February Roundup

Today’s edition of nucksaid is what I like to call the “February Roundup”:

The Canucks placed Aaron Volpatti on waivers, and he was claimed off those very same waivers by the Washington Capitals. Best of luck in the Capitol #peppermintpatty! The Canucks also learned earlier this week that Ryan Kesler will sidelined for a lengthly period due to a fractured bone in his foot. Awesome news[enter sarcastic tone]. Kesler was just beginning to hit his stride with 5 points in 7 games! I sincerely hope that this latest injury of his heals sooner rather than later as it is extremely important that come playoff time, Ryan Kesler must be 100% healthy. Andrew Ebbett has been recalled from the Chicago Wolves. With Kesler missing more games, now is the time for players like Ebbett, Kassian and Schroeder to step up. They say one player’s injury is another player’s opportunity which is exactly true, it is up to the under dogs to prove they are more valuable than people realized.

Despite a complete debacle by any and all angles in the Detroit game, Roberto Luongo[5-1-3 —2 SO] is still the Canucks most consistent player. That was the first and only game he let in more than 3 goals in 9 starts. Despite the 8 goals[please no comments, it was a disaster game by the entire team] Luongo’s GAA is just 2.11 [up from his sparkling 1.45, but still very respectable]. Cory Schneider[5-4-1 —1 SO] has yet to show his rock solid consistency from a year ago letting 3 or more goals in 6 of 10 starts. I do think that Luongo will rebound from the Detroit game and Schneider will find his consistency despite the ridiculous cloud of negativity that media and fans are prone to creating.

My favourite fact about the Canucks in February is that despite the two losses to close out the month, the #triplets [Sedins & Burrows] rediscovered their chemistry after being reunited. The Sedins have found their mid-season form. Combined Daniel, Henrik and Burrows have posted 49 points in 19 games [Daniel 20, Henrik 18, and Burrows 11]. That is the definitely #1 line material.

The Canucks have a new entrance song for home games. Gone is “Where Streets Have No Name” by U2, and in its place at least for now is “The House That Heaven Built” by the Japandroids. I am not convinced that this is it and I think the search should continue.

Canucks fans were given the news that Manny Malhotra’s season would be cut short and they would be missing a very important part of their penalty kill for the rest of the season. Manny Malhotra addressed the media for the first time since it was announced that he was not able to finish the season due. He stated that although it is difficult to be on the sidelines, he is greatful to be a part of the Vancouver Canucks organization because it is like being a part of a family.

The Chicago Blackhawks are still playing scary good and have extended their points streak to 19 game [16-0-3] not including tonight’s game[which despite the loss of Crawford, the outcome looks good up 3-0]. It does not matter whether Crawford or Emery is in net, both have been lights out. It also helps that the team is getting scoring from the top line guys, the defense and secondary scoring from every other line. As much as I dislike the Blackhawks, I cannot deny the talent they have displayed 19 games and counting to start this season.

The San Jose Sharks on the other hand who started off the season red hot with 7 straight wins disappointed in February winning just 2 out of 11 games [not including tonight’s game]. The big three of Big Joe[Thornton], Marleau and Little Joe[Pavelski] have to find their game if they want to turn things moving towards March.

In a move that shocked the waves most so far into the shortened season was seeing that Bufflalo dismissed head coach Lindy Ruff who has been the cornerstone of that franchise for nearly 16 years! The only other coach to be tenured that long is Barry Trotz in Nashville. It bothers me that coaches are blamed and dismissed first when a team struggles. Are they to blame? Perhaps on some levels, but I do not think that Lindy Ruff is one who can be blamed for Buffalo’s struggles. They desperately need more than one line to provide their scoring.

In the media circus that is swirling around the Colorado Avalanche and the Ryan O’Reilly conundrum has reached new heights as the Calgary Flames have signed him to a 2-year $10 million offer sheet. The Colorado Avalanche have 7 days to respond by either matching the offer or losing their best player from last season. O’Reilly has yet to play in any games this season due to the fact that he is currently without a contract. Rumor has it that other teams [including the Canucks] also made offers. Will Colorado let Ryan O’Reilly walk? Well we did not  have to wait too long before the Avs responded. Colorado has matched the 2 year $10 million offer sheet. The new deal comes with a guarantee that the Avs cannot trade him for at least a year from today’s signing date and the second year will see O’Reilly paid $6.5 million. It seems absurd that it took nearly losing O’Reilly to a division rival before Colorado would budge on the contract issues. Let the ‘overpaid’ comments commence. Perhaps Colorado will finally get some scoring help that they so desperately need with O’Reilly’s return.

19 games in and there are still so many things that will determine the path of each team. Teams and players will continue, end and begin streaks. Trades will happen for some teams prior to the trade deadline[April 5th]. Each game is a clean slate, but as the halfway mark approaches every single point is extremely important for teams wanting to make the playoffs. I look forward to all the drama still to come as the season continues to unfold.

Thank-you for the NHL and the NHLPA finally ending the “lockout madness” in January so that my birthday tradition can continue! I am happy to announce that I will be going to see my Canucks play on my birthday with my entire family…it shall be priceless. The games live are an experience that each hockey fan should have at least once.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

7-3-2 =The Canucks in February

Why hello there readers. The Canucks are one game away from finishing February. Despite that despicable loss in Detroit, February has been a fairly decent month for the Canucks. Eleven games in [excluding tonight’s results] the Canucks are 7-3-2 [and 10-5-4 overall since January 19th]. Yes, that game in Detroit was a debacle and the Canucks barely stumbled out of the Joe with their horrendous play [particularly in the 2nd and 3rd periods and all those penalties did not help!], but all it accounts for is ONE game. Yes, it was definitely their worst effort of the season. Let’s take a moment to relax, 19 games in and the Canucks are still in the top three.

There are still 29 games to be played .All in all, the Canucks are not looking bad. February has seen the Canucks get some important wins and a few bad moments[yes that loss to the Stars and the one to the Red Wings]. Great moments include Henrik reaching new heights in the Canucks record books as the all-time franchise points leader and the return of #Sedinery with the twins rediscovering their scoring touch[Hank has 17 points & Danny has 20 so far]. The good news is that one game does not decide everything[unless you are stuck in downward spiral….see Calgary and Columbus]. There is still a lot of time left in this shortened season for teams to surprise us and new streaks to begin. Besides I think perhaps that absolute stomping by the Red Wings might have been a wake up call. Does anyone remember two short years ago that team from the #WindyCity stomped the Canucks 7-1[at home…ouch]…but after that game the Canucks became absolute dominators? The Canucks suffered one loss after that 7-1 stomping[it was 3-2 to Phoenix, coincidentally…much like tonight] but followed up that 2 game losing streak with an absolute dominant run. The Canucks will have that chance to get back on a roll Saturday[March 2nd] when they face the LA Kings.

#3 Kevin Bieksa making sure everyone knows his secret. Juice[KB] is out of the line-up with what the team is calling a day-to-day groin strain. Let's hope that Mr.Bieksa is back in the line-up sooner rather than later as he was enjoying a rather nice goal streak before he got injured.

#3 Kevin Bieksa making sure everyone knows his secret. Juice[KB] is out of the line-up with what the team is calling a day-to-day groin strain. Let’s hope that Mr.Bieksa is back in the line-up sooner rather than later as he was enjoying a rather nice goal streak before he got injured. #comebacksoonBIEKSA Seriously…Andrew Alberts is not an acceptable replacement.

Regardless of tonight’s outcome, as February ends, March is looming around the corner and I look forward to seeing what the team and the hockey world has in store for us hockey fans. The conclusion to this season is still to be decided.  Until next time, as always,  nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

[t]HANK-you very much #33

Hanks757

Henrik Sedin has officially cemented himself further into Canuck history with his 757 points & counting. It seems very fitting that his 757th point came a on a pass to Burrows, further cementing Hank’s dominance as a premier play maker. By surpassing former Captain Markus Naslund’s 756 points as a Canuck on Feb.15th, Henrik is now the all-time franchise points leader.  Congratulations Henrik!! It is quite an accomplishment to with any team. It is impressive that he passed people he previously played with and called his friends [Trevor Linden’s 730 points and Markus Naslund’s 756].

Let’s start this story at the beginning. Henrik and his twin brother Daniel grew up playing hockey in their native Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. Their careers have always been inextricably intertwined beginning with their 3 year tenure with Modo in the Swedish Elite League. Cue the 1999 NHL Draft day and eyes around the world eager to see what order the twins would be drafted in and if they would for the first time in their lives playing separately for different teams.  Cue former Canucks GM Brian Burke to make shrewd draft day deals to ensure the Canucks would have both the 2nd and 3rd picks [Daniel 2nd and Henrik 3rd overall]. Up until that day, that twins had prepared themselves to be drafted by separate teams, but in the end were drafted together by the Vancouver Canucks. Although they were considered talented young prospects I do not think that anyone could have guessed how successful they were going to be in the future.

In August 1999, the Sedins opted to play with Modo for one more season before joining the Canucks in the 2000-2001 NHL season. Henrik’s career points total began with him making a play to his brother for Danny’s first NHL goal which would tie the game[he has been a play maker since the very beginning!] forcing overtime. From the 2000-2001 season through the 2003-2004 season both Henrik and Daniel struggled at times to become the players everyone expected them to be but at times there were flashes of the brilliance that seemed to be brimming under the surface[such as when they had Jason King on their line..and fans called them the ‘mattress line:two twins & a king’]. Then the 2004-2005 lockout happened forcing players to play elsewhere leading the Sedins to join their teammate Markus Naslund to play once more for Modo in Sweden. Henrik finished third in team scoring for Modo that year, 36 points in 44 games.

When the NHL picked back up in the 2005-2006 season, the twins came back with a new determination to prove themselves in this league. Henrik and Daniel were put on a line with Anson Carter and the trio would establish themselves as an exciting line to watch. Henrik finished the year with 75 points, second only to Markus Naslund. It was only the beginning of his top line potential. In 2006 Henrik and his brother Daniel joined fellow Canuck Mattias Ohlund in Turin, Italy to represent Sweden in hockey at the Winter Olympics. As you will remember, that was the year that the Sweden team won the gold meda The Canucks would make some changes in the 2006 off-season, most notably trading Todd Bertuzzi and acquiring Goalie Roberto Luongo, and also another player by the name of Taylor Pyatt who would find himself playing the majority of the season with the twins[and greatly benefited from it, posting his best numbers that season]. The Canucks posted their first 100+ point regular season prior to the 2007 post season. One of the most notable performances from the 2007 playoffs was game 1 of the first round vs. the Dallas Stars, Henrik scored the game winner in quadruple overtime. The 2007-2008 season, Henrik posted a personal best 81 points following that up with 82 points in the 2008-2009 season[coincidentally his brother also posted 82 points that season!]. I feel I must also mention that this was the season that the Canucks had a horrendous losing streak somewhere around January and did not turn it around until February 10th[when Burrows broke the streak with a beautiful shorty!…but more on that at a later date!]. During that horrendous streak no one thought it possible the Canucks could make the playoffs let alone win their division which they did. Shortly after that losing streak was broken, Coach Vigneault made an interesting move to put Alex Burrows on the top line with the twins much to most people’s surprise. Needless to say those who doubted even the possibility of that occurring, quickly had their doubts quieted when that line became a permanent fixture and what we now call #thetriplets.  Each game those three play together is pure magic and no one has ever fit as seamlessly with the twins like Burrows. The Canucks got on a roll in February and once again posted a 100+ points regular season catapulting them to a playoff match up against St.Louis. It marked the first time in franchise history that the Canucks ever swept a series. Cue the first year of playing the dreaded Chicago Blackhawks….well we all know how this one ended. In the off-season the twins were set to become free agents on July 1st 2009, and many teams were chomping at the bit toying with the idea that the twins would be available. July 1st came with the announcement that they had signed identical 5 year deals with the Canucks worth $30.5 million.

The 2009-2010 season saw Henrik reach even high levels, and solidifying his place on the all-time Canucks list. Daniel missed 18 games early that season forcing Hank to play without his brother and leading many to question if it was even possible….well lets see he posted 18 points in those 18 games[including his first ever hat trick!!!!]. Henrik did more than answer his critics that season, he lead the Canucks and league wide scoring with 112 points that season[topping Pavel Bure’s 110 record]. Henrik won the Art Ross trophy[beating BOTH Crosby & Ovechkin] as well the Hart trophy, marking the first time either trophy has been won by a Canuck player[did I mention that despite missing 19 games, Daniel posted 85 points in 63 games & their triplet Burrows scored 35 goals!]. The twins and Burrows were playing better than anyone thought possible. The Canucks again won the division, and earned a spot in the playoffs, this time they would meet the LA Kings in the first round. The stand out moments in this one from Henrik was game 5 when he scored the go-ahead goal which would eventually be the winner late in the third period…and catapulted the Canucks to their game 6 series clinching victory. Cue a second straight year of facing the Chicago Blackhawks in round 2. We all know how this one ended….the same as the year before a loss in game 6.

The 2010-2011 season was full of magic and surprises. It was the 40th anniversary of the Canucks joining the league, and opening night saw Henrik named as the 13th captain in team history. Henrik’s incredible year before challenged both himself and his brother to play even better. This time it was his brother that won the Art Ross with 104 points [Henrik posted a very respectable 94 points that season]. The Canucks absolutely dominated every aspect of the game that season :powerplay, faceoffs, penalty kill, and posted the lowest goals against average. The Canucks won the Western Conference and the Presidents Trophy as the top team in the league for the regular season. Playoffs arrived with higher expectations than ever before. Cue the dramatics…the Canucks were facing off against the Chicago Blackhawks for the THIRD straight year[albeit in the 1st round]! This time the team vowed the outcome would be different…and all signs pointed to yes when they put themselves up 3-0, however Chicago was not going to walk away quietly….they matched the Canucks tying the series 3-3 forcing a most dramatic game 7. You could not script this game any better…game 7 between two bitter rivals and an entire city on the edge of their seats. Cue overtime and increased adrenaline….a penalty to the home team….and HUGE kill and then my favourite part….the GOAL to send the Blackhawks packing. It was an epic game 7. The Canucks survived, moving on the play Nashville in round 2. Impeccable goal-tending was present on both sides, and all the games were a huge defensive battle. This series was not the same intensity level as the one before but when the Canucks won game 6 the excitement level was higher as it was a HUGE step for the franchise[not to mention this series was the one that ignited #Beastmode in Kesler] ! Bring on the San Jose Sharks and Big Joe[Thornton] and Niemi. Cue a 3-1 series lead with a chance to finish out the series in front of the home crowd. Down 2-1 with and less than 20 seconds on the clock….some ingenious passing and refusing to giveup Kesler to tie the game….and bring on double overtime…CANUCKS won. Cue the confetti. The Sedins and special teams dominated this series against the Sharks. It was an incredible moment for the franchise. Cue the Stanley Cup final vs. the Boston Bruins. The series had its ups and downs, there were some great moments [games 1, 2 &5]. Ultimately we all know how close the Sedins and the team came to capturing their first championship. One game away. Sometimes it happens that way, but the key is to never give up. Every team will get its chance to win the prize.

2011-2012 was not quite as dominant  of year by the Canucks or Henrik and Daniel, but they still captured the President’s trophy. The playoffs were marred by the loss of Daniel 10 games prior to the end of the year due to dirty hit by Duncan Keith that left him concussed. Henrik led the Canucks streaking through those last 10 games to solidify their playoff positioning, but the loss of Daniel was too great at the start of playoffs. The Canucks ultimately lost the first round.

2012-2013 was a delayed start due to Bettman’s third lockout but that has not stopped Henrik and Daniel from playing with the same style that saw them capture back to back Art Ross Trophies. The twins recently were reunited with Alex Burrows and have not lost a beat since being put back together. Feb.15th 2013 Henrik reached his latest milestone as a Canuck [one which Daniel will be quick to follow him to if history has anything to say!] becoming the all time franchise points leader.

Henrik Sedin waves to the home fans moments after his historic achievement

Upon achieving this milestone, Henrik simply said: “To be a part of something like that and getting a chance to get the record on home ice in front of your home fans, it was an honor and a great feeling out there. It means a lot to me.” Henrik Sedin is the epitome of a class act and it is an honour to have him wearing the blue and green. Henrik has not missed a game since March 2004. I look forward to seeing what #sedinery Hank & Danny will surprise us with the rest of the season. I have absolutely no doubt that BOTH him and his brother Daniel’s numbers will be added to the rafters as well that they will BOTH be added to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

#hankyouverymuch33 #sedinery

Next up, the Canucks [8-3-3] will take on the red hot Blackhawks[12-0-3] and attempt to be the first team to break their undefeated in regulation streak. I think the Canucks just might be up to the challenge. What say you?

Rumor has it that David Booth is going to be making his season debut in the line-up tomorrow night in Chicago.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Western Conference Quarter Season Facts

The 2012-2013 NHL season was shortened [due to Bettman’s 3rd lockout] to 48 games.  12 games in marks the quarter mark of the season [All teams have played 11-14 games].

Here’s an overview of the Western Conference thus far into the 2013 season[with a slightly more extensive look at my #Canucks]:

1. Chicago Blackhawks [10-0-3 –23 points] As much as it pains me to say this….they are playing some incredible hockey so far. They remain the only team to be undefeated in regulation this year. Their offense is firing on all cylinders and Corey Crawford has been lights out in the net. It pains me even more to type this next sentence….the Chicago Blackhawks are being led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane & company towards a possibly lengthly playoff run. It’s not easy to play so many early games on the road, but the Blackhawks are finding the answers, picking up points in every single game they have played in. They are playing some unbelievable hockey.

2. Anaheim Ducks [9-2-1 –19 points] The Ducks ruined the Canucks home opener and the Canucks ruined their home opener. While Jonas Hiller has struggled in the net, his team has helped with offense to help win games. It doesn’t hurt that his backup Victor Fasth is undefeated in his NHL experience! Has anyone mentioned the age of Teemu Selanne affecting his play? No they have not because this guy is still putting up points and making ridiculously awesome plays despite his age.

3. Vancouver Canucks [8-2-2 –18 points] After 12 games the Canucks who are perennially slow starters are off to a 8-2-2 start. The Canucks were without Ryan Kesler and David Booth to start the season, but have found a way to win games. Zack Kassian has been a pleasant surprise to Canuck fans this season finding an offensive spark, even earning playing time with the twins. Mason Raymond looks like he has finally found his speedy stride again posting 8 points[4 goals, 4 assists] in 12 games. The Canucks are getting secondary scoring from their defense, 2nd, and 3rd lines which is extremely important in a shortened season and building towards a playoff run. A closer look at the defense reveals the Canuck defense has contributed 27 points [9 goals, 18 assists] through 12 games, that is comparable to the triplets [the Sedins & Burrows] posting 24 points[6 goals, 18 assists]. Did I mention Alex Edler is leading the rear guard with 9 points? Henrik Sedin may not have a goal [yet, its coming, SOON!] but he is just ONE point behind Markus Naslund on the all-time points leader of the franchise{fun fact:Daniel is just 27 points behind Hank and looks to be passing Nazzy soon as well}.The Canucks are currently on a six-game WIN streak. Rumors are swirling that Ryan Kesler and David Booth are nearing their return to the lineup within the next games. The question remains with both presumably back sooner rather than later what will become of rookie Jordan Schroeder? The kid has been incredibly solid and scored his 1st two NHL goals in one game in front of a crazed home crowd….not too mention a shootout winner against Chicago!!! Speaking of rumors…can we let the goalie controversy crap end please? Relax. In a shortened season such as the current one have TWO incredibly goalies is an incredible gift and fans should appreciate this luxury. It’s funny that all those fans who said they wanted Luongo gone are suddenly singing his praises. The guy never stopped being a #1…he simply has stepped his game up to a new level….and his numbers have him sitting #2 behind Ottawa’s Anderson. Luongo has posted a 1.45 GAA and 0.943 save percentage. Luongo is undefeated in regulation yet thus far….his current run is reminding me of a 16-0-5 run he helped lead the team on back in the 2010-2011 season. Cory Schneider has been solid in his recent games…bringing his numbers to a respectable 2.36 GAA and 0.921 save %. With so many teams having lost their #1 goalies to injuries, the Canucks are extremely lucky to have not just one #1 but two goalies capable of giving the team a chance to win every game. Every game and every point matters in a shortened season.

4. San Jose Sharks [7-3-3 –17 points] The San Jose Sharks were off to an incredible start this season…a franchise best even going 7-0-0. January was incredible for their big name players, particularly for Patrick Marleau. February has been a much different story as they have yet to register one win, the Sharks are 0-3-3 in 6 games. They will to need to go back to finding the offense[hello Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture…where did you go?] that won them all their January games before they find themselves in an irreversible rut.

5. Detroit Red Wings [7-4-2 –16 points] Following a disappointing 6-0 opening loss to the St.Louis Blues, the Red Wing have been extremely solid. Henrik Zetterberg was name captain following the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom and is off to a great start…including a hat trick! The Red Wings have been a cornerstone of the West for the last two decades, and all signs point to them continuing their dominance as they find their stride. Detroit has a great history of developing amazing players through their organization and this year is not different with the emergence of rookie Damien Brunner.

6. Nashville Predators [6-3-4 –16 points] The Predators lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in the off-season to the tune of a $98 million contract and followed up that loss by locking Shea Weber into their own ridiculous long-term deal. Weber has yet to register a goal, however the Predators have been able to rely on the consistent play of goalie Pekka Rinne to keep them in reach of the division lead.

7. St.Louis Blues [7-5-1 –15 points] The St.Louis Blue opened the season by beating the Detroit 6-0, picking up right where they left off last season. Since that game however, they have not been able to find that same consistency. Brian Elliot is still searching for his form from last year while his goalie partner Jaroslav Halak is out injured. Last year the Blues led the league with fewest allowed goals. The brightest spot on the Blues this season is their rookie Tarasenko who has made a name for himself in St.Louis just 13 games into his career.

8. Dallas Stars [7-6-1 –15 points] The Dallas Stars have been up and down. Jaromir Jagr has found his offensive spark once more despite his age. Offense has been good despite the delay in the re-signing of Jamie Benn who has helped lift this team over .500 level hockey and start a 5 game win streak that came to a halt in Calgary.

9. Phoenix Coyotes [6-5-2- 14 points] Shane Doan played coy during the off-season until re-signing with the team he has ever played for. They have had some good moments giving fans a glimpse of the team that went to the conference finals last season. The Coyotes have considerably well despite the continued issue of uncertainty regarding their ownership.

10. Minnesota Wild [6-6-1 –13 points] This is the team that spent nearly $200 million signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the off-season. Those two signings were supposed to catapult the Wild into a high scoring team, but it just has not happened yet. Parise has found some offense, the same cannot be said of Ryan Suter who has yet find the back of the net. The Wild are barely above 0.500 and are beginning to look the way they did the in second half of last season when everything fell apart for them. They need to find their balance offensively and play the way they did at the beginning of last season….and get their two newest Wild members to play the way they have been known to in the past. Rumor has it that the head coach Mike Yeo is on the chopping block.

11. Edmonton Oilers [5-5-3 –13 points] The Edmonton Oilers won the Justin Schultz lottery and he has been a major asset to them on the blue line 13 games in. The Oilers are stacked with young talent, but have faced the trouble of inconsistent play and injuries costing them important points. If they tighten up defensively and add some consistency to their game, they will turn it around. Their young core definitely has a bright future.

12. Calgary Flames [4-4-3 –11points] The Calgary Flames have picked up right where they left off the last few seasons…in a disappointing fashion. They have yet to find their scoring niche. They say as Iginla goes so do the Flames….and he is not yet at the top of his game. Iginla and the Flames are typically slow starters but in a short season the entire team needs to pick up their game with more efforts like the game against the Stars.

13. LA Kings [4-5-2 –10 points] The LA Kings have hardly looked like the dominant team that won last year’s championship. They are without Mitchell and Greene to help solidify their defensive play. Jonathan Quick has also not played to his full capacity just yet, but he definitely is more than qualified. The Kings still have most of their championship core in place, but they need to find that drive that catapulted them to the Stanley Cup last season if they are looking to repeat.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets [4-7-2 –10 points] The Columbus Blue Jackets were faced with beginning the year without the former face of the franchise Rick Nash[he is now a New York Ranger]. They have begun slowly losing some important games while showing some great moments in their few wins. They need to find secondary scoring as they can no longer depend on Rick Nash scoring their goals. In the latest news the Blue Jackets fired GM Howson following their 13th game.

15. Colorado Avalanche [4-6-1 –9 points] The Colorado Avalanche are just in a string of bad luck…with injuries to everyone from their Captain Gabriel Ladeskog and Eric Jonhson and losing games they need to win. Not too mention all the drama with last year’s scoring leader Ryan O’Reilly still unsigned. Initially the Avs said they were working to re-sign the forward…and than talks broke off and rumors have begun to swirl that he will either be traded or sit out for the entire season before being signed. The Avs could really use a player like O’Reilly to help them get back their scoring touch. Head Coach Joe Sacco will have to find a new approach to snap Colorado out of their skid.

The post lockout issue between the NHL and NHLPA is the ‘Re-Alignment’. Have you heard about the re-alignment? Do you even care? The details at this point are limited as it is still in the discussion process. Here are the basics: The NHL wants to realign the league to 4 conferences [instead of the current two conference and 6 division split]. The league was looking to pass the realignment last season but it fell flat when the NHLPA voted against the notion in December 2011. The two sides are in renewed talks about this proposal and the owners are expected to vote on it, if approved by them, the vote would then go to the players. If this newest proposal gets approved by all parties the realignment would go into effect next season. One of the issues with this 4 conference format was the fact that there were no clear lines regarding playoff qualification as the West would have had two 8 team conferences whereas the East would have had two 7 team conferences. We shall see what the two sides come up with should they address all the issues.

It is only the quarter mark of the season and already so many stand out moments have occurred [From Chicago’s ridiculous point streak, teams winning/losing streaks, to goalie controversies and media speculated rumors]. Streaks good and bad have begun and will continue to occur throughout the remainder of the season. Players will be injured forcing teams to respond and others will return from injury giving teams a boost. We will have to wait and see what both the conference and the league look like at the halfway mark.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

From panic to cheer & Henrik nears record

Remember how I told you all to relax after all that ridiculous early panic after the first games? The Canucks went 2-2-2- in their first games and have now improved to 7-2-2 in 11 games following a 5 game win streak! Solid goal-tending was responsible for the first three wins of that streak and finally balanced offense won the most recent two games. In the last five games the Canucks have out scored their opponents 20-5! Both Luongo and Schneider have been incredibly solid in the last 5 games. Not too mention the rest of the team has finally found their offensive stride.

Games 9,10 and 11 were all about finding balance. Game nine saw the Canucks begin a road trip last week facing Edmonton’s young guns. The game began with Edmonton all over the Canucks for the first half of the game. The Oilers had gained a 2-0 lead with a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal! It looked like Edmonton had the game under control…[much like the Canucks when they had the 2-0 lead back in the game January 20th]. The Canucks found their legs midway through the second period with a goal by Jannik Hansen. It looked like Edmonton had control of the game and that they would be skating away with the two points. The game was winding down with less than three minutes on the clock before a Kevin Bieksa goal beat Devan Dubnyk. We had a tied game with time winding down. Cue overtime.  Chances go back and forth. Taylor Hall on a breakaway was taken down by Daniel Sedin[yes Daniel Sedin] leading the refs to call reward Hall with a penalty shot….which if it went in, meant the game would be over. Taylor Hall went in all alone and was stopped by LUONGO with just under two minutes to go into the overtime period. Time on the clock was winding down….inching closer and closer towards what would have been their 5th shootout in 9 games. Ridiculous. Cue some #sedinery no look passes followed by a perfect tape to tape pass to Chris Tanev who made no mistake in scoring his first NHL goal. Did I mention that there was only 20 sconds left? Needless to say he will not soon be forgetting that goal. Has it really been nearly 70 games since he made his debut? It may have been his first NHL goal [finally!] but the guy has been extremely solid defensively in all his games before this one. Canucks did not have the start that they wanted but they did get the two points that they came for.

Game 10 saw the Canucks face off against the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks were up against the newly acquired Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Expectations were risen to a whole new level in Minnesota with their big contract players arrival. Both teams have high expectations from their fans this year. Landing the free agency sweepstakes and having so-called goal-tending controversy will do that to you. Needless to say there were endless headlines heading into this game. Parise and Suter were suited up and Cory Schneider was between the pipes. The Canucks were much better prepared for this game. They wasted no time in getting on the scored board, by the end of the second period they had a 4-0 lead! The Wild would eventually get one goal, but that is where their offense ended. The Canucks went on to win this one 4-1 and the Wild were left wondering where their offense went as they dropped yet another game. Rumor has that the Minnesota Wild could be looking to replace their head coach following a disappointing finish last year and start to this season.

Game 11 would bring the Canucks back home to face another division rival, the Calgary Flames. Like any other Canuck fan, I love watching the team in blue beat the Flames[and yes I know its the reverse for fans of the Flames]. Calgary was looking to build on their 2 game win streak. Cory Schneider was again given the nod[see! I told you that he would get some starts..relax….we have 2 great goalies…let’s enjoy it while it lasts!]. The first period was pretty even and many times it looked like the Canucks would get on the scoreboard early, but they did not. It was the Flames who got a buzzer beater to take a 1-0 lead into the second period. Not exactly what the Canucks were looking to do. If the Canucks wanted to turn the tide, they would need some serious #sedinery and that is exactly what happened. The #triplets[Sedins & Burrows] got the game all squared at 1 and just 27 seconds later on the powerplay, rookie Jordan Schroeder scored his 1st NHL goal to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. The offense did not end there…the Canucks would add 3 more goals including Jordan Schroeder’s second NHL goal!! The Canucks were sloppy in the opening 20 minutes of this game but came out all cylinders on fire in the final 40 minutes to skate away with a 5-1 victory. It was their 5th WIN in a row which improves the Canucks to 7-2-2 over 11 games.

Have you heard? Ryan Kesler and David Booth have officially returned to practiced. Kesler even traveled with the team on their mini road trip to Edmonton and Minnesota. Next up is a home game the Minnesota Wild tomorrow at 7PM where the Canucks look to extend their win streak to 6 games. Luongo won the coin toss and will start in tomorrow’s game. [Has anyone seen this coin of Vigneault’s?] The Canucks will have to be prepared as Minnesota will not make it easy on them to take the two points as both are fighting for playoff positioning.

Rumor has it that #17 could be back in the line up as soon as this weekend. What better game for him to return to than in his home state of Michigan when the Canucks take on the Detroit Red Wings? He always plays some of his best hockey at the Joe.  #fingerscrossed

In other news headlines, Canucks Captain Henrik Sedin is on the brink of setting franchise history. Henrik sits just one point behind former Captain Markus Naslund with 755 points[Nazzy scored 756 points in his 12 years as a Canuck] . Tomorrow night he will have a chance to tie and to surpass the record. The question is not if he can tie the record, it is merely when will he tie and surpass the record? Henrik will tie the record and possibly surpass it tomorrow becoming to the franchise leader in points scored for the Canucks. From #Sedinery to #recordbreaker #GoodLuckHank

We shall see what tomorrow brings at puck drop. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Game 7 & 8 resound in LOUUUUUUUUUU

In today’s game edition of nucksaid we look at Luongo’s impressive week. Why was everyone so surprised to hear the announcement that Roberto Luongo was given the start against Colorado last week? Was it really that big of a surprise? To be honest, that decision did not shock me at all. In the previous game Luongo played a strong game despite the shootout loss. On Wednesday against Colorado, Luongo posted his 61st career shutout [34th as a Canuck] that night. Making his best stop of the night just over a minute into the game with the knob of his stick…did you see that one? It set the tone for the rest of the game. He was deep in the blue paint, tight on his posts and strong with glove.When the Canucks got a 2 goal lead, he made a very important stop on Matt Duchene on a short-handed breakaway to preserve the lead. The forwards rewarded his patience by extending the lead to three on the powerplay curtesy of #ZackAttack Kassian. P.S. that was his team leading 5th goal of the season! Did you happen to notice that at the end of that game as the final buzzer went…the ENTIRE arena was on their feet chanting LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU? Pretty surprising giving to the fact that many of those ‘bandwagoners’ were hoping he would have left by now. Some of us never doubted that he deserved credit long ago and STILL does.

The next day people were once again shocked when the Canucks announced that Luongo would start against their nemesis the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. Seriously why the shock? Luongo has always had a strong work ethic. The guy is posting his BEST season start numbers with a 1.46 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage! Not mention posting a 2-0-2 record…that means he has picked up 6 of a possible 8 points for the Canucks and is undefeated in regulation. This game lacked the punch of many previous meetings between the bitter rivals. Many expected there to be bad blood following hit by Duncan Keith that ended Daniel Sedin’s season last year. Both teams said simply, that it was getting the win and the two points that was important and not focusing on what happened in the past. And so it was. There was hardly any of the physicality that was expected and the only player to actually knock Keith down was Henrik Sedin. The Canucks may not have exacted revenge on Keith, but the fans were very loud in letting him know their distaste of what he did by booing him EVERY time he touched the puck. Alex Edler was the one to get the Canucks on the board in the first period and it stayed a 1 goal game until midway through the third period when that pesky Patrick Kane tied the game. It looked like the Blackhawks were going to steal the two points with a mad scramble in Luongo’s crease in the final minutes but the puck did cross the line and the crowd erupted in #LOUUUU chants as the buzzer ended regulation. Overtime was all Chicago and Luongo denying them goals…the Canucks had one nice rush short-handed near the end of the overtime period, but like regulation it ended tied. The entire arena, and all the fans watching from home were on the edge of their seats anticipating the Canucks going to a shootout for the 4th time in 8 games! Oi vey! The shootout has never been the strong point for the Canucks….the tension was palpable. The Canucks opted to go with Burrows, Kassian and Lapierre. The Hawks went with their snipers Toews, Kane, and Sharp. All six players were denied[no stop more brilliant than Luongo’s glove save on Sharp to extend the shootout to a 4th  round!]. Cue sudden death…first team to outscore the other would win. The Canucks tapped rookie Jordan Schroeder…and he came prepared….he changed his speed midway getting Crawford to bite…just sneaking the puck through the five hole! Cue the arena screaming. All that was needed was one save by Luongo to win the game or a goal by Chicago to extend the shootout to a fifth round. The Hawks tapped Leddy…and Luongo said NO. CANUCKS win and Luongo was brilliant in the shootout stopping ALL 4 shooters. Did I mention that Captain Henrik Sedin played hi 900th NHL game on Friday[fun fact: he will play his 1000th NHL next season!]

Tonight the Canucks will once again lean on the goal-tending of Roberto Luongo when they play in Edmonton. Luongo has been incredible the last three games in particular and I look forward to seeing that continue tonight. Relax Schneider fans, he will get his chance, but Coach V and many other coaches tend to go with the hot hand. And right now that is Luongo as he is playing ridiculously well…why not let him play while he’s in the zone?! It should be an interesting match up tonight…Dubnyk vs. Luongo in Oil Country….go Canucks!

#GoCanucksGo #CanucksG9 #LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU

The puck drops at 6:30PM. Enjoy the game everyone!

In a shortened season every game matters and every point counts. Until next time as always, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.