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CANUCKS 0 @ BLUE JACKETS 0
Nationwide Arena is the place to be tonight as the Vancouver Canucks are in Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets. It hasn't been roses for either team as of late, both have lost three of their last four games. Someone's slump has to end tonight and should Vancouver bring their A-game to Columbus, they'll certainly come out on top. That is much, much easier said than done, especially with Pavol Demitra, Sami Salo, Darcy Hordichuk and Rick Rypien all out of Vancouver's line-up. Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog will both dress to fill those voids, Wellwood is rumored to be skating with Mason Raymond and Taylor Pyatt on the second line, while Krog should be on the fourth line.
The Blue Jackets are also hurting, starting netminder Pascal Leclaire sat out last game with a right hand injury and his status for tonight is unknown and former Canuck Michael Peca is serving the last game of his five-game suspension so he won't factor into the game.
The key to Vancouver winning tonight, yes there's only one in my mind, is the play of Vancouver's top line. Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Steve Bernier haven't played the last few games with the fire they started the season with and the twins ate up Columbus last season to the tune of six combined points in four games. If they score, the Canucks will win, they struggle again and Vancouver could fall below .500 for the first time this season. That would put the Canucks on a three-game losing streak, they haven't suffered one of those in the month of October since 2001-02. Hopefully they can keep that streak alive.
Sit tight, it's Vancouver vs. Columbus and it's next!
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Once a month we provide one lucky Fan Club member with a pair of tickets to a game and a once in a life time experience: assist yours truly, FIN, in some of the whale's duties that night and gets the title of FIN's Trainer. In February, Tyler from Abbotsford was selected as FIN's Trainer at the Canucks vs Senators game! He did a FIN-tastic job and I can't wait to share the details of our night with you.
The night started with Tyler and his father watching the first period in their seats. I wanted to give him a chance to enjoy the game before he got to hang out with me! Shortly after the end of the first period, Tyler and his dad met up with me and I gave him a super high five. Little did he know that during the first timeout of the second period it was his time to shine as announcer John Ashbridge, introduced him to the 18,810 fans, who gave Tyler a huge welcome to the building. I could tell Tyler was nervous waiving to so many people, but his smile was so big I knew he was going to have a blast and be a great FIN's Trainer.
Without a second to waste after soaking in the spotlight, we immediately we had the fun job of handing out Dibs, during the Dib's Kids Cam, to lots of excited kids. I always find it funny that adults all of sudden become kid-like and want to win the ice cream too.
After we delivered the ice cream, our next job was to help get the crowd pumped. We went from section to section banging my drum in hopes to rouse a loud GO CANUCKS GO from the crowd. Tyler even helped me by carrying my drum as Canucks fans asked me to pose for pictures. I even let him hit the drum at a few sections and the crowd responded with a resounding GO CANUCKS GO!
Before we knew it, the second period was close to ending and Tyler and I went down to the Olympia tunnel on ice level to get ready for the t-shirt give away compliments of my bazooka/prize cannon. That night we were shooting Boston Pizza/Canucks t-shirts with $10 gift cards from Boston Pizza inside (so in the future just make sure you check those t-shirts!) Tyler held onto the bazooka until we were ready to go onto the ice and helped me point out where we should shoot the prize. Overall, we shot 10 shirts out, including the last shirt where Tyler was given the opportunity to pull the trigger and shoot that t-shirt up to the 300 level. Congrats to those lucky 10 who caught the shirts!
After helping me for the full second period, it was time for Tyler to join his dad again to watch the rest of the game. With the score at 3-2 for the Canucks, there was a pretty good chance that the Canucks would wrap the game up with a win against the Senators. So half way through the third period, I summoned Tyler to help me out again by celebrating the win on center ice. Sure enough, the Canucks did not disappoint and Tyler and I stepped onto center ice again, victoriously waving the Canucks flag. The night ended with a 4-2 win for the Canucks and I had to say goodnight to Tyler. Tyler did a great job being FIN's Trainer and I hope he left with great memories of the night. Awesome job, Tyler!
See my pictures from the night with Tyler and a few others from my other FIN's Trainers from December and January: Brandon and Nina. There's also one more chance to be FIN's Trainer when we play the Wild on March 14th, make sure you're entered and maybe I'll see you there!
To enter for FIN's Trainer, click here!
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<table border=0 align=center width=80%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/macri_headshot.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>Hold on a minute while I stretch my writing fingers, it’s been a while. Every year around this time I get extremely busy, and inventing ways to get out of prior engagements in or-der to watch hockey consumes most, if not all, of the free time I have. The Canucks are my drug of choice (unless Phil Collins’ “Sussudio” can be considered a drug), to the point that I have no doubt that the team is interfering with what my therapist, Dr. Hand, refers to as a “well-adjusted” life.
If my family and friends held an intervention during which my mother read a tearful letter outlining how my addiction to hockey has affected our relationship, I would look her in the eyes and earnestly tell her that I would change...for us...shortly before climbing out of the bathroom window and watching the ’94 playoff run on Youtube in a dumpster (I’m pretty sure dumpsters have wi-fi). I have a problem, but I could totally stop any time I want, I just don’t want to right now.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/10/oct1908_hawks10_t.jpg" border="0" alt="" hspace="4" vspace="1" align="right" />For those who don’t suffer from such an affliction, I’ll tell you that the hardest part about a Canuck-addiction (Canuddic-tion? No, that sounds dirty) is the violent mood swings. After the Canucks beat Calgary for the second time to go 2-0 on the year, I had serious thoughts about camping out on Robson in order to get a good seat for the Stanley Cup parade. The team had carried over their stellar pre-season play into when it really mat-tered, and handed their biggest rivals a couple of losses in the process. I wasn’t the mayor of Cloud Nine, but I was definitely a high-ranking official of some sorts - possibly an alderman of Cloud Nine. At least an assistant to the alderman.
Then came Thanksgiving. Or as I have now come to call it, “Thanksfornothinggiving.” (See what I did there? I threw a “for nothing” in the middle of the word there. Subtle, but savvy readers were undoubtedly rewarded the first time around.)
Once again, an early PPV game managed to drain my cheeks of their natural, rosy en-thusiasm (I had to powder them with rouge for the rest of the night just to save face. To-tal embarrassment). Memories of last season began rushing by me in a semi-transparent fashion, sort of like that psychedelic tunnel scene in the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, only with more goals against and slightly less Gene Wilder. But with a record of 2-1, and a handy jet-lag excuse ready to go, the post-traumatic stress from last season had yet to set in.
<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/10/101608_keslerpoke_t.jpg" bor-der="0" alt="" hspace="4" vspace="1" align="left" />And with a split against the defend-ing Cup champs and the red-hot Sabres in the follow-ing two games, I was holding up okay. Sure, the next game against the Blackhawks was another PPV broadcast, but I had a plan: I would abstain from ordering the game. If or-dering the PPV games had en-sured a loss in the past, then surely not ordering the game would produce a win, right? At the very least, the team would escape un-injured, right? Alas, it seems as though the power of PPV extends beyond the physical act of me ordering the broadcast (although I’m still fairly certain that I have the unique ability to affect the outcome of every game), as the Canucks came out of Chicago with a few men down and another loss in the pocket.
So now I’m on the brink. My mood has officially swung from manic to depressive in the course of six games. Don’t get me wrong, I am in no way a fairweather fan, nor am I one to phone in to radio call-in shows with the brilliant advice to TRADE LUONGO! But as I write this a few hours before the Canucks are set to take on the Blue Jackets, I implore you, if you happen to come across a cheerful-looking person sitting out front of the Gap on Robson in a lawn chair, buy him a muffin. Banana-chocolate chip is his favourite. Conversely, if you happen to see a despondent individual on top of said Gap store threatening to jump, kindly inform him that it’s only a ten foot drop and that he looks like a jackass. Then buy him a muffin.</td></tr></table>
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<p align="center"><img class="photo" src="http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/428449/suitcase_wideweb__470x3400_medium.jpg" alt="Suitcase_wideweb__470x3400_medium" width="330" height="240" /></p><BR>
<p><a href="http://www.secondcityhockey.com/2010/4/10/1414464/your-transplanted-hawks-fans">I saw this over at SCH</a> and thought it was a great idea, knowing full well that many <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/nhl/teams/VAN" class="sbn-auto-link">Canucks</a> fans are dispersed all over the map, some as far away as China and Austraila while others are across the pond in England or Italy. Over this past season we've had separate threads for Vancouver fans in the Northeast, Bay Area, Ohio, So-cal and Texas.</p>
<p>And here we are again, united in playoff fury. If you're one of the transplants like myself and want to see who is around your area who can take in the playoffs with you, please use this fanpost as your chance to list where you are and maybe find some other VAN fans, get together and cheer on Vancouver from afar.</p><BR>
See how some folks respond over at Nucks Misconduct.<BR>
Goal Song - Gold on the Ceiling - Black Keys
Player Entrance - map of the problematique - Muse
Power Play song - Joker & The Thief - Wolfmother
Conjunction Junction - schoolhouse rock
Black Magic Woman - Santana
Hells Bells - Dandy Warhols
A message to you Rudy - The Specials
Rocky Mountain Way - Joe Walsh
Springtime in Vienna - The Tragically Hip
Werewolves of London - Warren Zevon
Runnin wild - Airbourne
Mean streets - Van Halen
N's in Paris - Jay Z and Kanye West
Same old situation - Motley Crue
Spirit of radio - Rush
In the evening - Led Zeppelin
Don't stop the party - Pitbull
Stranglehold - Ted Nugent
Sat nights alright
If you want blood - AC/DC
War - Edwin Starr
Cold hard b**ch - Jet
Little green bag - George Baker
Sheena is a punk rocker - Ramones
Good golly miss molly - Little Richard
Love will keep us together - Captain & Tenille
Eat the rich - Aerosmith
Default - Django Django
Low - Flo Rida
Soul bossa nova - Quincy Jones
Jealous again - The Black Crowes
Stayin alive - Bee Gee's
Levels - Aviici
Chalkdust Torture - Phish
Detroit Rock city - KISS
Red Barchetta - Rush
Dynamite - Flo Rida
Jungle love - Morris Day & the time
All down the line - Rolling Stones
Know your enemy - Green Day
Jungle boogie - Kool & the Gang
Thrift shop - Macklemore
I want you back - Jackson 5
Brown sugar - Rolling Stones
Sledgehammer - Peter Gabriel
Uprising - Muse
Riff Raff - AC/DC
We are here to make some noise - Armen Van Burren
Saturday night - bay city rollers
Rebel rebel - David Bowie
Greyhound - skrillex
Word up - Cameo
You spin me round - Dead or Alive
What's so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding - Elvis Costello
Sweet Caroline - Neil Diamond
Papas got a brand new bag - James Brown
My hero - Foo Fighters
Come on - DJ Tiesto
What I like about you - The Romantics
Disco inferno - The Trammps
Warriors of time - Black Tide
Takin care of business - Bachman Turner Overdrive
The whip - Locksley
Let the good times roll - Ray Charles
Cheers (drink to that) - Rihanna
Dock of the Bay - Otis Redding
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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011
First Round Predictions
It's that time of year again. The NHL regular season has come to an end, and now is when the 'real season' kicks in. Fans are getting rowdy, players start talking smack, coaching staffs are keeping injuries a secret. You can feel it, you can smell it: NHL PLAYOFF HOCKEY!
Here's my predictions for this years first round.Washington Capitals (1) - New York Rangers (8)
Rangers in 7
The Capitals are a strong hockey team, but have a reputation of 'playoff chokers'. I can see Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom carrying this team at one end, while Michal Neuvirth could surprise everyone like Antti Niemi did last year with the Blackhawks. However if the Caps don't get good goaltending, this one could be over in a hurry.
At the other end, the Rangers have what I believe is one of the best goaltenders in the game in Henrik Lundqvist. If he gets hot, he could very well be the MVP of this series. Up front Marian Gaborik will play a crucial part for his team.
I'm going for the underdog in this one. I can see Lundqvist carrying his team into the second round, against all odds.Philadelphia Flyers (2) - Buffalo Sabres (7)
Sabres in 6
The Flyers had kind of a collapse during the final stretch of the regular season. They called up Michael Leighton, but are yet to solve their goaltending problems. This will be what makes or breaks this team's playoff success.
The Sabres on the other hand have a difference maker in Ryan Miller. Add in a Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Jason Pomminville, and I can see this team beating Philly. Unless the Flyers find a way around Miller and get some good goaltending themselves, this one could be over sooner than anyone expects.Boston Bruins (3) - Montreal Canadiens (6)
Bruins in 6
Perhaps the series I will be looking forward to the most (besides the Canucks ofcourse). The Bruins to me are a legit contender. With Tim Thomas coming off an amazing year, and crucial pieces like Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton in place, they could very will be the next Stanley Cup champion. Add in the veteran presence of Mark Recchi and a stellar defenceman in Tomas Kaberle, and I don't think the Habs have a chance.
For Montreal to win this series, to me, they will need to keep their cool and have everyone play their best hockey. From Tomas Plekanec, through Scott Gomez, Brian Gionta, all the way down to Carey Price. If just one of these guys does not bring their best, the Habs will be out in no time.Pittsburgh Penguins (4) - Tampa Bay Lightning (5)
Lightning in 7
One of the tougher series to predict for me. As anyone will say, it all depends on one man: Sidney Crosby. Don't get me wrong, the Penguins are a lot more than just Crosby. Guys like Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury can carry the team, but to me, without Sid the Kid, they will fall short of any team in the playoffs.
The Lightning on the other hand have a lot of offensive power. Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, Simon Gagne just to name a few. On the back end however, they might be missing some key pieces to make a really deep post-season run. Can Dwayne Roloson carry this team? I say they can at least get past a banged up Penguins team.Vancouver Canucks (1) - Chicago Blackhawks (8)
Canucks in 6
And there ya have it. The series we're all looking forward to.
The Canucks are coming off a franchise year in pretty much every category. Up front there are key pieces to win a Stanley Cup: the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Mikael Samuelsson, Mason Raymond, Alex Burrows, ... They also add more depth on offense with Raffi Torres, Jannik Hansen or even Maxim Lapierre.
The back end is arguably the best in the league, and is getting healthy just in time. Alex Edler, Christian Ehrhoff, Dan Hamhuis, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, Keith Ballard... Simply amazing! Add in a goalie like Roberto Luongo and a very capable backup with Cory Schneider, and you have yourself a Stanley Cup favorite! To me, this team is too good to fall back into old habits. I can see the Blackhawks giving it their all, trying to get into the heads of the Canucks, but simply not succeeding.
The Hawks do have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, but are simply not the team they are last year this time around. The loss of Dustin Byfuglien will be crucial in this series. If Dave Bolland has to miss more than one game, this one could even get ugly.San Jose Sharks (2) - Los Angeles Kings (7)
Sharks in 7
Another series to look forward to. San Jose has great depth up front. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, Dany Heatley, Ryane Clowe, Logan Couture, Devin Setoguchi, ... They might just have the deepest offense in the league. In goal, Antti Niemi has proven last year he can handle the pressure. The only weakness I see on this team is their defence. Don't get me wrong, it's not all that bad. But is it good enough to win a Stanley Cup? Afterall, defence wins cups!
The Kings have lost two key bodies in the stretch run. Losing Anze Kopitar is crucial to their post-season success. Add Justin Williams to their injured list, and this team will be put to the test. Dustin Brown will need to carry this team more than he ever has before, while Ryan Smyth and Dustin Penner can contribute in that. Depth guys like David Booth and Mike Santorelli will need to step it up to win this series.
To me, the guy who will make or break this series is Drew Doughty. He hasn't been playing his best hockey as of late, but if he does in the playoffs, the Kings have a legit chance to advance to the second round.Detroit Red Wings (3) - Phoenix Coyotes (6)
Red Wings in 6
Once again, the Red Wings have made it to the big dance. Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Pavel Datsyuk, Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi, Thomas Holmstrom... They have a load of veteran talented guys who can make a deep run into the post season. Add a healthy Henrik Zetterberg to that mix, and this team once again could go all the way.
The only question to me is: can Jimmy Howard handle the pressure?
The Coyotes are a far less talented team if you match them up player per player. However that doesn't mean they don't stand a chance against Detroit. Shane Doan and Keith Yandle need to carry the team, while Ilya Bryzgalov needs to be consistant in his play. If the 'Yotes play balanced, focused and smart hockey, I can see them pushing the Red Wings to the edge.Anaheim Ducks (4) - Nashville Predators (5)
Ducks in 7
Last, but certainly not least. A battle of two teams who have heated up near the end of the regular season. Can Corey Perry continue his goal scoring streak? Can the Ducks find a consistant goaltender? Can other guys like Selanne, Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan share the load? It can all happen, but especially in goal I can see the Ducks struggling.
At the other end of the ice, I can see Pekka Rinne carrying the Predators in this series. Add in a solid Shea Weber and a very balanced offense, and I could see this one going to 7 games. Anyone can take it!
This would make my second round setup:Boston Bruins (3) - New York Rangers (8)Tampa Bay Lightning (5) - Buffalo Sabres (7)Vancouver Canucks (1) - Anaheim Ducks (4)San Jose Sharks (2) - Detroit Red Wings (3)
There you have it: my first round predictions. Like them or hate them, anyone is entitled to his opinion. Feel free to share yours and comment! And remember: Go Canucks Go!
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If the Canucks are to make the playoffs, they will most likely have to face a California team in the 1st round (and 2nd round if that happens), who all have been a struggle for the Canucks since being eliminated by the 8th seeded Kings in the 1st round in 2012. However, this year the Canucks have started off a respectable 2-1-1 against the California teams. They prepare to face all 3 again, but let's compare how the Canucks' stats to those of the California teams.
The playoffs are known for heightened physicality and all 3 of these teams are physical (especially the ones in SoCal) and so far the Canucks are far behind in this category. One can argue that it may suggest the Canucks have the puck more, nevertheless however, hits are an important part of the game. Not to mention, the Blackhawks are 2nd last right now in hits and they've had lots of playoff success.
Kings-1109 (2nd in the league)
Ducks-10209 (4th in the league)
Sharks-813 (17th in the league)
Canucks-643 (27th in the league)
Blocking shots is an important part of hockey. It leads to the goalie facing less shots, most of which are from the middle of the ice. The Canucks are an above average shot blocking team, but still fall short to the Ducks & Sharks. However, like the hits this could show that the Canucks have more offensive zone time, so they don't need to face as many shots.
Ducks-538 (7th in the league)
Sharks-526 (9th in the league)
Canucks-499 (13th in the league)
Kings-421 (28th in the league)
Faceoffs let teams start with possession and can even be the difference between winning and losing. However, they are quite far behind the California teams in this department.
Sharks-52.0% (8th in the league)
Ducks-51.7% (9th in the league)
Kings-50.9% (11th in the league)
Canucks-48.6% (21st in the league)
Corsi for percentage in brief measures a team's shot for (including missed and blocked shots) vs. shots against (once again including missed and blocked shots). In the past few years the Canucks have always been good in this category (even last year), but this year they seem to have less impressive possession. This also means the Canucks probably should have more blocked shots in theory than the Ducks and Sharks, yet they don't. Although, despite the fact the Canucks seem to get outshot, I'll look at shooting percentage after to see if stats say they just wait for quality shots.
Kings-53.4% (3rd in the league)
Sharks-52.2% (11th in the league)
Ducks-50.2% (18th in the league)
Canucks-49.9% (20th in the league)
Second to only the Ducks in shooting percentage. Makes sense why the Sharks and Kings would have lower shooting percentage, but the Ducks appear to be taking better shots or just simply have better finishers.
Ducks-8.05% (11th in the league)
Canucks-7.42% (19th in the league)
Kings-7.37% (20th in the league)
Sharks-7.21% (22nd in the league)
The most important stat, however (other than wins obviously) is the goals for vs. goals against differential. Overall, the Canucks rank 3rd in this, but it's way too close to make a huge deal out of it.
Sharks/Kings-+9 (tied for 11th in the league)
Canucks-+8 (14th in the league)
Ducks-+6 (tied for 16th in the league)
Now for my quick recall of the games so far against them:
The Sharks outplayed the Canucks I thought for pretty much the entire game, but Miller stood on his head and stole the win. Can't depend on that.
The Kings also outplayed the Canucks, but before Canucks started to get scored on it wasn't as bad as it was against the Sharks. However, this was a day after the game against the Sharks.
The Canucks have been quite competitive with the Ducks this year (major step up from last year where the Canucks never beat the Ducks and lost 9-1 once), with both games ending in a shootout. However, both teams were dealing with major injuries in these games most notably Corey Perry & Dan Hamhuis, both of which will miss the game tomorrow.
Overall, I don't think the Canucks could win a playoff series against any of these teams, but the most competitive matchup would be Ducks vs. Canucks. However, I think the Kings and Sharks would both easily handle the Canucks (repeat of 2012 and 2013, respectively). Although the team's success lies in the future. Any thoughts?
1. Olli Juolevi LD
2 Brock Boeser C/RW
3 Thather Demko G
4 Guillaume Brisebois LD
5 William Lockwood LW
6 Adam Gaudette C
7 Evan McEneny LD
8 Andrey Pedan LD
9 Brett McKenzie C
10 Tate Olson LD
11 Alexander Grenier RW
12 Carl Neil RD
13 Jordan Subban RD
14 Cole Candella. LD
15 Cole Cassels C
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Control is TOML. TOML is control.
TOML posts this:
And Crosby falls to another round of un-Gretzky-like head injuries.
TOML posts this:
And Chara falls to the first significant injury he's had in years.
TOML posts this:
And Wellwood vanishes statistically again while Evander Kane takes over.
TOML posts this:
And Brian Burke bans media outlets and blocks twitter access to all those who don't fall in line with his controlling message in TO.
TOML posts this:
--->"Ron MacLean is a nice person and is in no way personally affected by his thoughts on Alexandre Burrows." <--- This content has been edited by the Ministry of Truth. Obviously the personal matters of those within the Inner Party are not to be discussed on a message board. That is all.
The future is TOML. TOML is the future.
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_I12u15l88M&feature=channel_video_title help out a fellow canuck and watch this video!!
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If you haven’t noticed, the Vancouver Canucks have a glut of centermen both now and for the future.
They sent young guns Dmitry Zhukenov and Joseph Labate down to Chicoutimi and Utica respectively, but for some reason there’s still a gazillion centers – okay, 11. 11 centers – vying for the jobs down the middle on the big club.
Out of those 11, three of those are Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat, and Brandon Sutter, who will presumably take the top three spots. Another spot can be removed for Brendan Gaunce, who’s good, consistent game will grab him a spot on the team while veteran Chris Higgins is out with a fractured foot. He’ll be filling in as left wing on the third line.
That brings us down to seven. Seven guys vying for one, maybe two spots. It were as if the depth chart was hosting its own Bachelor(ette) TV show. So who are these potential bottom-liners?
We’ll start off first with Linden Vey. He’s the only one on the team that is victim (or in this case, Vey-ctim. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) to more hate than Luca Sbisa. Brought in because Bo Horvat’s NHL status was questionable at the time, Vey started on the third line, then dropped down to the fourth line, and slowly became a rotation player who spent a fair bit of time in the press box. He worked on his conditioning over the summer, but his face-off game still seems a little weak.
Alex Friesen is next. He’s small – smaller than Vey, even. He has good skill, as he was a solid contributor in different ways to the Comets’ Calder Cup run this spring. But it is his size that sets him back. If he can show to play bigger than he is as well as win face-offs, Friesen shouldn’t have a problem making the cut. As opposed to being cut. From the team.
Adam Cracknell has looked nice in a Canucks jersey so far – scoring the game-winning goal in the Kraft Hockeyville game against the Sharks – but he’s a depth addition. He’s likely meant to take over Cal O’Reilly’s role as top centerman and leader in Utica along with Blair Jones.
Speaking of which, it’s Blair Jones! Jones has an absolute blast of a shot, and he’s not a half-bad skater either. He’s looked good (or at least, better than others) in the preseason games he’s played in. He’s a fairly good skater and could handle the fourth-line role if given to him. However, it depends on the play of others to see if his name will land in the fourth center role on the depth chart.
Making a name for himself as a Canucks top prospect, Cole Cassels gained a whole lot of fame this spring by shutting down Connor McDavid, playing through injury, and leading his team to a Memorial Cup championship. He’s got skills, no doubt about it. But in the preseason games he’s been in so far, he’s showed he does need experience in the minors. Although he’s shown promise, he’s also shown he needs a bit more time and experience in the minors. He’ll do nicely on a Utica team trying to outdo last year’s Western Conference championship. He’ll make the NHL next year, perhaps?
Jared McCann is standing out among the competition right now. He’s working hard, showcasing his skills, and is playing like a real NHLer. To boost his skills, playing in the AHL would be ideal. Unfortunately for management, McCann would have to be sent down to his OHL team because of his age. McCann does look like he could handle an NHL role, however, and if he’s consistent in the next three games or less, he’ll get at least the nine game tryout and potentially an NHL role.
Finally, there’s Brandon Prust. An acquisition in a controversial trade, Prust has looked somewhat decent in place of Zack Kassian. He brings toughness and leadership in the dressing room, which is what GMJB is looking for. He also happens to be pretty good at face-offs, boasting an average last year of 51.6%, a career average of 49.8%, and a career high of 60%, according to faceoffs.net. He’ll likely be 13th or even 14th forward, as he has to compete with Ronalds Kenins, Jake Virtanen, and McCann for a spot on the ice
Who would I place my money on for the role? As bad as it could be, Linden Vey. He’s got big-league experience and Coach Willie Desjardins loves him… for some reason. He’s not a bad prospect, but should not play center and would not look good as Horvat’s replacement. I’d love to see McCann or even Jones steal the spot. It would at the very least give the Canucks some new blood in the lineup.
Original article can be found here.