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.

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: #17 Ryan Kesler

In keeping with the theme of looking ahead, I decided to do a series of player profiles as we count down the next 6 weeks until hockey returns.

Today's Profile: Ryan Kesler

Today’s Profile: Ryan Kesler

Ryan Kesler is known for his defensive/offensive playing style and his sheer will to win at all costs. Fans will be hoping to see his tenacious wrist shot making many appearances next season.

Ryan Kesler NHL career began when he was drafted 23rd overall in the 2003 NHL Entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks. It was clear from his time with the Canucks AHL affiliate team that he was going to be a star player with the Canucks when called upon. Interesting to note that some of those Moose teammates are his current Canuck teammates today: Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows played with Mr.Kesler during his time in Manitoba [they were all called up at various times during the 2005/2006 season before cementing their place with the team the following year].

Prior to the 2006-2007 campaign, Kesler signed an offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers only to have the Canucks match that offer in 2 days…and the rest as they say is history! Can you imagine Kesler not in Canuck colors…but in Philadelphia’s black and orange? Perish the thought! I am glad the Canucks took the gamble in keeping him a Canuck.

Early on, Ryan Kesler and pesky Burrows were pests to their opponents and developed a knack for killing penalties together developing into one of the team’s current top PK units. It is his strong defensive play that has helped solidify him as one of the top two-way forwards.

He has been successful in his play not just with the Canucks but also with his team USA at the international level winning the 2002 U18 Tournament Gold medal, the 2004 World Juniors Gold medal and how can we forget the 2010 Silver medal and of course winning the 2011 Frank J Selke award!

Kesler has a level of compete in his game that fans have dubbed #beastmode…a level that was most evident in the 2010-2011 season, a level that all will be hoping to see when the calendar turns to October 3rd. His compete level will rely heavily on him remaining healthy for the majority of the 82 game schedule [no breaking his foot twice!]. If Kesler can remain healthy for the year…he could have another breakout season much like he did in the 2010-2011 season.

As we get closer to the season beginning…here are a few #KESLER highlights to keep you going until October 3rd:

Remember this #RK17 moment #CanuckNation? clue: #hattrick

Or how about this other awesome moment in #CanuckHistory? clue: #round3

Or this beauty? clue: #blackhawks

Any other favourite Kesler moments [there were lots to choose from!]? Seeing the highlights once again reminds me of how incredible Kes can play when he’s at the top of his game and how we are lucky to have his skill level on the team each and every year. When at the top of his game playing his unstoppable #beastmode style drives the opponent crazy. Here’s hoping we see that high compete level when the team returns for training camp/pre-season in 3 weeks!

Cannot wait to see #RK17 hit the ice with the team scoring goals & shutting down the opponents offense!

#isitOctoberyet

#weareallcanucks #letthegamesbegin

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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.