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  1. VANCOUVER—The Canucks management brass made two deals right at the NHL trade deadline on Monday, Feb.28. The Canucks targeted two players who will come in and help their forward depth, two guys who are interchangeable in the bottom six role on the Canucks. With the opening on the fourth line center ice position all season, after former-West coast express member Brendan Morrison exiled to Calgary for a bigger role, the Canucks had no proper replacement to fit in the fourth line. Roles on the team: Maxim Lapierre: fourth line centre, and occasional shifts on Manny Malhotra's wing if the situation arises. He has the speed and defensive instincts to play a penalty killing duty, lessening pressure on Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows on the PKs. He can take faceoffs with his respectable 53.4% winning rate on the season. Chirs Higgins: fourth line winger with Tanner Glass and Lapierre. Higgins has been teammates with Lapierre before, and they're no strangers to each others play. Look for head coach Alain Vigneault to rekindle old chemistry between the two. Higgins has the hands to play some shifts on the third line with Raffi Torres and Malhotra. He may even get a shot at replacing Mason Raymond on Ryan Kesler's second line left-wing if Raymond struggles. A very versatile player is what the Canucks got with Higgins. Luckily, I've had the pleasure of staying two seasons in Montréal. Following the Canadiens under the spotlight was quite a special experience. They take hockey to a new level. Unlike the Leaf Nation who really has had nothing to cheer for over six decades, I went through the Canadiens Centennial Year celebrations. Royal Canadian Mint designed a Canadiens loonie in celebration of the club's 24 Stanley Cup wins and a big boost to the atmosphere in town. From what I know about Higgins and Lapierre, who both left La Belle Province not too long ago, the Canucks have now got some valuable, quality members at forward. At the end of training camp in September of 2008 the Canadiens were getting set for their 100th NHL season. I can still remember listening to the FAN990, Montreal Sports Radio. They were ecstatic about Higgins. They felt it was Higgins' breakout year offensively on the Habs. Tony Marinaro, who currently hosts an on-air show called "Montreal Forum" predicted that Higgins could reach 40 goals this season. Head coach Guy Carbonneau was also optimistic. Kostitsyns was one year older, Higgins would step up and D'Agostini and Pacioretty were coming up promisingly. We all know that it did not exactly materialize, but the Canadiens did get into the playoffs, only to lose in the first round to the Boston Bruins. As for Lapierre, the Messiah to save our fourth line that we have dreamed for so long has finally arrived. In Montréal, Lapierre was loved by his coaching staff as a "hard-nosed, gritty hockey player," who worked "extremely hard night after night." While Lapierre will not score very many goals for his hockey club, he is very much like a Jannik Hansen or Glass on the Canucks; he gives a consistent effort each game and can really skate well. Lapierre has the speed, and with a faceoff percentage of 53.4%, is very tough to play against. He finishes his checks, gets under the skin of opposing players (mainly due to his tenacity) and he can chirp at will. When asked about chirping he said, "If they want me to shut up, I'll do it." After the trades, I received some strong reactions from Vancouver fans: Voice of the Canucks Nation: "Loved em both. The 4th line is soooo much better!" "Higgins is a great team guy as well." "Yea. Lost a little depth on D in Oberg tho. Should be fine." ~Todd Cordell, former-B/R lead writer, current SportsHaze Canada content manager via text message "A good sign, he's buying in already!" (on Lapierre agreeing to shut his mouth if asked by coaches) ~EvoLu7ioN, member on forum "Great trades today by netting Higgins and Lapierre that should solidify Vancouver's bottom 6 lines" ~Drewbro77, on twitter "Luvin vancouver's acquisition....lapierre & burrows 2 big pests...and underachieving higgins can chip in wtv on 3rd or 4th lines" ~Drizzydre87, twitter "Many props to Gillis for bringing in just what our roster needed. Higgins n lap will be perfect. And for cheap. Love it." ~Robertus97, twitter Thanks for following your Vancouver Canucks. This is Joseph Trenton. Follow Joseph Trenton on Twitter for the latest Canucks, NHL news, as well as CFL news.
  2. As the drama that continues to be the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes ownership and possible relocation saga unfolds, another nasty little detail comes out 'in the wash' at the close of last month. While it took me a few days to collaborate some of the details surrounding the management issues, I realize that the release of Doug Moss as President and COO of the franchise (since 2002) is just another red flag as the team is paving the way now for the Ice Edge Holdings prospective ownership group. The current owners (the league itself) thanked Moss for his service and stated that he was leaving 'to pursue other business interests'. That does not seem like something one would do just a day after appearing with GM Don Maloney on the 'Yotes official webpage to do an open question-and-answer session with the fans of the hockey club. There is movement in the desert and in order to do so...the league had to clear the moss. 6 July 2010 / Robin Keith Thompson Read more about this on my blog: http://prosportsblog...or/thewordbird/ or work your way over to Chiller Instinct to get the low down:
  3. With their loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks dropped to 2 games below .500 on the road. Could some roster changes be far behind? The Canucks found out why the Lightning have gone 10-2-2 since the New Year at home, courtesy of Marty St. Louis and Steven Stamkos Not that anyone is pressing the panic button yet, seeing as how the club is not far removed from a 7 game winning streak. But on their current road trip, the Canucks are 2-3, with one of the wins coming against one of the leagues worst teams, and the other versus a team that had lost 9 straight games. The fact is that the Canucks are a different team on the road, and it’s showing now more than ever. Though the Canucks have injured players from other clubs, it often seems Vancouver receives the lions share of injuries (The Canadian Press / J. Meric) Of course, I’ll be one of the first individuals to defend the Canucks ineptitude on the road by pulling the ‘injuries’ card. It has never been lost on me that Willie Mitchell is our top shutdown defender, and I hope he continues to wear a Vancouver sweater for years to come. Following a hit from Evgeni Malkin January 16th, Mitchell has been suffering post-concussion symptoms, including headaches. While a number of Canucks defenders have picked up the slack, it’s nearly impossible to replace what the minutes-muncher brings to the table. It is projected that he will be back after the Olympics break, but just ask anyone with the last name Lindros how tricky these kind of injuries are, and you see it’s just that – projection. Mike Fisher of the Ottawa Senators nearly added to the Canucks' blueline "games missed" tally with this hit on Aaron Rome (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images) Any Vancouver hockey fan knows that every year, a certain amount of games for Sami Salo have to be written off in lieu of injury, -this season being no exception. They also recognize that when he is healthy, he provides the team with veteran qualities that are hard to replace. He is patient with the puck, almost always makes a great first pass out of their zone, and his bomb from the point makes goaltenders nervous. His calming influence on the blueline was noticeably absent in their first 4 games of the current road trip. Even when things get scrambly, particularly behind Luongo and in the tough areas along the end boards, he remains poised. He returned from a groin injury against Tampa Bay and during 25 shifts played over 24 minutes, with 4 shots on goal. Canucks fans are all crossing their fingers his health prevails down the stretch. In their defense, the Canucks have run into some hot goaltending during this road trip, including Jaroslav Halak and Antero Niitymaki, both vying for Olympic jobs (AP Photo) Kevin ‘Boom Boom’ Bieksa must have nightmares about sharp, slicing blades. His misfortune with errant skate blades has been epic, if not outright freaky. In particular, the months of November and December are ominous ones for the intense, yet well-humored Grimsby, Ontario native. November 3rd, 2007 had the 5th round draft pick lacerate his calf, subsequently missing the next 47 games. The following November (13th), he broke his foot, though only missing 7 games. Bad luck struck again last December, with a left ankle tendon laceration. He is sporting a walking cast, and still sidelined indefinitely. Though Shane O’Brien has elevated his game in several aspects, Bieksa’s nastiness in front of Luongo is sorely missed. He causes opponents to have their head on a swivel should they crash Roberto when he is patrolling. Pavol Demitra had a torn rotator cuff, but wanted to represent Slovakia for the Olympics, so Hal Gill helps him test it out (Associated Press Photo) The official trade deadline is March 3rd, though there is a roster freeze in effect starting Friday while the Olympics take place. Of course, General Managers (including Mike Gillis) still have the ability to enter talks with other teams regarding prospective deals. Considering Gillis’ past performance, I don’t expect more than 2, possibly 3 moves come the deadline, but something must be done. With the Canucks penchant for sustaining injuries heading into the postseason, and particularly on defense, it should behoove Gillis to pull the trigger to add some defensive depth. With injuries to prominent defenders on Vancouver's roster, the safe play for Gillis would be to add another defenseman, preferably capable of 2nd powerplay unit duty (pictured left to right, courtesy of TSN: Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo) Given Vancouver’s situation in the standings (currently 6th in the Western Conference, 2nd in Northwest), they are ill-advised to stand pat. Were the playoffs to begin today, the Canucks would face the Colorado Avalanche, with the Avalanche holding home advantage. Unless Vancouver can get and retain top spot in the Northwest, they will likely will spend the majority of whatever playoff hockey they play on the road. Considering the Avalanche’s home record (19-8-2), combined with their superior road record (Colorado: 15-11-4, Vancouver: 12-14-1), the glass certainly looks half-empty for the Canucks. Should the Canucks road woes continue prior to the Olympic break, it’s highly likely that my next blog will be focusing in on possible names on the trade-block, and potential suitors from around the NHL. Got Canucks? Visit with files from TSN, AP Photo and the Canadian Press, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  4. Larenzo

    Stars burn out

    Christian Ehrhoff and the Vancouver Canucks prevailed over a Dallas Stars club that initially burned bright, but faded as the game wound down.<br /> <br /> <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed" /> <em>Shane O'Brien got plenty of icetime, due in part to Sami Salo hurting his shoulder (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)</em><br /> <br /> The match had some of the look and feel of the previous night, where Vancouver was outplayed early by the Edmonton Oilers. Dallas was successful using a quick counterattack against Vancouver. Though Vancouver went up 1-0 at the 14 minute mark of the first period, Dallas replied only 2 1/2 minutes later with Loui Eriksson beating Loungo for his 21st goal of the season. Mason Raymond beat former Canuck goaltender Alex Auld with a seeing-eye backhand that found the top corner over Auld's blocker.<br /> <br /> Alex Burrows was unsuccessful on this attempt on former Canuck starter Alex Auld, but...<br /> <br /> There were two goals in the second period, and strangely enough it was a short-handed tally for both clubs. Tom Wandell sent Toby Petersen in alone on Luongo, who misjudged his quick release slapper. The Stars owned most of the puck possession for the 2nd frame, and their hard work earned them a late powerplay. Had they have known what would happen during the Salo (who appeared to hurt his shoulder on the play) tripping minor, they would have declined the penalty. Alex Burrows sped in on the forecheck, causing Auld to hesitate with the puck on his backhand. &quot;I gave him the puck and he had an empty net and it seemed to be a big turning point,&quot; said Auld. &quot;It's tough to give up a goal like that and lose by one.&quot;<br /> <br /> <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed" /> ...both teams surrendered short-handed goals, with both goaltenders misjudging time and distance on the plays (AP Photo - Darryl Dyck)<br /> <br /> With momentum swung in the Canucks favor, they raced out of the gate to begin the third frame. The Sedin twins had Christian Ehrhoff finish off a beautiful passing play, as he went blocker side on Auld who couldn't get set because of Ehrhoff's speed in the slot. &quot;They made a couple great plays there and I ended up alone,&quot; Ehrhoff said. Alex Burrows helped initiate the play with a calm stutter move just inside the blueline on Trevor Daley.<br /> <br /> Though the Stars employed a similar style game to Vancouver's, they were fortunate not to be behind on the score sheet earlier. Alex Edler (clocked with the hardest shot at the Canucks super-skills competition last Sunday) had two booming slapshots ricochet off the post, Auld clueless as to where either rebound went as well. Unfortunately for the 'Nucks, one of those rebounds came right out and turned into a 2-on-1 that Dallas capitalized on shorthanded.<br /> <br /> <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed" /> <br /> Toby Petersen hit his stride breaking in over the Canucks blueline and rifled a shot that caught Luongo by surprise, shorthanded<br /> <br /> Kyle Wellwood busted a 26 game goalless drought on a partial breakaway in the third period. Because Trevor Daley scored with 2.8 seconds remaining in the contest, he was credited with the game-winner.<br /> <br /> Both teams finished with 23 shots, and the win was the Canucks third in a row. They now sit in a tie with Colorado atop the Northwest division. Vancouver will have their hands full with the hot Blackhawks, who did the Canucks a favor by beating the sputtering Flames 3-1 Thursday. 24 of the NHL's 30 teams play on Saturday. Captain Lou continued his hardhat and lunch-bucket mentality, starting his 21st consecutive game.<br /> <br /> <a href=";ob=4#p/u/2/IL--F5NS8vc" title="External link" rel="nofollow">Ehrhoff's go-ahead goal, courtesy of CanucksHD (just click)</a><br /> <br /> Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Yahoo! Sports, and CanucksHD (youtube)<br /> <br /> <br />
  5. It's been said that time is the great equalizer, and if you wound the Vancouver Canucks' and Edmonton Oilers' clocks back 25 years, the adage appears true. This scene will most likely not repeat itself in Edmonton for many seasons The year was 1985, and it was a cold, snowy January day in Quesnel, British Columbia. My mother, Marilyn, was busy preparing dinner in the kitchen as I watched the Vancouver Canucks host the Edmonton Oilers. I still remember the anxiety I felt watching the game, as my favorite team started to lose, and lose badly, to an amazing Oilers club. Hope flickered late in the first period, as the Canucks scored to make it 3-1. But Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Jari Kurri proved too formidable for the slumping "Flying V's" (in reference to the black, orange and yellow giant V designed jerseys). The game reached the 8-2 mark early in the third period, and as much as I loved the Canucks, I could watch no more. The Oilers would finish the season 49-20-11-0 under Glen Sather, and went on to capture the Stanley Cup (pictured). Wayne Gretzky would score 73 goals, and add 135 assists en route to a 208 point season. The Canucks will again face a backup calibre goaltender with starter Nikolai Khabibulin lost to the Oil for back surgery (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) Flash forward now to present day, where the Oilers cast include names akin to Doug Halward, Michel Petit, Garth Butcher and Rick Lanz. Decent players that played with heart, but not overloaded with skill. The correlation would be that Patrik Sundstrom (Canucks leading scorer that year, 25 goals, 43 assists for 68 pts) or Ales Hemsky for the Oilers, the teams' star player, was lost to injury. Vancouver (25-46-9-0) had an eerily similar year to the one the Pat Quinn led Oilers are having now (currently 16-27-5). The Canucks leading scorer in 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers leading scorer in 2008-09, Ales Hemsky Back in 1985, no-one could have consoled me with the news that years later, the Canucks would again make it to the Stanley Cup finals. Only a couple of seasons removed from their improbable run to the finals with the powerhouse New York Islanders, I was devastated by their spiraling play. Still, Ms. Mok (my grade 3 teacher) would have to remind me to pay attention to Social Studies lessons instead of drawing pictures of Richard Brodeur and Tony Tanti on my notebook. But I still remember the disappointment of perpetually being canon fodder for the Edmonton Oilers. For inasmuch as Richard Brodeur was 'King' during my youth, Roberto Luongo remains the most popular Vancouver Canucks goaltender (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) Naturally, only so many comparisons can be drawn between the Oilers of yesteryear and the present day Canucks. Vancouver has many, many miles to go in order to illuminate the landscape of hockey in Western Canada the way Edmonton has. But with Henrik Sedin sitting on top of the NHL world right now, his brother and Alex Burrows riding shotgun, and an accumulating talent pool, the future has some sparkle to it. There may no longer be only 21 teams vying for the Stanley Cup, as opposed to 30, but we musn't forget that even Wayne Gretzky and Oilers needed several years to find their groove. Jari Kurri and Wayne Gretzky always had chemistry, but needed time for that to mature into real, tangible results. If the Canucks are to have legitimate playoff success, the Sedins must take that next step as well. Roberto Luongo will be counted on to be Grant Fuhr-esque. Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond, Willie Mitchell and Sami Salo will be depended upon to emulate Mark Messier, Mike Krushlynski and Paul Coffey. The pieces are in place, and the Canucks' system seems poised to be successful for years to come. For all of the tough years that Vancouver fans have witnessed, it seems inevitable that the shoe will finally be on the other foot. The Canucks' drama continues to unfold at Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN and Getty Images
  6. Larenzo


    On the same day that Colin Campbell and Gary Bettman decided to withhold discipline from Stephane Auger and fine Alex Burrows $2500, the Canucks misfortune spilled onto the ice. The Wild are hot, 4 straight wins and 19-10-3 since opening the season 5-10-0 Derek Boogaard of the Minnesota Wild threw more controversy at the Canucks camp. Boogaard, who hasn’t scored in 200 games (Jan.7, 2006) told the Minnesota Star-Tribune that just prior to his fight with Darcy Hordichuk, Hordichuk said: “The coach is making us fight you guys.” Hordichuk was given a 5 minute major for fighting, as well as a 10 minute misconduct penalty, but thus far there hasn’t been any indication of further penalization. Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault didn’t speak to the allegations, but noted that the Burrows/Auger drama is just that. “That’s absolutely no distraction at all… That’s not why we lost this game,” noted Vigneault. This battle for the puck between Tanner Glass and Shane Hnidy later became a pugilist battle Minnesota goaltender Niklas Backstrom set a franchise record for wins (114) during the 5-2 win over the visiting Canucks. Antti Miettinen had two of the Wild’s 3 third period goals. The Wild are winners of 4 straight, have scored 19 goals in that span, and 9 of those in the third periods. Kyle Brodziak spoke to the teams’ confidence. “If we really believe in ourselves every game and every minute of every game, not just one or two periods of the game, I think we can really be a dangerous team and I think guys are really starting to realize that.” Brodziak gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead less than 2 minutes into the game, redirecting a pass from Latendresse past Luongo. Roberto Luongo has his helmet knocked off during Derek Boogaard's attempt to shake a 200 game goal-less drought. Guess who won? (AP Photo) Following a timeout, while on a 4-on-3 power play in the third, Marek Zidlicky fed Mikko Koivu in the right circle. His one touch pass found Miettinen in the slot, and his one-timer beat Luongo stick side. Eric Belanger, having an excellent season for Minnesota, was tenacious on the forecheck, forcing the ‘Nucks to cough up the puck that Owen Nolan wristed off Luongo’s glove. Miettinen powered a slapper past Luongo at 9:32; it was their 3rd shot of the period and third goal, chasing the Canucks starter. He finished with 14 saves on 19 shots. “I have to make some saves,” added a morose Luongo. Derek Boogaard (not pictured) contends that Vigneault forced his players to fight. It's my belief that Tanner Glass just LIKES to do it, cuz he's good at it The Wild are suddenly red hot, starting the season 5-10-0, are now 19-10-3 since and within 2 points of a playoff spot, the closest they’ve been since Oct. 9th. “It’s a long road still, but I think everybody in the locker room is very confident with the way we are playing,” Miettinen said. The Canucks now play 9 of their next 11 at home, beginning with Pittsburgh on Saturday. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby notched his 30th goal of the season in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames Wednesday night. Kesler's 2-2 goal More Canucks roller coaster action at Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo, The Canadian Press, and CanucksHD
  7. I read a blog tonight that made a good point about how the NBA mis-handled the same situation with referee Joey Crawford. Same situation with Spurs star Tim Duncan. Crawford was suspended and Duncan fined. In San Antonio's first game after the incident, Duncan was ejected after getting a double-technical, and a brutal non-call in a playoff series against the Lakers cost them a game, which the NBA later apologized for. Are the refs close with each other? Yes. If Auger is suspended over this, will there be resentment towards Burrows? Yes. They have to tread carefully. I really haven't read a really good idea over what exactly to do with it in the short-term while the NHL investigates, but a lot of ideas for what not to do. Don't replay the game, don't award the Canucks a point, don't suspend Auger and don't fine or suspend Burrows. Those would just be counter-productive. The real problem here is that Burrows is the hottest player in the NHL right now. He is the top-scoring winger on the line with the NHL's points leader, is first star of the week and a fan favourite in one of the biggest markets in the league. Knowing Vancouver's, er, history, and also knowing what happened when Clarence Campbell suspended Maurice Richard (I know that Burrows is probably not as good as Richard, but we'll let that go for now) you can't do anything with him right now. But you also can't let him get away with this and try and sweep it under the rug. You hit Auger, you hit the refs and the animosity increases. If you ignore it, and instruct an officiating pair to give the Canucks a game, that's unfair to the team they'd be playing. More importantly, this is a serious accusation and Burrows, the Canucks and their fans deserved to have it answered. My temporary solution, based on being up at 3 am and running on one too many colas (Coke, not Pepsi) is the following: -Immediately open an investigation on whether or not the allegations are true. Interview both coaches, Burrows, Auger, Dennis LaRue, Vaughan Rody and Brian Mach. -Immediately open an investigation onto personal vendettas from referees on certain players. Get a team of crack researchers to crunch numbers and determine whether there's a trend, whether certain officials are more likely to call certain players or teams in certain situations, and review those calls made. -Immediately suspend Stephane Auger with pay for all games in which he's scheduled to referee against the Vancouver Canucks. -Send an NHL officials executive to monitor every game played by Stephane Auger and the Vancouver Canucks. -Place Alex Burrows on probation, pending the results of the first investigation. Make sure he's on his absolute best behaviour. If he turns out to be in the wrong, fine him the amount for criticizing an official, but double it for the seriousness of the accusations. If he turns out to be in the right, fire Stephane Auger and charge him with fraud to prevent other vigilante referees. This post was originally posted in one of the zillions of Auger threads in Canucks Talk, but because I hadn't seen a solution anywhere that didn't have major drawbacks, I felt obligated to suggest one. Keep in mind it's 3 am. Comment how you will. I'd rather hear your disagreements. Bonus points will be given if you can write coherently.
  8. Larenzo

    "Nasty tone"

    In the third period of Saturday's match between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames, CBC Commentator Mark Lee described the game as having a "Nasty tone". Rick Rypien vs Brandon Prust - Part I (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Particularly in the third period did both teams dish out physical punishment. Both coaches, Alain Vigneault and Brent Sutter, regularly dispatched their third and fourth lines, trying to match brawn. In a couple of instances, the result brought most players on the ice together in scrums, face-washes, punches, and take-downs. As pictured, Rick Rypien and Brandon Prust threw the gloves to the ice twice, comprising the 'Main event'. Rypien had a slight edge in the first bout, while the second had to be declared a tie. The camera man captured Prust in the box after the second fight, so exhausted he could barely hold his (slightly disfigured) head up. If you missed it, here is Part I (courtesy of Pouya of CanucksHD, just click on it): Rypien vs Prust: Part I Tanner Glass was one of the most physical players on the ice in the playoff atmosphere game Featured ( Fan-Zone contributor Jason C touches on it a lot more in his most recent article, but the referreeing by Bill McCreary and Stephon Walkom had as much to do with the rough stuff as the players. Essentially, they 'let the players go', and, as Jason C points out, it seemed more to Calgary's advantage, particularly in the case of Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf easily could have made 3 more trips to the penalty box for his shananigans after the whistle, giving Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows extra punches and cross-checks right in front of McCreary, who turned a blind eye. In my opinion, Alex Edler was one of the best players on the ice, making several key defensive plays Roberto Luongo, the games' 2nd star, made 38 saves and kept Vancouver in it all night. The game was tied 1-1 after the opening period, and 2-2 after the second frame. "We're disappointed with the loss, obviously, but we found a way to get it to overtime. So the game was right there for us." Red hot Alex Burrows was stymied in his quest to become the 1st NHLer to record three straight hat tricks, but had an assist on Daniel Sedin's tally (see link below). "Louie was great, that's for sure," said the 6'1 Pincourt, Quebec native. "I think, for the most part, they outworked us in a lot of areas." More Sedin magic... Courtesy of Canucks HD (just click) Alex Burrows trips up Rene Bourque, with Stephon Walkom viewing proceedings (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Evan Oberg and Brad Lukowich both stepped into defensive roles for the Canucks, who lost both Sami Salo and Aaron Rome to facial lacerations Thursday in their win over Phoenix. Veteran Lukowich, who has a Stanley Cup ring with the Tampa Bay Lightning, set the tone early with a big hit on Rene Bourque behind the Canucks goal. He didn't look out of place at all, and though it was Oberg's first taste of NHL action, he too jelled nicely with teammates. Coach Alain Vigneault refused to use the injuries to the blueline as a crutch. "Four of our defence had a little bit more minutes than usual. It can be challenging but at the end of the day, whether they get a few minutes or not, that shouldn't stop the rest of the group from playing real hard and we just weren't good enough tonight." Brent Sutter was a little less gracious post match. In an attempt to steer attention away from some of the none-calls his club received from McCreary, he ranted about the Canuck fan that had a laser pointer. "It was brought to the attention of the refs and security, and it's hard to believe that can go on for 60 mintues in a hockey game and it's not located and not found." Sutter went on to reiterate this, in a multitude of different ways, post game. Though HNIC viewers got a glimpse of the green laser pointer that Brent Sutter cried about, Daniel Sedin was the only distraction on this shot The Flames now hold the Northwest division lead by 1 point, thanks in part to call-up Jamie Lundmark from their AHL affiliate, the Abbottsford Heat. He scored the tying marker, and ended the game with his shootout conversion. The 28 year old Edmonton native was drafted 9th overall in 1999, but has failed to bring his junior scoring knack to the NHL. "It was huge," said Lundmark of the win. "From last night coming off a loss, I think everybody stepped up tonight and played well." He partially has goaltending coach Jamie McLennan to thank for the shootout move. He backed up Luongo earlier in his career, and knows Luongo's tendencies. Next up: The Predators are back in town for a swipe at the Canucks on Monday. notes: Current NHL Ironman Jay Boumeester played his 387th consecutive game, while Henrik Sedin, played his 380th. Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Yahoo Sports and Canucks HD
  9. Larenzo

    Move over, Petri

    Alex Burrows penned his name alongside a 23 year old Vancouver Canucks scoring record of back to back hat tricks, originally set by Petri Skriko in 1986/87. Two of the hottest players in the NHL celebrate Alex Burrows' 2nd straight hat trick performance (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) The Phoenix Coyotes got the short end of the straw Thursday night during their visit to the Garage, outplaying the Canucks for large stretches. But the rules of physics applied, and objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and the Canucks, winners of 12 of their last 14 games, did just that. Just as the Coyotes had a few fortuitous bounces in their previous game in the desert, so too did the Canucks. "My linemates (Henrik and Daniel Sedin) found me a couple of times there and made great plays and it makes my job a lot easier," said Alex Burrows post game. Coyotes captain Shane Doan spoke candidly about the pictured goal with 4 seconds remaining in the second stanza. "You can point the finger at me on that one," started Doan, who tried to pin Ryan Kesler along the end boards. "It's my fault and it totally turns the tide. We kind of controlled the second period, but I dropped the ball on that one... If I don't give up that second, then it's a totally different game." With 4 seconds remaining in the second period, Ryan Kesler took the audio cue from Mikael Samuelsson, dished him a backhand saucer for a pivotal 2-0 lead The match featured almost every hockey element possible, including a couple of scary, bloody moments for Canucks fans. Aaron Rome was blindsided by a (clean) Taylor Pyatt check near the boards, which lacerated the left side of his face, leaving him bleeding profusely. Late in the second period, Willie Mitchell's upward rising stick blade caught Sami Salo in the enclave area just underneath his left eyebrow, narrowly missing his eye. He too colored the ice red before hastily leaving the ice surface withtrainer Mike Bernstein. He would return, though, to a warm ovation from the 18,810 fans at GM Place to start the third period. Canucks fans breathed a collective sigh of relief upon learning this injury missed Salo's eye by a centimeter (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Roberto Luongo, who earned his third shutout of the season, credited his d-men for clearing rebounds in front of him, and giving him a good look at the puck. "I've only got 50... Once I get done, maybe we'll talk about it more," deferred Luongo, who acknowledged his milestone, but inferred that he is well back of the 106 shutouts held by Olympic teammate, Martin Brodeur. Former Canuck Taylor Pyatt is stopped in close by Roberto Luongo (Photo by Rich Lam/ Getty Images)Henrik Sedin was also more interested in the strong team play than individual accolades. "Like I said before, that's what good teams do," said the current NHL points leader. "They put a lot of wins together. We need to keep going here." The win was good enough for 5th place in the Western Conference standings, though they are now tied with the Calgary Flames for 1st place in the Northwest division. Calgary holds a game in hand, so presently has sole possession of third place in the Conference, despite the Canucks having more wins (which is the first tie break if teams have played even amount of games). The Flames put the Northwest division lead on the line when they visit here on Saturday for one of the featured HNIC (Hockey Night in Canada) tilts. Queue R.Kelly's "I believe I can fly" during this exciting Mason Raymond penalty shot (AP Photo / Darryl Dyck) Special thanks to Pouya of CanucksHD for the following uploads of Burrows' goals (just move your cursor over the following and click) Alex Burrows' 2nd goal Alex Burrows' Hat trick goal Keep pace with the torrid Canucks at Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN, Yahoo Sports, Getty Images and AP Photo
  10. As the Vancouver Canucks reach the midway point of the 2009/10 schedule, here is a reflection to date of the individual top 11 performers for the club, in my humble opinion. Willie Mitchell, B Willie Mitchell hits Zach Stortini, -has been taking the body with more authority this season (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Willie Mitchell came to Vancouver touted as a shut-down defender. The Canucks were well acquainted with the Port McNeil blueliner, having been Todd Bertuzzi's irritating shadow when the Canucks faced the Minnesota Wild in the post season. This year, Mitchell has added an element to his game that is a welcome addition for Canucks fans. As pictured, Mitchell has been hitting with more frequency and tenacity, which is what got him so much attention early in his career. Still needs to work on stickhandling, though. His 22:22 average ice-time a game leads all Canucks. Mikael Samuelsson, B- Samuelsson helps Kesler celebrate a goal vs the Oilers (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) 'Twas earlier in the season when many a Canuck fan pondered whether or not Samuelsson might lead the Canucks in goalscoring this season. Though the torrid pace early, Mikael has slowed significantly, and has the highest puck turnover percentage on the team. He has 10 goals and 14 assists in 39 games, and has improved slightly to +2 rating. Still gives the Canucks an element they were missing last season, and that was someone to shoot the puck. Is ahead of Ryan Kesler by 1 shot in that department, 117, for the team lead. Mason Raymond, A Far and away Mason's prettiest goal in his pro career (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Raymond has taken his best shot at being this years' "Cinderella story". Whereas last season featured Alex Burrows' unlikely 28 goal outburst, home-grown Canuck talent has converted a hard work ethic and blazing speed into results. No more evident was last Sunday night in Calgary where he helped chase Miikka Kiprusoff with his 'natural' hat trick. Has already left his career best totals in the dust with his hot first half. Gives the Canucks the secondary scoring element they've desperately needed. Canucks fans finally breathing a sigh of relief that the farm system is paying dividends again after a few lean years development wise. Alexander Edler, B Alex Edler challenges Dan Carcillo for the puck, while defending the back door play (Photo by Jim McIsaac, Getty Images) I felt it was unfair that a couple of callers to the Team 1040 radio station referred to Elder as 'Bambi' on a recent talk show. Though he has had his ups and downs as all Canucks have, we're starting to see dividends from the organizations' early pairing with Mattias Ohlund. Though not a typical protege, Edler incorporates pieces of Ohlund's game, and exhibits a willingness to pay the price. His hitting continues to get better, makes good decisions in his own zone, and though he occasionally gets caught pinching, he has picked his spots better. Has 2-19-21 in 33 games, is a -3, and averaging 20:49 a night. Could benefit by making better use of his limited powerplay time. Alexandre Burrows, B "Burr" rubs out Alex Ovechkin, much to the delight of fans at GM Place Dec. 18/09 Though Burrows is not on pace to duplicate his goal production from last season, he is on pace to silence his critics. Ever the pesky, glove in your face mentality, Burrows combines a number of gritty elements, throws in a dash of skill and hockey smarts, with excellent results. He has 10-16-26 in 39 games, and a +12 rating, not so surprisingly tied with both Sedins for 2nd best on the team. Head coach Alain Vigneault continues to stand by 'Burr' and his promotion to the 1st line. He understands his role, and was obviously a little dishevelled by Daniels' 14 game hiatus with a broken left foot. Helps create space for the Sedins with his forecheck, - is easily earning his new ($2 M) contract. Ryan Kesler, A Ryan Kesler scores the game-winning goal versus Jonathan Quick and the L.A. Kings (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Perhaps it might be best to quote Canucks' captain Roberto Luongo for this report. "He's a warrior. That's his name. Warrior. That's the only name you can use." This in reference to his leg injury sustained recently versus the Oilers, amidst his other aches and pains, and his continued production. We've been witness to a transformation this season, from an excellent player to an elite one. Has 10-23-33 in 39 games, a -1 rating in that span, and logs nearly 20 minutes a night of hard, hard ice. Heart and soul player. Stay tuned for Part II of the Canucks mid-season report card, coming soon, and by all means, throw a shout out if you agree, disagree, or have any thoughts at all on anything you've read. Follow the Canucks all season long at Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Getty Images, TSN and Yahoo! Sports
  11. Larenzo

    Canucks Bite Back

    <a href="" border="0"><img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed"></a>The Vancouver Canucks killer instinct took over as the Nashville Predators attempted to hand them a second straight loss at General Motors place. Refusing to become another Nashville snack (who were red hot coming into the game, 8-1-1 in their last 10), the Canucks applied a very diligent forecheck and were smart moving the puck out of their own zone. The game opened a little tentatively, with both teams playing cautiously, collapsing to the net at any sign of danger. This was to be expected, as the Predators are set on defense with an exceptional core, with shutdown players like Dan Hamhuis, and two-way players Shea Weber (both BC products) and Ryan Suter. Up and coming Cody Franson, Jonathan Blum and Ryan Ellis add testimony that General Manager David Poile is committed to building from the blueline out. In an interesting sidebar, starter Pekka Rinne took the majority of shots in warm up, but it was Dan Ellis getting the nod between the pipes. For the first 26 minutes of the game, it looked like he might not get beat, as his lateral movement was excellent, and was always square to the shooters, and there were many. The Canucks outshot Nashville 14-6 in the first period, and 14-7 in the second. Ellis finished the game saving 32 of 36 shots, while Luongo stopped 20 of 21. Only Patric Hornqvist's (late) forehand to backhand deke during a 3-on-1 eluding him. Steve Bernier earned his 10th goal of the season, converting the rebound on a Tanner Glass shot from the slot for the game's 1st goal. Kyle Wellwood did some nice work along the right wing boards, and performed a nice spin around move to find Glass. With 3:37 remaining in the 2nd period, Daniel Sedin scored a power play goal to make it 2-0. Henrik set up on the half wall, then passed to the top of the faceoff circle, where Daniel stopped quickly and released a wrister. Alex Burrows had set the screen in front of the net, and Ellis was unable to find the shot. Both Sedins would finish the night with a goal and 2 assists, and a +2 rating. The Predators threatened to come back late in the second frame, with Patric Hornqvist getting two whacks at the puck with Roberto Luongo down in his crease, but the Canucks collapsed around him, getting the whistle to stop play. Sami Salo all but put it away at 6:53 of the third, as the Canucks did a great job to keep the Preds from breaking out of their own zone. Daniel wheeled at the left wing boards, fed Henrik who spotted Salo drifting in from the point, and Salo blew one under Ellis' left arm, with Jannik Hansen providing traffic. Mason Raymond jumps in front of Dan Ellis to provide the screen, something the Canucks were very efficient at, directly leading to 2 goals (AP Photo/ The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Henrik Sedin rounded out the Canucks' scoring with his 16th of the season two and a half minutes later. Burrows, skating very well in warm-up and during the match, hemmed the Predators in along the right half boards. He cycled to Daniel, who put it on on Henrik's stick from behind the net. His forehand shot beat Ellis glove side, to extend the lead to 4-0. As mentioned, Hornqvist spoiled Luongo's shutout bid at 14:36 of the third. He made a nifty forehand to backhand move that he roofed over Roberto's right shoulder. But that was all Nashville could muster, with Vancouver improving to 5-2 on their 8 game home stretch. The Canucks' next test is Saturday with the Edmonton Oilers (15-17-4, now last in Western conference) in town for a Northwest divisional matchup. Though the Canucks (42 pts) now hold the 8th and final playoff spot, both Dallas and Detroit are 1 point behind with a game in hand. Special thanks to: Pouya of Canucks HD (Youtube) for Video footage Kevin Kinghorn, Director, Website and New Media and Tina Rogers, Marketing Coodinator -thank you for the Suite experience with Canucks Sports & Entertainment - We were treated to excellent company, and a fantastic view of the game... More Canucks action at Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo, Getty Images, and Yahoo! Sports
  12. Larenzo

    Boudreau's "Bravo"

    With the Washington Capitals and Vancouver Canucks tied at 2 at 12:24 of the third period, referee Brad Meier assessed Caps Tom Poti a double minor that changed the game. Washington's head coach, Bruce Boudreau couldn't beleive what he was seeing as Poti first received a cross-checking minor for hitting Alex Burrows in the shoulders. Then, after dismissing Meier's call with a "take off" waving gesture, Poti was given an additional two minute minor for Unsportsmanlike conduct. On the subsequent power play, Mason Raymond notched his 2nd of the game, and as Brad Meier skated by the Washington bench, all Boudreau could do was clap his hands (at Meiers) and sarcastically say: "Bravo, bravo." Kesler helps Raymond celebrate the tying goal - (AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) The Kesler, Raymond and Samuelsson line was assigned the Alex Ovechkin coverage, and performed admirably. Denying time and space, Kesler admitted prior to the game to looking very much forward to the role and responsibility. Afterwards Ovechkin was rather short with reporters and walked away after two minutes and this comment: "I just didn't have the puck." His best chances came in the third, where he registered three shots, one a great shoulder save by Roberto Luongo. Kesler opened the scoring at 6:39 of the first period, when a Jannik Hansen backhand whack at the blueline took a few fortuitous skips and onto Kesler's stick. He had drawn a penalty while interupted by a hook taking a backhand shot, but a Capital's dragging skate pushed the puck past a sprawled Theodore. The Capitals fired right back with a nice wrist-shot by Alexander Semin, who took advantage of a broken play to beat Luongo gloveside. Brooks Laich paid the price for the goal, getting drilled by Tanner Glass off his feet into the Canucks bench (pictured below) while passing to Semin. Chris Clark gave the Capitals the lead heading into the second period, collecting the second shot attempt rebound off Kevin Bieksa for his 4th of the year. But Mason Raymond would score a beautiful goal late in the second period on a 2-on-1 rush, going backhand, then forehand, undressing Theodore to tie it. "We were trying to capitalize off their mistakes," said Raymond. "We knew if we kept shutting their top lines down, we would be heading back the other way." Alexander Ovechkin was shadowed all night long; here by Henrik Sedin, and regularly by Ryan Kesler (AP Photo, Darryl Dyck) As noted earlier, special teams played a significant role in the game, and the Canucks defense did a great job of boxing Washington out. Alex Burrows and both Ryan's (Kesler and Johnson) made significant plays to help knock pucks out of their end, and to keep them on the perimeter. "Our power play was horrible," coach Boudreau remarked, after failing to register a shot on 3 of 4 power plays. "We didn't generate anything." Only 19 seconds after Raymond's goal, Kevin Bieksa hauled Alexander Semin down on a partial breakaway. Referee Mike Leggo pointed to center ice to indicate a penalty shot. "I was playing the shot the whole way," explained Canucks captain Luongo. "Took as much net away as possible, and once he went for the shot I went down right away and was able to get a pad on it." The save (picture below) helped Raymonds' goal stand up to be the winner. Note: Henrik Sedin's assist on Mason's tying goal extended his point streak to 9 games, though twin Daniel had his stopped at 8 games. Next up: St. Louis Blues (away record, 8-3-3) have been playing better on the road than at home; visit Sunday for game 6 of 8 during Canucks' homestand.
  13. After dropping a decision late in the third period at home against the Ducks, who were 3-5-5 on the road entering the game, the Canucks have some ground to gain. Following the loss, Vancouver is 10th in the West, and Minnesota, who holds a game in hand, only trails by three points. These, in my humble opinion, are the 5 things they must do to ensure a playoff spot in the Western conference. 5) Better third line production: Kyle Wellwood, wherefore art thou? Please leave the Press box and come join us for some goals, would you? I recognize that it's difficult to duplicate last years' 18 goal output, and you've performed well in the faceoff circle and away from the puck. Not that the Canucks' success hinges on him scoring goals, but we need offence right now, and the third line is not producing much to speak of. Perhaps the most telling stat here is that on the Canucks' depth chart, the three players currently listed were not there 2 weeks ago. It would be awesome to see Steve Bernier line up with someone that he can develop some chemistry with, because his forecheck is excellent, and I love the amount he has been hitting. 4) More consistent efforts away from GM Place: This is obviously not something that just happens because you wish it to. We could talk till the cows come home about their horrific road schedule, travel times, etc. But I believe this is a preparation deficiency, and/or mental breakdown of some sort. 6-10-0 so far is not very good, and a couple of those losses were truly winnable games. In reality, the Canucks will need at least a .500 record on the road to make certain of a post-sesaon appearance. 3) Less man-games lost to injury: One of the intangibles that, for the most part, is out of anybody's control. Though Vancouver hasn't been the most plagued team in the league, they're close. They felt the pinch losing Daniel Sedin for a 14 stretch with a broken left foot, as well as Luongo for a shorter stint (in which their backups did an admirable job). Sami Salo, well, there's usually some period in the season where you have to factor in an injury for the two-way defender. But Pavol Demitra would be a nice addition back, and I can say that I'm personally looking forward to reuniting Grabner with Kesler and Raymond. 2) "Last half" Lou: Before proceeding one more iota, disclaimer: This is not a Luongo 'call-out'. Luongo has been playing very well, and the Canucks would be in a lot worse jam if not for him, no matter how hot the Sedins have been. But for all of his great attributes, Luongo self-admittedly doesn't always start the season as strongly as he would like. Canucks fans are crossing their fingers for one of his patented 2nd half hot streaks, where he basically owns most NHL shooters. Without a hot Luongo after the All-Star break, this team might fizzle out. 1) Better penalty kill: Here's the $20,000 question: What would you rather be more proficient at - the penalty kill or the power play? In what has been a stark contrast to the last few seasons, the Canucks' penalty kill has not been very good, ranked 21st at 78.9 % efficiency. The role reversal comes with an upside, as they are tied with Columbus for the 3rd best power play in the NHL. The PK traditionally for the Canucks has been strong, and needs to improve before their record follows suit. Of course, not giving up as many man advantages would be ideal, but if they don't tighten up their discipline, the only answer remaining is to have a stronger kill. Special teams make or break (the new) NHL clubs, and if the law of averages holds true, the Canucks really only sit just above the middle of the pack. With the Washington Capitals in town on Friday, and half of their 8 game homestand in the books, now would be a great time to incorporate some of the elements listed above. After all, it's not too early to start the standings watch... Keep pace with the Canucks all season long at Larenzo Jensen, with files from Getty Images, TSN, ESPN, and Yahoo! Sports
  14. Larenzo

    Speed Kings

    Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond proved a formidable, speedy duo with both recording a goal and an assist against the surging Los Angeles Kings. The Los Angeles Kings touched down at YVR looking to accomplish something they hadn’t done since 1980: Earn points in 9 straight games. Unfortunately for them, they would take off early Tuesday morning from Vancouver International failing to duplicate the feat. The Vancouver Canucks skated to a 3-1 victory over the Western conference leading Kings Monday night. Los Angeles also missed the opportunity to move abreast of the entire NHL with a win. Vancouver outhustled and overwhelmed the Kings with a speedy forecheck and a thorough ownership of the neutral ice area. “We didn’t come out as strong as we wanted to,” said Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. “It’s not an easy task coming into this rink and taking control in the first period but you’ve got to compete and fight off that wave of momentum they throw at you right at the beginning.” Ryan Kesler opened the scoring just 1:04 into the game, perfectly positioned in front of the Kings net (pictured), swiping home the Mason Raymond slapper. Shane O’Brien hustled and helped orchestrate the play by pinching the clearing attempt and leaving a drop pass for Raymond. “This game’s a lot about confidence,” stated Kesler, probably referring to both him and O’Brien. “It’s a funny game that way. You have confidence and you’re working hard but it seems like it’s effortless out there but I’m getting the bounces and I’m feeling good right now.” Kesler also made a crucial shot block during a 46 second 2-man advantage for the Kings. Luongo made the initial stop off a Drew Doughty slapshot, and a couple moments later Kesler sacrificed the body as Doughty let another blast go from the point, with traffic in front. “It was one of our best (games) of the year,” said Luongo. “We came out with an early lead and really played well the rest of the way and never really gave them much as far as scoring chances are concerned.” Daniel and Henrik Sedin both assisted on Sami Salo’s power play goal late in the first period, keeping their points streak alive at seven games. Mason Raymond’s speedy forecheck just added to the Kings’ frustration, as they had a difficult time moving the puck between center and the Canucks’ blue line. Raymond’s goal was his 12th, a career high in a season for him. The Orca crew (19-14-0) is 3-0 on their current 8 game homestand, and play Anaheim (12-13-7) Wednesday. The Ducks bring a 3-5-5 road record with them into GM Place. Check out further Canuck action at Larenzo Jensen, with files from The Canadian Press/ AP Photo and Yahoo! Sports
  15. Larenzo

    Early Sedin Christmas

    Henrik Sedin posted three assists during a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild Saturday to earn his 500th point as a Vancouver Canuck. Alex Burrows was quick to point out his adoration of the set-up twin. “Every play he’s so smart. Every time he gets it he’s finding ways to get it to the shooter, he sauces it through sticks or finds lanes to make the play and whether its on his forehand or backhand he’s able to make tape-to-tape passes.” The Canucks opened the game like race horses out of the gate. Gillaume Latendresse received a penalty 1:13 in for interference, and it only took the Canucks 30 seconds to score with the man advantage. The Wild got into more penalty trouble 4 minutes later, with Derek Boogaard getting the gate for roughing. Henrik Sedin again made his mark, setting up Mason Raymond for the 2-0 lead, another power play tally. Henrik, affectionately known in Vancouver as ‘Hank’, made the highlight reel with the seeing eye, behind the back dish. Shane Hnidy cut the lead in half at 13:55 on a play with Martin Havlat and Kyle Brodziak, to give Minnesota some life. Despite the quick start, the Canucks had a lot of trouble in the faceoff circle, the Wild winning 49 of 68 draws in total. The Sedin magic continued as Alex Burrows was the recipient of a pass from Daniel Sedin behind the net. Henrik initiated the play with an excellent move in the corner, determined to find his twin with the biscuit, and Daniel’s pass to Burrows found the net high to (Minnesota backup goaltender) Josh Harding’s glove side. The Wild refused to throw in the towel, though, having won 7 of their last 8 games. Martin Havlat, who had a goal and 2 assists, and was a plus 3, spotted defensive stalwart Greg Zanon in unfamiliar territory, -breaking to the net. Havlat slid him a pass that the Burnaby native somehow batted out of the air and off Luongo’s stick into the net. With Havlat in the box for high sticking, the Canucks again staked themselves to a 2 goal lead on the power play. Ryan Kesler curled on the half-boards towards the point, took a pass from Mathieu Schneider, and ripped a laser wrister just off the inside of the post for his 7th of the year. Martin Havlat tried to attone for his highsticking transgression, scoring with just over a minute remaining in the third, to make it a one goal game. But, just as Luongo had done much of the second period, he made the big saves when they needed it. With traffic in front, and an extra man on the ice for Minnesota, he saved a low hard slap shot, and somehow kept a bank shot from Eric Belanger at the goal line from going in. “It’s fun, especially having all of them here in Vancouver,” said Henrik Sedin of his 500th point. “It’s a fun city to play in. I hope I can reach 600 soon.” Follow the Canucks further at Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN, Yahoo! Sports and AP Photo
  16. Tired of being spectators while their previous two opponents had hat-trick goal scorers, the Canucks went out and got their own. The Atlanta Thrashers dropped their 2nd straight game to Northwest division foes after a loss in Calgary on Tuesday. Ondrej Pavelec was busy for Atlanta, facing 15 shots in the second period, and 16 in the third, for a total of 38 on the night. Daniel Sedin, with a little bit of luck, recorded the Canucks' second hat trick of the season (his brother had one while he was injured). This one was particularly special, as it was a 'natural' hat trick, scoring 3 straight goals for Vancouver. His third, scored at 1:39 of the 2nd frame, was due largely in part to Alex Burrows' determination in front of the net, taking a big hit to make the pass to Daniel. The goal turned out to be the eventual game-winner. Henrik Sedin also had a great game, and his jaw dropping statistic of 5 straight games with 2 assists is quite remarkable. It was evident to the sell out crowd on hand that the twins indeed have gotten into a groove since Daniel returned from a broken left foot. The Canucks were credited with 8 takeaways in the game, which really was a large reason for their victory. Even while short-handed in the second period, they managed three 2-on-1 breaks against the Thrashers after forcing turnovers. Canucks' sixth defenseman, Shane O'Brien, whom Team 1040 believes is being shopped by Vancouver to other teams, had his best game of the year. It wasn't just because he had an assist and was a plus 2 on the night (he initially was credited with 2 assists), but was hitting, skating well, and made some very good passes. He was named the games' third star. Earlier in the day, after the Canucks morning skate, captain Roberto Luongo held a captains-only meeting. He wanted to discuss the importance of this 8 game home stand, particularly with the 14 straight road games scheduled following the Olympics. "We all know what the standings are like and how tight it is, and we need some wins," said Luongo. The Sedin twins extended their points streak to 5 games, with Henrik adding 10 assists, and Daniel netting 5 goals and 4 assists in that span. Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec put the exclamation point on their performance. "Every time their on the ice, you have to be careful because those two guys are (two) of the best players in the NHL." Henrik Sedin is now third in the NHL for points with 38, one more than Sidney Crosby.
  17. The Vancouver Canucks waited until the third period to play meaningful hockey against the worst ranked team in the NHL, and that gamble cost them two points. Erik Cole of the Carolina Hurricanes missed 10 games in October with a broken leg, but seems to have recovered well. Though one goal was rather a fluke, with Willie Mitchell unknowingly kicking the puck into the net behind Andrew Raycroft, Cole played and skated with determination. "It could have been four or five (goals) tonight," said head coach Paul Maurice. "I think he has been skating much better, and when he skates like that he's a handful, and it opens up the ice for everybody." Jannik Hansen opened the scoring at 12:02 of the first period, but momentum quickly changed hands. Eric Staal sent a pass to Ray Whitney only 20 seconds later, and he backhanded the rolling puck over netminder Andrew Raycrofts shoulder. Ray Whitney and Sergei Samsonov added second period tallies, and the 'Nucks headed into intermission down by three. As noted, they worked hard and had a call go their way for a Carolina penalty to Samsonov in the third stanza. At 10:07, Steve Bernier got off a quick shot in the slot to beat Manny Legace, receiving a pass from behind the net from Mikael Samuelsson. Henrik Sedin had added success from behind the net, throwing a puck to the front of the net, with Alex Burrows deftly knocking the puck out of mid-air and into the back of the net to make it 4-3. Vancouver could get no closer, and pulled Raycroft for the extra attacker while on the power play with a minute to go in the game. Erik Cole nabbed an empty net goal to seal it away at 19:46. "Their top players certainly played a really strong game, but for whatever reason again we had a second period that was tough to explain," commented Canucks bench boss Alain Vigneault. A Vancouver win would have put them back into a playoff position, but instead have to settle for 9th in the Western conference. Now 2-1 on the road trip, they finish up in Nashville on Tuesday, with a chance to steal Nashville's spot in the playoff race. The Canucks (16-13-0) return home on Thursday to play the Atlanta Thrashers (15-8-3) at GM Place.
  18. <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">A break in the schedule and with 21 games already in the books equals a good time to review the first quarter of the Vancouver Canucks 2009.10 season. At the outset of the season, if told the Canucks would be sitting at 11-10-0 after the first 21 games, there may have been cries of outrage among those in Canuck Nation. After all, this was a team that had stated from the beginning that getting off to a good start would be crucial to their playoff hopes given their enormous 14-game road trip (actually an eight-game trip before the Olympic break plus a six-game trip coming out of the Winter Games) beginning in late January and stretching through to mid-March. <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">21 games into this season, however, and it is still virtually impossible to gauge this season's version of the Canucks. At no time during this season have the Canucks had the benefit of a fully healthy lineup and not only have the amount of injuries been staggering, they've been to the likes of some of Vancouver's key performers including Daniel Sedin and Roberto Luongo. Strictly going by the numbers, the Canucks are behind their pace of last season. After 21 games in the 2008.09 campaign, the Canucks sat first overall in the Northwest Division and third overall in the Western Conference. This season, the Canucks entered Wednesday trailing the division-leading Colorado Avalanche by seven points after the same number of games played. Keeping in mind that game no. 21 of last season happened to be a key turning point for the team's fortunes as it was the afternoon contest in Pittsburgh where the Canucks lost Roberto Luongo for what turned out to be a 24-game stretch, barring the same misfortune and with Daniel Sedin's return on the horizon, the Canucks expect to be in a much better position as far as their roster is concerned as they drive towards the mid-way mark of the season. As far as individual performances go, here are some of the best and worst of the first quarter of play for the Canucks in 2009.10: THE POSITIVES Henrik Sedin (12-11-23 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">For Henrik to have 23 points at this stage of the season is no shocker. For him to be able to do so without the winger who's been his linemate since he was in diapers is a bit of a surprise. 17 of his 23 points have come in the 17 games since Daniel's injury. The biggest surprise with Sedin is that, after last Friday's hat-trick, he finds himself with a team-leading 12 goals. He's currently on a pace for a 40-plus goal season although it's probably a safe bet his goal pace won't continue through the rest of the season especially when Daniel gets back into the lineup as Henrik will likely to go back to his more familiar role of set-up man. However, it's probably a good thing for the Canucks to know that if they did choose to split the Sedins somewhere again down the line, Henrik at the very least can hold his own and actually can find the net on a regular basis. Ryan Kesler (5-14-19 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Last year's Team MVP looks to have picked up right where he left off last season as he's been one of Vancouver's most consistent point producers so far this season. The biggest change with Kesler is whereas last season much of his success was attributed to playing with Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin, this season Kesler has been the one credited for sparking improved play among some of his new linemates. He had showed good chemistry with Michael Grabner (prior to his injury) and seems to be a big reason for some of Mason Raymond's offensive success of late. After 21 games played last season, Kesler had just 13 points (5-8-13). He's had a reputation of getting stronger as the season goes along so he'll definitely be a player to watch for the Canucks as they near the midway mark of the season. Mason Raymond (8-5-13 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">After two seasons of tantalizing Canuck fans with his blazing speed but frustrating them all at the same time with his inability to finish, Mason Raymond looks like he's finally been able to put it all together. Raymond had just 23 points (11-12-23) all of last season (all career-high numbers) but is on pace to shatter all of those numbers providing he can stay healthy and not go into one of his trademark prolonged slumps. Last season, he teased Canuck fans posting 10 points (5-5-10) in his first 13 games but went into a funk for most of November. After bouncing back with a decent December, he went into hibernation again for most of the rest of the season. He had just four points from January to the end of the regular season. Canucks fans are certainly hoping for a different path for Raymond this season. Honourable Mention: Christian Ehrhoff/Andrew Raycroft <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">Christian Ehrhoff came to Vancouver with the reputation as a point-producing defenceman and so far he hasn't disappointed. He leads all team blue-liners with goals (3) and points (12) but perhaps most surprisingly, he leads the team with a plus-nine rating. The biggest knock on Ehrhoff coming from San Jose was his defensive game but that hasn't been an issue so far. Last season, he finished minus-12 with the Sharks. We don't expect to see too much of Andrew Raycroft from now until the midpoint of the season (barring injury to Roberto Luongo) but give him credit for keeping the ship afloat during the six games Luongo was out. His 2.18 GAA and .916 save percentage still have him ranked as statistically the best goaltender for the Canucks this season. If the season were to end today, his GAA would be the best by a Canucks netminder since the NHL lockout. THE UNDERACHIEVERS Kyle Wellwood (0-1-1 in 17 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">He was last year's feel-good story but the only thing Kyle Wellwood's feeling this season is the heat after getting off to the worst start of his NHL career. For a player who redefined himself as a goal-scorer last season Wellwood's lack of shots this season have been especially alarming. Through 17 games played, Wellwood has just 17 shots on goal - an average of one per game. He has had more than one shot on goal in just three of his 17 games played this season. Last season, he had 94 shots in 74 games played. Kevin Bieksa (1-10-11 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">After scoring 11 goals and netting a career-high 43 points in 2008.09, much more was expected of the Grimsby, Ontario native coming into this season. However, it's been a struggle for Bieksa at the offensive end of the ice. Bieksa hasn't scored since opening night in Calgary although his point production has been somewhat better in recent games as he has four assists in his last four outings. It's hard to compare his production this year versus last since he missed eight of the first 21 games (ended up missing 9 of the first 22 games overall) with injury. However, through Vancouver's first 21 games last season, Bieksa had already tallied three times and had the same number of points as he does right now despite appearing in just 13 of those first 21 games in 2008.09. Alex Edler (0-10-10 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">He had gotten progressively better in each season since entering the NHL, so Alex Edler's sudden struggles this season are a bit hard to explain. He had a career high in goals (10) last season but has yet to find the back of the net in 2009.10. He is also on pace for the first time in his career to finish on the minus side of the plus-minus rating. But before Canuck Nation starts going into a panic, consider that Edler had an equally slow start through the first 21 games of last season (which included two missed games due to injury). At this time last season, Edler had one goal and five assists. Seven of his 10 goals last season came on or after January 31st. Dishonourable Mention: Alex Burrows <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">12 points (4-8-12) in 21 games and a shared spot in the top-five of team scoring isn't too shabby but, based on the way he finished last season, it's understandable why Canucks fans are considering this start to be a disappointing one for Burrows. In his defence however, Burrows point production isn't too far off from where he was at this time last season. Through the first 21 games of the 2008.09 season, Burrows had 13 points (6-7-13). It's easy to forget that Burrows didn't really hit his stride until he was placed on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin last season, but with Daniel's injury he hasn't had that opportunity much this season playing mostly on makeshift lines. One thing that's been noticeable looking at his numbers this season is that he's spreading the points around in more games. He has just one multi-point game this season whereas last season, through the first 21 games, he already had four multi-point outings. THE JURY'S STILL OUT Steve Bernier (6-4-10 in 19 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">He is the NHL's version of Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. On some nights, he can look like a dominant power forward and goal scorer. On others, you'd have to check the official roster to see if he's dressed. What we can tell you about Steve Bernier is that he's off to a slightly better start this season than he was in his first year as a Canuck. Through the first 21 games last season, Bernier had five goals and nine points. He has six goals and 10 points so far this season and that's playing in two fewer games after he had to sit out a pair of contests earlier due to a bout with the flu. Coming out of last Friday's win over the Avalanche, the Bernier bandwagon is full again thanks to his first two-goal game of the season. Where it will be five, or 10, or 15 games from now is anybody's guess. Mikael Samuelsson (8-7-15 in 21 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatRightFramed">When the Canucks signed Mikael Samuelsson away from the Red Wings in the off-season, they figured that being in the right scenario he could be a consistent 20-goal scorer (even though he had only reached the mark once in his career). A quarter into the season, he looks like he's certainly everything the Canucks have said he will be. However, for those who read the Game Notes on a regular basis, you'll also know that Samuelsson tends to play his most productive hockey in the month of October and this season that appears to be no exception. After 12 points in 14 games during the season's opening month, Samuelsson has managed just three points in seven games in November. Through the first 21 games last season with Detroit, Samuelsson had five goals and 18 points. Sami Salo (0-2-2 in 14 GP) <img src="" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">With just two assists at the quarter mark of the season, it's tough to suggest Sami Salo's start is anything but a disappointment. However, Salo gets the nod in the "jury's still out" category for the reason that the Canucks seem to be in a transition mode with Salo in terms of his role with the team. His penchant for injury makes it tough for the Canucks to consider him an everyday player. Instead, it almost seems like an added bonus when Salo is in the lineup. Certainly, the Canucks would love to see more production out of him when he does suit up. But even then, the Canucks re-tooled this off-season adding Christian Ehrhoff and Mathieu Schneider and, combined with the likes of Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler assuming they will eventually snap out of their respective funks, have four defencemen who can be relied on to generate offence from the back end meaning the pressure on Salo should be lightened somewhat. At this point last season, Salo had one goal and eight points despite missing four of the first 21 games with injury. Vancouver's 2008.09 record from Game No. 22 to Game No. 41: 8-9-3 Daniel writes the Tale of the Tape preview prior to each Canucks game. More of his work can be found here.
  19. The Vancouver Canucks have hit the midway point in their quest for hockey's holy grail, Lord Stanley's Cup, - here are 5 more players with the top grades so far this season. Christian Ehrhoff, A Ehrhoff nods while celebrating his OT winner against the St. Louis Blues Dec. 31/09 Even after registering 15 points in his first 13 games with the Canucks, "B-Mac" from Team 1040 (radio) still wasn't sold on Christian's defensive abilities. But I say that's why Vancouver has the Mitchell's and the Salo's - they've got shutdown defencemen. The ex-Shark gives the Canucks a dimension lacking in seasons past, and that's an offensive upside. The other undeniable part of his game is his timing and even-strength play. His +21 rating is right near the top of the NHL, let alone for defenders. Mike Gillis deserves part of this grade for securing his very, very useful services in the offseason. Daniel Sedin, A Daniel Sedin has potted the most Game-winning goals (4, -Vancouver) despite playing just over half the games (AP Photo/ Bill Boyce) ere's a testament to the kind of player that Daniel Sedin is: He's played just over half the games that his teammates have, and yet he leads the club with 4 GWG's (game-winning goals).In 23 games, he has 10-19-29, and is just shy of tied for 2nd best +/- rating on the team with +12. Earlier in the season, after he was lost to a broken left foot, the team tried to rally without him, but there is a discernable difference when he is not playing. Not just because of the uncanny symetry that he forms with his wonder-twin, but also because of the attention other teams must focus on him when he's present. I'm convinced he would be right there with Thornton, Crosby, Gaborik and his brother for the NHL lead in points were it not for his injury. Steve Bernier, B- Bernier manages to keep his balance and protects the puck against Eric Brewer (AP Photo/ Bill Boyce) Interestingly enough, another ex-Shark makes the top 11 Canucks list. Big and strong, with a good sense for where the puck will be, Bernier's committment to offseason conditioning has paid dividends this season. He lost 15 lbs over the summer, and got faster in the process, which is helping him to not only win races to the puck, but also forechecking. Playing just a shave under 15 minutes a night, he has 10 goals and 8 assists in 39 games. I'm of the belief that he is one of the cleanest bodycheckers in the league, if not one of the hardest. Just watch any opposing defenceman these days when Bernier is bearing down on them, -you'll witness the speed with which they get rid of the puck. He might not be Eddie Shack, but boy, when he's coming, yeah, you better "clear the track". Roberto Luongo, A Nothing I could add could do this picture justice... (The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh) For any of the 'haters' that feel that Luongo should have gotten the best grade, I would direct them to my comment about the pictured save. Yes, I do recognize that Luongo has been selected by Team Canada. I am also aware that he is one of the best in the NHL, has a .919 save percentage, is 20-12-1-2, and is sporting a 2.29 goals against average. While trying to remain objective, I will also point out that I clapped my hands together rather audibly when I discovered he was a Vancouver Canuck, via a trade with the New York Islanders. Hockey pundits, though, have a valid argument about postseason success, but that is not what is being discussed here. His season to this point has been strong, and the amazing thing is that purists know that at any moment, he could become red hot and nigh invincible tending goal. His penchant for strong finishes to the season surely has fans humming Bryan Adams' "The Best was Yet to Come". Henrik Sedin, A+ Henrik Sedin celebrates with Sami Salo after a goal, a scene witnessed 19 times already (The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Trevor Linden knew this day was coming.As a matter of fact, he even told Henrik so, which is one of the reasons 'Hank' had the confidence to achieve the heights that he has. But it wasn't always so. For a few years, there were the jeers of "The Sedin Sisters", or "The Pantene's" (in reference to the popular line of hygenical products). I've heard them all. Now, I just think of the people who uttered them as insightless, unknowledgeable critics. They certainly don't have much to say about Henrik Sedin currently 2nd in the entire NHL for points, only 2 points removed from the top. They also don't have answers to how two "Sisters" managed to become strong, well-trained men that boast rugged, injury resistant careers. Perhaps if they followed them to Ornskoldsvik (Sweden) and watched them train like demons in the offseason after a short, 2 week break, they'dstart to understand. Henrik Sedin stands tall amongst his peers, as one of the best players in the game. Period. More second half excitement in store at Larenzo Jensen, with files from The Associated Press and AP Photo