Player Profile: #20 Chris Higgins

20ChrisHiggins

Today’s Profile: Chris Higgins

Chris Higgins NHL career began when he was drafted 14th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2002 NHL draft. Before he made his NHL debut, Higgins was an Ivy League collegiate hockey player as part of the YALE Bulldogs for two seasons before opting to go pro.

His professional hockey career with the Montreal Canadiens began when he played for their AHL affiliate before gaining a roster spot for the start of the 2005-2006 regular season.  He played with the Habs until the end of the 2008-2009 season. He spent the 2009-2010 season split between the New York Rangers and the Calgary Flames. He debuted the 2010-2011 season with the Florida Panthers and finished the season with the Vancouver Canucks.

Higgins was acquired by Vancouver at the 2011 trade deadline in the hopes that he would help give the team an edge down the stretch drive to the playoffs. Higgins quickly became a fan favourite as he scored some timely goals during the team’s extended playoff run in 2011.

Higgins was rewarded for his hard work with being signed to 2-year contract in the 2011 off-season. In the last two seasons he had to battle back from injury and a crazy staph infection BUT when he was healthy, Higgins was a game changer.  Heading into this season, Higgins will be aiming to make an impact each and every game and the key [as is with most players!] will be to stay healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule.

Prior to last season ending, Chris Higgins signed a 4-year contract extension with the Canucks.

Here are a few #higgywithit highlights to hold you over until October 3rd rolls around!

First game that followed the epic 7 game series with Chicago….& HIGGY strikes first in round 2!

Round 3:

Ties the game & HIGGY WINS it in OT!

#higgins #higgywithit #isitoctoberyet #gocanucksgo

Christopher Higgins is the only member of the current roster who has previously been coached by Torts[during his time with the NY Rangers] and can help his teammates adjust the coaching change. Higgins will also be looking to build on the strengths of his game while putting up strong numbers and help the team go deep next spring.

Are you ready for October yet? Can you feel how close the season is?!

Clearly I am ready for this crazy game called hockey to return already…! Here’s to see Higgins return to the team with a vengeance when they hit the ice in San Jose on October 3rd.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #22 Daniel Sedin & #33 Henrik Sedin

Today's Profile: Daniel & Henrik Sedin.

Today’s Profile: Daniel & Henrik Sedin.

Yes, today’s profile features not ONE but TWO players and the answer to that is simple…you cannot talk about one Sedin without mentioning his brother. The two are nearly inseparable on and off the ice. Their chemistry is so seamless that at times they make a play that looks to be harmless into a sensational showcase of #sedinery.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin were drafted 2nd and 3rd overall in the 1999 NHL draft by the Vancouver Canucks. The opted to delay their NHL debut by signing to play with the Swedish Elite League for one more year following the 1999 draft.

There was a lot of hype about these brothers when they finally did make their debut with the Canucks and they faced a lot of critics [and still do]. The first few years of their careers began with a slow scoring pace that caused much concern for their critics. They did not fully showcase their superstar potential until they returned from MODO following the 2004-2005 lockout for the 2005-2006 season posting a combined 146 points [42 goals, 104 assists].

Fans were given a glimpse of their incredible play making abilities with the placement of winger Anson Carter on their line in the 2005-2006 season. It seemed over the next few years that the coach could place almost any winger on a line with the twins and benefit greatly.

The year to year winger experiment was beneficial to the lucky player placed on their line BUT the Sedins needed a true line mate that could not only benefit from playing with the twins but also benefit the twins.

One day in February 2009, an unlikely experiment was attempted amidst one of the longest losing streaks in franchise history, when the coach placed a pesky winger named Alex Burrows with the twins. A funny thing happened…he fit in even better with the twins than any other player. Did he benefit from his big minutes on the top line? Yes…but he also opened up ice and created space which benefited the twins. It was not long before fans and media alike began calling them the #triplets. Burrows and Sedins together quickly became one of the top offensive lines in the NHL and continue to capture their opponents off guard with their seamless passing and timely goals.

In 906 NHL games Daniel has amassed 758 points [291 goals, 467 assists]. ***Out of his 758 points, 607 of those have come in the 591 games he has played following the 2004-2005 lockout.

In 940 NHL games Henrik has amassed 792 points [182 goals, 610 assists]. ***Out of his 792 points, 646 of those have come in the 622 games that he has played following the 2004-2005 lockout. ***FUN FACT: BOTH brothers achieve their milestone 757th points [to surpass Markus Naslund’s 756 points record!] in their 905th games.

It is hard to imagine them playing apart when they have played together their entire careers [as far back as when they first began to play the sport in Sweden] and have a chemistry playing together that some players never develop. Together they have accomplished many feats: winning gold for Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympics, back to back ART ROSS trophies[2010, 2011], Henrik won the Hart trophy in 2010, Daniel won the Ted Lindsay award in 2011, together they led the team to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final and helped team Sweden win gold at the 2013 World Championship.

Here are just a few classic #sedinery moments to prepare for next season[because there’s 2 of them, you get a few extra highlights!]:

Remember this beauty when Hank & Danny stole the show?

Can we please sign Hank up for the shootout already?!

This tic tac toe goal features the #triplets getting away with some #sedinery magic

Daniel Sedin scores a highlight reel vs. Minnesota:

Daniel scores late to force OT:

Going into this season, the Sedins will be looking to have a bounce back year putting up big numbers and taking their game to a whole new level as they prepare to earn a spot on the Swedish Olympic team and help the team go on a long playoff run. The keys for the Sedins success will be to not let the opponents distract them from their game and to remain healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule. When the Canucks open the season October 3rd, look out for the twins to start the year with a new determination as they look to lead the team deep in the spring.

Lastly the Sedins will be looking to extend their contracts before the season’s end as their current ones expire at the end of the year. The twins have made it known that they WANT to STAY & WIN with Vancouver.

#isitOctoberyet #sedinery #hankanddanny #33 #22

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #3 Kevin Bieksa

Today's Profile: Kevin Bieksa

Today’s Profile: Kevin Bieksa

Kevin Bieksa[aka JUICE] has something that many NHL players do not, a completed University degree [in Finance] giving him the option to do something completely different when he retires from the sport.

Bieksa’s NHL career began when he was drafted 151st overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL draft. Bieksa delayed his NHL debut by choosing to complete his university degree. Before joining the Canucks, he played some big minutes with the Manitoba Moose during the same tenure as Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows[they have now played together for 8 years!]

In 461 NHL games, Bieksa has amassed a total of 203 points [48 goals, 155 assists]. He is never afraid to drop the gloves with the opponents. He plays defense with an offensive edge, jumping up on a rush when the opportunity provides itself.

Kevin Bieksa has had his share of being bit by the injury bug…having torn his Achilles tendon NOT once, but TWICE. Heading into this latest season, the key for Bieksa [like many of his teammates] will be to stay healthy throughout the majority of the 82 game schedule. IF he can stay healthy he could surpass a few milestones this season, such as the 500 games played mark, and more than 50 goals scored.

The keys for Bieksa heading into this season will be to stay healthy and be CONSISTENT night in, night out. I look forward to seeing #3 return in October with a vengeance shutting down the opponents top lines and putting up some offensive numbers. It will interesting to see if Bieksa will be paired once again with Hamhuis or if Torts switches up the defensive pairings this season.

Here are a few #bieksallent moments for you to relive in order to get you ready for the return of #3 to the lineup this year:

Bieksa makes a diving SAVE & SCORES to tie the game late in the third period!

Bieksa for the WIN with less than 30 seconds left!

Double OT…need I say more, this goal speaks for itself…it is simply #bieksallent:

There is just over two weeks until training camp opens and before we know it the preseason will be upon us. Hopefully when October 3rd comes around we will not have to wait too long to see Kevin Bieksa score a highlight reel goal or drop the gloves.

Here’s to Bieksa having a great season! #bieskallent #juice #KB3 #isitoctoberyet #36moredays

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #14 Alex Burrows

Today's Profile: #14 Alex Burrows

Today’s Profile: Alex Burrows

Alex Burrows professional hockey career did not begin like that of most of his teammates. He took the undrafted route from ball hockey, to the ECHL, to the QJMHL, to the AHL, and finally to the NHL. Seriously this guy’s story could be a movie with its humble beginnings to his current first line status.

Burrows quickly established himself as a pest to his opponents. In his early days with the Canucks he was not known for his timely scoring but rather his innate ability to kill penalties [particularly when paired with a certain #17] and get under the skin of the opponent.

In 569 NHL games, Burrows has tallied 294 points [152 goals, 142 assists]. It should be noted that the majority of those points have come during his time on the top line [242 points since the start of the 2008-2009 season].

Burrows was never supposed to make it in the NHL let alone play on one of the top scoring lines in the NHL. It was not until one fateful day back in February 2009 when the Canucks finally ended an 11 game losing streak [thanks to a SHG from BURROWS!] with playoffs looking near impossible, that Coach Vigneault decided to experiment with his lines the following game. Burrows was pulled from his usual checking role late in the game and put on a line with the Sedins…a seemingly questionable choice BUT guess what? It worked. The Sedins and Burrows clicked and quickly became one of the highest scoring lines in the NHL as they led the team in offense down the stretch that helped the team secure their Division title and a playoff berth. He finished the year with 28 goals.

When Burrows first began his run of success with the Sedins, he was being paid a league minimum salary of $500,000. Prior to the 2009 trade deadline, all the experts predicted that he would be traded as he was in the final year of his contract BUT instead he signed a 4-year contract extension [$8 million—a $2 million annual salary].

Heading into the 2009-2010 season brought a lot of questions wondering if Burrows could repeat the late season surge he had when playing the Sedins the year before or if it was simply a one off. It was not a one off…he led the team in scoring with 35 goals that season [including hat tricks in consecutive games!]. Since that fateful February 2009 day, he has been a staple on the top line with the Sedins while also playing BIG penalty kill minutes on the top PK unit with #17.

Most fans, probably never would have pictured him playing on the top line with the Sedins when the pesky Quebec native joined the team BUT most will agree that he has fit in with the Sedins like no other player…even better than the Anson Carter experiment.

Here’s a few highlights to remind you of his timely goal scoring history:

Alex Burrows scores his 2nd hat trick in consecutive games:

Alex Burrows, streak breaker at your service! Just as he broke the Canucks 11 game losing streak in 2009, he breaks Detroit’s 23 win streak at the Joe Louis Arena in 2012:

And of course one cannot forget one of the best goals in franchise history! Alex Burrows, dragon slayer at your service:

One must also remember that whenever Burrows scores a goal and shoots an arrow in his celebration, it is in tribute to his late friend Luc Bourdon who will forever be a Canuck. #gonebutnotforgotten #wemissyouLUC #LB28

It’s like I said earlier, Alex Burrows NHL career did not begin like many of his teammates and should he WIN the BIG game one June, it would be a perfect story book ending; if a film were ever made to chronicle his hockey career.

Burrows has played with the Vancouver Canucks for his entire NHL career, and will hopefully finish his career with the team. He has had a knack for scoring some big goals for the team: the goal that broke the 11-game losing streak in 2009, the goal in that swept the St.Louis Blues in the 2009 playoffs, the goal that finally slayed the dragon known as the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011, the goal 11 seconds into OT in game 2 of the 2011 SCF, and the goal that broke Detroit’s win streak in 2012 and more that we have yet to see.

“Burr, it’s cold in here, there must be some Alex in the atmosphere…”

#BURRRR #heshootshescores

Cannot wait for Burrows and the rest of the team to return to the ice creating new highlight reel moments that will delight us, drive us crazy and start many many debates among fans and experts.

#isitoctoberyet

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #1 Roberto Luongo

Today's Profile: Roberto Luongo

Today’s Profile: Roberto Luongo

In the last two years, this city and many of the team’s fans seem to have forgotten about a guy named Roberto Luongo. He went from a hero that lead Canada to the Gold Medal in 2010 and carried the team on a long playoff run in 2011 to being heckled off the ice in favour of Cory Schneider the following year. Is Cory Schneider a talented athlete and deserving of a bigger role? Yes, but he has yet to earn the respect that Luongo has more than earned from this city but has not been given in the last two years. Roberto deserves so much better than that Vancouver and I hope you join me in actually supporting Luongo this season!

Roberto Luongo was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks in the trade of Todd Bertuzzi with the Florida Panthers in June 2006. When Luongo joined the team, he brought with him a will to win [**note he posted 47 WINS in his first Vancouver season!]. In 747 career games, Luongo has amassed a 348-289-53 [Wins-Losses-OTL] record and 62 shutouts. Vancouver fans should take a closer look at his overall record: prior to joining the Canucks, he posted a 115-168-9 record and since joining the Canucks, he has posted a 233-121-44 record.

With Luongo, the team has made it to the playoffs EVERY year except one [2007-2008]. When he raises his level of play [2010-2011 in particular], it elevates the play of the entire team. Luongo may no longer be team captain but he is certainly still a leader on this team.

This season will be different for Vancouver and Roberto. Last year he came to camp expecting to be traded as it seemed the whole city had turned on him. He wasn’t traded last year and he wasn’t traded when when the season ended. It was a move that shocked many when the Canucks announced the Cory Schneider trade, but it is what is and it is time to accept the reality that Luongo is still #1. This year he comes to camp knowing that while there will still be a media frenzy, he will be the starter. Luongo will be looking to put up strong numbers proving to all those naysayers that he still is a top NHL starting goal-tender. If Luongo can put his best game on the ice for every game, the team plays well in front of him and this city actually supports him, anything could happen this season. It all comes down to consistency by the entire team, night in and night out through the 82 game schedule. Time will tell.

Here are some highlights to remind of just how awesome Luongo is! [Spoiler alert: many of these are against the Hawks…he has played some of his best games against Chicago.]

LUUUUUUUUUUUUUU robs the ever pesky Eager with this show stopper:

Bobby LUUUUUUU robs another Blackhawk for this highlight reel save!:

My favourite save of the 2010 Olympics happened in the Slovakia game:

Who says Luongo hates shootouts? [Probably everyone…BUT in this particular one, he was brilliant!]:

If you have any doubts that Luongo will report to camp, according to Torts, Luongo is more than ready to play focusing on what needs to be done on the ice and simply wants to play. I cannot wait to see #1 take back the starter reigns when the calendar turns to October! I have always and will always support Luongo.

#LUUUUUUUUUU #heartofacanuck

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Oh and in case you missed it, CHRIS TANEV is FINALLY officially RE-SIGNED! The Canucks also re-signed Andrew Alberts to a one-year contract.

Player Profile: #17 Ryan Kesler

In keeping with the theme of looking ahead, I decided to do a series of player profiles as we count down the next 6 weeks until hockey returns.

Today's Profile: Ryan Kesler

Today’s Profile: Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler is known for his defensive/offensive playing style and his sheer will to win at all costs. Fans will be hoping to see his tenacious wrist shot making many appearances next season.

Ryan Kesler NHL career began when he was drafted 23rd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks. It was clear from his time with the Canucks AHL affiliate team that he was going to be a star player with the Canucks when called upon. Interesting to note that some of those Moose teammates are his current Canuck teammates today: Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows played with Mr.Kesler during his time in Manitoba [they were all called up at various times during the 2005/2006 season before cementing their place with the team the following year].

Prior to the 2006-2007 campaign, Kesler signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers only to have the Canucks match that offer in 2 days…and the rest as they say is history! Can you imagine Kesler not in Canuck colors…but in Philadelphia’s black and orange? Perish the thought! I am glad the Canucks took the gamble in keeping him a Canuck.

Early on, Ryan Kesler and pesky Burrows were pests to their opponents and developed a knack for killing penalties together developing into one of the team’s current top PK units. It is his strong defensive play that has helped solidify him as one of the top two-way forwards.

He has been successful in his play not just with the Canucks but also with his team USA at the international level winning the 2002 U18 Tournament Gold medal, the 2004 World Juniors Gold medal and how can we forget the 2010 Silver medal and of course winning the 2011 Frank J Selke award!

Kesler has a level of compete in his game that fans have dubbed #beastmode…a level that was most evident in the 2010-2011 season, a level that all will be hoping to see when the calendar turns to October 3rd. His compete level will rely heavily on him remaining healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule [no breaking his foot twice!]. If Kesler can remain healthy for the year…he could have another breakout season much like he did in the 2010-2011 season.

As we get closer to the season beginning…here are a few #KESLER highlights to keep you going until October 3rd:

Remember this #RK17 moment #CanuckNation? clue: #hattrick

Or how about this other awesome moment in #CanuckHistory? clue: #round3

Or this beauty? clue: #blackhawks

Any other favourite Kesler moments [there were lots to choose from!]? Seeing the highlights once again reminds me of how incredible Kes can play when he’s at the top of his game and how we are lucky to have his skill level on the team each and every year. When at the top of his game playing his unstoppable #beastmode style drives the opponent crazy. Here’s hoping we see that high compete level when the team returns for training camp/pre-season in 3 weeks!

Cannot wait to see #RK17 hit the ice with the team scoring goals & shutting down the opponents offense!

#isitOctoberyet

#weareallcanucks #letthegamesbegin

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Looking ahead…

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It may seem like I have disappeared from the blogosphere, but I assure you faithful readers I’m still here! I have had an insanely busy schedule coupled with little hockey related news to speak of has kept me more quiet than usual these last few weeks. I will be posting more regularly as we get closer to training camp/pre-season.

Last year there seemed to be so much more dramatics relating to the hockey season that almost never was and the Suter/Parise sweepstakes. This year with a CBA in place, it has been a very quiet tempered offseason.

There has been very little Canuck news in recent weeks. All is quiet between the Canucks and Chris Tanev’s camp with rumors swirling louder and louder that he may sign with the KHL. I hope the two sides can come to an agreement before we lose Tanev to an overseas team!

Just over three weeks until training camp and pre-season madness begin! The countdown is getting smaller before my insanity returns! Are you as ready as me for this new season to begin Canuck fans?

When the season does finally begin we will get to see many things: Will Luongo be the star goal-tender, we know him capable to be? Will the Sedins and Kesler return to top form? When will Pavel Bure’s #10 be retired[which game?]? Will the Canucks learn from their playoff mistakes? Who will be the player that takes their game to a new level? Will any of the first round draft picks play make their NHL debuts [season long]? What will the league look like in the new 4 conference system? Who should be named to the Olympic rosters? The possibilities of headlines this season are endless. As you may have guessed, I am more than ready to see the sport that I love to return [I could talk about hockey all day long!].

#isitOctoberyet

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.