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Found 7 results

  1. Vancouver and Colorado may have started the season both atop the Western Conference standings, but my, how things have changed. The Vancouver Canucks enter tonights match-up with the Avalanche with 101 points, 11 more than second place Detroit (who hold 2 games in hand). Winners of six straight, even without their full defensive corps. Alternately, the Avalanche have lost 8 in a row, one win in their last 19, and only managed three points in February. I know, February is a short month and all, but it's not that short. Jannik Hansen and Ryan Kesler give Canucks fans another reason to jump out of their seats For some Canuck fans, it's difficult to feel sympathy for the once proud, powerful Colorado organization. During the reign of Montreal-rejected Patrick Roy, Peter "Foppa" Forsberg, "Burnaby" Joe Sakic and Milan Hejduk, many a Canuck dream was dashed. Quebec Nordiques fans had their team snatched out from underneath them just as they entered their prime. I remember grinding out road games on the radio in the ol' Camry. Canucks would be down 4-2 heading into the third at the Pepsi Center. The last thing I wanted to hear was another synthesized horn and sudden crowd outburst. Tom Larscheid would go on for minutes about Forsberg essentially carrying Canuck defenders on his back as he drove to the net. As far as conflicting emotions go, how many people were torn when native son Joe Sakic lit up Vancouver Canuck goaltenders? Jeff Tambellini and Antii Miettinen have a meeting of the minds Monday at Rogers Arena (photo courtesy of Rich Lam/Getty Images) Much has been made of the recent trades conducted by the Avalanche organization. Though the long-term jury is out on Erik Johnson, it sure doesn't look positive that the teams big slide has coincided with the blockbuster shipping Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis. In perhaps a "What have you done for me lately?" moment, 2010 playoff hero Craig Anderson was flipped for Ottawa's Brian Elliot. Along with David "The Swiss Miss" Aebischer, Peter Budaj, in Colorado, may you rest in peace Mr. Elliot. Cory Schneider will get his 19th start of the season tonight against the Avs. Starter Roberto Luongo joked with reporters about the possibility of Schneider getting the prerequisite 25 games to qualify for Calder Trophy nomination. "I don't know what the plan is for the rest of the way. Maybe I'll pull myself from a couple of games. Obviously, whether he gets there (to 25 games) or not, he's very deserving." Dan Hamhuis chalks up another shot block as Ehrhoff and Luongo look on (photo courtesy of Rich Lam/Getty Images) The Canucks were able to beat the Minnesota Wild Monday, but relied heavily on their League-leading special teams to get it done. Captain Henrik Sedin spoke about the win and reliance on a hot powerplay. "With the team and the guys and the depth we have, we aren't always going to have to play at 100 percent, but at the same time that's where we want to be." It appears the Captains example is being followed, right down to the foot soldiers. Re-invigorated from an All-Star break chat with line-mate Manny Malhotra and head coach Alain Vigneault, Raffi Torres spoke to Province reporter Jim Jamieson. "You don't want to go into the playoffs not playing well," he said. "You can't just turn the switch on. You want to be playing at the top level." On the defensive front, the team is still without Kevin Bieksa, who broke his foot February 15th at Minnesota. But he must be closer to recovery, as he's back in the dressing room and having little verbal jousts with the media. It was suggested that either he or Sami Salo would be playing tonight. "Oh yeah?" Bieksa said sarcastically. "That's very presumptuous I don't know, I'm just a player. I'm not a writer or a GM. I don't know what's going on. I've still got a little ways to go," he said, about a week after he'd first hoped to return. Sami Salo will be a game-time decision, his elbow still a little numb after blocking a shot Monday. With files from Getty Images and The Province, I'm Larenzo Jensen on The Canuck Way
  2. Larenzo

    Resilient Sami Salo

    Like a fighter that keeps getting knocked down, when you expect the next blow to put him down for the count, Sami Salo just won't stay down. There's a reason why Sylvester Stallone's Italian Stallion character Rocky Balboa spawned a series of movies. That human spirit, that innate drive is what seemed so compelling about the character. Sure, Sami Salo doesn't compare well with Sylvester Stallone, save for they have similar initials. But his resiliency, his determination to get back to his feet, and to what end? Who's to say that he doesn't (knock on wood) have another tough injury befall him? One could argue that he's endured more pain during his NHL career than an average person does in a lifetime. Sports doctors alike agree that recovering from a torn Achilles tendon can be quite an ordeal for professional athletes. Sami is quick to direct credit for help during said recovery. "I think having the support of family and friends got me through that, and then coming over here, having a chance to go early on a road trip with the guys, even though I wasn't skating... those are the little things that give you a light at the end of the tunnel." Salo's teammates are eager to have him back. "He is one of our favourites, that's for sure," said Burrows. "He's been around a long time, knows what it's all about and he's always been a really nice guy with the young guys - he was with me, when I came in, and things haven't changed." Salo plays tonight against the Calgary Flames, but has already played three games in a conditioning stint with the Manitoba Moose. He scored two goals the first game back since the injury. "I was a little nervous," Salo recalled. I wasn't sure how the leg would feel. It's not easy coming back when you've been out so long, and I think it might have been tougher to come back the first game here than there." Even if the butterflies manifest themselves in Salo's stomach, and in turn his play, fans will have nothing but cheers for the unflappable, resilient Finn. All Canucks, all the time. http://thecanuckway.com With files from The Vancouver Sun, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  3. The trade deadline is approaching. It's a little less than a month away, just 27 days left before frantic phone calls are made and triggers pulled too fast. It's my second most favourite NHL-related time of the year, just behind July 1, because I get to whine, complain, yell, laugh, praise, and wonder how close Pierre McGuire can creep up to Darren Dutchyshen before Dutchyshen completely loses it on live TV (I swear it's going to happen someday). It's also a great reason for me to stay home, glue my butt to the couch, and watch TSN until my eyes melt. So exciting. <img src="http://2010vancouver.ca/mikegillis.jpg"class="imageFloatRightFramed">But are the Canucks even major players this year? Given that the Canucks are first in the West and in virtually no danger of falling out of the top eight, the team is obviously a buyer. But this is a team that never has been major deadline players under Mike Gillis. Over the past two trade deadlines, only three trades have been made, all of them last year. In Gillis' first season, the Canucks' last trade before the playoff run was a minor league swap (Mike Brown for Nathan McIver, who was waived by the Canucks the day before and claimed by Anaheim). It was never believed that the Canucks would be major players anyway, having signed Mats Sundin on December 18 and thus having little cap room to do anything else. To Gillis, signing Sundin was the equivalent to a trade deadline blockbuster, but without having to lose any long-term assets. Last year, the Canucks made three separate swaps, the only substantial piece being Andrew Alberts (the others by Yan Stastny and Sean Zimmerman), who was much maligned last year but has improved tremendously this year. Are we in store for another low-key trade deadline? I don't think there's any reason to suggest otherwise. The Canucks are interesting in adding pieces, not losing them (those Ehrhoff trade rumours are ridiculous and not worth discussing, and Schneider's staying), and while the pipeline is now replenished with some attractive pieces, it doesn't seem as if Gillis is willing to part with any particular player. Despite rumours of Cody Hodgson being on the move, I think largely fueled by a public semi-feud between the two camps regarding Hodgson's back injury, i would be shocked if Gillis gives up on his first ever draft pick. It was a pick that Gillis himself believed was a step in a new direction, a direction that shied away from "safe" picks which had been so common with Brian Burke and Dave Nonis, to players that had the right high-end mixture of talent and character. Losing Alex Edler to back surgery was a big blow but even by placing his remaining cap hit on the LTIR it doesn't open enough space for the Canucks to acquire anything substantial anyway. Like Sundin, the return of Sami Salo could be considered the Canucks' big deadline acquisition. In the playoffs, there is no salary cap, and if Edler and Salo can return by the opening round, the Canucks' six-man group, as noted before the season started, is the league's deepest. <img src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/79/Zenon_Konopka.jpg/220px-Zenon_Konopka.jpg"class="imageFloatLeftFramed">But that doesn't mean Gillis shouldn't work the phones to plug two glaring holes: a injury-free, regular fourth-line centreman and a veteran player with plenty of playoff experience. Ideally, the two holes can be plugged by a single player, but if Gillis had to pick it should be the former. While experience is considered a luxury, it sure can be overrated. The team has already established its leadership group going forward and will rely heavily on the Sedins, Kesler, and Luongo to show what they can do to avoid another second-round exit. The Sedins will now enter the playoffs with over 60 games of playoff experience each and with few substantial roster changes over the past two years, most of the current Canucks will already have over 20 games and two separate playoff runs under their belts. So who can fill that fourth-line role? Not many. The first requirement is that the player be an impending UFA. It's important to acquire a player that is not signed beyond the 2010-11 season unless it's a two-way deal, which gives Gillis an escape plan should a rookie (Hodgson, Schroeder, Bliznak, Bolduc, etc.) be favoured for a roster spot next year. The second requirement is that the player has to win at least 50% of it's face-offs. While the Canucks do have three of the league's best centremen, having a dependable fourth will help. In the grand scheme of things the Canucks may not necessarily need him to win, but every play counts in the playoffs and it might give the team a better night's sleep if they didn't have to use Tambellini or Glass in a defensive zone face-off after an icing call.The only player that fits the bill, as Ben Kuzma has noted before, is the Islanders' Zenon Konopka, a big, strong fourth-line centre who is ranked sixth in the NHL if face-off %. Konopka's been on my radar for awhile as a fourth line player with some major sandpaper (250+ PIM last year) but his face-off ability is something that has gone under the radar the past two seasons, in large part because he was under-utilized by Rick Tocchet in Tampa Bay. He'll cost a mid-round pick, a minor price to pay. But how busy the trade deadline will be depends entirely on the market. There are four obvious sellers (Edmonton, Ottawa, New Jersey, and the NY Islanders) but none have any real attractive pieces, the most high-profile being Alex Kovalev, but he comes with a major red flag and seems destined to finish his career in the KHL. There are another four teams (Columbus, St. Louis, Florida, and Buffalo) that have an outside shot at making the playoffs but probably won't and will most likely be sellers at the deadline as well, especially Florida, which is slowly beginning it's rebuilding process. There is, of course, Toronto, who really should be a seller by this point already but haven't declared so, perhaps out of some misguided sense of self-worth, but have a great trade piece in Tomas Kaberle. That leaves 21 teams that are potential buyers. That's a lot, but we can narrow down the list even more. There are three teams that cannot afford to add salary due to ownership issues: Dallas, Phoenix, and Atlanta. There are two teams that have traditionally been non-buyers, Nashville and Carolina, who may be major players only if ownership gives the green light (unlikely). <img src="http://www.timescolonist.com/sports/1566473.bin?size=620x400"class="imageFloatRightFramed">Vancouver and Detroit are in a good position to finish in the top two spots in the West but don't have any cap space to add anybody from outside the organization. Like I said before, Salo's return is Vancouver's big move and Detroit would love to have Pavel Datsyuk and Dan Cleary back. Pittsburgh and Boston are headed towards the postseason but have little cap space to work with, which means Ray Shero probably won't find a winger for Crosby (again) and the Bruins are already pretty deep. San Jose, Chicago, Calgary, and Montreal are in danger of not making the playoffs. All four teams already have or currently trying to create some space for deadline deals. San Jose (Torrey Mitchell) and Montreal (Cammalleri, Markov) may have space to work with due to injuries, while Chicago (shuttling Nick Leddy back and forth from AHL) and Calgary (waiving Ales Kotalik) are making personnel changes. It's a TBD situation for all four but it'll be difficult. The Wild, Flyers, Rangers, and Capitals can perhaps add one extra body of note. The Capitals may choose not to make a move considering that Alex Ovechkin is "saving himself" for the playoffs (not buying the theory) and the Rangers eagerly await the return of Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan. The Ducks and Kings have roughly $4 million in cap room, giving them some good options, and both teams could use more help. My bet would be on the Kings to make the big splash but given their disappointing season thus far you have to wonder if Lombardi should stand pat and give the current Kings a vote of confidence and emotional boost. If my math is correct, that leaves two teams: Tampa Bay and Colorado. Greg Sherman is one of the league's most secretive GMs and who knows what he's up to, but my bet is that he doesn't do anything substantial. He's obviously a very smart GM and it would be wise for this young Avs team to grow together as a group in the playoffs. His only noteworthy deadline deal last year was swapping young players (Wojtek Wolski to Phoenix for Peter Mueller and Kevin Porter) and not acquiring a seasoned veteran, one of which (Scott Hannan) he has already dealt this year. That leaves Tampa as the real, true, major buyer at the deadline. It's been a fantastic season for Steve Yzerman and company and they seem destined to win the Southeast. A great season with tons of attention on superstar Steven Stamkos and stable ownership means that their pockets will be looser. But they have to be careful. Nothing erases memories of a good season faster than a quick exit in the first round (ask the Thrashers, who finally made the playoffs as the Southeast champs in 2007, made a huge deal of acquiring Keith Tkachuk, but bowed out in 4 games after being outscored 17-6 and become the butt of everyone's jokes again) so the Lightning would be wise to avoid this pitfall. Coming soon: a look at the players most likely to be moved.
  4. It was a Debbie Downer sort of week in Canucks Nation with just one victory in three games to celebrate and Number Crunching continues with the theme by presenting the stats you'd least like to hear about. But of course we do have one bright spot and that's our Number Crunching Player of the Week Award, which figures to be a Ray of sunshine in an otherwise dreary week in Canuckland. THE 100-POINT CURSE? <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2410_burtwin_rr.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Henrik Sedin became the first player in the NHL this season to reach the 100-point mark on Saturday and while it is a very significant individual accomplishment, is it really one worth rejoicing? Since the NHL lockout and coming into this season, the NHL has seen 18 100-point performances (Henrik became the 19th on Saturday and Alex Ovechkin became the 20th on Sunday). Of those 18 performances, 13 of them were players who belonged to teams that were bounced from the NHL playoffs by the second round while only three of them managed to taste the ultimate glory at the end of the season. The following list shows the team success for the 18 respective 100-plus point performers since the NHL lockout: Three failed to qualify for the playoffs: Alex Ovechkin (WSH) and Sidney Crosby (PIT) in 2005.06; and Joe Sakic (COL) in 2006.07. Five were eliminated in round one: Jaromir Jagr (NYR) in 2005.06; Sidney Crosby (PIT), Vincent Lecavalier (STL) and Martin St. Louis (STL) in 2006.07; and Alex Ovechkin (WSH) in 2007.08. Five were eliminated in round two: Joe Thornton (SJS), Dany Heatley (OTT) and Daniel Alfredsson (OTT) in 2005.06; Joe Thornton (SJS) in 2006.07; and Alex Ovechkin (WSH) in 2008.09. Two lost in the Stanley Cup Final: Dany Heatley (OTT) in 2006.07 and Evgeni Malkin (PIT) in 2007.08. Three won the Stanley Cup: Eric Staal (CAR) in 2005.06; and Evgeni Malkin (PIT) and Sidney Crosby (PIT) in 2008.09. Here is how the Canucks' team success has fared over the years when they have had a 100-point performer on their roster in the regular season: 1992.93 Pavel Bure (110 points) - Advanced to second round 1993.94 Pavel Bure (107 points) - Advanced to Stanley Cup Final 1995.96 Alex Mogilny (107 points) - Qualified for playoffs 2002.03 Markus Naslund (104 points) - Advanced to second round HOUSE OF HORRORS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2710_scrappy_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">The Canucks will not publicly admit it, but if there is one team they would like to avoid in a playoff match-up it would be the San Jose Sharks considering their lack of success playing at the HP Pavilion at San Jose as evidenced on Saturday when they dropped their fifth straight game at the Shark Tank dating back to 2007.08. The five-game winless streak (0-4-1) at the Shark Tank is the longest active losing streak for the Canucks in any building in the NHL. Their second longest winless streak in an opposition building is at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Arizona - home of the Phoenix Coyotes. Vancouver's winless streak at the Jobing.com Arena is three games (0-1-2). Below is a list of some of the other buildings around the NHL where the Canucks currently have a multi-game winless streak: Honda Center (Anaheim): 0-1-1 HSBC Arena (Buffalo): 0-1-1 RBC Center (Carolina): 0-2-0 Bell Centre (Montreal): 0-2-0 St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa Bay): 0-2-0 FIRST THE WORST <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2710_face_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Perhaps the best statistic in the Canucks favours this week was that after surrendering two first period goals to the Oilers to open the week on Tuesday, the Canucks were perfect in opening frames defensively to close out the week. So far this season, the first period has clearly been the worst for the Canucks. Among all teams currently in a playoff position, the Canucks have surrendered more first period goals than any other club with 77 in 75 games played (averaging more than one first period goal per game). The overall leader for most first period goals against this season are the Atlanta Thrashers, who have given up 82 in the same number of games played as the Canucks (for the week ending Sunday, March 28). It is a stark reversal from last season when the Canucks were one of the better first period teams in the NHL giving up just 65 total first period tallies during the 82-game regular season. The 77 (and counting) first period goals surrendered by the Canucks this season are the most in the Roberto Luongo era and the most they have surrendered since giving up 82 first period tallies during the 2005.06 season. Last season, the San Jose Sharks led all playoff-bound teams giving up 79 first period goals during the regular season. Also of note in 2008.09, the top four playoff-bound teams that surrendered the most first period goals (namely the Sharks, Canadiens, Flames and Flyers) all ended up being knocked out of the playoffs in round one. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYER OF THE WEEK <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/032410_VAN_ANA_205d.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Andrew Raycroft: 30 saves on 31 shots on Wednesday against Anaheim. It is not often a player that appears in just one game gets singled out for a weekly honour but in Andrew Raycroft's case we are willing to make an exception. Raycroft led the Canucks to their only victory of the week and looked very good doing it, even getting the crowd to chant his name on Wednesday at GM Place. The victory was the eighth of the season for Raycroft marking the most wins for a single Canucks backup netminder in the Luongo-era. Raycroft's eight victories on the season are also the second most in the NHL among netminders who have played 20 games-or-fewer (Raycroft has appeared in 19 games this season). Only Washington's Michal Neuvirth (17 games played in) has more victories among goaltenders in that category with nine. Honourable mentions go to Daniel Sedin, who finished the week with three goals and five points and extended his overall goal streak to four games entering the week, and Henrik Sedin, who had six assists in three games and not only surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time in his career but also established a new career-high in assists with his 73rd helper and counting. CRUNCHED BY THE NUMBERS <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/03/mar2010_muddle_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Sami Salo: Zero points and two shots on goal in three games played. For a player that possesses arguably the most dangerous shot on the team, Salo's lack of pucks thrown on net in recent contests has to be a cause for concern. Salo managed just one shot each against the Oilers and Ducks on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and then was held without a shot for just the 10th time this season on Saturday against the Sharks. He also had a particular tough outing on the defensive end on Saturday as he was caught on the ice for three of the four Sharks goals on the evening and had an especially embarrassing gaffe at the end of the game where he misplayed the puck after an icing call had been waived off leading to a Sharks' empty-net goal. Salo enters this week with no points in his last seven games - his longest streak without a point since an 11-game slump from November 3 - 29, 2009.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 http://thecanuckway.com with files from TSN, AP Photo and the Canadian Press, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  7. <img src="http://nhluploads.invisionzone.com/canucks/1262568096/gallery_43389_43_54888.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Notes: -Players will be listed according to their primary position during this decade. For example, Naslund will be listed as a left winger because he spent most of this decade as a left winger. -A player's success throughout the decade will be taken into consideration, not just individual season accomplishments. Second Team LW – Daniel Sedin After being feared that him and his brother Daniel would not develop into first line forwards, but whose saying they aren't now? Daniel Sedin has established himself as one of the top left wingers in Canucks history. A scoring threat in the offensive zone and a reliable defender in the defensive zone. Daniel has been the team's leading scorer two of the past three seasons. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Burrows C – Brendan Morrison If you needed a clutch goal, Brendan Morrison was the guy you'd look for as he is the franchise leader in regular season overtime goals. Morrison was solid at both ends of the rink and even on the point on the power play. Morrison also was an integral part of the West Coast Express with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. At the line's peak in 2002-03, Morrison had 25 goals and 46 assists. In addition, Morrison holds the franchise record for most consecutive games played. Honourable Mention(s): Ryan Kesler RW – Trent Klatt I would have liked to say somebody else, but this decade the Canucks were just not blessed with many great right wingers. Klatt was simply the best out of the right wingers that have played. You could put Anson Carter in this spot, but he played in one season or maybe Alex Burrows, but he's had less than a year with the Sedins on right wing, or maybe Ryan Kesler, but only spent half a season on right wing. Klatt spent most of his time as a Canuck as the right winger for the Sedin twins on the second line. His best season as a Canuck came in 2000-01 when he potted 13 goals and 20 assists. Honourable Mention(s): Anson Carter, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows D – Sami Salo Although seemingly made out of glass, Salo has been key contributor when he's been in the lineup this decade and has been a stabilizing presence in the back end. Always a threat on the power play with the one timer, possesses the skill set to move players out from the crease, and is excellent at moving the puck up the ice. D – Willie Mitchell Since being acquired as a free agent in the summer of 2006, Mitchell has been rock solid defensively for the Vancouver Canucks and has come as advertised. The Canucks go-to guy as the shutdown defenceman and in the process has racked up decent point totals for a defensive defenceman. Mitchell has also won the last two Babe Pratt Trophies, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Honourable Mention(s): Brent Sopel G – Dan Cloutier Quite simply there was nobody else to choose as Cloutier had been the team's number one goalie from 2001 to 2005. During his tenure, he posted three straight 30 wins season from 2001-02 to 2003-04 and ranks top-five in all franchise goalie records. Cloutier still remains the franchise record holder for best goals against average in a single season. Honourable Mention(s): Alex Auld First Team LW – Markus Naslund Although you could argue Pavel Bure was the more skilled and better offensive forward, there is no doubt that Naslund was the best left winger this franchise has had. Heading into the 2009-10 NHL campaign, he is the franchise leader in goals, points, power play goals, and shots as well as third in games played and assists behind Canuck greats Trevor Linden and Stan Smyl. Naslund along with Smyl are the longest serving full-time Canucks captains at eight years. In addition, Naslund was chosen as the team's most valuable player four times, led the team seven straight years in scoring, and was the winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award winner (awarded to the league's most outstanding player as voted by the members of the NHLPA). C – Henrik Sedin There were questions about whether Henrik Sedin and his brother Daniel could become legitimate first line forwards in the NHL after being picked second and third overall in 1999. The first five years of the decade, Henrik was mediocre at best, but the last five following the lockout has vaulted him into star player status. Henrik has developed into a dependable two-way forward who excels in both zones, a capable penalty killer, and a player who could win a key draw. RW – Todd Bertuzzi His time at stardom was short lived, but during that time he was the premier power forward in the NHL and was an integral part of hockey's most feared line, the West Coast Express. In the year that the Canucks were supposed to win it all (2002-03), Bertuzzi potted a career-high 46 goals and added 51 assists. His last two years with the Canucks in 2003-04 and 2005-06, he had a respectable 0.87 points per game average, but since his performance has tailed off. D – Ed Jovanovski Jovanovski did it all for the Canucks. He had skating ability, could score from the point on a slapshot or a simple wrist shot, go to the front of net to provide a screen, setup his teammates, send you through the boards with a hit, and fight. He was the complete package. D – Mattias Ohlund For most of this decade, Ohlund was the designated shutdown defenceman for the Canucks and logged upwards of 20 minutes a game nightly for the team playing on both the power play and penalty kill. Ohlund possessed great open-ice hitting ability as well and would always play through pain. Ohlund is also a four time winner of the Babe Pratt Trophy, the team's best defenceman as voted by the fans. Definitely one of the top defenceman in Canucks history. G – Roberto Luongo Need to say anything? In about three and a half seasons as a Canuck goalie, Luongo has already established himself as one of the best goalies in franchise history. Luongo holds the franchise records for the most wins in a single season, best save percentage in a single season, most saves in a single game, longest shutout streak at 242 minutes and 36 seconds, most shutouts in a single season, and most shutouts as a Canuck. Should Luongo finish his career as a Canuck, he is on pace to become the franchise leader in most goaltending categories.