Vancouver Canucks: Thank-HUGHES

Dear Canucks,

Another season has officially come to a close but it was one that will be remembered for a LONG time.This season has been an absolute emotional roller coaster, and I’m feeling all of the emotions but mostly incredibly grateful to have been able to witness run that was never supposed to happen if we had believed all the “expert” predictions prior to the start of the official Return to Play or those at the start of the regular season. This entire season was one with more optimism from start to finish than there has been surrounding the franchise in nearly a decade. It was incredible to witness.

The promise from the start was that this team wanted to get back to the playoffs and have a real taste of winning important games. Then came COVID putting a halt on what had been a promising season and no idea when things would pick up again or if this season would even have a chance to be officially completed. Then came the Return to Play plan and with it the bubble life. It could not have been an easy decision to make leaving your families behind and being isolated but you did something incredibly special as a team that this entire fan base will never forget. You gave us a semblance of normalcy during a time when it felt that normal was impossible. You gave us something that evoked hope and pride all at once and for that I’m eternally grateful. If you had told me the ending before it even began, I’m not sure how many people would’ve believed it possible that this team would play 17 games in the post-season.

First up was the task of facing the Minnesota Wild in the qualifying round. A best of 5 series that would require a full team effort and one that most experts said would end in the Wild’s favour and those voices got louder after Minnesota took the first game of the series. What happened next was a young team finding that next gear, their competitive drive and earning every inch of the ice over the next two games as the excitement from the fans was growing louder with each game. Game 4, down a goal in the third, it was the captain coming through with a timely goal to force extra time and an opportunity to clinch the teams first post-season series since 2011. It was the perfect script, win and it would mean the team’s first playoff berth in 5 years or it would have social media buzzing about other possible draft outcomes had this postseason format had never occurred. 

Well…it happened with the better than perfect script ending…11 seconds into overtime and just as we all predicted(or so we wish!), TANNY came through with the series clinching goal.

Look at that toothless grin and that look of pure joy? THAT is a goal that we will long remember as the one that clinched your first postseason series win in 9 years and the one that clinched the team’s first playoff berth in 5 years!

Next up was a first round match up with the St.Louis Blues was their reward for winning the qualifiers. Taking on the defending champs was not for the faint of heart but an exciting challenge for this young core to be taking on. To be the best, you have to beat the best. Opening with a thrilling 2-0 series lead that featured a touching tribute from Stecher to his dad and a human highlight reel Horvat was more than Canucks fans could have hoped for against a tough St.Louis team.

And we all knew that the Blues as the defending Stanley Cup champions wouldn’t go down easy, and before you knew it, the series was tied 2-2, setting up a best of 3. Game 5 started with a Motte short-handed goal before St.Louis took control with a 2-goal lead and looked to continue their series momentum. Or at least that’s how it seemed until you flipped the script by storming back with 3 unanswered goals, with Marky closing the door to steal game 5. From a tied series to putting the defending champs on the brink, it was electric.

Game 6 exceeded any and all expectations as far as elimination games go with a full 60 minute effort from the entire team. Just like that you were winning your first PLAYOFF SERIES in 9 years! I only wish that you could have heard all of us in more than just video or through social media, Rogers Arena would have been rocking during and after game 6. Congratulations on a spectacular series, it’s one that I will remember for always.

Success brings on new challenges…this time in the form of the Vegas Golden Knights. A team that since entering the league has had your number and one that nearly everyone expected to make this series a short one.

A tough opening game was followed by a much better game 2 to even up the series and further ignite a spark on both sides. After games 3 and 4, most experts thought the series was over with you trailing 3-1, but they didn’t realize you had a secret weapon still to be unleashed: Thatcher Demko.

The questions were raised if he could rise to the occasion after not having started in a playoff game yet, and not played a full game since March. Every question was answered with sensational save after sensational save as he brought the team back from the brink.

The level of which Demko was able to lift his game when called upon was incredible and nearly helped you sneak into the next round. If you had told us at the start of the season that you’d end up in a thrilling 7-game series against Vegas, I’m not sure how many would have believed it possible and yet, YOU DID.

17 games. 11 wins. Priceless experience for a team like that. Experience that will pay dividends for years to come for this young core. Here’s to taking a moment to appreciate everything you’ve been through, taking time to rest with your families and to preparing for the future that has arrived far sooner than many expected.

Thank-you, hardly seems enough for what you gave us during this crazy chaotic time of uncertainty and it meant more than you could possibly imagine. This was a unique moment in time in which you gave up a lot so that we could have a sense of normalcy amidst the chaos, and that did not go unnoticed.

Thank-HUGHES for the magic that was this past season even if it didn’t have the ending you hoped for, know that you gave hope to all of us during this crazy pandemic time. It was quite a ride, and I’m so grateful for every single second of it and can’t wait for the new season just around the corner.

Until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks Round Table (Vol.6)

Welcome to the latest edition of the official Nucksaid: Canucks Round Table! As you know, if you’ve followed my blog for awhile, one of my absolute favourite things is to connect with fellow hockey fans and to share our stories together. This series brings Canucks fans together from near and far to discuss all things Canucks through the year. There’s a lot to be said about them as a team, personally, I love to also hear other fans perspectives, it helps me to see the team and the game in new ways. Hopefully you enjoy the ride with all of us! 

Shall we begin? Without further ado, I present to you the 6th edition of the Canucks Round Table feature on Nucksaid.

Here we GO! [Thank-you to all the participants, and make sure to give them all a follow on twitter, their handles are included in the responses below]

1) As part of our new normal, the arenas in the hub cities and for the foreseeable future will not have fans in the stands, do you think this will either give the return to play teams an advantage or a disadvantage? 

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I feel that the lack of fans in the arena will most likely post a minor disadvantage to all teams considering that they have usually played in front of thousands of fans during their regular season games. The atmosphere, at least in person may be more akin to a practice with the lack of people inside the arena, but the NHL will most likely try to influence the presentation inside to replicate a game as much as possible(music during game breaks, pumped crowd noise, highlights and fan footage on the jumbotron). This replication will not be perfect but I do believe that after the first couple of games with no live audience, the players will grow used to this new normal and their performances will not suffer in significant ways.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I truly don’t think that the lack of fans will have much impact on the game, and it won’t really give any team an advantage per se. I think the players are already very excited to get back to playing hockey, and their energy and enthusiasm won’t be affected by the lack of fans. If anything, the designated “home team” might miss a bit of a “boost” that comes from the home crowd, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s an advantage or disadvantage. The players know that they have a unique opportunity to win the Stanley Cup this year, and that will be their focus.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): To be honest, I’m not sure! Fans do play a huge part in the flow and atmosphere of the game! I hope the NHL can incorporate the fans somehow.

(@Grampahockey1): I don’t believe this will be an advantage to either team, you may saw the home rink has a slight advantage because they know the idiosyncrasies of their own rink but I think that will be minimal and diminish over time.

(@tams3333): I think it will be an advantage. I think the guys are so tuned into the game and pretty much all teams being away will make for some amazing well balanced games.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I don’t think the hub cities without fans in the stands will give any team the advantage. There won’t be any noise to cheer on any teams so nothing will be a distraction or advantage for any teams.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): Having no fans is certainly going to be different. The players at this level are so used to having fans, scouts, management and media around at practices and games. However as all the teams experience that the same change and the practices during this two week period are focused on preparing, including no fans. I don’t think it will make a difference but I am intrigued by the different tales I’ve heard about the potential fan impact.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I suspect that everyone is in a similar state or confusion and trying to make sense of the new normal. My gut says that there not be any advantage or disadvantage to any team based on the fans of lack of fans in the seats.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think its both. I think having the fans there, gives teams energy and can be a big advantage to a home team in terms of creating intimidating atmosphere to play. At the same time, playing in front of no fans means less pressure. Watching the playoffs over the years, I’ve seen teams that really feed off of the crowd but also teams that seem to really struggle to put together a solid game in front of home fans, especially in Canada when you’re down a goal or 2, the crowd’s nervous energy seems to translate on the ice too.

Me(@nucksaid): I don’t necessarily think it’ll be an advantage or disadvantage as all the teams will be in the exact same situation. I think it’s unique in this most unusual of circumstances but the teams will adapt to the new normal and put their focus on the why they’re there, the Stanley Cup. I’m curious to see how it’s going to be from a fan perspective with all content that has been provided by the teams and various fans around the league.

2)The Minnesota Wild present a good challenge for a young Canucks team, what strengths do you think that both sides have?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I think Minnesota is a good match up for the Canucks because of their up-and-coming young players– they remind me of the Canucks pre-Sedin retirement as they have their two anchor veterans, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They are not as good as the Sedins but they do possess extensive veteran experience that could help the Wild in the series. Of the two teams, Minnesota has more experience in the playoffs and even though they have not won many series in the last couple years, the experience can be crucial in a playoff environment. Then again, this is not your regular playoffs. As for Vancouver’s strengths, I do feel that Vancouver’s offence is ready for prime time and has the edge over Minnesota. Players like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser have put up great regular seasons and have performed well under pressure of fans and the media. This is not to say that Minnesota does not have great young players themselves (names such as Kevin Fiala and Ryan Donato come to mind), but Vancouver’s young guns have both the stats and hardware to prove their talent(Boeser’s All-Star MVP award and Pettersson’s Calder Trophy).

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): On paper, it’s a coin flip as the two teams finished one point apart in the standings. It sounds simplistic but it really boils down to the Canucks having a more dynamic offence, the Wild having a more solid blue line, and the Canucks having a decided advantage between the pipes. Both teams have a nice mix of young players and veterans, and they both skate well and play with tenacity. I think Markstrom will be the difference in this series.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): Minnesota will be a tough test! I think the Canucks need to be careful. Minnesota is a team that hangs around and can close out games very well. The Canucks have high scoring offence and a goalie, who when he’s on, is one of the best in the league. I think its going to be be a fantastic series.

(@Grampahockey1): I think the Canucks will have an advantage because of their youth and goal-tending. They are healthy and when they were healthy last time, they could compete with anyone. However, having said that, they will have to fight for every inch of ice as the Wild will not roll over.

(@tams3333): The Wild are so stuck in their systems but I think if Travis gives the boys some freedom they will break through. Creative unpredictable play, I think will be the Canucks advantage and systems, I think will be the advantage for the Wild.

Artisia Wong(artisia_wong): The Canucks have a young and fun team that will hopefully do something in the playoffs. Score more goals and lots of assists. I don’t really know anything about the wild but I believe they are team as well. This will be a challenge for the Canucks but hope we come out on top.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The strengths of each side has been much talked about. Minnesota defence, Vancouver’s goal-tending and young scorers. To me, the biggest difference will come with the intangible ability to handle failure. How well will the different players recover from mistakes to come back and make the play next time instead of changing their game. The fear of quicksand. I think Green has done a great job with the young forwards to support their creativity while developing their game.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I feel like Minnesota has a few more veterans in their lineup that have extensive experience in the NHL playoffs that might prove to be an advantage for that team. However, I believe that the Canucks have a healthy balance of youth in the pressure to prove something that may be enough to see them go on a long run.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think for the Canucks, is their youth, the overall skill and speed that they have is much better than the Wild. Having Markstrom in net is also an advantage. The Canucks have their goal-tending is better than the Wild. My concerns with the Canucks is their defence, they really struggle defending, giving up tons of chances. If the Canucks can play their agressive style and speed game, play decent defence, then the series tilts in their favour. They have a more skilled top 6 than the Wild.

For Minnesota, their advantage is the experience that they have. They have lots of veterans who have played in the playoffs and have had little success. Being an older team, a lot of guys on the Wild might not get many more chances which makes them very motivated and dangerous. When I look at the Wild, their strength is their blue line, especially their top 4 which is good as any in the league. If the Wild can contain the Canucks speed and protect the middle of the ice, it will take advantage of the Canucks suspect defence and the series will tilt in their favour.

Me(@nucksaid): I think these two teams a very evenly matched on paper, separated by a single point in the overall standings. They each have their own strengths. Minnesota brings in a veteran experience with their own crop of young players and difference makers, especially their blue line that won’t make it easy on the Canucks. Minnesota was beginning to really gel together right before the pause, it’ll be interesting to see how quickly they pick up that pace again. For they Canucks, they have a hungry group of young players itching to prove themselves and get a real taste of NHL playoff hockey experience. If Pettersson, Boeser and Hughes are allowed to find their game while Markstrom stands tall, look out Minnesota.

3)Which Canuck(s) will have the biggest impact on the series?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I’ve got two Canucks down as the impact players going into this series.

First, Jacob Markstrom. Goaltending is everything to this year’s Canucks. The offence has shown it can be capable of lighting up the opponent but without the stellar goal-tending we have been blessed with this season, we would not have made the qualifying round. Markstrom’s career has finally led to this summer, where he will make his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut. This season has been his ultimate breakout year, showing this franchise he can be the #1 they have needed over the last few years.

Second, Brock Boeser. Besides playing against his hometown team in this series, Brock will be facing adversity, both physically and mentally. Physically, he has been fatigued with injuries almost his entire career so far but has put up incredible numbers in the face of them. Mentally, he was the subject of a trade rumour right as training camp started, leaving fans (and probably players) in a state of confusion and speculation. Jim Benning has completely denied the report, but I am sure that Brock will put in the extra mile during training and these playoffs to quell any sort of idea that he is going anywhere. He is a superstar sniper and those are not easy to come by in a league that is shooter-heavy.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): Markstrom, Pettersson, Hughes, and Miller are the obvious names. But I’m looking at Brock Boeser to have a massive series. It’s almost funny to think of him as a forgotten man, but he only played one game for the Canucks since getting injured on February 10. He looked fast in training camp, and it looked like his shot was back. He’ll be very motivated to play against the team based in his home state. Another player I look to have a big impact is Michael Ferland. It looks like he’ll get a chance to start on the third line as he has much more playoff experience than Virtanen and MacEwen. I remember how he terrorized the Canucks (in particular their d-men) back in the 2015 playoffs when he was playing for the Flames. I was scared of him…and I wasn’t even playing. Back then, I thought to myself, “Why can’t we have a guy like this on our team?” Well, now we have a guy like this on our team. And it could be amazing.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I think it’s going to be a breakout series for the young core! I also want to see what Juolevi can do that he’s made the team.

(@Grampahockey1): It’s got to be JT Miller and Michael Ferland, however I think the bottom 6 will come to play.

(@tams3333): I think Hughes. Defensive quarterbacks are critical.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I will have to say the goalie! Jacob Markstrom will be key to this series and potential playoff run. He will need to make some pretty big saves if the Canucks want to keep themselves in this.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): This series is the coming out party for Petey and Hughes. Their creative high pace games should still shine though in this play-in series. With the questions about experience being asked, Petey reacted to point out his SHL experience. He is challenged and steps up, every time.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I believe JT Miller and Jacob Markstrom will continue to be two players that have an enormous impact regardless of who is playing against them. Pettersson, Horvat, Hughes and Boeser will likely all have opportunities to shine in one of more games but I believe the first two mentioned names will be the ones carrying the consistency in round one. I also suspect there will be somebody like a Toffoli or a Peason who has an amazing series as always seem to be the case in these sort of competitions.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think Markstrom will be the biggest key and after that it be will guys like Hughes, Boeser, Pettersson, Horvat, Miller, Toffoli and Pearson if they can play to what they’re capable of, the Canucks will win the series. Also, if Jake Virtanen can get in the lineup and play like the power forward with his physical game, he can single handily change this series. In my opinion, his game is built for the playoffs but he can’t seem to stay out of trouble with coach and management.

Me(@nucksaid): Jacob Markstrom’s strength of play will definitely influence this series, if he finds that same gear that drove him all season, he will be a force for the Canucks against Minnesota and beyond. Quinn Hughes driving the blue line in that insanely astute way he does so naturally with a steady calm that is well beyond his years will inspire his teammates. Playing against his hometown team with his newly rediscovered shot and fully healthy for the first time is forever, Brock Boeser is going go be a very determined player looking to be the series spark.

4) Which Canuck do you think will open the scoring in their play-in series?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I like to think creatively about these questions. Most people select bigger names but I’ll take Tanner Pearson as the opening scorer in this series, assisted by Toffoli and Horvat.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I’m going with Brock Boeser.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I’m going with Brock Boeser.

(@Grampahockey1): My favourite alien will pop the first goal in spectacular fashion as his play is out of this world. Go Petey Go!

(@tams3333): I’m going to say Bo.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I am going to say Horvat will open the scoring.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The first goal will be Boeser as he is working hard and with Bo and Tanner doing the board play, they will wear out the line and then give Boeser a shot.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): My bet is that it is somebody that we don’t suspect, like a Sutter.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I am going to go with Brock Boeser playing against his hometown team. I expect him to come out flying and produce, I feel like he scores the opening goal for the Canucks.

Me(@nucksaid): I’m calling Brock Boeser to open and close the scoring in this series. I have a feeling we’re going to see something special from the kid when the puck drops on Sunday.

5)How many games do you think the play-in round against Minnesota will be, will see a shorter series or one that goes the distance?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): I think it will be a closer series than Canucks fans would hope for. Minnesota and their talent won’t go down without a fight, even with the prospect of #1 overall in the NHL draft as a consolation prize. I see the series going to 4 or 5 games, with Vancouver winning.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): The Canucks will win in 4. A sweep would be nice, but I think it may be unrealistic. If the Canucks can win the first game and Markstrom plays well, I don’t see the Wild coming back in a short series.

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I think it’s going to be a longer series.

(@Grampahockey1): Canucks in 4.

(@tams3333): I think it will go the distance. I think every game will be close actually and goal-tending will be the difference.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): I hope we will see a shorter series! The longer the series, the more injuries will happen.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I’ve heard different numbers thrown around but the most likely to me would be 4 games. The Canucks take two. Minny takes one and then the Canucks step up and finish the series.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I’m banking on a 4-game series.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): I think the Canucks take this in 4, although I would not be surprised if it goes to 5. The teams were even in the regular season only by 1 point difference. I can see a lot of tight 1-2 goal hockey games. I don’t expect this series to be lopsided. If this series ends in a sweep either way, I would be surprised.

Me(@nucksaid): I think the Wild will give the Canucks a fight for every inch but I still think the Canucks take the series in 4 games.

6) With the CBA now extended, are you excited about NHL players potentially returning to the Olympic games that may feature a few of the young Canucks?

Jacob New(@jkmnew): Absolutely. If there was anything that the Winter Olympics has missed out on over the last half decade, it is NHL players in the Men’s Ice Hockey competition. Looking forward to 2022, there are bound to be a couple of Canucks to make the cut for their respective countries. Jacob Markstrom would be in contention for Sweden’s starting goalie position and Elias Pettersson could be the country’s top centre-man. Brock Boeser’s shot would be a lethal weapon for the United States team and Quinn Hughes’ mobility and puck-moving skills will make him hard to pass on for Team USA as well. Though these players would not be playing for Team Canada, it is hard to cheer against them when they play just as hard for your own team. If I had to isolate a single player to be most excited to see in the Olympics, it would be Elias Pettersson. His performance at the World Juniors was impressive but he could shine even more knowing what he is capable of at the NHL level at this point in his career.

Clay Imoo(@CanuckClay): I absolutely love Olympic hockey. I love seeing best-on-best and I love seeing Canada compete. You’d think that Pettersson and Markstrom would be automatics for Sweden, while the States could have Hughes, Miller, Boeser and Demko. I think Horvat may have an outside shot at making the Canadian team. And Sweden and Russian might inject some youth with Hoglander and Podkolzin, respectively. I can’t wait!

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): I’m SO EXCITED that players can go to the Olympics(hopefully). It’s going to be insanely hard to not cheer for the USA with Boes and Huggy on that team! Cannot wait to see these young guys represent their countries!

(@Grampahockey1): I don’t believe the NHL should hijack Olympic hockey games. Having said that, I will of course watch Sweden win the gold so we should be well represented.

(@tams3333): Absolutely! I love Olympic hockey! Such an amazing experience for all the players.

Artisia Wong(@artisia_wong): Yes, I’m so excited for the NHL players to return to the Olympics! It’s always so much fun watching them play!

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I haven’t really though much about the Canucks and the Olympics. In one sense, it is better for team Canada to have Canucks there. The NHL at the Olympics will make for some very exciting hockey. With so many good players from other countries, it will be a really competitive and skilled tournament. I have always tracked team Canada and any Canuck players (or former Canucks) when international play is happening. I don’t always watch it though. I don’t see that changing but will still be interesting.

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): 100%. I think this is what the players want and I am confident it is what the fans want and I am glad they found a solution.

Deepak(@Deepak_Hockey): Yes, I am very excited about NHL players in the Olympics. I think the best in the world should compete. The Olympics also allows hockey to grow on the world wide stage. With the youth and young stars that the Canucks have, they have quite a few future Olympians on their team which would be exciting to watch them play as always. Though I won’t be cheering for them when they play Canada.

Me(@nucksaid): I’m ecstatic to see the players having an opportunity to return to the Olympics. There’s something truly spectacular when the best on best in the sport represent their countries at the Winter games. There’s a fair number of Canucks that have a chance to represent their respective countries and that’ll make for a very exciting and competitive tournament.

That’s it for this edition of the Canucks Round Table! If you’d like to take part the next time, or down the road as we work our way through this new pandemic normal or if you have a question that you’d like to see included in the NEXT round table, find me on twitter (@nucksaid) or send me an e-mail (nucksaid@gmail.com). Special THANK-YOU to each and every person that took the time to be a part of this Round Table! [And if you’re not already following the  participants on twitter, please find their handles in their above responses!] 

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: 2019/2020 Reflections

More than three months have gone by since the NHL was officially put on pause and who knows if we will even see hockey return again with training camps or if it gets fully put on hold before preparing for next season. Whether or not the season does actually resume and the Stanley Cup eventually awarded, I think it’s still important to take a look back at the season that was before the pause.

(Apologies in advance as this post is long overdue but thanks to the pandemic has been delayed until now.)

Shall we begin? Let’s go. Again, this is going to be long post but there were a lot of noteworthy moments this past season and a few memorable stats to look closer at. For starters, can we talk about how the team scored 5 OR more goals in a game, 21(yes, 21) times this season in 69-games? The previous 2 seasons, that feat was managed just 14 and 11 times in 82-game seasons.

This season was a season loaded with expectation from the start as the franchise itself was going to celebrate their 50th season in the NHL. A big move at the draft in June put a load of expectation on JT Miller before he ever stepped onto the ice this season from the media and the fans. A new captain was going to be named for the first time since the Sedins retired. Many milestones from the previous seasons were going to be celebrated including the dragon slayer Alex Burrows being put into the Ring of Honour and the Sedins’ numbers officially being retired. It was from the start going to be a season full of honouring the past and forging a new future.

OCTOBER: Starting 0-2 out the gate was not exactly an exciting start to watch but it wasn’t the end of the world either.

By the time the 3rd game came around, you could feel a shift with it being their home opener and the official naming of the 14th captain on the anniversary of their first game ever played and of the day Henrik Sedin had been named captain in 2010. There was a palpable buzz even though MOST people had already guessed the captain to be named was going to be Bo Horvat. It may have been the worst kept secret around but it was still a spectacular moment to witness when both Henrik Sedin and Orland Kurtenbach came to centre ice to present Bo with his new jersey with the captain’s “C”. Maybe it was the excitement of a captain being named, maybe it was bringing legends from every Canucks era into the starting lineup, maybe it was wanting to show people they are different team than they have been in previous seasons, maybe it was a combination. Whatever the motivation, an 8-goal explosion including Quinn Hughes first NHL goal had the fans on their feet and one Drew Doughty flabbergasted by such performance from a “Team Like That”.

Home ice this past season became a place where the Canucks have had a little swagger that has been missing in recent years.

Late October saw a road trip that saw some big games in St.Louis, New York, & Detroit including a few big comebacks and a massively impressive game from Markstrom in New York. In Detroit that had the team down 2-0 heading into the third period and the script seemed to have been written already if you were to look at the history from recent years when comebacks of any kind were few and far between. The Canucks came swinging in the 3rd period scoring 5-straight goals that concluded with Bo Horvat’s first career hat trick.

And yes, I’m well aware of the game that followed this one. The one against the Capitals in which the Canucks had built up a 5-1 lead but those pesky Capitals had their own special comeback to earn a shootout victory. (Those Capitals put on a clinic of what it means to play until the final minute of every game, a lot of teams this season were met with the persistence of a Capitals comeback).

And how can we not talk about the 2nd meeting with LA that closed out October and featured a Brock Boeser hat trick? Not bad, for a team like THAT.

NOVEMBER: While the month of November didn’t bring as many wins as most Canucks fans would have liked, it did feature some standout moments and perhaps most important of all, it brought back the SKATE jersey!

The much loved retro SKATE jersey made it’s comeback and let’s just say that those jerseys looked slick on the ice and I would not be against them returning more than just 4 times a season. Seriously…can we bring it back more often as in maybe make it the official third or bring it back full time?!

Markstrom’s play began evolving during the 2018-19 season, but this past season, his game hit another gear an example of which we saw in a game against Nashville when he made 45 saves and the team surged with 5 power-play goals.

One moment in particular that I keep replaying is the Canucks rematch with the Capitals which featured the ever classic Ovechkin one-timer that is all kinds of ridiculous and matched with a Pettersson one-timer to keep the game even at 1. One legend and a player still looking to leave his mark on the game exchanging two highlight reel goals. The game would once again ultimately be decided by a shootout, but this time it was the Canucks who would steal the second point after a 7-round shootout winner from Horvat.

DECEMBER: Aside from SEDIN week in February, December may have been one of my all-time favourite parts of the season.

The dragon slayer came home. It’s seems only fitting that in a season when the Sedins were going to be celebrated, that their best line-mate also be honoured. And how fitting that on the night Burrows joined the Ring of Honour is also the same night that the team earned their 14th victory of the season. It would be remiss of me to not mention this game also marked the debut of Antoine Roussel who opened the scoring with a great goal celebration that honoured #14.

Once again the SKATE returned. A Saturday matinee that featured some very interesting reffing all game long and a bottle bursting JT Miller overtime winner. Again, let’s talk about HOW awesome that skate jersey looks on the ice…because it’s real shame they aren’t worn more often.

Carolina came calling but Jacob Markstrom put on a goal-tending clinic that was clinched in victory when Elias Pettersson scored a dazzling overtime winner a mere 40 seconds into the extra frame…

2019 closed with a 5-game winning streak featuring wins against: Vegas, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, LA and Calgary. There was an energy in the rink in the back and forth game against Vegas when the team earned their first ever home ice victory against a tough Golden Knights team.

JANUARY: A team like that came into the new year with a 5-game winning streak looking to build on it with their first game of the year against the Chicago Blackhawks. Let me tell you, THAT game was WILD. It had a little bit of everything. The Canucks had a 2-1 lead, within minutes the Blackhawks had suddenly taken a 4-2 lead and the building was deathly quiet. Cue a Travis Green timeout followed by two spectacular rookie goals to the tie the game back up that brought the arena back to their feet. Bo & Kane exchanged goals in the 3rd period before Gaudette scored the game winner, it was a roller coaster from start to finish but an incredibly fun game to witness live.

How did they follow up their first game of the new year? By bringing back the SKATE jersey again, this time to celebrate the 90s Canucks era. It was as if Jacob Markstrom was in retro form with Captain Kirk in the house, he made an awesome throwback two-pad stack save. It was everything and perfect. PLEASE, Canucks bring back the SKATE at least as the official thirds? (pretty please!).

And then came that game against Tampa Bay that we’d all like to forget…seriously that second period was like watching a never ending nightmare. Definitely not the way they envisioned their winning streak coming to an end, but it gave them a reminder that they still had some work to do to be on Tampa Bay’s competitive level.

For the first time in many years, the Canucks had not 1 but 3 players taking part in ALL-STAR weekend with ; well technically 4, including Canadian ALL-STAR, Meghan Agosta. From a rink side bet between Markstrom and Bieksa to a shoutout for Hughes from the greatest of all-time to a take everyone by surprise speedy sniper shot from Petey to a stellar 3-on-3 tournament between the Canada/USA women’s teams, it was a pretty special all-star break for the Vancouver contingent.

FEBRUARY: SEDIN WEEK. Some people outside of British Columbia made it known that they thought a week an absurd amount of time to celebrate the careers of two players who never won the cup. To them I say, a week was not too much to celebrate the careers of two players that defined the franchise for 20 years and redefined what it meant to truly have the heart of a Canuck. Yes, they didn’t win the cup and that’s a shame but the mark they’ve left on the franchise is indelible. As Canucks fans, we were truly lucky to have witnessed the entirety of Henrik and Daniel’s careers; how they portrayed themselves both on and off of the ice was truly special. I’ll never forget the atmosphere from both their final game played in Rogers Arena and the one in which their jerseys were raised to the rafters.

The second night of SEDIN WEEK, was full of pomp and circumstance and absolute perfection in the speech given by Kevin Bieksa(is there anything this guy can’t do?). The building was entranced from the moment the ceremony began and then came the game which everyone hoped would be a victory but the 49-save performance from Jacob Markstrom was stupendous. Who doesn’t love a good shutout to follow an epic jersey retirement ceremony? It was beyond perfection from a purely fan standpoint. Were there elements of the game itself that could’ve been improved upon? Sure, but at the end of the day the team led by a monstrous effort from Markstrom earned a victory on a momentous evening for the franchise.

It’s no secret that games against Boston have taken on a bigger significance since 2011 and that the team wanted to avenge their loss to the Bruins from earlier in the season. Did we expect a better team effort in their second match up this season? 100%. Did we expect 9 GOALS? No, but we will 100% watch ALL the replays of that game.

It’s also no secret that the Canucks have had a difficult time finding wins against Montreal in recent years and falling behind 2-0 early in this game certainly was not the most optimistic start. Give the team some credit, they found a way to be resilient and tying the game up twice to force overtime. Tyler Toffoli came up clutch with the overtime winner giving the Canucks their first victory against Montreal in nearly 5 years! The rest of that road trip was not as kind as the Canucks adjusted to a new normal without Markstrom who had been injured against Boston.

MARCH: That first game against Columbus….ugh was great until the last 10 minutes when the game slipped away due to a myriad of errors…I can’t even look back at the one.

Enduring one of their toughest stretches in the season as Markstrom’s absence became louder with game that passed, then came the ever talented Colorado Avalanche. Maybe it was the inspiration of a tough opponent of the throwback to the West Coast Express era, but the team came out with a 6-goal performance and HUGE win in the standings.

Another match up against Columbus that once again did not result in a win but it did result in yet another ridiculous goal from Elias Pettersson, who straight from the penalty box made no mistake putting the puck in the net.

In their final game before all things sports were put on pause, the Canucks met the Islanders for a back and forth affair that required both overtime and a shootout. Thatcher Demko was a monster making 45 saves through overtime and stopped all three shooters in the shootout. JT Miller with a nifty move earned the Canucks their final regular season victory in the 2019-2020 season before the NHL officially put the season on pause.

Feels like a lifetime ago now doesn’t it? Maybe the season resumes, or maybe it doesn’t resume at all. And it wasn’t a perfect season, but it was definitely a season that felt like a breath of fresh air compared to recent years.

My one request, IF I haven’t said it enough, should the season resume, can we PLEASE bring back the skate jersey for playoffs or in the very least as our official thirds next season? Pretty please?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Nucksaid: Suspended Series (Vol.2)

Hello again hockey fans, are you going as crazy as I am without your regular hockey fix? To help pass the time while we wait, I decided to create the Nucksaid: Suspended Series. A series that puts the spotlight on the fans and their hockey stories. Many of my favourite stories are those of fellow fans and how hockey stole their hearts. So, I open this up to ALL of you whether you are a fellow Vancouver Canucks fan, rival fan, front line hero, local or halfway across the globe, if you have a hockey story to share, I’m happy to put the spotlight on YOU. Even though we are apart right now, we’re all in this together, and we’ll get through it one day at a time. What I’m asking if you’re willing, is for you to share what the game means to you or maybe you have a funny anecdote or a moment that you’d like to share that changed the way you see the game. What you share is completely up to you.

Today, I present to you the next participant in the Nucksaid Suspended Series. Below you will find her words and if you’re not following her on twitter, make sure to note her twitter handle below & give her a follow!).

Brieann Knorr(@ItsBrieann): “This NHL season has turned me back into a die hard hockey fan. I’m a Canucks fan, and as most Canucks fans know, the last few years have been tough. And to be honest, I’ve cheered for this team through those years, and at times, it was very tough. It was tough to see other teams get to go to the playoffs and win the Stanley Cup and watch my team have an April exit, but this season changed everything for me. I’m not quite sure what it is, I think for the first time in a while, we have some hope. This team has shown that it can fight for the playoffs and even be one of the best teams in our division. I think because this season surprised me, I, not once believed we’d be a lottery team. I knew we were good, but I didn’t think we’d be as good as we’ve been. Yes, we’ve had our inconsistent moments and our losing streaks but we a young team and a learning team. I know that we’re going to be a dominant force in the years to come. The way the team is beginning to gel together is reminding me of 2011 and I have a feeling, that unlike 2011, we will win the Cup, and I have a feeling it may be soon. 

The question is what? What is this team bringing hope and joy for the first time in a long while? I think we finally have talent that can rival the 2011 team. We’re getting a core group of players together, and what a core it is! Who know back in 2013, that we had drafted our captain? Bo Horvat has been an amazing captain in his first year. I can see how the Sedins have had an influence on him. I see the humility that the Sedins had and I see their leadership skills in him. I can’t wait for Horvat to be the first captain in Canucks history to lift the Cup! 

We also have an insanely talented defenseman, who I have no idea how he was still there at 7th overall!!! I expected Quinn to be amazing but record setting amazing?!?!?! What a rookie performance by Hughes! His creativity and the way he can just get the puck off of players is crazy! We’ve never had a defensive talent like him and I know he’s going to get some NHL hardware in his career. 

Speaking of players with NHL trophies, our Swedish sensation! What a sophomore season from Petey! I knew he was going to have just another amazing season after his Calder win last year. I think Petey is one of the most fun and amazing people to watch on the ice. Every time he steps on the ice, I hold my breath as I know he’s going to do something extraordinary. If the season resumes, he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. 

Petey’s usual line-mate was having a great season too. What can I say about Brock Boeser this season? I feel like his game has changed a bit, but for the better. Yes, he’s still scoring but his defensive play has grown too. He’s becoming an amazing 2-way forward with unbelievable talent. Also, I’ve been impressed by his heart, the donation of $1000 for every goal her scores, to raise money for a cure for Parkinson’s disease is just so amazing. Yes, he had injuries but he’s healthy now, and a healthy Boeser is something the league should fear. 

Overall, this season has meant a lot to me! There have been so many incredible moments from the 50th anniversary celebrations: Sedin Night(which was amazing as I got to see it live!), to seeing our new bonified number one NHL goalie in Marky. I know this is just the beginning of what I hope, is a resurgence in the Canucks and I cannot wait to tag along for the ride.”

–Brieann. 

Special thank-you to Brieann for sharing her story with all of us! I look forward to bringing you many more stories as we continue to navigate through this new normal of a suspended season and await the game that changed all of our lives whether that’s to empty arenas or a canceled season or a delayed season next year. If you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured simply send me an email(nucksaid@gmail.com) or find me on twitter(@nucksaid) and we will make it happen.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Dear Hockey…

Dear Hockey,

I miss you. I miss the sounds of the game from sticks, pucks and skates hitting the ice to the anthems to the on ice noise balanced by the arena crowds to that final buzzer. When I try really hard, I can still hear them ever so faintly, but it’s not the same. I miss the game day rituals from my own superstitions to seeing my friends at the games to witnessing magic with 18,000+ other fans.

At this point we should be deep into the first round of playoffs and getting a feel for what the second will look like but that’s not where we are. These are unprecedented times unlike any other. Instead of seeing an flurry of playoff excitement and brackets busting, we are all hunkered down while we adjust to the new normal of self-isolating and a world with no sports and world health crisis. It was absolutely the right move to step away right now but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It is times like these when the world feels heavy, that you are often the place we turn to for solace.

When things go dark in the world, hockey is often my safe place to fall back on. The world is in a very hard place across the globe, and there is no hockey, no sports, no concerts, and no big events that can be our distraction. In a matter of seconds the game takes my breath away. It both breaks my heart and makes my heart burst with joy.

Yes, the truth is that I miss hockey and I miss it immensely, but it needs to do better when it comes back from this suspended season. Hockey is far from perfect, there is a massive amount of work to be done when it comes back for it to truly feel like hockey is for everyone.There are a lot of times when there are gaps to the truth of that statement and too many are on the outside looking in. People will often ask those on the outside why they keep coming back to it when it’s an unequal space, we come back because we deserve to be a part of that space too. The season may be on pause, but that doesn’t mean that the work to improve should stop, it means there is more time to really dig deep to be better across the board.

Until the puck drops once more, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Nucksaid: Suspended Series (Vol.1)

Hello out there hockey friends, are you going as crazy as I am without your regular hockey fix? We should be deep into the first round of the playoffs right about now, and while I know its absolutely the right thing for EVERYONE, my heart still aches every time I think about it. As this pause will seemingly last for a long while(and already has), I have been racking my brain to think of a fun way to pass the time. The one that kept coming back to me, was the fans and their stories. It’s no secret that some of my favourite stories are those fellow fans and how hockey stole their hearts. So, I open this up to ALL of you whether you are a fellow Vancouver Canucks fan, rival fan, front line hero, local or halfway across the globe, if you have a hockey story to share, I’m happy to put the spotlight on YOU.

Even though we are apart, we’re all in this together, and we’ll get through it one day at a time. What I’m asking is for you to share what the game means to you or maybe you have a funny anecdote or a moment that you’d like to share that changed the way you see the game. What you share is up to you.

Today, I present to you the first two participants in the Nucksaid Suspended Series. Below you will find their words and if you’re not following them on twitter, make sure to note their handles below & give them both a follow!).

1. Tina Poole(@tpoole00): “I got into hockey in the early 90’s. It was kind of a family tradition. My mom’s side of the family was always big into sports, be it hockey, CFL football or baseball in the summers. My mom is originally from Winnipeg and moved out here when she was 9. When I was growing up, if it was a Saturday or there was a Canucks game on, everyone would be watching.

Christmas gifts(starting in 1994) always involved tickets to a game of the latest EA Sports NHL PC game. Another memorable Christmas gift was the year I got a wooden hockey stick. It helped me out in many street hockey games. The camaraderie of those games remains in my memory. Another memorable gift was the white skate jersey I got for my 7th birthday. I currently use it to collect autographs. Cliff Ronning was the first Canuck to autograph my jersey.

One thing I miss that I wish the Canucks would bring back is fan appreciation day where the fans got to meet the team after the season ended. I appreciate the open practices that take place throughout the season.

My cousin played hockey through high school. He got as far as Junior B with the Salmon Arm Salmonbellies. He had a tryout with the Junior A Coquitlam Express.

I also enjoy the social media aspect of hockey. I blog about hockey, contributing to Total Canucks and my own personal blog. Most of the time, twitter is a great forum to follow hockey during games. I also take part in a couple of game threads on Facebook during games.

The experience of watching hockey has definitely evolved with the emergence of the internet and social meda.

I am excited to see the Canucks finally hoist the Stanley Cup in the next several years.”

2. Jen Allan(@getthepuckuout): “When Ben Hutton was a rookie, he partook in the ice & dice fundraiser. He had to lip sync and chose the song, “In a Barbie World.” I watched the stream of his performance and laughed really hard. Years pass, I believe 4. I go to an autograph signing and as I’m putting down my jersey in front of Ben Hutton, I say to him, ‘Every time I see one of your highlights, all I hear in my head is “In a Barbie World.”‘ He burst out laughing. He really does have a great smile and laugh.”

Special thank-you to both Tina & Jen for sharing their stories with me and all of you! I look forward to bringing you many more stories as we navigate through this new normal of the suspended season and await the return of the game that means so much more than a game to all of us. If you’d like to be featured or know someone who should be featured simply send me an email(nucksaid@gmail.com) or find me on twitter(@nucksaid) and we will make it happen.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks Round Table (Vol.5)

Welcome to the latest edition of the official Nucksaid: Canucks Round Table! As you know, if you’ve followed my blog for awhile, one of my absolute favourite things is to connect with fellow hockey fans and to share our stories together. This new series will be bringing Canucks fans together from near and far to discuss all things Canucks as the season progresses. There’s a lot to be said about the team, personally, I love to also hear other fans perspectives, it helps me to see the team and the game in new ways.Hopefully you enjoy the ride with all of us! Shall we begin? Without further ado, I present to you the 5th edition of the Canucks Round Table feature on Nucksaid.

Here we GO!

1)SEDIN WEEK arrived! What were you anticipating most, OR what was your favourite moment during the week? (Please note some answered this question BEFORE the retirement ceremony).

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I anticipated tears. I cry like a baby during every jersey retirement and I anticipate twice the tears this time. Hank is my all-time fav Canuck. It’s going to be one hell of a week.

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): I am very excited about this week. But the most exciting will be the number retiring ceremony. It will be nice to see some old, beloved Canucks there but I was living in Alberta when Pavel got his retired and I missed it. The main reason I got season tickets this year was for this moment.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I waited to respond as I wanted to see the Sedin week celebrations. The Wednesday game against Chicago was the pinnacle of Sedin week. Seeing all those gathered, hearing stories again about the Sedins, and seeing these jerseys go up to the rafters, I soaked up every moment I could. The ceremony before the game was well done. It did not feel long, it hit so many good notes in the speeches and the humour. The win helped make sure the good feelings from the ceremony hung on after the game.

(@ItsBrieann): I was beyond lucky to go to the jersey retirement game. Going into it, I was excited for all of it! The moments that stood out for me the most was the speeches by Juice and the Sedins. As soon as I heard that Juice was making a speech, I knew it wasn’t going to disappoint and man, was I right! I also loved the Sedins’ speech, they showed how classy they are and as a fan it filled with pride.

(@tams3333): Honestly, I don’t want to take away from the Sedins, but my favourite moment was the cheer for Kesler. Only the Sedins could bring together so many people who are at odds, and through subtle role modeling, point out the positives and promote healing and forgiveness. They are something so special to hockey. So many of the guests at the ceremony had tears in their eyes. It was magic.

Gabriella Smith(@wildestdreams_3): I loved how everyone came together to appreciate the Sedins. It’s great to see how universally loved the twins are.

(@CConway96): I am anticipating that buzz Vancouver had in 2010-2011. I think the way the Sedins left the game allowed them to really enjoy the stretch and let the fans have time to not only appreciate the twins but reflect on everything they have done for this team and city. I was lucky enough to watch them in Edmonton and give them a personal send off, the respect shown to them from the Oilers players and fans in attendance was magical.

Me(@nucksaid): SEDIN WEEK was WOW. I have been anticipating the retirement game since the moment it was announced and from the ceremony to the game itself, it exceeded all of my expectations. It had all the feels. From reuniting with ALL their former teammates to the twins choosing Chicago as their opponent, to the jerseys going up to the rafters to the BEYOND stellar performance by Markstrom, it was everything I could have wanted. And can we talk one more moment about how perfect that speech by Bieksa was? It had comedy, it had heart and he had the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he started speaking. He’s gold and should definitely do more speaking things…(hockey night in Canada, you know what to do!).

2)With Alex Burrows being added to the ring of honour, and the Sedins having their jerseys retired this season, which other former Canuck(s) would you like to see the team honour and how?

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): Kevin Bieksa(@kbieksa3)- player/coach on the back end, mic’d and do commentary throughout the game. It could happen…right?

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): I truly believe that Bobby Lou should be included in the Ring of Honour. If McLean is up there, so should he. He is THE best goalie in the history of our franchise. I think he deserves it. If not for Torts, he would have stayed here. Kesler should also get some consideration.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The two most kicked around names are Kesler and Bertuzzi. I could see both go into the Ring of Honour. Luongo should be celebrated but there is no rush and if he ends up in the Hall of Fame, then he should have his jersey retired. From the old days, Richard Brodeur and Tiger Williams would be interesting people for the Ring of Honour.

(@ItsBrieann): I would love to see Juice and Kes honoured in some way. After the responses they got on Sedin night, I think they deserve being honoured. Kes was huge for us during the 2011 Cup run and pretty much got us into the third round of the playoffs, and Juice deserves it because he got us into the Stanley Cup Final. You can see how much these two love the team and I think the should honour them back.

(@tams3333): Kesler. He has asked for forgiveness. He sacrificed his body and health to win for us. His heart is here, you can tell.

Gabriella Smith(@wildestdreams_3): Hmm, I’m not sure! I’d say Bure BUT he might already have his jersey hanging from the rafters :)!

(@CConway96): I have to go with one of my favourite Canucks of all time, Bieksa. I loved the way he showed up every game with an in your face attitude. He was the type of player you could connect with. I think his competitiveness helped push the team over the top and I know his sense of humour was a big part of the glue that held the team together. I believe he deserves to be up there with Burr among the guys that gave everything they had for this team on and off of the ice.

Me(@nucksaid): Luongo, Bieksa, Kesler. Luongo was THE best goalie in franchise history and that in itself deserves recognition and IF he goes to the Hall of Fame, even more so he deserves to be acknowledged. Not only did Bieksa score the goal that sent the franchise to their third Stanley Cup Final, he was a leader on and off of the ice, specifically his work to help shine a light on the importance of mental health awareness. Beyond Ryan Kesler going full on beast mode in the 2011 playoffs, he gave his heart and soul to the team and city when he played here, every single game. Did I hate the way he left? More than you know, it made me angry and broke my heart all at once. It took me a long time to be able to let it go, but I did. Letting go, allowed me to remember everything he did and gave to the team. I didn’t forget what he or how left and I’m not defending it, I’m simply saying that enough time has passed for me to move past it. And to be honest, the podcast that Juice & Kes do together has been a fantastic outlet for them to share their stories and memories and give the fans an inside look at what its really like to be a part of the every day NHL grind.

3)This season has been refreshing to see the team be competitive nearly every night, what has been the biggest surprise to you?

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): I am surprised at how surprised we are every year. A few years ago Boeser was going to be lucky to make the team during pre-season and then went on to be MVP at the all-star game. The following pre-season, Pettersson was going to be a second line winger as best in his early years, until he was instantly the number one centre. Quinn Hughes was going to need to “earn minutes” and not expect PP time, until he was suddenly one of the most productive players on the roster. Can we stop that lowered expectations that are REALLY low each pre-season?

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): There has been a few pleasant surprises this year. From Gaudette’s emergence to Jake breaking out and Quinn’s rookie season, also Tanev staying healthy and a couple more. However the biggest surprise for me is JT Miller. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the trade the day it was made because I knew he would be impactful. But darn, I never saw this coming. coming. He is exactly what we needed and is proving a lot of doubters wrong. I love this trade now. He has everything possible int he tool bag and he brings leadership and playoff experience. Well done, JB!

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The biggest surprises for me has been the offender of Miller, the assists and defending I’ve seen from Boeser, the impact of Hughes, and the lack of injuries. While we’ve had some recently again, they haven’t been the same as past years and the team has filled in well when the injuries have happened so far. Markstrom continuing to provide great goal-tending is a surprise and a huge impact on the standings. I was hoping for Demko to get more starts but the way Markstrom has stolen games like the Chicago one, impacts the perception of Demko. He still has learning to do and this year is the big year for Markstrom.

(@ItsBrieann): The play of Jacob Markstrom. I saw glimpses of it last year, but this year, he has proved to me that he is a legit goalie in this league. He’s kept us in games or has won games outright for us. With everything that he’s had to deal with this season, it’s amazing to see how dialed in he is. I hope he can keep up this play for us down the stretch run.

(@tams3333): I thought that Hughes would be weaker defensively than he has been. I thought he would need a couple of years of development after watching him at world juniors.

Gabriella Smith(@wildestdreams_3): Markstrom. I knew he was a good goalie, but he has been incredibly solid and in my opinion, the MVP of this season. All of this while going through so much personal pain? Vezina AND Masterton material.

(@CConway96): I thought making the playoffs was a possibility this year but I did not anticipate the team making this big of a jump. Steady goal-tending has played a big role but I tend to lean towards JT Miller as the biggest difference this year. The way that Miller approaches the game is rubbing off on everyone. I am a strong believer that culture is just as important as having a lot of talent. The Canucks have the talent to be good but that confidence where you come in expecting to win has been the difference maker.

Me(@nucksaid): JT Miller. As excited as I was for him to join the team when the trade was announced, he has surpassed what I hoped he would bring to the team. He’s one of the hardest working Canucks every single time he’s on the ice. He’s embraced being a contributor and a leader and fully embodied what it means to be a Canuck both on off of the ice. Bonus surprise, the emergence of Jake Virtanen. He’s becoming the player I always envisioned since he was drafted in 2014.

4)Quinn Hughes, what an incredible season we’re witnessing from the rookie. We knew he was a special player but did you ever suspect that he could be as consistent as he’s shown this season?

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): 100%. You only need to see 2-3 shifts of this kid and then you realize what you’ve got. And I suspect he will only get better.

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): I knew we had something special with Huggy and he was like a Petey on the back end. But he was my runner up for the last question. JT barely beat him out. But yeah he is amazing, I did not think that he was gonna be battling for the Rookie scoring lead. I also thought he would be more of a liability in our zone, but the kid has proven me wrong. This is just his first year. I can’t imagine how good he will be in the next couple of years!!

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I did not expect him to get the opportunities he’s gotten. I did expect a Calder challenging year but I did not realize it would take this much to qualify for that. His numbers right now are a really good season, He’s still got more than 20 games to rack up points. Outside the counting stats, watching him skate, control the puck and manage the game still amazes me. He gets pressured and moves in a different way, suddenly creating space. His instincts with the puck and on defense is incredible. He skates back and takes the puck away from Patrick Kane. I expected to see some good offense from Hughes. I thought he’d get beat on some plays defensivelt and be overly criticized as he learns the game. Instead he’s battling Edler for the number one D job in his first year. Hughes is only going to get better.

(@ItsBrieann): Oh our rookies! I’ve been proven wrong 3 years in a row! No, I didn’t expect Hughes to be having the season that he’s been having. To be perfectly honest, I thought it would have been Jack Hughes leading the scoring race. Quinn has been a treat to watch this season and every game, I’m in awe of the fact that he’s on our team. He’s a special player and he’s only going to better, which is insane to think about.

(@tams3333): As mentioned above, I really thought he’d be good but I thought he’d be a work in progress, his patience is on another level. So smart.

Gabriella Smith(@wildestdreams_3): Honestly, I forget that he’s a rookie sometimes! His transition to the show was so natural. Super blessed to have this guy on the team.

(@CConway96): Quinn Hughes in unbelievable. His maturity at such a young age seems to play a big role in his success and consistency. What is hard to believe is that he will only get better and could go down as the best d man in franchise history.

Me(@nucksaid): QUINN HUGGY BEAR HUGHES! I knew he was going to be a special player BUT I never envisioned his transition to the NHL being as seamless as he has made it look. He’s making plays and creating space on the ice in ways I’ve not seen other defensive players make over the years and he does so with absolute confidence. To think that THIS is just the beginning of his career is just mind boggling that as he continues to grow, he will only get even better.

5)With the post season as a very real possibility, what would you like to see the team do down the stretch drive to the playoffs? (**some answered this before the Schaller trade). 

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): Nothing. Rest. Plan. Bond. Make a run. Too early to go all in, but too deep in to take their foot off the pedal.

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): Honestly, I don’t really want them to do much. If we can shed some salary for next season that would be the best thing they can do. Unless we get someone that is very cheap. No one thought we would even make the playoffs, so everything after that is a bonus. I would take Simmonds only if we gave up VERY little and have him on the 4th line over Schaller. Simmonds, Beagle and Motte! Or maybe a cheap rental D-man just for this season. Other than that, I would just go with what we got. Ferland and Leivo are pretty much deadline acquisitions.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): I have enjoyed the winning and the success the team has had. I don’t see any potential trades as helpful or a good idea at this point. Team growth is happening and this is good enough this year. This is a growth year for the Canucks young stars. The improvement from last year to this year was a bigger jump than I expected. I don’t see any of the trade pieces being what Vancouver needs and I’d rather see some prospects like Lind, Jaske and others get some opportunities if someone is needed. Defensively Rafferty, Juolevi and even Rathbone could play to see the NHL speed. None  of these would help this year but they would continue the development. That is the real goal this year still.

(@ItsBrieann): I think the team needs to stay as healthy as they can. We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t had that many injuries this season, and yes I know right now we have key guys out. I think as soon as they get healthy, this team will get back to their winning ways.

(@tams3333): Personally, I don’t want them to be buyers. I want long term deep depth and cheap options if people have to go. Maintaining a great team long term IS possible.

Gabriella Smith(@wildestdreams_3): Stay healthy. Give it 100% every night. Do things to help out the goalie :).

(@CConway96): I would like to see the Canucks clinch a playoff spot as soon as possible. I say this because I think they need to take a look at their depth without risking the result of a game. Currently you see guys like Schaller and Eriksson in the line up because Green knows exactly what they will bring. I think a playoff run relies on depth and the depth hasn’t had much experience in games this year. We all know injuries happen and getting some games in for players like Bailey, Big Mac etc. would be helpful.

Me(@nucksaid): If I’m being honest, I don’t want to see a lot of change roster wise down the stretch drive. I want to see THIS group that has come together this season, our #TeamLikeThat get a real chance to show us what they can do. I want to stay healthy and continue to become a cohesive group, because once they get to the post-season, ANYTHING can happen.

6)Who would you like to see the Canucks face off against in the opening round of the playoffs?

Michael Coleman(@1MichaelColeman): Anyone. So much parity in the league that you just never know who is coming in hot or cold. Remember in 2012 when we “luckily” got LA and then they kicked our a** and won it all?

Bure9610(@Nav87247842): My first choice would be Arizona. But if they don’t make it, I’d like to play one of the Alberta teams. Mostly Edmonton.

Eric Bailey(@EBailey16): The Canucks facing any of Arizona, Calgary or Edmonton would be okay for me. I’d like to see Calgary and Edmonton play each other so that leaves Arizona and potential wild card teams. I do not want to face Vegas. That said the key in the playoffs is not team skill or defensive systems but the ability for the goalie to steal games. The rest of the team just has to be good enough. I could see if Markstrom is on his game, the Canucks can handle any of the first round teams.

(@ItsBrieann): I have no idea! No Calgary or Edmonton though.

(@tams3333): San Jose or LA would be nice but since we can’t have that then I would choose Edmonton but ideally Edmonton and Calgary will beat the snot out of each other in the first round and be tired in the second.

Gabriella Smith (@wildestdreams_3): Honestly, not sure! I think I’ll just be excited for postseason action (and hopefully my first playoff game EVER!).

(@CConway96): I’m going to be selfish here, I hope they play Edmonton since I live near there and could attend a couple of playoff games!

Me(@nucksaid): As much fun as an Alberta opponent would be, don’t we all want to see a full on battle of Alberta come April? For the Canucks, I don’t really care WHO they play in the first round, once they’re in, anything can happen and I just want to see them be a part of it again, its been far too long since we’ve had meaningful playoff hockey in Vancouver.

That’s it for this edition of the Canucks Round Table! If you’d like to take part next time or down the road as we work our way through the stretch drive towards the playoffs, OR if you have a question that you’d like included in the NEXT round table; find me on twitter(@nucksaid) or send me an e-mail(nucksaid@gmail.com). Special THANK-YOU to each and every person that took the time to be a part of this Round Table! [And if you’re not already following this group on twitter, please find their twitter handles above!]

As always, until next time nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: Sedin Week Thoughts

SEDIN WEEK IS HERE! It’s hard to put in words just how much this week means as a Canucks fan. It seems unbelievable in some ways that this week is already here as it’s been anticipated since they ever so quietly announced their decision to retire at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 season. It was never a question of whether their jerseys would be retired by the Vancouver Canucks, it was only a question of when it would take place. Henrik and Daniel defined nearly 20 years of the franchise, leaving behind an enduring legacy of what it means to be a Canuck on and off of the ice.

I’ve read a few places that there are some who don’t understand why the Canucks are going all out for two players who never won a cup for their team. If you’re not a Canucks fan, it’ll be hard for you to understand just how much they mean to this team, this city and the entire fan base. Retiring their jerseys isn’t about not winning a cup, it’s about the indelible mark that they’ve left on the team and the community they helped to build off of the ice.

From a very quiet start on the ice to their careers that saw them being questioned at every stumble to becoming franchise leaders on and off of the ice. The Sedins took every criticism from near and wide, they never let it shake them and never let it influence their off ice commitment to the community. Everyone had such high hopes for them when they were drafted by the Canucks, but I don’t think anyone could have ever imagined how massive a legacy their careers would leave on the franchise.

Their Canucks journey officially began when Brian Burke called their names on draft day in June 1999. The deals that Burke made to ensure he could draft the two brothers together forever changed the franchise. Brothers playing the league wasn’t unheard of and neither was two brothers playing together at certain points BUT two brothers playing their entire career together was something we’ve never seen.

It was a fun thought to think of them playing their entire careers together but hard to fathom it actually happening. AND THEN IT DID. Their careers saw SO many highlights that it’s hard to pin point just one favourite, so I’ll name some of my favourite Sedinery moments:

–Henrik scoring late in the 4th OT vs. Dallas in 2007 to help the Canucks win the opening game.

–The triplets being born when one fateful day, AV decided to throw Burrows on the Sedins wing. What magic we were witness to on a nightly basis as Burr was able to open up space for the twins in a way that no other line mate had previously.

–Daniel scoring that ridiculous in between the legs goal in 2010 during the final game of the regular season vs. Calgary that help seal Henrik winning the Art Ross and helped set a new franchise record for points in a season.

–Henrik scoring a penalty shot goal on my birthday in 2013 vs. Nashville.

–Henrik becoming the all-time leader in points for the Canucks vs. Dallas when he passed Markus Naslund’s previous record of 756 points.

–Daniel becoming the all-time leading goal scored for the Canucks vs. Boston when he passed Markus Naslund’s previous record of 346 goals.

–Witnessing Henrik scoring his 1000th career point on home ice assisted by his brother and scored on Luongo. What a moment!

–Daniel scoring his 1000th point vs. Nashville.

–Daniel scoring the OT game winning goal in their final game at Rogers arena. That is a moment that I’ll never forget, it was truly thunderous in the arena that night. That goal gave Daniel 86 game winning goals.

–Henrik and Daniel mentoring Bo in his first 4 seasons, paving the way for him to follow their legacy.

–Perhaps my most cherished Sedin memory is when my sister and I had the opportunity to meet them. A forever favourite moment that I’ll cherish always.

How lucky are we that as Canucks fans we witnessed something truly special?

Henrik: 1330 games played. 1070 points(240 goals, 830 assists).

Daniel: 1306 games played. 1041 points(393 goals, 648 assists).

To have one player reach 1000 points with a franchise is special, to have TWO do it within one calendar year is exceptional.

Even more exceptional than their on ice accomplishments is their off ice accomplishments with local charities, work within the community. They quietly led the way and inspired their teammates and future Canucks to follow in their footsteps.

On Wednesday, Henrik and Daniel will have their jerseys go up to the rafters and further cement their place in Canucks history. It will be a truly special moment for Vancouver fans, one that we will likely never forget.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: Hockey Talks

Brace yourselves Canucks fans, we’re about to witness not 1, BUT 3 Canucks players take part in the upcoming NHL All-Star game! Congratulations once more to Elias Pettersson, Jacob Markstrom and Quinn Hughes. As exciting as the event will be to see the team have multiple representatives on hand for the first time in many years, the Canucks are hosting a very important night before the by-week: Hockey Talks.

Hockey Talks is one of the team’s most important initiatives where the focus goes beyond the game and focuses on the importance of mental health awareness and helping to expand the conversation and working to end the stigmas that surround it. An initiative that began in 2013  shortly after the Canucks lost one of their own: Rick Rypien. The loss of Rick Rypien was felt deep within the organization and among the fans. He was a hero to SO many and his story has helped SO many to know that they can come forward, sharing their own stories and in doing so will inspire SO many more to know that it’s okay to not be okay, that it’s okay to struggle and that being sick doesn’t make you weak. Also asking for help or being in need of help DOES NOT make you weak in any way, it shows a strength that you never knew was possible. And I promise you, that YOU reading this right now, YOU matter and NO ONE can ever replace YOU.

Hockey Talks programs across the league look to educate all of us about mental health, sharing resources, encouraging the continued conversation and to help those who struggle. Hockey Talks since it’s debut has only continued to grow with 15-teams league wide are taking part in the initiative this season. Hopefully soon that line will read that EVERY team league wide is taking part in this very important initiative!

We miss you always, Ryp! #RYP37

Rick Rypien lost his life way too soon but his legacy that his family, friends, teammates and fans have helped to carry forward will never be forgotten. Tomorrow’s game(Jan.16)  is about so much more than a game, it is in honour of Rypien and all those who battle EVERY SINGLE day. Throughout this game. each game that is a part of this Hockey Talks program AND on January 29(Bell Let’s Talk day!) AND ALL year round, we can keep the conversation about mental health going, breaking our silence and reducing the stigmas. Let’s make it part of the norm because NO ONE, should ever have to fear speaking up or coming forward.

Before we part ways, here are a few resources:

Foundry

Mind Right

Canadian Mental Health Association

Jack.org

Here’s to a memorable night spreading awareness and good mental health to all.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: BURRRRRR

In just a few days time, Alex Burrows will take his place in the Vancouver Canucks ring of honour. And I can’t help but to take a look back at his Canuck career from the beginning. His story is one of legend, one that proves utter determination and dedication pays off. From undrafted and a player that was never supposed to make it to a fourth line pest to a first line winger with the Sedins to absolute legend status.

When I first started to really get into hockey and in depth into the Canucks, I started learning about not just the main team but all of their affiliates, learning as much as I could about each aspect of the organization. That meant trying to watch not just the Canucks games, but also trying to watch as many of their affiliate games as was possible.

Back then, their AHL affiliate team was the Manitoba Moose and I still remember the first time I heard about a player named Alex Burrows joining the team. For me, even from the beginning he stood out. To his opponents, he was known as a pest but to me there was something special about this undrafted player finding his way in the lineup and endearing himself to his teammates. Did I have any idea of the massive impact he would go on to have with the Canucks in the years to come? No, but there was something about his unwavering determination that was beyond admirable.

I remember it crystal clear when he was recalled by the Canucks in January 2006. It didn’t take long for him to become an irritant to his opponents and for the him to endear himself to Canucks fans. Those first few seasons he established himself as a solid 4th liner and quality penalty killer and fan favourite. He had a knack for timely goals BUT no one could have predicted what would come to be his incredible hockey story.

I don’t think anyone could have predicted the numerous clutch goals or his future first line winger status when Burrows first made his debut. There was something special about watching Burrows each time he took to the ice, he gave it his all every single shift he was out there. Wherever he was inserted into the lineup, he seemed to thrive, especially when no one thought it possible.

It’s no secret that the Sedins had A LOT of different wingers on their line over the years, but there were none that they had the seamless chemistry with like Burrows. Did ANYONE have the inkling that it would be sustainable in any way when AV threw Burrows on their line that fateful February 2009 game?! No, but oh how FUN was that to watch develop. He put up points and opened up the ice for the twins in such a way that no other line ever did. It was truly magical, to see the “triplets” dominate for a few years.

Just one example of MANY triplet highlights:

Then there are a few clutch goals that I can’t help but think of every time I think of Burrows.

The infamous streak breaking goal versus Carolina:

Series sweeping goal in the dying seconds of OT:

Everyone’s favourite dragon slaying goal is something that will always be particularly special:

To me, Alex Burrows will always be a Canuck. On December 3rd, he will take his rightful place in the Ring of Honour.

Merci pour tout, Alex. Nous nous souviendrons toujours de vous en tant que Canuck. (Thank-you for everything, Alex. We will always remember you as a Canuck).

BURRRRRRR, it’s cold in here, there must be some ALEX in the atmosphere! And on December 3rd, one more time, there will be.

Forever a player who defied the odds and made the most of his opportunities. Forever our dragon slayer.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.