Road Trip #2: Part TWO

Vancouver Canucks vs. LA Kings

Vancouver Canucks vs. LA Kings

Stop #3: LA LA land. Where to begin? Fresh off of their victorious return to the Shark Tank, the LA game lacked the same tenacity.

The second period was the turning point in this game…all the momentum went to LA as they scored goals in bunches to take a 4-1 lead. Lack came in this game to try and shake this team awake and very quickly the Kings made it 5-1.

Eddie Lack closed the door in the third period but the Canucks were not able to provide any extra offense. Luongo cannot be blamed solely for this one as defensive break downs were costly in this game; it is a team game, and as a team they win together and they lose together.

The game wasn’t as bad as it seemed if you take away the second period, but full credit to LA who earned the two points. The Canucks did not manage offense on this night but their penalty kill was perfect as they did not allow the Kings to score with the man advantage.

Some nights there will be games when few things go the way a team desires, but that is the nature of the game…you cannot win them all.

Stop #4: Mighty Ducks indeed. The Ducks have set themselves at the top of the league and done so in a very impressive fashion. They make it very difficult for their opponents to get their offense going and despite many shots from Vancouver, Anaheim managed to do just that on Sunday evening.

Anaheim scored first and the Canucks came back to tie the game at one before the Ducks took a 2-1 lead. The Canucks pushed back to get the equalizer but Anderson was lights out for Anaheim.
It remained a one goal game for remainder of the game…and as is tradition for most teams down by one goal, the Canucks pulled their goalie in attempt to force extra time. 9/10 times the other team scores the empty netter which is what happened on this night to seal the victory for the Ducks.

The Canucks may not have won this game BUT Richardson continues his clutch play by setting up this pretty goal for SESTITO[no that is not a typo…Sestito!]:

The road trip comes to an end with a 1-2-1 record and brings their overall road record to a 7-4-2. It may not have ended the way they had hoped but there is a lot they can take to learn from as the season progresses.

Up Next: The Canucks begin a 6-game home stand Thursday (Nov. 14) when they face off against the San Jose Sharks. David Booth will return to the lineup after a 3-game conditioning stint with the Utica Comets.A home stand could be just what the doctor ordered for the Canucks to find their groove again while playing in front of the home crowd.

ONE last thought: The injury to Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is unfortunate in the worst way as he is now out indefinitely with a broken tibia. Accidental play or not, an injury that costs the league one of their best players long term is simply terrible. All the best to Stamkos as he recovers and begins the road back!

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.

PLAYOFF Fever is catching, are you ready?

PLAYOFF  FEVER has hit! Has it taken over your life or the life someone you know? Prepare yourselves as tonight is only the beginning of a fantastic hockey tradition!

The 2013 QUEST for the Stanley Cup begins for 16 teams TODAY. In June ONE team will win this lengthly battle. The madness is only just beginning!!

The 2013 QUEST for the Stanley Cup begins for 16 teams TODAY. In June ONE team will win this lengthly battle. The madness is only just beginning!!

Round ONE of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin today!! Are you ready?!

The WESTERN Conference Quarterfinal Match-ups are set as follows:

1. The Chicago Blackhawks [36-7-5] vs. 8.The Minnesota Wild [26-19-3]. Game 1 April 30th 5:00:PM

As much as I hate to admit it, the Chicago Blackhawks have been dominant ALL season long from the start of this shortened season losing just an incredible 7 times in regulation. Their first half was particularly incredible as they posted a sparkling 21-0-3 record…24 straight games where they recorded atleast ONE point setting a new NHL record [meaning that in the second half they posted a 15-7-2 record…which is still very respectable but not nearly as dominant as their first half]. The year began with a question mark in regards to their goal-tending which was soundly dealt with in the form of their goalie tandem of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. It also doesn’t hurt that Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane seemed to find a new level of compete that carried throughout the season. With their early dominance, it was never a question of whether they would make the playoffs. Simply put, the Chicago Blackhawks were the best regular season team this year.  Even with their dominance they cannot take an 8th seeded team too lightly as everyone learned the hard way last year.

The Minnesota Wild started the year with A LOT of hype following the TWO biggest signings of the off-season of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They did not get off to the successful start that everyone expected from them. They showed sparks but they were very inconsistent throughout their season. Their playoff contention was in question until the final buzzer of the final game of the season. Had they lost that final game, it would be Columbus in their place, but they did what they had to in that last game. They snuck into the 8th seed of the playoffs and will have a massive challenge in having to face-off against the tough Chicago Blackhawks.

Prediction: Chicago in 6 games.

2. The Anaheim Ducks [30-12-6] vs. 7.The Detroit Red Wings [24-16-8]. Game 1: April 30th 7:30PM

No Anaheim did not set any NHL records, BUT they did play some incredible hockey this season. Did anyone actually doubt the talents of Teemu Selanne? This year we also saw Corey Perry lose his temper…A LOT and their goalie tandem of Hiller and Fasth was a pleasant surprise and helped this team post a very impressive record. Anaheim also has the added boost of Scott Neidermeyer as an assistant coach should they ever need a reminder of what it means to have playoff success.

The Detroit Red Wings began their year without former Captain Niklas Lidstrom and it was very evident from the get go that they were missing his skill set. Their game seemed to be missing something at times and then in other games they played to their strengths. The Red Wings have qualified for the playoffs 22 straight seasons and this year that impressive streak was nearly stopped but as is the Detroit way, they found a way to get it done. They will need Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Howard to play at the tops of their games if they want to go beyond the first round. This team has a history of being an extremely dangerous team in the playoffs and this year could see them activate that veteran beast mode. Look out Anaheim!

Prediction: Detroit in 7 games.

3. The Vancouver Canucks [26-15-7] vs. 6.The San Jose Sharks [25-16-7]. Game 1: May1st 7:30PM

The Canucks like most teams had ups and downs throughout the year. There were moments when they played their best games and their worst games. The goalie tandem of Schneider and Luongo proved to be a part of the team’s success. Ryan Kesler came back to the line-up only to be forced out with a broken foot BUT when he came back the second time he came back with a fire in his eyes and looks like he’s ready to activate that thing we call beast mode. The Canucks will need a 100% healthy Kesler to alleviate the pressure that is sure to surround the Sedins as it always does during the playoffs. Jason Garrison will be making his HOMETOWN playoff debut in Game 1. For the 2013 playoffs, the Canucks have recalled the following players from Chicago: Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen, Darren Archibald, Kellan Lain, Alexandre Mallet, Jim Vandermeer, Peter Andersson and Eddie Lack.

The San Jose Sharks like the Canucks, had both good and bad streaks throughout the season. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Antti Niemi will be looking to lead the Sharks past the first round. Marleau was unstoppable in the first few weeks of the season but his goal production slowed and the rest of the team had to find ways to score when he struggled. The Sharks will be hoping that their regular season record against the Canucks will help them succeed in the post-season, but they have to remember those games do not necessarily affect the post-season games at all. This will be a re-match [albeit in the first round] for these two teams who met in the Conference Finals two years ago. The Sharks will be looking for revenge and the Canucks will looking to take advantage of their home ice. It will be a very interesting series as these two teams renew their rivalry!

Prediction: Vancouver in 6 games.

4. The St.Louis Blues [29-17-2] vs. 5.The LA Kings [27-16-5]. Game 1: April 30th 5:00PM

Last year, no one properly anticipated the talent that LA possessed until they saw for themselves as LA dominated everyone in the playoffs. Last year LA swept the heavily favoured St.Louis Blues who definitely will want to change their fate this season. The newly acquired Jay Bouwmeester will be making his LONG anticipated playoff debut with his new St.Louis team. St.Louis strengthened their blue line and have been getting some solid goal-tending from Brian Elliot down the stretch. They will need use their defensive strengths and also score goals. They will be hoping to have forward T.J. Oshie back for game 1. LA will be looking to remind St.Louis that the road to the Stanley Cup goes through them and they are not looking to let it be taken from them easily.

Prediction: St.Louis in 7 games.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal match-ups also look to have some interesting storylines and I thought I’d make a few more predictions. Predictions for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:

1.Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 8. New York Islanders. Pittsburgh will hoping to get the boost of their Captain Sidney Crosby to help them get past the first round for the first time since the 2010 playoffs. The Islanders while not the obvious choice should not be taken lightly as they make their first trip to the post-season since 2007 and oh yeah, they have this guy name John Tavares who has been very clutch for the Islanders this season! Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6 games.

2.Montreal Canadiens vs. 7.Ottawa Senators. An all-Canadian match-up. Can it get any better for fans back East? The Canadiens have greatly benefited from a coaching change and a new team identity this season. Anyone seen that guy they call P.K. on the point? Look out for his shot! The Senators have played a very decent season despite a very depleted line-up and they got a huge boost at the end of the season when Erik Karlsson returned.  Prediction: Montreal in 7 games.

3.Washington Capitals vs. 6. New York Rangers. At the beginning of the year everyone thought New York would finish at the top in the East, and while that did not happen they did show what they are capable of with the talent in their line-up. Lunqvist may have struggled at times during the season but he got scary good down the stretch. The Rangers made some big splashes in the summer and at tht deadline acquiring Nash, Brassard, Clowe, and a few others. Washington was a major question mark in the first half leaving many people to wonder where oh where did Ovechkin go? That question was answered in the second half when the Captials were lead by #8 from the bottom of the East to the top 3. Ovechkin found his scoring touch and looks dangerous heading into the post-season. This will be a re-match of last year’s semi-final. The Capitals will be looking for a different finish. Prediction: Washington in 7 games.

4.Boston Bruins vs. 5.Toronto Maple Leafs. Prediction: Boston in 6 games. Two original 6 teams meeting in the post-season and two teams with very rabid fan bases. It will be interesting to see how the Maple Leafs handle the Bruins style of post-season hockey in their first trip back to the playoffs in nine years. It will be a series to keep an eye on.

*Some of these predictions may differ from yours or be similar, but they are just meant to be that. You may or may not agree with my predictions but that’s okay, you do not have to agree with me. As we all know, predictions made during the playoffs do not always work out the way we expect or want them to but it’s part of the tradition that is playoff hockey! [Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments!]

In a year when everyone told me that there would be no NHL season, I will simply enjoy getting to enjoy my spring tradition of 2 months of great hockey! Enjoy whatever these next two months bring, the madness is sett to begin TONIGHT!

PLAYOFFS ARE HERE! Are you ready? Where will you be watching Game 1 from? I will be watching my Canucks LIVE at Rogers Arena tomorrow and in case you missed it, I am beyond excited! It feels like Christmas Eve as tomorrow is GAME DAY for my Canucks and their playoff journey begins. Mind you it is only round one, but getting that elusive 16th victory in the finals begins with success in round one. 16 teams are fighting the same battle this week and in two weeks only 8 teams will remain in the quest for the Stanley Cup. Like I said, the madness is just beginning and no one knows what will happen.

The playoffs are when players and teams alike surprise you and sometimes it is a player or team that you did not anticipate, but that is what makes this time of year so exciting!!  I love playoff hockey, there is nothing quite like it! #GoCanucksGo!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.