Jan 062009
Jan 062009

Cory Schneider and Jannik Hansen are both headed back to the Manitoba Moose.

The Schneider move wasn’t a surprise given last week’s acquisition of Jason LaBarbera and the return of Curtis Sanford. Schneider showed glimpses of how good he can be, but truth be told, he’s not quite ready for regular NHL duty just yet. He’s best served playing every night for the Moose than playing once a week with the Canucks.

The Hansen move was a bit more surprising. With Sundin about to join the lineup, we knew the Canucks had to move a body. I’m just surprised it was Hansen. While he’s cooled off of late, his numbers have been very good. Among rookies, he sits 10th in total points (17) and is tied for 4th in assists (13). He’s proven himself to be a versatile player, playing mostly on the checking and energy lines but also doing spot duty with the Sedins on the top line. I know I could be biased in saying this, but I wouldn’t have thought it to be out of the ordinary if he was selected for the Young Stars game.

Unfortunately for Hansen, he became a victim of the numbers game. A couple of things that worked against him:

1) Because he hasn’t played in 70 NHL games yet, he doesn’t have to go through waivers.

2) The ripple effect in the lineup caused by Sundin’s arrival would have pretty much demoted him to the fourth line where he would get somewhere between 6 and 9 minutes of ice-time per game; Jason Jaffray and Alexandre Bolduc are better suited for this role. Like Schneider, Hansen’s probably best served by playing a lot of minutes in Manitoba instead.

Regardless, I wouldn’t count him out just yet. As the 287th overall pick in his draft class, he already beat the odds by making it to the NHL in the first place. He’ll make it back soon enough.

Jan 022009
Dec 242008
Dec 162008
Dec 052008
Dec 032008

Yesterday, Cory Schneider was named the AHL’s goaltender of the month.

The American Hockey League announced today that Cory Schneider of the Manitoba Moose has been named the Reebok X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month for November. Schneider was 5-0-0 in five appearances for the Moose last month, with a 1.20 goals-against average, a .959 save percentage and one shutout.

This on top of TSN’s Bob Mackenzie pimping him out last week:

“Cory Schneider is a great young goaltender… people don’t realize this, but he’s ripping up the American hockey league with a goals against average barely above 1 and a save percentage above .940, a 10-1-1 record. Now Cory Schneider, a kid from Boston, should be mentioned in the same breath as Carey Price in terms of potential young franchise goaltenders.”

That’s some high praise.

And like Price did last year as a 21-year old, Schneider may have to carry the franchise’s goaltending load early in relief of the injured Roberto Luongo and Curtis Sanford. Schneider, of course, still has to win his first game in the NHL, but he’s played well. (For what it’s worth, Price went 24-12-3 in his rookie year last year.) He made a couple of gaffes, but nothing that screams out Rob McVicar.

From coach Alain Vigneault (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

“I see a young player with a lot of upside,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of Schneider.

“That being said, this is another step, this is another level. In the Calgary game, the second goal was one he should have had. And then, he lost his footing [Monday] on the second goal when we had a 2-1 lead.

“Hopefully, he’ll improve and, sooner rather than later, the ones that are going in right now won’t go in.”

We hope so too.

Dec 032008
Dec 022008
Dec 012008

The Vancouver Canucks lost both games of a home-and-home series against the Calgary Flames. It was ugly in a sense that the Flames – and the Minnesota Wild – are now a single point behind our division-leading ‘Nucks, but also, the more offensive style of hockey we watched the first 22 games disappeared sometime between the first and second periods of Thursday night’s game. The Canucks were outchanced and outshot in both games, though truth be told, this isn’t anything new. (They have now been outshot in 15 of their first 24 games.)

On Thursday, what was noticeable was how much the Canucks sat back after taking their 1-0 and 2-1 lead. Their play in fact was reminiscent of the 2007/2008 season and it wasn’t until Calgary took a 3-2 lead that the Canucks started forcing the play again. They of course tied the game midway through the third period before surrendering the game-winning goal on a giveaway and a breakaway.

On Saturday, the Canucks sat back and generated little in the way of offensive chances. I don’t know if this was a conscious tactic – given that they were on the road and had rookie Cory Schneider in net for his first NHL start – but they rarely ventured into the Flames zone. And when they did, they rarely tested Mikka Kiprusoff.

If there were any positives from the two losses, it’s that Curtis Sanford and Cory Schneider proved that they are capable of filling in for the injured Roberto Luongo. Sanford had won 3 games in a row and stopped 78 of 83 shots before losing his start on Thursday. Schneider was cool, calm and very good in his start on Saturday; he stopped 28 of 31 shots.

Knowing that both goalies are alright, let’s see if Vigneault loosens the leash on the offense a bit again.

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