Monday, 14 January 2013

Welcome Back || January 14th

Well well well...look who decided to stop being a Bettman-face and play some hockey...

If you're like me then you probably started out an expert on the lockout, then about by day 60, your patience and understanding slowly melted away along with the rinks.  Come January, and then all of the sudden the NHL and NHLPA got around to finally figuring out the revolving door and getting a deal done.

Damn you recessive hair loss gene!
Which brings us to the upcoming January 19th season opener against the Anaheim Ducks.  We waited 113 days, missed over half the season, and LADIES AND GENTLEMEN....Ryan Getzlaf's hairline!  All we can hope for is that the game - every game for that matter - goes into overtime and 10 rounds of a shootout.  I mean, we have 44 games to make up for, so they damn well better be 6 hours long.

Hands up if you are doing a hockey pool this year...Now hands up if you are doing a hockey pool and can remember who is is on what team...didn't think so.  Here is a quick refresher for what's happened for the Canucks.

1.  Lock out officially announced.
2.  Lock out officially ended
3.  Roberto Luongo trade rumors begin.

Other than that though, the Canucks have gotten a little tougher on defense by signing Jim Vandermeer and gotten a little 3rd round-ier in signing Cam Barker.  Barker is looking to rebound off of a slowly declining career after being traded to the Wild.

Forwards stay pretty well the same, minus Kesler for the first bit of the season.  Honestly though, that's never really been a problem for the most part.  The Sedin's will continue to score, Raymond will continue to fall on his ass, and Higgins will KEEP HIS DAMN JERSEY DOWN!

There isn't really much to say.  We can complain about the lockout, we can say the fans are going to lockout the league, but we won't.  We are all going to go watch the game on Saturday against Anaheim...and we're going to love it.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Beyond 60 minutes || February, 8, 2012

The last couple weeks for Canuck fans have been a little weird.  On one hand, they're winning, on the other, it doesn't feel like they're winning.  Sure, Vancouver ended up beating Colorado, but did they really deserve to?  It was one of those things where they won because they had no business losing the game.  Bieksa made up for his terrible give away right beside Luongo, that gave Colorado a goal, by doing his diving save on an open net. After playing goalie, he takes the puck and ends up getting the tying goal with just under 30 seconds left in the game.  If it wasn't for that one great play, then Vancouver would have lost to a very inferior team.

Overtime - it seems to be a bit of a theme for the Canucks as of late.  And not just overtime, but shootouts.  It's almost like they do it on purpose, just to give Luongo more practice at stopping the break aways.  What was once almost a guaranteed loss, having Luongo in net during a shootout has turned into something that could turn into a win.

Top of the league in the last 10 games played
Now, Vancouver has been winning.  Actually, in the last ten games, the Canucks have the best record in the league.  After just watching the games though, you'd think that they are floating around the .500 mark.  They aren't winning games in regulation, let alone winning them decisively.  BUT! A win's a win, despite those wins coming by the skin of their teeth.  If this is Vancouver's lull in the season that every team goes through, then I'll take it.

Monday, 30 January 2012

"All-Star" Game - January, 30th, 2012

Oh, the days when the All-Star game had any sort of meaning.  Remember when it used to be East vs. West?  Or North American born players vs. the world?  At least you had something to root for then, now, it's pretty well only for the host city.  It was great of Ottawa to be able to cheer on an entire line of Senators, especially for Alfredsson and what he has done for that city.

I guess every team has their players they can cheer for, but it doesn't really prove anything on the competitive side of it.  I understand it's for the fans, and it targets a younger demographic, but the All-Star break is pretty well a week of no hockey in the middle of the season...unacceptable.

I use the word "all-star" loosely as well, I mean, come on, Joffrey Lupul?  Pominville? Dennis Wideman?  I'd love to have Scott Hartnell on my team, he is one of my favorite players just because he is exactly what an all around hockey player should be, but I wouldn't think he is one of the best in the NHL.  Now, he's having a great season so far, but he was probably brought in more for his commentating abilities rather than his on-ice skills.

The All-Star Game is not exactly a place for defensemen to be at all.  The only talent they get to display is how good they are at giving away 3-on-1's and how they don't know how to take the man.  D-men shouldn't be there at all, but since they are, I'm sure there are better candidates than Dan Girardi.  Again, he's a great player, but All-Star? Nay nay.

The good ol' days - Campbell Conference vs Wales Conference
My vote is to go back to East vs. West or North America vs the world, just beacause it involves more people.  More people can cheer for a team, more cities might show more interest.  Otherwise, this whole 'players drafting players' schtick is going to get old in a hurry, then all you have left is a single city cheering on teams that nobody cares about in a game that even less people bother waking up for.

One great thing to see come out of that All-Star game was the demand for the Sedin's.  Everybody wanted to play with them, everybody talked about how it's not fair that they are on the same team.  When you hear players say stuff like that, to think that they would be the most desirable tandem to play with in the league, it makes you proud to a Canuck fan.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Tanev Gets Called Up || January, 20. 2012

With Chris Tanev being called up to replace Sami Salo, he's being paired with Edler (for now).  That either means that Coach AV has a ton of faith in this kid, or he is putting him with Edler so he can cover for Tanev IF he screws up.  From what we saw last year - especially in the playoffs - I think it's got more to do with the first one.

In the past, Tanev was paired with Ballard, and that's usually when Ballard played his best hockey.  Tanev is more of a calm, stay at home defencemen, which helps when you have Ballard run-and-gunning up the ice.  Now that Tanev is with Edler though, what's that mean for Ballard?  I think it's pretty apparent that Ballard and Alain Vigneault don't really get along, for whatever reason.  Now, instead of pairing the one player with Ballard that really boosts each persons skill set, he kind of leaves Ballard in the dust.

I think Ballard will be traded before the dead line, depending on how Tanev looks.  If Tanev plays decent, not even outstanding, but as long as he doesn't give the puck away and makes simple and smart plays, then I think Ballard will be gone sooner rather than later.  That's a lot of cap space to have only play 14-15 minutes per game.  I think Ballard is a great defencemen and will put up some impressive numbers, but not on Vancouver.  Wrong coach, wrong style of play.  A good fit for him might even be Chicago (as much as that hurts to say) but then we'd have to play him and I don't think that would be wise.

Tanev will play just fine, which is great for the future because he will essentially take Salo's spot when he retires.  If Ballard does end up getting traded, who should we get in return? A replacement D-man, or a forward? Or do we just put him on waivers and just shed the salary?  Now it's your turn to talk, let me know what you think.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Hopefully it was the perfect storm || January, 16, 2012

Well that was a disaster.  Coming off a pretty successful road trip, starting with the huge win over Boston, then back to back in the sunshine state, then another big win over the surprising St. Louis Blues, the team that showed up against Anaheim was a shadow of it's former self.  For true Canuck fans, you probably aren't worried, you could just write it off as one of those things that usually happen in sports, where the first game back after a long road trip is usually a stinker.  However, the Canucks are starting to set a very disheartening trend.  They seem to show up against the top teams in the league - like Detroit, Chicago, Boston, San Jose - but when it comes to the basement dwellers, they suck.

Think back a month, when Vancouver played Columbus, or when they played Carolina without Jeff Skinner.  Those are teams they should be beating, and Vancouver has gotten the reputation around these parts, of not showing up against teams that should be an easy win.  Some people say that there are no easy wins in the NHL, especially now with the salary cap kind of leveling the teams off a bit, but when you're an elite team like the's a different story.

There are easy wins in the NHL, maybe not physically easy, but talent wise you can't say that Columbus is even close to the talent level of the Vancouver Canucks.  Now, Anaheim, they are a different story.  Granted, they have been playing better lately under the new head coach, but so far this season they are a terrible team.  I don't know how they have been so bad, considering they have one of the scariest first lines in the NHL.  Ryan-Getzlaf-Perry could be one of the biggest and skilled lines in the league, but this year has not been treating them well.  Especially since Ryan Getzlaf has pretty well just coasted through every game this season, but they are a very talented team.

So, the question is, did the Canucks lose the game?  Or did the Ducks just beat them?  Well, considering Vancouver only had a handful of shots in the first half of the game, it's a safe bet that they just didn't really give a shit.  They're probably tired, the star players (Kesler, Sedins) could be a little frustrated about not producing like they're used to, but I think that it was just one of those things.  Look for Vancouver to turn it up a notch against the Kings this Tuesday.  If they lay another steamy pile of a game against L.A., then you can start to question the ethic of a team this talented.  Right now though, I don't think there is anything to worry about.

Monday, 9 January 2012

There are rats, then there's Brad Marchand... || January, 9th, 2012

We've seen him before and he is going to be one hell of a player.  A key part of him becoming that great player though, is surviving that long.  He is making too many enemies too quickly in this league.  Brad Marchand is becoming a player that others are forced to look out for, and not necessarily in a good way.  There is no doubt that he is going to put up some very impressive numbers, he's got the skills for it.  Everybody loves a player who can get under the opponents skin, but there is a line and Marchand has crossed it...several times. 

Most recently, Marchand under cut an oncoming Sami Salo, ducking underneath him and flipping him onto his head.  Now, in his defense, Salo has a long history of head hunting people and smashing them face first into the boards, so the Bruins "self defense" case is very valid.....

This isn't the first time Marchand had done this - take a look back in the Stanley Cup Finals, he did the exact same thing there.  He is a short guy, so it doesn't take much for him to get down and flip somebody, but he is doing this as a defense mechanism, not a hit along the boards or anything.  There is a difference between a hip check by a defenseman on someone coming down along the boards and seeing somebody come towards you and duck under them and take them out at the knees. 

Boston loves this kid, and why wouldn't you.  They love him for almost all the same reasons we love Burrows and Lapierre and Kesler, but the only difference is, those guys aren't putting people in dangerous positions.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Holiday Break || December, 28th, 2011

It's been a while, which means that there should be a lot to talk about, so let's get to it...

Well, they're winning.  Winning lots.  They should be winning though, especially against the lower teams in the standings, but when the Canucks lost to Carolina and Columbus - two of the worst teams in the league - it raised some eyebrows.  It was just a small blip in what has been a phenomenal run lately, but it should raise a couple alarms.

First, what was the reason for the loss?  They were basically gimme games, basically just had to show up and be awake and the Canucks should have beat Columbus, but the Blue Jackets took Vancouver to a shoot out which just happens to be their Achilles heel.  Then there was Carolina, and they just plain ol' out played the Canucks.  Was it because Vancouver underestimated them? Or something more?

Minnesota is suprising everybody this season
Secondly, and this won't matter in the playoffs, but the shoot out.  Unless Vancouver is going to finish every team in the first 60 minutes or in OT, they are going to have to improve on their shoot out tricks.  The Canucks have been notoriously mediocre at them, especially for a team that is among the elite in the league.  This may not seem like a big deal, but with Minnesota being a competitor this year (so far), winning their division is going to take all the extra points they can get.  Beating Minnesota could be the difference between first or second in the conference, to fifth or sixth.  It may come down to only a couple points.

It's a weird feeling, to be watching the Canucks with such confidence, even against other elite teams, but then as soon as OT ends, your heart sinks.  Do you think it's going to matter or will the Canucks pull far enough ahead of the Wild in their division?