Feb 212010
 

At first I was worried that the 7 Canucks participating in the 2010 Olympics were going to come back to the regular season fatigued and unrested, but now that you look at the games and the roles each player representing their country has, it looks like the Olympics are catering to their individual needs in a funny kind of way.

Luongo

The one thing Luongo needed was rest. It’s clear at this point that Brodeur is going to take the games the rest of the way and after Luongo got his chance in front of the home town crowd and put up a shutout, riding the pine is perfect. He’s going to get the two weeks rest he needs while still getting in practices and staying game ready. That’s exactly what we need if we want him to be ready for when the break’s over. If Luongo’s ready to go it saves us having to struggle through the first few games as “he finds his game”

Henrik and Daniel

Henrik and Daniel after being hotter than hot lost their groove and fell into a rut. Now back in Vancouver representing Sweden they seem to have found their cycle game again. If they can work out their kinks in this two weeks they’re going to be in the right place game-wise when the Canucks road trip resumes.

Demitra

Demitra is getting better with each game. After slowly finding his game just before the Olympic break that unfortunate situation with his mother in law proved to be an obstacle in his return. However he’s proving now that his goal and shootout winner before the Olympics are just the start of Pavol returning healthy. He’s continued his game with an assist and a massive shootout winner to help his under dog Slovaks beat a Russian team touted to be unstoppable. This games is only helping Demitra become better for his return to the Canucks lineup post Olympics.

Ehrhoff, Salo, Kesler

Ehrhoff, Salo and Kesler have been a few of the things on the Canucks that have actually been working despite an interesting start to the NHL’s longest road trip ever. The Olympics doesnt help them get their game back, but keeps them in game shape for when they return and need to try and finish this road trip above .500 in a fight for the Northwest. Kesler’s playing for the US the same way he does for the Canucks, like a man possessed. It’s a true testament to his character and game. Ehrhoff and Salo staying in game shape is the best thing we can ask for as they’re two intricate parts of a powerplay we desperately need to kickstart on the second half of this road trip.

All in all the Olympics are turning out to be just-what-the-doctor-ordered for the Canucks versus this draining tournament that was going to affect the Canucks in the long term and result in a bunch of superstars fatiguing down the stretch when it mattered most. Funny how things work out.

Feb 082010
 

Don’t all our Olympians look ADORABLE? They have a slightly nerdy vibe going on like they have apples behind their backs for Steve Yzerman and promises to clean Brian Burke’s chalkboard after practice. They even split up the twins *Gasp*

Oct 282009
 

With Sami Salo almost ready to return to action this weekend, the Vancouver Canucks will have an interesting roster decision to make.

Besides the team’s collective breakdown in the latter half of their loss to Detroit last night, they had actually started to turn things around defensively. For the most part, they had started to limit the number of quality scoring chances against them in the last week or so. After allowing 22 goals against in the first 6 games of the season, they only allowed 6 goals in the next 5 games.

They had also been better on the penalty-kill. After allowing at least one powerplay goal in the first 6 games of the season (8 PPGA in 27 times shorthanded – 70% PK rate), they then only allowed a grand total of 1 powerplay goal against in the next 5 games (1 PPGA in 20 TS – 95% PK rate).

Individually, some of the defensemen can certainly play better – I’m looking at you, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler – but the group’s overall play has been good enough to vault the Canucks into the top-10 in the league in goals against.

Some highlights from the defense to date: Christian Ehrhoff’s 10 points in 12 games ranks him 5th among all NHL defensemen in scoring; besides his usual, rock-solid defensive play, Willie Mitchell is off to the best offensive start of his career; Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler are leading the team in ice-time; Shane O’Brien is leading the team in plus-minus; and Mathieu Schneider scored his first goal in a Canucks uniform last night.

The question is: when Sami comes back, who sits?

Oct 132009
 

I’m actually not surprised that the first call-ups this season worked out to be Tanner Glass, Guilluame Desbiens and Aaron Rome, over say, Michael Grabner. Remember that the Canucks promoted Mason Raymond to the second line to replace Sergei Shirokov, and promoted Steve Bernier to the first line to replace Daniel Sedin; and thus, they needed to replace Shirokov and Raymond on Kyle Wellwood’s third line. At the time, the Canucks were looking for defensively-responsible bottom-six players and Glass and Desbiens fit that profile better than Grabner.

But the lineup in Sunday’s win against the Dallas Stars had mixed results. Getting the two points was nice (which by the way I’m not complaining about), but it was obvious that the Canucks’ offense didn’t have the same pop as when they averaged of 38.8 shots per game in their first four games. Against the Stars, the Canucks threw 25 shots at Marty Turco, 17 of them from the top two lines.

With Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo out for 4 to 6 weeks, the question is the kind of team the Canucks want to ice in the next little while.

If the Canucks want to play a more conservative style while their leading goal scorer and best overall defenseman recover from their injuries, then they’ll probably recall a Matt Pope or give Desbiens another chance. (Incidentally, Desbiens probably played as well as could be expected from a bottom-six player – just over 9 minutes in playing time, a couple of hits, some good forechecking, some bad giveaways, and a minor penalty – before being sent back down to the Manitoba Moose today.)

If the Canucks want to return to playing three scoring lines, then look for Grabner or Shirokov to get the call. Grabner will be an intriguing choice because his less-than-stellar preseason has been well-documented. That said, he’s off to a fast start in the AHL and already has 8 points (5G-3A) in the Moose’s first six games, and a call-up to a team that is looking for more offense is perhaps now well-deserved.

Oct 122009
 

The Vancouver Canucks may be right to give thanks after their 4-3 shootout win over the Dallas Stars last night. They withstood an own goal and some untimely, sloppy defensive play but got the two points anyway, thanks to Kyle Wellwood’s and Ryan Kesler’s beauties in the shootout.

In their first game without Daniel Sedin, the Canucks played a much simpler game. They got the puck and moved it up quickly. They threw the puck on net and crashed Turco’s crease. They kept thing simple on the powerplay as well – they moved the puck around and got shots from the point – and scored 2 of their goals with the man-advantage.

Which is a good thing because, to be honest, the offense looked less dynamic without Daniel on the first line. Henrik still had a couple of assists but it’s obvious that his line with Bernier and Burrows has some gelling to do. Based on the chances they got last night, the goals are going to have to be more gritty than pretty.

*****

Sami Salo got injured again last night:

Sami Salo suffered a left leg injury Sunday in a cornerboards collision with Dallas Stars rookie Jamie Benn at GM Place. The Vancouver Canucks defenceman appeared to favouring the leg when he left the game midway through the opening frame and played just 2:51. He had missed three defensive rotations and then lasted just 10 seconds on another shift before heading to the dressing room.

The good news is, the Canucks don’t play again until they meet the Flames in Calgary on Friday night so that should give Sami plenty of time to recover. The other good news is, we’re used to Sami missing time now that this shouldn’t even bother us anymore.

Sep 252009
 

Well, you didn’t expect the Canucks to go 107-0 this season, did you? Without further adieu, here are today’s Canucks-related links:

May 082009
 
May 072009
 
May 062009
 

In the post season so far the Canucks special teams woes have disappeared completely. They boast the third best Power Play in the league (tied for third with Chicago) at 25% and they’ve allowed the third fewest goals against while down a man of the remaining playoff teams.

Of the 11 goals they have scored in this series so far, 5 have been Power Play markers. While it’s nice to see the Canucks powerplay clicking they can’t rely on the Blackhawks sloppy play to win games. On top of having a red hot powerplay, the Canucks penalty kill has been equally hot. They’ve let in only 4 goals, which is tied for the second fewest goals allowed on the penalty kill in the playoffs so far. Boston is first with a perfect powerplay so far. 50% of your goals with the man advantage is impressive, but it’s going to end at some point. I’m looking to Bieksa, Burrows and Sundin to really step up play. Sundin to start setting up some more goals, be the playmaker we brought him in to be and Bieksa just to start pinching in from the point to pick up some points. Burrows knows where to be and when to be there, he’s slowed a bit from when he was hotter than fire but with the way he’s skating he’s due for another, and we all know how he likes to rack up the 5 on 5 points.

Sami Salo skated again today and while his return to game 4 is still tentative, I’d rather he wasn’t rushed. The Canucks banked on this happening and that’s why they picked up insurance players like Vaananen. What’s interesting is that without the shot of Salo on the point, the Canucks have managed to alter their Power Play and play down low instead of relying on the shot from the point and a rebound. Having Salo back can only improve the Power Play and also help bring back some more offense to the blue line. I know, offense from the blue line seems a little paradoxical, but he is the 2nd leading scorer on the team in the playoffs so far tied with Burrows for 2nd with 3 goals. He’s 4th in overal scoring with 6 points in 5 games played.

It’s a nice problem to have, a powerplay that’s too hot, but what worries me is that should we move on to the next round, playing a more disciplined team might hurt us. It’s foresight and foreshadowing, but the Canucks need to keep rolling all four lines and if they can get their legs moving, goals like Raymond’s on Tuesday night will start coming with ease. Looking forward, if the Canucks powerplay continues the way it is, they’re going to want to hope the Ducks win. They have a better chance of burning the Ducks with the PP than the Red Wings. Pronger, Parros and Neidermeyer can all help out the Canucks for the Cup cause by taking turns in the box.

Blog Song: A.M.P. – A.M.P. Army – http://is.gd/xlu2

May 042009
 

Amidst the chaos and stampede caused by the bandwagon emptying on Saturday, one thing was overlooked. It’s something that has killed the Canucks in the first two games and has subtly been a difference maker in the series so far. Hits.

One of the main reasons that the Blackhawks are coming back from 2 and 3 goal deficits is largely due to their hits, but it starts with their forchecking and playing of the body. The Canucks by no means boast a small roster, Hordichuk, Salo, Mitchell, Bieksa, and Rypien all know how to throw those big bone jarring heavy hits, and yet they’ve been quiet. Where has Shane O’Brien’s body been? On Saturday the biggest hit by a Canucks player was by Mason Raymond. Think about that for a second, then think about how horribly wrong that is.

The Canucks are playing a finesse team that they should be able to take the body to, yet they’re letting the liks of Burrish, Byfuglien and Eager push and throw them around. The Blackhawks are coming back because they’re able to win the battles to the puck (because of their forechecking and hitting) and they’re able to break the Canucks off the puck. The Canucks just aren’t asserting themselves physically at all and it’s hurting them.

Where’s Rypien been? After coming back full of energy and throwing his body into people like a runaway car, he’s been silent. Horidchuck was brought in for the rough stuff, and he’s quieter than the Sedins back when they were regularly referred to as the Sedin Sisters. Burrows who usually also catapults his body into players against the boards has been pretty tame. They have got to start beat Chicago up a little. I’m not talking about going head hunting, or taking lessons from Brashear, Downey, or Mike Brown on how to perfectly line up your elbow with the temple of someone’s head, but I do expect the Canucks to start playing some solid physical hockey. If that means subbing in Davison for Salo instead of Vaananen then so be it. The Canucks need to set the tone in the first period in Game 3 and it’s going to start with some hard hits.

And as pump of for game 3, nothing better than the song which aptly fits the title of this post. Get Amped! – http://twisten.fm/l/3QJF

Side Note: Guts McTavish takes on the Chicago writers.

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