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Found 29 results

  1. I hope the Canucks know that the true/real fans still support them and appreciate this cup run they have given us. I feel privileged to have been a part of it. The riots make me sick and disgusted. To see the team's sad faces last night broke my heart and I would do anything to change that. This team has taken us right to the very end and put their all out there. That is all I could have asked for and I truly hope they know this. It's hard to put all my thoughts into words right now because there are just so many swimming through my head. Finally, thanks to all the fans who continue to support the Canucks; especially the Vancouverites who went downtown to help clean up. It is greatly appreciated. Forever a Canuck. We'll get em' next year boys! Keep your heads up ps: Happy Birthday to Kevin Bieksa ! Best wishes.
  2. After jumping out to an early 2-0 series lead on home ice, the Vancouver Canucks return to Vancouver tied after a two game Beantown beating. Roberto Luongo looks on after Rich Peverly opens the scoring in Game 4 It just never comes 'easy' for the Vancouver Canucks. Of course, being that it's the Stanley Cup Finals, one wouldn't expect it should. But at the beginning of the series, it seemed like the Bruins might never get a goal on Roberto Luongo. When Alex Burrows scored 11 seconds into overtime in Game 2, you could feel the confidence eminating from the faces of every Canuck caught on camera. My, what a turnabout a change of venue brings to a series. After ripping the Canucks a new one in Game 3, the sea of black and yellow in TD Garden was loud to start the affair. They went raucous when Rich Peverly scored his first of two goals at the 11:59 mark of the opening period. The Canucks, who entered the game 1 for 16 on the powerplay, had an opportunity on a Brad Marchand cross-checking penalty to draw even. But Bruins bodies were flying around, getting down in front of pucks, and whatever did get through, Tim Thomas was able to see, and subsequently stop. To be frank, the refereeing was the poorest I've witnessed in the post-season. A lot of Bruins "head-snaps" and soccer-esque dives were rewarded with penalties, particularly one embellished by Andrew Ference. Mason Raymond was forechecking behind the net, reached in with his stick, which completely missed Ference's chin, but the head-snap sold the call. Also, Jannik Hansen received a pass at the attacking blue-line, and both skates were onside as he moved in with the puck for a 3-on-2, but the refs blew it down. Lastly, they deflated the Canucks early in the third period, giving Henrik Sedin a "slashing" penalty. In reality, the Bruin fell as a result of tripping on his team-mates' leg at the blue-line. This after they missed the Bruins having 1 extra player illegally on the ice. Dennis Seidenberg tries to clear traffic from in front of Tim Thomas (photo courtesy of AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward) It's hard to say which Canuck team will surface in Game 5, with some controversy already on who should start in net, Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider. Alain Vigneault has already shocked the hockey world in that regard during the Chicago series, starting Schneider in Game 6 after back-to-back blowouts. Schneider, who relieved Luongo after Peverly's second goal 3:39 into the third period, had this to say. "It was just a couple unlucky goals. I don't know if he (ticked) off the hockey gods, but it just seems like the past two games he can't buy a break." Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo and Kevin Bieksa watch as the final seconds tick down on Game 4 It's quite apparent that the absence of their top shutdown defenceman, Dan Hamhuis (who didn't even skate with the team in practice today), has had a rippling effect on the team. His partner, Kevin Bieksa, looks like he misses him the most. Normally, he has the luxury of being more aggressive carrying the puck into Boston territory. Without that chemistry, the Canucks are having a tougher time initiating offence, which is often derived from their pinching defense. Not only that, but Hamhuis' minutes have to be filled somehow, and that has exposed Alex Edler and Christian Ehrhoff's deficiencies in their own end. Though Bruins coach Claude Julien has stated he wants his players to play with class, Brad Marchand's late game antics aren't helping in that respect. He already warned Mark Recchi and Milan Lucic about their mockery of the finger-biting gestures. But, as Marchand was being escorted off the ice by the officials with a triple-penalty, he performed the "dusting off of the hands" gesture as he went by the Canucks bench. It's this kind of disrespect that hockey players hate, and incites violent acts down the road. Interestingly, Marchand didn't "win" any fight, or really have any claim to do that. It will be interesting to see if he's a targeted man in Game 5. With quite possibly the most disproportionate nose in hockey (now that Mike Ricci has retired), I'm certain the little guy (5 '9) might have it smacked for his late cheap hits in Game 4. Brad Marchand clothes-lined a Canucks defenceman, then low-bridged Daniel Sedin, and chucks his gloves off, knowing someone is going to want a piece With the series now a best of three, the one upside for Canucks fans is that during the regular season, with their President Trophy winning campaign, they earned home-ice advantage throughout the Playoffs. Hopefully the long flight from Boston will give them a chance to readjust mentally, and prepare them for what lies ahead. In a series where home ice has meant so much, it's imperative they corral momentum back. After all, Rogers Arena has been witness to many Canuck victories throughout the year.
  3. Once again, for all you stats junkies, here's the Playoff Stats pack updated after the second round series against the Predators. For the stats pack after the end of Round One versus Chicago, click here. Don't forget to read my Tale of the Tape Game Notes on the front page of Canucks.com on every game day and watch out for my Tale of the Tape series preview against either the Sharks or Red Wings which will be up shortly. You can also find me on Twitter @daniel_fung or drop me a line at dfung_sports@hotmail.com. Canucks record when... Any defencemen scores: 3-2 Without Mikael Samuelsson in lineup: 2-0 Without Sami Salo in lineup: 3-1 Without Cody Hodgson in lineup: 3-2 Without Raffi Torres in lineup: 2-0 Without Andrew Alberts in lineup: 6-4 Without Keith Ballard in lineup: 3-3 Without Aaron Rome in lineup: 3-2 Without Tanner Glass in lineup: 0-1 Without Victor Oreskovich in lineup: 3-2 When Chris Higgins scores: 3-0 When Jannik Hansen scores: 2-0 When Daniel Sedin scores: 3-2 When Alex Edler scores: 2-0 When Christian Ehrhoff scores: 2-0 When Mikael Samuelsson scores: 1-0 When Sami Salo scores: 0-1 When Alex Burrows scores: 1-2 When Kevin Bieksa scores: 0-1 When Ryan Kesler scores: 2-1 When Henrik Sedin scores: 1-0 When Raffi Torres scores: 0-1 When Mason Raymond scores: 1-0 Score two-or-more power play goals: 1-1 Surrender two-or-more power play goals: 1-2 Don't allow a 1st period goal: 5-1 (only loss in Game 2 vs NSH) Don't allow a 2nd period goal: 5-1 (only loss in Game 2 vs NSH) Don't allow a 3rd period goal: 4-1 (only loss in Game 5 vs CHI) Have a 2-goal lead at any point in game: 4-0 Score a goal in all three regulation periods: 2-0 Allow a goal in all three regulation periods: 0-3 Hold a third period lead: 8-2 (only losses in Game 6 CHI & Game 2 NSH) Surrender a shorthanded goal: 2-1 Don't allow a power play goal: 6-3 When getting more power play chances than opponent: 1-1 When getting fewer power play chances than opponent: 3-4 When getting equal power play chances as opponent: 4-0 Canucks list of third period goal scorers... Daniel Sedin & Ryan Kesler: 2 each Mikael Samuelsson, Kevin Bieksa, Chris Higgins & Henrik Sedin: 1 each Canucks overall average... Shots on goal per game: 31.5 Opponent shots on goal per game: 29.2 Shot attempts blocked per game: 17.2 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 12.6 Missed shots per game: 12 Opponent missed shots per game: 9.8 Hits per game: 33.5 Opponent hits per game: 28.8 Giveaways per game: 6.8 Opponent giveaways per game: 7.9 Takeaways per game: 9.5 Opponent takeaways per game: 8.7 Blocked shots per game: 12.6 Opponent blocked shots per game: 17.2 Canucks average at home... Shots on goal per game: 33 Opponent shots on goal per game: 29.3 Shot attempts blocked per game: 19.1 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 13.4 Missed shots per game: 12.7 Opponent missed shots per game: 10 Hits per game: 37.3 Opponent hits per game: 25.4 Giveaways per game: 8.6 Opponent giveaways per game: 5.1 Takeaways per game: 12.6 Opponent takeaways per game: 7.1 Blocked shots per game: 13.4 Opponent blocked shots per game: 19.1 Canucks average on road... Shots on goal per game: 29.7 Opponent shots on goal per game: 29.2 Shot attempts blocked per game: 14.8 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 11.7 Missed shots per game: 11.2 Opponent missed shots per game: 9.5 Hits per game: 29.2 Opponent hits per game: 32.7 Giveaways per game: 4.7 Opponent giveaways per game: 11.2 Takeaways per game: 5.8 Opponent takeaways per game: 10.5 Blocked shots per game: 11.7 Opponent blocked shots per game: 14.8 HIGHS AND LOWS Canucks Most - One Period Goals: 2 - seven times Goals Allowed: 4 - Game 4 CHI (2nd) Shots: 16 - twice Shots Allowed: 16 - Game 3 CHI (1st) Canucks Fewest - One Period Shots: 2 - Game 6 NSH (2nd) Shots Allowed: 3 - Game 6 CHI (3rd) Canucks Most - One Game Goals: 4 - twice Goals Allowed: 7 - Game 4 CHI Shots: 47 - Game 3 NSH Shots Allowed: 46 - Game 2 NSH Penalty Mins.: 61 - Game 4 CHI Penalty Mins, Opp.: 37 - Game 4 CHI Canucks Fewest - One Game Goals: 0 - Game 5 CHI Goals Allowed: 0 - twice Shots: 19 - Game 6 NSH Shots Allowed: 20 - Game 1 NSH Penalty Mins.: 4 (twice) - Game 2 CHI & Game 7 CHI Penalty Mins, Opp.: 4 (three times) - Game 2 Chi, Game 3 CHI, Game 7 CHI Canucks Largest - One Game Margin of victory: 2 - twice Margin of defeat: 5 (twice) - Game 4 CHI & Game 5 CHI Individual Most - One Game Goals: 2 (four times) - Daniel Sedin (Game 2 CHI), Alex Burrows (Game 7 CHI), Ryan Kesler (Game 3 NSH), Ryan Kesler (Game 5 NSH) Goals Allowed: 2 (six times) - Ben Smith (Game 2 CHI), Patrick Sharp (Game 4 CHI), Duncan Keith (Game 5 CHI), & Marian Hossa (Game 5 CHI), David Legwand (Game 5 NSH), Joel Ward (Game 5 NSH) Assists: 2 (five times) - Henrik Sedin (Game 2 CHI), Christian Ehrhoff (Game 3 NSH), Christian Ehrhoff (Game 4 NSH), Ryan Kesler (Game 4 NSH), Henrik Sedin (Game 4 NSH) Assists Allowed: 3 - Dave Bolland (Game 4 CHI) Points: 3 (six times) - Daniel Sedin (Game 2 CHI), Alex Burrows (Game 6 CHI), Ryan Kesler (Game 3 NSH), Christian Ehrhoff (Game 4 NSH), Ryan Kesler (Game 4 NSH), Henrik Sedin (Game 4 NSH) Points Allowed: 4 (twice) - Dave Bolland (Game 4 CHI), Duncan Keith (Game 5 CHI) Saves: 44 - Roberto Luongo (Game 2 NSH) Saves, Opponent: 44 - Pekka Rinne (Game 3 NSH)
  4. I got some pretty decent feedback when I posted my Stats Package at the end of the regular season so I thought I'd do it for the playoffs as well. Here's Vancouver's updated playoff statistics through the opening round. Don't forget to read my Tale of the Tape Game Notes on the front page of Canucks.com on every game day and also my Tale of the Tape Series Preview for the Canucks vs Predators. You can also find me on Twitter @daniel_fung or drop me a line at dfung_sports@hotmail.com. Canucks record when... Any defencemen scores: 2-2 Without Mikael Samuelsson in lineup: 1-0 Without Sami Salo in lineup: 1-0 Without Cody Hodgson in lineup: 2-1 Without Raffi Torres in lineup: 2-0 Without Andrew Alberts in lineup: 3-2 Without Keith Ballard in lineup: 0-2 Without Aaron Rome in lineup: 3-2 Without Tanner Glass in lineup: 0-1 Without Victor Oreskovich in lineup: 0-1 When Chris Higgins scores: 1-0 When Jannik Hansen scores: 2-0 When Daniel Sedin scores: 2-2 When Alex Edler scores: 1-0 When Christian Ehrhoff scores: 1-0 When Mikael Samuelsson scores: 1-0 When Sami Salo scores: 0-1 When Alex Burrows scores: 1-1 When Kevin Bieksa scores: 0-1 Score two-or-more power play goals: 0-1 Surrender two-or-more power play goals: 1-2 Don't allow a 1st period goal: 3-0 Don't allow a 2nd period goal: 2-0 Don't allow a 3rd period goal: 2-1 (only loss in Game 5 vs CHI) Have a 2-goal lead: 2-0 Score a goal in all three regulation periods: 1-0 Allow a goal in all three regulation periods: 0-2 Hold a third period lead: 4-1 (only loss in Game 6 @ CHI) Surrender a shorthanded goal: 1-0 Don't allow a power play goal: 3-1 When getting more power play chances than opponent: 0-0 When getting fewer power play chances than opponent: 2-3 When getting equal power play chances as opponent: 2-0 Canucks list of third period goal scorers... Daniel Sedin: 2 Mikael Samuelsson & Kevin Bieksa: 1 each Canucks overall average... Shots on goal per game: 31.1 Opponent shots on goal per game: 30.9 Shot attempts blocked per game: 16.4 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 10.6 Missed shots per game: 12.4 Opponent missed shots per game: 10 Hits per game: 40.1 Opponent hits per game: 29.6 Giveaways per game: 5.9 Opponent giveaways per game: 8 Takeaways per game: 9.1 Opponent takeaways per game: 9.7 Blocked shots per game: 10.6 Opponent blocked shots per game: 16.4 Canucks average at home... Shots on goal per game: 33.5 Opponent shots on goal per game: 29 Shot attempts blocked per game: 16.5 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 11.5 Missed shots per game: 12.3 Opponent missed shots per game: 10.3 Hits per game: 43.3 Opponent hits per game: 23 Giveaways per game: 7.8 Opponent giveaways per game: 6 Takeaways per game: 11 Opponent takeaways per game: 8 Blocked shots per game: 11.5 Opponent blocked shots per game: 16.5 Canucks average on road... Shots on goal per game: 28 Opponent shots on goal per game: 33.3 Shot attempts blocked per game: 16.3 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 9.3 Missed shots per game: 12.7 Opponent missed shots per game: 9.7 Hits per game: 36 Opponent hits per game: 38.3 Giveaways per game: 3.3 Opponent giveaways per game: 10.7 Takeaways per game: 6.7 Opponent takeaways per game: 12 Blocked shots per game: 9.3 Opponent blocked shots per game: 16.3 HIGHS AND LOWS Canucks Most - One Period Goals: 2 (four times) - Game 1 CHI (1st), Game 2 CHI (2nd), Game 3 CHI (2nd), Game 6 CHI (1st) Goals Allowed: 4 - Game 4 CHI (2nd) Shots: 15 (twice) - Game 5 CHI (3rd), Game 7 CHI (2nd) Shots Allowed: 16 - Game 3 CHI (1st) Canucks Fewest - One Period Shots: 6 (three times) - Game 1 CHI (1st), Game 4 CHI (2nd), Game 6 CHI (2nd) Shots Allowed: 3 - Game 6 CHI (3rd) Canucks Most - One Game Goals: 4 - Game 2 CHI Goals Allowed: 7 - Game 4 CHI Shots: 38 - Game 7 CHI Shots Allowed: 35 - Game 4 CHI Penalty Mins.: 61 - Game 4 CHI Penalty Mins, Opp.: 37 - Game 4 CHI Canucks Fewest - One Game Goals: 0 - Game 5 CHI Goals Allowed: 0 - Game 1 CHI Shots: 23 - Game 4 CHI Shots Allowed: 26 (twice) - Game 2 CHI & Game 5 CHI Penalty Mins.: 4 (twice) - Game 2 CHI & Game 7 CHI Penalty Mins, Opp.: 4 (three times) - Game 2 Chi, Game 3 CHI, Game 7 CHI Canucks Largest - One Game Margin of victory: 2 - Game 1 CHI Margin of defeat: 5 (twice) - Game 4 CHI & Game 5 CHI Individual Most - One Game Goals: 2 (twice) - Daniel Sedin (Game 2 CHI) & Alex Burrows (Game 7 CHI) Goals Allowed: 2 (four times) - Ben Smith (Game 2 CHI), Patrick Sharp (Game 4 CHI), Duncan Keith (Game 5 CHI), & Marian Hossa (Game 5 CHI) Assists: 2 - Henrik Sedin (Game 2 CHI) Assists Allowed: 3 - Dave Bolland (Game 4 CHI) Points: 3 (twice) - Daniel Sedin (Game 2 CHI), Alex Burrows (Game 6 CHI) Points Allowed: 4 (twice) - Dave Bolland (Game 4 CHI), Duncan Keith (Game 5 CHI) Saves: 32 - Roberto Luongo (Game 1 CHI) Saves, Opponent: 36 (twice) - Corey Crawford (Game 5 CHI, Game 7 CHI)
  5. No matter how they got here, or what direction they want to take in the future, the Vancouver Canucks are literally playing the most important game of their lives. Only three times in history has an NHL team erased a 3-0 series deficit to advance to the next round of the playoffs. There has been a lot of talk about the Canucks' chances of earning the dubious distinction as the fourth team to facilitate such a collapse. Rife with drama and storylines, this series has seen it all, from big controversial hits, to starting goaltending controversy, and questionable officiating. But it all takes a back seat to the drama in store tonight at Rogers Arena in Vancouver at 7:00 pm PST. A lot of experts agree that momentum clearly is the advantage the Chicago Blackhawks carry into Game 7. But the Canucks aren't without positive signs - they outworked the Blackhawks for most of Game 6, as well as controlling the tempo and play through the majority of the game. Rather than recap all that's been, I'd like to shift focus onto Four Keys for the colossal Game Seven. Key 1: Setting the tone Getting off to a fast, motivated start, complete with energetic, hard-hitting physical shifts has been integral to both teams' success so far this series. More than any other night, it's imperative for the Canucks to wrest momentum back in their corner. The Canucks were able to surprise the Blackhawks physically in the first three games, with Alain Vigneault doing an excellent job rolling through his deep lines, and establishing a solid forecheck. With the element of surprise gone, it'll be extremely important for the third and fourth lines to deliver effective hits, getting Blackhawk defenders worrying about what is coming, not what they're going to set up. Alex Burrows was one of the best Canucks in Game 6, and will need to put it all on the line tonight against the Hawks (photo courtesy of Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images) Key 2: Sedins re-establishing the cycle game A very positive sign in the second period of Game 6 was the amount of time that Daniel, Henrik and Mikael (Samuelsson) spent in the Blackhawks zone. Their cycling of the puck is what made them so effective and dangerous in the regular season, and they appeared to be wearing down the Hawks defenders with it. Both teams have done a good job collapsing down low to limit the rebound chances, but Vancouver could gain a decided advantage if the Sedins force Chicago to expend valuable energy chasing the puck down low. Key 3: Goaltending performance There is no question in my mind that Roberto Luongo will be starting Game 7. Subsequently, despite having played for Olympic Gold, and playing in some large playoff settings before, this is the game of his life. In only his first year of a 12 year, $64 M contract, the stakes couldn't be higher. Win or lose, it's up to Roberto to prove he can come through when it's all on the line. He did it before against the Dallas Stars, but fair or not, tonight will completely shape the rest of his career, given his past performances against the Blackhawks. Key 4: Officiating Unfortunately, the officiating has been suspect the last 3 games, and has been a hot button topic, not only in Vancouver, but League-wide. The Blackhawks have enjoyed a 22-12 edge (in powerplay chances) over the last four games, and hockey pundits agree that GM Mike Gillis had reason to be irate after Game 6. If the officials decide to punish the Canucks with more penalties, and miss calls like the one on Dave Bolland slashing Henrik Sedin's stick in half, it could be a very frustrating game for Canucks' fans. Expect the boo-birds to come out if the officials call the game similarly to Game Six. At the end of the day, though it's little solace for Canucks fans, the hockey world will benefit from what should be an intense Game Seven. This is what hockey is all about, and every youngster in love with the sport dreams about playing a significant role in a deciding Game Seven. Will it be elation, or utter dejection for Canucks fans following this pivotal game in the series and franchises' history? Kevin Bieksa might have set the stage the best: "Sometimes it takes all your lifelines to earn $1 million. That's where we're at. We've used our 3." Wishing the Canucks every fortune here from The Canuck Way, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  6. For those of you who aren't familiar with what I do, I write the Game Notes for Canucks.com (aka Tale of the Tape) which you can read every game day at canucks.com/gamenotes. Of course a big part of Tale of the Tape is statistics. Some of them are easy to find (Canucks.com and NHL.com), some I get from researching the official game notes packages sent out by the various media relations department around the league, but the majority of them are ones that I keep track of myself throughout the season. To show everyone who reads Tale of the Tape that I don't just make this stuff up, I am sharing my master list of compiled statistics throughout the year. The stats I usually try and track are ones that media relations departments don't normally provide - which explains why I'll keep track of something such as Vancouver's record when they allow two-or-more power play goals and not their record when they allow a power play goal. Of course, if there are any other stats junkie out there that finds an error with anything, please feel free to let me know at dfung_sports[at]hotmail.com. You can follow me on Twitter as well at @daniel_fung. Enjoy! Canucks record when... Any defenceman scores: 27-5-5 Christian Ehrhoff scores: 10-3-1 Daniel Sedin scores: 24-5-5 Raffi Torres scores: 9-1-0 Mason Raymond scores: 11-0-0 Mikael Samuelsson scores: 11-2-2 Ryan Kesler scores: 26-1-2 Manny Malhotra scores: 6-1-1 Jeff Tambellini scores: 8-0-1 Henrik Sedin scores: 13-2-3 Jannik Hansen scores: 7-2-0 Alex Edler scores: 4-0-3 Alex Burrows scores: 22-2-0 Tanner Glass scores: 2-1-0 Dan Hamhuis scores: 4-1-0 Kevin Bieksa scores: 5-1-0 Keith Ballard scores: 1-0-1 Alex Bolduc scores: 2-0-0 Sami Salo scores: 3-0-0 Andrew Alberts, Mario Bliznak, Aaron Volpatti, Lee Sweatt, Cody Hodgson, Maxim Lapierre, Chris Higgins, or Aaron Rome scores: 1-0-0 Alex Burrows does not play: 5-3-2 Sami Salo does not play: 33-11-9 Keith Ballard does not play: 8-7-2 Dan Hamhuis does not play: 12-5-1 Kevin Bieksa does not play: 11-5-0 Mason Raymond does not play: 9-1-2 Andrew Alberts does not play: 27-9-4 Alex Edler does not play: 22-9-0 Manny Malhotra does not play: 7-3-0 Tanner Glass does not play: 8-1-0 Mikael Samuelsson does not play: 6-1-0 Christian Ehrhoff does not play: 2-0-1 Playing on CBC's Hockey Night in Canada: 7-3-4 Playing on Rogers Sportsnet Pacific: 32-10-3 Playing on Rogers Sportsnet Vancouver Hockey: 9-4-0 Playing on TSN: 6-2-2 Score two-or-more power play goals: 17-2-4 Allow two-or-more power play goals: 2-6-2 (wins came vs ANA on Dec 8 and CGY on Apr 9) Don't allow 1st period goal: 39-8-3 Don't allow 2nd period goal: 25-4-4 Don't allow 3rd period goal: 28-6-5 Have a two-goal lead at any point in game: 41-0-0 Have a three-goal lead at any point in game: 25-0-0 Have a four-or-more goal lead at any point in game: 12-0-0 Score a goal in the 1st minute of a game: 2-1-0 (Oct 19 MIN, Nov 11 OTT, Mar 6 ANA) Score a goal in all three regulation periods: 27-0-2 Allow a goal in all three regulation periods: 2-5-1 Hold a lead at any point in the third period: 50-1-3 Surrender a shorthanded goal: 0-2-0 (Nov 17 PIT and Jan 16 MIN) Don't allow a power play goal: 37-8-3 Score a shorthanded goal: 4-0-1 (Nov 6 DET, Dec 1 CGY, Jan 22 CGY, Feb 1 DAL, Mar 25 ATL) When getting more power play chances than opponent: 17-7-2 When getting fewer power play chances than opponent: 25-7-4 When getting equal power play chances as opponent: 12-5-3 Playing the first game on a back-to-back night: 5-4-2 Playing the second game on a back-to-back night: 8-1-2 Playing an opponent that had to play the night before: 8-3-3 Canucks list of third period goal scorers... Alex Burrows & Ryan Kesler: 15 each Daniel Sedin: 12 Henrik Sedin: 9 Mason Raymond: 7 Mikael Samuelsson: 6 Raffi Torres, Jeff Tambellini, Manny Malhotra, Christian Ehrhoff: 4 each Dan Hamhuis, Alex Edler, Jannik Hansen: 3 each Chris Higgins, Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard: 2 each Aaron Rome, Lee Sweatt, Mario Bliznak, Tanner Glass, Peter Schaefer: 1 each Canucks overall average... Shots on goal per game: 32 Opponent shots on goal per game: 30.1 Shot attempts blocked per game: 15.3 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 13.1 Missed shots per game: 12.5 Opponent missed shots per game: 10.9 Hits per game: 21.7 Opponent hits per game: 22.7 Giveaways per game: 6.8 Opponent giveaways per game: 7.7 Takeaways per game: 7.3 Opponent takeaways per game: 7.2 Blocked shots per game: 13.1 Opponent blocked shots per game: 15.3 Canucks average at home... Shots on goal per game: 32.2 Opponent shots on goal per game: 30.2 Shot attempts blocked per game: 17 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 13.4 Missed shots per game: 12.3 Opponent missed shots per game: 10 Hits per game: 22 Opponent hits per game: 21 Giveaways per game: 6.2 Opponent giveaways per game: 4 Takeaways per game: 8.4 Opponent takeaways per game: 6 Blocked shots per game: 13.4 Opponent blocked shots per game: 17 Canucks average on road... Shots on goal per game: 31.8 Opponent shots on goal per game: 30 Shot attempts blocked per game: 13.6 Opponent shot attempts blocked per game: 12.7 Missed shots per game: 12.6 Opponent missed shots per game: 11.8 Hits per game: 21.7 Opponent hits per game: 24.4 Giveaways per game: 7.3 Opponent giveaways per game: 11.4 Takeaways per game: 6.1 Opponent takeaways per game: 8.5 Blocked shots per game: 12.7 Opponent blocked shots per game: 13.6 SEASON HIGHS AND LOWS Canucks Most - One Period Goals: 4 (twice) - Nov 11 OTT (3rd) & Dec 1 CGY (3rd) Goals Allowed: 4 - Nov 20 CHI (2nd) Shots: 23 - Nov 6 DET (3rd) Shots Allowed: 25 - Jan 20 SJS (2nd) Canucks Fewest - One Period Shots: 1 - Feb 15 MIN (3rd) Shots Allowed: 0 - Mar 31 LAK (3rd) Canucks Most - One Game Goals: 7 (three times) - Dec 1 CGY, Dec 23 CBJ, Jan 24 DAL Goals Allowed: 7 - Nov 20 CHI Shots: 51 - Jan 11 NYI Shots Allowed: 48 - Mar 10 SJS Penalty Minutes: 34 - Apr 5 EDM Penalty Minutes Opp: 36 - Dec 1 CGY Canucks Fewest - One Game Goals: 0 (five times) - Nov 9 MTL, Jan 13 NYR, Jan 16 MIN, Mar 3 NSH, Apr 5 EDM Goals Allowed: 0 (five times) - Nov 1 NJD, Dec 3 CHI, Feb 2 DAL, Mar 6 ANA, Apr 7 MIN Shots: 14 - Feb 15 MIN Shots Allowed: 12 - Dec 12 EDM Penalty Minutes: 2 (twice) - Nov 26 SJS, Mar 16 COL Penalty Minutes: 0 (twice) - Oct 11 FLA, Nov 21 PHX Canucks Largest - One Game Margin of victory: 6 (twice) - Jan 24 DAL, Feb 2 PHX Margin of defeat: 6 - Nov 20 CHI Individual Most - One Game Goals: 3 (five times) - Raffi Torres, Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler x3 Goals allowed: 2 (seven times) - Dustin Brown (LAK), Niklas Kronwall (DET), Fernando Pisani (CHI), Taylor Pyatt (PHX), Henrik Zetterberg (DET), David Jones (COL), Bobby Ryan (ANA) Assists: 3 (10 times) - Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, Daniel Sedin, Christian Ehrhoff, Mason Raymond x2, Henrik Sedin x4 Assists allowed: 3 (three times) - Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Marian Hossa (CHI), Brian Rafalski (DET) Points: 4 (twice) - Mason Raymond (Dec 1 CGY) & Henrik Sedin (Dec 23 CBJ) Points Allowed: 4 - Ryan Getzlaf (Oct 13 ANA) Saves: 45 - Roberto Luongo (Jan 20 SJS) Saves, Opponent: Kevin Poulin (Jan 11 NYI)
  7. Amidst all the story lines heading into the Canucks and Blackhawks third straight post-season match-up, Ryan Kesler's maturation process is perhaps the most under-reported. Ryan Kesler battles Anton Babchuk for position during the last game of the season (photo courtesy of AP Photo) I recall the solemn and hushed tone in Kesler's voice as he was interviewed by reporters some 10 1/2 months ago. He was being asked whether players on the team, himself included, were playing hurt in the playoffs. Whether he was choking back tears, or was simply frustrated beyond belief, no-one save for himself knows the real truth. Speaking of truth, I will admit that Kesler has been one of my personal favorites, but after listening to Alex Burrows answer the same question, I will also admit Kesler's response showed some immaturity. As time would tell, Alex Burrows was playing with a shoulder that required off-season surgery, that would force him to miss the first 11 games of the season. The difference being that Ryan Kesler dwelt more on the fact that he was injured, while Burrows refused to use it as a crutch. He said that in the Playoffs, everyone plays hurt, -it's just the way hockey is in the spring. Canucks fans are hoping they'll see Kesler celebrate like this more than once during this year's playoffs (photo courtesy of Rich Lam/Getty Images) Using Alex Burrows to illustrate Kesler's development is interesting in itself, because although Kesler got a taste of the NHL first (28 games 2003/04), he and Burrows both started to get regular duty during the 2005/06 season. But Burrows is four years older than Kesler, having paid his dues in the East Coast Hockey League before making the transition to the American Hockey League. Last year, Kesler scored 25 goals and recorded 104 penalty minutes. During the playoffs, he played 12 games, with 1 goal and 9 assists. Not long after Kesler's interviews where he spoke to being injured, Mike Gillis sat down with him during team exit meetings. He showed him a clip of Jonathan Toews battling for the puck during their series with the Canucks. He got cross-checked, then another to be knocked down. He got up, and shortly thereafter, the Blackhawks scored. This year, Kesler scored 41 goals, and recorded 66 penalty minutes. Many hockey pundits will agree that Kesler is the best 2nd line center in the NHL, and on many teams, would pivot the top line. For the Blackhawks, Duncan Keith and Brian Campbell will be charged with the task of shutting down the Sedin twins along with Alex Burrows. While not carved in stone, it should mean that Kesler will draw the Brent Seabrook and Chris Campoli pairing on defense. Whether Joel Quennville decides to match Patrick Kane's line centered by ex-Canuck, Ryan Johnson, or go with his checking line of Brian Bickell, Jake Dowell and Michael Frolik, also is unknown. Regardless of who he plays against, Canucks fans should find Kesler's growth from last season a very interesting subplot. When you tie for first on your team in scoring, and fourth overall in the League, you're bound to get some attention. The Canucks playoff hopes could literally hinge on whether he's grown and matured enough to handle the spotlight. Strap in for more Playoffs done The Canuck Way! Thanks for reading, I'm Larenzo Jensen
  8. Two of the most dynamic offensive superstars in the National Hockey League. Two young, All-Star defencemen patrolling the blue-line. A relatively unknown starting netminder but one who has shown an ability to stand on his head from time to time. A coach who is considered one of the best hockey minds in the League. All together on a team that just a few short years ago was immersed in a period best described as the franchise's Dark Age. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec2105/canada_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Sound familiar? The 2010 Stanley Cup Champions Chicago Blackhawks? Perhaps, but no. Rather, the description is of a team much nearer and dearer to the hearts of hockey fans in British Columbia: the 2002-03 Vancouver Canucks. A team captained by then four-time NHL All-Star Markus Naslund, who by season's end would become a two-time First Team All-Star and the recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Award. A team that featured a dominant power forward in Todd Bertuzzi, who posted a career-best 97 points during that year's regular season and would join his best friend Naslund as a First Team All-Star at the end of the 2003 season. A team that had two former first round picks on their back end in Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski, the latter a Canadian Olympic Gold medalist. A team whose number one goaltender, Dan Cloutier, was coming off a career-high 33 wins in the regular season and beginning to build a reputation as bona fide starting netminder. A team led by former Jack Adams Award and Stanley Cup winner Marc Crawford, who would go on to become the franchise's all-time wins leader behind the bench. A team that had missed the post-season for four consecutive seasons from 1996-97 to 1999-00 and saw attendance figures plummet to a franchise low in their new home of General Motors Place in 1990-00 but by 2002-03 would be playing to near sell-out crowds every night. A team that featured arguably the most talented group ever assembled under the Vancouver Canucks banner and would surely deliver the Stanley Cup to the city of Vancouver. A team that had the third-year Minnesota Wild on the ropes in their 2003 Western Conference Semi-Final series - leading the series three games to one at one point and later holding a 2-0 lead in Game 7 - and was ready to make flight plans to Anaheim for the Western Conference Final against the Mighty Ducks. <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/bc/images/images/inbydate05/dec0705/nazzy_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">A championship team... ...that never came to be. A team torn apart by a violent, on-ice incident the following year that would scar both city and sport and a team that would be only a shell of its former self when the NHL reinvented itself in time for the 2005-06 season. A team that would eventually see three of its members going on to kiss the Stanley Cup - Brad May, Matt Cooke and Brent Sopel - but none of them together and none of them in Vancouver. A team that, though now mostly disbanded, undoubtedly watched on Wednesday as the Stanley Cup was paraded around the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia by the Blackhawks and had just one thought flowing through their collective minds: There, but for the bounce of a puck, goes us.
  9. This week's inaugural playoff edition of Number Crunching explores the statistical oddities from the first week of action in the NHL post-season and looks into the wacky tacky officiating from the first two games of the Canucks/Kings series that leads us to wonder out loud if in fact the NHL really does have a bias against the Canucks. FLYING SAUCERS? OR JUST ZEBRAS ON THE SAUCE? <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/04/apr1710_lui2_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">Now, we're not saying there's some sort of conspiracy theory going on with the officiating in the Canucks/Kings first round series...oh wait, actually that's precisely what we're saying and we've got the numbers to back it up. Through the first two games of every 2010 playoff series (with the exception of the Nashville/Chicago series that had played just one game as of this writing on Sunday morning), the Canucks lead the League when it comes to penalty minutes with 31 in two games - an average of 16.5 per game. That's three more penalty minutes per game higher than the next highest penalized teams in the NHL playoffs - the Buffalo Sabres and the Boston Bruins who are tied for second place with an average of 13.0 penalty minutes per game. The Kings, meanwhile, have the second lowest average penalty minutes per game at just 9.0 - one minute on average more than the San Jose Sharks who bring up the rear after two games played with 8.0 penalty minutes per game. The Canucks/Kings series, through two games played, also has the highest differential in average penalty minute accessed to the two teams. Below is a breakdown of the penalty minute discrepancy in each series (minus the NSH/CHI series) after the first two games: MTL (9.5) vs WSH (9.5) = 0.0 BOS (13.0) vs BUF (13.0) = 0.0 DET (9.0) vs PHX (10.0) = 1.0 OTT (11.5) vs PIT (9.5) = 2.0 COL (11.0) vs SJS (8.0) = 3.0 PHI (10.0) vs NJD (13.0) = 3.0 LAK (9.0) vs VAN (16.5) = 7.5 *Bracketed numbers indicate respective team's average penalty minute per game through two games played Gary and Colin, Canucks Nation awaits your rebuttal. OH CANADA <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/04/apr1510_smythlui_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">With the Senators, Canadiens and Canucks all winning their opening playoff games this season, it marked the first time since the 1998 playoffs that every Canadian team in the post-season all won their opening playoff games. That year all three Canadian entrants - the Senators, Canadiens, and Oilers - entered the post-season as heavy underdogs (the Senators were an eighth seed in the East while the Canadiens and Oilers were seventh seeds in their respective conferences) but all managed to pull off Game 1 upsets in a manor resembling how this year's playoffs began for the Canadian teams. All three of those respective 1998 opening games involving Canadian teams were decided by one goal (just like this year) and two of the three contests were decided by overtime (also just like this year). The Senators knocked off the Devils 2-1 in overtime, the Canadiens knocked off the Penguins 3-2 in overtime, and the Oilers took a 3-2 regulation victory over the Avalanche. And how's this for an omen? That year, all three Canadian teams managed to win their series and advance to the second round. In fact, 1998 is the last time that all Canadian entrants in the playoffs managed to advance to Round 2. Unfortunately, all three would meet their demise by the second round that post-season. OPENING NIGHT OVERTIME CURSE? <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/04/apr1510_obburr_t.jpg class="imageFloatLeftFramed">For the superstitious types, you may want to ignore this entry. Thursday marked the 13th time in Canucks team history that they have opened a playoff series with an overtime game. Historically, the Canucks haven't fared well in playoff series that have opened with a game requiring extra time. Win or lose in that first game, Vancouver's all-time record in series where Game 1 has gone to overtime is just 3-9. The numbers aren't much better even if the Canucks open the series with an overtime victory in Game 1 although it is slightly less troubling than what the aforementioned overall mark is. The Canucks are 2-4 in series when they win Game 1 in overtime. The last time the Canucks opened a series with an overtime game was back in 2007 with that memorable quadruple overtime game against the Dallas Stars. The Canucks prevailed 5-4 that night thanks to a 72-save effort by Roberto Luongo who was making his NHL playoff debut. The Canucks would go on to win the series four games to three. NUMBER CRUNCHING PLAYOFF PERFORMER OF THE WEEK <img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2010/04/apr1510_happy_t.jpg class="imageFloatRightFramed">Mikael Samuelsson: Three goals in two games played. The Canucks brought in Mikael Samuelsson to be a key performer come playoff time and he certainly has lived up to that billing in the first two games of the series. Samuelsson scored twice on opening night, including the overtime winner in Game 1, and added his third goal of these young playoffs in Game 2 in a losing effort. Samuelsson's three goals is already more than halfway to his entire goal output from the 2009 playoffs when he recorded five goals in 23 games in the Red Wings Stanley Cup run that ended with a Game 7 loss to Pittsburgh Penguins in the Finals. Samuelsson is also halfway to establishing a new personal points record in a single series. His previous high was six points (0-6-6) set during the 2007 Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Statistics and other information appearing in this blog are for entertainment purposes only and a sense of humour is recommended when reading. E-mail the author here or follow him on Twitter.
  10. In the 2010 NHL playoffs, Vancouver draws the 6th seeded Los Angeles Kings, whom they bested 3 games to 1 in their 4 game season series. Mason Raymond has the puck knocked off his stick by Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings April 1st, 2010 at the Staples Center When covering playoff series in Fantasy leagues, I will often refer readers first to the season series. It doesn't always tell the full tale of the tape, and there are always anomalies, but usually offers a rough, workable outline. I'm not a full on mathematician, but percentages and probability rate factor into most sports. I haven't seen the "Las Vegas line" for this series, but I'm assuming Vancouver is a favorite to win this series. Being a Western conference team, the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks were scheduled 4 regular season games. Using this as my reference point, the numbers indicate the Canucks won the lions share, 75% of the games this season. Here's a quick breakdown of those contests: Henrik Sedin signals to the bench prior to a first period faceoff against the Kings in Los Angeles April 1st(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Oct. 29, 2009 - Whether a fan of the shootout or not, it's here, and it favored the Canucks. Scott Parse opened scoring in the 1st period, and Mikael Samuelsson answered in the 2nd period. Samuelsson would also roof a beautiful backhand shot past Jonathan Quick in the shootout. Andrew Raycroft was an anchor in net, making 30 stops earning a .967 sv %. Vancouver wins 2-1. Nov. 26, 2009 - Wayne Simmonds officially registers himself as a pain in the Canucks side. The 21 yr old scores the Kings lone goal and forechecks with aplomb. Burrows, Henrik, Glass and Wellwood reply for the Canucks, as Luongo begins to overcome a slow start, improves to 8-8-0. Jonathan Quick makes 30 stops and records a .909 sv %. Dec. 14, 2009 - The Kings get a good taste of the Canucks 2nd line, who outworked a tired L.A. team. Ryan Kesler broke open the scoring 64 seconds in on a nice setup from Mikael Samuelsson and Mason Raymond. Sami Salo pounds one in from the point on a play made by the twins, though Alexander Frolov cut the lead with 7 seconds to go in the 1st period. Raymond finished off a nice play by Kesler and Shane O'Brien with 5 minutes to go in the third. Luongo makes 24 saves for a .960 sv % and improves to 14-10-0, as the Canucks win 3-1. Mikael Samuelsson hasn't been talked about much prior to this playoff series, but he should be a factor, especially considering Oct. 29th game (Images courtesy of Yardbarker) Apr. 1, 2010 - The Canucks wish that the 8-3 score listed in the newspapers was indeed an April Fool's joke leader, but it wasn't. Sports journalists have a hay day at Roberto Luongo's expense, quoting "His worst game ever" and "Career low" (.724 sv %) in their columns. A number of sub-plots also rose to the surface, including Vigneault's reluctance to pull Luongo despite the run-up score. Power forward Dustin Brown leads the way with a hat-trick, while Frolov, Kopitar, Stoll, Williams and Handzus contribute singles. Kyle Wellwood pots a pair, and Ryan Kesler scores in a losing cause. Jonathan Bernier earns the win with a .900 sv % and 27 saves. Without Willie Mitchell to help clear the crease, the writing is on the wall for the Canucks defense: Luongo must be protected (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) Honestly, I can't think of a better lesson for the Canucks to learn from in their final regular season meeting with Los Angeles. "We can't sit back," said Ryan Kesler, one of the league's top defensive forwards, who had a breakout offensive year (75 pts). "If we change our game and become a defensive-minded team we're not playing to our strengths. We have who I think is the best goalie in the NHL and he allows us to take chances offensively." Based on the 2009/10 season, the law of averages argues that the Canucks should take this series. Roberto Luongo should be one of the deciding factors in this series, leveraging them above the Kings and their inexperienced goaltending tandem. The Sedins are rolling in hot and should prove too much for the Kings, who are going to have a very difficult time limiting Vancouver's cycle. Canucks in 6. Playoff series have a way of producing rivalries, and it seems inevitable there will be even less love lost between Vancouver and Los Angeles post-playoffs With files from Yardbarker, Getty Images and The Province, I'm Larenzo Jensen Need more 'Nucks? http://thecanuckway.com
  11. 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
  12. Leaving Afghanistan on 22 January 2010, The plans were all set for me to arrive in Comox at about 6pm on 24 January 2010, Then leave for Vancouver early the next morning and get a tour of GM Place and enjoy the Canucks/Sabres battle. What started out as one of the roughest travel days of my life, turned into the Best Day of My Life.... First was the flight from Dubai to London, UK....The plane was stuck on the tarmac for over an hour, I was stressing about catching my connecting flight to Vancouver. We arrived in London about 25 minutes before my connecting flight departed Heathrow International Airport...Armed with my carry on and dress shoes that didn't grip the smooth tile floor as I would have preferred, I was in a dead sprint, or skate in what must be the biggest terminal in the world. (Earlier I had thought "Ok, I arrive in Heathrow at Terminal 3, and my connector is also Terminal 3...How big can this place be?") I arrived at the Air Canada desk about 5 minutes too late as the plane was getting ready to taxi onto the tarmac and leave for B.C. They quickly re-routed me on the milk run back to Comox (London-Calgary-Vancouver-Comox) which would arrive about 2 hours later in Comox. The flight on Air Canada was pretty rough...Every screaming baby seemed to be triangulated perfectly around my perimeter and on a very precise timers, As 1 stopped, the other usually fired up, but can't complain too much as for the last 4 months I have heard nothing but loud noises. I arrived in Calgary on time (first of the day) but then was paged by baggage services to tell me my baggage didn't make it with me from London and they needed to track it down. (NEAT!) The part that bugged me the most was that it had my 3 Canuck's Jersey's (Linden Autographed Jersey included) Obviously a few changes of clothes which I would need the next day because I was traveling in a suit and needed to get out of the dress shoes that had turned my feet into hamburger just 9 hours prior in London. The rest of the milk run back to Comox was fairly uneventful, and following suit with the rest of the flights, they were all delayed. My arrival back in Comox at 9pm on 24 January had a good welcoming committee to greet me followed by a quick late family supper then it was off to bed for our 4am alarm to catch the 1st ferry sailing out of Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay so we could catch the Canuck's morning skate at 1030am. My Family and I arrived in Vancouver on time (Finally) checked into the hotel and arrived at GM Place at around 10am. We were met near the main security office by TC Carling (Director of Media Relations and Team Operations) with a friendly handshake and a short itinerary of what he had planned for us. TC took us through the 'bowels' of GM Place and walked around behind the zamboni doors and near where the Canuck's dressing room is, One of the first things we saw was Daniel and Henrik Sedin doing an interview for a Swedish radio station, it was so cool seeing them in person...When asked if we could take a picture of them sitting down the hall from us, TC let us know he had better things planned, and he was right! Shortly after, we moved into the stadium and began watching the morning skate, the players coming out of the tunnel (Tanner Glass was the funniest, he came out, picked his stick, then looked over at us...It was a couple seconds of a staring contest then my mom said hi to him, he went a bit red and said 'hey' with a big smile on his face) We watched for a bit when TC told me he would be right back and to just stay put. After a short few minutes, I turned around to see TC coming back towards us from the zamboni gate followed by...The one and only...Trevor Linden! He came out and met everybody and asked me some questions and we sat and watched the morning skate with him as other visitors wanting to say 'Hey' to Trevor stopped by. TC then again told us to stay put, and again...a few short minutes later...out came the Sedins! Daniel and Henrik then stood there with us on the stairs talking with my whole family and Trevor answering questions and asking some of their own. A lot of this is a blur as it was just so surreal and amazing to be able to meet my favorite all time player and 2 of the best in the NHL right now. Trevor was doing his interview later on that morning, so TC took us into the Canuck's Dressing Room..It was amazing, there we intercepted Roberto Luongo doing his laundry, I chatted with Hordichuk for awhile, We saw many other Canucks without getting pictures but just a quick nod or a 'hello' once we moved from the dressing room, Trevor had came back asking about how our morning has gone so far, he introduced me to Ryan Walter where we also met Orland Kurtenbach and Stan Smyl as we headed into the conference room. After Trevor's induction speech, we stood and chatted with Dan Murphy a bit, he told me he has a cousin in the forces which was really cool. Our time in GM place was then winding down, We said our goodbye's to the players and everybody we met, thanking them all for taking the time for a chat and a picture then made our way towards authentix to pick up some gear for the game and as keepsakes. I finally got to meet Kevin Kinghorn who was another key part in making the Best Day of My Life possible, Then after a couple hours of VIP treatment, we were on our way out to get ready for the game later that night! I would like to thank EVERYBODY who made this possible for me; TC Carling - Made us all feel like VIPs the whole morning, he made the morning of the 25th the biggest memory of my life and was just a pleasure to have as a tour guide and a host. Thanks TC! Trevor Linden - It wasn't surprising that Trevor was really friendly, easy going and doing it all with a smile on his face, He is my all-time favorite Canuck and it was an honor to meet him, Thanks for your time, Trevor! Daniel and Henrik Sedin - Very cool and easy going guys, They answered all my questions honestly and it was great having them ask me some, too! (Dan asked if he though Hank would suck without him on his line, he told me to answer honestly because he thought Hank wouldn't do very good haha) Thanks for hanging out with me and my family! Darcy Hordichuk/Roberto Luongo - Would like to thank both for taking the time for a picture and a chat, aswell! Stan Smyl - He thanked me for my service overseas, and I thank him for being a true gentleman, I wish i could have watched the Steamer play! Kevin Kinghorn - Thank you for the hospitality with the Canucks Game and everything that made it possible and make a dream come true! My Mom - She had written a letter to Trevor Linden about me and my vacation home and wanting to do something special for me, It was this that really got the ball rolling, Thanks Mom! I still have a bit of time to relax before heading back to Afghanistan, and look forward to being able to watch some games in the comfort of my own home, I just wanted the fans of the Canucks to know, we really do have the greatest team in hockey, We may not have any cups (yet) But we cheer for a team with great history and a great future. Thanks again to the Canucks Organization for giving me the Best Day of My Life, I will remember this forever! GO CANUCKS GO!
  13. The Vancouver Canucks' motion for a victory was denied by the hot Ottawa Senators near Parliament Hill on Thursday night. Though they didn't all 'fall flat', the Canucks had to acknowledge the patient game the scalding hot Ottawa Senators are playing (Photo courtesy of Phillip MacCallum/ Getty Images) Thanks in large part to the play of sophomore goaltender Brian Elliot and center Jason Spezza, Ottawa extended it's team record winning streak to 11 games, defeating the Canucks 3-1. Elliot may have lost the shutout bid with 99 seconds remaining, but he beat his own team record with his ninth straight win. Captain Daniel Alfredsson netted three assists during the victory, while Jason Spezza extended his goal scoring streak to six games. "Ells (Brian Elliot) has been phenomenal, there's not enough we can say about how well he's played," noted Spezza. "He just keeps it going and it seems like every night he seems better and better, so it's going well for us." Mike Fisher of the Senators (#12) goes fishing for a rebound, but Raycroft left nothing en route to an 18 save performance (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/ Getty Images) After winning 7 straight, the Canucks have run into some hot teams from the East, first Montreal Tuesday, and now Ottawa on Thursday. But the road trip gains some optimism with a trip Saturday morning (10 am PST) to Boston, where the Bruins have lost nine straight, including a 3-2 overtime loss to the surging Montreal Canadiens. "We had been good on the road prior to these last two games and the game in Montreal, but that being said, we've got a lot of guys whose personal stats are as good on the road as they are at home," said coach Alain Vigneault with some concern in his voice. The Canucks finished with 30 shots, and threw a lot (including Kyle Wellwood) at the net, but Brian Elliot is enjoying a career season (Photo courtesy of AP Photo) Alain Vigneault decided to start Andrew Raycroft, after starting Roberto Luongo the past 26 games. In that span, Luongo's record was 17-6-3. Raycroft recorded his 100th career loss, right on the heels of his 99th career victory in a comeback victory over Toronto on Saturday. Raycroft made 18 saves on the night, with the 3rd Sens tally being scored into an empty net. Daniel Sedin fires a slapshot at Brian Elliot from the faceoff circle at Scotiabank Place Thursday night The Canucks have an immediate chance for some redemption when they take on the listless Boston Bruins, who have lost 9 straight, Saturday. But they also have a chance for retribution once they finish their landmark 14 game road trip. The Senators will play in Vancouver March 13th, the Canucks first home game back after this trip, with Luongo almost certain to get that start. Canucks fans do a fantastic job of representin' with the large Vancouver posse "in effect" at Scotiabank Place February 4th Kyle Wellwoods 2-1 marker vs Ottawa (courtesy of Pouya from CanucksHD, - just click) Larenzo Jensen, with files from Yahoo Sports, Getty Images and CanucksHD
  14. Larenzo

    Six Pack for the Road

    The Vancouver Canucks said 'adieu' to GM Place on a high note Wednesday, grabbing their sixth straight win, amidst a controversial slashing call. Roberto Luongo bails out Alexander Edler after he coughed up the puck to Blues' leading goal-scorer, Andy McDonald (16 goals) With an unparalleled 14 game road trip on the horizon, the Canucks did themselves a solid, leaving GM Place (the Garage) behind for 45 days on winning terms. The win vaulted the hot hockey club into sole possession of 1st place in the Northwest division, leap-frogging the Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks played catch-up after Keith Tkachuk shelfed a nice cross crease pass over Roberto Luongo's trapper. Mason Raymond, the game's first star, put the Canucks ahead with his second of the night, fooling Conklin with a fake slapshot, before beating him stick side. The 2nd line combined for 7 points, with Raymond adding an assist on Christian Ehrhoff's game-winner with 7:48 remaining in the third period. Ryan Kesler, who was named the game's third star, had a fantastic night as well, with three assists, and was 9 for 13 (69%) in the faceoff circle. Ryan Kesler gives the NHL's 4th most penalized player, B.J. Crombeen (117 PIMS), a close shave The controversy ensued after the Blues' Paul Kariya whacked at Henrik Sedin, who was starting out of the Canucks zone with the puck. The near-side official didn't make a call, but the back-side official raised his arm. The slash hit Henrik on the left glove, forcing his hand off his stick, and loss of puck control. In most cases, where a trip or a slash would result in an offensive chance for the guilty party, the call is made. That was the case here, and the Canucks, who are 4th in the NHL with a 22% power play efficiency, capitalized. "Whether we agree with them or not is irrelevant," said Blues goalie Ty Conklin in reference to the official's call. "You've still got to kill them off." Conklin finished with 31 saves. Despite Alex Burrows' screen, he and the twins' were held off the scoresheet for the first time in 13 games T.J. Oshie tied the game midway through the third period, chipping a pass from David Backes high over Luongo's blocker. The Sedin line, who earned a combined 30 points over the last 5 games, were held pointless, but the 2nd line helped negate that. "That's part of winning consistently. You need secondary scoring to chip in," said coach Alain Vigneault. "We put a lot of emphasis on making sure we continued the streak we were on and we ended the homestand properly." The 'Nucks begin their well-documented road trip starting in Toronto against the Maple Leafs Saturday, for Hockey Day in Canada. Notes: Not that Mike Gillis has the time to read this, but concerning the rumors surrounding trading David Backes for Cory Schneider - please don't do that. Backes has 1 goal in 16 games, and would really only be removing an opportunity for any number of other Canucks waiting for their chance. Schneider might not play for us for awhile, but his value certainly outweighs any short-term stopgap. Who wants to play: Who doesn't belong? A) Rick Rypien B- Darcy Hordichuk C) Erik Johnson D) B.J. Crombeen (answer at bottom of page) Here are the game highlights, courtesy of Pouya from CanucksHD: Canucks vs Blues - game highlights (just click) Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / Canadian Press, Yahoo Sports and CanucksHD (youtube) Catch the Canucks road trip at http://thecanuckway.com Answer to Who doesn't belong question: C) Erik Johnson, the defenseman who has more points than the other 3 forwards combined...
  15. Lots of talk being made about Edmonton radio personality Dan Tencer's postgame comments following the Oilers loss to the Canucks Wednesday night. Tencer, in what he described as his frustration taking over due to what was a poorly officiated game that saw some weak calls made against the Oilers (something which I did note and comment on in my postscript), commented that the Canucks have been mediocre and that their fanbase is cocky. Going the predictable route of an Oilers fan who is trying to win an argument involving his team, he was quick to make mention of the Canucks lack of championships and that he doesn't understand why the Canucks have a sense of entitlement. Let me start off by saying fair enough to Tencer. As much as I hate admitting it, he is right that the Canucks have been a very mediocre franchise for pretty much their inception. Looking back at things, there have been some very dark days for the Canucks faithful. That doesn't mean the team is doomed to forever be a bad club, though, and it's an insinuation that bothered me when Tencer pitched his on-air fit. You'll notice that I've been using a lot of past tense there. Sorry. It tends to happen when talking about Edmonton, a team that desperately wants to go back to the halcyon days of the 1980s, given how brutal things are these days. Now, nothing against the Oilers, those teams from the 80s are a thing of legend and Oilers fans have every right to be proud of their team and their history. That said, you have to wonder how long any past capital they've built up is good for and if there comes a time where you have to stop dwelling on the past and dealing with the present. To clarify, I'm talking about both the Canucks and the Oilers here, teams that appear to be going in very different directions right now. I honestly can't think of a better time where everything related to the Canucks has been looking so good: they have one of the best goalies in the league locked up long term, a solid forward core with the Sedins, Kesler and Burrows, along with some bright spots in the system in the likes of players like Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder, Kevin Connauton and Anton Rodin. After hitting a bit of a rough patch in the 90s and a somewhat messy ownership battle this decade, the Canucks have become one of the NHL's leading teams, being ranked fifth in revenue, behind only the Leafs, Rangers, Canadiens and Red Wings, all Original Six clubs, all teams located in the population-dense East and all considered to be financial juggernauts of the NHL. That the Canucks are right up there in terms of generating revenue means that they have some weight to throw behind their words now, something which they really haven't had the luxury of doing before now. The Oilers, in comparison, have been on a long, painful decline since selling Wayne Gretzky to the Los Angeles Kings, a move that they were essentially forced to make. Like all Canadian teams, they were in serious financial troubles in the 90s, almost being relocated to Houston in 1998 (sidenote: where was Gary Bettman to protect the Oilers then?), and have only remedied things recently with passionate (and rich) owner Daryl Katz. Prior to Katz's arrival, the Oilers had trouble retaining talent (see: Gretzky, but also Coffey, Guerin, Weight, Arnott, etc.) With Katz, though, things are looking good as the Oilers have financial stability and should be able to retain young talent such as Jordan Eberle and Magnus Svensson-Paarjavi, both players who have bright futures ahead of them. Lowe himself represents my point about how the past can only mean (and do) so much. The Oilers, I would argue, have suffered with their focus on the past by rewarding past players with jobs within the organization and no one better exemplified that than Lowe, whose tenure included being the Dallas Stars' whipping boy in the 90s and a laughingstock in the 00s. He was quick to complain (note the use of that word) about how hard done the Oilers were as a small market team (they are currently the league's smallest market.) You'll notice that the Nashville Predators, also a small market team and operate under a self-imposed cap of $45 million or so, are routinely making the playoffs and seem to be doing fine. There was also Lowe's publicized feud with Brian Burke as well the complaints he made regarding Michael Nylander not signing with the club, to name a few of his mishaps while GM of the Oilers. It's strange that Tencer, in his blog post, would quote a Damien Cox article making fun of the Canucks voicing their concerns when the Oilers organization have been known to do the same. Regardless, Lowe's tenure as GM was fraught with many lowlights, excuses and complaints and saw him getting replaced by former Canucks executive Steve Tambellini. Additionally, Oiler alumni Craig MacTavish, seen by fans as being another inept hire and a move that rewarded faithful alumni, was given his walking papers and former Canucks coach Pat Quinn came aboard to try and make sense of the Oilers. Sadly, Nylander is only one of many players who have had a problem in staying with Edmonton, as apparently the allure of playing for a team that won a bunch twenty years ago doesn't have the same charm to outsiders as it does to residents of Edmonton. In addition to Nylander's snub, there was also Chris Pronger demanding a trade for unspecified reasons and the efforts from this past summer which saw the Oilers beg and plead for Dany Heatley to accept a trade to Edmonton, a trade which he ultimately blocked and has seen him get booed when the San Jose Sharks come to play in the Oilers barn. This has become so problematic, that the Oilers ended up having to make a DVD and then send it out to the agents of NHL players in an attempt to try and woo some players to come and sign with them. Ouch. And Tencer has the nerve to say Canucks fans are self-entitled? There's a saying about people in glass houses that fits here. Additionally, the Oilers struggled in the post-season from 1992, where they lost to Chicago in the Conference finals, all the way to 2006, where they went on their Cinderella Cup Run before ultimately losing to the Carolina Hurricanes. In between, the Oilers went long stretches without making the playoffs and are set to make it a fourth consecutive year if things continue to be ugly here. As the years go by, the 80s are becoming ever more distant and you could ask where exactly do Oilers fans get off telling anyone how they should feel about their club, given that they haven't been relevant for the better part of 2 decades. Yes, you can dwell on the past. Reward players from the 'glory days' while making excuses, while laughing at team who are making a conscious effort to improve and put their bad days behind them. Point to the Canucks failures, mock them for taking the steps to become one of the league's leading franchises. Complain about the diving while having a good on-air cry. Maybe eat a carton of rocky road and schedule a Sex In The City marathon, if it'll make you feel better. Then you can sit back and remember when Kim Mitchell and Honeymoon Suite were seen as the best in rock and where mullets were seen outside of Edmonton's city limits. When Gretzky was on the team and things were looking oh so good. After all, things aren't looking that great now, so why not look back fondly on what was? Me? I'd rather focus on the present, which sees the Canucks as a team on the verge of becoming a great franchise (they just need to take things to the next level) while the Oilers are on the verge of slipping completely into irrelevance (their bright future and potential lottery pick notwithstanding.) If that makes me cocky, to be happy for my team and enjoying their success, then all I have to say is that I'm glad I wasn't an Oilers fan back in the 80s, as I figure I'd be downright insufferable. But, okay. Let's take a look back at the glory days of the Oilers. Here's a favorite clip of mine: http://www.youtube.c...h?v=3tEFm6mpbqo Those were the days.
  16. 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="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100122/capt.1f302b44b5e34380869c016c32124161.stars_canucks_hockey_vcrd213.jpg" 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="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100122/capt.d22048a13d7e407d993ccc08a925949c.stars_canucks_hockey_vcrd207.jpg" 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="http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20100122/capt.3537112a158a490faa837b036bcc80be.stars_canucks_hockey_vcrd209.jpg" 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="http://www.youtube.com/user/canuckshd?blend=1&amp;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 />
  17. 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 http://thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN and Getty Images
  18. Larenzo

    Rattled

    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 http://thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo, The Canadian Press, and CanucksHD
  19. 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 (Canucks.com) 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
  20. 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 www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from TSN, Yahoo Sports, Getty Images and AP Photo
  21. 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 www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo / The Canadian Press, Getty Images, TSN and Yahoo! Sports
  22. Larenzo

    Canucks Bite Back

    <a href="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2209_burr_rr.jpg" border="0"><img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/12/dec2209_burellis_tt.jpg" 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. http://www.youtube.c...u/2/HTa_oUHZU2U 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. http://www.youtube.c...u/1/fMzKx9kJEYA 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. http://www.youtube.c...u/0/5GA5XAe9J14 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 www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from AP Photo, Getty Images, and Yahoo! Sports
  23. 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.
  24. 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 www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from Getty Images, TSN, ESPN, and Yahoo! Sports
  25. 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 www.thecanuckway.com Larenzo Jensen, with files from The Canadian Press/ AP Photo and Yahoo! Sports