Apr 022010

This is all you need to know about the Canucks’ 8-3 loss to the LA Kings last night (via Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

“I’m just going to make a statement and I’m not going to answer any questions,” Luongo said. “As a team, we should be embarrassed by the way we played. From the first guy, which is me, all the way out to the last guy, it’s unacceptable to play this way.

“We just have to get better. And that’s it.”

It was a horribly pathetic effort and the Canucks should be embarrased. With a single point against the Kings, who had lost 4 of their previous 5 games, the Canucks could have clinched a playoff spot. To quote Jerry Seinfeld, the Canucks instead folded faster than Superman on laundry day.

The defense were constantly out of position and gave the Kings all sorts of great scoring chances, and Luongo couldn’t come up with the great save to bail them out. Up front, it didn’t help that the Canucks didn’t have Daniel Sedin and lost Alex Burrows in the first period. It also didn’t help that Darcy Hordichuk did his darndest best to give the Kings the man-advantage.

On a more positive note…

Forced into a top-six role, Kyle Wellwood scored a couple of goals. Believe it or not, he’s within 3 points of matching last season’s point totals.

Somehow, Christian Ehrhoff managed a plus-2 rating in 23:54 minutes of ice-time. (6 of the Kings’ 8 goals were on even-strength.)

Alex Burrows sounded okay after the game. Here’s hoping he can make a speedy return to the lineup.

And maybe the rest of the team can get back to playing good hockey too.

Mar 282010

During the Canucks tweetup this past Tuesday, I had a chance to talk to Scott Rintoul (@ScottRintoul & co-host of “BS in the Morning” on Team 1040) about some of my pet peeves. We spoke about my “admiration” of Shane O’Brien (word is a picture exists of me wearing a shirt with his name and number on it), my belief that Luongo practices the Grant Fuhr Method to Goaltending, and why I believe Kyle Wellwood is part bear.

Yes, you heard that right. I think Kyle Wellwood is part bear.

Since the Olympic break, I can’t think of any other player who has stepped up his game as much as Welly. True some have maintained their game (Mikael Samuelsson pre-injury case in point) and others have found a way to produce (Exhibit A – Henrik Sedin, albeit at a reduced rate), but what other player has decided that he wants to dominate the game?

I’ll immediately concede that Kyle’s not been dialing up the points like there’s no tomorrow, but the guy has 7 of his 22 belt notches since the two week vacation in February – for those keeping score at home, nearly 1/3 of his point total in 14 games. If you factor this type of production over the full NHL schedule, he’d be sitting on 41 points – tied for 7th in scoring should the German singing sensation Ehrhoff not get another marker. The kid’s also figured out how to attach the puck to his stick, having found new ways to stickhandle inside a telephone booth – always the type of play that gets people to the edge of their seat.

So why the bear reference? Well, compare his play now to his play at the end of last season? Huh? Eh? You see what I mean? Welly was getting dirty along the side boards. He was getting the puck on net and getting in the middle of traffic to create chances. He also allegedly beat the living daylights out of Mats Sundin for stealing his Mozza Burger – well, maybe I just made that one up but how else did Mats get his black eye in the playoffs?

He figures out how to play tough when he wakes up.

Chris – “You see, Kyle Wellwood is part bear. He eats himself out of house and home in the summer, goes to sleep and hibernates in the fall & winter, and then wakes up in the spring and begins to produce.”

Nov 252009

With all the injuries at the start of the season the Canucks managed to get out of a sticky situation with too many players on the roster. They didn’t have to deal with the bubble players, and they tapped the Manitoba Moose dry of NHL worthy players. With players gradually returning from injury, the question of who deserves a roster spot has to be revisited. The Canucks blue line has been stocked full of players and fortunately hasn’t been hit by the injury bug, however when you look at the forwards roster, it looks like now is the time to figure out who’s earned a spot on this team. As far as players on the injury list, there’s one player who doesn’t factor into the issue and that’s Alexandre Bolduc. With the return of Jannik Hansen and the way Hansen has been playing, Bolduc’s playing on a team where there’s a lot of depth at his position. Unless Rypien or another one of the bottom six goes down to injury, Bolduc will be sent down to the Manitoba Moose.

In past years, Vigneault has made it very clear that he has no problem benching a player that doesn’t deserve to be on the ice. He showed that earlier in the season by benching Darcy Hordichuk and it payed off. With Grabner approximately 3-4 weeks through a 4-6 week ankle injury, now’s the time to start thinking about what to do upon his return. With complete and utter lack of production from Wellwood on all fronts, it seems ridiculous not to bench Wellwood, or send Wellwood down to the farm team in favour of the Austrian Canuck. In Grabner’s 9 games he’s amassed more points (5) than Wellwood (2) has in 23 games. He also proved to have great chemistry alongside Kesler and Raymond. Wellwood needs someone to light a fire under him, and Grabner’s return would be just that.

With that in mind, it looks like Burrows has found his game with the Sedins which means he’ll likely stay with Henrik and Daniel if he can regain that offensive touch now that Daniel’s returned. With that in mind though, A Canucks team with one more Grabner and one less Wellwood is a more offensive team. Burrows was, and can still be a 3rd liner. To allow for Grabner’s return I would be willing to see Burrows return to the 3rd line and play alongside Bernier and Johnson leaving Samuelsson to join his compatriots, the Twins. This opens up a spot on the second for Grabner to return and play with Raymond and Kesler. He has the speed, and it’s clear there was chemistry. Wellwood needs time off the ice to sort out his head. He’s not playing good hockey at all, and although he earned a roster spot with his play in the pre-season, we’re 23 games removed from that audition and it’s time to re-evaluate if the Canucks want to start playing something more than .500 hockey.

Nov 152009

A quarter way through the season and Wellwood has struggled to say the least. He sits with one point in 17 games, an assist he got in his eighth game of the season against the Oilers. He’s missed 4 games because of a foot injury he suffered, however Wellwood should be contributing offensively significantly more than he has so far. With the injuries to some of our major players, Wellwood’s role elevated and he still didn’t produce. Wellwood’s game has struggled on a whole, and it’s certainly not for lack of playing time, or a result of the players he’s playing with.

Wellwood’s game has struggled on a whole though. He’s getting time on the Power Play, on the Penalty Kill, and everything from his play in the face-off dot, to his stats on the score sheet are suffering. He has the lowest face-off winning percentage of the four centers on the team, and averaging 14 minutes of ice team a night, he’s got less points than a handful of players getting substantially less shifts and minutes than him per game. He’s been inconsistent all season and now’s the time to start doing something about it. His face-off performance has been spotty and inconsistent, and in 17 games he’s averaged as shot per game, however he’s gone without a shot in 5 of his 17 games played this year. It factors that if he’s not shooting he’s not going to get the chances. Wellwood’s gotten play on the Canucks PP, and with it’s effectiveness in the early part of the season, the excuses for Wellwood’s sub par play are slowly disappearing.

Seven players have played less games than Wellwood this year and have point totals equal to or greater than him. He’s playing with line mates that are finding ways to provide offense, and yet he’s not getting in on the play. Something has to be done to get Wellwood motivated again. Last year after he was publicly lashed by Vigneault’s comments his motivation showed results. This year, coming into camp ahead of the game having dropped a number of pounds it seems the former Maple Leaf just doesn’t have that hop in his step. Wellwood needs an awakening. Hordichuk was benched and came back looking better. He made an impact and was actually visible on the ice even though his role isn’t to get on the score sheet. With the Canucks depth and bodies, if the injury list shortens and we have a few extras Wellwood needs some time in the press box to get his head together because he’s struggling on all fronts and the Canucks need him to be a part of the secondary scoring this team expects.

The Canucks have a lot of motivated players in the bottom six who look a lot better than Wellwood. Hansen’s return has been charged and in his two games so far he’s making his case to get off the bubble. Pettinger has come back a man reborn to fight for a roster spot after doing a tour of the Canucks minor league affiliates, and with players like Bolduc and Rypien, both capable centers, Wellwood has to start earning his spot or he’s going to find himself in the press box ordering delivery during the games.

Sep 142009

The puck finally drops for some preseason action tonight as our beloved Vancouver Canucks take on the New York Islanders in Terrace, BC.

Here are today’s Canucks chatter around the web:

Sep 132009
Kevin Bieksa

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

I’ll be going to training camp today so keep an eye out on my Twitter feed. In the meantime, here are some Canucks-related links on the Interweb:

Jul 202009

Kyle Wellwood’s arbitration hearing is just over a week away on July 28. Not to say that Wellwood and the Canucks can’t reach an agreement before then, but if they don’t, then what can we expect?

First, because He is entitled to be a group 3 free agent at the end of the next season (2009/2010), the arbitration award will be a one-year term. (Though maybe someone more well-versed on the intricacies of the CBA can correct me on this.)

Second, Mike Gillis won’t be bringing a scale to the arbitration hearing.

Finding comparables (and his rollercoaster of a career so far) is tricky. On the one hand, Wellwood reported to camp last season horribly out of shape, passed through waivers – even re-entry waivers – twice, and was a healthy scratch a few times. On the other hand, he still scored a career-high 18 goals (including 10 on the powerplay – top 40 in the NHL), had a shooting percentage of 19.1% (3rd in NHL), won 57.5% of his faceoffs (he took more faceoffs than anyone on the Canucks except for Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler). All in only 13 minutes of ice-time per game. It gets trickier because the arbitration process uses past statistics to establish a player’s salary, but in an ideal situation, a player’s salary should be paid based on projected performance.

That said, I’m going to give it a try and throw out some possible comparables out there. Note that for the purpose of this post, I only looked at players in the same age range (born in 1982 or 1983 and drafted in 2001 or 2002) who signed short-term contracts that takes them to unrestricted free agency (like Wellwood’s will).


(* – Numbers in parentheses are per game averages. Ruutu and Stajan signed their RFA contracts in 2008 and their numbers are as of the end of the 2007/2008 season.)

So who does Kyle compare to?

With big numbers in their first couple of seasons and some dips recently, it seems that his career trend follows Chris Higgins and Petr Prucha. In salary terms, the difference is a contract worth $2.25 million/year or one worth $1.1 million/year. (For what it’s worth, there were rumors earlier this off-season that Mike Gillis had offered Wellwood a two-year deal worth $1.75 million/year.)

Of course, the big question is where both parties project his career to be in the next year or two. Is he a top-six forward? Or is he a 2nd/3rd line tweener who won’t hurt the team defensively and also chip in offensively? He had both success and shortcomings in both roles this past season and in the playoffs. And if the Canucks do see him as a tweener, then can he beat out Cody Hodgson, who, by most accounts, the team would like to see make the roster.

If Wellwood and the Canucks don’t settle on a contract before July 28, it sure will be interesting to see how both sides argue their respective points.

May 222009

- It appears I’m jumping on the Penguins bandwagon for the rest of the playoffs. The Wings don’t need another Cup. As much as like a bunch of their players, as a whole team I just can’t get behind them. I’ve tried embracing this crush on the Blackhawks that the NHL keeps pimpin, but I can’t do it. They’re kind of whiney and I find I giggle too much when they do badly. The Canes are pretty cool actually. But I’m chillin with the Penguins because of two things

1) MALKIN. His hat trick last night, especially the third goal, was mesmerizing. I could watch it over and over. He makes me want to learn Russian and have him over to make perogies and drink vodka. We can play his highlight video in the background. And how adorable were his parents in the stands?

2) LETANG! He is beautiful to watch skate and he has the most magical long flowing hair. I mean I really do want to ask him what product he uses because my hair never looks that good. TSN had a lovely but rather heartbreaking interview with Letang about how he still thinks of Luc Bourdon. H/T to wraparoundcurl. It’s hard to believe it was almost a year ago. RIP. You can’t help but cheer on Letang’s team, honestly.

- I’m not too fond of this Neidermayer brother rumour. I’d rather they worry about getting the identical brothers we already do have re signed. I’m not particularly fond of either of them, but even looking past my lack of fondness, I don’t think there’s enough cash. Scott would probably average what 5 or 6 million? Then his bro would probably want around 1.5/2 ish? It seems like Rob wouldn’t be much of an upgrade over the third/fourth line guys we already have. I suppose Scott by himself would make some sense. I’m still thinking Gillis walks away from this though.

- The Flyers are rumoured to have offered the Canucks Jeff Carter for Lui and the rights to negotiate with Matty Ohlund with possible other smaller profile players involved as well. Now, I am not on this weird trade Lui train at all and I know Gillis said he wouldn’t but Jeff Carter would be pretty damn nice to have around. Just close your eyes and imagine it for funsies. That wrist shot makes me purr…

- I think next season will be fun to watch with this little youth movement that’s starting to happen. Cody Hodgson and Michael Grabner have a shot to make the team. I hope Gillis manages to make offers to Jannik Hansen and Welly and Ripper. SOB was an adventure this year but was also really solid at times. I hope he gets re signed. It’s certainly not going to be boring at the very least. I’m already jonesing for new Canucks hockey. Is it September yet?

May 042009
May 022009
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