Apr 242010
 
Rick Rypien tunes Rich Clune.

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

The Canucks, left looking for their swagger after Game 3, seem to now have found it in spades. I don’t know what happened or what was said in their locker room during the second intermission of Game 4. Whatever it was, the players have responded positively and are playing great hockey. They’ve scored 11 goals – 8 ESG, 2 PPG and 1 empty-netter – in the last four periods. Even their penalty-kill has been a bit better. They’ve allowed just 1 PPGA in the last 7 Kings powerplays, and even killed a brief 5-on-3 against them last night. Most importantly, they’ve put the Kings on the brink of elimination and searching for some way to counter the Canucks’ attack.

After Game 3, Alain Vigneault challenged his best players to be his best players. Consider the challenge accepted. In the last two games, the Sedins and Samuelsson have combined for 13 points (5G-8A) and a plus-12 rating; Demitra (2G-2A-4P), Kesler (1G-1A-2P) and Bernier (2G) have all chipped in; in the back end, Salo, Ehrhoff and Edler have combined for 6 points (3G-3A); and despite letting in 6 goals in 52 shots, Luongo has made key saves at key times. For the last couple of games at least, the Canucks have looked like the Canucks from December and January, rather than the Canucks from March.

The Canucks so thoroughly dominated the Kings last night that, by the end of it, the Kings were left looking for something to motivate them for Game 6. Ryan Smyth, Wayne Simmonds, and that little puke, Rich Clune all took turns running around and taking their shots at Luongo and everyone else. The Canucks – especially Shane O’Brien and Rick Rypien – answered this challenge just fine. If Simmonds and Clown getting their asses kicked counts for motivation, then I suppose the Kings can take something out of this game.

This doesn’t mean that Sunday should be a cake walk. Far from it. The Kings will make sure it’s not; the Canucks need to make sure they’re ready.

Other post-game links:

Feb 052010
 

[Editor's note: CHB would like to welcome Chris Golden as a contributor to the site. As you'll be able to see from his first post, he's a tough-love kinda guy. Don't worry, we think he'll come around after SOB scores a big goal in the playoffs.]

*****

Hidey ho folks!  Remember me?  No?!  I’m hurt. Some of you may recognize me from my witty (or witless) banter in the official Canucks Fan Zone Live Blog, others may know me more as@lyteforce from the vast twitterverse, and one of you probably hangs out at my blog. Regardless of how you know me, I happened to come across the keys to the front door of the Canucks Hockey Blog and thought I’d give ‘er a spin.

So before we start, let’s get one thing clear – I don’t “hate” the Canucks. Far from it. I’m completely enamoured with the team and tend to see things through Canucks-tinted sunglasses. It’s just a few players who I love to hate. It’s like how I hate Chris Pronger – he’s a great player, I’d love to see him patrolling the blue line for the Canucks, but I’d boo him anyway. That’s just how I roll.

Anywho, the first person on my Love to Hate list is obviously Shane O’Brien. Any opportunity I get, I’m on his case – it’s just that easy. SOB brings great size to the Canucks blueline and has some potential, but like how coal turns into diamonds, I just don’t have the patience to wait for the transformation. So I hate him. Whether he’s on the ice or not, I blame him for the goal. Or whenever there’s talk about retiring someone’s jersey, I point out that SOB’s should be hung in the penalty box. I’ll concede his play as of late has improved drastically, but I’m set in my ways.

The second person on the list is Sami Salo. Sami’s a great guy. He’s a solid D-man who brings stability on the blue line, has a booming slapper that could kill, can throw a breakout pass well enough to send Jim Sandlak in alone, and provides veteran leadership. The problem is these benefits are only available for the 20 games he’s healthy for, so I hate. Word is, Sami has one of those “this workplace has been injury free for” signs in his dressing stall for inspiration when he’s healthy for extended periods of time. It’s that bad. I’ve also heard from unreliable sources that the trainers always check on Sami after a thundering hit – even though he was sitting in the press box watching the game just in case the shockwave sets him back a few days.

I could go on forever, but I won’t. Here’s the rundown of my top 4 “love to hate” players:

  • Shane O’Brien
  • Sami Salo
  • Kyle Wellwood – The guy can stickhandle in a telephone booth, but plays like he actually is in one.
  • Kevin Bieksa – Sami Salo lite but with a frown.

So who do you love to hate? Or am I completely out to lunch? Let me know!

May 062009
 
Apr 232009
 

Before I go praising the Canucks through every high hill and low dale, I have to give credit where credit is due and that’s to the St. Louis Blues. They played a fantastic series, they were young, inexperienced, and they gave us a heck of a run for our money. The 4-0 series sweep was no indication of how close the series was and even in the last game, they were down, they got up, they tied it, and they took us late into OT before they finally fell to their final playoff loss of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

So now the Canucks have up to 10 days off. Should I be worried? Should we start throwing up the red flags? The Canucks of old would certainly have raised question in our minds as to whether they’d benefit from such a long break. Then again, that was the Canucks squad that came out flat against most opponents many nights, that was the Canucks squad that had no secondary scoring, and that was a Canucks squad that’s specialty teams were absolutely brutal. Here’s a Canucks team that defies everything we know and love about this team as fans. They’ve shown us a level of play we never thought was possible from them, and now have me thinking that even after 10 days off they’ll be just fine.

The boys need to use the time wisely and just heal their wounds. The early round advancing was a blessing in disguise. Salo and Sundin who were healthy scratches in game 4 now have a little extra time to fix their respective injuries. Demitra could use the time, as could Luongo and Henrik Sedin who were both a little shaken up at different times in the OT series clincher. I’m sure even Ryan Johnson could use a break and take care of the bruises he’s inevitably amounted after going down for nearly every shot he can.

No matter who we face in the second round I think the break will benefit us. If we face Detroit because San Jose pulls off the comeback in their series, then we’ll face a team that’s equally rested (barring a miracle on ice by the Blue Jackets). If that’s the case then they’ll likely be a little off their game from the lack of game time too. If we play the winner of the Chicago/Calgary series, I get the feeling the winner is going to emerge after 7 games, and with that in mind, they’re going to come out tired, and beat up. So even if we’re off our game a little after the long break, the fact we’ve got rested legs should make up for the temporary out of sync play that should start to dissipate through the first period.

This is a Canucks team that we haven’t ever seen. This is the best team we’ve seen since the West Coast express saw Naslund and Bert finish 2 and 3 in the scoring race during the regular season. While we all could try and predict what might happen, we’re likely shooting in the dark because none of us would have predicted this the way it turned out.

Apr 172009
 
Sep 222008
 
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