October Blues…says WHO?!

The month of October and the Canucks usually do not go together or at least that’s story for the last 7 seasons or so. Octobers have statistically not been kind to the Canucks.

Cue the hiring of head coach John Tortorella and everyone arriving at their own ideas of how this will go[many thought automatic disaster]. The schedule was released and featured a league high 9 games on the road including a LONG 7-game road trip in the middle of the month. It seemed that the month was doomed before the first puck dropped.

Based on history being against the Canucks, the injury bug and the road heavy schedule, most people did not have high expectations for the start of the season and many stated that they would be happy to just survive October with a 0.500 level.

Torts made it clear from Day ONE that he hates losing and wanted to instill the will to win to all of the players. Torts changed the mindset that a lousy October is acceptable or expected but rather that you should put your best effort forward and not listen to the naysayers.

Torts asked for the star players to step up and step up they did. Here;s a list of accomplishments that do not usually come in October but this team accumulated this year:

-The Sedins combined for 33 points: Henrik amassed 18 points [3 goals, 15 assists] + Daniel with 15 points [6 goals, 9 assists]

-The 7-game road trip that scared fans saw the team pick up 11/14 points and post a 5-1-1 record.

-The road trip saw the re-emergence of  Ryan Kesler’s #beastmode who picked up 9 points on the road (he now has 11 points [8 goals, 3 assists]).

-Luongo posted his FIRST shutout of the season (63rd of his NHL career)

-Torts plays everyone on the PK and expects everyone to block shots. Did I also mention that Torts has split the Sedins up more than once and nearly every time it yields results.

– #BeastMododo was formed: Kesler + the Sedins

-The unexpected signings of Mike “SANTA” Santorelli and Brad Richardson have looked very good representing the Canucks scoring some clutch goals.

-Kesler was shifted from his usual position at centre to wing & has thrived.

Here’s a glance at October 2013 where your Vancouver Canucks posted an impressive 9-5-1 record:

What month is that you say? Yes it's true, October came & went with NO October blues.

What month is that you say? Yes it’s true, October came & went with NO October blues.

Was it perfect? No…but it was a much better October than everybody predicted them to be. Here’s to the Canucks having a November to remember as we shift to the second month of the season. An area that needs massive improvement as the calendar flips to November is the power play. Perhaps when the power plays starts clicking we will get to see more goals like this one:

The game-winning goal from Daniel Sedin vs. the Capitals was a product of some incredible #sedinery cycling. [*the video hardly does justice to this beauty of a goal]:

ONE LAST THOUGHT: 33 combined points in 15 games…CAN we re-sign the SEDINS already?!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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Road Trip #1: Part THREE

In case you missed Parts 1 & 2:

Road Trip #1: Part ONE

Road Trip #1: Part TWO

Two final destinations were required to close out the 7-game road trip before returning home for a few games.

Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Game 12: Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Stop SIX: To have or to not have sympathy for the devils is the question.

New Jersey has struggled in their first 10 games of the season, registering just one win. Coming into this game 3-1-1 on the road trip, the Canucks wanted to get at least a point to secure a winning record.  The Devils just wanted to win, period.

The Devils started with a lot of jump to their game, scoring on their first shot. Not exactly the start the Canucks wanted BUT a response did not take long as just 1:02 later Ryan Kesler scored his 5th goal of the year to tie the game 1-1. The Devils did however regain the lead with a power play goal to put them ahead 2-1 midway through the first period.

Yet again the Canucks were trailing heading into the second period and yet again they found a way to tie the game 2-2. How you ask?…Daniel Sedin with the goal thanks to a nifty bank pass from Hank.

With Booth & Weise having left the game with injuries, the Canucks were down two forwards, and it showed in the third period as New Jersey took over the momentum. The third period was all New Jersey. Sometimes, you need your goalie to steal you a game and Roberto Luongo did just that in New Jersey. Luongo shut the down following the first period, never looking back. The Canucks were massively out shot 17-5 in the 3rd period as the Devils pressed for the go ahead goal, but LU stood tall making all the stops to keep this one a 2-2 draw.

Overtime solved nothing. A shoot out was required. Mike “SANTA” Santorelli scored the lone goal for the Canucks in the shoot out while both Daniel & Edler were stopped by Schneider. Luongo made all three stops on the Devils [*Lu had a little help from the post on the Henrique stop BUT I’ll take it!] to seal the victory and two points for Vancouver.

Luongo’s stellar play in the third period + the shoot out + SANTA’s clutch shoot out goal = a secured winning record on this road trip for the Canucks.

Stop SEVEN: “Meet Me in St.Louis”

On paper according to most people, the Canucks were expected to lose this game. The Canucks had numerous injuries on the roster and were coming in with zero days between games [and 5th game in 7 days!] whereas the Blues had a week off since they last played. Sometimes it is lack of rest between games that slows down a team and other times too much rest between games can be a hindrance.

Eddie Lack made his 3rd NHL start between the pipes for Vancouver. The Canucks may have been the more tired team BUT they played a fairly decent first period in their final game of this 7-game road trip.They even opened the scoring thanks to a goal from Higgins late in the first period.

The second period saw the return of the 2011 patented Ryan Kesler wrist shot to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead. Shocking, no?

Late in the period the tiredness began to catch up with the road-weary Canucks as the Blues began to press and the Canucks took a few sloppy penalties to give the Blues a late 5-on-3 power play. The Blues scored to comeback within one as the clock was winding down in the second period.

The Blues came back to tie the game 2-2 early in the third period as the power play expired. Full credit to the Blues in this game.

Neither team was able to get the final go ahead goal in regulation. Both teams secured a point. Overtime was required AGAIN. There were chances on both sides of the ice in the first 4 1/2 minutes of OT and it looked like this game would be destined for shoot out AGAIN. The Blues took a penalty with just over 30 seconds remaining and given how the Canucks power play has lacked of late, it did not seem like there would be enough time. Cue the Sedins working some magic passing and a ready waiting Kesler in front to knock down the rebound to score the game winning goal with 15 SECONDS left on the clock. No shoot out required in this one.

Perhaps not technically their best game of the season but it was their best character win of the season. Everyone said the Canucks were going to lose this game…BUT the Canucks decided, despite what it says on paper or what people expect, we’re going to find a way to grind out a win.

Here are two KEY moments from last night’s victory in St.Louis:

Kesler goal #1 featuring that 2011 patented wrist shot!

Kesler goal #2: OT WINNER:

The Canucks picked up 11 of 14 possible points on this 7-game road trip with a 5-1-1 record. Very impressive for a team that many expected to be lucky to have at most, a 0.500 record on this trip. Ryan Kesler had a single point [1 goal] before this road trip…by the final buzzer in St.Louis he had 10 points [7 goals, 3 assists]. Needless to say this trip was very good for Ryan Kesler rediscovering his game and the Sedins re-establishing their game combining for 14 points [4 goals, 10 assists] in the 7 games.

Overall a very impressive road trip for a team that given all the injuries in the line up, left little room for expectations and lots of room for fans to be surprised.

Next up: The possible return of Alex Burrows as the Canucks will host a red hot Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals on October 28, 7:00 PM [Sportsnet Vancouver].

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Road Trip #1: Part TWO

Game 9: Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Game 9: Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Stop THREE: The Igloo. A red hot Sidney Crosby was looking to continue his dominance while team mate Marc-Andre Fleury was looking to continue his solid start. The Canucks were looking to continue their great start to their 7 game road trip. This game would also mark the return of Alex Edler to the lineup from his three-game suspension.

This game had some great moments from BOTH sides as the pace went back and forth. In his return Edler scored a beauty of a goal to open the scoring. Not to be outdone the Penguins had their own stars step up to tie this game…do you even have to ask who it was? As he has done all season, Crosby continued his red hot streak with 3 points in the game! The Penguins took over the game by taking a 2-1 lead BUT no lead was safe in this game…as the ever reliable Canuck Richardson scored another CLUTCH goal to tie this game at 2.

Kassian who has been playing impressively since his return from suspension scored his first goal of the season to give the Canucks a lead. If I haven’t already said it…not one lead was safe in this game….late in the third a very talented Penguins rookie Olli Maatta helped Pittsburgh force overtime.

Overtime was not enough to solve this one and we all know what comes after an unresolved overtime: the dreaded shootout. Malkin scored the lone goal in the shootout [& it pains me to say it was quite a goal!]. Despite the loss, this was a great game for the Canucks. Kevin Bieksa factored on every Canucks goal and played one of his best games of the year. At the end of the day two great teams played a team that featured great moments from both sides. What more can the fans ask for?

Game 10: Vancouver Canucks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Game 10: Vancouver Canucks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Stop FOUR: Columbus DAY…or is it? It was almost like watching a Nashville game…it was a tight 1-1 lock and looked like either next goal wins or OT would be needed. Eddie Lack made his second NHL start.

The Blue Jackets got a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining and the Canucks pushed back and NEARLY scored many times…BUT no tying goal could be had.

No tying goal with the clock winding down resulted in my least favourite call of any game: pull the goalie for an extra attacker. Nine times out of ten, it results in an empty net goal…this was one of those times. Columbus won this one 3-1. A disappointing loss BUT that’s how it goes sometimes.

Stop FIVE: A New York State of Mind or so the song goes.

The Islanders were quick to grab a 2-0 lead. It was not the start the Canucks wanted to have and a pattern that has become WAY too common in the first 11 games. The lead would not last as just 16 seconds after coughing up the 2-0 lead…the Canucks began the comeback with a goal from Ryan Kesler. Midway through the first period Daniel Sedin the game 2. This game had high scoring written on it from the beginning.

The second period saw much of the same…the Islanders took the lead back early in the second period. The Canucks thanks to a #sedinery play found this game tied up once more! The Canucks took over the momentum in this game with a LATE goal to take their first lead of the game with a goal from HIGGINS!

The third period seemed to slow a little pace wise with action on both ends of the ice. It seemed like perhaps this game might end in regulation BUT that would have been asking too much. The Islanders pulled their goalie for an extra attacker…and they kept pushing for the tying goal which they got with just 1:12 remaining on the clock. Overtime would be needed.

Overtime was all Canucks…they did not want to have another shootout (& personally I’m glad…I hate shootouts!) The game winning goal came on play started by Bieksa [who was originally credited with the goal] and finished by Brad Richardson. COMEBACK COMPLETE! It may not have been a pretty win but they did come back from trailing 2-0 to win 5-4 and regardless of how it came a WIN is a WIN at the end of the day.

5 games into this road trip the Canucks have posted a respectable 3-1-1 record and will look to build upon that when they close out their road trip with two more stops in New Jersey and St.Louis.

Next Stop: TODAY the team will come face to face once more with Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. [It looks like Cory has earned top crease time for the moment in the latest goalie controversy].  New Jersey has just one win this season and will not give up two points to the Canucks very easily. Its going to be an interesting game that’s for sure…Vancouver will have to put its best game on the ice if they want to take two points tonight.

#GOCANUCKSGO

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Road Trip #1: Part ONE

Stop ONE: It’s always sunny of Philadelphia or so they say. The atmosphere in Philadelphia has changed drastically since the loss of former captain Chris Pronger from the lineup who has not played since suffering a concussion in 2011. Things have been tough going in Philadelphia the last two seasons. This season has hardly been a sunny one for the Flyers just 8 games into their season. From Laviolette being fired 3 games into the new season and just 1 victory, it has not been easy going. Struggling teams are the teams that most take for granted and expect an easy win BUT the struggling teams also tend to put good teams to the test.

Game 7: Philadelphia vs. Vancouver

Game 7: The Philadelphia Flyers vs. The Vancouver Canucks

A road trip can be a great building block and a good bonding experience for a team that is adapting to new systems.The Canucks match up with the Flyers came following back to back losses at home in Vancouver. Both teams needed to put better games on the ice.

Both teams had struggled offensively heading into this game and were looking to change that fact. The Flyers struck first to grab a 1-0 lead BUT just 10 seconds later and fortuitous bounce in front of the Flyers net to Kesler, this game was tied up 1-1.

A tough early goal in the second period as the result of a hand pass [uncalled! but alas I digress!] put the Flyers up 2-1.

Once again the Canucks put themselves on the comeback trail heading into the third period…a pattern that has become WAY too common this season! Cue the #Torts strategy that WON him the Calgary game: a split of the Sedin twins & creating what I call a #SwedeAmerican line [Henrik, Kesler & Higgins]. Just over 7 minutes into the final frame, a beauty of a pass from Henrik to a wide open Higgins saw this game once again all tied up!

The game looked as though it would need overtime UNTIL a certain Ryan Kesler scored the go ahead goal with 2:25 remaining in the game. In the final minutes there was a Flyer scramble in Luongo’s crease but Philly couldn’t get the tying goal to force extra time. A win in the books for the Canucks to start their road trip on the right note.

Stop TWO: “Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight…”

The majority of last season and the first 9 games of this season has been somewhat of a nightmare for the Buffalo Sabres who have just one win. Rumors are continuously spinning that Miller and possibly Vanek are on the trading block before the season ends.

Heading into this game Buffalo was looking to build upon their first win of the year and Vancouver wanted to build upon their Philadelphia victory.

The Canucks set a dominant the pace in the first period as soon as the puck dropped, peppering 19 shots at Miller and only allowing 7 shots on Luongo. The Canucks eventually grabbed a 1-0 lead thanks a goal from Higgins nearly 15 minutes into that first period and kept the Sabres to minimal chances.

The second period has not been the Canucks forte as of late…the pattern has been the give up the lead and as we all know: NO leads are safe in any game. The pace slowed a little in the second period with not as many shots getting through BUT the Canucks were able to do something they have only done once this season: grab a 2 goal lead! The second goal came from Brad Richardson while the Canucks were shorthanded. Despite being down 2-0, the Sabres were still in this one thanks to Ryan Miller.

This was the first time since the Edmonton game that Vancouver was beginning a third period with a 2 goal lead, it was refreshing to see! Buffalo started the third period with a little more jump and early in the period it looked like they had comeback within ONE. That is until the play was reviewed showing that while the puck did beat Luongo, it hit the crossbar going along the goal line BUT never crossed the goal line: NO GOAL. Tough break for the Sabres[every hockey fan can relate!] The third period was Luongo’s toughest with the Sabres out-shooting the Canucks 11-6 BUT it was Vancouver that provided the offense. Ryan Stanton who has played solid defensively since joining the Canucks was the benefactor of a #sedinery play and made NO mistake putting the puck past Miller for the 3-0 lead. Congratulations Stanton, on scoring not only your first Canuck goal, but also your first NHL goal!

Roberto Luongo

LUUUUUUU making ONE of 25 saves in his 63rd CAREER shutout vs. the Sabres.

The final score: Canucks 3-0 Sabres. Roberto Luongo earned his 63rd career shutout moving him up to 15th on the all-time record list [just 4 more shutouts and he will surpass Patrick Roy!]. Congratulations Roberto! Luongo finished the game with 25 saves with a little help from the team who blocked 17 shots. This was a full 60 minute effort from the team…now to work on that power play!

Next Stop: TODAY at the Igloo! aka Pittsburgh and a very tough Penguin team being led by the very talented Crosby. It will be an early matinee game for those back east and a mid morning game for us on the west coast! It will not be easy to shut down Crosby and company, the Canucks will have their best effort and special teams are sure to be a game changer on both sides.

Here’s to a great game on both ends of the ice! #GoCanucksGo

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

From a Shark Dilemma to Bad HABits.

Game 5: Vancouver vs. San Jose

For the last 9 games against San Jose, it seems as though they have had Vancouver’s number. It either ends up being a close game or like the one the other night not so close. San Jose is off to an excellent start this season and they played much better in the than the Canucks and the Sharks deserved to win. [That Hertl kid is quite a talented hockey player hey?!]

Positives in this game included: Santorelli and the penalty kill continued to be reliable. That being said, they will need to put a much stronger effort on the ice when they face off with the Sharks again.

Streaks of all kinds [good & bad] eventually come to an end and eventually you will see the Canucks once again win against the Sharks.

Game 6: Vancouver vs. Montreal

If you watch the Montreal vs. Vancouver game, then you saw that it was not Vancouver’s night. It definitely was not the Canucks night when just about everything went wrong….including a costly defensive error on the game winning goal.

It was a very difficult game to watch following that ‘own’ goal…[it’s right up there with the one on Jonathan Quick last week]. It was purely a stroke of bad luck but Montreal pretty well controlled the momentum from there. It’s a tough goal to swallow but they happen to every team once in awhile, you just have to let it go and move on to the next game.

One positive from this game was the fact that Henrik Sedin scored not only his first goal of the season but his 799th career point! He may not have notched #800 Saturday night but he will most certainly earn it on the Canucks upcoming road trip. [**Side note…Daniel has 765 career points & counting…we will more than likely see him also hit the 800 points mark later this season!]

Moving Forward: The Canucks will have to shake off the dust from these two games as they prepare for their 7-game road trip. It is important to remember that it is still early in the season and the team is still adjusting to the new systems under Torts. A season is not built and decided upon 6 games…it is an 82 game journey. You cannot win every game. There will be good games and there will be bad games but EVERY game is a part of that journey.

The Canucks still have 9 games left in October and this upcoming road trip will be an excellent building block to turn things back in their favour. A key in moving forward is they need to start a new HABIT that includes not coming from behind every game…it is difficult to win if you are constantly having to come from behind.

Here’s to a great road trip by the team where some they learn to further adapt to the #TortsSystems and support each other both offensively and defensively.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all  my readers in Canada!

Game 4 Recap: Canucks vs. Devils

Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Game 4 Recap: Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Cory Schneider returned to Vancouver for the first time since the unexpected trade and the long winded goalie controversy came to an end. Every sports broadcaster dubbed the game “Luongo vs. Schneider” as if to spark a new controversy. Both Luongo and Schneider spoke very highly of each other leading up to this game and acknowledged it was a strange position to be in. It was definitely strange to see Schneids on the opposition.

All eyes were on the two goal-tenders from the morning media scrum to the final buzzer. Two incredible athletes who promised to put their best game on the ice for their respective teams.

The first period saw chances on both sides and both goalies made some great saves. Momentum shifted from Vancouver to New Jersey when the ever reliable Jaromir Jagr opened the scoring late in the first period to make the score 1-0. Regardless of his age [43] you cannot deny the guy’s skill set.

The second period began with once again chances on both sides. New Jersey scored again to take a 2-0 lead. Some may complain about that goal as it first hit the refs skate BUT regardless the goal gave the Devils a two goal lead. No lead is ever safe in hockey and no team knows that better than New Jersey this year. Cue Torts making line changes! Vancouver pushed back and just 1:28 later had pulled within one thanks to a goal from Daniel Sedin. The Canucks seemed to carry a little momentum on their side following that goal out-shooting the Devils 14-7 and eventually tying the game 2-2. The tying goal came on a great play by who else…the Sedins who dished it to a rushing Edler for his first goal of the year.

The third period came with no answers found other than each goal-tender keeping their teams in the game and hoping to secure two points. This was a disciplined effort as there were only 3 penalties called between the two teams. Both teams were secured a point with overtime looming for the second straight game. This is one game I really didn’t want to see in a shootout but it seemed like it might be destined to end in one. A point shot from Garrison hit SANTORELLI in front 2:18 into OT saved everyone from the shootout and secured the two points for Vancouver. For the second straight game, the comeback was complete in OT.

All eyes were on Luongo and Schneider from the morning media scrum to the final buzzer and despite the media’s pushing they only had nice things to say about the other. Here’s a few quotes from the two who were most scrutinized in this game thanks to the media and the last two years:

To quote Luongo: “Schneids kept them in it, made some big saves throughout the whole game. It was fun, it was nice to battle it out. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. We both got at least a point for our teams.”

To quote Schneids: “With Louie at the other end, you have to match him save for save because he’s not going to give you much. It was fun playing against Luongo, he’s a great goalie, I have always said that. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s been put through a lot but his resiliency and how hard he’s worked through it. I think he deserves everything he gets. It was fun seeing him at the other end for the first time.”

All in all it was a good game by both Luongo and Schneider and BOTH deserve success this season. I’m happy Luongo got the win and I really do wish all the best to Schneids except of course when he plays the Canucks!

Game at a glance!

Game at a glance!

Next up for the Canucks, will be quite the challenge as they meet the as of yet undefeated San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are coming off a BIG 9-2 win against the Rangers in large part due to rookie Hertl’s 4 goal performance. San Jose has outscored their opposition 17-9 in three games. San Jose has presented a challenge for the Canucks in recent history and they will be looking to change that when the puck drops tomorrow night. The Canucks will need play a disciplined game and stay out of the box, tighten up defensively and support Luongo by providing some offense. Hopefully they rise to the challenge and surprise a few people. Best of luck tomorrow boys!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Game 3 Recap: Canucks vs. Flames

Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

Game 3 Recap: Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

Be honest, you panicked a little when Calgary went ahead 3-1 early in the third period didn’t you? Nearly everyone on my twitter feed went absolutely crazy when the Canucks were trailing and very few had faith that this team could possibly comeback in the game let alone win in overtime.

The Canucks went to Calgary in the back end of their first back to back situation this season searching for their first road win. David Booth opened the scoring early in the first period notching his first goal of the season and 200th career NHL point. Congratulations Booth! Eddie Lack in his first ever NHL start looked very sharp early on but the Flames kept sustained pressure on Lack pushing for the tying goal.

Calgary took over the game following the 1-1 tie and carried the momentum into the second period. The Flames scored to take the 2-1 lead midway through the second period. The Canucks got themselves into a little bit of penalty trouble in the middle frame BUT once again the penalty kill unit came through.

The Canucks put themselves in a 2 goal deficit at the start of the third period when Calgary quickly took a 3-1 lead. Not exactly the best way to start the third period is it? Queue the panic ensuing from many of the fans as they believed the game was becoming out of reach. How quick people were to give up as they did not think it plausible for a comeback as games from the past two years supported that theory. That being said, they also forgot momentarily that it was Torts behind the bench and not AV until he did the unthinkable. In just the third game of the season, Torts split the Sedins apart in the third period to act as a spark for the team. Props to Torts for thinking outside the box. It WORKED! The Sedins responded by each setting up a goal [Hansen & Santorelli] and suddenly we had ourselves a 3-3 tied game with 10:33 left in the game.

Time was winding down on the clock and there were some good chances on both sides. Sometimes in hockey you have to expect the unexpected, such as an important goal from the fourth line. Dale Weise scored the go ahead goal with just 3:54 remaining giving the Canucks the 4-3 advantage. We all know what happened next, Calgary kept pushing even pulling MacDonald for an extra attacker. The strategy of pulling your goalie does not always work BUT in this game it did and we once again had ourselves a tied game.

Cue more panic from many of the fans on social media as they have seen this story before or at least what happened in the recent past with a game like this one. In the recent past, overtime has not been kind to the Vancouver Canucks.

Overtime commenced with an incredible #Sedinery play and was met with a very good save by MacDonald. SANTA came 3:17 into OT to seal the 5-4 victory for the Canucks! Comeback complete thanks to SANTORELLI!!! Congratulations Eddie Lack on winning your first ever NHL game!!

Be honest, after everything that’s happened in the last two years you were hesitant to believe that the comeback could be possible. In the end, the Canucks walked away with the win two very important points. This is not last year or the year before. Will they win every game that goes past regulation? Probably not but when they play the way they did in this game, it gives them the confidence to know as a team THEY CAN.

Game 3 at a glance

Game 3 at a glance

Next up: The Canucks will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday [October 8th] at 7:00 PM pacific time. It is expected the Cory Schneider will get the start versus Luongo. It is the first time Schneider will play in Vancouver since the unexpected trade to the Devils.

As always, until next time nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Bonus: Here’s the latest #Canucks song by @CanuckClay, @mariehui & @ajtuliao: