February Round up

I don’t know about you but I for one am glad that February is OVER. The injury bug came calling slowly and then all at once to the Canucks as the month progressed taking nine regulars out of the lineup. The February schedule quickly became increasingly daunting with each new injury but somehow, with a mixed lineup of veterans and rookies, the Canucks found ways to not only compete but ways to win. Yes, I am aware that there was that forgettable game against Buffalo but all that proves is that you cannot take ANY opponent for granted no matter their current standings.

The odds seemed stacked against them most nights with a depleted blue line, multiple forwards missing, and one veteran goalie on the mend. Yep, I am definitely glad that February is over BUT I am also incredibly amazed by the things that DID go right despite the injury infestation.

An overall 8-6-0 record for February 2015 does not leap off the page as stellar but it certainly is much better than many expected with the Canucks checkered lineup. February brought out some of the best compete level from the Vancouver Canucks since their days before Torts. Zack Kassian re-emerged into the lineup finally playing to the potential that all Canucks fans knew he possessed, even earning playing time with the Sedins. Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins developed an instant chemistry as they solidified the Canucks so-called “4th line”. The Sedins found their play-making prowess piling up points throughout the month further proving that last season was an anomaly. Players, young and old were finding ways to contribute on a nightly basis.

Their 8 wins came against: Winnipeg, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Boston x2, Minnesota, the NY Rangers and the NY Islanders. Those eight wins were hard fought wins earned from an undeniable compete level regardless of who was in the lineup THAT night. The win against Winnipeg had an undeniable playoff atmosphere with both teams battling end to end in an overtime thriller. In the game against Pittsburgh, for the second time THIS season, the Canucks shutout the Penguins all-star roster.

Games against the Chicago Blackhawks NEVER disappoint, EVER. Yes, the roster has undergone many changes over the years but the in-game intensity always remains. A battle end to end from start to finish ending with a perfectly aligned SEDINERY overtime game winning goal.

Beating the Minnesota Wild has proven to be a difficult task of late and this season has been no different. The first two meetings ended win the favour of Minnesota. Vancouver had their work cut out for them in their final meeting of the season. The Wild kept it close but Eddie Lack stood tall to the test as the Canucks held on for a regulation win.

Two games against Boston in 11 days was most definitely NOT an easy task by any means but this team was more than ready for the challenge. In the first of two meetings, Shawn Matthias broke out with his first career hat trick on home ice. In their second meeting, this time in Boston, the Canucks had to find a way to win without Ryan Miller. The Bruins scored a quick goal but Eddie Lack shut the door the rest of the way making 40 stops while an on fire Zack Kassian scored the game winner for a regulation WIN.

Since Coach AV left Vancouver beating the New York Rangers had become an impossible task. The Canucks came back from THREE deficits in this game to earn a 5-4 shootout victory. Henrik Sedin was a man on a mission scoring twice including the game tying goal that lead to over time with just two minutes left in regulation. Every time the Canucks were down a goal or two, they never panicked, they simply kept pushing back and forcing themselves to be noticed. This game was the definition of a character win.

Speaking of New York, the Islanders are on the rise and make each game tough on their opponents.The Canucks played a complete 60 minutes despite losing Ryan Miller to injury early in the middle frame. Eddie Lack came into the game preserving the shutout with 27 saves of his own.

Yes, the final game in February against Buffalo that once again proved teams cannot overlook ANY opponent despite their respective standings. February may not have been stellar but was certainly not their worst. They had many stand out moments that very well may help them down the stretch. The Canucks will have keep that fight they found in February and bring it with them down the stretch as they continue to fight for a playoff berth.

The final countdown begins! March 2nd is the NHL trade deadline and so begins MARCH MADNESS, the NHL addition. Trades, trades and more trades will happen as teams look to find the missing puzzle piece that will lead them to playoff glory. Will your team make a trade deadline dash or will they stand pat with their current rosters? The dust will settle, moves will be made or not made and the race to the playoffs will begin!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

This Year IS NOT Last Year

From having a new head coach, another new system to learn, injuries piling up on the blueline and a tough schedule down the stretch, the comparisons to last year have NOT stopped. In case you missed it, THIS YEAR IS NOT LAST YEAR. Much like last season there are a lot of expectations for THIS team. Last season started with a lot of potential but somewhere around a mid January hallway tirade everything changed.

LAST SEASON: The Canucks were under the leadership of head coach John Tortorella and GM/President Mike Gillis.

THIS SEASON: The Canucks are under the leadership of rookie head coach Willie Desjardins, newly minted GM Jim Benning and President Trevor Linden.

LAST SEASON: After 56 games played the Canucks had amassed 63 points with a 27-20-9 record. They did NOT register their 30th win of the season until March 12th, and their 32nd did not come until March 19th.

THIS SEASON: After  56 games played the Canucks have amassed 67 points with a 32-21-3 record. They registered their 30th win of the season on February 11th, and their 32nd on February 16th.

LAST SEASON: The Sedins under Tortorella were not as predictable as everyone has come to expect over the years and BOTH missed extended periods due to injuries. Henrik amassed 50 points (11 goals, 39 assists) in 70 games played. Daniel amassed just 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 73 games played. Questions were raised if they would be able to find their way back to playing the way they did before or if their best days were behind them.

THIS SEASON: The Sedins under Desjardins have shown us that they are not done yet making many mind dazzling SEDINERY plays whether playing with Radim Vrbata or yes that ever familiar winger, Alex Burrows. Through 56 games, they have nearly matched their points totals from last year; Henrik has amassed 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) points and counting while Daniel has amassed 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists). Yes they are not quite on a point-per-game pace BUT they are beginning to resemble their steady reliable play that Canucks fans have been lucky enough to watch develop over the last 15 years.

LAST SEASON: The injury bug came in waves for Alex Burrows and limited his playing to just 49 games and 15 points(5 goals, 10 assists). The ever tenacious player was unable to gain ANY sort of rhythm between injuries and Torts never understanding his role.

THIS SEASON: Alex Burrows told Desjardins before the season even began that as long he was able to play, he did not care which line he was used on but that he would play wherever called upon. Burrows has been successful in each situation that Desjardins has used him from the first line to the fourth line, to the penalty kill to the power-play. Through 51 games Burrows has amassed 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists). Burrows is having fun again playing the game he loves while consistently contributing, a trend that he will look to continue down the stretch as the Canucks make a playoff push.

LAST SEASON: Not ONE player registered a hat trick.

THIS SEASON: Two players have registered a hat trick through 56 games. Jannik Hansen scored his first career NHL hat trick on November 23, 2014 versus the Chicago Blackhawks. Shawn Matthias scored his first career NHL hat trick on February 13, 2015 versus the Boston Bruins. Both hat tricks were scored in front of the home crowd making hats rain down on the ice of Rogers Arena.

LAST SEASON: The goalie drama of will they or won’t they trade Roberto Luongo came to an end. Luongo was eventually traded back to Florida leaving the Canucks with no veteran presence in net. Eddie Lack was forced to take on the veteran load the rest of the way. It was hardly an ideal situation but in typical Eddie Lack fashion, he was the epitome of professional all the way to the end.

THIS SEASON: Ryan Miller was brought it in as veteran presence and surprised more than a few people with his solid play in net while registering 6 shutouts through 42 starts (26-15-1). Millsy has brought in some much needed stability for the Canucks on the back end and been a pillar for Eddie Lack as they share the load this season. Lack and Miller have formed a great repertoire so far this season and hopefully they can continue to build on that down the stretch.

And yes it is true that there are  a few echoes that sound nearly identical from last season:

LAST SEASON: The injury bug followed that hallway tirade took endless casualties until the final game of the season.

THIS SEASON: The injury bug has come to the blueline once more this year, but unlike LAST season, the team IS finding ways to play as a TEAM despite the injuries. The multiple injuries to the defensive core has forced the Canucks to rely upon younger players and prospects stepping up to fill in. (Ronalds Kenins anyone?!)

#17 once again LEADS the team in goals scored.                                                       LAST SEASON: Ryan Kesler (25 goals in 77 games played).                                    THIS SEASON: Radim Vrbata (21 goals and counting in 53 games played).

LAST SEASON: Henrik Sedin played his 1000th game (March 12, 2014).                THIS SEASON: Daniel Sedin played his 1000th game (November 23, 2014).

And yes much like last year, there are many questions still remaining:

Will the Canucks find a second gear in the final 26 games? Will the Canucks have more than one 20+ goal scorer by season’s end? Will the Canucks stand pat at the trade deadline or will they be deal makers to find that last puzzle piece to help them down the stretch? Will the Canucks make the playoffs?

No, THIS year is NOT LAST year but the questions will continue to be debated as the season winds down but until all is said and done, we will not have a definitive answer. There is still a lot of hockey left to be played between now and April, but how the Canucks play between now and then is up to them. Will they make the playoffs? They certainly have the potential to do so but it won’t be an easy task as the Western Conference playoff race is a tight one and will probably go down to the wire.

The Canucks have 26 games left to prove just how far they have come from last year beginning with their 5-game Eastern Conference road trip (New York, New Jersey, Long Island, Boston and Buffalo) that will be a great challenge as they look to pick some important points.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E. L.

 

Free Agency Frenzy Ch-ch-changes

The 2014 free agency frenzy has come and gone. It was a crazy pace of signings and dollars flying by as teams JUMPED back and forth to get the big names sign the dotted line. Following their big splash at the NHL draft, many expected the Vancouver Canucks to make a big splash during free agency. I would describe it as more of a subdued affair compared to the non-stop action that the Canucks were involved in during the draft.

Rumors ran rampant in the days leading up to July 1st, that the Canucks were trying to land Ryan Miller and his veteran experience in goal to bring experience to the net. The Canucks made the rumors, fact with the announcement, July 1st that they had signed Ryan Miller to a 3-year contract.

It may surprise or anger some to see Ryan Miller come in and theoretically take the starter’s position ahead of Eddie Lack. Like the decision to bring Miller or not, the team was always going to have bring in a veteran to help stabilize the net WITH Lack. I’m NOT saying that Lack is not a capable goalie just simply that he still needs time to fully develop into that starter that we all know he will be.

Last year Lack got thrown into the lion’s den when the Luongo saga ended and he had the weight of an entire fan base thrown upon him. Lack came in last year ready to be the support role and ready to play whenever asked which is exactly what he did. He did NOT ask for the drama that unfolded when he was given consecutive starts over Luongo, nor did he ask for the fallout from the fans that came with unfair expectations after Luongo was traded to Florida.

With Ryan Miller coming in, it takes the immense pressure off of Lack and will push him to play his best every time he’s in the net. Yes, it is true that he may not play as many games as last season but what is the use of guessing the number games? No matter how many games Lack and Miller each play at the end of the day does not matter, all that does matter is which ever goalie is in the net on any given game night will give the team a chance to win.

MILLER3Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan! We’re happy to have you! Here’s to the next great Canucks goalie bromance with you & Eddie!

To you, Vancouver, I have a FEW words of caution. We had Luongo until this city drove him to demand a trade. Luongo was NEVER given the respect that he deserved during his tenure and often shouldered the blame even when it was not his to own. It is now our chance to once again watch not one, but two talented goalies in net that BOTH deserve respect. So..how about THIS year we start off on the right note by RESPECTING BOTH of our goalies ALL year round? Does that not sound like a refreshing concept?

Radim Vrbata became the Canucks second acquisition through the free agency pool as they looked to help fill the scoring hole left by Ryan Kesler, signing Vrbata to a 2-year contract. Vrbata brings with him power play prowess and some shoot out skills, both of which will be greatly appreciated on the roster. It is a well known fact that the shoot outs have never been the Canucks strong suit and that one of their biggest struggles last year (at least in the second half) was their power play. Having spent the last 5 years playing in the desert (Phoenix), it will be a change for him to play in a hockey crazed Canadian market.

Welcome to the Vancouver Canucks, Radim! I’m looking forward to you helping the Sedins and seeing you use some of those patented shoot out moves in my least favourite hockey tie breaker!

With the additions of Miller and Vrbata to the Canucks, Benning announced that the roster movements were completed for now. First came free agency frenzy, next comes re-signing our restricted free agents. The Canucks are looking to re-sign the following RFA’s: Zack Kassian, Yannick Weber, Chris Tanev and the newly acquired Linden Vey. UPDATE: You can cross re-signing Zack Kassian and Yannick Weber off the list as they are officially INKED to new contracts with the Canucks as of July 4th. The Canucks are hoping to lock down Tanev and Vey in the upcoming days/weeks.

The ch-ch-changes have arrived in the the form of the NHL draft, trades, free agency, and the re-signing RFAs. There may be more changes to come, but for the time being the waters of change have calmed.

Next up for the Canucks brass: The Canucks 2014 Prospect Camp where they will get a closer look at the young core of depth within the organization. The likes of Dane Fox, Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Cole Cassels will be partaking in the camp hoping to make an impression and perhaps lead to a training camp invitation.

The waters of free agency have calmed…but I suspect that there will be MORE changes to come from teams that are currently over the salary cap maximum or below the salary cap minimum. Here’s to enjoying the calm while it lasts and being prepared for any changes that may be around the corner.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

2013-2014 Season Debrief

It has been a few weeks since my last post but I’m back with a glimpse of what this last year held for the Vancouver Canucks. The 2013-2014 season is now wrapped for the Canucks and it featured a little of bit of everything from the good

to the bad. It will be an off-season full of questions, answers, changes and preparations for the new season around the corner. Today, we will debrief by taking a closer look at the bad and the good that made up the Canucks 2013-2014 season.

First let’s look at the not so good and follow it up with all of the good that did happen despite the final outcome.

The BAD:

November saw inconsistency that was not solved until December only to be broken apart by January with an unnatural influx of injuries.

The Canucks iron man, Henrik Sedin was injured not once BUT twice which delayed his 1000th game from being played prior to the Olympics in early February to March 12th vs Winnipeg. Have I mentioned that out of the probable injuries….NO ONE expected Henrik to be on that miss extended time list once let alone twice.

Andrew Alberts suffered a concussion late December in a game vs. Calgary where he was hit from behind into the boards. He never returned to the lineup and as of the end of the season was still suffering concussion symptoms. The league NEVER reviewed the hit or awarded any discipline for the hit that sideline Alberts for the season and the foreseeable future.

Mike Santorelli suffered a season ending should injury that took him out of the line up in January ending his Cinderella heroics for the home team.

Daniel Sedin was sidelined due to injuries more than once this year which only added to the team’s scoring woes in the second half of the year.

Alex Burrows suffered from multiple injuries(a broken foot, broken jaw, the list goes on!) that were only added to the frustration of not scoring goals.

Torts stormed the Calgary Flames dressing room following a first period brawl between the two teams. While I loved his intent to defend his players, he should not have gone anywhere near the visitor’s dressing room. The result was Torts being suspended for 6 games.

Zack Kassian struggled early in the year which was not helped by an 8-game suspension.

The Canucks lost the Heritage Classic. As a result of the controversial choice to start Eddie Lack over the Canucks franchise leading goalie Roberto Luongo were forced to hear the fans chant WE WANT LU! for a good 2-3 solid minutes midway through the game.

Following yet another season where things started off well but evolved to Luongo being relegated to the role of back up….finally saw the Canucks make the deal that could never be made. March 4, 2014 Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers. Best of luck in Florida LU!

The panic that ensued on social media when a VANCOUVER reporter sent out a tweet that the Canucks had traded Ryan Kesler….(which thank goodness was shortly proven as false!)

Missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Following a disappointing year, Mike Gillis was relieved of both his General Manager and President duties. (Gillis worked with the Canucks since the end of the 2007-2008 season & NOT everything he did was terrible.)

In their final game of the season on home ice Daniel Sedin was hit from behind into the end boards by the Calgary Flames forward Paul Byron. Daniel Sedin collapsed, laid very still and was unable get up off the ice…cuing medical trainers and paramedics to bring a stretcher. Daniel was taken off the ice on a stretcher and straight to the hospital. Byron received a 5 minute penalty on the play which was deemed as ENOUGH discipline by the league. A very scary moment for Daniel, the team, and the fans and while it was later revealed that he would be okay…I’m sorry BUT ANY hit that SENDS A PLAYER off the ice on a stretcher and to the hospital SHOULD deem more than a quick review with NO supplemental discipline. Perhaps if it had been Crosby or Toews that had been taken off the ice on a stretcher, the league would have taken the incident more seriously. The NAME of a player and the LOGO of the team they play for SHOULD NOT matter when it comes to moments like that one…EVERY player should be held accountable. (*I apologize for the mild rant…but that HIT & its zero concern by the NHL really severely bothered me…)

The GOOD:

The Canucks had their best October in years including a 7-game road trip that saw them post a 5-1-1 record.

The announcement of the the Sedins re-signing with the Canucks for 4 more years. SO GLAD that the Sedins will be back in blue and green for four more years! No one set of brothers has quite displayed their quiet yet commanding professionalism both on and off the ice.

Pavel Bure’s #10 was FINALLY lifted to the rafters as his jersey was officially retired by the Vancouver Canucks on November 2, 2013. The team also beat the Maple Leafs 4-0 on home ice on the banner night, making the evening a WIN-WIN.

BC born and raised Mike Santorelli became an unexpected hero for the home fans as he seemed to always find a way to make the play that made a difference. Santo showed versatility by being useful no matter where he played in the line up and scoring many a clutch goal. Santo was on a roll as the NHL’s best steal prior to his injury with his low cap hit & absolute limitless work ethic.

December was a month when the team could do almost no wrong. They picked up points in all but one game. My FAVOURITE moment during December was the game versus the Bruins…the team was absolutely determined and took over the game after a timely time out by Torts early in the game.

Daniel Sedin and Alex Edler brought home silver medals from the Sochi 2014 Olympic games. Dan Hamhuis and Roberto Luongo brought home gold medals from the Sochi 2014 Olympic games.

The Canucks participated in their very first outdoor game experience when they hosted the Ottawa Senators at BC Place as part of the Stadium Series in the 2014 Tim Horton’s Heritage Classic.

Henrik Sedin played in his 1000th game both of his career and in a Canuck uniform. (March 12, 2014)

The 2014 Canucks for Kids Fund Telethon held on March 19th, raised over $500,000 to help kids in BC!

Shawn Matthias was acquired in the Roberto Luongo deal with the Florida Panthers. He showed some amazing skill and potential in the final stretch. He will be one to watch if he stays with the team next season!

Alex Burrows may not have found the back of the net as much as he would have liked (he did eventually break through with a few beauties!) but his game still had a lot of positives…he was purposeful in most areas of the ice and a large part of the team’s first half amazing PK unit!

Ryan Kesler score 20+ goals for the 6th time in his career.

Ryan Kesler setting the record straight that he didn’t ask for a trade and that he hopes to stay with the Canucks for the entirety of this career.

Zack Kassian became a beast hitting his groove in final part of the season despite the final outcome. He will be fun to watch next season!

Following the news of Mike Gillis being let go, the rumor mills were spinning that Trevor Linden was returning to the Canucks. Rumor became FACT on April 9, 2014. Trevor Linden returned to the team that drafted him and where he played 16 of 19 seasons when the Canucks named him, the new President of Hockey Operations.

The Canucks are not partaking in the post season but hey there is a silver lining in getting a top 10 draft pick! The Canucks will draft 6th overall in the 2014 NHL draft in June.

In CONCLUSION: So ends the tale that was the 2013-2014 Vancouver Canucks season. Yes, it was not perfect in any way shape or form and yes the end was disappointing but there is plenty to be excited about for the team’s future despite what most of the local media might say. The Canucks prospect pool with the likes of Frankie Corrado, Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, Dane Fox, etc. is a very exciting group of players nearly ready to make their mark on the NHL.

The first half of the season expectations were very high and then came the injury brigade that took the team by storm. I cannot recall ANY season where a team was so overtaken by injuries throughout the year…it felt absolutely absurd at times. Sure nearly everything that could go wrong did and everyday felt like there was yet another injury or incident that affected the roster…but sometimes that is just how it goes. There will be bad seasons for every team just like every team will have great seasons, but not one season will ever be exactly the same.

Every season is an 82-game journey full of ups and downs, twists and bends…and sometimes if you’re lucky that journey extends into the post season but if it does not extend that does not change the thrill of the journey…it may be disappointing but it does not change my loyalty.

I would have loved to see my Canucks in the madness that is 2014 playoffs but I understand why that did not happen and I know that there is work to be done before the puck drops on the 2014-2015 season. Still even so I am optimistic for the off-season and upcoming season and mark my words they will make the post-season next year! (I know not everyone will agree that statement…but hey that’s okay, we don’t have to always agree. Let’s wait and see what happens come next April!)

OH and ONE LAST note before moving on…Eddie Lack never asked for the cards he was dealt. He never came in with the intent to steal Luongo’s spot and send him packing. Roberto Luongo was and is a player that Lack idolizes and was an incredible example of what being a professional both on and off the ice should look like. Goalies never get the credit or the respect they deserve in the NHL, particularly from the fans…especially when a season does not go according to plan. Vancouver fans have been very hard on their goalies…LOVING them when all goes well and absolutely tearing them down when things are wrong. Let me remind you, that while goalies will steal games for their teams…they do need a little help in the scoring department to win games as well. Lack had the weight of an entire city thrust upon his shoulders when Luongo was traded. It could not have been easy to see his mentor leave and suddenly all the pressure was on him. I remind that you LU advised us(the city) to take care of Eddie during his tenure! He deserves a chance to prove himself and wouldn’t it be something to see this city show their support for their goalie from the very beginning? Eddie Lack is a star in the making and will make his mark yet on this team…all we need to do moving forward is support him and allow him the chance.

Looking ahead there will be questions that will need addressing during the off-season and come October.

QUESTIONS:

Who will be the Canucks select with their 6th overall draft pick? Draisaitl? Ehlers? Nylander? Virtanen? Ritchie?

Will the team be able find a way to come together as a cohesive unit for the 2014-2015 season?

Will Torts return as coach for a second season or will he be let go as the team brings in a new voice? (Honestly I don’t quite think it fair to judge Torts one year where nearly everything that could go wrong did….I’d like to see him have a second chance to prove what he can do when he has a nearly 100% healthy roster!)

Will Trevor Linden be able to find a way to bring the team together with the right combination of current players, new players, coaching staff? Can he complete the puzzle?

Who will be named as the Canucks new General Manager? (Lots of names being thrown around from current assistant GM Gilman, to Benning to former players. Linden said there WILL be a GM in place prior to the draft at the end of June.)

What moves will be made in the 2014 off-season that will impact the team in the new season?

What will the final roster look like at the start of the 2014-2015 NHL season?

The above questions are merely just a few of MANY questions that I have seen and heard since the season came to a close. It will be a long off-season for the team, but it will also be an opportunity for them to comeback EVEN stronger and MORE determined come September. None of them were happy with the ending and all of them expressed a desire to come back and prove that sentiment when they return for the new season.

Are you ready for a wild ride Canuck nation? It is not going to be a quiet summer by any means as the team looks to find the missing piece(s) of the puzzle prior to the puck drop on the 2014-2015 season..

In the mean time are you all enjoying the madness that has been the 2014 NHL playoffs so far?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Roberto Luongo Deserves Better (Part TWO)

In the summer of 2012 I was forced to confront the idea that my favourite Canuck, Roberto Luongo would be traded as all of the drama with Schneider had evolved and it led to this writing this post that August:

https://nucksaid.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/roberto-deserves-better-from-you-vancouver-you-should-give-him-the-respect-hes-earned/

Today I am forced to confront the reality that Roberto Luongo has indeed been traded and being led to write yet another post about the respect that he deserved and still deserves.

THANK-YOU LU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK-YOU LU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The writing has been on the wall but that does not mean I am not sad about the outcome. My heart slightly broke when the news was revealed but I am glad for Luongo that he gets a fresh start. Vancouver did not appreciate what they had in Luongo or respect him particularly well in the last three years. From many of the fans to the local media, it somehow became lost just how much Luongo has done for the Canucks franchise and somewhere along the way this city decided that they no longer supported LU.

How could everyone forget what Luongo did for this team? Shall I remind you? 6 division championships(6 playoff berths), 2 President trophies, 1 Western Conference Championship, 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance (all the way to game 7!), oh and did I mention his 2 Olympic GOLD medals?! In 439 regular season games with the Canucks Luongo posted a 252-137-50 record while posting 38 shut outs. He is the franchise leading goal-tender in wins and shutouts and will go down in history as one of the BEST Canucks players of all time.

No matter what the media would write or dictate the fans to think, Roberto always found a way to put his best game on the ice. When he was winning this city loved him and erupted in endless LUUUUUU cheers…but if he lost or let in a bad goal the love turned to taunting and saying things like he was not dependable. His ability to win big games came into question until the 2010 Olympics came calling in his very own Canuck rink. Think back to overtime in the gold medal game…LU makes a big save, Sid scores the BIGGEST goal of the tournament and the LU and Crosby cheers that erupted in the arena were deafening.

CROSBY SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!! CANADA WINS GOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CROSBY SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!! CANADA WINS GOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The season that followed the gold medal season…the 2010-2011 season was magical and nearly perfection with the exception of the final game of the Stanley Cup final. It was the most thrilling ride that any Canucks team has taken the city on since the spring of 1994 and Roberto Luongo was at the center of it all. It was incredible to watch as it happened…but in the aftermath of game 7,  all eyes of the media placed the blame not so much on the team as a whole but on one individual…Luongo took it all. Hate to break to everyone but as much as you need saves from your goalie which they did get…you also need goals from the team in front of you which they did not get in that last game.

It was not the perfect storybook ending that we had all hoped for…but it was an incredible run. The following season Luongo and the team repeated as President Trophy winners BUT instead of an incredible run were met with an upset from the LA Kings in the first round. It was the end of that series when the team chose to start Cory Schneider for the final three games that the writing seemed to be on the wall that the end was not only near but was here for Luongo. The hints had started to come earlier than the playoffs when the crowd jeered Luongo more than once at home in favour of Schneider.

The summer began with Luongo being willing to waive his no-trade-clause and Schneider being re-signed to a 3-year contract. It seemed very clear the direction that was going to be taken…and then the 2012 lockout happened putting everything on hold. No one knew if there would even be a season. The powers that be between the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to an agreement that saw a shortened 48-game regular season begin in late January 2013. The season started with the rotation of Schneider and Luongo and AV’s infamous coin…but eventually it became the Schneider team and Luongo seemed once again to be on his way out. The trade deadline came and went…the season once again ended with an early exit and no change had come.

Luongo expected that he would not be returning to the Canucks and a trade seemed inevitable with Scheider in prime position again. The draft came and a trade finally happened…but it was not Luongo that was traded…Schneider was sent to the New Jersey Devils. The end of the saga seemed to have arrived. Fast forward to this season…Lack signed on to backup Luongo. Both goalies had some great moments…and all seemed fine…until Luongo was injured not once but twice and Lack was put in the spotlight. That spotlight around Lack started to get bigger (not of his own choosing) and Luongo unbeknownst to himself was slowly being forced back into the corner he previously shared with Schneider.

That corner became ever more evident when it was revealed that Lack would be starting in the Heritage Classic game over the franchise goalie Luongo. Fans while they support Lack, were disappointed in the mistreatment of Luongo who more than deserved to play in that game. I love Eddie Lack and his playing style and he has been the absolute epitome of support and class to the team, fans and Luongo. He did not ask for the game…all he did was play when told and was forced to face the fans first dislike of him in the net…during the Heritage Classic as the entire arena chanted WE WANT LU. That was the end of the line. Fast forward to two days later and the trade that everyone had expected for nearly three years finally happened. Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom & forward Shawn Matthias.

Yes it was a trade that we all expected to happen at some point but that does not mean it does not make me sad. It is the end of an era. Luongo did a lot  of good for this franchise but was never properly appreciated by this city or the fans. Luongo deserved better and I hope that in Florida, he gets the respect that he has always deserved. All the good things he did, seemed to have been forgotten by many in all the drama that unfolded in the last few years. Roberto Luongo deserved better in Vancouver and he definitely still deserves better from this city. He has more than earned the respect of his peers and fans for everything he did for the Canucks franchise. All I can say is thank-you, to Roberto Luongo for an incredible 8 seasons and being the epitome of class through the good times and the bad. Thank-you also for helping me love this crazy game called hockey even more than I already did. I will still cheer LUUUUUUUU every single time Florida plays and #1 is between the pipes. You will be missed in Vancouver, but you deserve a fresh start. All the best to #1 as he begins a new chapter with the Panthers.

THANK-YOU LU for 8 amazing years and giving this city 8 years of incredible memories.  #LUUUUUUUUUUUU

THANK-YOU LU for 8 amazing years and giving this city 8 seasons of incredible memories. #LUUUUUUUUUUUU

Here’s a few tributes to my favourite former Canuck:

I will also miss Lu’s hilarious sense of humour:

One last note. In his leave, Luongo advised to Vancouver to take care of Eddie Lack and I hope that this city actually listens. Lack like Luongo, deserves respect. Lack had the utmost respect for Luongo. It has not been an easy few days for Eddie as he never expected this moment and it must have been one heck of a shock to see his mentor sent to Florida. The weight of an entire city is now on Lack’s shoulders…that is an insane amount of pressure in his rookie season. I suggest, that we take Luongo’s advice from the very beginning of Eddie’s tenure by supporting our goalie in way that this city never has before. It sounds like a refreshing approach no?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

7TH Heaven

The Vancouver Canucks have now won 7 straight games. Hard to believe that just last month they couldn’t string together two wins in a row isn’t it? Let alone to think that since their loss to Chicago (Nov.23), the team has posted an impressive 8-1-1 record.

In their last 7 games, the Canucks have won road games and home games, posted back to back shutouts (1 by EACH goalie) and outscored their opponents 24-8. Let that sink in…the fact they have outscored their opponents by a 3-1 margin and only allowed 8 goals against during this 7-game stretch is impressive. Remember that power-play that everyone has complained about all year long…well don’t look now BUT in their last 15 games the Canucks have scored 12 power-play goals (yes you read that right…12!).

Here is the goal from Mr. Beast Mode himself Ryan Kesler that began the 7-game win streak:

Who would step to help the lead team to victory for their 2nd straight victory & 3rd in 4 games? Ryan Kesler steps up again with another 2-goal performance:

The trip finished with 3/4 victories and momentum that the team was determined to translate on home ice. After a disappointing result from their last home stand where they finished 1-2-3 in 6 games, the team made sure that this one had different results picking up 10/10 points in 5 games. That’s a pretty impressive feat considering that this latest home stand featured not ONE back to back games in back to back nights situation, but TWO. The second of those back to back scenarios included closing out the home stand with a game with the pesky Boston Bruins.

Who would be the team’s first challenge be in the 5-game saga? The Phoenix Coyotes presented a challenge for a team that was looking to take 2 points from a division rival. The home team looked great as they jumped out to a 2-goal lead that they carried into the 3rd period….BUT again the lead did not last as Phoenix came back to the tie the game forcing extra time. Over time at home had not been kind to the Canucks on their last home stand and they were determined to start this one off on a different tone.

Cue one very determined Chris Higgins with the OT winner as every Canuck fan breathed a sigh of relief.

Next up on the docket was the ever challenging Colorado Avalanche. Say what you will about Patrick Roy but the guy has succeeded at every level of the game he has played and coached at. The Avalanche brought a great challenge for the Canucks with their young talented core.

The Canucks would need someone to step up and step up Mike SANTA Santorelli did scoring TWICE and setting up Kesler’s game winning goal to help lead the team to a 3-1 victory.

Was it disappointing that the team gave up a goal to the Avs with 7.1 seconds left to ruin Luongo’s shutout bid or perhaps like many you believe John Garrett is too blame for saying the “S” word ON AIR before the final buzzer? Sure the shutout would have been nice, BUT despite those last 7 seconds, the team played a heck of a game to win their 4th straight game and earning an important 2 points.

Speaking of shutouts…Sweet Carolina came calling just one week after their previous tilt with the Canucks. The Hurricanes had been playing some great hockey leading up to their re-match with the Canucks. Eddie Lack made his home debut in front of a home crowd and dazzled them with his maturity in the game.

Chris Tanev scored the opening goal in this one as the Canucks did something in this game that they had not been able to do in previous games…maintain a 1-goal lead.

The team worked in hard in this one as they made sure as the clock was winding down to not let this one slip away, Jannik Hansen scored an empty net goal to seal this victory. Congratulations Eddie Lack, on posting your first career NHL shutout!

The Canucks had 3 days following the Carolina game before they would close out their 5-game home stand with 2 very different but equally important to the standings games against Edmonton and Boston.

How would Luongo respond after Lack’s shutout you ask? Why by posting his very own shutout of course. The entire team was solid from the first puck drop to the final puck drop. The team out shot the Oilers 40-19 and every line contributed a goal.

The game winning goal from a very nice #sedinery play on that suddenly revived power play:

Luongo has been solid all season long and after that debacle closing out the Colorado game, it was the nice that the team closed this game out for him. This was a game that the Canucks could have lost focus as they had a much bigger opponent coming in the next day BUT they never lost focus in this one.

The Vancouver Canucks closed out their home stand with a game against the Boston Bruins. It was just another game…OR so they said leading up to this game. It was not just any other game. The home crowd was the most electric and loudest they have been all season long, and very vocal in their dislike of the away team.

It was the just the second time the Canucks have met the Bruins since June 2011. Sure the rosters have changed slightly since that heated playoff battle, BUT the rivalry definitely still there.

Luongo faced the Bruins for the first time since the heartbreak of game 7. He was looking to help the team continue their winning ways, steal two points and end the Bruins win streak.

The Canucks opened the scoring on a Jannik Hansen goal from centre ice that took Rask by surprise and it was a lead they would take to the first intermission. Did I mention that Kesler and Jarome Iginla threw the gloves to help set the tone in this pesky affair? the The Bruins came out in the middle frame with determination to come back in this game…and come back they did as they controlled the first 5 minutes of play in the 2nd to tie the game.

Not exactly what the Canucks or Torts particularly wanted to do…once a team gives Boston momentum, they will always run away with it UNLESS you take it back. Did I mention Torts was NOT happy with the Canucks giving the momentum to Boston albeit briefly? Torts immediately called a timeout (something AV almost NEVER did)…and made it very clear to the team they needed to be better.

How did the team respond to the rant? David Booth..yes BOOTH put the home team up 2-1 just 1:30 after the TORTS pep talk. Not to be out done, the line of Kes & SANTO set up Higgins for a goal to put the team ahead 3-1 before the end of the 2nd period.

The third period would be interesting to see how the Canucks would carry themselves. The Bruins kept pushing BUT Luongo kept saying NO. Luongo made key saves and allowed the Canucks to keep momentum on their side which was aided by 3 more Canuck goals(yes 3 more goals!) to seal this game to the delight of the home fans. Two of their last three goals were special teams goals(1 power play, & 1 short-handed). The Bruins did get a second goal as they peppered Luongo with 41 shots on the night BUT the Canucks goal keeper was solid making 39 saves on the night.

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Boston Bruins on this night and won their 7th straight game. Let that sink in…that is their longest win streak in 2 years. The Canucks are winning not just because Luongo has been incredibly solid(he’s been consistent all year long) but because the team is playing well as a TEAM from top to bottom as of late.

With an 8-1-1 record in their last 10 games. the team will be looking to build upon their recent success on the road. They have a tough 3-game road trip coming with stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Dallas that will be another great test for this team. It’s been a great month to watch the Canucks and I look forward to seeing how they close out 2013.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Game 3 Recap: Canucks vs. Flames

Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

Game 3 Recap: Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game 3 at a glance

Game 3 at a glance

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

As always, until next time nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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