Dear Hockey…

Dear Hockey,

I miss you. I miss the sounds of the game from sticks, pucks and skates hitting the ice to the anthems to the on ice noise balanced by the arena crowds to that final buzzer. When I try really hard, I can still hear them ever so faintly, but it’s not the same. I miss the game day rituals from my own superstitions to seeing my friends at the games to witnessing magic with 18,000+ other fans.

At this point we should be deep into the first round of playoffs and getting a feel for what the second will look like but that’s not where we are. These are unprecedented times unlike any other. Instead of seeing an flurry of playoff excitement and brackets busting, we are all hunkered down while we adjust to the new normal of self-isolating and a world with no sports and world health crisis. It was absolutely the right move to step away right now but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. It is times like these when the world feels heavy, that you are often the place we turn to for solace.

When things go dark in the world, hockey is often my safe place to fall back on. The world is in a very hard place across the globe, and there is no hockey, no sports, no concerts, and no big events that can be our distraction. In a matter of seconds the game takes my breath away. It both breaks my heart and makes my heart burst with joy.

Yes, the truth is that I miss hockey and I miss it immensely, but it needs to do better when it comes back from this suspended season. Hockey is far from perfect, there is a massive amount of work to be done when it comes back for it to truly feel like hockey is for everyone.There are a lot of times when there are gaps to the truth of that statement and too many are on the outside looking in. People will often ask those on the outside why they keep coming back to it when it’s an unequal space, we come back because we deserve to be a part of that space too. The season may be on pause, but that doesn’t mean that the work to improve should stop, it means there is more time to really dig deep to be better across the board.

Until the puck drops once more, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

2018-19 Season: And then it was DONE.

Can you believe it? Here we stand at the end of the 2018-2019 NHL season? Did anyone’s bracket survive all the playoff upsets? Congratulations to the St.Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins on one heck of a Stanley Cup Final and to St.Louis for winning their first ever championship. There’s nothing quite like seeing a team win their first championship, its pure magic. Enjoy every single moment St.Louis, you earned it!

If you had said with the way that Tampa Bay had dominated the regular season that they would be swept in the first round, not many would have believed that to be possible. The playoffs are their own beast to tackle, and as we’ve seen this year, can contain many surprises and incredible stories of endurance. From Columbus pulling off one of the biggest upsets to Carolina making it to the Conference Finals to Chara playing despite having a broken jaw to the St.Louis Blues for completing their incredible season with the storybook ending, it was a post season to remember.

Now begins my least favourite part of the year: the off-season. How do you get your hockey fix in the off-season? Do you watch the DaBeauty League featuring many current NHL players, AHL players, college/pro players? Or keep an eye on the Australian Ice Hockey League that takes place over the summer? Or do you prefer the take a full hockey break until the puck drops on the new season?

Hard to believe as quick as it came, the season has now ended. Sometimes it feels like the post-season never ends and then suddenly the end has arrived, and yet it all begins again with many young players arriving to to upcoming NHL Draft June 21st-22nd hoping to hear their names called as they take the next step in their hockey careers.

If you’re at the draft, I’ll see you there! Stay tuned here and on twitter(@nucksaid) for many draft updates and a behind scenes look at the draft!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

 

Vancouver Canucks: Through The Looking Glass

There are a lot of things you can say about the Vancouver Canucks and the fact that their season has once again ended before the post-season. And trust me, I’ve heard that and many other takes on this season, largely leaning towards the negative. And I’m sure there will be many more that debate the season that was, just remember that those debates do not tell the whole story. So yes, in summary while there are no playoffs, there were still some great moments and glimpses of what is to come in the near future.

This season was one that most wrote off before the puck had even dropped. Many said that without the Sedins, the season would be a lost cause. Yes, the season has come to an end but it was not a write off or a lost cause. This season was all about growth and development of the young core. This season was a massive step forward, one that saw the youth lead the way and ignite passion back into Canucks nation.

For myself, rather than focus on the draft lottery that is out of my control I’m going to look back on some standout and personal favourite moments from this season. Let’s start at the beginning, the first goal of the year scored by none other than rookie sensation, Elias Pettersson:

His first goal, on his first shot in his first game. It was thunderous in the arena when he scored that goal. The crowd loved it and his reaction to hearing his name being chanted by the crowd was priceless. To say, he set a high standard and lit hope anew in Canucks fans is putting it lightly.

October was also memorable because it marked bringing my Grandpa to his first ever Canucks game. He got to pick the opponent and chose the game versus the Boston Bruins.

What a game that was! The Canucks won with an overtime goal from Bo Horvat. It’s a game and a goal that my grandpa STILL talks about 6 months later and is already planning coming up for another one! It’s a game that I’ll always remember and carry with me.

November 2. How can we forget about that epic back and forth game between two young teams? A night that saw Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser combine for NINE points in a 7-6 OT win. Down 5-6 in the final minutes, Pettersson did what he does best, dug deep, got what seemed like an impossible goal, bringing that crowd to their feet…not to mention that BANK pass goal set up for Boeser that screamed SEDINERY:

And what about that penalty shot goal versus Nashville?!

Sensational right? Crazy to think that prior to the season many wondered if he could have success at the NHL level. Any doubters have since been silenced by his finesse on the ice.

Hat tricks are always a treat to see AND Canucks fans were treated to not one BUT two from two of their most promising players in Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson. Boeser scored his second hat trick versus St.Louis when him and Pettersson combined for EIGHT points. Pettersson’s first career hat trick capped off an overtime victory versus Ottawa. Their chemistry on and off of the ice this season has been a treat to see develop.

Games against Toronto on home ice are always entertaining and bring out a crowd that is usually 50% Canucks fans and 50% Leafs fans. This year did not disappoint, it was a very split crowd. For 40 minutes the Leafs were in control, until the Canucks found a way to tie it due to a stellar performance from Markstrom and setting up an exciting overtime game winning goal from Alex Edler.

Speaking of Edler, I know he takes a lot of heat from fans but nothing can take away from him becoming the ALL-TIME leading scorer on the blue line in Canucks history and surpassing fellow Swede, Mattias Ohlund in the franchise record book. He’s given a lot to this team over years and that should be noted and appreciated.(Heart and soul player).

Another heart and soul player that gave his all was Chris Higgins. He scored some memorable goals during his time here and it was a pleasure to get the chance to meet him and talk about his time as a player.

One of my favourite parts of the season is always getting to see the Canucks play on/around my birthday. Every year, we pick the game that is either on my birthday or closest to it, and my family gets geared up and attends the game. This year was no exception. As per tradition, we got tickets, and another birthday was spent in the rink.

Win or lose, I always enjoy the game. This year was no exception with a great pace, an electrifying OT session followed by a shootout that featured THIS ridiculous #DekeyPete goal:

It may not have been the winner BUT THAT GOAL IS ALL KINDS WIZARDRY. How many players will try that Forsberg move their first year in the league?!  As if that goal wasn’t enough to make the game memorable, THIS happened:

(You know your favourite team gets you when their birthday surprise for you includes a signed puck from your favourite player!).

We have to talk about the continued progression of Bo Horvat who has evolved from his draft year into a true leader on and off this season. This season he picked up the mantle left behind by the Sedins and carried it proudly and set a new career high in points(61). Every interview, every game, in the community, he was the epitome of a class act and embraced the role as captain even without the official title. (It’s pretty unanimous among Canucks nation that he will be named the next Captain of the team).

Elias Pettersson brings the arena to his feet every single time he makes a dazzling play but he’s not the only rookie turning the heads and hearts of Canucks fans. Highly tauted Quinn Hughes made his debut over the final games and gave the fans a glimpse of his ease skating, playing with/without the puck, and quieted any question of whether he was ready to jump to the NHL level. The best part since he debuted, was seeing him with Pettersson and Boeser in overtime dominating in breathtaking fashion…I could definitely get used to seeing those three play together for years to come!

This post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about Markstrom taking his game to a new level this season, particularly since December. It was remarkable to see him embrace his position and tune out the critics. He kept the Canucks in many games, like one of his final games of the year versus Dallas in which he made 46 saves INCLUDING 8 in the shoot out. His progression has given the Canucks room to not rush Thatcher Demko as he continues to grow in his game. By the end of the season, Demko seemed to have settled in and looks to take another step forward next season.

How fitting is it that Elias Pettersson scored the Canucks opening and closing goals of the season? Full circle for the Calder leading rookie.

Sure the season was far from perfect but it was a massive step forward that saw competitive games down the stretch and gave a glimpse of a very promising future for the team’s new emerging core. The future looks bright, are you ready for what comes next?

Stay tuned for upcoming ROUND TABLE discussions, draft updates and coverage throughout the offseason! See you all at the Draft in June!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Vancouver Canucks: Adios 2018!

This post goes out to all Canucks fans as we say good-bye to 2018 and hello 2019!

Can you believe that we’re already half way through the 2018-19 season?! How the heck did that happen? Feels like just yesterday when we all wondered if Elias Pettersson could possibly live up to the hype after his incredible season last year in Sweden. End of December and we can all agree that Elias has more than lived up to the hype. As we edge ever closer to the beginning of the second half of the season, I thought that it’d be fun to take a look back at some of the highlights from the first half; so here we go!

OCTOBER: October was an entertaining month of highlights. Have I mentioned that first NHL goal from Pettersson? Being in Rogers Arena for that moment was truly something spectacular, the roar from the crowd was thunderous. And his reaction to the crowd was priceless.

Easily one of my favourite moments from October will be taking my grandpa to his first ever Canucks game and seeing them get an OT win versus the Boston Bruins. Taking in the atmosphere from the anthems to puck drop to that final buzzer was something that’ll long stay with me.

Or how about Jake Virtanen having his first 2-goal game against long-time rival Chicago? It’s been a season highlight to see him having success and on track to hit career highs (*already has a new high in goals), with half the season still to be played.

One last highlight was finally seeing the team beat Las Vegas for the first time. It took awhile but it was so great to see!

NOVEMBER: Yes, this was the month where simply getting a win felt impossible most nights BUT there were also still some incredible moments in there. The first being that 9-point night from Pettersson and Boeser, what a game THAT was!

The next being that 8-goal outburst in Boston! It’s been a LONG time since the team last put up 8-goals in a game.

Or how about Adam Gaudette scoring his first ever career goal as the Canucks ended a an extended losing streak?

DECEMBER: December has seen a bit of a turnaround for the team after a tough November. They have gone 8-3-1 in their last 12 games and 8-5-1 overall the month of December to close out 2018.

December also saw us all mesmerized by a SECOND 5-point outing from Elias Pettersson and a SECOND hat trick for Boeser. Can we take a minute to really appreciate the chemistry they have developed over the first half of the season?

Or can we take a moment to appreciate the brilliance that was Pettersson’s first ever penalty shot turned goal? It looked impossible but was perfectly timed and met with a thunderous roar from the Rogers Arena crowd.

Or should we talk about their come from behind regulation victory against Columbus? Down 2-1 with less than 5 minutes left, it didn’t seem possible and then the ever determined and never one to give up, Pettersson made sure the Canucks tied the game; paving the way for Virtanen to score the go ahead goal.

Or how about we talk about Boeser hitting his stride with 8 goals and Pettersson continuing to take the league by storm with 17 points in 14 games over the course of December. Their developing on ice chemistry is all kinds of awesome for Canucks fans to see come to fruition.

Pettersson’s 39 points in 36 games is putting him on track to crush, Pavel Bure’s 60 point rookie campaign and the early favourite in the Calder trophy race.

Sure, the season hasn’t been perfect and has even featured some tough stretches BUT they’ve also been more competitive and entertaining than they’ve been in recent years. Stay tuned in 2019, as I’ll be starting a CANUCKS ROUND TABLE featuring fellow Canucks fans! Is there something else you’d like to see discussed on the blog in 2019? Leave a comment below or send me an email (nucksaid@gmail.com).

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Adios Preseason…

Adios preseason and hello hockey season! Bring on all the hockey and drop that dang puck already!

The Vancouver Canucks regular season is just days away and already the doomsday headlines are spinning out of control before even one game has been played. I’ve been informed in no uncertain terms more than once that this will most certainly be the worst Canucks season on record. And as such a poor season is expected, I’ve also been told that there’s no point to partaking in watching the games as it’s all down hill from before the start of the season.

Well I got some bad news for you, whether it’s a terrible season (potentially their worst on record) or a good season statistically, I’ll by standing by for every single step of the season. I know that the odds are very much against them heading into this season. Yes, I’ll be watching all the games, even the ones that seem like a nightmare from start to finish. And yes, I’m well aware of how disastrous this season could be but that doesn’t mean that I will stop supporting my team or hoping for them to tank.

It goes against the grain for me to even think about tanking as a possibility especially when it comes how unpredictable the draft lottery tends to be. More than that though, I can’t process the idea that players purposely go out on a nightly basis to lose or increase their team’s odds in that area. Seems a bit far fetched to me.

Regardless of how the season unfolds, one thing is certain: I’ll be there to witness every step along the way. Maybe it will be the worst season in the Canucks history books, maybe it’ll even be catastrophically bad but then again maybe it won’t. Maybe they’ll finally win that draft lottery or maybe just maybe they might even surprise people.

For now, I’m looking forward to attending the Canucks home opener on Wednesday (despite the impending disappointment that I’ve been told to expect). See you at the rink!

Drop. The. Puck. Already.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Hockey’s BACK…!

Here we go, say it with me now, “HOCKEY IS BACK”. Yes, technically we are in the thick of the preseason, but it still counts! The NHL preseason is officially in full swing as the league prepares for the official start of the season on October 3rd.

Now begins the over analyzing of seasoned veterans as they compete to maintain their roster spots, while younger players and prospects are vying to snag or steal a roster spot and reveal those that still need time to develop.

For Canucks fans, it means a lot of of different things with a new season about to begin.

It means that we are getting a chance to finally witness the finesse on the ice of Elias Pettersson in a Canucks uniform. Is he the real deal, are we right to be excited for his future? Was his season last year in Sweden a one off or an indication of what lies ahead for his NHL career?

Will other prospects like Adam Gaudette. Petrus Palmu or Jonah Gadjovich thrive in the preseason?

Can Nikolay Goldobin find that much needed consistency to his game, can Elias Pettersson help him get there as they’ve shown to have a bit of chemistry in the preseason?

How will Brock Boeser follow up his successful rookie season? Will we see a sophomore slump or will all that hard work he put in over the summer pay off?

Will this be Jake Virtanen’s breakout year? He put in the work all summer, will it pay off on the ice and silence his critics?

With the Sedins now officially retired, who will step up into a leadership role and their scoring ways? Will the team go ahead and name a captain this season or elect to have co-leaders, waiting to name a captain until next season? Who will pick up the mantle of points they consistently put up each season?

Perhaps the biggest question for the Canucks is, will the team be able stay healthy for the season? If yes, perhaps they just might surprise a few people.

Preseason or not, NHL hockey is back and it feels OH SO GOOD. Enjoy the rest of the preseason as every roster edges closer to being finalized for puck drop on opening night.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Hockey Thoughts: What’s in a Game?

A new hockey season is nearly upon us and I’d thought I take a look at what is about this game that pulls us all in.

What is it that keeps bringing us back? Is it a favourite on ice or off ice moment that you can recall every second of? Is it your favourite team or your favourite player? Or is it a pure simple love for the game? Or is it all of that combined?

I know that the hockey world is far from perfect but there is something magnetic about this game when it captures your heart., there’s no going back.

I can still remember clear as day, seeing a glimpse of Sedinery when it was just beginning. I can still see that 72-save performance in game one of the 2007 playoffs against the Dallas Stars and hear that echo of the crowd when Henrik scored in the fourth overtime. I’ll never forget Alex Burrows emotional first game after Luc Bourdon had passed, and each goal he scored thereafter dedicated to LB with an arrow to the sky. No goal from Burrows was bigger than the one that finally slayed the dragon against the Chicago Blackhawks, it still gives me chills. And then coming oh so close to seeing the team finally hoist the cup in 2011, the heartbreak was real and deep…but rather than deter me from supporting the team, it made my support of them unbreakable. And then the moment more heartbreaking than witnessing the on ice heartbreak, just a few months later when I was reminded that hockey is more than a game, Rick Rypien lost his battle with mental health. It shattered my heart and reminded the hockey world once more that there was and still at times is a stigma when it comes to mental health awareness.

Witnessing Henrik Sedin score his 1000th NHL point on home ice in Rogers Arena, the entire crowd on their feet, the cheers were thunderous. One final act of Sedinery when the Sedins played their final home game and closed it in style with the overtime winner…a moment that was heartbreaking and breathtaking all at once. It was the end of an incredible era that spanned nearly two decades. And as one era ends, a new one begins lead by Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser.

There are moments that will always be a part of defining how or why I am a fan of the game and my team. Moments that I can recall so clearly. Moments that took my breath away and moments that have broken my heart. Moments that have pulled me in, in moments when I needed a break from reality. Moments that have pulled me into being a part of a family that spans the beyond my own city around the world, because as hockey fans, we are all united as one.

I asked on twitter, what is about the game that pulls YOU in, and here are responses that you sent in:

Yes, the hockey world isn’t perfect and there will always be those who say that different views mean that I’m not a “real” fan or possibly naive about the game or try to explain how to really be a fan. And that’s fine, no one said we have to agree on how to be a fan.  And you know what’s louder than those voices? Fans from far and wide, who yes maybe we don’t always have the same view BUT we have a respect for each other and even once in awhile teach one another new facets of this game that unites us. We all have our own reasons and definitions for how and why this game has pulled us in. Maybe it’s one moment, a series of moments, a favourite player, or a simple pure love of the game, or maybe it’s all of those things combined but one thing is certain; hockey is magnetic and there’s no going back once it draws you into the fold.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.