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.

Secret SANTA surprise!

Coming into this season there was a lot of negativity [and criticism] surrounding this team and the lack of BIG signings by GM Mike Gillis. Gillis did not make the BIG signings but rather took a few gambles in signing the hometown Mike Santorelli and former LA forward Brad Richardson. Both have some great clutch moments for the team early and today, we take a closer look at SANTORELLI.

Santa has arrived early for the Canucks or so it would seem with the emergence of forward Mike Santorelli.       The announcement that the Canucks had signed local Mike Santorelli in the offseason was one that came with very little expectation. No one was really sure what would happen when Santorelli came to camp and he impressed the coaching staff and fans alike in the preseason.

1/4 of the way into the 2013-2014 season and Mike Santorelli’s ability[or versatility] to play up and down the line up has allowed John Tortorella some flexibility with his lineup with all the early injury saga that took over this team in October.

In just the Canucks third game of the year, Santorelli made his mark with his overtime magic sealing the COMEBACK victory for the Canucks.

The Canucks cameback not once BUT twice in this game to win in OT thanks to this very memorable goal from SANTA!

The Canucks cameback not once BUT twice in this game to win in OT thanks to this very memorable goal from SANTA!

How did Santorelli follow up his OT heroics? Glad you asked! He did exactly the same thing the following game 2 days later. The Canucks came back to tie the game at two and force overtime for the second straight game and who should once again be the over time hero? SANTA for the WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

LU v. Schnieds Part 1: OT HERO SANTA

LU v. Schnieds Part 1: OT HERO SANTA

Game 12 saw the team at the tail end of a season high 7-game road trip and facing off once more against the New Jersey Devils and former teammate Cory Schneider. The Canucks found themselves down again and once again were the comeback kids forcing extra time against the Devils. Overtime solved nothing and the dreaded shoot out would be required. ONE goal was scored in the shootout…by yes that’s right…MIKE SANTORELLI.

LU v. Schneids Part 2: SHOOT OUT HERO: SANTA!!

LU v. Schneids Part 2: SHOOT OUT HERO: SANTA!!

In 21 games, SANTA has accumulated a respectable 12 points [5 goals, 7 assists] and counting while quickly becoming a fan favourite. Many people did not know much about Santorelli before he joined the Canucks other than the fact that he had played in Florida previously and grew up in British Columbia. In 21 games Santorelli’s versatility allowed Torts some flexibility with his injury riddled lineup and gave this team some much needed reliability.

Santa arrived early for the Vancouver Canucks and looks to continue his reliability as the season progresses. Here’ s to a continued great season from Mike Santorelli!

Time to get back to watching the Canucks game as they are taking on the surging Dallas Stars as they continue their 6-game home stand. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Road Trip #1: Part THREE

In case you missed Parts 1 & 2:

Road Trip #1: Part ONE

Road Trip #1: Part TWO

Two final destinations were required to close out the 7-game road trip before returning home for a few games.

Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Game 12: Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Stop SIX: To have or to not have sympathy for the devils is the question.

New Jersey has struggled in their first 10 games of the season, registering just one win. Coming into this game 3-1-1 on the road trip, the Canucks wanted to get at least a point to secure a winning record.  The Devils just wanted to win, period.

The Devils started with a lot of jump to their game, scoring on their first shot. Not exactly the start the Canucks wanted BUT a response did not take long as just 1:02 later Ryan Kesler scored his 5th goal of the year to tie the game 1-1. The Devils did however regain the lead with a power play goal to put them ahead 2-1 midway through the first period.

Yet again the Canucks were trailing heading into the second period and yet again they found a way to tie the game 2-2. How you ask?…Daniel Sedin with the goal thanks to a nifty bank pass from Hank.

With Booth & Weise having left the game with injuries, the Canucks were down two forwards, and it showed in the third period as New Jersey took over the momentum. The third period was all New Jersey. Sometimes, you need your goalie to steal you a game and Roberto Luongo did just that in New Jersey. Luongo shut the down following the first period, never looking back. The Canucks were massively out shot 17-5 in the 3rd period as the Devils pressed for the go ahead goal, but LU stood tall making all the stops to keep this one a 2-2 draw.

Overtime solved nothing. A shoot out was required. Mike “SANTA” Santorelli scored the lone goal for the Canucks in the shoot out while both Daniel & Edler were stopped by Schneider. Luongo made all three stops on the Devils [*Lu had a little help from the post on the Henrique stop BUT I’ll take it!] to seal the victory and two points for Vancouver.

Luongo’s stellar play in the third period + the shoot out + SANTA’s clutch shoot out goal = a secured winning record on this road trip for the Canucks.

Stop SEVEN: “Meet Me in St.Louis”

On paper according to most people, the Canucks were expected to lose this game. The Canucks had numerous injuries on the roster and were coming in with zero days between games [and 5th game in 7 days!] whereas the Blues had a week off since they last played. Sometimes it is lack of rest between games that slows down a team and other times too much rest between games can be a hindrance.

Eddie Lack made his 3rd NHL start between the pipes for Vancouver. The Canucks may have been the more tired team BUT they played a fairly decent first period in their final game of this 7-game road trip.They even opened the scoring thanks to a goal from Higgins late in the first period.

The second period saw the return of the 2011 patented Ryan Kesler wrist shot to give the Canucks a 2-0 lead. Shocking, no?

Late in the period the tiredness began to catch up with the road-weary Canucks as the Blues began to press and the Canucks took a few sloppy penalties to give the Blues a late 5-on-3 power play. The Blues scored to comeback within one as the clock was winding down in the second period.

The Blues came back to tie the game 2-2 early in the third period as the power play expired. Full credit to the Blues in this game.

Neither team was able to get the final go ahead goal in regulation. Both teams secured a point. Overtime was required AGAIN. There were chances on both sides of the ice in the first 4 1/2 minutes of OT and it looked like this game would be destined for shoot out AGAIN. The Blues took a penalty with just over 30 seconds remaining and given how the Canucks power play has lacked of late, it did not seem like there would be enough time. Cue the Sedins working some magic passing and a ready waiting Kesler in front to knock down the rebound to score the game winning goal with 15 SECONDS left on the clock. No shoot out required in this one.

Perhaps not technically their best game of the season but it was their best character win of the season. Everyone said the Canucks were going to lose this game…BUT the Canucks decided, despite what it says on paper or what people expect, we’re going to find a way to grind out a win.

Here are two KEY moments from last night’s victory in St.Louis:

Kesler goal #1 featuring that 2011 patented wrist shot!

Kesler goal #2: OT WINNER:

The Canucks picked up 11 of 14 possible points on this 7-game road trip with a 5-1-1 record. Very impressive for a team that many expected to be lucky to have at most, a 0.500 record on this trip. Ryan Kesler had a single point [1 goal] before this road trip…by the final buzzer in St.Louis he had 10 points [7 goals, 3 assists]. Needless to say this trip was very good for Ryan Kesler rediscovering his game and the Sedins re-establishing their game combining for 14 points [4 goals, 10 assists] in the 7 games.

Overall a very impressive road trip for a team that given all the injuries in the line up, left little room for expectations and lots of room for fans to be surprised.

Next up: The possible return of Alex Burrows as the Canucks will host a red hot Alex Ovechkin and his Capitals on October 28, 7:00 PM [Sportsnet Vancouver].

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: