May 062013
 

Photo credit: Christian Petersen via NHL.com

So the Vancouver Canucks have lost the pivotal game two and the must-win game three.  Looking ahead to a pivotal must-win game four, there are a few Things That Make Me Go Hmmm.

The Goalie Conundrum

Well, wouldn’t you know it?  We’re possibly one game away from the end of the season and the story that became a story at this time last year is still a story.  Whether you agree with management’s (GM and coach) handling of the situation or not, you can’t deny that it’s been the number one story with the team this year.  So much so that people are talking more about the goaltending then they are about the team’s primary reason for being pushed to the brink of elimination: their inability to create enough good scoring chances.

Facing elimination, the Canucks need to start the goaltender that gives the skaters the most confidence that they can win the game.  And without a shadow of a doubt, that goaltender is Roberto Luongo.  He was solid in the first two games of the season before Schneider’s shaky return to the line-up.  Go back to Luongo and hope that the team plays lights-out in front of them.  And who knows, a strong playoff showing (even in defeat) wouldn’t hurt his trade value.  That is, if the Canucks are still trying to trade him.

Flipping the Switch

Many people have asked me over the last week, “What’s wrong with the Canucks?”  After lamenting the team’s scoring woes and my desire to see Keith Ballard in the line-up, I always say that it’s not as simple as just looking at the Vancouver Canucks.  You need to look at the San Jose Sharks as well.

It was ludicrous to think that the Canucks would simply “flip a switch” in the three days between the end of the regular season and the first playoff game and be back to a dominating team that would steamroll the competition.  This logic is mostly flawed because it doesn’t account for the team lining up across from the Canucks.

San Jose is a good team.  They have strong depth at forward, a solid (if non-descript) defense, and a strong goalie.  Also, they are well-coached and have strong special teams.  So Canucks fans can talk about flipping a switch all they want.  Just remember that San Jose has a switch too – and it seems to be working very well.

Staving Off Elimination

Get ready to hear the word “stave” dozens of times over the next couple of days.  While the Canucks look to stave off elimination, I wonder why more people don’t use the word more in every day conversation.  I think it’s a cool word…and it shouldn’t be reserved just for sports playoffs.  After all, there are so many other ways you might use it:

  • I wonder how many ladies I will have to stave off this week.  After all, I’m happily married
  • Will Christy Clark be able to stave off Adrian Dix in this month’s election?
  • How does Keith Ballard manage to stave off thinking of ways to hurt Alain Vigneault?

 

Looking ahead to game four on Tuesday night in San Jose, I simply wasn’t interested in any of the post-game quotes from AV and the players – especially the clichéd ones.  All I care about is the Canucks laying it all out on the ice as they try to stave off elimination.  Then perhaps they’ll have a chance to play in another pivotal must-win game on Thursday night.

Apr 182013
 

Photo by Jeff Vinnick

In an effort to create more offense (or in an effort to maintain his reputation as a chronic line juggler), Canucks’ coach Alain Vigneault made news by putting Ryan Kesler on the wing alongside recently-acquired centreman Derek Roy in practice. While I was looking forward to seeing them play together, many Canucks fans were up in arms at the move, citing Kesler’s preference to play in the middle and the potential of unbalanced forward lines (from a scoring perspective).

By game time, all was right with the world as Kesler took his centre position back while Roy was the one shifting over to the wing.  Kesler supporters were happy and so was I – the two of them were still going to play together.

The result against Nashville was good: both Kesler and Roy had two points apiece in the Canucks 5-2 win.  The duo was tamed in the subsequent game – a 2-1 shootout loss to St. Louis.

So why is playing centre so much better?  Along with the help of some loyal CHB readers, I present to you The Top 10 Reasons Why Playing Centre is Better Than Playing on the Wing:

10.  One word: faceoffs.  Or is that two words: face offs?

9.  The centre is the one who makes the line what it is.  (Submitted by @RyanGuevs)

8.  Centre of attention makes sense.  Wing of attention doesn’t.

7.  Because he won the friggen Selke.  (Submitted by @BrowntoBure)

I think my Twitter-buddy Dave mistook the topic to be “Top 10 Reasons Why Kesler Should Stay at Centre” but I’ll accept it nonetheless.  Then, as a reply to my reply, Dave added:

I actually prefer wing…it’s less work.

6.  The wingman never gets the girl.  (Pat on Facebook)

I hope he’s not speaking from experience.

5.  Centres can be smooth like the centre of a Caramilk.  Wings can be good too…with hot sauce.  (Submitted by @Rozzy80)

I think my buddy Jay mistook the topic to be “Top 10 Ways to Relate This Hockey Blog to Food”.

4.  Who would you rather be?  Ricky Bobby or Cal Naughton Jr.? If you ain’t first, you’re last.  (Submitted by @lyteforce and @mattlee61)

Yes, it takes 2 CHB contributors to come up with one entry:  one of them to suggest it, the other to correct it.

3.  Playing centre, it doesn’t matter if you’re a right-handed shot on the right side, a right-handed shot on the left side, a left-handed shot on the left side, or a left-handed shot on the right side.  Either side will be your strong side because you’re in the middle of the ice.

2.  Both of these guys won the Art Ross.  But only one of them won the Hart.

Photo by Jeff Vinnick

1.  No guy dreams of becoming Goose. You dream of becoming Maverick.  (Submitted by Jason on Facebook)

 

No doubt this will make fellow CHBer @lyteforce proud.  Very proud.

Apr 092013
 

In my first Clay’s Canucks Commentary since my trip to Rome 3 weeks ago, I look at Vancouver’s 2-0 win over Phoenix at Rogers Arena and in particular the return of Ryan Kesler.

Kesler returned to the line-up after missing 19 games and he made an immediate impact by scoring the game-winning goal just 7 minutes in.

Kesler’s return, coupled with the acquisition of Derek Roy at the trade deadline, bolsters the Canucks down the middle and gives some much needed strength and firepower to the forward group overall.

 

 

Mar 232013
 

Sean Imoo is 11 years old and in grade 6.  He enjoys listening to the latest music, playing guitar and piano, playing hockey and other sports, and whipping his Dad in NHL 13.  Sean is passionate about his favourite team – the Vancouver Canucks.  He is likely the biggest Canuck fan in his school and he is always learning more and more about the Canucks every day.  Here are his insights as to what it’s like being related to a certain CHB writer.

As you may know, my dad (@CanuckClay) is a season ticket holder with his good friend Mike.  This is my dad’s 3rd season as a season ticket holder while Mike has been lucky to have them for over 10 years.  I am very lucky that Dad is a season ticket holder because I can go to games with him for some good “father and son” bonding.  Sadly, I can’t get to all of the games as much as I want to.  This gets very interesting sometimes so here is the good, the bad, and the interesting of having a dad as a season ticket holder.

The Good

First, the good.  Like I mentioned before, my dad and I love to go to games together.  We cheer, we boo, we eat, we drink, and we just talk Canucks.  I am very lucky to have been to a couple very memorable moments.  I was able to see Markus Naslund’s jersey retired, and I saw the Canucks clinch the President’s Trophy 2 years ago.

Being able to go to games forces me to plan and do homework earlier.  However, it wasn’t always this way.  When I first started going to games, I found myself doing homework during intermissions.  I remember bringing my math textbook to study for a math test the next day.  Doing homework at a game is still better than doing homework looking at a TV – or worse yet – in my bedroom.

The Bad

The downside to this is that the games are mostly on school nights, so by the time the game is over, we usually get home after 11pm (we like to enjoy a delicious post-game meal of Japanese food).  Oh well, going to games is worth losing 60 minutes of sleep.

Also, my dad’s tickets are in the upper bowl.  So, for a lot of the games I go to, there are people that get extremely drunk and swear like crazy.  Not the best environment for an 11-year old kid that goes to a Catholic school.  I’ve even seen many people kicked out of the arena.  It’s kinda funny, actually.

The Interesting

I’m not the only person in the house that wants to go to games though.  I’m okay when my dad goes to games with Mike or other friends, but when it comes to family, it’s not pretty.  The most common fight is between me and my mother.  When my dad asks who wants to go to a game, we both say that it’s our turn (sometimes I lie).  Then…we start to argue.

I say, “I bet you can’t even name 5 players!” or “Explain to me a delayed offside!”

And she replies with, “Whose house do you live in?” or “Who pays for the tickets?”

She’s stopped short of kicking me out or telling me to get a job.

After these friendly discussions, no one knows who is going to get to go.  That’s when I go into suck up mode.

PS. Would someone please volunteer to film my dad’s Clay’s Canucks Commentaries?  It’s getting to me…look at the format of this blog!  You must be able to work late nights and handle verbal heckling.  I can’t take it anymore.

Mar 182013
 

For this special, non-postgame Clay’s Canucks Commentary, I check in from St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Perhaps the Canucks need some Divine Intervention as they battle the Minnesota Wild for the division lead and fight to stay in the top 8 in the Western Conference.

In this CCC, I quickly touch on the opportunity that exists for both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo to seize the job of “number one goaltender”.  They’ve been playing it down publicly (while joking around about it with James Duthis on TSN) and they’ve both been good in spurts, but not great.  The team is going to need one of them to make the team his own as they head down the stretch.

 

Mar 142013
 

I look at the good, the bad, and the interesting from the Vancouver Canucks’ 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators at Rogers Arena.

I doubt that anyone predicted 11 total goals in this contest between two teams that have had difficulty scoring this season.  The fans were treated to a highly entertaining contest that had a bit of everything: nice goals, fights, defensive breakdowns, and even a penalty shot.

I touch on Jannik Hansen, Andrew Ebbett, Mason Raymond, Henrik’s penalty shot, David Booth, Kevin Bieksa’s tough game, our crowded blueline, and a little trip I’m taking.

Thus, I’ll be taking a one-week break from creating these postgame commentaries.

 

Mar 132013
 

With a 2-1 shootout victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets in Columbus, the Canucks were able to avenge last week’s 2-1 overtime defeat to the same team in the same arena.

This time, highlights included the strong goaltending of Roberto Luongo and Mason Raymond’s spin-o-rama goal in the shootout.

In this video, I touch on Roberto Luongo’s strong game, David Booth’s aggressive play, Alex Burrows sliding into Luongo, boarding penalties, the goaltending situation, Cam Barker’s offensive prowess, and Tom Sestito’s decreasing playing time.

 

Mar 112013
 

Another Canucks season means another Canucks Hockey Blog tweetup! And obviously, if we at CHB want to get our tweetup on, we look to the fabulous Hog Shack Cook House in beautiful Steveston (in Richmond for those unsure). Also very obvious, we want to invite you – our diehard readers and fans – to join us for some BBQ, beer and Canucks hockey as they take on the Los Angeles Kings in a Saturday matinée match-up.

CHB and Hog Shack Tweetup - Mar 23
If you couldn’t grab the deets from the poster above, here’s the nitty-gritty of our event:

Where: Hog Shack BBQ House, 3900 Bayview St, Richmond BC
When: Saturday, March 23rd, 2013 – 12:30 PM to 3:30 PM (the game starts at 1:00 PM)
Who: You – our readers and tweeps

So if good company, good eats and good brew isn’t enough to entice you to come, we will also have a number of contests to reward those who know their stuff. And there may also be a chance for us to help make you a star in an episode of CHB TV – how good is that?

If you have any questions or want to be added to the VIP list and guarantee yourself a table (or a seat next to Clay Imoo), send a tweet to the Hog Shack at @hogshackca or reach out to us here in the comments section.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Mar 052013
 

Photo by Jeff Vinnick

I like Keith Ballard.

I liked him with he played in Phoenix.  I liked him when he played in Florida.  And I like him as a Vancouver Canuck.

I was very excited when the Canucks traded for him in late-June 2010.  When the Canucks signed Dan Hamhuis less than a week later, I was over the moon – what an upgrade to our defense!

Unfortunately, Ballard had off-season surgery before he even played his first game in a Vancouver uniform and then he was concussed just four games into the regular season.  Add a sprained MCL and the first benching of his professional career and it was a forgettable 2010-11 season for Ballard despite the team’s success.

Since then, he has been a frequent visitor to coach Alain Vigneault’s doghouse.  Ballard’s most recent stay started on Saturday night when he was replaced in the lineup by Albert Alberts and it continued on Sunday night when Cam Barker took his spot.

So what may have caused his latest benching?  Along with the help of some loyal CHB readers, I present to you The Top 10 Reasons Why Keith Ballard is Back in AV’s Doghouse:

10.  Ballard cut in front of AV in the food lineup at lunch on Saturday.

9.  Ballard signed AV up for a 7 hour time share presentation in exchange for a free T-shirt.  (Submitted by @ECdevoff)

8.  Ballard hid AV’s favourite flavour of gum.  (Submitted by @BCBerrie)

7.  Ballard didn’t work hard enough to maintain or increase his height.  (Submitted by @jedski)

Check out this funny spot with Ali G and Ben Wallace from 2006.

6a.  Ballard ate the last of AV’s favourite lozenge he brought back from his LONG summer vacation.  (Submitted by @s0ya)

6b.  Ballard stole AV`s last pack of lozenges before they got on the plane.  (Submitted by @vansport)

Ah yes – Vigneault’s famous throat lozenges.  The ones he powers through on the bench or in the pre and post game media scrums.

5.  Ballard makes forward passes, and AV wants his d-men to make drop passes instead.  (Submitted by @lo__b)

4.  Ballard didn’t change his last name to Sedin.  (Submitted by @acheung14)

This is a clever reference to Ballard’s classic answer to Canucks TV’s Kathy Anderson question of how to get on to the coach’s good side.  Ballard’s answer: “Good question.  Working on that for 3 years.  Change your last name to Sedin.”

3.   Vigneault is good friends with Tomas Vokoun.

Not Ballard’s finest moment.

2.  Being from Minnesota, Ballard started walking around the dressing room talking like the Caucasian guy with the Jamaican accent in the recent Volkswagen commercial…annoying AV in the process.

1.  He’s Keith Ballard.  (Submitted separately by @SirCanuckles and @transcendwebs)

Mar 032013
 

Clay Imoo (@canuckclay) will be recapping every Vancouver Canucks game with a quick post-game video commentary.  As a start, Clay looks at the good, the bad, and the interesting from the Canucks’ 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings from March 2 at Rogers Arena.

In the video, Clay touches on the Canucks’ top 2 scoring lines, Cory Schneider’s suspect puck-handling, the benching of Keith Ballard, the debut of new enforcer Tom Sestito, and the LA Kings twitter account.

 

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