Mar 092010
 

The comeback kids have done it again. The Canucks now lead the league with their 10th 3rd period come from behind win after Samuelsson’s 2nd period hat trick helped them stage a 6-4 win in a big NW division tilt. It’s reached a stage where the Canucks level of confidence is so high that they can give up the first goal in nearly every game, they can give up a multi goal lead, and still fight back.

The first time around you could argue that maybe it’s a fluke, and while I’m not suggesting that this is some sort of strategy, it’s certainly something that doesn’t phase them. After overcoming two 3-goal deficits in the game to win 6-4 and stun the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center, a lot of people get completely caught up in the win and neglect to look at the most important part of the game which isn’t the comeback so much as it is the start.

The Sedins are coming alive at the right time (if their play in the last few games is any indication of comeback) but Luongo’s play has to be addressed. It’s alright to let in one soft goal here or there, the best goalies do it at the worst of times. Luongo however seems to be making it a habit though. The worst part is although he’s coughing up early leads, because the Canucks are coming back his shoddy first period play is going unnoticed. While I agree with Vigneault when he says “You never critique a win” you can’t give Luongo a free pass.

Luongo allowed more than one soft goal today and you can’t blame the defense as much as we’ve started to do. He’s paid the big dollars to put up the big saves. Of course many people will point to his stellar saves in the second and third period, but the bottom line is those don’t mean a thing if the Canucks aren’t still in the game, and his weak goaltending in the first detracts from just how well he played in that second and third period.

At this point in the season the Canucks need their highest paid players to be their best players. That goes without saying regardless of the roster station, but becomes even more important based on the current blue line injuries. The Sedins have definitely turned their game back on with their play in the last few games and Luongo really needs to shut down. This stretch drive is the tune up for the playoffs. Teams don’t blow three goal leads in the playoffs and the Canucks can’t expect to play the comeback game when the second season starts.

With one more game on the Canucks road trip, heading home is going to be a nice change. Raycroft’s been fantastic for the Canucks on this road trip so going into tomorrow night the Canucks should be able to ride the momentum from this game to start well against a Coyotes team that is as tough as any team in the West. Luongo better use the night off to get his head together because he’s been shaky in first periods since coming back from the Olympics and if he’s not giving the Canucks a chance to win every night the Canucks have bigger fish to fry.

Jan 142010
 

Thank you again to everyone for their suggestions for a nickname for the Sedin, Sedin and Burrows line. There were lots of good and creative entries for sure, and our favorites are:

  • Richard picks “The BroBury Line” (suggested by Terri)
  • Alix picks “The Treadmill Line” (suggested by Archii)
  • I pick “The Trois Kronors” (suggested by Bryan)

Congratulations to Terri, Archii and Bryan – we’ll contact you by email and send you your Canucks 2009/2010 Yearbooks.

*****

Now, we mentioned in the last post that we’ve added a part 2 to this contest.

Richard, Alix and I here at Canucks Hockey Blog are excited to partner with canucks.com and ask you – our fellow fans – to give Henrik, Daniel and Alex their “official” nickname.

CDC is running a poll right now. You’ll see our picks – “The BroBury Line”, “The Treadmill Line” and “The Trois Kronor” – as well as “The Twin-Burr Line”, which was selected by Derek Jory from canucks.com.

Click here to go to the poll and vote for your favorite. We’ll randomly select one of you to win autographed photos of Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows.

(Note: You’ll need a canucks.com account to cast your vote.)

You have until Saturday night to vote. Let’s hear from you, Canucks Nation!

Jan 112010
 
Henrik Sedin

Photo credit: canucks.com

Trevor Presiloski (The Internet Trashcan) has a good piece on Henrik Sedin’s Hart chances. If you haven’t read it yet, make sure you pass by his site and do.

Canucks fans – well most of them anyway – have long appreciated the Sedins’ production. While some may have continued to see them as second-liners or called them ‘sisters’ at the beginning of the season (despite being in the top 20 in the league in scoring for the last couple of seasons), I think even their most vocal critics will admit now that they have evolved into two of the best players in the NHL.

Henrik, in particular, is having an MVP season. We all know the stats – 62 points (1st in NHL), 20 goals (9th in NHL), 42 assists (2nd in NHL), plus-19 rating (7th in NHL, 5th among all forwards), 46 even-strength points (1st in NHL) – but as Trevor points, Henrik has done this even with brother Daniel injured for 18 games (or 40%) of the season.

What is most impressive about Henrik’s ascension to (relunctant) rock star status is that the Eastern-based media are beginning to notice.

Michael Farber (Sports Illustrated) wrote this a week ago:

All of this is a long-winded way of saying that Ryan Miller might have been the player with the greatest impact in the first half, but a skater likely will emerge as the Hart winner. Miller has been superb, but we like Vancouver center Henrik Sedin. Playing without favorite left winger Daniel Sedin — have you noticed they share a resemblance? — Henrik carried the Canucks in his twin’s absence and then soared in December after Daniel returned. The playmaker that never has scored more than 22 goals in a season already has 19, eight more than San Jose’s Joe Thornton, who leads him in the points race by a mere two.

Ditto Michael Traikos (National Post):

Henrik Sedin, Canucks 20-38, plus-16 When twin brother Daniel broke his foot in October, Henrik stepped up and proved that he could carry the offence by himself. Henrik scored 10 goals and 18 points in the 17 games Daniel missed.

Last night, James Cybulski (TSN) also weighed in:

Did you see that pass (link added)?

Henrik Sedin’s slick feed in the second period of Saturday night’s Canucks/Flames tilt to his fellow wonder-twin, Daniel was as good a pass as there’s been in hockey in recent years.

Magic Johnson didn’t pass like that. Heck, Tiger Woods doesn’t make passes like that. It also reaffirmed that Henrik Sedin is my choice right now for the NHL’s most valuable player.

Even the New York Times (via Reuters) is getting on the Sedin bandwagon. My favorite line of the piece is this:

When asked if his scoring feats were having an effect in Sweden, Henrik said: “A little bit.”

He added: ”They follow the N.H.L. a lot, especially before the Olympics, but we are on the West Coast, and the news barely makes to the East Coast.”

Well, the news of his play certainly makes it to the East Coast now. And if he keeps it up, the added attention will only help his Hart chances.

Jan 072010
 
Burrows celebrates 2nd consecutive hat trick

Photo credit: TSN

Earlier today, Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province) suggested the Sedin-Sedin-Burrows line was the second coming of the Westcoast Express line. Scratch that, he said that they are even better than the original.

The trio have played 57 games together going back to last winter. In those 57 games, the line has combined for 73 goals and 119 assists for 192 points. That’s 3.37 points a game and is a pace which outdistances the best line in Canucks history. At its peak in 2002-03, the West Coast Express put up 3.31 points a game.

And who can argue with him?

The Canucks just disposed of the Phoenix Coyotes 4-0 to win four games in a row for the first time this season and at least catch the Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames in points. Henrik Sedin had 3 assists to pass Joe Thornton in the NHL scoring race, Alex Burrows recorded his second hat trick in two games, and Roberto Luongo posted his 50th career shutout.

First, the Sedins and Burrows.

When Burrows signed his 4-year/$8 million, I admit I thought it would be a solid deal even if he simply produced 15 goals and 40 points; with 17 goals and 17 assists, he’s nearly cracked that mark and the season is barely over half a season old. It goes without saying that he is proving that I’m just a Canucks fan who set expectations ridiculously low so as not to be disappointed.

To add to what Botchford said, the Sedin-Sedin-Burrows line is on fire. Combined, they have 130 points (48 goals and 82 assists) this season. Only San Jose’s (Marleau, Thornton and Heatley – 64 goals and 86 assists) and Washington’s (Ovechkin, Backstrom and Semin – 60 goals and 76 assists) trios have combined for more. When you take into account that Daniel Sedin missed 18 games due to injury, it makes what the Sedins and Burrows have accomplished so far even more impressive.

Maybe they are the second coming of the Westcoast Express, but I’m not sure I like the nickname. Contest time: Suggest a nickname for the Sedin-Sedin-Burrows line and post it in the comments field. Richard, Alix and I will each pick one we like and we’ll send each winner a copy of the Vancouver Canucks 2009-2010 yearbook.

Next, Luongo.

Tonight’s shutout was his 3rd of the season and 50th of his career. He is now tied with Chris Osgood for 2nd most career shutouts among active goaltenders. He is 56 shutouts behind Martin Brodeur’s career mark, but as you know, Luongo just signed to play for 12 more years. In Luongo’s first 3 seasons with the Canucks, he’s averaged just under 7 shutouts per season.

Just sayin’.

[update: 01/12/2010, 11:06 AM]

Our apologies for not setting a closing date for this contest, but we’ll do it now.

We’ll take entries until 9:00 PM on Wednesday, January 13th. Richard, Alix and I will make our picks then and send the Canucks Yearbooks to the winners.

On a related note, we’re working with Canucks.com on a follow-up contest that has a tie-in with this one. More details will follow on a separate post, but let me tease you guys a bit – you want to make sure to submit your best suggestions to a line nickname for Sedin, Sedin and Burrows, and the prize for the follow-up contest are signed photos from all three players.

Nov 162009
 

With Daniel Sedin out, Henrik has found a way to keep up his point per game play, something that people didn’t think he was capable of. For their entire careers the Sedins had played together, and rarely missing a game, no one really knew just how talented the twins were individually. In 17 games without his brother Daniel on his wing, Henrik Sedin has had 17 points, capped with a hat trick night against the Avalanche to date.

While Henrik has struggled without his brother, there’s been a positive side to his time with different line mates. Henrik’s biggest struggles have been in the face-off dot, but when you look at the numbers that have come out of his time away from Daniel the Canucks are going to come out on top when Daniel returns to the line up. One of the biggest criticisms of Henrik was his pass first mentality. Since Daniel went down, Henrik’s had to adapt his style of play and start shooting more and it’s finally paying dividends. The perfect example was his hat trick goal against the Avalanche. He was wide open at the side at the net, and in year’s gone by we’ve seen him wide open in similar fashion, and he’s elected to pass. He’s starting to shoot more, he’s starting to go to the net, and without the cycle, we’re starting to see some of the real talent Henrik Sedin possesses. Most importantly, he’s proved to us that he doesn’t need his brother to continue being a point per game player.

With Daniel’s return, what happens to Henrik’s play? Does he go back to his pass first mentality since his brother will be there to do all the shooting? Daniel needs someone to set him up. Anyone can set him up, and he can find the back of the net. That’s why he’s led the Canucks in goals the last couple of seasons. With that in mind, the Canucks could use another player with a shoot first mentality and now would be the perfect time to experiment with splitting up the Sedins. With Daniel’s return, I’d be interested to see how the team would fare if Henrik started and centered the first line with Samuelsson and Burrows, while Daniel joined Raymond and Kesler. It’s a gamble worth a try, and with the way Henrik’s found his own, certainly if there was any time to try this, now would be the time.

The only downside to the gamble is if it pays off Burrows would likely resume his spot on the 3rd line. It’s clear that Burrows just isn’t the player he was last year without both the Sedins to play with. If splitting the Sedins results in more goals for this team, for the time being I’d certainly entertain the two on separate lines. Even if Daniel returns and joins his brother Henrik, the Canucks are going to come out on top because this time apart has shown Henrik that he doesn’t always have to pass the puck. Why have one offensive-minded, shoot-first twin, when you can have two?

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 152009
 

It’s the day after Terrace’s turn in the spotlight. Kudos to them for hosting their first NHL game and doing a damn fine job.

Here are today’s links:

Sep 092009
 

From Hosea Cheung (24 Hours Vancouver):

There’s nothing wrong with a some brotherly competition.

It’s probably even for the best, especially when it comes to the Sedin twins.

“I’m going to try and beat him,” Henrik Sedin said yesterday at UBC when talking about point production for this upcoming season.

More here.

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