Quick Turnaround

From panic following the first loss of the year to MASS celebration over the first win.

Mind you, I know more than a few people panicked following Edmonton’s quick start on the scoreboard after which they were given a power play. Turns out there was no reason to panic as the Canucks were quick to respond by scoring short-handed to tie the game at one. By the end of 40 minutes the team had established a 5-1 lead and would go on to win the game 6-2.

The Canucks did a lot of good things in this game. Positives from Game 2:

  • Canucks put 44 shots on net [All Canucks registered a shot on net except Weber]…whereas after game 1 everyone was asking why they didn’t shoot the puck more.
  • A fiery Ryan Kesler accounted for 9 shots and a fight.
  • Luongo played solid with 21 saves.
  • 6 different Canucks scored goals [Richardson, Hamhuis, Hansen, Daniel Sedin, Kesler, and Garrison].
  • Special teams were once again in top form: accounting for 2 short-handed goals and a power-play goal.
  • 2 goals were scored 18 seconds apart.
  • The Sedins combined for some #sedinery racking up 5 points.
  • Torts once again establishes he doesn’t care what others say but rather the effort the team puts on the ice.
  • The win came in front of the home crowd.

Long story short, the team played one of the best games I have seen them play in nearly 2 years. Aside from the early goal by Edmonton, Vancouver was in control of this game. That being said, it was one game and one game does not make a season. We will take the win and move on to the next one.

There is little time to savor the victory as the team is back at it again in Calgary tonight. The focus shifts to Game 3 and looking to gain their first road win. Back to back games always represent a challenge. They will need to play with the same tenacity that won them Game 2 but also stay disciplined as special teams are always a factor in every game. Best of luck tonight Canucks!

Will you be watching tonight? Puck drop is at 5:00 PM [pacific time] on Sportsnet.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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Preseason Dramatics

Just when everyone thought the preseason was boring…the players decided to make this a very interesting one. There is still a week before the NHL season officially opens YET as the preseason has progressed, we have already seen a ridiculous amount of drama.

Dramatic Incidents & the suspensions handed out through September 23rd:

Sept.15th. LA Kings vs. Phoenix Coyotes.

Incident: LA rookie Jordan Nolan hit Phoenix defenceman Rostislav Klesla with an open ice hit which resulted in Klesla being knocked unconscious. Klesla was taken off the ice on a stretcher and taken to hospital.

Result: Jordan Nolan was assessed 4 minutes of penalties immediately following the hit. As soon as he returned to the ice he was a target of all the Coyotes. Bissonnette left the bench in order to fight Nolan resulting in an automatic 10-game suspension. He will be eligible to return to the Coyotes lineup October 24th. As a result of his fight with Bissonnette, Nolan was given a 2-minute minor for embellishment and a 10-minute misconduct. Even though Nolan’s hit on Klesla resulted in a dangerous injury, according to Shannahan he did not break any NHL rules and would not be suspended. Best of luck to Klesla as he recovers!

September 21st Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers

Incident: Dale Weise guilty as charged with making an illegal check to the head of Taylor Hall. Hall was not injured on the play BUT it is an extremely dangerous play to make in ANY game. An collision between Zack Kassian and Sam Gagner resulted in an accidental high stick to the face of Gagner. Not only did it result in the loss of a few teeth but also a broken jaw. I do not think Kassian had any intention to hurt Gagner but that doesn’t change the fact that it resulted in an injury. Best of luck to Gagner on a speedy recovery!(I may not be a fan of the Oilers, but you never want to see a player injured.)

Result: Dale Weise suspended the remainder of the preseason. Zack Kassian received a 4-minute double minor penalty on the play and suspended the remainder of the preseason and the first 5 games of the regular season. They will serve their respective suspensions and move on.

September 22nd Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Buffalo Sabres

Incident: Where to begin with the melee that ensued in this game?! A fight broke out between Toronto’s Jamie Devane and Buffalo’s Corey Tropp broke out that was quickly followed the incident between Buffalo’s John Scott and Toronto’s Phil Kessel. Rather than fight with Scott, Kessel took two chops at Scott with his stick and soon there was an all out brawl between the two teams. Even the goalies joined in the punching.

Result: David Clarkson was handed the automatic 10-game suspension for leaving the team bench on an illegal line change and joining the on-ice brawl. Kessel received a 3 game suspension through the rest of the preseason, and will eligible to play again opening night. Buffalo’s head coach Ron Rolston was fined for player selection and team conduct as result of the events that transpired in the third period. A total of 211 penalty minutes were divided between all the players involved.

I reiterate that it is PRESEASON and seems ridiculous to have had so many incidents take place BEFORE the regular season begins. That being said, the incidents have taken place and the punishments have been given whether fans agree with the decisions made by the league or vehemently disagree with the decisions that were made. It is safe to say that once again the NHL will once again be consistently inconsistent with suspensions handed out. It is also safe to say that whatever decisions are made throughout the year that not everyone will agree when suspensions are handed out. There will always be those who ask for harsher punishment and those who think the punishment given was too harsh. At the end of the day, whether we as fans agree with the decisions made doesn’t matter, what matters is how each team responds to that decision.

There are still a few days of preseason left, and with the way this preseason is going, anything could happen between now and next week’s regular season puck drop! We will have to wait see how these incidents affect these teams when they meet again in the regular season.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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.

From panic to cheer & Henrik nears record

Remember how I told you all to relax after all that ridiculous early panic after the first games? The Canucks went 2-2-2- in their first games and have now improved to 7-2-2 in 11 games following a 5 game win streak! Solid goal-tending was responsible for the first three wins of that streak and finally balanced offense won the most recent two games. In the last five games the Canucks have out scored their opponents 20-5! Both Luongo and Schneider have been incredibly solid in the last 5 games. Not too mention the rest of the team has finally found their offensive stride.

Games 9,10 and 11 were all about finding balance. Game nine saw the Canucks begin a road trip last week facing Edmonton’s young guns. The game began with Edmonton all over the Canucks for the first half of the game. The Oilers had gained a 2-0 lead with a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal! It looked like Edmonton had the game under control…[much like the Canucks when they had the 2-0 lead back in the game January 20th]. The Canucks found their legs midway through the second period with a goal by Jannik Hansen. It looked like Edmonton had control of the game and that they would be skating away with the two points. The game was winding down with less than three minutes on the clock before a Kevin Bieksa goal beat Devan Dubnyk. We had a tied game with time winding down. Cue overtime.  Chances go back and forth. Taylor Hall on a breakaway was taken down by Daniel Sedin[yes Daniel Sedin] leading the refs to call reward Hall with a penalty shot….which if it went in, meant the game would be over. Taylor Hall went in all alone and was stopped by LUONGO with just under two minutes to go into the overtime period. Time on the clock was winding down….inching closer and closer towards what would have been their 5th shootout in 9 games. Ridiculous. Cue some #sedinery no look passes followed by a perfect tape to tape pass to Chris Tanev who made no mistake in scoring his first NHL goal. Did I mention that there was only 20 sconds left? Needless to say he will not soon be forgetting that goal. Has it really been nearly 70 games since he made his debut? It may have been his first NHL goal [finally!] but the guy has been extremely solid defensively in all his games before this one. Canucks did not have the start that they wanted but they did get the two points that they came for.

Game 10 saw the Canucks face off against the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks were up against the newly acquired Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Expectations were risen to a whole new level in Minnesota with their big contract players arrival. Both teams have high expectations from their fans this year. Landing the free agency sweepstakes and having so-called goal-tending controversy will do that to you. Needless to say there were endless headlines heading into this game. Parise and Suter were suited up and Cory Schneider was between the pipes. The Canucks were much better prepared for this game. They wasted no time in getting on the scored board, by the end of the second period they had a 4-0 lead! The Wild would eventually get one goal, but that is where their offense ended. The Canucks went on to win this one 4-1 and the Wild were left wondering where their offense went as they dropped yet another game. Rumor has that the Minnesota Wild could be looking to replace their head coach following a disappointing finish last year and start to this season.

Game 11 would bring the Canucks back home to face another division rival, the Calgary Flames. Like any other Canuck fan, I love watching the team in blue beat the Flames[and yes I know its the reverse for fans of the Flames]. Calgary was looking to build on their 2 game win streak. Cory Schneider was again given the nod[see! I told you that he would get some starts..relax….we have 2 great goalies…let’s enjoy it while it lasts!]. The first period was pretty even and many times it looked like the Canucks would get on the scoreboard early, but they did not. It was the Flames who got a buzzer beater to take a 1-0 lead into the second period. Not exactly what the Canucks were looking to do. If the Canucks wanted to turn the tide, they would need some serious #sedinery and that is exactly what happened. The #triplets[Sedins & Burrows] got the game all squared at 1 and just 27 seconds later on the powerplay, rookie Jordan Schroeder scored his 1st NHL goal to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. The offense did not end there…the Canucks would add 3 more goals including Jordan Schroeder’s second NHL goal!! The Canucks were sloppy in the opening 20 minutes of this game but came out all cylinders on fire in the final 40 minutes to skate away with a 5-1 victory. It was their 5th WIN in a row which improves the Canucks to 7-2-2 over 11 games.

Have you heard? Ryan Kesler and David Booth have officially returned to practiced. Kesler even traveled with the team on their mini road trip to Edmonton and Minnesota. Next up is a home game the Minnesota Wild tomorrow at 7PM where the Canucks look to extend their win streak to 6 games. Luongo won the coin toss and will start in tomorrow’s game. [Has anyone seen this coin of Vigneault’s?] The Canucks will have to be prepared as Minnesota will not make it easy on them to take the two points as both are fighting for playoff positioning.

Rumor has it that #17 could be back in the line up as soon as this weekend. What better game for him to return to than in his home state of Michigan when the Canucks take on the Detroit Red Wings? He always plays some of his best hockey at the Joe.  #fingerscrossed

In other news headlines, Canucks Captain Henrik Sedin is on the brink of setting franchise history. Henrik sits just one point behind former Captain Markus Naslund with 755 points[Nazzy scored 756 points in his 12 years as a Canuck] . Tomorrow night he will have a chance to tie and to surpass the record. The question is not if he can tie the record, it is merely when will he tie and surpass the record? Henrik will tie the record and possibly surpass it tomorrow becoming to the franchise leader in points scored for the Canucks. From #Sedinery to #recordbreaker #GoodLuckHank

We shall see what tomorrow brings at puck drop. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Buffalo responsible for BIG offer on the table + CBA meetings resume today + Edmonton in for the long HALL

Rumor has it that it was the BUFFALO SABRES who offered Shane Doan that 4-year $30 million deal but the question remains…if it’s money he’s after why has he not signed on the dotted line? Perhaps it is not the money he is after or maybe it’s as simple as he does not wish to go to Buffalo. His first choice remains returning to the Coyotes unless they cannot assure that the franchise stays in Phoenix. We all kno w that Buffalo is not one to afraid to spend the big bucks…Ville Leino & Christian Ehrhoff[remember that contract that will see him having earned nearly $18 million by the end of next year!] last season and now with the hopes of landing Doan they are at it again. It would appear that while Buffalo has made this lofty offer…there is still no clear answer from Doan aside from he wishes to remain in Phoenix if possible. Once again, only time will tell.

CBA meetings were set to resume yesterday in Toronto between the NHL and the NHLPA following a somewhat shocking development…meetings were canceled for the afternoon yesterday and rescheduled to resume today[Thursday]. It is unclear as to why the meeting was canceled but the move follows a separate meeting the NHL & NHLPA executives[Bettman & Daly vs. Donald Fehr & his brother] had yesterday morning. The canceling and rescheduling of the meetings suggest that both sides have much to consider during this ‘make or break’ session as the ever near deadline looms. Some think this is the CBA session that will determine the future of the pending upcoming season…but no one can really know until the Sept.15th deadline comes & goes. Yesterday also marked some NHL executives, NHL GM’s and NHL players meeting to discuss officiating standards and new rules. Can we just hear the news we are all waiting to here instead of gossip about the latest meeting?! Hopefully some positive steps are taken by both sides to shorten the gap that separates them & moves them towards starting the season on time…wouldn’t that be nice instead of all the negatives?

In other news the Edmonton Oilers shall indeed continue to be ‘taylor-made’ as they announced signing Taylor Hall to a 7-year contract extension worth $42 million [an annual cap hit of $6 million…that is some precedent that the Oilers have set with signing one of their young core!]. With this contract the Oilers have insured that Hall remains with them through the prime of his career [w/ one year left on his current contract..and the 7 that will follow, he will 28 by the end of the contract] making him an integral part of their franchise. One would think that the Eberle extension of near identical money will be announced any way now. The Oilers newest young gun Nail Yakupov is suffering an apparent leg infection.

It appears that the former San Jose Shark backup goalie Antero Nittymaki is going back home regardless of a pending lockout..he has secured a one-year deal to play in his native country of Finland.

Still waiting to hear an official announcement on Burrows being signed to an extension…but I have a feeling that we’ll be hearing about #14 staying in Vancouver long-term any day now…

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.