To “LU” or not to “LU”…

LUONGORoberto Luongo will make his highly anticipated return between the pipes at Rogers Arena as the opposition for the first time since being traded back to the Florida Panthers. Will you “LU” or will you “Boo” when the Canucks former number one goal-tender hits the ice? The answer SHOULD be simple: Lu deserves respect and the fans owe him respect, so you SHOULD most definitely: “LUUUU”. Love him or hate him, Roberto Luongo will go down in history as one of the all-time best goalies to ever don a Vancouver Canucks jersey. His had endless critics during his entire tenure in Vancouver from the fans to the media but no one was a bigger critic of his time in the crease than Luongo himself. In his first presser since returning to Vancouver, he expressed disappointment in not being able to bring a cup here.

Yes there will still be the critics who say that Luongo was not good enough. Yes, it’s true that he did not win a cup here in this city but that truth will still never undo the incredible feats that he DID accomplish during his eight years as a Canuck.

  • 448 games played with an overall record of: 252-137-50. Those 252 wins make him the all-time leader in franchise WINS.
  • 38 shutouts.
  • 6 Divisional Championships.
  • 1 Jennings Trophy.
  • 1 Western Conference Championship.
  • Back to back President’s Trophy seasons.
  • 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance that capped off an incredible playoff run that took the city on a thrilling ride to lead this team within ONE game of their first championship.
  • Winning an Olympic GOLD medal in HIS house in front of the home crowd!

Many incredible moments that can never be taken away no matter how hard the critics are sure to try. Yes, he asked to leave Vancouver but can you blame the guy after the way the last 2 1/2 years of his tenure went? Trade him, they said. It felt as though the entire city had turned their back on him, always calling for the back up and quick to blame him for every fault with the team. It got to the point where it seemed even the coaches had turned their back him or lost faith in his abilities with the final straw that saw him NOT play in the Heritage Classic. That was absolutely a low point and an unfortunate way to end his eight year tenure with the team.

He gave THIS city everything he had EVERY single time he was on the ice. Roberto Luongo was and still is the epitome of a class act both on and off the ice. If you are also at the game on January 8th, then I hope you will join me in a LOUD resounding “LUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU” when Bobby Lu steps on the ice. No matter how the game between the Canucks and the Panthers ends at final buzzer, this shall remain true: Roberto deserves our respect and he has more than earned it.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Roberto Luongo Deserves Better (Part TWO)

In the summer of 2012 I was forced to confront the idea that my favourite Canuck, Roberto Luongo would be traded as all of the drama with Schneider had evolved and it led to this writing this post that August:

https://nucksaid.wordpress.com/2012/08/19/roberto-deserves-better-from-you-vancouver-you-should-give-him-the-respect-hes-earned/

Today I am forced to confront the reality that Roberto Luongo has indeed been traded and being led to write yet another post about the respect that he deserved and still deserves.

THANK-YOU LU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THANK-YOU LU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The writing has been on the wall but that does not mean I am not sad about the outcome. My heart slightly broke when the news was revealed but I am glad for Luongo that he gets a fresh start. Vancouver did not appreciate what they had in Luongo or respect him particularly well in the last three years. From many of the fans to the local media, it somehow became lost just how much Luongo has done for the Canucks franchise and somewhere along the way this city decided that they no longer supported LU.

How could everyone forget what Luongo did for this team? Shall I remind you? 6 division championships(6 playoff berths), 2 President trophies, 1 Western Conference Championship, 1 Stanley Cup Final appearance (all the way to game 7!), oh and did I mention his 2 Olympic GOLD medals?! In 439 regular season games with the Canucks Luongo posted a 252-137-50 record while posting 38 shut outs. He is the franchise leading goal-tender in wins and shutouts and will go down in history as one of the BEST Canucks players of all time.

No matter what the media would write or dictate the fans to think, Roberto always found a way to put his best game on the ice. When he was winning this city loved him and erupted in endless LUUUUUU cheers…but if he lost or let in a bad goal the love turned to taunting and saying things like he was not dependable. His ability to win big games came into question until the 2010 Olympics came calling in his very own Canuck rink. Think back to overtime in the gold medal game…LU makes a big save, Sid scores the BIGGEST goal of the tournament and the LU and Crosby cheers that erupted in the arena were deafening.

CROSBY SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!! CANADA WINS GOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

CROSBY SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!!! CANADA WINS GOLD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The season that followed the gold medal season…the 2010-2011 season was magical and nearly perfection with the exception of the final game of the Stanley Cup final. It was the most thrilling ride that any Canucks team has taken the city on since the spring of 1994 and Roberto Luongo was at the center of it all. It was incredible to watch as it happened…but in the aftermath of game 7,  all eyes of the media placed the blame not so much on the team as a whole but on one individual…Luongo took it all. Hate to break to everyone but as much as you need saves from your goalie which they did get…you also need goals from the team in front of you which they did not get in that last game.

It was not the perfect storybook ending that we had all hoped for…but it was an incredible run. The following season Luongo and the team repeated as President Trophy winners BUT instead of an incredible run were met with an upset from the LA Kings in the first round. It was the end of that series when the team chose to start Cory Schneider for the final three games that the writing seemed to be on the wall that the end was not only near but was here for Luongo. The hints had started to come earlier than the playoffs when the crowd jeered Luongo more than once at home in favour of Schneider.

The summer began with Luongo being willing to waive his no-trade-clause and Schneider being re-signed to a 3-year contract. It seemed very clear the direction that was going to be taken…and then the 2012 lockout happened putting everything on hold. No one knew if there would even be a season. The powers that be between the NHL and the NHLPA finally came to an agreement that saw a shortened 48-game regular season begin in late January 2013. The season started with the rotation of Schneider and Luongo and AV’s infamous coin…but eventually it became the Schneider team and Luongo seemed once again to be on his way out. The trade deadline came and went…the season once again ended with an early exit and no change had come.

Luongo expected that he would not be returning to the Canucks and a trade seemed inevitable with Scheider in prime position again. The draft came and a trade finally happened…but it was not Luongo that was traded…Schneider was sent to the New Jersey Devils. The end of the saga seemed to have arrived. Fast forward to this season…Lack signed on to backup Luongo. Both goalies had some great moments…and all seemed fine…until Luongo was injured not once but twice and Lack was put in the spotlight. That spotlight around Lack started to get bigger (not of his own choosing) and Luongo unbeknownst to himself was slowly being forced back into the corner he previously shared with Schneider.

That corner became ever more evident when it was revealed that Lack would be starting in the Heritage Classic game over the franchise goalie Luongo. Fans while they support Lack, were disappointed in the mistreatment of Luongo who more than deserved to play in that game. I love Eddie Lack and his playing style and he has been the absolute epitome of support and class to the team, fans and Luongo. He did not ask for the game…all he did was play when told and was forced to face the fans first dislike of him in the net…during the Heritage Classic as the entire arena chanted WE WANT LU. That was the end of the line. Fast forward to two days later and the trade that everyone had expected for nearly three years finally happened. Roberto Luongo was traded to the Florida Panthers in exchange for goalie Jacob Markstrom & forward Shawn Matthias.

Yes it was a trade that we all expected to happen at some point but that does not mean it does not make me sad. It is the end of an era. Luongo did a lot  of good for this franchise but was never properly appreciated by this city or the fans. Luongo deserved better and I hope that in Florida, he gets the respect that he has always deserved. All the good things he did, seemed to have been forgotten by many in all the drama that unfolded in the last few years. Roberto Luongo deserved better in Vancouver and he definitely still deserves better from this city. He has more than earned the respect of his peers and fans for everything he did for the Canucks franchise. All I can say is thank-you, to Roberto Luongo for an incredible 8 seasons and being the epitome of class through the good times and the bad. Thank-you also for helping me love this crazy game called hockey even more than I already did. I will still cheer LUUUUUUUU every single time Florida plays and #1 is between the pipes. You will be missed in Vancouver, but you deserve a fresh start. All the best to #1 as he begins a new chapter with the Panthers.

THANK-YOU LU for 8 amazing years and giving this city 8 years of incredible memories.  #LUUUUUUUUUUUU

THANK-YOU LU for 8 amazing years and giving this city 8 seasons of incredible memories. #LUUUUUUUUUUUU

Here’s a few tributes to my favourite former Canuck:

I will also miss Lu’s hilarious sense of humour:

One last note. In his leave, Luongo advised to Vancouver to take care of Eddie Lack and I hope that this city actually listens. Lack like Luongo, deserves respect. Lack had the utmost respect for Luongo. It has not been an easy few days for Eddie as he never expected this moment and it must have been one heck of a shock to see his mentor sent to Florida. The weight of an entire city is now on Lack’s shoulders…that is an insane amount of pressure in his rookie season. I suggest, that we take Luongo’s advice from the very beginning of Eddie’s tenure by supporting our goalie in way that this city never has before. It sounds like a refreshing approach no?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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.

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 4 Recap: Canucks vs. Devils

Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Game 4 Recap: Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

Cory Schneider returned to Vancouver for the first time since the unexpected trade and the long winded goalie controversy came to an end. Every sports broadcaster dubbed the game “Luongo vs. Schneider” as if to spark a new controversy. Both Luongo and Schneider spoke very highly of each other leading up to this game and acknowledged it was a strange position to be in. It was definitely strange to see Schneids on the opposition.

All eyes were on the two goal-tenders from the morning media scrum to the final buzzer. Two incredible athletes who promised to put their best game on the ice for their respective teams.

The first period saw chances on both sides and both goalies made some great saves. Momentum shifted from Vancouver to New Jersey when the ever reliable Jaromir Jagr opened the scoring late in the first period to make the score 1-0. Regardless of his age [43] you cannot deny the guy’s skill set.

The second period began with once again chances on both sides. New Jersey scored again to take a 2-0 lead. Some may complain about that goal as it first hit the refs skate BUT regardless the goal gave the Devils a two goal lead. No lead is ever safe in hockey and no team knows that better than New Jersey this year. Cue Torts making line changes! Vancouver pushed back and just 1:28 later had pulled within one thanks to a goal from Daniel Sedin. The Canucks seemed to carry a little momentum on their side following that goal out-shooting the Devils 14-7 and eventually tying the game 2-2. The tying goal came on a great play by who else…the Sedins who dished it to a rushing Edler for his first goal of the year.

The third period came with no answers found other than each goal-tender keeping their teams in the game and hoping to secure two points. This was a disciplined effort as there were only 3 penalties called between the two teams. Both teams were secured a point with overtime looming for the second straight game. This is one game I really didn’t want to see in a shootout but it seemed like it might be destined to end in one. A point shot from Garrison hit SANTORELLI in front 2:18 into OT saved everyone from the shootout and secured the two points for Vancouver. For the second straight game, the comeback was complete in OT.

All eyes were on Luongo and Schneider from the morning media scrum to the final buzzer and despite the media’s pushing they only had nice things to say about the other. Here’s a few quotes from the two who were most scrutinized in this game thanks to the media and the last two years:

To quote Luongo: “Schneids kept them in it, made some big saves throughout the whole game. It was fun, it was nice to battle it out. Somebody has to win, somebody has to lose. We both got at least a point for our teams.”

To quote Schneids: “With Louie at the other end, you have to match him save for save because he’s not going to give you much. It was fun playing against Luongo, he’s a great goalie, I have always said that. I’ve learned a lot from him and he’s been put through a lot but his resiliency and how hard he’s worked through it. I think he deserves everything he gets. It was fun seeing him at the other end for the first time.”

All in all it was a good game by both Luongo and Schneider and BOTH deserve success this season. I’m happy Luongo got the win and I really do wish all the best to Schneids except of course when he plays the Canucks!

Game at a glance!

Game at a glance!

Next up for the Canucks, will be quite the challenge as they meet the as of yet undefeated San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are coming off a BIG 9-2 win against the Rangers in large part due to rookie Hertl’s 4 goal performance. San Jose has outscored their opposition 17-9 in three games. San Jose has presented a challenge for the Canucks in recent history and they will be looking to change that when the puck drops tomorrow night. The Canucks will need play a disciplined game and stay out of the box, tighten up defensively and support Luongo by providing some offense. Hopefully they rise to the challenge and surprise a few people. Best of luck tomorrow boys!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks 2013-2014 Season Headlines

It’s that time of year to take a look at the season ahead and the story lines that will inevitably surround the Vancouver Canucks. The headline possibilities are endless, here are a few that are sure to revolve around the Canucks this season.

NHL Re-Alignment has officially been activated for the start of the 2013-2014 season. The re-alignment will see the new 2 Conference system fall into place featuring 4 divisions rather than 6. Each team team will play each other at least twice [every team will play in EACH arena at least ONCE]. The top 3 teams in EACH division will automatically qualify for the playoffs leaving 4 wildcard spots [2  wildcards per conference go to the teams that have the next highest points below the top 3 in each division; –either there could be 4 qualify from each division OR 3 in one and 5 in the other].

Eastern Conference- Atlantic Division:

  1. Boston Bruins *The Bruins have locked up Rask following a very good season, eventually locked up Iginla and will be looking to build on the success they had last season.
  2. Buffalo Sabres *The Sabres will be looking to have much stronger season and get back to the playoffs.
  3. Detroit Red Wings *The re-alignment moves Detroit from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference. Teams should never take Detroit lightly because despite what some call their ‘aging’ roster, they never stop competing.
  4. Florida Panthers *Florida signed the ever colorful Tim Thomas following his absence from the NHL for more than a year and will be looking for the success they had during the 2011-2012 season.
  5. Montreal Canadiens *Montreal will be looking to build upon the success of last season when they won their division and push themselves further in the post-season.
  6. Ottawa Senators *Ottawa may have lost Alfie to Detroit BUT they gained an offensive weapon in acquiring Bobby Ryan. New captain, Spezza will be hoping to help the team go all the way.
  7. Tampa Bay Lightning *Tampa will be looking to return to the playoffs this year. Despite missing the post-season last year, St.Louis led the league in scoring.
  8. Toronto Maple Leafs *Toronto returned to the playoffs for the first time in 9 years and will surely want to return to the post-season to erase that game 7 memory.

Eastern Conference- Metropolitan Division:

  1. Carolina Hurricanes *Carolina with a healthy lineup and dependable goal-tending could be dangerous.
  2. Columbus Blue Jackets *Columbus surprised a lot of people last season as they only missed the playoffs by a single point. The Blue Jackets will look to keep themselves as a contender this year.
  3. New Jersey Devils *Brodeur & Schneider in the net give New Jersey impeccable goal-tending.
  4. NY Islanders *Newly named captain, John Tavares will be looking to lead the Islanders straight back to the playoffs.
  5. NY Rangers *The Rangers will look to push themselves to their best under new coach Alain Vigneault.
  6. Philadelphia Flyers *Philadelphia will look to have a turn around year and get back to the post-season.
  7. Pittsburgh Penguins *Pittsburgh will want a much a different ending to their season this year and will bring a new determination to their game.
  8. Washington Capitals *Alex Ovechkin will be looking to build upon the success the Caps had in the second 1/2 of last season and hopefully help lead them to a long post-season.

Western Conference- Central Division:

  1. Chicago Blackhawks *The 2013 Stanley Cup Champions will be looking to carry their success from last season into the current one. With most of their SC roster still in place, they will make a very tough opponent. 
  2. Colorado Avalanche *Patrick Roy returns to the Avs as the new Head Coach and hopes to lead the team back to the post-season.
  3. Dallas Stars      *Lindy Ruff takes over as Head coach, Tyler Seguin joins Dallas & Jamie Benn named Captain.
  4. Minnesota Wild *The Wild will be looking to push themselves further.
  5. Nashville Predators *Trotz will be looking to get the Predators back on track following a year when they were not at their best.
  6. St.Louis Blues *The Blues have solidified their defense and will look to build upon their last two seasons pushing further in the post season.
  7. Winnipeg Jets *The re-alignment moves them from the Eastern conference to the Western Conference.

Western Conference- Pacific Division:

  1. Anaheim Ducks *Getzlaf and company will be looking to make Selanne’s final season a memorable one.
  2. Calgary Flames *It’s a new era in Calgary with Iggy in Boston and Kipper retiring, they will be looking to find new ways to win.
  3. Edmonton Oilers *A new coach and a talented young core will make Edmonton a competitor as long as all stay healthy.
  4. Los Angeles Kings *LA is a team that no opponent can over look, they are competitors that make their opponents pay.
  5. Phoenix Coyotes *Ownership now in place, Phoenix will look to gain back some momentum that they had in the 2011-2012 season.
  6. San Jose Sharks *A talented line up and when all cylinders are rolling can be dangerous to their opponents.
  7. Vancouver Canucks *With new coach Torts at the helm, the Canucks will look to push themselves to new levels and recapture some post-season success.
    The Canucks have won 6 division titles in the last 7 years prior to the re-alignment but this new alignment brings new rivalries to the surface. The Pacific division will not be easy but it will be a great battle to watch as these 7 teams compete for playoff positioning. It will be a tight race, but incredibly fun to watch. 

Torts Time has officially begun in Vancouver with the signing of John Tortorella as the 17th head coach in Vancouver Canucks history. Heads and eyes definitely rolled initially when it was announced that Torts had in fact been hired by the Canucks as most are aware of his past with the media and passion for the game. The media have reminded Torts of his colored past at every single press conference just to see if he will take the bait. Perhaps he eventually will snap at a member of the media but why goad him into it just for the sake of seeing him snap? How about instead of attempting to see how quick the media can make the coach snap, they focus on how he can help this team. It is going to be a very different year with Torts at the helm of this team and we ought to give him a chance to push this team to their best before we make assumptions. There are 82 games on the schedule, plenty of opportunity for Torts to prove his coaching skills and give the media their desired media bite.

Luongo’s Return: It is a return that many did not expect to happen with everything that happened in the last two years with Cory Schneider. It was a draft day trade that no one expected, especially Luongo. The trade was made and now its time to move the focus to this season: Cory is now a Devil and Luongo is the starter for the Canucks…ACCEPT the facts. Luongo is here to stay and he is more than qualified to play as the starter. This year there will be a lot scrutiny surrounding Luongo and all eyes around the league will be on him. This is an opportunity for Luongo to show all his doubters that he is still an elite goal-tender and perhaps the media will actually show him some support this year rather than help to turn the fans against him. It may not have been the outcome most people expected this year, but it is what happened. Time to support the team and that includes Roberto Luongo. Call me crazy but with the Olympics looming, I have no doubts that Luongo will have a big year in more ways than one.

A finally 100% healthy Ryan Kesler will be on the Canucks opening night roster. Fans have been waiting nearly two years for Kesler to be starting the season 100% healthy. IF Kesler can remain healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule, it is possible that we can see him reach an entirely new level. When operating at 100% Kesler is offensively dangerous to all opponents. I think its safe to say that Kesler will be looking to push to a new level with the Olympics on the horizon and the US looking to top their 2010 Silver finish in 2014. Will #beastmode once again be activated? Me thinks, yes. If you’ve seen Kesler at any of the recent press conferences he has a fire in his eyes that wasn’t there in the last seasons, a determination to push himself to an elite level of play.

SEDINS=Forever Canucks: The Sedins are going into the final year of their current contract and are looking to sign an extension prior to opening day OR before season’s end. It is not lost on most, that this could be their final contract of their careers and they WANT to remain with the Vancouver Canucks. Management has also expressed that they want the Sedins to remain with the team. Contract discussions have been ongoing since the start of training camp as both sides hope to have a contract signed, sealed and delivered by season’s start. Rumor has it the Sedins could sign contracts with $7.5 million cap hit which have caused some to be shocked BUT you shouldn’t be as they could easily sign for more if they were to test the open market. Regardless of what the final contracts are signed for, rest assured the Sedins will be career Canucks. This is the only team they have ever played for and this is the team they desire to play with for the entirety of their careers. We as the fans, are lucky have watched them develop from rookies to the superstars they are today.

SC Battle Begins: The expectations will vary for each team every year BUT one expectation that every team equally desires is to win the Stanley Cup. The battle for the 2014 Stanley Cup begins as the calendar flips to October and will go all the to June. A quest that begins with an 82 game regular season, an Olympic interruption in February, and closes with an epic 4 round battle for 16 post season wins. I’m not saying that the Canucks will win[***but I will love it if they do!]; all I am saying is that starting tomorrow every team has a blank slate and the season that follows will determine who goes all the way. Starting tomorrow, when the puck drops in the first game of the season, every team has an equal chance and how they play will determine the final outcome.

As the off-season comes to a close, it feels like Christmas Eve. Now all we can do, is wait for the madness to begin when that first puck drops and skates hit the ice tomorrow. There will be no turning back, as the quest for the 2014 Stanley cup begins with game one of the regular season. Let the games begin!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Player Profile: #1 Roberto Luongo

Today's Profile: Roberto Luongo

Today’s Profile: Roberto Luongo

In the last two years, this city and many of the team’s fans seem to have forgotten about a guy named Roberto Luongo. He went from a hero that lead Canada to the Gold Medal in 2010 and carried the team on a long playoff run in 2011 to being heckled off the ice in favour of Cory Schneider the following year. Is Cory Schneider a talented athlete and deserving of a bigger role? Yes, but he has yet to earn the respect that Luongo has more than earned from this city but has not been given in the last two years. Roberto deserves so much better than that Vancouver and I hope you join me in actually supporting Luongo this season!

Roberto Luongo was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks in the trade of Todd Bertuzzi with the Florida Panthers in June 2006. When Luongo joined the team, he brought with him a will to win [**note he posted 47 WINS in his first Vancouver season!]. In 747 career games, Luongo has amassed a 348-289-53 [Wins-Losses-OTL] record and 62 shutouts. Vancouver fans should take a closer look at his overall record: prior to joining the Canucks, he posted a 115-168-9 record and since joining the Canucks, he has posted a 233-121-44 record.

With Luongo, the team has made it to the playoffs EVERY year except one [2007-2008]. When he raises his level of play [2010-2011 in particular], it elevates the play of the entire team. Luongo may no longer be team captain but he is certainly still a leader on this team.

This season will be different for Vancouver and Roberto. Last year he came to camp expecting to be traded as it seemed the whole city had turned on him. He wasn’t traded last year and he wasn’t traded when when the season ended. It was a move that shocked many when the Canucks announced the Cory Schneider trade, but it is what is and it is time to accept the reality that Luongo is still #1. This year he comes to camp knowing that while there will still be a media frenzy, he will be the starter. Luongo will be looking to put up strong numbers proving to all those naysayers that he still is a top NHL starting goal-tender. If Luongo can put his best game on the ice for every game, the team plays well in front of him and this city actually supports him, anything could happen this season. It all comes down to consistency by the entire team, night in and night out through the 82 game schedule. Time will tell.

Here are some highlights to remind of just how awesome Luongo is! [Spoiler alert: many of these are against the Hawks…he has played some of his best games against Chicago.]

LUUUUUUUUUUUUUU robs the ever pesky Eager with this show stopper:

Bobby LUUUUUUU robs another Blackhawk for this highlight reel save!:

My favourite save of the 2010 Olympics happened in the Slovakia game:

Who says Luongo hates shootouts? [Probably everyone…BUT in this particular one, he was brilliant!]:

If you have any doubts that Luongo will report to camp, according to Torts, Luongo is more than ready to play focusing on what needs to be done on the ice and simply wants to play. I cannot wait to see #1 take back the starter reigns when the calendar turns to October! I have always and will always support Luongo.

#LUUUUUUUUUU #heartofacanuck

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Oh and in case you missed it, CHRIS TANEV is FINALLY officially RE-SIGNED! The Canucks also re-signed Andrew Alberts to a one-year contract.