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CanucksAtHome

Let's go back to the good ol' days, shall we? The one where Canucks win back to back Presidents' Trophies. We exorcize some demons beating the Blackhawks in game 7 OT after being up 3-0 in the series. Ryan Kesler dominates the Predators in round 2 of the playoffs. The Canucks make the Stanley Cup finals on a Kevin Bieksa goal so bizarre that Cory Schneider (and probably 1/2 of Rogers Arena) had no idea what had happened. And then the ups and downs in the finals against the Bruins which had Raffi Torres scoring a game winning goal with 20 seconds left in game 1, Alex Burrows scoring a goal 10 seconds into OT in game 2, Max Lapierre's happy dance after scoring the winning goal in game 5, and eventually succumbing at home in game 7 prompting the ugly events that took place in downtown Vancouver that night.

Back in those days, the Canucks dominated with a lineup predicated on mostly skill over size. But over the course of that ill-fated playoff run we got beat up, and injuries took their toll. As the years passed basking in the limelight of making the finals, we started to get old. Our skill players were still pretty good, but seeing as Father Time waits for no one, the extended seasons of battling caused our top players to lose a step or two.

As time went on this problem only seems to have been exacerbated. Having to play the Pacific Division giants of Anaheim, San Jose and LA 5 to 6 times a year is a grind, and at times these California teams have utterly dominated the Canucks with their size, speed, and tenacity. With only 3 teams guaranteed to make it out of the new Pacific Division each year, the question remains - what is the best way to compete in this tough division?

Some critics of the Canucks claim that they are too soft. Although they may be somewhat undersized, I would not say that they are soft players. Even though they may get outmuscled by some of the bigger teams, I would argue that the Canucks still play a reasonably hard game.

A lot of these critics also suggest that the Canucks overcompensate for this by acquiring only big, tough players. And to be fair, some of these players are needed. We got a start on this process by trading Cody Hodgson for Zack Kassian, who is a work in progress. We effectively traded Cory Schneider for Bo Horvat, who is a tank. Most recently we drafted the Zdeno Chara-like Nikita Tryamkin (6'7", 230+ lbs) in the 3rd round last year. Also, don't forget about the acquiring of Shawn Matthias. Despite this influx of size, you still have people arguing that we should have taken the bully-like (I mean this in a good way) Nick Ritchie instead of Jake Virtanen 6th overall in this year's draft - and at 6'1" and 210 pounds, Virtanen is no slouch. At the end of the day I would be happy with either pick, but I really like Virtanen and it's pretty cool that they took a local boy who will play his heart out for his home team.

Another issue with the Canucks that was notably raised by John Tortorella was that the core group of the Canucks is going 'stale'. Many people insist that the only way to regain our former glory is to trade away our core, finish in the bottom of the standings and draft high-end talent like Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. While it's definitely true that as our core players age (past their prime) their production will regress, I strongly believe that many of them still have value. The character, humbleness, passion and generosity of Henrik and Daniel, Burrows, Bieksa and Hamhuis truly exemplify what it means to be a Canuck. I can think of no better role model for our young players to train under. For these reasons I think it would be a mistake to trade them away (in such a case where a NTC would be waived).

So how do the Canucks proceed? How can we get back to an elite team not only soon, but for many years to come? Like many of you, I have also closely followed the Canucks player and administration moves over the past year. New GM Jim Benning and President Trevor Linden have made many moves since taking office, molding the team to fit their long-term vision. From these moves it is clear that the front office is focused on producing a depth of smart, coachable, hard-working two-way players with a bit of size mixed in.

The end result of this is that our prospect depth is now deeper than it has ever been over the past decade. We have young forwards like Horvat and Vey already making an impact, with other players like Virtanen, Shinkaruk, Gaunce, Jensen, McCann and Kenins poised to contribute over the next few years. And don't forget Jordan Subban - I expect him to fill out over the next few years and compete for a roster spot. And Tryamkin clearly doesn't need to fill out anymore. I'm pretty sure he fights bears in his spare time for fun.

The point of all of this bluster is that with our recent moves we are setting ourselves up for future success. No one in their right mind will claim we are Stanley Cup favourites, but as long as you make the playoffs you have a shot. And we are definitely playoff contenders - whether or not we keep that up is yet to be seen; the end of the season will be a grind for sure.

I would love to talk more about how I perceive the Canucks are modelling their team, but this post is already long enough - I'll have to make another one about that. If you made it through the whole article, you have my appreciation! Thanks for reading, and if you have any comments or reasonable criticisms I would be interested in hearing them.

CanucksAtHome

Before I start, I just want to express how excited I am that the Sedins will be Canucks for the next 4 years :)

As a (poor) student living in Saskatchewan, I've never had the opportunity to see an NHL game. In the few opportunities where I've been in Vancouver or Calgary, I've either been too busy to go or there haven't been any home games while I was there. So when my brother pitched the idea of going on a road trip with he and my Dad to Edmonton to watch the Oilers play the Leafs (they're both diehard Leafs fans), I was incredibly excited even though I knew I'd be really sore after a 5 hour trip there and back.

We got to Rexall Place around 6PM (an hour before game time). We toured the arena, got some food and watched the pre-game skate; all was well. About 10 minutes before game time, some 'overly enthusiastic' Leafs fans took their seats in the row in front of us. It was obvious from the moment they walked in that they were drunk. As the game started, they almost immediately began harassing other fans; some were Oilers fans, others were wearing jerseys for other teams. I didn't wear my Canucks jersey because I anticipated these things happening. Back to these fans; they had a pint of beer at each intermission to keep the 'adrenaline flowing'.

As the game progressed and the Leafs started racking up a healthy lead, there seemed to be a tipping point; they started swearing even more (it seemed to comprise over a third of their vocabulary), and would occasionally jump up during the play which made the people behind them mad because they couldn't see. Not wanting them to ruin our family trip, we ignored them. The same can't be said for everyone, though. With about three minutes left in the game, one fan beside us finally had enough and stood up to one of the guys, told them to 'sit down or he would make them sit down' (not the best choice of words). The guy immediately turned around with an 'oh yeah?' kind of face and punched the guy right in the nose. They tangled up while other fans tried to pull them apart. People and beer were flying in all directions, and it took security a solid 5 minutes to get there. The Oilers fan who confronted this Leafs fan had a pretty solid black eye after the whole ordeal. They only kicked the Leafs fan out (I hope he got arrested) because it was obvious that he was the aggressor in the situation.

I was talking to one of the event staff who said he had noticed the fan for most of the game and could have called a supervisor, but most of the security staff were busy breaking up other fights so it wouldn't have done much use. I don't doubt that those other fights involved situations that were similar to the one we experienced.

Whenever the Leafs or Habs play on the road, there are always a healthy contingent of fans that show up to the game (think Vancouver in Phoenix/LA/Anaheim). If they live in the area, it's probably the only time they will get to see them play all year. Add alcohol into the mix, and you're just asking for these things to happen. Arenas try to curtail this by not selling alcohol after the 2nd intermission, but I don't think it does much good. It's really unfortunate that teams have to sell alcohol to make money because it really takes away from the atmosphere.

So please, if you're going to show up drunk at a game, don't bother showing up at all.

CanucksAtHome

*edit* This post repeats some of the comments I made on John Garrett's actual article; in case you were wondering if I had stolen points from someone else.

I just read John Garrett's article, called "Conspiracy Theory"; you can find it here.

Although I respect Mr. Garrett's opinion, and he raises some good points, I'm not sure how I feel about someone with such close ties to the Canucks organization making a formal criticism like this. Calling out referees, let alone the league as a whole is not the most professional thing in the world to do unless you have cold hard facts.

Mr. Garrett states several stats about how the Canucks have been excessively penalized (relative to their opponents) over the past few years, with some focus on the playoffs. Some examples of this are:

"Last season the Canucks had 51 power play chances in their first 10 games. They had 33 in their last 10..."

"This season they had 12 power plays in the first two games and 17 in the last nine."

I am well versed in statistics (I am currently doing my PhD in the subject), and I am fairly confident that these facts are perfectly normal within statistical variation. Sometimes you will get a lot of power plays, other times you will not. Even in the largest case, 20 games relatively speaking is not that large of a sample.

So there's one possible explanation for those numbers... However, not everything can be explained by that, so let's look at another point Mr. Garrett raises and see if we can find any other plausible explanation.

"(The Canucks) were penalized twice as much as the San Jose Sharks in their first round playoff loss."

In recent years the league has made great strides in trying to call obstruction penalties more tightly... consider the hooking, tripping, and interference penalties that no one would have dreamed of being called 5 years ago. Since the Canucks were largely a speed and skill based team, they performed quite well during the season when these penalties were being called correctly and consistently. However, come playoffs, these penalties were all of a sudden no longer called. Because of this, the Canucks players could be obstructed without as much penalty, resulting in the loss of their greatest team asset. I feel like this is a more likely explanation for the Canucks penalty woes in the playoffs; they relied on drawing obstruction penalties but these were no longer being called.

In my mind, the lack of consistency in penalty calling from the regular season to playoff transition completely nullifies what the league is trying to accomplish with making the game more skill based. This is why big teams like Boston, Chicago, LA, and now San Jose do well come playoff time. The Canucks brass has raised this issue to the league before, but to no avail. This is why you have seen the Canucks make several moves (like acquiring Kassian, Sestito and Horvat) in an attempt to get bigger. Management is starting to realize that until the league gets their act together, you have to be big to win.

CanucksAtHome

The 'C' word

C is for consistency, something the Canucks have been starting to find as of late. Consistency in the power play (save for a little dry spell), consistency in goaltending, and most importantly, consistency in getting wins. However, if I were writing this post a couple of weeks ago, I would not be singing the same tune. After losses to Calgary, Columbus and Carolina and victories against Detroit, Minnesota, and San Jose, I was left wondering what team would show up on game night. At times the Canucks were dominant against powerhouse teams, and at others would look like minnows against cellar dwellers. Although as a fan this is maddening, I've learned to accept that there are ups and downs over the course of an 82 game season.

Now for something that bothers me a bit more... consistency in officiating. As a trained referee, I am well aware of the need to alter your officiating SLIGHTLY depending on game situations. This doesn't mean looking for penalties for one team or letting blatently unfair penalties go uncalled, but rather taking control of the game if it appears to be getting out of hand. Cory Schneider makes a pretty good comment about this in his post-game interview after playing the Bruins.

The referee's main goals are to protect the players, stop unfair advantages, and to ensure the flow of the game, not just to sit there and call penalties. I can assure you that something occurs every shift which warrants a penalty if one were to strictly follow the rules... slashing and interference are the first two things that come to mind. However, like I said the primary job of an official is to stop unfair advantages. If a player interferes with another who has no chance of being in the play, it's useless to call a penalty. Doing so would make games take ages and irritate everyone to no end.

Therein lies the dilemma of an official. They have to make split second decisions as to whether certain actions warrant a penalty. Now, the referees in the league are mostly fantastic at using their discretion - it amazes me to no end how many things they have to be responsible for on EVERY SINGLE PLAY - but there's one thing I'd like to see change, and that's officiating during the playoffs. It is undeniable that the intensity is much higher and that the emotions of players are at a peak; this leads to a much more physical game, which I think is fantastic. However, it also leads to a much dirtier game. There are a Boatload of teams (who will Remain Unnamed) whIch base a majority of their strategy oN slaShing, cross-checKING, and punching playerS during and after the play. In my mind, this adds nothing useful to the game. They are plays that under the current 'playoff officiating system' are allowed unless are 'sufficiently' vicious. You can understand how players get confused about how something that wasn't a penalty at one point in the game is a penalty later. This inconsistency turns some playoff games into a joke. Take for example Brad Marshmallow punching Daniel Sedin, or

when he doesn't even have the puck. It's OK because it's a battle, right? I don't think so, and I think it makes the game worse because of it.

Given all of this stuff that happens, going through the playoffs really is a war. If you look at the Canucks injuries during the last postseason, maybe only a couple were a result of 'clean' physical play; the rest were due to the likes of slashes, cross-checks and other cheap shots. I think officials need to wake up and control the dirty stuff, otherwise it just makes the game inconsistent and out of control.

I'd like to close with a wonderful picture my girlfriend drew on her computer!

1318739951.png

CanucksAtHome

Today was a busy day, however a great day. It was such a good day, that it made the Canucks loss only feel remotely terrible, as opposed to rage-enducing terrible. All I can hope is that third period fired the boys up to come back home.

I'm really tired right now, so I'll make it short and sweet - the future is bright!

DSCN0076.jpg

CanucksAtHome

Ah, nothing like water at 30,000 feet. Wait, actually, this water tastes terrible. I don't know how that's even possible. At least the cookies are good though. I'm typing this message on board a delta flight bound to San Francisco. For the next week, I get to spend my time (although most of it will be preoccupied with work) in a 'balmy' 60 degrees farenheit (about 15 degrees celcius). It was that nice in Saskatoon recently, until mother nature decided to play a cruel joke and go back to -10 and snowing for a little bit… so +15 is just peachy with me right now.

Anyway, it's about at this point where you're likely wondering why the heck I'm telling you all this. In inspiration of Canucks reporter Derek Jory somehow managing to convince the team to take him on the road to blog during the regular season (I'm still not quite sure how he did it), I'm going to try and write a few blurbs about my thoughts on the Canucks, the NHL playoffs in general, and anything else amusing that happens while I'm in San Fran that seems relevant (or not). Since I refuse to pay 13$ to get internet access for this flight, I can't read any of the latest news, so I'll just hash up my thoughts on a few things.

On the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook - This hit was legal, well, last year. The NHL has made it clear that they want to eliminate this play from the game, and I respect them from doing so. It's obviously tough on the players, as bangers like Raffi (ESPECIALLY in the playoffs) will often be put in compromising situations where they have to decide between going for the hit, and easing up or letting of completely, which may make him look bad in the eyes of the coach. I've been flying since 5:40 AM, so I haven't seen what the official verdict is. I'd like to make a disclaimer that this is only what I think the suspension will be, not what I think it deserves. The NHL will definitely want to make a statement, especially since Raffi is a repeat offender in such a short period. Suspending him for the rest of round 1 will not make much of an impact, seeing as the Canucks are already up 3-0 and this could just result in 1 game. So, my guess is that he will get suspended for the rest of round 1, and at least 2 games of round 2; but I wouldn't be surprised if he was suspended until the end of round 2. I don't agree with it, just stating what I think the league would do. Anything more than round 2 would be complete overkill in my mind.

*EDIT* Now that I'm at my hotel, I see that there was no suspension. This is great, but it still surprises me

On the Canucks success in the first three games of the series - It's not until now that you see the true value of the businessmen-like approach of the management and the team. You hear it every single game, the team takes things one game at a time. This is a great strategy, as it helps the team not get too high with the highs, and too low with the lows. I know there have been no real lows yet (as far as losing games go), but rest assured, they will happen. As a fan, I am trying to adopt this mentality. It's so easy to look ahead and say a lot of 'what ifs', for example, "What if the Canucks play (insert team) in the 2nd round?" "What if they make it to the finals?" "What if they win the cup?" I can honestly say those things have crossed my mind from time to time, but from a mental standpoint I'm remaining focused on the task at hand, which is closing out this series. One thing at a time.

My favourite playoff moments so far - Alex Edler's constant bashing of opponents, specifically batting away a hawk (maybe frolik, can't remember) like a fly when he tried to hit him. Also, Hammer's hit last night was pretty radical, I didn't think he had it in him. Another memorable moment was in the Rangers/Capitals game yesterday afternoon, where the Rangers thought they scored a goahead goal at the end of the 2nd period, only to have it disallowed because the puck crossed the goal line JUST as the clock ticked to 0.0.

Anyway, I have to go off and meet some people. I hope to make another post tomorrow, and I look forward to reading your comments! Anybody have good suggestions for places to eat in Union Square in SF?

Take Care,

CanucksAtHome

CanucksAtHome

Even though I'm happy the Canucks won, you have to feel bad for Christian Ehrhoff. Not only did he take Ryan Kesler's stick in the face, but his team also got scored on while he was lying on the ice, motionless. I don't know about you, but I thought he was out cold. I bet

I don't have too much to post about, but does anyone have a picture of Ehrhoff after he came back from the stitches? I have a sneaking suspicion it looks something like this.

the-joker-attacks.jpg

Is anybody going to watch the all-star game? I probably won't... I'm more interested in the draft than anything.

CanucksAtHome

So I watched tonight's game on MSG, the TV network which covers Islanders hockey. Despite the Canucks narrow (and sloppy) win over the Isles, my ears were forced to bleed for the majority of the game; largely due to the MSG colour commentators Butch Goring and Howie Rose. I am under the assumption that these two were indeed the commentators for the game - my source for this assumption is a New York Islanders website post. If I am incorrect in this assumption, please let me know.

Getting back to my original point, I've never had a greater desire to mute a hockey game than I did tonight (which I did do, albeit only for a few minutes). Now, this was largely due to one of the announcers (I'm not sure which one) gross mispronunciation of some of the Canucks players. Let me give you a few examples:

- Andrew Alberts = Andrew Albert

- Dan Hamhuis = Dan ham-hooz

- Alexander Edler = Alex El-der

- Kevin Bieksa = Kevin BY-es-ka = Kevin Bee-Esk-a --- he switched back and forth between these two during the game, which I really don't understand.

If you want to see what I mean, click this link and then click on the video icon next to Bieksa's goal. *shudders*

The other thing that really annoyed me was the excess partisanship that both announcers had towards the Isles. I recall one specific incident where Mason Raymond sped into the offensive zone to retrieve a puck against the end boards, and he got walloped by an Isles player (I forget who). He got back up, and made kind of a jabbing motion with his stick to the Isles player, if it hit him, he probably didnt even notice as he skated away. No penalty was called on the play; should there have been one called? Maybe; I know I definitely wouldn't have disputed it had it been called. What annoyed the crap out of me is that both announcers were flustered, claiming that Raymond should have been given a 5 minute match penalty for spearing and been thrown out of the game. And it's not like they saw one angle and said it once, they repeated it a couple times over the next few minutes, aghast that the referees didn't come to the same conclusion they did. About the whole partisanship thing, I don't mind if you get excited when your team does well, and perhaps have tinted glasses every once and awhile, but it doesn't give you the right to be stupid.

Other things that really annoy me about commentators is when they show absolutely no enthusiasm for any goal the opposing team scores. By no means am I saying that they should be just as excited as when their own team scores, but at least put some effort into it, and give the players the respect they deserve. The brown award for most partisan announcer goes to Avalanche play by play commentator Mike Haynes. You can see how excited he gets for goals by

and the Red Wings (click on the first three detroit goals).

I feel I should close on a good note, so the golden awards for my favourite announcers (other than the Canucks) are Capitals announcer

and Sabres announcer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS5hqlo9OnQ.

So tell me... what are your announcer pet peeves, and who are your favourite/least favourite announcers?

Until next time,

CanucksAtHome

CanucksAtHome

So just a little while ago I saw a link to NHL.com 's facebook page, where you can vote on who you think the 5 hottest teams in the NHL are right now. I had a hard time picking just five teams, so I figured I would post who I feel are the 10 best teams in the league so far this year:

Just in case you don't make it all the way to the bottom, leave a comment and let me know what you're thinking! Who do you think is worthy of the #1 spot? Where do you think the Canucks should rank?

If you like what you see, subscribe to my feed - I will try to write at least one new entry a week :)

1. Boston Bruins (7-3-0, 14 points):

The Bruins may have lost to Washington tonight, but that was their FIRST ROAD LOSS OF THE SEASON (5-1-0). Plus, they have the likes of Tim Thomas, who after today's loss still has a save percentage of .967 and a GAA of 1.05. Also, Boston has the 2nd fewest goals allowed (18) and the highest goal differential (+14) in the league. Boston also sports the top PK in the league (92.1%), while maintaining a reasonable PP (23.1%). If defense really does win championships, Bruins fans can start to think about planning the parade.

Just a little sidenote, after Thomas was burned for 3 of the 5 Washington goals, Cory Schneider now leads the league in save percentage (.969).

2. Los Angeles Kings (9-3-0, 18 points):

A group of young confident players who will now be bolstered even further by the return of Drew Doughty. Along with their offensive talent, the Kings are solid on the back end as well...they shut out Tampa Bay last night, which is impressive against a team that had been averaging 3.3 goals a game prior to that loss. Jonathan Quick is developing into one of the premiere goalies in the league. If Quick has the stamina to start 70+ games this year (which he likely will), then LA is definitely a force to be reckoned with in the West.

3. Detroit Red Wings (7-2-1, 15 points):

Although they are tied for third place in the Central Division, Detroit has plenty of games in hand on Chicago and Columbus, and only trail St. Louis by a single point. Detroit has an interesting team setup - they have a core of savvy veterans, but are led by a young and inexperienced goalie in Jimmy Howard. They also have a couple journeyman AHL players coming along very nicely (see Justin Abdelkader). Pavel Datsyuk will win the Selke again this year (sorry, Kes), and unless all hell breaks loose, Detroit will make it to at least the 2nd round of the playoffs.

4. St. Louis Blues (7-1-2, 16 points):

This record is good for tops in the Central Division and 2nd in the Western Conference, 2 points behind LA with 2 games in hand. St. Louis has been one of the surprise teams this year - they have won all of their games at home this year (6-0-0), however they are 1-1-2 on the road. The Blues made a HUGE pickup by signing Jaroslav Halak - it has played a huge part in the Blues having the fewest goals allowed in the league (17). Also important is the fact that St. Louis only allows 25.7 shots per game (fewest in the NHL), and are 2nd in shots for with an average of 34.0 per game. If the Blues keep this up on the road they will be a scary, scary team (when is the last time we could say that?).

5. Philadelphia Flyers (8-4-1, 17 points):

Philadelphia is my pick to make out of the East this year. Not only are they big and skilled, but the Flyers dearly want to avenge their loss in the Stanley Cup last year. Although they had a 4 game skid earlier in the season, they have righted the ship winning 5 straight, outscoring their opponents 22-9 in that span (not to mention without Danny Briere, who got suspended 3 games for his idiotic stickwork to the face of Frans Nielsen -- see the video HERE).

6. Washington Capitals (9-4-0, 18 points):

Washington is playing just as you'd expect, leading the league in goals with 44. Alex Ovechkin is getting into a groove, and the play of goalie Michal Neuvirth has been steady. However, I don't expect Washington to get past the 2nd round this year. Similar to last year, the Capitals just can't play with a lead. They blew a 3-0 lead against Boston before coming back to win 5-3. Their forwards don't know how to play defense, leading to several odd man rush opportunities. After being embarrassed in last year's postseason, I would have thought that Bruce Boudreau would have proposed a more defensively responsible scheme for his team. Either that didn't happen, or the players aren't buying into it. At the end of the day, Washington is obviously offensively talented; but if they run into another hot goalie (I think they are still having nightmares about Halak), they will again be disappointed by an early exit from the playoffs.

7. Vancouver Canucks (7-3-2, 16 points):

What can I say that you already don't know? Roberto Luongo has getting into a rhythm lately, picking up a shutout against New Jersey and keeping is composure in a 4-3 road win against the Oilers. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been magic as always, and breakout performances by Ryan Kesler and Raffi Torres means the Canucks have the secondary scoring they so desperately need to succeed. Cory Schneider has been rock solid so far, winning all 3 of his starts and among the league leaders in both goals against average and save percentage. Oh yeah, just in case you didnt know the Canucks also sport the top power play in the NHL, clicking at 28.3%. They also have a reasonable penalty kill, which is 8th in the league (86.4%). They are 2nd in team faceoff percentage (55.5%), trailing only the San Jose Sharks (57.3%) - Manny Malhotra is also 2nd in individual faceoff percentage (64.5%). If the Canucks can avoid the injury bug, while developing some more team chemistry with their newer players, they will be among the elite teams in the league.

8. Tampa Bay Lightning (7-3-2, 16 points):

Steven Stamkos was the #1 star in the NHL for October. Couple that with the skills of Marty St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, and you have the ability to almost score at will. Tampa has a killer PP, and has also benefited from good secondary scoring - 14 different players have registered goals so far this year. Dominic Moore has been a nice surprise, scoring 4 goals in only 8 games played. However, the situation in net is questionable. For the time being they are working a two goalie system, with Dan Ellis and Mike Smith having started 6 games each. Neither of the two have been lighting it up on the stats sheet - Ellis has been okay with a 2.45 GAA with .911 SV%, whereas Smith has an ugly 3.17 GAA and 883 SV%.

9. Montreal Canadiens (8-4-1, 17 points):

After the whole Carey Price / Jaro Halak fiasco, who would have thought the Habs would be leading the Northeast Division? Not me, that's for sure. One thing their record doesn't tell is that they have a goal differential of only +2 (32 goals for, 30 against). Montreal is 5-1-1 in one goal games so far this season, a testament to Price, who was voted as the teams MVP for October by the same fans who booed him off the ice in the preseason. If the players (and just as importantly, the fans) keep their faith in Price, the Canadiens might just win the division this year... the only team that will really challenge them for this title is the Bruins. Montreal's PP has been lathargic at best, 2nd worst in the league at 6.7%, but thankfully they have the 6th best PK in the league at 88.5%. Montreal has some underrated players on their team, and if they can start clicking the Habs will make some noise in the playoffs.

10. A three way tie, between the Dallas Stars (8-4-0, 16 points), Columbus Blue Jackets (8-4-0, 16 points) and New York Rangers (7-5-1, 15 points)

No matter how hard I tried, I could not choose just one of these three teams to be my #10 pick. Allow me to point out some of the similarities that makes each of these teams worthy of the #10 spot:

- Crazy good road records: Dallas is 3-1-0, Columbus is 4-1-0 and New York is 5-2-0

- Solid goaltending: Kari Lehtonen, Mathieu Garon and Henrik Lundquist have been shouldering the workloads for their respective teams so far. Garon is literally carrying the Jackets on his back with a 0.89 GAA so far this year.

- Secondary scoring: Dallas has 18 goals scored by forwards NOT on their top line ... Columbus has 14 and New York has 15.

Well that's about it for now... it's early on in the season, so by no means are these rankings set in stone. I would have loved to rank Vancouver higher, but I just couldn't justify it based on some of their earlier performances. Of course, if the Canucks keep up their recent play they will move up into at least the top 5.

Thanks again for reading, feel free to leave a comment!

- Matt

CanucksAtHome

Given that my picture is on the front page of the Canucks website, I feel obliged to make a new blog post!

Where to start, where to start... I guess all I've been thinking about for the past 16 hours is how the Canucks managed to blow a 3-0 lead against the Oilers, of all teams. Let's face the facts. Edmonton is not as good of a team as Vancouver. There is no way you should give up that kind of lead against a team like that. You can say all you want about "blah blah, there's so much parity in the league, blah", but the truth is that the Canucks didn't battle hard enough in that 3rd period. During the 2nd intermission, all the talk in the locker room should have been centered around "wow, they were really coming on that period, we should clamp down before this gets out of hand", but instead the Canucks came out flat, not coming even close to matching the Oilers' intensity level. Seriously guys, when the 4th line scores on you, something is wrong. And no, Roberto, grazing your glove over the puck for a fraction of a second does not count as "freezing" the puck (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this one).

Random interruption, Dion Phaneuf is out for 4-6 weeks with a lacerated left leg. Kevin Bieksa feels your pain, Dion.

Moving on, as for the third Oiler goal, I felt our defense was attrocious. There were three Canucks (Bieksa, Edler and Hansen) clustered on the puck carrier entering the zone, and Brule was literally allowed to glide into the zone and comfortably get into a shooting position without anyone ever laying eyes on him - this should never happen on a 3 on 3.

You guys have to admit, Torres GWG was a fluke. They all count, and I do not want to take anything away from Raffi's performance - he was by FAR the hardest working Canuck on the night, only further reinforced by the effort he put into his first goal (seriously, I think that goal was the best one the Canucks have scored so far this year - you can see it HERE) - but I think we were lucky to get two points tonight. If Jordan Eberle didn't have this disease where he isn't allowed to pass the puck, the Canucks could have easily still been looking for their first road win of the season.

I'm out, and thanks for reading. Follow my blog if you like what you see!

- Matt

P.S. I can't believe I've forgotten to pick my Canucks Fantasy Hockey teams for the past two games. I'm such an idiot.

CanucksAtHome

**EDIT** I have posted some new entries in my blog -- see them all HERE.

Hi everyone!

First things first, my name is Matt. I have lived in the prairies all my life, but I have been a Canucks fan ever since I was little. I grew up idolizing Trevor Linden, Kirk McLean and Pavel Bure. I wasn't around to watch Kurtenbach and the gang in the 70s, so I guess I'm a little new-school. I think I'll start off my blog with a few of my favorite Canucks moments. Some of these are legendary, and some may have been forgotten over time. Either way, here we go!

1. Trevor Linden leaving it all on the ice in game 7 of the '94 cup finals. This, along with "The Save" inspired me to become a Canucks fan, a dedicated path from which I have not strayed, nor plan to stray from in the future.

2. Matt Cooke's goal with 5.7 seconds left against Calgary in Game 7 of the 2004 playoffs. I don't think I have ever screamed louder in my life. For any fan ever thinking of turning off their TV early, this is sufficient evidence to the contrary. The loss in this game didn't matter - this is definitely one of the most exciting games I've ever watched.

3. In the same series against the Flames, Brendan Morrison dropping to his knees in the corner after scoring the goal in triple OT to send it to game 7. The Canucks blew a 4-0 lead in this game. According to one of my friends who was at this game, most of the stadium was 'asleep' during the third overtime...silly Flames fans.

quick sidenote -- I would have loved to see B-Mo play with the Canucks again, I think he would have done well on the second PP, but I respect Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis immensely, and I trust that they made the right decision.

Anyway, back to business!

4. Henrik's 4OT game winner in game 1 against the Stars. This goal came moments after Daniel hit the post. A devout fan, I stayed up and watched the entire game, even though I had a final exam the next day. Man, even 3 seasons ago the Sedins were magic. Speaking of the Sedins, I was watching the game against Colorado on an Avs feed (I know, I know, it was the only feed I could get) and even the EXTREMELY BIASED Avs commentators were in awe of the Tambellini goal, and Daniel's near goal in the third ... that tells you something right there.

Keeping with the colour commentator trend, I would like to show my extreme gratitude for Tom Larscheid (as well as John Shorthouse) for being such amazing broadcasters. Without TV for the past few years, I listened exclusively to Tom and Shorty on TEAM 1040. Even when I could stream games on CBC, I always found their radio commentary to be better. Tom and John are both honest, exciting, and unbiased - their passion for hockey, and the Canucks organization, is quite evident in their work.

That's all for now... if you read the whole entry, thank you very much! I enjoyed writing this, and I will try to update my blog regularly. Thanks again, and let me know what you think!

- Matt (a.k.a. CanucksAtHome)

P.S. As for the name of my blog, "Keep your head up!" refers not only to my life philosophy of being open-minded, but also to what Jonathan Toews should have done before he met Willie Mitchell's shoulder.

P.P.S. Has anyone else noticed that Willie wears #33 now? That's just wack.