Surprise start & Canucks aiming for 5

Well that may have taken you by surprise seeing Roberto Luongo start last night for the first time in 12 games. Yes heaven forbid Cory should miss a game, perish the thought! Some may have been worried he would struggle or let a bad goal in. Did you see what happened ? He was extremely sharp early and late, making 40 saves on 41 shots[18 stops in the 3rd period alone!]. Luongo is the reason we won the game as he made sure to keep it a tight 1-1 tie until the rest of the team took over to score 3 late goals in the final 7 minutes to secure the victory. Luongo’s ability to win games needs to stop being a media hot topic, he is more than capable and proved that last night which was impressive given that he has had to watch Schneider play the last 11 games. The Canucks are extremely lucky to have the luxury of 2 excellent goalies down the stretch and heading into the playoffs.Let’s enjoy this tandem or one-two system while the Canucks are lucky enough to have BOTH goalies.

If you missed the Luongo starting surprise, you also may have missed Kesler notching two assists late in the game, giving him 3 points in 2 games since returning to the line up. HELLO power play! That has been missing nearly all year long from the Canucks resume! That was the tic tac toe play from the Sedins and Kesler that has been missing ALL season long. Hopefully their recent success will carry over the final 8 games of the regular season and into the playoffs.

The Canucks have put together a strong 2nd half, so far posting a 12-4-0 record with 8 games remaining. They currently sit 6 points up on Minnesota[the Wild play tonight] and will have to continue their solid play to stay atop the North West Division. The Canucks are 3rd overall in the West but there is just a 2 point differential between everyone in the Western Conference that sits in 4th-7th; which means the playoff match ups change daily. There are just two and half weeks left in the regular season and we will see a surprise or two yet before playoff match ups are set and the quest to win 16 games begins.

Next up for the Canucks, they will play the Colorado Avalanche in a matinee game Saturday afternoon [12 PM pacific time]. It is the 2nd game for them on a 5 game road trip. The Canucks will be looking to extend their win streak to 5 games [fun fact: that win streak also coincides with Derek Roy’s Canuck debut, making the Canucks 4-0-0 with him in the lineup!]. Ryan Kesler has points in back to back games and will be looking to extend his points streak to 3 games.

I look forward to whatever these last 8 games of the season bring and to seeing how the standings will eventually finish determining what the first round match ups will be for all teams. There is still a lot of hockey to be played before it is all said and done.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

One last thing, HAPPY BIRTHDAY ALEX BURROWS!!!!!!!!!

Sarah E.L.

How important is #17 to the Canucks?

Just how important is Ryan Kesler to the Vancouver Canucks? Many people found themselves asking this question on Monday, following the news that he would be returning to the line up vs. Phoenix. Just how big of an impact did #RK17 have?

Kesler wasted no time in getting into this game with speed and net presence. He scored the game’s opening goal just 7:26 into the first period:

In case you were wondering, that goal was also the game winning goal. Pretty good for a guy that has only played 8 games this season. The Canucks notched a season high 42 shots on net and were dominant for a full 60 minute effort. They controlled the puck while playing with a 1-0 lead for 52 minutes before Phoenix inadvertently scored on their own net making it a 2-0 lead. [Admit it, you felt slightly terrible for the Coyotes knowing that we would gladly take the insurance goal but glad that the situation was not reversed].

Ryan Kesler was more than ready for this game putting 4 shots on net and registering two penalty minutes. The poor guy has spent most of the season watching from the sidelines and we ALL know that Kesler is not one who enjoys being on the outside. The plan is for Kesler to get these final 10 games of the season under his belt so that come playoff time he has gained more than enough much needed preparation.

The question remains do the Canucks need Kesler in order to be successful? Answer: Yes, especially when Kesler is able to give 100%. When Kesler is firing on all cylinders, it is reflection of how the whole team is playing. Last night with Kesler fired up, the entire team looked different than they have for the majority of the season. They looked like they had their swagger back that has been missing for the better part of the season and they looked dominant in all areas. They looked like the team that we all know they are capable of being when they are firing on all cylinders. If they keep this off on the upcoming road trip it will be quite a fun final stretch of the season to watch. Last night felt like playoff hockey and the Canucks will need Kesler to keep playing this way, leading by example of his strong play. It is especially important that as the playoffs edge ever closer[3 weeks away!] that EVERY player on each team plays to the BEST of their abilities.

The Canucks will need Ryan Kesler to play the next 9 games and all through the playoffs as strong as he played in his comeback against the Coyotes. As Kesler plays so does the rest of the team and they will all have to play at their highest level if they want to have success into June.

Ryan Kesler finally looks like he is 100%, lets hope that the dominance from him and the team against Phoenix was just the beginning of what is to come down this final stretch of the season! His success is directly linked with the success of the rest of the team.

The Canucks will look to continue their winning ways on their 5 game road trip which begins tomorrow evening in Calgary. Hopefully Kesler will pick up where he left off against Phoenix and score another goal or perhaps two. Puck drop is at 6:30 PM[pacific time].

#Beastmode #WelcomeBackKESLER #goCanucksgo #playoffdrive #9games2go

So, how important is #17 to the Canucks? Simply put: extremely. Just look to the 2011 playoffs or any time when he is 100% healthy for an example of the beast mode we know he possesses when his game is in tact which it currently appears to be.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

WELCOME BACK #RK17

It is official!!! Ryan Kesler will indeed be playing in the game tonight.

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 wing...down the middle,  KESLER SCORES!!!!!!

Come now #Canuck fans….tell me you haven’t been waiting for this moment ALL season long?! Are you kidding me?! Picture this…his first game back…Higgins to Roy to KESLER SCORES!!!!!!

Ryan Kesler has 5 points[1G, 4A] in the 7 games he has appeared in.  He will be looking to help the Canucks continue to build on their strong 2nd half where they have amassed a 10-4-0 record [through the first 24 games, the Canucks record was just 11-7-6]. The Canucks have missed Kes on the powerplay and in the face off circle and hope that he will help to improve BOTH categories. There are 10 game left in this shortened season for Kesler to get himself playoff primed and ready, hopefully he ignites his #beastmode that we all love.

Perhaps we will see a goal much like this one, as Kes will looking to add to his season goal total:

WELCOME BACK RYAN KESLER!!

The Canucks will be looking to finish their current home stand a perfect 3-0-0 when they host the Phoenix Coyotes. Puck drop is just after 7:00 PM[pacific time]. #goCanucksgo

The final 10 game will be a great test for the Canucks as they continue to make their playoff positioning push. The end results are still to be determined and anything can happen. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

February Roundup

Today’s edition of nucksaid is what I like to call the “February Roundup”:

The Canucks placed Aaron Volpatti on waivers, and he was claimed off those very same waivers by the Washington Capitals. Best of luck in the Capitol #peppermintpatty! The Canucks also learned earlier this week that Ryan Kesler will sidelined for a lengthly period due to a fractured bone in his foot. Awesome news[enter sarcastic tone]. Kesler was just beginning to hit his stride with 5 points in 7 games! I sincerely hope that this latest injury of his heals sooner rather than later as it is extremely important that come playoff time, Ryan Kesler must be 100% healthy. Andrew Ebbett has been recalled from the Chicago Wolves. With Kesler missing more games, now is the time for players like Ebbett, Kassian and Schroeder to step up. They say one player’s injury is another player’s opportunity which is exactly true, it is up to the under dogs to prove they are more valuable than people realized.

Despite a complete debacle by any and all angles in the Detroit game, Roberto Luongo[5-1-3 —2 SO] is still the Canucks most consistent player. That was the first and only game he let in more than 3 goals in 9 starts. Despite the 8 goals[please no comments, it was a disaster game by the entire team] Luongo’s GAA is just 2.11 [up from his sparkling 1.45, but still very respectable]. Cory Schneider[5-4-1 —1 SO] has yet to show his rock solid consistency from a year ago letting 3 or more goals in 6 of 10 starts. I do think that Luongo will rebound from the Detroit game and Schneider will find his consistency despite the ridiculous cloud of negativity that media and fans are prone to creating.

My favourite fact about the Canucks in February is that despite the two losses to close out the month, the #triplets [Sedins & Burrows] rediscovered their chemistry after being reunited. The Sedins have found their mid-season form. Combined Daniel, Henrik and Burrows have posted 49 points in 19 games [Daniel 20, Henrik 18, and Burrows 11]. That is the definitely #1 line material.

The Canucks have a new entrance song for home games. Gone is “Where Streets Have No Name” by U2, and in its place at least for now is “The House That Heaven Built” by the Japandroids. I am not convinced that this is it and I think the search should continue.

Canucks fans were given the news that Manny Malhotra’s season would be cut short and they would be missing a very important part of their penalty kill for the rest of the season. Manny Malhotra addressed the media for the first time since it was announced that he was not able to finish the season due. He stated that although it is difficult to be on the sidelines, he is greatful to be a part of the Vancouver Canucks organization because it is like being a part of a family.

The Chicago Blackhawks are still playing scary good and have extended their points streak to 19 game [16-0-3] not including tonight’s game[which despite the loss of Crawford, the outcome looks good up 3-0]. It does not matter whether Crawford or Emery is in net, both have been lights out. It also helps that the team is getting scoring from the top line guys, the defense and secondary scoring from every other line. As much as I dislike the Blackhawks, I cannot deny the talent they have displayed 19 games and counting to start this season.

The San Jose Sharks on the other hand who started off the season red hot with 7 straight wins disappointed in February winning just 2 out of 11 games [not including tonight’s game]. The big three of Big Joe[Thornton], Marleau and Little Joe[Pavelski] have to find their game if they want to turn things moving towards March.

In a move that shocked the waves most so far into the shortened season was seeing that Bufflalo dismissed head coach Lindy Ruff who has been the cornerstone of that franchise for nearly 16 years! The only other coach to be tenured that long is Barry Trotz in Nashville. It bothers me that coaches are blamed and dismissed first when a team struggles. Are they to blame? Perhaps on some levels, but I do not think that Lindy Ruff is one who can be blamed for Buffalo’s struggles. They desperately need more than one line to provide their scoring.

In the media circus that is swirling around the Colorado Avalanche and the Ryan O’Reilly conundrum has reached new heights as the Calgary Flames have signed him to a 2-year $10 million offer sheet. The Colorado Avalanche have 7 days to respond by either matching the offer or losing their best player from last season. O’Reilly has yet to play in any games this season due to the fact that he is currently without a contract. Rumor has it that other teams [including the Canucks] also made offers. Will Colorado let Ryan O’Reilly walk? Well we did not  have to wait too long before the Avs responded. Colorado has matched the 2 year $10 million offer sheet. The new deal comes with a guarantee that the Avs cannot trade him for at least a year from today’s signing date and the second year will see O’Reilly paid $6.5 million. It seems absurd that it took nearly losing O’Reilly to a division rival before Colorado would budge on the contract issues. Let the ‘overpaid’ comments commence. Perhaps Colorado will finally get some scoring help that they so desperately need with O’Reilly’s return.

19 games in and there are still so many things that will determine the path of each team. Teams and players will continue, end and begin streaks. Trades will happen for some teams prior to the trade deadline[April 5th]. Each game is a clean slate, but as the halfway mark approaches every single point is extremely important for teams wanting to make the playoffs. I look forward to all the drama still to come as the season continues to unfold.

Thank-you for the NHL and the NHLPA finally ending the “lockout madness” in January so that my birthday tradition can continue! I am happy to announce that I will be going to see my Canucks play on my birthday with my entire family…it shall be priceless. The games live are an experience that each hockey fan should have at least once.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

From panic to cheer & Henrik nears record

Remember how I told you all to relax after all that ridiculous early panic after the first games? The Canucks went 2-2-2- in their first games and have now improved to 7-2-2 in 11 games following a 5 game win streak! Solid goal-tending was responsible for the first three wins of that streak and finally balanced offense won the most recent two games. In the last five games the Canucks have out scored their opponents 20-5! Both Luongo and Schneider have been incredibly solid in the last 5 games. Not too mention the rest of the team has finally found their offensive stride.

Games 9,10 and 11 were all about finding balance. Game nine saw the Canucks begin a road trip last week facing Edmonton’s young guns. The game began with Edmonton all over the Canucks for the first half of the game. The Oilers had gained a 2-0 lead with a powerplay goal and a shorthanded goal! It looked like Edmonton had the game under control…[much like the Canucks when they had the 2-0 lead back in the game January 20th]. The Canucks found their legs midway through the second period with a goal by Jannik Hansen. It looked like Edmonton had control of the game and that they would be skating away with the two points. The game was winding down with less than three minutes on the clock before a Kevin Bieksa goal beat Devan Dubnyk. We had a tied game with time winding down. Cue overtime.  Chances go back and forth. Taylor Hall on a breakaway was taken down by Daniel Sedin[yes Daniel Sedin] leading the refs to call reward Hall with a penalty shot….which if it went in, meant the game would be over. Taylor Hall went in all alone and was stopped by LUONGO with just under two minutes to go into the overtime period. Time on the clock was winding down….inching closer and closer towards what would have been their 5th shootout in 9 games. Ridiculous. Cue some #sedinery no look passes followed by a perfect tape to tape pass to Chris Tanev who made no mistake in scoring his first NHL goal. Did I mention that there was only 20 sconds left? Needless to say he will not soon be forgetting that goal. Has it really been nearly 70 games since he made his debut? It may have been his first NHL goal [finally!] but the guy has been extremely solid defensively in all his games before this one. Canucks did not have the start that they wanted but they did get the two points that they came for.

Game 10 saw the Canucks face off against the Minnesota Wild. The Canucks were up against the newly acquired Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Expectations were risen to a whole new level in Minnesota with their big contract players arrival. Both teams have high expectations from their fans this year. Landing the free agency sweepstakes and having so-called goal-tending controversy will do that to you. Needless to say there were endless headlines heading into this game. Parise and Suter were suited up and Cory Schneider was between the pipes. The Canucks were much better prepared for this game. They wasted no time in getting on the scored board, by the end of the second period they had a 4-0 lead! The Wild would eventually get one goal, but that is where their offense ended. The Canucks went on to win this one 4-1 and the Wild were left wondering where their offense went as they dropped yet another game. Rumor has that the Minnesota Wild could be looking to replace their head coach following a disappointing finish last year and start to this season.

Game 11 would bring the Canucks back home to face another division rival, the Calgary Flames. Like any other Canuck fan, I love watching the team in blue beat the Flames[and yes I know its the reverse for fans of the Flames]. Calgary was looking to build on their 2 game win streak. Cory Schneider was again given the nod[see! I told you that he would get some starts..relax….we have 2 great goalies…let’s enjoy it while it lasts!]. The first period was pretty even and many times it looked like the Canucks would get on the scoreboard early, but they did not. It was the Flames who got a buzzer beater to take a 1-0 lead into the second period. Not exactly what the Canucks were looking to do. If the Canucks wanted to turn the tide, they would need some serious #sedinery and that is exactly what happened. The #triplets[Sedins & Burrows] got the game all squared at 1 and just 27 seconds later on the powerplay, rookie Jordan Schroeder scored his 1st NHL goal to give the Canucks a 2-1 lead. The offense did not end there…the Canucks would add 3 more goals including Jordan Schroeder’s second NHL goal!! The Canucks were sloppy in the opening 20 minutes of this game but came out all cylinders on fire in the final 40 minutes to skate away with a 5-1 victory. It was their 5th WIN in a row which improves the Canucks to 7-2-2 over 11 games.

Have you heard? Ryan Kesler and David Booth have officially returned to practiced. Kesler even traveled with the team on their mini road trip to Edmonton and Minnesota. Next up is a home game the Minnesota Wild tomorrow at 7PM where the Canucks look to extend their win streak to 6 games. Luongo won the coin toss and will start in tomorrow’s game. [Has anyone seen this coin of Vigneault’s?] The Canucks will have to be prepared as Minnesota will not make it easy on them to take the two points as both are fighting for playoff positioning.

Rumor has it that #17 could be back in the line up as soon as this weekend. What better game for him to return to than in his home state of Michigan when the Canucks take on the Detroit Red Wings? He always plays some of his best hockey at the Joe.  #fingerscrossed

In other news headlines, Canucks Captain Henrik Sedin is on the brink of setting franchise history. Henrik sits just one point behind former Captain Markus Naslund with 755 points[Nazzy scored 756 points in his 12 years as a Canuck] . Tomorrow night he will have a chance to tie and to surpass the record. The question is not if he can tie the record, it is merely when will he tie and surpass the record? Henrik will tie the record and possibly surpass it tomorrow becoming to the franchise leader in points scored for the Canucks. From #Sedinery to #recordbreaker #GoodLuckHank

We shall see what tomorrow brings at puck drop. As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

Kesler’s return delayed…Doan’s heart in Phoenix, but where will he play next season?

Bad news bears. In the latest #Canuck news, it looks like Ryan Kesler will not be returning in early October…but rather early-mid December. I was hoping to see #17 lace up the skates for October…but as I mentioned before, I would much rather have Kesler return 100% recovered and fully ready to unleash his #beastmode for the rest of the year +playoffs(into JUNE..*fingers crossed*) and that means later than we all hoped. This latest update explains the pursuit of both (top 6 forward)Doan and (3rd line centre)Arnott as the Canucks are in need of both type of players to bolster the line-up without Kesler. Mind you a young Evander Kane would look great in the lineup too…with his skill-set, he could fill in the gaps with Kesler out and solidify that 3rd line. When one of a team’s best players is out of the the lineup for an extended period, it means that another player has to step up, with Kesler out of the lineup to start the year, that is exactly what it means. When Daniel Sedin missed 18 games in the start of the  2009-2010 season it was his brother who stepped up to lead this team(a year before he was named team captain!) with 18 points in that stretch, proving that he can play without his brother…he eventually went on to win the Art Ross trophy that year. When a player goes down, it gives the rest of the team the opportunity to step up and rise above the adversity. It will be interesting to see who takes that role with Kesler out of the lineup for a bit. I think it better that Kesler acts with precaution, coming back a little later than we all had hoped but fully capable of encompassing that #beastmode we all love to watch!

At this moment Doan’s heart is Phoenix but he has officially stated that he will do what is best for him…even that means leaving the Coyotes franchise. So, once again we are left with the “I need more time to make this decision” announcement. It sounds as though Doan is divided, he may be on his way out of Phoenix but he also could remain loyal to the Coyotes. He has been visiting with other teams as he processes what is right for his future( a list that includes: New York, Philadelphia, Montreal, and Vancouver). Until the hockey world hears his official decision…all eyes around the NHL will remain on him, or until another dramatic move is made.

In other news all of us fans are still waiting to hear any  official word of agreement on the new CBA[Collective Bargaining Agreement] between the NHL & the NHLPA…because if you are like me…a year of no hockey(aka a lockout year) is absolutely unacceptable. The NHLPA has been reviewing the latest proposal by Bettman[Do Not get me started on Bettman!] and the NHL executives…but no word on its been seen as accepted or not. Keep your fingers crossed that both sides find a #winning agreement for both sides before mid-September so that we get hockey starting October 11th and not a year later!!

Until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.