More Than JUST a Game…

This week the Vancouver Canucks are embarking a fathers and sons road trip as one way to help express their thanks to the sacrifices that were made to pave the way for their hockey careers. It takes a lot of work to make it to the NHL, but first all of that hard work began with a simple dream that was encouraged to take shape and grow over time.

HOCKEY IS MORE THAN JUST A GAME:

Hockey is more than JUST a game.

Hockey is a dream come true.

Hockey is dedication to one’s sport and physical conditioning.

Hockey is early morning practices.

Hockey is being committed to your team both on and off the ice.

Hockey is intense rivalries and unbreakable bonds between teammates.

Hockey is knowing that sometimes the impossible IS possible.

Hockey is knowing that a game is NEVER over until the final buzzer.

Hockey is epic wins, tough losses, incredible playoff runs and everything in between.

Hockey is a simple pure love of the game.

Hockey is sacrifices made by those play the game and those who make playing the game possible.

Hockey is a dream come true that once a upon a time was simply just a dream.

Hockey is knowing that your parents stood by you from the time hockey was JUST a dream to now when it is a reality.

Like father, like son.

Bieksa1Hockey is more than just a game.

(S.E.L. Feb.9.2015)

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Road Trip #3: Part TWO

The Vancouver Canucks vs. The Nashville Predators

The Vancouver Canucks vs. The Nashville Predators

Stop #4: SMASHVILLE

The Canucks came into this game looking to win back to back games for the first time since OCTOBER (yes October!). Seems almost unbelievable does it not? Believe it…it happened BUT the Canucks know they have to more consistent for 60 minutes (not 58 or 59 minutes BUT the entire 60.

Kesler was a HUGE factor in the Carolina game and was looking to build on that solid performance. Build on that he did indeed. He had a fire in his eyes and brought that same intense determination to the Nashville game. We all know Kesler loves playing in that Predator’s arena.  He reacquainted himself with his opposition by being a driving force for the third period.

Who else to break a 1-1 tie in the 3rd period but that beast that has become Kesler? #17 was at it again!

KESLER strikes again on the power-play!!!! That makes 8 power-play goals in the last 10 games!

2 straight games with 2 goals from Ryan Kesler and #17 led the way for BOTH victories. Will he be the hero again tonight as the returns home for a 5-game home stand?  Who knows perhaps we will see him get his 4th career hat trick on this current home stand…or maybe someone else will step up as hero?

It all begins TONIGHT (Dec. 6th) as the Canucks start their 5-game home stand with a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. A single point is all the separates these two teams….a regulation WIN would push the Canucks past the Coyotes and put them a 3 points behind Colorado.

The 5-game home stand will also feature those pesky Coyotes, a re-match with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Edmonton Oilers(never to be taken lightly…they’ve got some great young skill) and of course the big bad Boston Bruins. This home stand is a great opportunity for the Canucks to grab some very important points to help them gain some ground in a very tough Pacific Division.

March 2nd may see The excitement for the Heritage Classic featuring the Canucks and Senators is beginning to pick as tickets and official merchandise have now gone on sale. In case you missed this gem of a sneak peek at what the Heritage Classic & NHL Revealed has in store for Vancouver & Ottawa fans…here you go!

Tell me that doesn’t make you excited to see the FULL NHL Revealed special.

I got a game to finish watching (the team leads 2-0 heading into the 3rd period!)!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E. L.

Road Trip #3: Part ONE

Stop #1: Capital…absolutely Capital timing as the Canucks met with the Ottawa Senators.

The game perhaps did not start the way the team intended as it was all Ottawa in the first period and it reflected on the scoreboard when MacArthur scored his 100th Career goal. Needless to say Torts was not impressed with his team’s poor start to the game and he let it show behind the bench with his words in particular to Jannik Hansen.

Mind you it was only a 1 goal lead for the Senators heading into the second period BUT Vancouver could not waste time in letting this game get away from them. Props to Hansen for taking the harsh words in stride and for the rest of the bench taking words in stride to turn the tide of the game.

Cue Mr.Clutch Alex Burrows getting the gritty puck work done along the boards behind the net to set the twins up for the tying goal just 31 seconds into the second period. JUST 45 seconds later David BOOTH gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead which was followed by a power-play goal from Jason Garrison just 2:50 later! Midway through the middle frame the Canucks had stretched their goal count to 4 and Craig Anderson’s night was over. Offense that had been lacking in recent games was on the menu for the visitors this night.

Milestone #300 finally goes in for DANNY BOY! Congratulations DANIEL! [Did you know of his 300 goals, Henrik has assisted on 214 of them? That is insane in the most awesome way!]

**Daniel Sedin is only the 3rd Canuck to hit the 300 goals mark! He now only trails Trevor Linden [318] and Markus Naslund [346]. With 53 games still left in the schedule…it is plausible that Daniel could surpass Trevor Linden before the season ends.

Garrison seems to have found his game recently and was rewarded with this fantastic cannot miss shot for his first goal since game #2! Looks good playing point on the power play don’t you think?

Stop #2: New York, New York…where the Canucks had anything but an Empire state of mind.

Oi vey…where to begin with this game. The Rangers were looking to have a bounce back game while the Canucks were looking to put a string of wins together. One team was going to achieve their goal and it all came down to who put their best team effort on the ice…and that is exactly what happened.

The Rangers jumped ahead to 2-0 lead much to the delight of the home crowd and their delight did not end there as in the second period they jumped to a 4-0 lead. Luongo’s night at the 3-0 goal and Lack in to try and spark the team in some way. Booth’s goal put the Canucks on the board before the end of the middle frame.

The Canucks put themselves in a pretty steep hole making the comeback improbable. The Rangers all but secured their victory when Kreider put the home team ahead 5-1 as he completed a hat trick and hats rained down at MSG. The Canucks did manage to get another goal as Daniel scored a power play goal late in the game to make it a 5-2 overall score.

This was definitely not the Canucks best game by any means, possibly one of their worst BUT the good news is that they had an immediate opportunity to have a bounce back game the very next day.

Stop #3: Sweet Caroline…bounce back they did indeed. Torts was not happy with the team’s effort on Saturday and neither was the team. The Canucks knew they had to have a MUCH better effort for their Sunday matinee game. Eddie Lack made his 5th start of the season.

Remember that power play that struggled in the first 20 games? Including Ryan Kesler’s first period goal against the Hurricanes, Vancouver’s power play has scored in 7 of the last 9 games. It should be noted before Kesler made it a 1-0 lead…he took a puck to head, shook it off and gave the Canucks a rare FIRST goal of the game lead [a trend that has not happened enough if you ask me!].

The first period was all Canucks as they dominated the first 20 minutes out-shooting Carolina 9-4 as they visitors jumped up to 2-0 lead. The second goal was a point shot from Garrison tipped in front from Tostito [aka Sestito!].

As we all know NO lead in ANY game is ever safe.

The second period was Carolina’s turn to take this game over. The Hurricanes not to be outdone by the visitors came back VERY quickly scoring two goals in 10 seconds to tie the game at 2. To be honest when Carolina tied the game so quickly…I had flashbacks to the Chicago game when they similarly changed the tide in 9 seconds. That being said the Canucks did not give up their compete in this one, they shook off the shock and came right back. Just 27 seconds after the Hurricanes tied the game…Ryan Kesler scored his second of the night give the Canucks a 3-2 lead.

Despite the quick start to the middle frame and despite the Hurricanes out-shooting the Canucks 17-10 in the middle frame, were not able to find the 3-3 equalizer.

The third period was a pretty even affair. Carolina came very close, if not for a little help from Burrows, the Hurricanes may have tied the game again! Heck of a save BURR!

Kesler came oh SO CLOSE to completing the hat trick BUT Ward made an important save to keep it a one goal game. Carolina pressed for the equalizer late in the game even pulling Cam Ward for the extra attacker as the clock was winding down. You do recall that the other team pulling their goalie has been the Canucks kryptonite as of late right? They ALWAYS get it…or at least that is how it has gone all season long. NOT THIS TIME. The Canucks held on to the ONE goal lead and walked away with TWO points in REGULATION. Yes…this really happened! Lack was solid in net finishing with 29 saves.

The league’s number one penalty kill unit got put to the test killing 6 straight penalties! Needless to say, by the final buzzer this was a much more complete game from the team. Can they be better? Every team can always be better and can always learn from mistakes made in previous games.

Next Stop: The Canucks will close out their 4-game road trip in Smashville….otherwise known as Nashville. It won’t be an easy game…it never is against the Predators and the Canucks will have to put their best game on the ice to earn the two points.

Let’s close out this road trip in style boys!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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.

Road Trip #2: Part ONE

Game 17: Canuck vs. Coyotes.

Game 17: Canuck vs. Coyotes.

Stop #1: The Desert otherwise known as Phoenix. In past years playing against Phoenix nearly always meant a close defensive game. In a surprise twist that no one expected, the Coyotes have turned their game into an offensive roulette, heading into this game Phoenix had scored 4 or more goals in their previous 7 games. So which team would face off against Vancouver?

As has happened more often than not this season, the opposition opened up the scoring. Despite the one goal it was a pretty even first road period and it stayed a one goal game after 20 minutes. Cue the comeback kids [aka the Canucks] who wasted no time getting on the board at the start of the second period to tie the game 1-1. The goal came just 25 seconds into the middle frame from a point shot by Dan Hamhuis.

The Canucks did something in this game they haven’t done very often this season by scoring a power play goal in back to back games to take a 2-1 lead. The Canucks were in control of the play until late in the second period when the Coyotes came back to tie the game 2-2.

The third period was a goal-tender’s duel as neither team wanted to give in. Overtime would be needed but yielded no results and you know what that means…a shoot out. Yes a shoot out, everyone’s favourite tradition or most hated depending on how you look at it. Phoenix struck first in the shoot out and BURROWS tied it to keep Vancouver in it. 6 rounds were needed to solve this one in which Phoenix got the go ahead goal to take the two points.

The Canucks may not have won the game but they manage to steal a road point and did some good things: the power play stole a goal, Luongo was rock solid, the second line solidified itself as a game changer [Burrows, Higgins & Santorelli] and Henrik stretched his points streak to 12 straight games!

The Canucks may not have won the game after that 6-round shootout BUT Ryan Kesler did score this beauty on the power play!

Next mission to achieve a feat they have not managed in 9 straight games against San Jose going back to January 2012.

Game 18: Canucks vs. Sharks

Game 18: Canucks vs. Sharks

Stop #2: The Shark Tank. Playing the Sharks has not been an easy task in the last 9 games or so for Vancouver and the media has made sure to remind them of that fact every time they have faced off against San Jose. This year the Sharks have been dominant and in the previous two games versus San Jose this year, the Sharks have outscored the Canucks 8-2.

This time going into the Shark Tank, the Canucks would bring with them a very different lineup than had previously faced off with the Sharks…aka more than one line.

The start of this game was a strange bounce that found its way in the back of the net to give the Sharks the quick 1-0 lead and make Canucks fans hope that it wasn’t a sign of things to come.

The concern did not last long as the unsung hero Brad Richardson scored on the Canucks first shot of the game to tie the game 1-1. The pace seemed to pick up and quickly we again saw an exchange of goals from the teams [Santorelli for the Canucks and Brown for the Sharks] just ten minutes into the game. Offense anyone? The pace slowed down until late in the period when Burrows set Higgins up for the go ahead goal to put to the Canucks up 3-2.

The Canucks dominated the second period outshooting the Sharks 17-5 and chasing Niemi from the net when they went up 4-2 [credit goes to Bieksa who took the initial shot from the point & Kassian who tapped it in front]. Remember when the second period was one to be dreaded? This year it has been one of their strongest periods.

The Sharks picked up the pace in the third period out shooting the Canucks 13-8, but Luongo closed the door for Vancouver helping to the team steal 2 points in regulation. Henrik’s point streak came to an end [worry not, a new points streak will begin] BUT more importantly the team ended their 9 game skid in San Jose.

Yes, it really did happen, the Canucks finally earned a victory in the Shark tank! The Canucks got goals from 4 different players and none of them were named Sedin or Kesler. Secondary scoring…yes please! It sure is nice to see the line up taking shape! Three stand outs this year have been the unexpected trio or Richardson, Santorelli & Stanton. Gillis has taken a lot of heat in the last two year but 18 games into this season and the signings of Brad Richardson and Mike Santorelli and the acquiring of Ryan Stanton have been absolute steals. All three of them have been integral to the team’s success this season.

Canucks players and fans alike are buying into the Torts systems.

Next up: The Canucks will face off 7:00 TONIGHT [Nov.9] against the never to be taken for granted LA Kings on hockey night in Canada. The Canucks will close out the 4-game road trip TOMORROW [Nov.10] against the league leading Anaheim Ducks. #goCanucksgo #roadwarriors

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.

Road Trip #1: Part TWO

Game 9: Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Game 9: Vancouver Canucks vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Stop THREE: The Igloo. A red hot Sidney Crosby was looking to continue his dominance while team mate Marc-Andre Fleury was looking to continue his solid start. The Canucks were looking to continue their great start to their 7 game road trip. This game would also mark the return of Alex Edler to the lineup from his three-game suspension.

This game had some great moments from BOTH sides as the pace went back and forth. In his return Edler scored a beauty of a goal to open the scoring. Not to be outdone the Penguins had their own stars step up to tie this game…do you even have to ask who it was? As he has done all season, Crosby continued his red hot streak with 3 points in the game! The Penguins took over the game by taking a 2-1 lead BUT no lead was safe in this game…as the ever reliable Canuck Richardson scored another CLUTCH goal to tie this game at 2.

Kassian who has been playing impressively since his return from suspension scored his first goal of the season to give the Canucks a lead. If I haven’t already said it…not one lead was safe in this game….late in the third a very talented Penguins rookie Olli Maatta helped Pittsburgh force overtime.

Overtime was not enough to solve this one and we all know what comes after an unresolved overtime: the dreaded shootout. Malkin scored the lone goal in the shootout [& it pains me to say it was quite a goal!]. Despite the loss, this was a great game for the Canucks. Kevin Bieksa factored on every Canucks goal and played one of his best games of the year. At the end of the day two great teams played a team that featured great moments from both sides. What more can the fans ask for?

Game 10: Vancouver Canucks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Game 10: Vancouver Canucks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Stop FOUR: Columbus DAY…or is it? It was almost like watching a Nashville game…it was a tight 1-1 lock and looked like either next goal wins or OT would be needed. Eddie Lack made his second NHL start.

The Blue Jackets got a 2-1 lead with 10 minutes remaining and the Canucks pushed back and NEARLY scored many times…BUT no tying goal could be had.

No tying goal with the clock winding down resulted in my least favourite call of any game: pull the goalie for an extra attacker. Nine times out of ten, it results in an empty net goal…this was one of those times. Columbus won this one 3-1. A disappointing loss BUT that’s how it goes sometimes.

Stop FIVE: A New York State of Mind or so the song goes.

The Islanders were quick to grab a 2-0 lead. It was not the start the Canucks wanted to have and a pattern that has become WAY too common in the first 11 games. The lead would not last as just 16 seconds after coughing up the 2-0 lead…the Canucks began the comeback with a goal from Ryan Kesler. Midway through the first period Daniel Sedin the game 2. This game had high scoring written on it from the beginning.

The second period saw much of the same…the Islanders took the lead back early in the second period. The Canucks thanks to a #sedinery play found this game tied up once more! The Canucks took over the momentum in this game with a LATE goal to take their first lead of the game with a goal from HIGGINS!

The third period seemed to slow a little pace wise with action on both ends of the ice. It seemed like perhaps this game might end in regulation BUT that would have been asking too much. The Islanders pulled their goalie for an extra attacker…and they kept pushing for the tying goal which they got with just 1:12 remaining on the clock. Overtime would be needed.

Overtime was all Canucks…they did not want to have another shootout (& personally I’m glad…I hate shootouts!) The game winning goal came on play started by Bieksa [who was originally credited with the goal] and finished by Brad Richardson. COMEBACK COMPLETE! It may not have been a pretty win but they did come back from trailing 2-0 to win 5-4 and regardless of how it came a WIN is a WIN at the end of the day.

5 games into this road trip the Canucks have posted a respectable 3-1-1 record and will look to build upon that when they close out their road trip with two more stops in New Jersey and St.Louis.

Next Stop: TODAY the team will come face to face once more with Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils. [It looks like Cory has earned top crease time for the moment in the latest goalie controversy].  New Jersey has just one win this season and will not give up two points to the Canucks very easily. Its going to be an interesting game that’s for sure…Vancouver will have to put its best game on the ice if they want to take two points tonight.

#GOCANUCKSGO

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.