Vancouver Canucks: 2019/2020 Reflections

More than three months have gone by since the NHL was officially put on pause and who knows if we will even see hockey return again with training camps or if it gets fully put on hold before preparing for next season. Whether or not the season does actually resume and the Stanley Cup eventually awarded, I think it’s still important to take a look back at the season that was before the pause.

(Apologies in advance as this post is long overdue but thanks to the pandemic has been delayed until now.)

Shall we begin? Let’s go. Again, this is going to be long post but there were a lot of noteworthy moments this past season and a few memorable stats to look closer at. For starters, can we talk about how the team scored 5 OR more goals in a game, 21(yes, 21) times this season in 69-games? The previous 2 seasons, that feat was managed just 14 and 11 times in 82-game seasons.

This season was a season loaded with expectation from the start as the franchise itself was going to celebrate their 50th season in the NHL. A big move at the draft in June put a load of expectation on JT Miller before he ever stepped onto the ice this season from the media and the fans. A new captain was going to be named for the first time since the Sedins retired. Many milestones from the previous seasons were going to be celebrated including the dragon slayer Alex Burrows being put into the Ring of Honour and the Sedins’ numbers officially being retired. It was from the start going to be a season full of honouring the past and forging a new future.

OCTOBER: Starting 0-2 out the gate was not exactly an exciting start to watch but it wasn’t the end of the world either.

By the time the 3rd game came around, you could feel a shift with it being their home opener and the official naming of the 14th captain on the anniversary of their first game ever played and of the day Henrik Sedin had been named captain in 2010. There was a palpable buzz even though MOST people had already guessed the captain to be named was going to be Bo Horvat. It may have been the worst kept secret around but it was still a spectacular moment to witness when both Henrik Sedin and Orland Kurtenbach came to centre ice to present Bo with his new jersey with the captain’s “C”. Maybe it was the excitement of a captain being named, maybe it was bringing legends from every Canucks era into the starting lineup, maybe it was wanting to show people they are different team than they have been in previous seasons, maybe it was a combination. Whatever the motivation, an 8-goal explosion including Quinn Hughes first NHL goal had the fans on their feet and one Drew Doughty flabbergasted by such performance from a “Team Like That”.

Home ice this past season became a place where the Canucks have had a little swagger that has been missing in recent years.

Late October saw a road trip that saw some big games in St.Louis, New York, & Detroit including a few big comebacks and a massively impressive game from Markstrom in New York. In Detroit that had the team down 2-0 heading into the third period and the script seemed to have been written already if you were to look at the history from recent years when comebacks of any kind were few and far between. The Canucks came swinging in the 3rd period scoring 5-straight goals that concluded with Bo Horvat’s first career hat trick.

And yes, I’m well aware of the game that followed this one. The one against the Capitals in which the Canucks had built up a 5-1 lead but those pesky Capitals had their own special comeback to earn a shootout victory. (Those Capitals put on a clinic of what it means to play until the final minute of every game, a lot of teams this season were met with the persistence of a Capitals comeback).

And how can we not talk about the 2nd meeting with LA that closed out October and featured a Brock Boeser hat trick? Not bad, for a team like THAT.

NOVEMBER: While the month of November didn’t bring as many wins as most Canucks fans would have liked, it did feature some standout moments and perhaps most important of all, it brought back the SKATE jersey!

The much loved retro SKATE jersey made it’s comeback and let’s just say that those jerseys looked slick on the ice and I would not be against them returning more than just 4 times a season. Seriously…can we bring it back more often as in maybe make it the official third or bring it back full time?!

Markstrom’s play began evolving during the 2018-19 season, but this past season, his game hit another gear an example of which we saw in a game against Nashville when he made 45 saves and the team surged with 5 power-play goals.

One moment in particular that I keep replaying is the Canucks rematch with the Capitals which featured the ever classic Ovechkin one-timer that is all kinds of ridiculous and matched with a Pettersson one-timer to keep the game even at 1. One legend and a player still looking to leave his mark on the game exchanging two highlight reel goals. The game would once again ultimately be decided by a shootout, but this time it was the Canucks who would steal the second point after a 7-round shootout winner from Horvat.

DECEMBER: Aside from SEDIN week in February, December may have been one of my all-time favourite parts of the season.

The dragon slayer came home. It’s seems only fitting that in a season when the Sedins were going to be celebrated, that their best line-mate also be honoured. And how fitting that on the night Burrows joined the Ring of Honour is also the same night that the team earned their 14th victory of the season. It would be remiss of me to not mention this game also marked the debut of Antoine Roussel who opened the scoring with a great goal celebration that honoured #14.

Once again the SKATE returned. A Saturday matinee that featured some very interesting reffing all game long and a bottle bursting JT Miller overtime winner. Again, let’s talk about HOW awesome that skate jersey looks on the ice…because it’s real shame they aren’t worn more often.

Carolina came calling but Jacob Markstrom put on a goal-tending clinic that was clinched in victory when Elias Pettersson scored a dazzling overtime winner a mere 40 seconds into the extra frame…

2019 closed with a 5-game winning streak featuring wins against: Vegas, Pittsburgh, Edmonton, LA and Calgary. There was an energy in the rink in the back and forth game against Vegas when the team earned their first ever home ice victory against a tough Golden Knights team.

JANUARY: A team like that came into the new year with a 5-game winning streak looking to build on it with their first game of the year against the Chicago Blackhawks. Let me tell you, THAT game was WILD. It had a little bit of everything. The Canucks had a 2-1 lead, within minutes the Blackhawks had suddenly taken a 4-2 lead and the building was deathly quiet. Cue a Travis Green timeout followed by two spectacular rookie goals to the tie the game back up that brought the arena back to their feet. Bo & Kane exchanged goals in the 3rd period before Gaudette scored the game winner, it was a roller coaster from start to finish but an incredibly fun game to witness live.

How did they follow up their first game of the new year? By bringing back the SKATE jersey again, this time to celebrate the 90s Canucks era. It was as if Jacob Markstrom was in retro form with Captain Kirk in the house, he made an awesome throwback two-pad stack save. It was everything and perfect. PLEASE, Canucks bring back the SKATE at least as the official thirds? (pretty please!).

And then came that game against Tampa Bay that we’d all like to forget…seriously that second period was like watching a never ending nightmare. Definitely not the way they envisioned their winning streak coming to an end, but it gave them a reminder that they still had some work to do to be on Tampa Bay’s competitive level.

For the first time in many years, the Canucks had not 1 but 3 players taking part in ALL-STAR weekend with ; well technically 4, including Canadian ALL-STAR, Meghan Agosta. From a rink side bet between Markstrom and Bieksa to a shoutout for Hughes from the greatest of all-time to a take everyone by surprise speedy sniper shot from Petey to a stellar 3-on-3 tournament between the Canada/USA women’s teams, it was a pretty special all-star break for the Vancouver contingent.

FEBRUARY: SEDIN WEEK. Some people outside of British Columbia made it known that they thought a week an absurd amount of time to celebrate the careers of two players who never won the cup. To them I say, a week was not too much to celebrate the careers of two players that defined the franchise for 20 years and redefined what it meant to truly have the heart of a Canuck. Yes, they didn’t win the cup and that’s a shame but the mark they’ve left on the franchise is indelible. As Canucks fans, we were truly lucky to have witnessed the entirety of Henrik and Daniel’s careers; how they portrayed themselves both on and off of the ice was truly special. I’ll never forget the atmosphere from both their final game played in Rogers Arena and the one in which their jerseys were raised to the rafters.

The second night of SEDIN WEEK, was full of pomp and circumstance and absolute perfection in the speech given by Kevin Bieksa(is there anything this guy can’t do?). The building was entranced from the moment the ceremony began and then came the game which everyone hoped would be a victory but the 49-save performance from Jacob Markstrom was stupendous. Who doesn’t love a good shutout to follow an epic jersey retirement ceremony? It was beyond perfection from a purely fan standpoint. Were there elements of the game itself that could’ve been improved upon? Sure, but at the end of the day the team led by a monstrous effort from Markstrom earned a victory on a momentous evening for the franchise.

It’s no secret that games against Boston have taken on a bigger significance since 2011 and that the team wanted to avenge their loss to the Bruins from earlier in the season. Did we expect a better team effort in their second match up this season? 100%. Did we expect 9 GOALS? No, but we will 100% watch ALL the replays of that game.

It’s also no secret that the Canucks have had a difficult time finding wins against Montreal in recent years and falling behind 2-0 early in this game certainly was not the most optimistic start. Give the team some credit, they found a way to be resilient and tying the game up twice to force overtime. Tyler Toffoli came up clutch with the overtime winner giving the Canucks their first victory against Montreal in nearly 5 years! The rest of that road trip was not as kind as the Canucks adjusted to a new normal without Markstrom who had been injured against Boston.

MARCH: That first game against Columbus….ugh was great until the last 10 minutes when the game slipped away due to a myriad of errors…I can’t even look back at the one.

Enduring one of their toughest stretches in the season as Markstrom’s absence became louder with game that passed, then came the ever talented Colorado Avalanche. Maybe it was the inspiration of a tough opponent of the throwback to the West Coast Express era, but the team came out with a 6-goal performance and HUGE win in the standings.

Another match up against Columbus that once again did not result in a win but it did result in yet another ridiculous goal from Elias Pettersson, who straight from the penalty box made no mistake putting the puck in the net.

In their final game before all things sports were put on pause, the Canucks met the Islanders for a back and forth affair that required both overtime and a shootout. Thatcher Demko was a monster making 45 saves through overtime and stopped all three shooters in the shootout. JT Miller with a nifty move earned the Canucks their final regular season victory in the 2019-2020 season before the NHL officially put the season on pause.

Feels like a lifetime ago now doesn’t it? Maybe the season resumes, or maybe it doesn’t resume at all. And it wasn’t a perfect season, but it was definitely a season that felt like a breath of fresh air compared to recent years.

My one request, IF I haven’t said it enough, should the season resume, can we PLEASE bring back the skate jersey for playoffs or in the very least as our official thirds next season? Pretty please?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

2019 NHL Draft Rewind

The 2019 NHL Draft has come and gone, and boy was it memorable! Can you believe it’s already come and gone?! I’m still re-living the magic of it all.

I’m not sure what I expected from the NHL Draft, but to say it was a whirlwind is putting it lightly. This is the first year I’ve had to privilege of attending the draft in person as the Canucks were hosts to the event. Prior to this year, I’ve only ever watched it unfold on TV or following along on social media, and I’ve got to say that seeing it all happen LIVE was something incredible to witness.

I remember the moment the NHL announced that the Canucks would be the host for the 2019 NHL Draft, and immediately I knew I had to attend. In fact, I texted my friend, Brieann and my sister and told them in uncertain terms that WE were going. Not that we should think about it, but that we HAD to go. It was non-negotiable. Their reactions were to say that absolutely we WILL go! And so this post will be purely seen from the fan perspective behind the scenes of the magic that was the NHL Draft.

Attending the draft, was a plan in the back of my mind for the entirety of the 2018-19 NHL season as we waited to hear the details of the draft and the availability of tickets. It felt like an eternity before any ticket information was available and once released, we made sure to secure our seats.

When I told people I wanted to go the Draft (& then that I was going), they told me it would be all kinds of boring. The Draft has always fascinated me and to have the opportunity to see it up close was something I had to do.

 

Hello Rogers Arena, the NHL Draft looks good on you.

DAY 1: Round ONE.

Walking into the arena and seeing the tables and stage set up. you could feel the electricity of what was about to happen. There was a buzz in the air. We found our seats and I was ready to take all the notes as we waited to witness history.

Shall we start with the part when John Shorthouse came out and announced that: “Hello folks, we have a trade to announce…” which brought immediate intrigue from the crowd for a brief moment before we all realized he was of course kidding. And then he gave us one of the worst kept secrets: ALEX BURROWS will be inducted into the Ring of Honour during the Canucks upcoming season. I cannot think of a more deserving candidate, especially in a season that will feature the Canucks retiring the Sedins’ jerseys.

And then came Gary Bettman and the overwhelming boos. It’s no secret that many fans, and a legion of Vancouver fans have a great dislike of Gary Bettman and they let it be known very LOUDLY, to the point of which we couldn’t hear a word he said during his introduction or when he walked away telling us that he’d be right back. Legit, because we couldn’t hear what he said due to the thunderous boos, we weren’t sure if he was even coming back to the mic or not. And then, it happened, he returned as did the boos, UNTIL we all realized that with him came the Sedins. Full credit to Bettman for taking all the boos in stride, and going with it. In fact, until I saw this video from the Canucks, it was impossible to know any part of what Bettman had actually said because of how loud it was from the booing and then the cheering for the Sedins:

SEDIN WEEK IS HAPPENING. Consider me officially booked for FEBRUARY! All the feels will be happening when #22 & #33 go up to the rafters. The Sedins may have hung up their skates, but they’ve left a permanent mark on the franchise and the fan base.

Onto the pomp and circumstance that is the opening round of the NHL Draft. Some will probably tell you that this was a very boring first round as there was very little drama with only one trade that merely involved a swap of picks. BUT, more about that later, let’s get straight to the beginning from walking into the arena and seeing the official Draft floor set to be the stage for many prospects have their dream become a reality.

It’s quite something to see each team go up as a group, call out the name of the player they’re drafting and to see the immediate of reaction of joy and relief come over that player and their family as everything they’ve worked for has become a reality. To no one’s surprise, it was Jack Hughes drafted first overall, followed by Kaapo Kaako.

And then came the Canucks with their selection. Not going to lie, I was anxious not about who they were going to select but because ALL day leading up to the draft they had been rumoured to be trading their pick both up/down. Instead of a Canucks trade, we watched the first 9 selections be made and then Stan Smyl announced the 10th overall pick: Vasily Podzolkin. There was a mix of uncertainty and excitement that met the selection, mostly because most people hadn’t had him on their list. I didn’t think he’d still be there at 10th but when you hear many commentators saying that the Canucks got a steal with this pick,  you know it’s one to be excited about.

A few other highlights from the first round included: Martin Brodeur announcing New Jersey’s pick and Shea Weber announcing Montreal’s pick. Then there was the absolute surprise and perfect reaction from Moritz Seider when Detroit announced him as their pick. Oh and can we mention how Wayne Gretzky was on hand with the Oilers when they announced their pick but that fact went unannounced. Each time Bettman spoke, he was met with loud “boos” with the exception of when he made the ONE trade announcement of the evening between Arizona and Philadelphia: “Oh, now you like me.” (Credit to Bettman for handling the heavy dislike with humour).

It’s always fun at events like these to connect with fellow Canucks fans and meet a few new ones:

DAY 2: ALL THE THINGS.

If people were unhappy with a quiet trade front on Day 1, they weren’t disappointed on a very active Day 2 with many trades including 3 pretty significant ones!

Changes from Day 1 is that instead of Gary Bettman making the announcements, it was Bill Daly(*Deputy Commissioner).

My sister Abi joined us for Day 2:

For those of us in the building and in our seats early before the draft began again, we were witness to all the madness that was buzzing on the draft floor with most GMs in constant rotation from table to table. Not going to lie, I felt a little on edge with nerves watching the action between all the tables on the draft floor. In fact before rounds 2-7 began, we got to our seats early and looked to the left of our seats to see Mike Babcock on what looked to be a pretty intense phone call. Moments later, we saw Bob McKenzie and his fellow reporters break on twitter that the Leafs had traded Marleau.

Around the same time that the Marleau trade broke, so did the news about PK Subban being moved. A lot of us at the draft were very surprised as he had seemed like a great fit in Nashville.

And of course, then there was the home town team trade: JT Miller from Tampa Bay. I know the Canucks took a lot of heat for this trade due to giving up a first round pick in the deal BUT I’m actually pretty stoked to see Miller join the team and give stability to either a line with Boeser/Petey or play on Bo’s wing. Time will tell how this deal works out, but I’m optimistic about seeing it play out.

All three trades while not officially announced until the Draft was once more underway, had broken on social media and spread very quickly. Aside from these three player trades, the rest of the trades were picks being swapped, but I lost track of how many trades made as I got caught up in the moment of the draft.

In fact, I didn’t even realize there were cameras scanning the crowd as I was so focused on the event itself and making sure that I didn’t miss anything important as I took ALL the notes: yes, I got caught taking all the notes. You know you love hockey when…

The Canucks went on to make 8(yes, EIGHT) selections on DAY 2: Nils Hoglander(#40), Ethan Keppen(#122), Carson Focht(#133), Artus Silovs(#156), Karel Plasek(#175), Jack Malone(#180), Aide Mcdonough(#195) and Arvid Costmas(#215).

A notable moment on Day 2 was one that happened in the 6th round. Nashville ran out the clock and used their FULL timeout before making their selection. It drew the ire of the crowd but hey, they got their player!

AND not to be forgotten, we got to meet Quinn Hughes!

Hughes was a class act. The line up was INSANE and yet he took a moment with EVERY single fan in that line.

Some may say it was a boring first day and a maybe a trade they wish the Canucks hadn’t paid the price on, BUT for me it was a weekend I’ll always remember. It was a weekend where I got to witness history, spend time with great company, make new friends, get caught taking hockey too seriously and had the time of my life!

Thank-you to Brieann and Abi for coming along with me and enduring all my note-taking. Thank-you, Canucks for hosting, I’ll never forget the magic that was the Draft weekend!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: For Brock

Sometimes, this game that can take your breath away in the best possible way, can be heartbreaking in the cruelest of ways. That happened last night as all of Canucks nation held their collective breath after seeing Brock Boeser sustain an injury late in their game versus the New York Islanders. Today, the Vancouver Canucks announced that Brock Boeser is likely out for the remainder of the season (4-6 weeks). And it’s no secret that prior to the injury, Brock Boeser was having a Canucks rookie season to remember with 29 goals, 26 assists (55 points) in 62 games.

It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see a player that’s been having a memorable season be forced to the sidelines due to injury. And while the season may not end in a Calder trophy for the rookie phenom, there are more important things than a trophy. As tough as this news is, it could be worse, and it’s absolutely the right decision that Boeser takes this time to recover fully so that he can come back to the game he loves for years to come The good news is that he will make a full recovery.

This post is for Brock.

Brock,

I can still remember the anticipation that followed when the Vancouver Canucks drafted you and excitement that stemmed when the team announced you made this season’s roster. This is not the ending that your rookie season was supposed to have. You were well on your way to setting a new Vancouver Canucks rookie season record. Today, having this news shared with the rest of the world must be one of the most difficult things you’ve been faced with early in your career, but taking this time to heal properly was the right decision. Some things are bigger than the game.

I hate that we were robbed of your 30th goal (some will point out you should proably be credited with 1 or 2 more in recent weeks!) and that we don’t a get a chance to see you surpass Pavel Bure’s rookie record. I hate that this season, we will not get to see any more of your signature snipes or impossible angle goals that often took opponents by surprise with their accuracy. I hate that we will not get to see you find that chemistry with no matter who you played with until next season. I hate that this is how the season most likely ends for you this season. I hate the unfairness of this outcome. I hate that after all the work you put in and that the rookie season that you were on pace for, that this is the ending. I hate that many on the outside don’t always see the value that you bring to the Canucks every single game.

As much as I hate this end to your incredible rookie season, I understand that this decision was about more than the game. Life is about much more than hockey and you put your health first. Not an easy decision, but absolutely the correct one. You are taking the time to heal properly and not risk further injury and allowing yourself a long-term future in the game. It may have only been your first full time season in the NHL and with the Vancouver Canucks, but you’ve already left an indelible mark on the franchise.

The ending to the season may have come much earlier than you desired but you DID IT. You’re living a dream come true in the NHL that while only one year in, is full of highlight reel moments: back to back rookie of the month honours, first career hat trick, goals that made many opponents ask “HOW?”, a possible Calder trophy candidate, NHL All-Star, All-Star MVP, Canucks All-Star. Those are some awesome early career moments. You are the type of player that fans hope their team drafts and love to see succeed when they make the big league.

It’s not the ending that your rookie season deserved. You gave this team, the fans and the league everything you had every single time you were on the ice. Never doubt for a second what you’ve accomplished this season. You gave it your all every single shift, playing with whoever coach put with you in the lineup. You always found a way to keep your game consistent. You may be one of the youngest players on the team, but I promise that you inspired your teammates, the fans and even opponents around the league. Your heart, determination, dedication and perseverance every game are something to be admired. Your tenacity will be missed by the team, opponents, and fans league wide down this final stretch.

Thank-you for one heck of a memorable rookie season with the team. You’ve brought an excitement to the team and united Canucks fans far and wide while we all rooted for the next FLOW highlight! Your season may have come to an abrupt end, but I hope you know that NO ONE and I mean NO ONE is disappointed in you. You’ve done nothing but make Canucks fans proud every single time you hit the ice. I hope that while you recover, you stay close to the team, you may not realize it yet what an inspiration your season has been to them. And maybe today, that seems impossible to comprehend, but it’s 100% true. Canucks nation is sending you all the best as you focus on your recovery! Take all the time you need, your health is the #1 priority.

Your season might have come to an early end but you took the pressure of an entire city and ignited a spark of hope for the season and the future as we all witnessed the initiation of the Brock star. One thing is certain, your teammates, fans, even your opponents are all rooting for you as you recover and look forward to your eventual return when you a ready. You have accomplished a lot in a short time this season. Remember this moment, a rookie season to remember that stole the hearts of Canucks fans far and wide, this is only the beginning and the best is still yet to come.

-Sarah E.L.

 

Sedinery: The Beginning of the End?

The rumour mills are in full swing as the 2017-18 NHL season edges ever closer. The latest whispers getting louder out there right now being the possibility that THIS is the Sedins last season playing in the NHL. Is this the end, or perhaps the beginning of the end of the phenomenon that is Sedinery? Just writing and even considering the truth in those questions hurts to think about. The day the Sedins stop playing hockey will be a hard day.

What is Sedinery, you ask? It is the pure magic that has occurred when Henrik and Daniel Sedin have showcased their skill sets on the ice over the years throughout their careers. The Sedins have been a part of the fabric of the Vancouver Canucks since June 1999. In fact, it is impossible or very near impossible to envision the team when they are no longer on the roster.

IF this is in fact their last season, from the day they were drafted (2nd and 3rd overall in ’99) to their veteran days, they have left an indelible mark on the Vancouver Canucks.

From the outside, the Sedins are seen as “soft”, called “sisters”, and in general are viewed as players who are not elite. From the outside, because they have not won the Stanley Cup, often they are not considered worthy to be a part of that discussion. That’s the view from the outside.

From the inside, as a fan who has witnessed their entire career from the beginning, those on the outside do not understand just how elite these two players are.

In Vancouver, they are so much more that just two hockey players. They personify everything that it means to be a Canuck. They are brothers, they are leaders on the ice, they are leaders off the ice, they are resilient, they are well spoken, and they are pillars within the community. They didn’t have an easy path to success, they struggled early in their careers, and some wondered if they would ever make it. They have always been their own worst critics, and despite what so many on the outside have said or speculated, they always rose above it.

I cannot tell you how many times over the years, even when they had their record breaking seasons (including back to back Art Ross trophies), that I read reports from both sides of the hockey world, that often many “experts” missed the truth of who the Sedins are. Yes, they would talk about the facts but they never quite understood the awesome that is seeing the Sedins play the game. The way they read off one another during a game, from shift to shift, on and off the ice, it is beyond magic. They seem to anticipate where the other is, often without even looking up, and making a play that to the outside would seem odd, but if you’ve been paying attention, you knew that some how that puck would find the other Sedin. Just as they always have, they’ve reached record after record in Vancouver, one after the other.

It’s not often ONE player, let alone TWO on the same team will amass more than 1000 points. Only 86 NHL players including, Henrik have joined the 1000 points club. By season’s end, Daniel will once again follow his brother’s foot steps further into the Canucks history books when he scores his 1000th regular season point.

Is it fair that they do not want to be traded and desire to retire as Canucks? ABSOLUTELY, they have more than earned that right to that decision. They have played the entirety of their careers in Vancouver, a place that has been where they’ve played hockey and a place that has become their second home. They have been a part of the team since their draft day. They have seen Vancouver through all kinds of seasons on the spectrum from terrible to record breaking, never wavering on their loyalty to the team or the city.

Truthfully, in Vancouver, we do not deserve the Sedins, but we DO owe them the same loyalty and respect that they have always shown Vancouver. IF this is in fact their last season playing in the NHL, I plan on savouring every last moment of Sedinery as it plays out.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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.