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Just win the damn cup already...!

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stetty2

PROJECTED LINES IF SEASON STARTED TODAY:

Sven Baertschi - Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Loui Eriksson 

Sam Gagner - Markus Granlund - Thomas Vanek

Derek Dorsett - Brandon Sutter - Jake Virtanen

 

(Extra forwards: Reid Boucher, Nicolay Goldobin, Anton Rodin, Michael Chaput, Jason Megna, Alex Burmistrov, Scotty Upshall)

 

Alex Edler - Chris Tanev

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stecher

Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson

 

(Extra Defensemen: Olli Juolevi, Alex Biega, Patrick Wiercioch)

 

Jakob Markstrom

Anders Nilsson

 

(AHL Goalie: Thatcher Demko + Richard Bachman)

 

***Brendan Gaunce out until November at the earliest according to Jim Benning***

 

THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD

 

With 1 more year left on their contracts and careers (possibly), the Sedin era should be coming to a close in 2018. 

 

There is much confusion these days however for Canuck fans over where this team is headed. We had been spoiled in the Alain Vigneault and Marc Crawford era’s of this franchise.  We have to go back before the West Coast Express to remember a time of consistent losing, which came shortly after a failed Mark Messier acquisition that turned out to be the worst signing in Canuck history. Honourable Mention: Loui Eriksson.

 

Markus Naslund, Todd Bertuzzi, and Brendan Morrison owned the team in 2002 through 2006. It was the start of some very fun and high paced Canucks hockey teams. 

 

The Canucks also had a sell-out streak of 487, falling just 13 games shy of the NHL record of 500 straight sellouts by the Colorado Avalanche, who attained their mark in the Patrick Roy, Burnaby Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote days. It was a time when the Colorado vs. Vancouver matchup was fun to watch. 

 

After the West Coast Express, the Canucks transferred over to the Sedin’s, who eventually became annual contenders to be in the top 5-10 in league scoring. Plus, we finally stopped our goalie graveyard of Arturs Irbe, Felix Potvin, Sean Burke and a host of others with the acquisition of Roberto Luongo.

 

Fast forward to 2011 and being a Canucks fan was pretty fun. We watched the likes of Kesler, Bieksa, Burrows and Hamhuis grow into leaders of the team.

 

Then 2013 hit, and the wheels on the bus stopped spinning round and round. 

 

In an era of salary cap management and solid drafting, the bus that had carried so many Canuck fans started coming apart. 

 

And so began the Canucks new direction of Trevor Linden and Jim Benning. The men who promise to restock the cupboards with high quality draft picks while keeping a competitive hockey team on the ice. 

 

We can't dismiss the cupboards are getting better, but the competition hasn't been fierce with a 28th and 29th place finish in each of the last 2 seasons.

 

The top teams are changing in the NHL, and most would agree it was a good run by an organization that had previously had it’s share of tough times since it’s inception into the league. 

 

Now we are stuck having to watch Toronto and Edmonton steal the majority of TV time. The sad part is, those teams are overdue for some winning. It’s their turn. 

 

For the next few years, we will get our championship from the draft lottery. We load up with kids we believe will be capable of hoisting the Stanley Cup, and in 3-5 years we should have a decent team. It’s a long process. But we are OVER DUE for that next wave of elite Canuck players. 

 

Bo Horvat will be the Captain next year. The Sedin’s will want to pass the torch eventually and let the kids take the top job. Why not allow the kids to play and learn to be the new face of the franchise. Did the free agent signings affect their growth?

 

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stetty2

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Connor McDavid just arrived at the 82 game mark in his NHL career and it got me wondering how he compares to other great starts in an NHL career.

 

Although Connor is no longer considered a rookie, he has played a season's worth of games.

 

I scrubbed the NHL.com database to find the top 10 NHL rookie seasons of all time.

 

SPOILER ALERT: I've included Bo Horvat and the Sedin's rookie campaigns at the bottom. Meaning they aren't in the top 10. But you already knew that.

 

Coming in at #10, believe it or not Senators fans, Alexei Yashin starts a trend of Russian players with amazing first seasons. 

 

Yashin finished his rookie campaign with 30 goals and 79 points in '93 -'94. Sadly he finished with a -49 rating. That's a minus for every assist he had. In the very same year however, another player would crack the top 10 in rookie scoring.

 

At #9, a fellow Russian in Sergei Fedorov finished with the same 79 points Yashin did in his rookie year. But he comes in at #9 because he finished with a +11 rating. He did not win the Calder trophy as both Russians were beat out by goalies. Ed Belfour had a stellar year with the Chicago Blackhawks and took home the award for top rookie in 1990.

 

The '93 -'94 season was not only great for Canucks fans, but it boasted some big rookie performances.

 

At #8, Mikael Renberg of the Philadelphia Flyers scored 38 goals on 88 points, beating out Yashin that year in points. Renberg was still the 2nd best rookie the year the Canucks went to their 2nd franchise appearance in the Stanley Cup final. A kid by the name of Martin Brodeur took home the Calder Trophy that year.

 

At #7, Evgeni Malkin continued the streak of players coming from overseas and dominating the NHL in their first year. He scored 33 goals and finished with 85 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006-2007. Also winning the Calder trophy as top rookie.

 

#6, Sergei Makorov. Probably the least notable name on the list, he finished with 62 assists and 86 points with the Calgary Flames in '89 -'90. No other player on the list had less than 32 goals, and Makorov finished with 24. He was also the Calder winner that year.

 

With the 5th spot, and half way through our list, comes Joe Nieuwendyk. Another Calgary Flames player on the list who had a solid rookie campaign. It was a few years earlier in '87 -'88 when Nieuwendyk scored 51 goals and 92 points. 

 

at #4, Joey Juneau surprised many when he started with the Boston Bruins in the '92 -'93 season. He had 32 goals and 70 assists for 102 points. Meaning only 4 players have ever cracked the 100 point mark in their rookie seasons. But he did not win the Calder. That player is in one of our top spots. 

 

#3 is no surprise unless you hate him. Sidney Crosby had 102 points in his first campaign. He had more goals than Joey Juneau by finishing with 39, which is why we rank him ahead, even though they are tied in rookie point totals. But he was beaten out by a Russian that year in both the rookie scoring and the Calder trophy.

 

With the 2nd best season in NHL history in a rookie year, Alex Ovechkin strikes big with 52 goals and 106 points in 2005-2006. This was the last time we've seen a top 10 rookie season. 

 

And finally at the top spot. No, it's not Gretzky, he was never considered a rookie. The top NHL Rookie season belongs to the '92 -'93 Calder cup winner Teemu Selanne. Selanne had a year like no other, amassing 132 points. What was even more amazing was more than half of those points were goals, with 76. Can you imagine Brock Boeser getting 76 goals in his first season with the Canucks? 

 

Our honourable mention goes to the aforementioned Wayne Gretzky, whose records seem unbreakable. Unless of course Jagr had played his entire career in the NHL.

 

"The Great One" had 137 points in his first NHL season, scoring 51 goals and 86 assists. Not much more than Teemu.

 

So where does McDavid fit in? in his first 82 career NHL games, he has 90 points. 90 points would put him into 6th spot all time.

 

The top Canuck is Pavel Bure in '91 -'92. Bure finished with 34 goals and 60 points his rookie season.

 

Bo Horvat's rookie season was decent. He amassed 13 goals and 12 assists in 68 games. 

 

Henrik Sedin played all 82 games in his first NHL season, scoring 9 goals and 20 assists. His brother Daniel finished with 20 goals in his rookie campaign, adding 14 assists.

 

 

stetty2

NHL's Newest Stat

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There is a new statistical number on NHL.com that they have just added, called SAT. It's supposed to rank players by how they benefit their team on the ice. It includes a players goals and shot attempts.

Here is the equation they use to define this number:

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SAT (shot attempts 5-on-5) has the following equation: (Goals + Shots + Missed Shots + Team Blocked Shots) - (Goals Against + Shots Against + Missed Shots Against + Opponent Shots Blocked) when player is on the ice.

Which is actually a bit more filling of a stat than the famous plus/minus rating system. A player is awarded a "plus" each time he is on the ice when his Club scores an even-strength or shorthanded goal. He receives a "minus" if he is on the ice for an even-strength or shorthanded goal scored by the opposing Club. The difference in these numbers is considered the player's "plus-minus" statistic.

So using this new stat called SAT, we should be able to determine if a player is beneficial to his teammates while on the ice.

Think of the Sedin twins. They play most of their game in the opponents end. As we have seen for most of their careers, they are more opportunistic goal scorers. Meaning they don't shoot as often as they probably should. On the flip side, they sure don't get many shots against either while they are on the ice. So they should be on the positive side of this stat. And they are.

If you are interested in where the Sedin's stack up against the rest of the league, you might be surprised. Henrik Sedin is the top Canuck in the league with a total SAT score of 115. Not bad right? Compare that to the best in the league and you will find Henrik in 114th place in the NHL. The next best Canuck is his brother Daniel who sits with a score of 93. Good for 145th place. Still not terrible in a league that has had over 800 players play at some point this year.

The current leader in the entire league surprised me. I know I shouldn't be shocked, but I have never given this player enough respect. Probably the fact that I am with the Canucks has swayed my emotion, and rightfully so. It's Drew Doughty who tops the list by a pretty wide margin with a score of 331. Only 3 players have an SAT score over 300. The other two players are Duncan Keith of Chicago and Jake Muzzin, who also plays for the same team as Doughty, L.A.

Rounding out the top 10 players:

Patrice Burgeron, Boston

Tomas Tatar, Detroit

Mike Ribiero, Nashville

Nick Leddy, NYI

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit

Anze Kopitar, LA

John Tavares, NYI

Lots of big names on that list. Tells more of a story than some of the other stats out there. I'm still trying to wrap my head around Corsi.

7 of the worst 30 players in the league in SAT points are from Colorado. You can start to understand why the Avalanche have had such a poor year.

Do you think this stat may stick around for awhile or is it just another attempt to sell the fans on numbers that don't mean much at all? Which stat means the most to you? Would love to hear your thoughts below.

Take a look at all the new stats on NHL.com by going here:

http://www.nhl.com/stats/advancedstats?fetchKey=20152ALLSAASAll&viewName=advancedStatsSkaterShooting&sort=playerFullName&ord=asc&gp=1&pg=29

stetty2

Quietly Optimistic

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Me with Trevor Linden, wearing a #17 Vrbata jersey. See below picture for the proof.

With last years triumphant end to a disappointing season somewhat in the rear view mirror, the memory of not making the playoffs lingers like the smell of grandmas perfume hours after she left.

This summer was by far the busiest the Canucks organization has been in quite some time which showcased an assortment of moves. Ones which have finally brought us to this years training camp. An unsettling feeling resounds in the hearts of Canuck nation, for those who felt the promise of excitement exactly a year ago when John Tortorella came in promising change, after two quick playoff exits under then head coach Alain Vignault. All that promise delivered absolutely nothing. We won't be taken as fools again. At least not this season.

What was once a promise and glimmer of salvation amongst this aging core with Torts, now gives us an undecided feeling of little expectation for this team entering in a season with its new leadership group. Canucks President Trevor Linden, GM Jim Benning and newly minted head coach Willie Desjardins do not have the pressure to deliver this year as the old regime did. No, this year, if the Canucks put out an exciting product but fail to make the playoffs, there will still be disappointment, but no one would be shocked by the outcome.

Which leads us to a much different feeling, this year over last, and the reason why it's ok to be quietly optimistic. The assembled group has the makings of delivering an exciting brand of hockey with the additions of Radim Vrbata, Linden Vey, Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and Ryan Miller.

Also on the plus side, there are two missing "headline headaches" that have plagued this team the last few years.

First is the Roberto Luongo saga. As much as Lou was an integral part of this team, the drama that followed him to no fault of his own, was a burden on the team and it's fans.

Second, is the negativity that surrounded Ryan Kesler who was reportedly ready to hold out on the Canucks by not showing up for training camp if he didn't get traded to the only team he allowed a trade to, in Anaheim.

There is no questioning Kelser's desire to win with the Canucks. A Stanley Cup seems to be the only thing that will calm down the spirit that burns within him. Unfortunately, Kesler became frustrated with the direction of the team and wanted out. Who can blame him. He was paramount in the original rebuild and has no aspirations to start it all over again.

All this leaves us with a Canucks equation that doesn't appear too bad on paper.

A core group that went to the cup final subtracted by Kesler and Luongo. Minus another two big names gone from last year in Jason Garrison and an injured Mike Santorelli. Add in Miller, Vrbata, Bonino, Vey and Sbisa, and you get something that equals a decent looking squad. One that could surprise, or completely bust.

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Vrbata

Higgins - Bonino - Kassian

Vey - Matthias - Burrows

Dorsett - Richardson - Hansen

Tanev - Bieksa

Hamhuis - Sbisa

Edler - Stanton

Miller

Lack

Mix in a new coach who apparently respects his players, which is the opposite of what we've heard of Torts. Toss in a sprinkle of a qualified GM who can foresee players futures that the past GM could not. Finally, blend it all together with a franchise President, and you have yourself a future that doesn't look so bad. At least there is something to cling to.

No longer can we boast about how good our team is to all the Canuck haters. No longer can we offer our condolences to the other Canadian teams whose struggles were somewhat comical to us on the West Coast. Now we sit patiently, like a cat ready to pounce. Telling everyone that our team won't make it this year, even though deep down we know this group might just make a splash.

Quietly optimistic.

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stetty2

It Pays To Lose

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Stop trying to win so badly.

That's the motto the Canucks should be carrying with only 4 games remaining. We all know with 100% certainty that the players will be golfing come playoff time.

Of course, there are no NHL players in this league that are going to stop trying to win games, but there are other alternatives. Like playing Nicklas Jensen, Frankie Corrado, Zack Kassian and the younger core more. As in, first line minutes more.

More importantly, how about getting a good look at your back-up goaltender in Joacim Eriksson, instead of riding current starter Eddie Lack into the 9th spot in the Western Conference.

Here's why it matters.

Currently the Canucks are sitting in 22nd spot, good for 9th pick in this years NHL entry draft. They sit just 2 points up on teams like Ottawa, Winnipeg and Carolina who have either 79 or 80 points. That means if the teams close to them win and the Canucks lose their next game, they could fall as far as 25th, good enough for the 6th overall pick in the draft.

If, Heaven forbid, the Canucks go on a winning streak to end the season however, they could find themselves as high as 18th spot in the league, carrying the 13th overall pick.

So why is 6th that big of a difference over the 9th spot or even 13th? Let's look at the current draft choices and favourites going into this years pool, from the 6th spot to the 13th.

All choices below are predictions heading into this years draft and are not guaranteed to be selected in the current position. The predictions can be found on http://www.tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=49649

6th overall pick - Brendan Pirlini (Niagara, OHL)

This 6'2, 205 pound left winger played only 54 games this year but still managed to put up some decent numbers. He had 32 goals and 37 assists, better than a point a game average. Pirlini played on a bad team, that finished with a record of 24-35-3-6. He still managed to stay out of the red, finishing at an even on +/-.

"Perlini is a lethal combination of speed, puck skills, and hockey sense which allow him to make dynamic plays in all three zones. He plays a high puck possession game and thrives when the puck in on his stick." - EliteProspects.com

7th overall pick - Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax, QMJHL)

He's not the tallest player, but he is the most skilled of this group between 6th and 13th. He had 47 goals and 51 assists for 98 points in just 60 games played. He also ended the season as a +61.

Compare that to Sam Reinhart who is projected to go 1st overall in the draft, Reinhart had 97 points, with 34 of those as goals.

The Canucks need goals, but they don't need another Jordan Schroeder. Ehlers is 5'11, 160 pounds.

"Ehlers is an explosive player who can beat even the quickest defensemen wide with his speed. He plays on his off wing and creates chances with sharp cuts to the middle complemented by an explosive wrister. He's equally good with the puck and can handle it both at top speed and in traffic." - EliteProspects.com

8th overall pick - Jared McCann (S. Ste. Marie, OHL)

At 6'0 and 179 pounds, McCann is one of only 4 Centremen to be in the top 20 of the draft. He had 27 goals and 33 assists in 63 games playing for a solid team that went 44-17-2-5 in the regular season.

McCann is the last big name before the giant drop off in talent going into the 9th pick.

9th overall pick - Adrian Kempe (Modo, Swe.)

Another left winger, except this time, without the points. At 6'1, 187 pounds, Kempe ended the season with 5 goals and 6 assists in 45 games in the Swedish Elite League. Plus he's Swedish. Not sure the Canucks need any more of that flavour on the team.

10th overall pick - Haydn Fleury (Red Deer, WHL)

Just the second top rated defenceman in the draft behind Aaron Ekblad, Fleury is filling out nicely at 6'2, 207. He finished the year with 36 assists and 7 goals on the blue line. And no, his dad is not Theo.

"He's got good strong mobility, great vision and has a knack for making that first good outlet pass," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "He's composed and calm with the puck, and has an ability of knowing when to join the rush at the right moments."

11th overall pick - David Pastrnak (Sodertalje, Swe)

Right wing, 8 goals, 16 assists. Canucks need goals. I'm not a scout, but there must be something amazing with these kids if they aren't getting any points.

“Pastrnak made the move from the Czech Republic to Sweden in hopes of furthering his career and was successful at the higher level of play. While his defensive game is still a work in progress — and he will need to add mass and strength to compete in North American pro hockey — he has the potential to be an effective scoring forward." - Hockeysfuture.com

12th overall pick - Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia, OHL)

It doesn't matter too much about how many points this kid puts up. He's faced some issues that might see him fall further down the draft for this up and coming defenceman. the Ontario Hockey League announced they had suspended the native of Sewell, N.J., eight games for violating the league’s harrassment, abuse and diversity policy. It's the second time this season the 18-year-old has been suspended for contravening the rule which attempts to keep homophobic, racist, sexist, and the other derogatory language used by small minds – out of the game.

In DeAngelo’s case, what he said was directed at a teammate. The team is tightlipped about what was said and to whom, but it was bad enough for Head Coach Trevor Letowski to take action without waiting for the league to intervene. And yes, that would be the same Letowski that had 42 points with Vancouver between 2001-2003.

“Internally as an organization we made the decision,” said Letowski, a former NHLer and graduate of the Sting. “It was obviously a serious matter. Any time it involves one of our players there has to be a certain respect level. We respect all of our players and it was pretty serious." - sports.yahoo.com

Oh yah, DeAngelo had 55 points on the back end but was a -30. We don't need another Alex Edler.

13th overall pick - William Nylander (Modo, Swe.)

See any trends in this draft? Nylander is in fact Swedish if you didn't guess from the fact he plays for Modo. He's also a left winger. There are 6 left wingers in the top 13 prospects. He played 22 games for Modo, had 1 goal and 6 assists and finished a -3. How is he even in the top 100 you ask?

According to EliteProspects.com, "He is a highly skilled player offensively. Nylander skates very well, has impressive hands and is excellent at handling the puck at high speeds. Hockey sense is very impressive and he likes to shoot the puck a lot, but is also capable of delivering perfect passes. A very agile player that protects the puck well and skates hard in the offensive zone.

On the other hand, his defensive game needs some work. Not a selfish player, but at times he tends to hang onto the puck for too long, instead of making the easier play. Has the tools and skills to lead his team in all offensive aspects."

So it appears draft position this year is critical for the Canucks, based off of the talent that is and most importantly, is not available. There is a steep drop off in point production between the 6th and 13th picks, which is exactly where the Canucks will find themselves before the end of the season.

Let's be clear about one thing though. In no way will the Canucks organization tell there players to go out and lose. Nor should they. You lose credibility with your players when you ask them to tank. What can be changed is who is playing in the last 4 games of the season.

Get the kids out there, get the back-up out there, and start losing. Because for Canucks fans, the NHL entry draft has never meant more than it does right now.

stetty2

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The storylines in this game is a writers dream. A struggling team desperate for points, playing an equally bad team, in a stadium of 54 thousands fans who were upset with Roberto Luongo sitting on the bench.

Where to start.

Let's begin with the most pressing and somewhat dire situation. The fiasco that is now Roberto Luongo and the relationship with the Vancouver Canucks. It is a well documented affair that has the makings of a marriage just staying together for the sake of the kids. Or in this case, a contract that no one else in the league wants to take.

But after Cory Schneider was traded at the draft last year, the reigns were handed back to the former captain and 2010 gold medal winner.

So why was Luongo benched in one of the biggest games in the history of the franchise?

"He wasn't benched. I decided to play Eddie Lack over him." said a somewhat red faced John Tortorella after the Heritage Classic.

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't choosing Lack over Luongo constitute a benching for 'Lou'? He did sit on the bench the entire game. #confused... #sitting on bench, but not benched...

Torts didn't end there.

Asked if he made the right call by going with Eddie Lack, Tortorella replied, "I would make the same call yes. I think eddie looked, uh..."

Torts hesitated before continuing,

"You know some of the things going on around him before the game, during the game, I thought he looked not himself. Honestly, but he made some big saves. Second period I think he would like to have that third one back. but he made 3 or 4 really good saves prior to that. But if you are asking me..."

another brief pause...

"You guys make the call if it's right, and you will, but I would make the same call if it came up again like this."

That is as close to regret that you will see Torts make without actually admitting fault. Does anyone care about the excuses? If Lack couldn't handle the so called "things going on around him before and during the game," then why was he in there to begin with? Don't you think Torts, that Luongo would have made 3 or 4 really good saves too?

John Tortorella continued,

"Before this game, the way Eddie was playing, I thought it was our best chance to get these two points. but I also understand all the stuff going on around it. and I believe Louie can handle it. I think he is a tremendous pro. He was unhappy. Him and I have had one-on-one conversations quite a bit, (and) will continue (to do so). I believe he is a huge part of this team. But I made the decision for this game that Eddie Lack would play."

He's a huge part of this team? Right. I guess that's why he is riding the pine.

Darren Dreger of TSN even piped in.

"I believe Roberto Luongo feels this is somewhat of a slap in the face," said TSN Hockey Insider Dreger. "Almost a year ago, he fought hard to get out of the Canucks organization and hoped for the same in the summer and that didn't materialize. You have to think this is going to amplify the hard feelings that may continue to exist between Luongo and the coaching staff and by extension, the management of the Canucks."

"You also have to look at it from the perspective of head coach John Tortorella," added Dreger. "He doesn't care about the spectacle of the Heritage Classic, he cares about the two points on the line. Eddie Lack has been lights out good for the Canucks in the past couple of games. This is not a popular decision and I predict that this going to add to why this relationship between the player and the organization won't end well."

Bob McKenzie of TSN also felt the need to share his feelings on the matter.

"VAN obviously went into this eyes wide open and believes upside of Lack starting over Luongo outweighs downside of accompanying controversy," said TSN Hockey Insider McKenzie on Twitter (@TSNBobMcKenzie). "I don't believe for a moment this decision to start Lack is related to any imminent Luongo trade possibility."

Let's be clear here for a moment. The decision for Luongo not to start falls completely on the Canucks bench boss, John Tortorella.

But the decision to start with back-up Eddie Lack screams Cory Schneider all over again. Granted 'Torts' wasn't part of this team when Cory was here, and doesn't have a full understanding of what this franchise has done to Roberto Luongo. We get that. But if you trust your back-up to get you to the promise land over your starter, in one of the biggest games of the year in terms of points and almost importantly, fan appreciation, you are writing a familiar script that has not worked in this city, as well as puncturing any hope of Luongo wanting to stay in Vancouver for the remainder of his career.

We could potentially lose Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo in a span of 2 years, an unfathomable demolition of a team that was a goalie graveyard between the Kirk McLean and Luongo era.

Some of the blame can most assuredly be put on General Manager Mike Gillis, who should have stepped in. Not that the decision is his to make, but Gillis, more than anyone, knows the dynamics of the Luongo situation. I would like to believe a strong conversation was had between the coach and GM on this decision.

Don't get me wrong. I love Eddie Lack. I'm always "backin' Lack" as Bro Jake says on The Team 1040. And had he won, it would be difficult for anyone to fault this goaltending decision. As it is, they lost, so let the hyenas eat.

All of this is really trivial in the sense that the Canucks are not going to make the playoffs anyways. Even if they did sneak in on that 7th or 8th spot, there is no confidence that they can beat Chicago or Anaheim with this fan base, and probably with the players in that dressing room.

What should have been an amazing experience, turned out to be a spectacle that only the Canucks brass can bring us. Even my 8 year old son was chanting, "We want Lou," thanks to some beer chuggers in front of us.

It might be fair to say Canucks fans are the best in the world, especially when they have to deal with the mind numbing decisions that have only brought this team to its knees since the loss to Boston in game 7 in 2011. It's now up to the owner to step in.

Francesco Aquilini, if you are a fan of your own team, perhaps now is the time to make a change at the top, because I guarantee the "sell-out" streak of over 460 regular season games is in major jeopardy, and that's money out of your pocket.

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stetty2

Grading Gillis

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I wanted to give the readers a list of the trades and signings that Mike Gillis has done while with the Vancouver Canucks. We can look at the major moves and give him an overall grade on the job so far. But before we do that, it might be interesting to note just who Mike Gillis is, and why he was chosen as the 10th Canuck's GM in franchise History. He’s currently tied Brian Burke for the longest tenure as a GM with this team.

Mike Gillis was actually drafted in the NHL. He went 5th overall in the 1978 draft, selected by the Colorado Rockies.

In 246 career NHL games, he had 33 goals and 43 assists as a left winger. He played for the Rockies and 125 games for the big bad Boston Bruins.

Upon retiring from playing hockey, Mike Gillis coached the Queen's University Golden Gaels hockey team in 1985–86. He earned a law degree from Queen's University in 1990, and became a player agent. His clientele over the years included Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund, Bobby Holik and Mike Richter.

On April 23rd, 2008, Gillis became the acting GM of the Vancouver Canucks, where he wasted no time in making his mark on the team.

Although there is no proof either way, it is believed the newly minted GM was the main reason why the Canucks did not resign then captain Markus Naslund to a new contract. They let him go to the Rangers to finish out his NHL career freeing up cap space to go after the ever alluring Maple Leafs captain, Mats Sundin.

Gillis offered Sundin 10 million for 1 season, which Mats finally accepted at the mid point of the year. Sundin had 9 goals in 41 games. They did manage to make it to the second round of the playoffs that year, but lost in 6 to Chicago. Seeing as this is the first major move, we can grade this one first.

Grade: D

Gillis then signed Alex Burrows to a 4 year, 8 million dollar deal. Burrows played most of his games with the twins, compiling 3 x 50 point seasons in that stretch. For that we can give Gillis a solid grade.

Grade: A

With the Canucks' Daniel and Henrik Sedin set to become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2009, Gillis actually flew to Sweden to negotiate with the twins, signing them to identical five-year, $30.5 million deals hours before free agency period was set to begin.

Grade: A-

Shortly after signing the Sedin's, Gillis proceeded to lock up another piece of his veteran core by signing Roberto Luongo to a 12 year, 64 million dollar deal. There isn't much about this deal that will benefit the team in the long run. Luongo still has another 8 years left after this season. He is currently 34. Although Luongo is having a career year, this contract sucks for both parties involved.

Grade: C+

In 2009 Mike Gillis signed free agent Mikael Samuelsson, who played 2 full seasons with the team. He amassed 103 points in that time. He only played 6 games the final year, before being traded.

Grade: B+

Gillis' first big trade occurred on August 28, 2009, when he sent young forwards Patrick White and Daniel Rahimi to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defencemen Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich. Ehrhoff was the gem in this deal, tallying 94 points in 2 seasons with the Canucks. He eventually left to Buffalo via free agency where he was able to garner some big dollars.

Grade: A+

In May 2010, Gillis signed undrafted Chris Tanev, who was playing in the AHA before being found by Dave Gagner, the teams director of player development. Tanev is a sturdy stay at home defenceman who is starting to show glimpses of offensive production.

Grade: A

On June 25, 2010, during the NHL Entry Draft, we saw what could go down as one of the worst trades in team history. Kieth Ballard was traded to the Canucks from the Florida Panthers. Ballard was traded along with Victor Oreskovich, for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier, and Vancouver's first round pick. Since Grabner has left the Canucks, he has 70 goals and 44 assists. He also had a hat trick for the Canucks before being traded.

Grade: F-

July of 2010 was a big summer of signings. Gillis put his stamp on the team signing free agents in Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malhotra. Hamhuis has since been named to team Canada for the Sochi Olympics. We are all aware of the eye injury that Malhotra suffered the year the Canucks went to the finals. The saddest part about all this is that Gillis didn't want to put Manny at risk playing him. He sat out the centreman for the rest of the next season after giving him a sample try at the beginning of it. Malhotra currently has 11 points with the Carolina Hurricanes and is a plus 8 so far this season with his new team.

Grade: A

In one of the few trade deadline deals that actually worked out for the Canucks, Gillis acquired Chris Higgins from his favourite trading partner in Florida for Evan Oberg and a 3rd round pick. Oberg has played 7 NHL games in his career with 0 points.

Grade: B+

On October 4th, 2011, the Canucks GM picked up Dale Weise off of waivers from the Rangers. Weise has been a solid 4th line player. He was the Canucks fastest skater in the teams skills competition this year. He has 26 points and 183 PIM in his career.

Grade: C+

For some reason Gillis enjoys dealing with a Florida organization that keeps giving us their castoffs. In October of 2011, Gillis acquired David Booth, Steven Reinprecht and a 3rd round draft pick, in exchange for Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm. Booth has been nothing short of disappointing with his 4.5 million dollar salary while playing like a 1.1 million dollar winger. He has been called "weird" by his coach, and has been in the doghouse more times than on the ice over the last 2 seasons between previous Canucks coach Alain Vignault and current bench boss John Tortorella.

Grade: D-

There is no way to grade this one accurately, and I am sure many of you will have your own thoughts on the matter. Trade deadline of 2012 was a move that shocked the Canucks community. Prized Gillis draftee Cody Hodgson, who was just starting to put up some reasonable numbers, was traded for the ogre like boy in Zack Kassian. Although there were "reasons" for trading away Hodgson that Mike Gillis professed to the media at the end of the regular season, it is yet to be decided who really won this trade. Hodgson has had injuries this season with Buffalo, but still leads the team in points with 27. Kassian has 14 points and sits 9th on a Canucks team that has trouble putting the puck in the net.

Grade: C+ (so far)

In July of 2012, Gillis signed free agent Jason Garrison. Garrison was a power play specialist with the Florida Panthers, using his big shot from the point. His only knock, he doesn't always hit the net.

Grade: B

If you have forgotten about the goalie controversy the Canucks had over the previous two seasons, I would be remiss to remind you about the Cory Schneider trade that somehow veered the storyline off course, like a well timed plot twist in a thriller movie starring Bruce Willis or Steven Segal. Gillis this time traded away the goalie of the future for a 9th pick in the most recent draft, Bo Horvat. Horvat's numbers my be impressive in junior, but they don't tell the full story. He currently has 50 points in his first 31 games with the London Knights. Horvat is also on a stacked team that has 4 players ahead of him in goals in London. We are all hoping this guy can learn to put the puck in the net in the NHL.

Grade: C- (Potential is the only hope at this point)

Lastly, and if I missed any you felt were important during the Gillis era, I apologize. Most recently the Canucks GM resigned the Sedins to another pair of identical contracts. This time totalling 4 years and 28 million each.

Grade: B+

Overall, GM Mike Gillis has made some moves that have paid off for this team. Unfortunately, all the latest moves haven't helped the one area they are currently having the most trouble with. The goal scoring department and the power play.

So Mike Gillis, for the moves you have made so far, you get a final grade of B-. It's what you do now that will define your legacy with this team. Perhaps they need you to do something, now more than ever.

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15 Days, 6 Games

15 days covering 6 games.

That's the length of suspension that Canucks coach John Tortorella received after his well documented and over analyzed visit to the Calgary Flames dressing room on Saturday night. Lost in the controversy however was the 'Where's Waldo' situation involving Vancouver defenceman Kevin Bieksa.

If you watch the video above or on youtube, you can see that John Tortorella wasn't the only one who ventured into unwanted territory. Kevin Bieksa found, shall we say, an alternate route that resulted in a less visible but still very prominent place, beside the Calgary Flames players as they left the ice.

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It's not known if the league is aware that Bieksa was lurking in the shadows.

"Me? No. It wasn't me." said Bieksa at practice today. "I think it was photoshopped. Shane O'Brien photoshopped it."

Bieksa was all smiles when he was asked about it. Bieksa also commented on how Tortorella actions were perceived by the team.

"We like it obviously. You guys know he is an emotional guy, and he's fiery, and he's got our backs...He cares about the players in this room." continued Bieksa.

The rest of the team wasn't phased by their coaches suspension either.

Alex Burrows was asked what he thought Tortorella would be doing during the suspension, "If he's not around, I'm sure he is going to have a very good pulse of what is happening and we'll try to win a few games for him."

"If anyone had any issues with our team toughness, I think we solved that in the last week here," said Dale Weise, who was involved in the on ice melee. "Standing up for each other and being physical...We gotta play with that edge."

Tom Sestito was also chiming in on the toughness of his teammates, "We've been called soft for a couple years...We don't want that anymore."

Aaron Ward was on team 1040 on Monday morning with Bro Jake and Dave Pratt to compare a similar circumstance with his Detroit Red Wings, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Ward said his team was not playing well to that point in the season. The team turned around after an emotional, fight filled game that had him "eating a fist."

Regardless of what happens next, the Canucks players will not be allowed to have any contact over the next 15 days with their head coach, who is still deciding what to do with his time away from the game.

Just don't expect him to get too far away.

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Just Not Good Enough

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Being a Canucks fan these days is not an easy task.

We currently have an 8th place team in the Western Conference that doesn't know how to score goals, can't beat teams above them, and is riddled with injuries. A two goal deficit for this team on any given night seems like an impossible come back opportunity.

What's most troubling is the leadership of this group. The Sedin's, Ryan Kesler, former Canucks captain Roberto Luongo, Kevin Bieksa and Dan Hamhuis are supposed to be the voices of reason in the locker room. The motivators. But talk is cheap off the ice when you are not doing your job as a leader on the ice.

The Sedin's are 28th and 30th in the league in scoring right now. Daniel Sedin has the worst shooting percentage in the top 30 at 8.1%, which means he is putting the puck on the net, but it doesn't go in. This is not acceptable from players who led the league in points at the end of the 2009-10/2010-11 seasons. It is blatantly apparent we will not be seeing those results again from the twins, who just signed matching 4 year deals at 7 million per season that start after this one is complete.

Ryan Kesler is the Canucks 3rd highest scorer, but sits a paltry 85th in league scoring. His 17 goals, which are highest among Canucks, have him in 35th place for goals in the league.

Here's the hard truth.

The Canucks do not have a true 1st line on this team any longer and it's time to start building one.

The Sedin's would be an unbelievable 2nd line tandem, who are puck possession players. They also don't belong in the shootout, but that's another story.

It's time to start building a #1 line around Ryan Kesler. He is, or should be in the prime of his career and we are sticking him with average players in Santorelli, Booth or Kassian. Yes he spent time with the Sedin's, but all they do is cycle on the end boards until they cough up the puck or get a weak shot on net.

The Canucks have to start giving up some name defensemen and get a scorer that can compliment Kesler on the top line.

What are the Canucks assets? Bieksa, Edler, Hamhuis, Garrison, Tanev or even Corrado. What good is a team of defensmen when we don't have the forwards who are able to put the puck in the net?

The Canucks need to trade one or two of the assets on the back end along with a Jannik Hansen or Mike Santorelli. According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN/ESPN, Ryan O'Reilly might be available from the Colorado Avalanche, and the Canucks are at the top of the list in terms of acquiring the young forward.

LeBrun: "So many teams are keeping an eye on what the Avs are going to do with O'Reilly. If he's made available, to me he's a number one player on the trade market. So many teams could use him and one of those teams that covet him – I believe – are the Vancouver Canucks."

O'Reilly has 18 goals this year, and carries a qualifying offer of 6.5 million at the end of the season.

It's unfair for coach John Torterella to continue down this path with this current lineup. The pressure now falls on GM Mike Gillis to make some changes to the core of this group on the fly. The leadership group has been given more than their fare share of opportunities to prove they can repeat the 2011 season, and have failed in the process.

Chances are the Canucks will make the playoffs, but how confident are you that they will do anything when they get there?

Gillis, the proverbial ball is in your court. Define your legacy with this team and make your move. Just leave Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk out of it. Right now, that's the only hope for any future with this team.

stetty2

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Ryan Kesler, the Sedins. Our "game changers." The ones who are supposed to win the game for us on a few nights.

Right now they just aren't good enough. Plain and simple. The Canucks are 0-3 vs. playoff seeded teams in this current part of the schedule, where they face tough competition each night including the next 5 games. Anahiem on a back-to-back from the loss to L.A., Pittsburgh, St. Louis, L.A., Anaheim.

The L.A. Kings are a team that look confident beating the Canucks. They were losers of 5 games in a row before this contest. Something about Vancouver brings out the best in them. They also have Olympics bound game changers on their roster.

The Vancouver Canucks need one more game changer added to their roster. One more piece that can bring their confidence to the next level.

Someone like Dustin Brown.

He crashed into Luongo early in the game where the goalie lay motionless for a few minutes. A good player who hasn't had the best year in L.A.

Brown is currently relegated to the 3rd line under coach Darryl Sutter, who has been disappointed with Brown's play.

According to the L.A. Times, stats don’t always tell the full story, but Brown's hit total means something to Coach Darryl Sutter.

“Yeah, it does, because he’s got to play a certain way to be effective and that’s important,” Sutter said.

Brown, however, said he’s not concerned with the numbers.

“I don’t really look at my hit totals. I would say generally, just based on how the season goes, I probably get more physical as the year goes on,” he said.

That explanation didn’t sit well with Sutter.

“The season’s going on. Twelve games in,” Sutter said.

It's not just speculation either that Brown is unhappy with his role. Again, according to the L.A. Times, Brown also said the team’s game has changed.

“As a team, we’re much more puck possession now,” he said. “So when you have the puck, it’s a lot harder to hit. There’s games I think when I’m more physical, it’s because we’re chasing the puck more. And then there’s also times just reading the play. I’ve always said my game has evolved from when I was younger, running around a lot more, to trying to read the play a little bit more.”

Center Anze Kopitar, Brown’s frequent linemate in the past, said he believes Brown is lacking some confidence now.

“But he’s our captain. He leads us out there,” Kopitar said. “We do have all the confidence in him to make plays. That’s obviously important for him, that he knows we’ve got his back. That’s always how it’s been around here. We’ve got each other’s back. We play for each other.

“You’re going to go through a little bit of struggles. I’ve certainly been there many times. Everybody had my back so there’s a little bit of comfort there. I’m sure he's going to break through. It's just a matter of time and hopefully tonight.”

Brown is tenth in scoring for the Kings. He has 8 goals and 6 assists this year. He would sit eighth in scoring if he was with the Canucks.

Brown would be a nice part of an emotionally lacking team.

As John Shorthouse said at the end of the game versus L.A. on the team 1040, "what a wasted effort, by an excellent goaltending performance." Luongo had 46 saves in the loss.

Something's got to give.

They won't be very successful in the playoffs if they can't beat the playoff bound teams during the regular season.

http://www.latimes.c...y#ixzz2pVB0kzE3

stetty2

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VANCOUVER, CANADA - MAY 24: Captain Henrik Sedin #33 of the Vancouver Canucks poses with the Clarence Campbell Trophy after the Vancouver Canucks defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2 in double-overtime in Game Five to win the Western Conference Finals during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Arena on May 24, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Bieksa got the game-winning goal in the second overtime to win the series four games to two. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Lord Stanley's Cup.

That's the only thing Canucks fans care about.

How many times have you heard Leafs, Oilers and Flames fans saying, "Well at least we have a cup!"

You hear it said even more when their teams are struggling, which is often and lately.

I would take 1 Stanley Cup over 100 consecutive seasons winning the President's Trophy for having the best record in the league. Right now however, its all about making the playoffs.

So how are the Canucks doing at the half way point of their season.

Remember where they were at the end of November? The Canucks record was 13-10-5. At that time they sat in 9th place in the Western Conference. 3 points up on 10th place Nashville and 11th place Winnipeg.

They went 10-1-2 in December, pushing themselves into 7th place in the conference, 1 point behind L.A. and 3 points behind San Jose. Vancouver actually has a game in hand over San Jose.

It isn't all roses though. They have 2 blaring holes in their play right now.

When the Canucks score first, they have a record of 14-3-3. When they don't get the first goal, their record slips to 9-8-4. Scoring first is a must.

Then there is the magic number. When the Canucks score 3 goals in a game, they are 18-0-2. They are 9-0-2 when they score exactly 3 goals. Anything less and it's 5-11-5.

Back to the good.

If you think the Canucks have struggled finishing games, think again. The Canucks are 15-1-2 this year when leading after 2 periods. Seems better than you expected didn't it?

At the end of the season, if they continue this level of play they should finish somewhere in the bottom 4 and start the playoffs on the road.

The Canucks don't have the same expectations on them this year. We keep hearing they are too old or they don't have enough goal scoring. If the Canucks get into the second season, they might have the confidence and potential to knock off a big team like Anaheim or Chicago.

Right now, it's just getting to the dance that matters.

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This year has been a fairly sensational one for back-up goalies around the league. With Roberto Luongo down for the next 7-10 days with an apparent groin injury, Eddie Lack is stepping into his first NHL week as a starter.

Lack is 6-2-1 this year, with a 1.93 GAA and a save % of 9.28. Slightly better than Luongo's 2.24 GAA and .920 save %.

Look at the following back-ups that have played more than expected this season through injury or stellar play.

1. Martin Jones - He's the 6'4" goalie for the L.A. Kings who's taken over for the injured Jonathan Quick, suffering from a lower body injury since November 12th. Jones has gone 8-1 in that stretch carrying a solid 1.31 GAA and a .953 save %. He holds the Kings record with 8 wins in his first 8 starts.

What's even more impressive is that he was taking over from a different hot back-up in Ben Scrivens who was 7-3-4 with a 1.66 GAA and a .944 save %.

2. Josh Harding - After Nicklas Backstrom went down in Minnesota, Harding took over and has gone 18-5-3. He currently holds a 1.51 GAA and .930 save % as he sits out acquainting himself to a change in his medication. Harding suffers from MS.

3. Cam Talbot - He's gone 8-3-0 so far this season with the New York Rangers. Alain Vigneault is stuck in a small goaltending issue. Starter Henrik Lundqvist has struggled going 10-15-2 so far this year with a GAA of 2.77 and a 9.05 save %. Talbot's numbers are much better at 1.72 GAA and a 9.36 save %.

4. Cory Schneider - You knew this was coming right? Cory suffers the same fate no matter where he goes. He has to fight for the top goaltending position on his team, even after putting up stellar numbers with the Canucks. Cory started out a bit rough this season backing up Martin Brodeur, but has started to float back to the type of play he had last season with the Canucks. He currently sits with a record of 4-8-5, a GAA of 2.20 and a save % of .910. All this on a weak defensive team. Brodeur has a 2.31 GAA and a save % of .906.

5. Ilya Bryzgalov - Is he the back-up or the starter? Dubnyk has played half the games since the outspoken Russian joined the team. Neither have had much success.

We could almost add the other Albertan goaltending duel, with Karri Ramo taking over the #1 job from season starter Joey MacDonald.

And finally, if you want to count the battle between James Riemer and Jonathan Bernier you can, but the Leafs have only 1 regulation win in their last 19 games. They have 5 OT or Shootout wins in those 19. Not good enough to be in the top 5.

Can Eddie Lack make the list? Your thoughts welcome below.

stetty2

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If you haven't heard, the NHL is off to it's hottest start financially in the history of the game. Maybe the lockout wasn't such a bad thing.

When you start to break down the numbers though, you realize why ESPN has the NHL on the back burner when it comes to tv highlights and top 5 stories on their website.

Below are the different revenues for the big 4 sports in North America. The NHL, MLB, NBA and NFL.

Think we pay a lot for an NHL ticket?

The average ticket price for an NHL game is $61.01.

The MLB $26.98.

The NFL $81.54.

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Maybe not so surprising, being number 2 here is the NHL's highest ranking out of revenue related incomes.

The average (weighted) ticket price in the NBA is $50.99 per seat. However, 19 of the 30 teams have average ticket prices below that mark.

Let's look at the average attendance per game. The NHL and NBA start to get singled out here with the lack of available paying seats.

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And of course there are those giant TV contracts bringing in additional revenues.

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But it's not all money in. The biggest expense of each league is the payroll for players. Here's how it looks for the average payroll per season.

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It's no wonder hockey gets pushed to the side for air time in the US.

What order is your top 4? Please post below.

data collect from the following sites:

http://www.nfl.com/n...r-each-nfl-team

http://www.bloomberg...-tv-rights.html

http://bleacherrepor...-every-year-wow

http://espn.go.com/nhl/attendance

http://espn.go.com/b...-average-ticket

http://www.businessi...2#ixzz2o4yN2wIt

http://www.fancostex...0020_pdf001.pdf

http://sportslistoft...eams-2008-2012/

stetty2

It appears Zack Kassian has caused a bit of a stir with a gesture he made towards the Edmonton Oilers players near the end of the game on Friday night.

David Perron and Luke Gazdic got into it with Kassian as a scrum ensued at the benches with just under a minute to play in the third period. As Kassian was skating towards his bench for a line change, Perron made an extra attempt to rough him up.

The players on the ice came in for some generic pushing and shoving before being led away by the linesmen. As the players were separating, Kassian starting pointing towards his own chin, saying "what's that?" while looking towards the Oilers bench.

Sam Gagner of course is wearing a protective guard under his chin after the errant stick of Kassian in the preseason broke his jaw. Kassian was given a suspension that affected both the preseason and the regular season for the injury suffered to Gagner.

David Perron ended up with a roughing penalty during the mix-up with Kassian. Dale Weise would add salt to the Oilers gapping wounds as he scored on the power play, capping off a tough played game by the fourth line.

I guess the question now is, was Kassian directing his gesture towards Gagner? and if so, did he cross the line? You be the judge. Watch the clip above.

stetty2

Better Without Edler

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Are the Vancouver Canucks better without Alex Edler in the lineup this year? The Canucks don't appear to be struggling in his absence.

Think about this. There are 767 players that have played in the NHL this year according to NHL.com. Out of those 767, Alex Edler ranks 753 in plus/minus at -12. Mike Stanton is a +4 and Kevin Bieksa is a team high +10, so you can't blame it on the lack of goals.

Now granted, many don't believe in the plus/minus statistic. There is more to the story however.

Alex Edler is an offensive defensemen. The Canucks have him pegged to help create offence, which is why he was on the first unit power play. It's also why he has the highest salary cap hit out of all the Canucks defensemen at 5 million per season.

Out of the top 6 D-men on the Canucks, Edler ranks 6th in scoring with 6 points. Even Stanton has 8 points.

Unfortunately Edler has not helped generate the offence with his untimely pinches that create odd man rushes the other way.

That's not to say Edler doesn't have the potential to be a star in the league. He has shown brilliance at times, just not consistently. Edler's best season came in 2011-12 when he had 49 points and was in the discussion for the Norris trophy. He finished 15th in league voting.

The problem with Edler is that he doesn't show up with his top game every night. We see spurts of him being the Canucks leader on the back end, but there appears to be a lack of motivation. Edler just signed his new contract and has a no trade clause, which doesn't mean he cannot be traded, it just means he has the upper hand if he were asked by GM Mike Gillis to be traded.

It will be an interesting month without Edler in the lineup. Only time will tell if the Canucks need Edler more than Edler needs the Canucks money.

I will leave you with a quote from Torts that sum's up the season before the injury.

John Tortorella on Alex Edler, "That’s when I get angrier with players, it’s how much I know it’s there.

“To make that play (in New York), it was hard for me. We had three scoring chances. We had been fighting uphill all year long. Then we give one away.

“It’s something I don’t want to do. I really don’t. It’s not something I’m preparing to do. But five feet outside the blueline, not getting it out, it needs to get done by a guy of that calibre."

The soft-spoken Edler said he took the benching, and the raging coach, in stride.

“It’s not personal,” Edler said. “We need everyone to play (well) to get the win.

“That’s Torts style. He’s very emotional on the bench. It’s to get you going to help the team.”

stetty2

http://youtu.be/qePKiGYqbkY

Shawn Thornton. Remember him? He won a Stanley Cup right here on Vancouver ice. He also ambushed The Province's Tony Gallagher on a Boston sports show. Gallagher did not do a good job defending himself either.

The same Shawn Thornton is now flirting with a Bertuzzi like suspension after his UFC style take down, followed by a ground and pound that knocked the Penguins Brooks Orpik out cold. Orpik required a stretcher to remove his limp body from the ice.

Orpik was standing in a scrum at the whistle when Thornton came up from behind him, grabbed his shoulder and pulled him down before punching his face into the ice.

Don Cherry was quoted on Hockey Night in Canada as saying, "This was not a fight."

Sidney Crosby spoke in the post game scrum, "It's hard to think about hockey when someone gets hurt like that."

In little defence to Thornton, there was a lead up to his reckless behaviour. In the first shift of the game, Orpik hit Bruins forward Loui Eriksson awkwardly, causing Eriksson to leave the game with an apparent head injury.

Crosby also said he also believes the original hit led to the incident. "I think Orp's (Orpik) hit on Eriksson led to what happened with Thornton."

Thornton chased Orpik around the ice trying to fight him, but Orpik wanted nothing to do with the challenger. It was almost 10 minutes after the Orpik hit on Eriksson when Thornton went stupid.

The question is, should Orpik have fought Thornton on the original challenge? Because it would be safe to say, had they fought immediately after the Eriksson hit at the beginning of the game, there wouldn't have been the sucker punch later. In no way am I condoning Thornton's actions, he shouldn't have done what he did.

Should a player have to fight if they make a big hit? I don't think so, hitting is part of the game.

Here is what Bob Mckenzie had to say about it,

"Orpik's hit on Eriksson was a hockey play, could've been a minor for interference, but well within context of game action. Orpik shouldn't necessarily be obliged to answer the bell to Thornton on that hit. It wasn't that egregious."

Regardless of what side you are on, I think we can all agree Thornton will get suspended, and will probably miss the game against the Canucks on December 14th because of it. Mckenzie believes the suspension will range from 6 to double digit games.

Bertuzzi had 20 games for his hit on Moore. The longest suspension in league history was Washington Capitals forward Chris Simon. He stomped on former Canuck Jarko Ruutu's leg while he was with Pittsburgh. Simon also has the second longest suspension of 25 games for his two hander to the face of Ryan Hollweg.

Shawn Thornton, believe it or not, has not been suspended by the NHL previous to this.

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stetty2

96103728_slide.jpgZack Kassian is on the bench for the power play. Still.

Does anyone remember Dustin Byfuglien? There was a purpose for the big guy. Go to the net and cause trouble.

Kassian should be in front of the net. Hiding shots from the point by Garrison or Edler, making sure the goalie can't see them. The goaltender might save the initial shot but there is more chance for a loose puck.

Kassian should also be able to have at least one, if not two defencemen on him in front of the net. Essentially blocking the goalie's way so the twins can dance around, finishing off the play with a softly bedded goal.

It worked for Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. They teamed with 'Big Burt' stone hands Todd Burtuzzi. The purpose of Todd was to create opportunities and "free up space" for the star players.

That's the beauty of the big man. Go to the net, cause some traffic and put in the junk goals.

Kassian should be pushing and shoving in front of the net, getting the goalie moving and getting in his line of sight.

The Canucks power play is currently in 29th place out of 30, so there is no risk to try it.

They are also 19th in the league in the goals per game department at 2.56.

The Defence is however within the top 16 playoff spots when it comes to giving them up at 2.48 goals per game. Good enough for 14th best in the league.

What they desperately need is a power play goal per game. The league average for power play percentage is just over 20%. That's 1 goal every 5 power plays or 1 goal per game. Toronto is clicking along at a rate of 32.4% or 1 goal every 3 power plays. Vancouver sits at 11.5%.

Imagine 1 more goal in each of the last 7 games for the Canucks?

Nov 23 '13 CHICAGO 2 VANCOUVER 1

Nov 22 '13 COLUMBUS 2 VANCOUVER 6

Nov 19 '13 FLORIDA 3 VANCOUVER 2 SO

Nov 17 '13 DALLAS 2 VANCOUVER 1

Nov 14 '13 SAN JOSE 2 VANCOUVER 1 OT

Nov 10 '13 VANCOUVER 1 ANAHEIM 3

Nov 09 '13 VANCOUVER 1 LOS ANGELES 5

Instead of being 1-4-2, they would have been somewhat improved to 3-2-2. An extra 4 points in the standings.

The Canucks have 28 points right now. Adding 4 would give them 32. Good enough for 8th in the league, even after this latest loss. It would also tie Boston who currently sit with 32 points at the top of the East.

I know you don't look at stats and standings Torts, but try something different please. The power play is what is hurting this team and it's time for a change.

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