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Drawing the line for Vancouver's Canucks.

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Hax

As a Canucks fan, I find today’s matchup against the Calgary Flames a terrifying prospect.

Both teams come into this northwest division undercard tilt as so-far disappointments – moreso Vancouver considering their (topical) two-term President’s trophies – that really need a win to salvage their reputations as television entertainment. Given a cage match between the two opponents, I see Vancouver as a bruised tactician on their stepping-stone, gimme fight against a schizophrenic swing-for-the-fences fence builder...

Read full entry @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

2013 Season Preview

Hey guys, this is my first post of the season previewing my take on what'll happen before camp. You can read the full version with links and pictures on my blog @ Hash Mark Hax. Otherwise, here's simply the text.

Had I been told last January I’d be preparing a season preview in the next, I wouldn’t have believed it. Or maybe I would’ve, who knows, the lockout’s ruined time and space for a lot of people. Thankfully, with the new CBA impending ratification (a word I assume means Gary Bettman has to read it), those of us who have been utterly lost in the void that hockey left in our lives can begin the eventual, dreamlike descent and sudden, terminal freefall back to earth.

Last year in my 2011-12 recap and preview we touched on the future of Roberto Luongo, and in fear of immolating ourselves in that resurrected media wildfire, we’ll barely touch on it again. Bobby Lu will be traded (to Toronto or Florida according to everything including the tealeaves at the bottom of the cup) for any human other than himself, or will likely backup resident whippersnapper Cory Schneider and become inexplicably melancholy towards things like the movie Brave, or orange pekoe tealeaves.

That said, the new CBA does offer a buyout clause, but the Canucks won’t explore that option with Luongo as he still holds trade value over someone like Scott Gomez, for whom the new clause is likely named behind closed, revolving and open doors.

Instead, fans and head coaches with last name Vigneault have been setting up that tee ball with Keith Ballard’s head on it since he came to Vancouver in the trade for the apparently super-important Steve “Steve Bernier” Bernier & Michael “Mason Raymond” Grabner. However, the unfortunate Ballard really is the obvious candidate GM Mike Gillis should pull the trigger on considering: Vigneault hardly plays him; Jason Garrison was signed; he costs a whopping $4.2 million per year; Alex Edler needs to be re-upped to (gulp) Shea Weber-money; and finally, because Vancouver has defensive prospects who are ready to make the jump to sixth- and seventh-positions.

Chris Tanev looked shaky in the ’11-’12 playoffs, but like any good young hockey player, he was simply trying to emulate his betters. The whole roster played terribly, and Tanev, who had been once quoted by Kevin Bieksa as being able to “play with a cigarette he’s so cool on the ice” will drop the shades and deal with it, earning the third-pairing with Andrew Alberts.

Frank Corrado was jarringly cut from Team Canada’s roster this past World Juniors, suggesting he’ll be able to challenge for a position on the big team this season. He’ll be up against prospect bust Cam Barker who is a longshot, and metaphorically relative hookshot Kevin Connauton who, despite making progress, still needs to shore up his defensive game. Corrado should be looking at making the seventh-man position unless Gillis signs Barker only to immediately trade him to Florida for something immensely better.

Speaking of, expect Mason Raymond to finally be traded this year. After a lengthy arbitration which saw him receive a pay cut and the abundance of better left wingers, Raymond would be best suited to take his talents elsewhere and try to redeem his offensive ability in order to get picked up with a raise in his first UFA contract year. Watch for Vigneault to shelter him à la Cody Hodgson in order to improve his trade value to start the season. There’s just nothing funny to say about him anymore.

Finally, the predictions for the top-nine last year were: D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Burrows; Booth – Kesler – Kassian; and Higgins – Schroeder – Hansen. Seeing as Kesler is injured to start this season, let’s go with Kassian and the Sedins on the first, Higgins to center natural finishers Booth and Burrows on the second, and Schroeder to alternate centering the third line beside Lapierre with Hansen on their right.

Here’s to a successful 2013 Canucks fans!

Hax

End Of A Year-A

Forty-one years since the Vancouver Canucks’ conception, the franchise finds itself being asked the same question: what has to change for next year?

Rabblerousers will look at this team’s early playoff exit as an end of an era beginning from the top to the very bottom, or metaphorically, from Mike Gillis to Roberto Luongo, of whom have both seen their Vancouver careers run from heralded saviour to social pariah. These people have the “what have you done for me lately” mentality, and while I usually disagree with the panic-button fanbase, they have a legitimate point in that Zach Kassian, Marc-Andre Gragnani and Bobby Lu did little to assist in this year’s postseason effort.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

Vancouver: 0, Vegas: 2

Thursday night saw the Vancouver Canucks lose their second straight contest to a team whose play has been so poor that they’ve earned “terrible pun moniker” status. How could this happen?

A possible reason why the ‘nucks lost this game has to be because the NHL officials are obviously biased. They made that clear by allowing six Hurr-durr-icane man-advantages, otherwise making non-calls and swallowing their whistles (Vancouver had one 1:43-minute opportunity) throughout the contest.

But let’s be realistic: they did this simply because they were hungry. NHL referees – the best in the world at their profession – make a paltry $115,000 per year as a starting wage. How are they supposed to survive off of that? Canucks fans really can’t blame the zebras for grazing costs where they can.

In fact, if Vancouverites were to point the finger at anyone, it should be the Vegas odd makers.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

Haha, No Offence

As another west coast evening comes to an end, British Columbian hockey fans (AKA the 99% haha – wait, people are still talking about that, right?) retire to bed respited with their Canucks.

The top unit forwards are connecting as they should, with Daniel Sedin and Alexandre Burrows tied for the team lead in goals scored at nine while brother Henrik has quietly amassed eight, himself.

That sounds about right.

The point of discussion that spurred this post is that Vancouver's third line of Mason Raymond, Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen is on pace for over 100 points.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

During level two of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Ryan Kesler emerged as the “beast”, a moniker derived from his superhuman efforts against the Nashville Predators.

Since returning to his roster spot after offseason hip surgery however, Kesler’s been anything but feral, posting only eight points in fifteen games (on pace for just over half of last season’s total) while going minus-3. His shooting percentage has gone down by a staggering 10.5% while the fans mumble slurs in shades of Bure about his passing “скольжение” (that’s Russian for “faux pas”).

Since Kesler came very close to losing a life (halfway through the video) against Chicago, it’s clear that Kesler has modified his title, now becoming the “Altered Beast”. Let’s draw some comparisons.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

Here We Chicago Again

When the bronze statue of Roger Nielson – he of the white towel mock surrender – was revealed last spring at Rogers Arena, it was supposed to ensconce the determination and integrity of the team and organization into an identity which future generations of fans and renditions of teams could rally behind.

On Wednesday, both the team and the fans missed that point entirely.

With a 9-9-1 record nearly a quarter of the way through the 2011-12 campaign, it’s fair to say that last year’s Stanley Cup finalists are seriously underperforming. After the Chicago Dragons – er, that is to say, Blackhawks – burned Vancouver 5-1 at home, it became clear why this team has been consistently inconsistent. In fact, it’s the same reason why the Canucks’ bandwagon, yahoo fanbase does more 180°s than a protractor factory:

They’re raising the white towel.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

Hax

Facin' Mason

Mason Raymond made some noise in Vancouver today by skating with the Canucks for the first time since game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Raymond was projected to return to the roster for late November, but the news that he’s already skating with the team – in contact drills, no less – has the armchair Mike Gillises (Gillis’s? Gillii?) worked into a frenzy.

Or as far as any creature on CDC can tell, just another day.

While Raymond’s progress has come as surprising, don’t expect the capricious Canuck to suit up in his regular top-six role any time soon. Last year’s 39-point season (15G, 24A in 70GP) was wildly underwhelming after a 25-goal, 53-point effort the year prior. Couple that with his veritable invisibility in the postseason (2G, 6A in 24GP) and Mason wasn’t looking like a lock to make the second line come training camp.

Not much has changed a month in either, and it’s because of Cody Hodgson, Chris Higgins and David Booth.

Read more @ Hash Mark Hax!

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