Is that panic I hear? Why yes, yes I think it is. It is hardly time to panic just yet. Yes, it is nearly the halfway mark of the season for every team but it is certainly not time to panic by any means. Yes the Canucks have gone 1-1-2 in their first 4 games of March [which means yes they have lost 3, but they have picked up points in 3 of those 4 games]. The Canucks still have 25 games left to play and personally, I think the best is yet to come!
Henrik and Daniel have returned to their point per game status quo [remember how 8 games in people were asking what happened to the twins?! well they certainly are back on track aren’t they?]. The biggest blow to the Canucks so far this season was the loss of Ryan Kesler to a broken foot and Manny Malhotra being shut down for the year. In Kesler’s absence Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond have stepped up their respective games with providing secondary scoring. Both have found ways to score and make some great defensive plays. Raymond has looked very good since being moved to centre but just needs a little work in the face off circle. It is nice to see that there are players in the line up able to put up goals on a more regular basis which takes the pressure off of the twins. The forwards combined through 23 games have put up 119 points[46 goals, 73 assists].
If Alberts is going to stay in the line up could he please not take terrible penalties or can we just put Ballard back in?! The defense definitely needs some work with Kevin Bieksa still out of the line up. Hopefully Juice[Bieksa] is back in the line up soon to give the Canucks a little more dependability defensively as they have lapsed slightly defensively in his 5 game absence. The defense has been solid at least offensively this season putting up 42 points[15 goals, 27 assists] combined in the first 23 games, that an average of 1.8 points per game[not bad hey?]. The Canucks will need to tighten up defensively as the stretch drive to the playoffs is right around the corner.
Goal-tending controversy smontroversy! Take a chill pill people. You all lobbied for Schneider[6-4-3] to get the starting position and lobbied to send Lou[5-2-3] packing. How quick all the band-wagoners are to jump back on the #LUUUUUU train every time Schneids struggles. I do think that while Cory has earned the chance to prove himself, he has struggled to find any kind of consistency in this shortened season. Maybe he will find his bearings, maybe not, in the mean time can we please give LOU the chance that he more than deserves after everything this city of finicky fans have put him through? Here’s #Looking2LOUKID! I like BOTH goalies and think both are capable of helping the Canucks towards their end goal for the season, but Luongo has more than paid his dues with his never wavering patience this season and he too has earned his chance to play.
Major news from around the NHL rink this last week was that the NHLPA finally gave approval of the re-alignment going into next season[2013-2014]. That is a HUGE boost moving forward with the re-alignment, and next it must be approved by the owners and the Board of Governors before it can be official. The re-alignment should it be approved by all parties will change and re-ignite rivalries new and old. It will be interesting to see how the NHL will address the playoff format with uneven conferences next year. Gone will be the 6 division/2 conference set up that is currently in place and in its place will be a 4 conference system. New details are sure to be released the closer to reality this becomes. Let’s hope that they have better names for the conferences than Conference A. B, C & D.
Sad news in the NHL as hockey anthem writer #Stompin Tom Connors passed away. He was responsible for writing the hockey anthem “the Hockey Song”: the good old hockey game is the best game you can name & the best game you can name is the good old hockey game…” Oh how I miss that song on Hockey Night in Canada[I think that CBC should make that the theme song!]
In other news, the Chicago Blackhawks FINALLY lost a game in regulation. It only took 25 games! As much as I cannot stand Chicago, that was sincerely an impressive run of 24 games[21-0-3] before their defeat in Colorado last night. Congratulations on achieving a record that will be extremely hard for any other team to match. Congratulations also to the Avalanche for being the team to break the streak! [P.S. I think Colorado is greatly benefiting from Ryan O’Reilly being back in the line-up as they have greatly improved offensively since getting him back last week!].
Now that the O’Reilly drama is settled with Colorado there is room for other signings. The biggest re-signing so far this season was announced just yesterday by Anaheim. The Ducks have re-signed Ryan Getzlaf to an 8-year $66 million extension[that’s an average of $8.25 million per year]. The question is now that they have invested the big money into Getzlaf’s contract, can they afford to keep Corey Perry who is also in line for a raise from his last contract. If they cannot afford to sign Perry the rumors are already swirling that they may move him the trade deadline[unlikely as that would greatly anger their fans] or he will test the waters of free agency in the off-season.
Did you hear the Pronger news? He addressed the media for the first time on his post-concussion status. He may not be near playing condition, but he stated emphatically that he is NOT ready to hang up the skates just yet. That does not mean he will or will not play again, it just means he is still hanging on to a sliver of hope, and who can blame the guy for wanting to hold out for one more chance. Best of luck Pronger whatever your future may hold, you’ve had a heck a career!
#MarchMadness has only just begun and the best of the season is yet to come! Are you ready?
23 games down for the Canucks, 25 more to go. #GoCanucksGo Best of luck in the final 25 boys! I look forward to seeing the boys live at Rogers when they return home this week to play Nashville on Thursday[3/14]!
As always, until next time, nuck said.