Vancouver Canucks: 3 down, 79 to go…

The season is officially in full swing league wide! Three games are officially in the books for the Vancouver Canucks. Be honest, when the Canucks scored on themselves on a delayed penalty to open the season it gave you pause? And when they fell down 3-0 in the second game it possibly made you cringe? And when it looked possible that they would be shut out by the Blues again, you were not surprised, right?

Perhaps, even more more surprising was the fact that in EACH of those scenarios, despite the odds, the Canucks found a way to tie the game AND win all three games. Yep, you read that right, they won ALL three games despite falling behind and never leading until the game winning goals.

And yes, I am more than aware that getting behind is not a trend that they should carry along with them the whole season. I know they will have to start playing with a lead but you know what this team has shown in these first three games? Resiliency. A resiliency that was absent far too many times the last few years, a belief that even when they are down, as a team they can come back in any situation. That resiliency leads to confidence in each other and can go a long way down the road. And so far, that resiliency has led to three wins.

And yes before you accuse me of saying this team is a contender or not, I know that three games do not define the season. I am not saying that they will win the Stanley Cup or even be playoff bound come April, but I am also not saying that they will not be. No matter how many predictions that the experts and fans make, how and when the season ends will be determined by how the Canucks play on the ice.

Regardless of how well or bad this season ends, I will be supporting the team every step of the way. There will be triumphs. There will be heartbreaks. There will be milestones. There may even be more incredible comebacks and probably a few losses that will drive us all crazy. There may perhaps even be a few surprises along the way.

Three games down, 79 games to go before all is said and done. Playoffs or no playoffs, I will be along for every step that will be the Vancouver Canucks 2016-17 season journey. It may not be perfect and it may even be messy but it will also be pure magic.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E. L.

Off-Season Overview

Ahh can you hear that sound? No, it’s not October yet, but I can almost hear the echoes just around the bend. I can also hear the buzz of rumour filled activity surrounding the Vancouver Canucks as the off-season is in full swing.

Here’s an overview of the Canucks off-season so far:

There was the will they or won’t they buy out Alex Burrows saga.

For all those who were calling for the Vancouver Canucks to either buy out or trade Alexandre Burrows this summer. Allow me to present the case for why he should STAY.

The whirlwind that is known as the rumour mill is nothing new to Alex Burrows in regards to his career. It’s a phenomenon that has surrounded him since the moment he entered his pro hockey career. Spanning from the ECHL, the AHL and the NHL; Burrows has surpassed the 1000 pro games played benchmark.

He was never supposed to make it in the NHL, let alone play with elite players like the Sedins. Truth be told, I’m not sure many of the experts ever had him slotted to play on an NHL roster let alone find himself on a line with two of the best players in the Canucks franchise or playoff hero. When I think of Burrows and his pro hockey career, I think of pure determination. He brings the intangibles of heart, persistence and an incredible work ethic that is admirable to his game every single day.

Early on, he was known to be a pest of his opposition and timely penalty kill minutes. He did the little things right and kept working to improve his game in all areas and it paid off over the years. He still does the little things right. He has become a leader and an inspiring example on this team.

Management and his teammates believe in him. It’s time for the fans to also show him that same respect, he’s more than earned it.

There was the will they or won’t they let Willie Desjardins go saga.

After a season that saw the Canucks struggle in just about every category, many fans and media members were quick to call for Willie Desjardins to be let go. It is often the easiest path when things go wrong on a team to put the blame on one person such as the coach rather than address the entire problem.

Yes, the season was far from perfection but that is not all on the coach. As far as imperfect seasons go, there were a variety of factors that led to the Canucks struggles throughout the year from a mass of injuries to missed opportunities. Yes, it’s easy to say that the coach should be held responsible to every decision he makes and he is but that does not mean he shoulders all the blame when things go awry.

The management made it very clear that they are not ready to give up on Willie Desjardins moving forward much to the chagrin of many “experts”. The upcoming season will be an opportunity for Desjardins to prove his critics wrong as he works to find a balance between the young and veteran players. The clock begins when the season starts October 15.

There was the echo of disappointment when the Canucks dropped to 5th in the draft followed by the belief that they should trade that same pick.

Admit it, you were among those who hoped that with all the bad the luck the team had face all year, that they would have a little luck and be awarded a top three draft pick. They dropped to 5th and sparked a rumour frenzy to trade that pick or hold onto it. Any potential trade up or down in the draft could have ended up being too costly for the Canucks in the long run.

The team kept the pick which led to a slight social media uproar as everyone from the media and fandom expressed “expert” opinions. Not only did they keep the pick, but they picked up defenceman, Olli Juolevi. Perhaps, not the player that many fans had speculated the team might choose, but a player with great potential down the road.

There was the Lucic sighting in town that sparked a media frenzy ahead of the July 1st Free Agent Frenzy.

Sure, it’s true that Milan Lucic came to town and met with the team and sparked a massive media/fan frenzy with the possibility that he would play for his home team. We all know what happened, he ultimately decided to sign long-term with the Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks opted to sign a different former Boston Bruin. Loui Eriksson was signed to a six-year contract.

Eriksson more than likely will be playing on a line with the Sedins come October when the Canucks open their season. They already have formed a previous chemistry on Team Sweden in international competition; tournaments that take place over a few weeks…imagine that chemistry over an entire season. Eriksson with the Sedins will provide a consistency most games for that line.

The ever continuous they’ve made moves but will they make more before training camp saga.

The Canucks have been making moves since the off-season began. They traded McCann to acquire Gudbranson. Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem re-signed. The team bought out Chris Higgins and opted to keep Alex Burrows. Philip Larsen was signed. Yannick Weber and Dan Hamhuis signed elsewhere. They signed Eriksson and a few young depth players for Utica.

The question remains, how many more moves if any will be made? Stay tuned, Canucks fans…we are in for an interesting ride heading into the upcoming season. It’s October yet, but the echoes around the bend are getting louder with each passing day.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Great (Low) Expectations?

54 games down, 28 games remaining and expectations: low.

It is no secret that the Vancouver Canucks have A LOT of work cut out for them if they would like to be playoff bound come April. So, yes perhaps the expectations for the Canucks are incredibly low moving towards the finish line of the 2015-16 season but perhaps that’s for the best. Low expectations leave little room for disappointment and instead leave open the opportunity to enjoy every moment as it comes.

I’ve never been a huge believer that everything comes down to the odds. Yes, the odds are factors that will and do influence parts of a season but they do not tell the entire story. If you were to ask any of the experts right now, if they thought the Canucks had a chance for the playoffs, most would say not even close.

28 games remain on the regular season schedule. 28 chances to change their fate to that of which many do not think possible. 28 opportunities to make the unpredictable possible. How they play these final 28 games will be up to them every time they step on the ice for a shift. Perhaps they can use their recent road trip success with their mothers in attendance as their inspiration for these final 28 games.

54 games down, 28 games to go and expectations low. Anything can happen, are you ready for whatever that might be? Here’s to wherever these final 28 games lead the Canucks down the final stretch drive of the season!

Fun fact: Did you know that after playing in his 1140th NHL game in Arizona on February 10, Henrik Sedin has tied Trevor Linden for most games played in a Canucks uniform. He will become the all-time leader in games played for the franchise on February 13 when the Canucks take on the Toronto Maple Leafs. If you ask me, that sounds like the PERFECT evening for Sedinery to be on display.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

What are the Odds?

WeAreAllCanucksIt has been a while since my last post, but guess who’s back? Yep, you got it, ME.

This post goes out to all Canucks fans,

We all share a common bond, a passion for the game and a passion for this team. We are a passionate bunch, no matter if we are new fans, or if we have been fans for many years. We have seen it all from terrible seasons to near perfect seasons that were ONE game from perfection and everything in between. We feel the anticipation of every game, every goal, and every save. We feel the excitement from every win and the disappointment from every loss. In the span of one season or even within one game we can go from absolutely heartbroken to overjoyed and vice versa dependent on the outcome. We feel every emotion good or bad that comes with being a hockey fan and we would not want it any other way.

This season is one that has been far from perfect thus far but it also has not been as bad as some have suggested. According to some, the Canucks should pack it in now and go for the TANK in order to acquire a high draft pick come June. Why would anyone encourage their team to NOT play their best regardless of how the season might end? Why not hope for the best for each game rather than expect the worst? Should they strive to be the worst or is it better for them to thrive to be their best despite what the outsiders say? No one said the 82-game journey would be an easy one or a fun one all the time. It’s a battle from start to finish with 29 other teams all vying for the same thing. The odds are that despite all the predictions made one way or another, some will be proven right and some will be proven wrong. Why not enjoy every step of the journey, wherever it leads despite the odds?

Odds are a funny thing that most often are unpredictable, no matter how much math becomes involved. Every season all the experts, bloggers, stats gatherers, and fans calculate the odds that their favourite team and players will have a good or bad season. Sometimes the odds are easy to predict. Star players will put on a show and other star players will struggle before finding their groove. Predicting where a team will finish based on prior performance should be simple enough BUT when every team in one division struggles out of the gate, it changes the odds game. Look at the how Pacific Division was dominated in every way by Anaheim last season and YET this season that is not the case. Every team in the Pacific has struggled at various points this season with only ONE team(LA) having a positive goal differential at the midway mark of the season.

Lots of hockey remains to be played and the divisional standings are anyone’s guess for how they will look at season’s end in the Pacific. Toss the odds out the window and hold on folks, we are in for a wild ride to the finish whether you are rooting for a tank or a triumph…things are about to get interesting as the trade deadline looms around the bend. Are you ready?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Nov-SEDINERY-ember.

The Sedins are old. The Sedins play making days are long behind them. The Sedins are on the cusp of the end of their respective careers. The Sedins should pack it in and retire or request a trade out of Vancouver. Canucks fans have heard it all. Maybe some of them even started to believe it to be true that this is the beginning of the end and maybe it is exactly that. Maybe these are the twilight years of their respective careers, but who says they have to take the decline route? The Sedins may be thirty-five but that does not mean they are finished.

Sure, November was not exactly the most memorable month for the Vancouver Canucks in the win column, BUT Sedinery had it’s mark in nearly every game. The twins put on a showcase all month long, amassing a combined thirty-five points over fourteen games.

Henrik: 6 goals, 11 assists (17 points)

Daniel: 8 goals, 10 assists (18 points)

Here’s a few examples of the artistry that was November Sedinery:

Some kind of pass from Daniel to set up Hansen:

Just when you thought the Blackhawks were going to break our hearts on home ice, the twins took over the game, scoring the first of three late insurance goals:

Game tying goal versus Torts:

Or back to the Chicago game…when Daniel notched his 900th career point as he set up his brother for the first tying goal of the game:

Nov-Sedinery-ember was fun to witness and gave rise to hope that the twins are not done yet. Thirty-five years old and they still continue to take the hockey world by surprise. They may be approaching the tail end of their careers but they are doing so in style and and adding to their one day legendary status. The day will come when the Sedins decide to hang up their skates and Canucks fans will never be the same having witnessed the entire career of two incredibly uniquely gifted players. For now, I say, let’s enjoy every moment of Sedinery that was, and is yet to be.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Canucks’ 2015 Hock-tober

The kids are ALRIGHT! Last year it was Bo Horvat winning over the team and fans…this year it’s Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann.  It is officially official as the Vancouver Canucks have announced that BOTH Virtanen and McCann have made the team and will not being going back to junior.  Welcome to the NHL, boys!

VirtsMcCannMcCann we dig it, Canucks fans? Yes, yes we can.

October has come and gone and with it the Vancouver Canucks have eleven games in the book with seventy-one more to go. Let’s take a closer look at the October that was for first month of the team’s 2015-16 season.

The Canucks closed out October with a respectable 5-2-4 record and fourteen points. Through eleven games, we have seen a little bit of everything: from three rookies continuing to impress to a few third period collapses to beating the best team in the league on home ice to Miller playing with an edge and enduring just TWO regulation losses.

Infuse the lineup with youth they said. Let the kids play they said. Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann and Ben Hutton showed up to training camp with one aim in mind: make the Canucks roster out of camp and maintain that spot. All three have accomplished that goal. Jake Virtanen leads the team in hits and starting to find his offensive stride, Jared McCann leads the team in goals with five and Ben Hutton is dependable in just about every area of the ice. Sure there have been some growing pains through the games they have all played, but the positives have more than outweighed the negatives proving that there is so much more to come from these three rookies over time.

Ryan Miller is not good enough some said. Ryan Miller is too old and too expensive many others said. Ryan Miller would need to be better than last year, they all said. Through ten games, though yes he has let in a bad goal or two, most nights he has been one of the Canucks best players on the ice.  Miller is boasting some impressive numbers through ten games: a 2.16 goals against average, one shutout and a 0.923 save percentage. He’s been playing with a edge that gives the team a chance to win every game.

Perhaps the most frustrating stat of the season is the fact that it took 6 games on home ice before the Canucks got their first victory in Vancouver. Or the multiple third period leads that ended up as overtime losses. The overtime losses were not ideal BUT the team still picked up points in those games and every single point counts when the team’s aim is to be playoff bound. Impressively, the team has lost just twice in regulation. Perhaps their most impressive games have been against the California teams on the road AND that first victory at home when they took on the league’s top team, Montreal. Another impressive stat through eleven games? The team has a 90% penalty kill success rate and 20% powerplay success rate.

Are there things they can improve on in the remaining 71 games? Absolutely, no matter how well a team is or is not playing, there are always ways for them to keep improving. The Canucks have their work cut out for them if they want to be playoff bound come April, but they are off to a respectable start towards that goal. Next up the Canucks will battle the state of Pennsylvania as they face-off against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh on home ice. Here’s to two strong games before the team is back on the road for 7 straight games!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

It Never Gets Easier…

Do you remember the first time that hockey fully grabbed your attention and completely stole your heart for this game that is so much more than a game? Perhaps it was a past Stanley Cup final, the Winter Olympics, World Championship, an AHL affiliate game or perhaps even a local minor hockey team that simply captured you in a way that only hockey can and once it did, there was no looking back. I can remember the first that game I really watched from start to finish completely enraptured by this game and every sound from the cheers in the stands to the skates on the ice to the final buzzer. There is one thing that prior to really embracing a my Canucks that I never understood or was prepared for, the emotional component. Yes, it’s true that there is an emotional component to being a sports fan that goes beyond grief with the refs or players on the opponents’ team.

There are the emotions that come with every win and every loss in the regular season but also those in the post season. There is the anticipation and excitement that builds as a new season inches closer around the corner. There is anguish of seeing players sidelined indefinitely with an injury and cautious excitement when that same player returns for their first game back. There is exhilaration when your team scores that big goal that leads to the next round and absolute heartbreak when you are on the other side watching your team’s season come to an end. There is the anxiety that kicks in around second overtime when you witness two teams battle for every inch of the ice in the post season. There is a veteran retiring from the game and watching him skate one last loop around the rink for the fans to say good-bye. There are the unexpected moments off the ice that unite the players once on the ice and prove that hockey is much, much, much more than JUST a game.

There is the attachment that grows with watching players develop from a prospect to becoming a veteran franchise leader. There is the sorrow that comes when those franchise players get traded, leave to play elsewhere or retire. Trades and changes are an inevitable part of the game but that never gets easier to embrace no matter how often they happen over the course of a player’s career.

Today was not a BIEKSALLENT day for this hockey fan. Today, the Vancouver Canucks and franchise player, Kevin Bieksa parted ways via a trade. There was no bitterness or anger on either side, just appreciation and respect for ten dedicated years. I understand that moves like this one have to happen and that it’s a part of the game but it NEVER gets any easier to see players that have become cornerstones leave. Players like Bieksa are not easy to replace for more than just his on-ice leadership contributions…he was a class act off the ice with the fans and many of the Canucks charities over ten years. Perhaps one of his greatest achievements OFF of the ice was his work in helping to shine a light on the importance of Mental Health Awarenss (Mindcheck) in honour of his friend, Rick Rypien.

Juice, Vancouver will never forget everything you did over ten incredible years, and thank-you, just does not seem even close to enough but it is what we have to offer…THANK-YOU. You gave this city incredible moments from the beginning to the end while fully embracing what it meant to have the heart of a Canuck on and off the ice. From getting under the skin of the opponents to interview gold to that beyond amazing stanchion goal to your work with CFKF, Canuck Place and Mindcheck…you gave this team and this city more than we deserved. It truly was an honour seeing you play for the Canucks all this time and while I may never root for Anaheim, I do wish you the best over there, KB!

IMG_0927#ThankYouJuice for this picture and the many Canucks memories!

More than ten years into being a hockey fan and it still never gets any easier. Nope, it never gets any easier to see franchise players leave the team that developed them from prospect to veteran. The emotional component makes it hard to be a fan sometimes but it is also what makes being a fan so great. Hockey is so much more than JUST a game. On and off the ice, there are highs and lows that go hand in hand with being a hockey fan and it’s pretty incredible to be on the sidelines to see every step of each 82-game journey no matter the outcome.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.