Canucks Colorado Slide= No Time to Waste

I hate, no, I loathe the matinée game that is prone to show up every so often in the NHL season. It tends to at times, be the Canucks kryptonite. As you know by now, the Canucks did not play to their best ability. After an impressive streak of going 18-0-2 against Colorado since November 2009, the Avalanche earned this one in regulation. Yes they put the game away and stole the Canucks’ thunder scoring the game winning goal with just 7.6 seconds left in regulation. Yes, you read that right, 7.6 seconds!

The Canucks did not bring their best compete level to the third period against Colorado and lost all control of the game and its 2 point value. Give credit to the Avs for playing a hard competitive game in which they earned the win and the two points. The Canucks did not deserve win that game by any means. Colorado may be near the bottom of the league in the standings but that does mean they have no fight or compete in their game. You do remember, it was this same Avalanche team that broke Chicago’s unbelievable streak right? Just because a team may not be playoff bound is no reason to under estimate them, these are the teams that will play for pride and play spoiler to those who want to move up in the standings.

Cory Schneider has had a very nice run, but he struggled a lot in the Colorado game. Maybe it was exhaustion, maybe he was 100% over the flu, maybe it was just an off game. The Canucks have 7 games remaining to maintain a spot in the top 4. After an impressive [surprise] start for Roberto Luongo, it is time for him to have a run of games before the playoffs begin, he has more than earned some time in the net. The Canucks need to begin utilizing their asset of having BOTH Schneids & Luongo[both will need to be at their top level come April 30th!].

Perhaps the only good news in this game was the fact that both Dan Hamhuis[5 games] and Ryan Kesler[3 games] extended their points streaks.

Time to forget about yesterday’s ugly loss and move on. The Canucks will look to get back on track when they visit the Nashville Predators tomorrow. The puck drops just after 5:00 PM[pacific time], Luongo will get the start. Despite yesterday’s disappointing loss, the Canucks second half record is a respectable: 12-5-0 with 7 games remaining to solidify their playoff position. The Canucks will be looking to improve their record against the Predators to a perfect 3-0-0. Just 7 games remain on the schedule, and no team should be taken lightly as every team will be playing with desperation. There is no time to waste as the Canucks must rebound quickly back to form if they want to stay in the top 3 and hopefully clinch their playoff berth in the next week.

There are just 2 weeks left in this short season and the final standings will probably come down to the wire before all is said and done. There are no guarantees come playoff time, but generally one knows that Detroit will be a part of the tradition but this year that could change for the first time in 21 years[they sit in 9th today with Columbus & Phoenix on their heels, a win today would help them immensely….anything can happen over the next two weeks!]

The season is nearly over…can you feel the excitement building as teams start to move into their playoff mindset? 4 playoff berths have been claimed,12 remain…if they Canucks play well on the remainder of this road trip they could clinch when they return home. Two weeks is all that remains before the real dramatics begin and all the first round match ups are set. It’s about to get really exciting as inevitably a few surprises are bound to happen.

The playoffs do not begin until April 30th but already you can feel intensity rising in every game as each game brings each player closer the elusive tradition that is known as the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Are you ready Canucks?! Time to reset #beastmode

The #finalcountdown is on! #7games2go #goCanucksgo

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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Western Conference Quarter Season Facts

The 2012-2013 NHL season was shortened [due to Bettman’s 3rd lockout] to 48 games.  12 games in marks the quarter mark of the season [All teams have played 11-14 games].

Here’s an overview of the Western Conference thus far into the 2013 season[with a slightly more extensive look at my #Canucks]:

1. Chicago Blackhawks [10-0-3 –23 points] As much as it pains me to say this….they are playing some incredible hockey so far. They remain the only team to be undefeated in regulation this year. Their offense is firing on all cylinders and Corey Crawford has been lights out in the net. It pains me even more to type this next sentence….the Chicago Blackhawks are being led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane & company towards a possibly lengthly playoff run. It’s not easy to play so many early games on the road, but the Blackhawks are finding the answers, picking up points in every single game they have played in. They are playing some unbelievable hockey.

2. Anaheim Ducks [9-2-1 –19 points] The Ducks ruined the Canucks home opener and the Canucks ruined their home opener. While Jonas Hiller has struggled in the net, his team has helped with offense to help win games. It doesn’t hurt that his backup Victor Fasth is undefeated in his NHL experience! Has anyone mentioned the age of Teemu Selanne affecting his play? No they have not because this guy is still putting up points and making ridiculously awesome plays despite his age.

3. Vancouver Canucks [8-2-2 –18 points] After 12 games the Canucks who are perennially slow starters are off to a 8-2-2 start. The Canucks were without Ryan Kesler and David Booth to start the season, but have found a way to win games. Zack Kassian has been a pleasant surprise to Canuck fans this season finding an offensive spark, even earning playing time with the twins. Mason Raymond looks like he has finally found his speedy stride again posting 8 points[4 goals, 4 assists] in 12 games. The Canucks are getting secondary scoring from their defense, 2nd, and 3rd lines which is extremely important in a shortened season and building towards a playoff run. A closer look at the defense reveals the Canuck defense has contributed 27 points [9 goals, 18 assists] through 12 games, that is comparable to the triplets [the Sedins & Burrows] posting 24 points[6 goals, 18 assists]. Did I mention Alex Edler is leading the rear guard with 9 points? Henrik Sedin may not have a goal [yet, its coming, SOON!] but he is just ONE point behind Markus Naslund on the all-time points leader of the franchise{fun fact:Daniel is just 27 points behind Hank and looks to be passing Nazzy soon as well}.The Canucks are currently on a six-game WIN streak. Rumors are swirling that Ryan Kesler and David Booth are nearing their return to the lineup within the next games. The question remains with both presumably back sooner rather than later what will become of rookie Jordan Schroeder? The kid has been incredibly solid and scored his 1st two NHL goals in one game in front of a crazed home crowd….not too mention a shootout winner against Chicago!!! Speaking of rumors…can we let the goalie controversy crap end please? Relax. In a shortened season such as the current one have TWO incredibly goalies is an incredible gift and fans should appreciate this luxury. It’s funny that all those fans who said they wanted Luongo gone are suddenly singing his praises. The guy never stopped being a #1…he simply has stepped his game up to a new level….and his numbers have him sitting #2 behind Ottawa’s Anderson. Luongo has posted a 1.45 GAA and 0.943 save percentage. Luongo is undefeated in regulation yet thus far….his current run is reminding me of a 16-0-5 run he helped lead the team on back in the 2010-2011 season. Cory Schneider has been solid in his recent games…bringing his numbers to a respectable 2.36 GAA and 0.921 save %. With so many teams having lost their #1 goalies to injuries, the Canucks are extremely lucky to have not just one #1 but two goalies capable of giving the team a chance to win every game. Every game and every point matters in a shortened season.

4. San Jose Sharks [7-3-3 –17 points] The San Jose Sharks were off to an incredible start this season…a franchise best even going 7-0-0. January was incredible for their big name players, particularly for Patrick Marleau. February has been a much different story as they have yet to register one win, the Sharks are 0-3-3 in 6 games. They will to need to go back to finding the offense[hello Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture…where did you go?] that won them all their January games before they find themselves in an irreversible rut.

5. Detroit Red Wings [7-4-2 –16 points] Following a disappointing 6-0 opening loss to the St.Louis Blues, the Red Wing have been extremely solid. Henrik Zetterberg was name captain following the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom and is off to a great start…including a hat trick! The Red Wings have been a cornerstone of the West for the last two decades, and all signs point to them continuing their dominance as they find their stride. Detroit has a great history of developing amazing players through their organization and this year is not different with the emergence of rookie Damien Brunner.

6. Nashville Predators [6-3-4 –16 points] The Predators lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in the off-season to the tune of a $98 million contract and followed up that loss by locking Shea Weber into their own ridiculous long-term deal. Weber has yet to register a goal, however the Predators have been able to rely on the consistent play of goalie Pekka Rinne to keep them in reach of the division lead.

7. St.Louis Blues [7-5-1 –15 points] The St.Louis Blue opened the season by beating the Detroit 6-0, picking up right where they left off last season. Since that game however, they have not been able to find that same consistency. Brian Elliot is still searching for his form from last year while his goalie partner Jaroslav Halak is out injured. Last year the Blues led the league with fewest allowed goals. The brightest spot on the Blues this season is their rookie Tarasenko who has made a name for himself in St.Louis just 13 games into his career.

8. Dallas Stars [7-6-1 –15 points] The Dallas Stars have been up and down. Jaromir Jagr has found his offensive spark once more despite his age. Offense has been good despite the delay in the re-signing of Jamie Benn who has helped lift this team over .500 level hockey and start a 5 game win streak that came to a halt in Calgary.

9. Phoenix Coyotes [6-5-2- 14 points] Shane Doan played coy during the off-season until re-signing with the team he has ever played for. They have had some good moments giving fans a glimpse of the team that went to the conference finals last season. The Coyotes have considerably well despite the continued issue of uncertainty regarding their ownership.

10. Minnesota Wild [6-6-1 –13 points] This is the team that spent nearly $200 million signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the off-season. Those two signings were supposed to catapult the Wild into a high scoring team, but it just has not happened yet. Parise has found some offense, the same cannot be said of Ryan Suter who has yet find the back of the net. The Wild are barely above 0.500 and are beginning to look the way they did the in second half of last season when everything fell apart for them. They need to find their balance offensively and play the way they did at the beginning of last season….and get their two newest Wild members to play the way they have been known to in the past. Rumor has it that the head coach Mike Yeo is on the chopping block.

11. Edmonton Oilers [5-5-3 –13 points] The Edmonton Oilers won the Justin Schultz lottery and he has been a major asset to them on the blue line 13 games in. The Oilers are stacked with young talent, but have faced the trouble of inconsistent play and injuries costing them important points. If they tighten up defensively and add some consistency to their game, they will turn it around. Their young core definitely has a bright future.

12. Calgary Flames [4-4-3 –11points] The Calgary Flames have picked up right where they left off the last few seasons…in a disappointing fashion. They have yet to find their scoring niche. They say as Iginla goes so do the Flames….and he is not yet at the top of his game. Iginla and the Flames are typically slow starters but in a short season the entire team needs to pick up their game with more efforts like the game against the Stars.

13. LA Kings [4-5-2 –10 points] The LA Kings have hardly looked like the dominant team that won last year’s championship. They are without Mitchell and Greene to help solidify their defensive play. Jonathan Quick has also not played to his full capacity just yet, but he definitely is more than qualified. The Kings still have most of their championship core in place, but they need to find that drive that catapulted them to the Stanley Cup last season if they are looking to repeat.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets [4-7-2 –10 points] The Columbus Blue Jackets were faced with beginning the year without the former face of the franchise Rick Nash[he is now a New York Ranger]. They have begun slowly losing some important games while showing some great moments in their few wins. They need to find secondary scoring as they can no longer depend on Rick Nash scoring their goals. In the latest news the Blue Jackets fired GM Howson following their 13th game.

15. Colorado Avalanche [4-6-1 –9 points] The Colorado Avalanche are just in a string of bad luck…with injuries to everyone from their Captain Gabriel Ladeskog and Eric Jonhson and losing games they need to win. Not too mention all the drama with last year’s scoring leader Ryan O’Reilly still unsigned. Initially the Avs said they were working to re-sign the forward…and than talks broke off and rumors have begun to swirl that he will either be traded or sit out for the entire season before being signed. The Avs could really use a player like O’Reilly to help them get back their scoring touch. Head Coach Joe Sacco will have to find a new approach to snap Colorado out of their skid.

The post lockout issue between the NHL and NHLPA is the ‘Re-Alignment’. Have you heard about the re-alignment? Do you even care? The details at this point are limited as it is still in the discussion process. Here are the basics: The NHL wants to realign the league to 4 conferences [instead of the current two conference and 6 division split]. The league was looking to pass the realignment last season but it fell flat when the NHLPA voted against the notion in December 2011. The two sides are in renewed talks about this proposal and the owners are expected to vote on it, if approved by them, the vote would then go to the players. If this newest proposal gets approved by all parties the realignment would go into effect next season. One of the issues with this 4 conference format was the fact that there were no clear lines regarding playoff qualification as the West would have had two 8 team conferences whereas the East would have had two 7 team conferences. We shall see what the two sides come up with should they address all the issues.

It is only the quarter mark of the season and already so many stand out moments have occurred [From Chicago’s ridiculous point streak, teams winning/losing streaks, to goalie controversies and media speculated rumors]. Streaks good and bad have begun and will continue to occur throughout the remainder of the season. Players will be injured forcing teams to respond and others will return from injury giving teams a boost. We will have to wait and see what both the conference and the league look like at the halfway mark.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Relax, It’s Only Been SIX Games

6 games in and how quick the tides have rolled in. Fickle fans seem to be already passing judgement on the Canucks season calling it a slow start. Relax. How quick people are to forget that the Canucks typically start slowly[last year they had 2-3-1 start in their first 6 games vs. 2-2-2 this year!] It has only been six games, it is hardly time to panic with 42 games left on the schedule to be played. The Canucks typically are slow out of the gate…and follow that slow beginning with a BIG second month….they usually get hot in November[aka February this year!]. There is also usually BIG game when they turn it around…..the last two seasons it has been against Colorado[the very team that they are playing TONIGHT!] when they got their groove back. Let’s hope that, that trend continues against Colorado tonight. #GoCanucksGo

FYI. In the last 17 games versus the Avalanche the Canucks have posted a 15-0-2 record dating back to 2010. Going a perfect 6-0-0 last season! Luongo gets the start following a stellar performance[despite the shootout] in LA. I have never doubted Lou’s ability since all this drama of controversy was snowballed by the media. Luongo has a 10-0-2 record against the Avalanche heading into tonight’s game. I don’t know why people are so quick to decide that Schneider should get the start because they think he’s the ‘starter’ this season…he has been extremely inconsistent thus far night in night out whereas Luongo has been very consistent…and earned the right to start tonight. In 4 games Scneids has a 3.13 GAA and Lou has a 2.21 GAA.  Coach V is going to play whichever of the two is playing best. and right now that is Lou. Schneids will get his chance to rebound and play consistently, but do not be so quick to assume that Lou will be going anywhere. With Eddie Lack out for 6 months or more, that does not give the Canucks any reliable backup or tandem options with Scheids. If the Canucks want to contend this season in the playoffs they are going to need BOTH LOU & SCHNEIDS.

Zack Kassian. Oh how quick all of us were to judge this kid last season when he came into the organization in exchange for Cody Hodgson. No one wanted to see the potential of this kid and last season it did not seem possible that he could ever compare to what CoHo brought skill level wise. This season has been a complete 180 compared to last season when he seemed out of place. Kassian began the year with the Chicago Wolves[Canucks AHL affiliate] and it was exactly that experience that brought his game to a new level. He so far has been one of the best Canucks players on the ice. He is currently on a 4 game goal scoring streak…and playing along side the Sedins. Kassian scored the shootout winning goal in the Canucks first win of the season…and has begun to win over Canucks fans and will continue to so as long he continues his consistent play. I look forward to seeing what this guy will do the rest of the season!

Is anyone else sick of seeing Chicago’s ridiculous successful start to the year [6-0-0…not including their current game against Minnesota!] If they win tonight…wouldn’t it be fun to see the Canucks ruin their streak of perfection? I personally think it would be fantastic….it would remind me of the way the Canucks snapped the Red Wings 23 game home streak last year! You know all of you Canucks fans would LOVE to see Chicago lose when they play the Canucks on Friday. Oh that would be fun to see on Friday…we shall have to wait and see.

That’s all for tonight. I’ve got a game to watch as do all of us Canucks fans! Enjoy the game tonight!! #GOCANUCKS

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Crazy Contracts

Well with this latest long-term deal that Weber is about to sign officially(whether with Philly or Nashville) it highlights even brighter that craziness that is these long term contracts. The last few years have brought about many of these long-term deals -Kovalchuk w/ New Jersey, Ehrhoff w/ Buffalo, Crosby w/ Pittsburgh, Quick w/ LA, Staal w/ Carolina, Suter & Parise w/ Minnesota & of course the potential Weber deal to name a few, all ranging from 10-14 years in length. These are becoming a frightening trend amongst big names & tend to be heavily front-loaded…Crosby, Suter, & Parise all will make upwards of $12 million next year whereas Weber will make $14 million….a hefty price tag for all teams involved. It blows my mind to think that Weber will not only be the highest paid defenseman in the league, but the highest paid player in the league period. Which when you compare these mega salaries to the Sedins who seem even more like a bargain @ $6.1 million per year. In the last 3 years, the Sedins combined have won 2 Art Ross trophies, 1 Hart trophy, & 1 Ted Lindsay trophy. It makes me appreciate them both even more every time another outrageous contract is revealed & if there ever was any doubt that they were not interested in where the most money will be offered but rather the team’s desire to win, that doubt should no longer exist. Crazy contracts seem to be the norm as there are more signed each year, & each year a new extreme reached such as with Weber. I’m sorry but $14 million for a defenseman?! Yes he’s one of the top defensemen in the league BUT that is more than ANY other player in ANY position! I think $14 million is too hefty a price tag for any player to demand from their team especially in this salary cap era. I think it an extreme for Weber to insure that he gets his way….and I’m sorry BUT $14 million still just boggles my mind!! I guess the absurdness of its length & worth will continue to shock until the next crazy contract comes to light(*pending the conditions of the new CBA when both sides finally reach an agreement).

Nuck said. Sarah E.L.

I must also mention that my prayers & thoughts go the families &friends of the victims of the Aurora,Colorado shooting. I cannot even fathom what that community & the families are facing right now, but I do know that the power of prayer is stronger than even we can realize.