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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 Canucks.com 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.
Canada captured an Olympic Winter Games record of 14 Gold medals in Vancouver and in honour of the Canadian Olympic Team, Number Crunching tries for a Gold medal performance in this first blog back since the Olympic break where we look back at the best of the Men's Ice Hockey tournament as well as ahead to the NHL's Trade Deadline on Wednesday. And of course, find out who takes home the Gold as the Number Crunching Player of the 2010 Winter Games. MEDAL HAUL <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/FEb2810_gold_rr.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Canada came away with a record medal haul at the 2010 Winter Games, but the Canucks didn't do too shabbily either with three players returning to the team each with a medal of their own. Roberto Luongo (Canada - Gold), Ryan Kesler (USA - Silver), and Sami Salo (Finland - Bronze) will each have something to show off to their teammates when they re-join the team in Columbus. Their respective performances marked the first time since the NHL allowed players to participate in the Olympics that the Canucks have had players return to the team with medals in all three colours. However, the three medals is not a Canucks record for most medals won at a single Olympic Winter Games. That count is five which was set in 2006 in Torino when Mattias Ohlund along with Daniel and Henrik Sedin returned with Gold medals while Sami Salo and Jarkko Ruutu returned with Silver medals. Overall, the three medals from the 2010 Winter Games brings the Canucks total medal count to 11. Below is a list of Canucks Olympic medalists since 1998: Roberto Luongo (CAN): 2010 - Gold Ryan Kesler (USA): 2010 - Silver Sami Salo (FIN): 2010 - Bronze Mattias Ohlund (SWE): 2006 - Gold Daniel Sedin (SWE): 2006 - Gold Henrik Sedin (SWE): 2006 - Gold Sami Salo (FIN): 2006 - Silver Jarkko Ruutu (FIN): 2006 - Silver Ed Jovanovski (CAN): 2002 - Gold Pavel Bure (RUS): 1998 - Silver Jyrki Lumme (FIN): 1998 - Bronze DEMO-NSTRATION OF SKILL <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/Feb2710_demo_rr.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Slovakia may have come up short of medaling in the Men's Ice Hockey tournament but as far as individual performances go, they certainly did own the podium in terms of points scored led by the Canucks' own Pavol Demitra. Demitra led the tournament with 10 points (3-7-10) while teammate and Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa finished second with nine points (3-6-9). Team USA and New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise finished third with eight points (4-4-8). Prior to Demitra, the last time a Slovak player led the tournament in scoring was in 1994 at the Lillehammer Winter Games. In fact, the top three scorers from that tournament were all Slovaks with Zigmund Palffy leading the way with 10 points (3-7-10) followed by Miroslav Satan (9-0-0) and Peter Stastny (5-4-9). That year, however, the Slovaks came in a disappointing sixth place despite winning their pool in the preliminary round. Demitra also became the first Canucks player since the NHL began participating in the Olympics in 1998 to lead the Men's Ice Hockey tournament in points. The only other Canuck to ever reach a top-three finish in points was Pavel Bure in 1998 when he notched nine goals in six games played helping Russia capture a Silver medal in Nagano. Bure finished one point shy of tying the tournament lead in points behind Bronze medalists Teemu Selanne (4-6-10) and Saku Koivu (2-8-10). SO LONG, FAREWELL? <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/10/oct0809_hans02_rr.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">With the NHL trade deadline coming at noon PT on Wednesday, March 3, there will be plenty of anxious Canucks players wondering if they will suiting up to face the Red Wings that night or hopping on a flight to parts currently unknown. While getting dealt is usually a shock to the system, there are five current Canucks on the active roster who knows what it's like to be moved on deadline day. Below is the list of current Canucks who have been involved in a deadline day deal: Ryan Johnson: Traded on deadline day 2000 from the Florida Panthers to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Mike Sillinger. Darcy Hordichuk: Traded on deadline day 2002 from the Atlanta Thrashers to the Phoenix Coyotes for a package including Kirill Safronov and the rights to Ruslan Zainullin. Brad Lukowich: Traded on deadline day 2006 from the New York Islanders to the New Jersey Devils for a third round draft pick. Willie Mitchell: Traded on deadline day 2006 from the Minnesota Wild to the Dallas Stars for Martin Skoula and Shawn Belle. Steve Bernier: Traded on deadline day 2008 from the San Jose Sharks to the Buffalo Sabres for Brian Campbell. As far as the Canucks as a team goes, since 1980 they have made 43 deals on trade deadline day although one was later nullified after the late Peter Zezel refused to report to Anaheim following a trade on deadline day 1999. The Canucks last made a trade on deadline day in 2008 when former GM Dave Nonis shipped Matt Cooke to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Matt Pettinger. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE 2010 WINTER GAMES <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/feb1710_luongo_rr.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Roberto Luongo: 5-0 record with a 1.76 GAA and a .927 save percentage. Pavol Demitra received strong consideration after his tournament leading 10 points but it's hard to argue against Roberto Luongo who in the end was the lone Canuck to leave the Vancouver Games with a Gold medal around his neck. Luongo opened the tournament with an 8-0 shutout over an out-matched Norway team and at the time, the general belief was that the win against Norway would be the only action Luongo would receive in the tournament. That quickly changed after Canada opted to ride Luongo heading into the elimination portion of the tournament. Luongo posted an 8-2 win over Christian Ehrhoff and Team Germany in the Qualification Playoff game and then recorded a 7-3 win over a powerful Russian team the next night in the Quarterfinal. From there, he made some crucial late saves in a 3-2 win over Pavol Demitra and the Slovaks in the Semifinal before coming up with a clutch performance in an overtime victory over Ryan Kesler and the Americans in the Gold medal game in what was undoubtedly the biggest game of his career. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/02/feb1910_twins_rr.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Daniel and Henrik Sedin: Combined one goal and five points in four games played A fifth place finish in Vancouver after winning the Gold medal in 2006 in Torino was definitely not what the Swedes had expected coming into the tournament and a less than stellar tournament for Daniel and Henrik probably contributed to their disappointing result. The trio of the twins and Mattias Weinhandl combined for just one goal in the tournament, that belonging to Daniel Sedin in a game against Belarus. In fact, out of the twins' five total points in the tournament, four of them came in that preliminary round game against Belarus. Both of Henrik's two assists in the tournament came in that game against Belarus while Daniel Sedin had one goal and one assist in that same game. Daniel also added an assist in Sweden's 3-0 win over Finland in their final preliminary game. Both Daniel and Henrik were shutout of the point column in Sweden's shocking 4-3 loss to Slovakia in the Quarterfinal game.