Why SO serious[again!]? & NHLPA says YES to RA!

Is that panic I hear? Why yes, yes I think it is. It is hardly time to panic just yet. Yes, it is nearly the halfway mark of the season for every team but it is certainly not time to panic by any means. Yes the Canucks have gone 1-1-2 in their first 4 games of March [which means yes they have lost 3, but they have picked up points in 3 of those 4 games]. The Canucks still have 25 games left to play and personally, I think the best is yet to come!

Henrik and Daniel have returned to their point per game status quo [remember how 8 games in people were asking what happened to the twins?! well they certainly are back on track aren’t they?]. The biggest blow to the Canucks so far this season was the loss of Ryan Kesler to a broken foot and Manny Malhotra being shut down for the year. In Kesler’s absence Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond have stepped up their respective games with providing secondary scoring. Both have found ways to score and make some great defensive plays. Raymond has looked very good since being moved to centre but just needs a little work in the face off circle. It is nice to see that there are players in the line up able to put up goals on a more regular basis which takes the pressure off of the twins. The forwards combined through 23 games have put up 119 points[46 goals, 73 assists].

If Alberts is going to stay in the line up could he please not take terrible penalties or can we just put Ballard back in?! The defense definitely needs some work with Kevin Bieksa still out of the line up. Hopefully Juice[Bieksa] is back in the line up soon to give the Canucks a little more dependability defensively as they have lapsed slightly defensively in his 5 game absence. The defense has been solid at least offensively this season putting up 42 points[15 goals, 27 assists] combined in the first 23 games, that an average of 1.8 points per game[not bad hey?]. The Canucks will need to tighten up defensively as the stretch drive to the playoffs is right around the corner.

Goal-tending controversy smontroversy! Take a chill pill people. You all lobbied for Schneider[6-4-3] to get the starting position and lobbied to send Lou[5-2-3] packing. How quick all the band-wagoners are to jump back on the #LUUUUUU train every time Schneids struggles. I do think that while Cory has earned the chance to prove himself, he has struggled to find any kind of consistency in this shortened season. Maybe he will find his bearings, maybe not, in the mean time can we please give LOU the chance that he more than deserves after everything this city of finicky fans have put him through? Here’s #Looking2LOUKID! I like BOTH goalies and think both are capable of helping the Canucks towards their end goal for the season, but Luongo has more than paid his dues with his never wavering patience this season and he too has earned his chance to play.

Major news from around the NHL rink this last week was that the NHLPA finally gave approval of the re-alignment going into next season[2013-2014]. That is a HUGE boost moving forward with the re-alignment, and next it must be approved by the owners and the Board of Governors before it can be official. The re-alignment should it be approved by all parties will change and re-ignite rivalries new and old. It will be interesting to see how the NHL will address the playoff format with uneven conferences next year. Gone will be the 6 division/2 conference set up that is currently in place and in its place will be a 4 conference system. New details are sure to be released the closer to reality this becomes.  Let’s hope that they have better names for the conferences than Conference A. B, C & D.

Sad news in the NHL as hockey anthem writer #Stompin Tom Connors passed away. He was responsible for writing the hockey anthem “the Hockey Song”: the good old hockey game is the best game you can name & the best game you can name is the good old hockey game…” Oh how I miss that song on Hockey Night in Canada[I think that CBC should make that the theme song!]

In other news, the Chicago Blackhawks FINALLY lost a game in regulation. It only took 25 games! As much as I cannot stand Chicago, that was sincerely an impressive run of 24 games[21-0-3] before their defeat in Colorado last night. Congratulations on achieving a record that will be extremely hard for any other team to match. Congratulations also to the Avalanche for being the team to break the streak! [P.S. I think Colorado is greatly benefiting from Ryan O’Reilly being back in the line-up as they have greatly improved offensively since getting him back last week!].

Now that the O’Reilly drama is settled with Colorado there is room for other signings. The biggest re-signing so far this season was announced just yesterday by Anaheim. The Ducks have re-signed Ryan Getzlaf to an 8-year $66 million extension[that’s an average of $8.25 million per year]. The question is now that they have invested the big money into Getzlaf’s contract, can they afford to keep Corey Perry who is also in line for a raise from his last contract. If they cannot afford to sign Perry the rumors are already swirling that they may move him the trade deadline[unlikely as that would greatly anger their fans] or he will test the waters of free agency in the off-season.

Did you hear the Pronger news? He addressed the media for the first time on his post-concussion status. He may not be near playing condition, but he stated emphatically that he is NOT ready to hang up the skates just yet. That does not mean he will or will not play again, it just means he is still hanging on to a sliver of hope, and who can blame the guy for wanting to hold out for one more chance. Best of luck Pronger whatever your future may hold, you’ve had a heck a career!

#MarchMadness has only just begun and the best of the season is yet to come! Are you ready?

23 games down for the Canucks, 25 more to go. #GoCanucksGo Best of luck in the final 25 boys! I look forward to seeing the boys live at Rogers when they return home this week to play Nashville on Thursday[3/14]!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

A Prelude to the 2013 season

Well faithful readers, we survived the lockout. The 2013 NHL season is officially begun. Training camp is underway. Game day is fast approaching. My Vancouver Canucks and the other 29 teams are all back on the ice!!! Each day brings new surprises for the fans and media alike as each team announces signings, trades and surprises for their home openers. Each day the whispers of anticipation of the first games grow louder. Fans and media are eager to prove their opinion is the one to listen to regarding the upcoming season.

As the first day of regular season games approaches, the hungrier the media becomes with finding the biggest headline. What are some of these interesting headlines making news? Let’s take a moment to ponder those, shall we?:

– Luongo, where will he play? You all know how I feel on this issue. I am disgusted by the media and certain fans who blame him for all things. I would be extremely disappointed to see him playing anywhere else, but wherever he plays [Vancouver included] I hope he has a fantastic season.

-Who will fill in the void left by Ryan Kesler? Kassian, Schroeder, Hansen or perhaps even Raymond? According to Mike Gillis, that spot will not be available for too long. Kesler is competitive and has never enjoyed being on the sidelines.

-Will Chris Higgins and David Booth be able to stay healthy for the majority of the season? If so, how many points will they put up? Will they eventually reunite with Kesler on the All-American Express line?

-Tim Thomas. Oh, the ever controversial Thomas. He has decided to continue his year of solitude in Colorado away from all things Bruins and hockey. His backup Tuukka Rask will assume the #1 starter position in the Bruins net for the 2013 season. Thomas has however told the team that he will be returning for the 2013-2014 season….really? It will be interesting to see how his team will respond if he does come back next season.

-Chris Pronger. Will or won’t he retire? This one is a difficult one for the Flyers to address. Pronger is their team captain, an impeccable leader on and off the ice.If he does retire, it means being forced to leave the game instead of on his own terms. The whispers are definitely getting louder on this issue as more and more reporters speculate Pronger retiring, and Philadelphia has yet to confirm one way or the other.

-The Maple Leafs. So many questions. Now that Burke has been fired, what will Nonis do differently? Will he be able to address their goal-tending issue before the end of the season? Will Kessel and Lupul be the dynamic duo they were last season again and if so, can they both stay healthy? Will the team make the playoffs in 2013?

-Scott Gomez has been officially let go. He was sent home by the Montreal Canadiens prior to the start of training camp. They will buy him out in the off-season. In other Montreal news, they have yet to secure P.K. Subban to a new contract. He cannot officially report to camp until he has signed on the dotted line.

-Will the Staal brothers now united in Carolina, be able to lead the Hurricanes to playoffs for the the first time since 2009?

-Can the LA Kings have the same success they had last year with Coach Sutter and goalie Quick?

-Will Ranger Nash be the missing puzzle that New York has been looking for?

-Will the young guns in Edmonton bring the city back to a ‘city of champions’ era?

-Just how good will a 100% healthy Sidney Crosby be? Will he be league MVP once more?

With all of these questions, time will tell. Many more issues will come to light in the coming days leading up to the opening game of the season. I look forward to all the story lines that are still come as the season begins. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Bonus reading for the week: Below is a link to one of my favourite Canuck/hockey blogs. A post from today was quite enjoyable. It’s an interesting look at Luongo’s stats…and if you keep up with my posts, you all know how much I love the guy as a Canuck!

http://canucksarmy.com/2013/1/14/the-case-for-roberto-luongo-as-the-canucks-starter-in-2013

Philadelphia takes another hit on the blueline! + other NHL tidbits

Philadelphia has suffered yet another loss on the blueline, the team announced Andrej Meszaros is out indefinitely after tearing one of his achilles tendons. As Canucks fans will remember…such an injury is not an easy road back…just ask Sami Salo.Sami Salo was sidelined by the very same injury in the summer of 2010…it was thought he might not come back and if he did would, he play the same? The answer is that YES he did make a comeback and NO he didn’t play the same, he played even BETTER(just look at game 4 against San Jose in the 2011 conference final and all of last season!). It was a long road back for Salo, he only played 27 regular season games in the 2010-2011 season, but he made his presence known in those games and during the 2011 playoffs he played amazing and last year was his best season in years. I wish the best for Meszaros as he works his way back from this injury, it will not be an easy or a quick path but as all Canuck fans know, it is definitely possible. The loss of Meszaros on the blueline adds to the already decimated blueline that is the Philadelphia Flyers. They lost Carle to free agency, they lost Weber due to Nashville matching their lunacy, and all camps are quiet on the Pronger situation. The lack of any news on the Pronger situation suggest that it will not be good news when an announcement does get made. The loss of Pronger(at least in the short term) and the indefinite loss of Meszaros leaves a HUGE void for the Flyers on the blueline come October. They will have to address the matter before the season begins.

In other NHL news Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul skated for the first time today since separating his shoulder in early March. The Leafs will need him in tip top form for camp next month, when he combines with Phil Kessel and both are healthy, they make a lethal duo. All eyes are still on Doan as his fate is still yet to be decided(big surprise!), the list sits at three until otherwise announced. I know, tell me something we don’t already know. In other news we already know but are anxiously awaiting, there is yet to be a formal agreement between the NHL and the NHLPA regarding a new CBA(must be reached by mid-September to avoid a shortened season or a lockout year). The Canucks would love to have a Doan-/Arnott-type player signed to help fill the void of Kesler’s absence until he returns. The dust has yet to settle on this off-season and there is bound to be more dramatics before all is said and done.

#isitOCTOBERyet??????

Come #Canuck fans…tell me you don’t want to see this happen often next season as soon as Kes is healthy & 100% ready to return?! Are you kidding me?! Picture this…his first game back…Booth & Higgins on his wings…down the middle, KESLER SCORES!!!!!!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Off-season ramblings & still waiting on Doan…..

The off-season in review:                                                                                                  Minnesota won the Parise/Suter sweepstakes.                                                                              Rick Nash was traded from Columbus to the New York Rangers, giving him a chance to benefit from offensive line-mates & have a realistic chance at playoffs.                                Weber created drama by signing a ridiculous 14 year $110 million offer sheet with Philadelphia forcing Nashville’s hand to either accept it or let him walk. 6 days after the offer sheet, Nashville decided to officially match the offer, making Weber a Predator for life(& perhaps setting a ridiculous precedent for other players future contracts).                    The NHLPA & NHL head honchos are in the thick of meetings regarding a new CBA agreement & hopefully to avoid a lockout next season(I would not deal with that very well, nor would any other hockey fan, BUT that hasn’t happened yet, so lets cross our fingers that it doesn’t!)                                                                                                                               Marty Brodeur signed a 2 year deal with New Jersey, which basically insures that he will finish his career in New Jersey, playing his whole career for one franchise. This guy is an incredible athlete.

Where oh where will Shane Doan sign? Will it be Phoenix? Or will he go somewhere else? Doan is really taking his time in signing a contract & really considering both sides, not who is trying to sway him with money but which team he will fit best with. Rumor has it that he has met with/or talked with many of the teams that have shown an interest in him. I think he’d be a great asset on any team, particularly in blue & green! But really wherever he ends will be lucky to have his experience and leadership. I would love to see Doan stepping onto the ice in Canuck jersey next year, but like everyone else I will have to wait until Doan announces his decision officially.

A big question remains for Philadelphia. If they were willing to take the plunge with that HUGE offer to Weber, what does that say about Pronger? Will Pronger be available to start the season or play at all next year? If they lose Pronger for an extended amount of time or permanently that leaves Philadelphia with a HUGE whole in their defense. I really hope that Pronger is not done, it would be a terrible way to end his career, to be forced into retirement because of his concussion. He was shut down pretty quickly last year, and his symptoms were quite severe. Pronger is a huge presence on & off the ice. Philadelphia has not addressed the possibility, but by making the offer to Weber that they did , it makes one wonder why they would go to such extremes to sign him if everything with Pronger is okay. I guess we shall have to wait for some sort of official word from Philadelphia, but I really hope that Pronger is not finished yet, that would be so unfair for him to lose the game he loves before he is .

In other news, the Canucks have agreed to terms with forward Dale Weise on a one year deal.

Weber 14 year offer sheet…Philly not Vancouver…..

Didn’t I tell you that the drama was still to come in the off season?! It is official, Shea Weber has signed an offer sheet worth 14 years @ +$100 million….all I can say is WOW!!!!!! We will see if Nashville decides to match this extraordinary offer or not. This means that any thoughts people had that Weber might be in a Canuck uniform next season should be forgotten.Weber will either be a predator or a flyer until the day he retires(unless of course that contract comes without a NTC & a trade occurs at some point). Not matching this offer would give Nashville 4 draft picks as compensation.

This potential offer that Weber has signed with Philadelphia, raises the question about Pronger. What does this mean for Pronger? Does this mean that truly he is done(*possible retirement?) due his concussion & Philly desires a replacement for his on-ice abilities & presence on the team? I think if this is the case, Philly will miss have Pronger on the point & it will be unfortunate if his career is indeed ended this way.

It will be interesting to what this means for the Predators if they lose Weber, and interesting what it means for Philly either way. One thing does seem certain though, Weber will not be becoming a Canuck in the near future(*unless through some extreme circumstance of a trade that would have to benefit both sides.)

That’s all for now! Nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

p.s. I think the Canucks should re-sign/extend Edler stat!