easy to beat the Canucks these days: stop the Sedins, beat the Canucks.

%d bloggers like this: