Road Trip #2: Part ONE

Game 17: Canuck vs. Coyotes.

Game 17: Canuck vs. Coyotes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game 18: Canucks vs. Sharks

Game 18: Canucks vs. Sharks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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From a Shark Dilemma to Bad HABits.

Game 5: Vancouver vs. San Jose

For the last 9 games against San Jose, it seems as though they have had Vancouver’s number. It either ends up being a close game or like the one the other night not so close. San Jose is off to an excellent start this season and they played much better in the than the Canucks and the Sharks deserved to win. [That Hertl kid is quite a talented hockey player hey?!]

Positives in this game included: Santorelli and the penalty kill continued to be reliable. That being said, they will need to put a much stronger effort on the ice when they face off with the Sharks again.

Streaks of all kinds [good & bad] eventually come to an end and eventually you will see the Canucks once again win against the Sharks.

Game 6: Vancouver vs. Montreal

If you watch the Montreal vs. Vancouver game, then you saw that it was not Vancouver’s night. It definitely was not the Canucks night when just about everything went wrong….including a costly defensive error on the game winning goal.

It was a very difficult game to watch following that ‘own’ goal…[it’s right up there with the one on Jonathan Quick last week]. It was purely a stroke of bad luck but Montreal pretty well controlled the momentum from there. It’s a tough goal to swallow but they happen to every team once in awhile, you just have to let it go and move on to the next game.

One positive from this game was the fact that Henrik Sedin scored not only his first goal of the season but his 799th career point! He may not have notched #800 Saturday night but he will most certainly earn it on the Canucks upcoming road trip. [**Side note…Daniel has 765 career points & counting…we will more than likely see him also hit the 800 points mark later this season!]

Moving Forward: The Canucks will have to shake off the dust from these two games as they prepare for their 7-game road trip. It is important to remember that it is still early in the season and the team is still adjusting to the new systems under Torts. A season is not built and decided upon 6 games…it is an 82 game journey. You cannot win every game. There will be good games and there will be bad games but EVERY game is a part of that journey.

The Canucks still have 9 games left in October and this upcoming road trip will be an excellent building block to turn things back in their favour. A key in moving forward is they need to start a new HABIT that includes not coming from behind every game…it is difficult to win if you are constantly having to come from behind.

Here’s to a great road trip by the team where some they learn to further adapt to the #TortsSystems and support each other both offensively and defensively.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

P.S. Happy Thanksgiving to all  my readers in Canada!

PLAYOFF Fever is catching, are you ready?

PLAYOFF  FEVER has hit! Has it taken over your life or the life someone you know? Prepare yourselves as tonight is only the beginning of a fantastic hockey tradition!

The 2013 QUEST for the Stanley Cup begins for 16 teams TODAY. In June ONE team will win this lengthly battle. The madness is only just beginning!!

The 2013 QUEST for the Stanley Cup begins for 16 teams TODAY. In June ONE team will win this lengthly battle. The madness is only just beginning!!

Round ONE of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin today!! Are you ready?!

The WESTERN Conference Quarterfinal Match-ups are set as follows:

1. The Chicago Blackhawks [36-7-5] vs. 8.The Minnesota Wild [26-19-3]. Game 1 April 30th 5:00:PM

As much as I hate to admit it, the Chicago Blackhawks have been dominant ALL season long from the start of this shortened season losing just an incredible 7 times in regulation. Their first half was particularly incredible as they posted a sparkling 21-0-3 record…24 straight games where they recorded atleast ONE point setting a new NHL record [meaning that in the second half they posted a 15-7-2 record…which is still very respectable but not nearly as dominant as their first half]. The year began with a question mark in regards to their goal-tending which was soundly dealt with in the form of their goalie tandem of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery. It also doesn’t hurt that Captain Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane seemed to find a new level of compete that carried throughout the season. With their early dominance, it was never a question of whether they would make the playoffs. Simply put, the Chicago Blackhawks were the best regular season team this year.  Even with their dominance they cannot take an 8th seeded team too lightly as everyone learned the hard way last year.

The Minnesota Wild started the year with A LOT of hype following the TWO biggest signings of the off-season of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. They did not get off to the successful start that everyone expected from them. They showed sparks but they were very inconsistent throughout their season. Their playoff contention was in question until the final buzzer of the final game of the season. Had they lost that final game, it would be Columbus in their place, but they did what they had to in that last game. They snuck into the 8th seed of the playoffs and will have a massive challenge in having to face-off against the tough Chicago Blackhawks.

Prediction: Chicago in 6 games.

2. The Anaheim Ducks [30-12-6] vs. 7.The Detroit Red Wings [24-16-8]. Game 1: April 30th 7:30PM

No Anaheim did not set any NHL records, BUT they did play some incredible hockey this season. Did anyone actually doubt the talents of Teemu Selanne? This year we also saw Corey Perry lose his temper…A LOT and their goalie tandem of Hiller and Fasth was a pleasant surprise and helped this team post a very impressive record. Anaheim also has the added boost of Scott Neidermeyer as an assistant coach should they ever need a reminder of what it means to have playoff success.

The Detroit Red Wings began their year without former Captain Niklas Lidstrom and it was very evident from the get go that they were missing his skill set. Their game seemed to be missing something at times and then in other games they played to their strengths. The Red Wings have qualified for the playoffs 22 straight seasons and this year that impressive streak was nearly stopped but as is the Detroit way, they found a way to get it done. They will need Zetterberg, Datsyuk and Howard to play at the tops of their games if they want to go beyond the first round. This team has a history of being an extremely dangerous team in the playoffs and this year could see them activate that veteran beast mode. Look out Anaheim!

Prediction: Detroit in 7 games.

3. The Vancouver Canucks [26-15-7] vs. 6.The San Jose Sharks [25-16-7]. Game 1: May1st 7:30PM

The Canucks like most teams had ups and downs throughout the year. There were moments when they played their best games and their worst games. The goalie tandem of Schneider and Luongo proved to be a part of the team’s success. Ryan Kesler came back to the line-up only to be forced out with a broken foot BUT when he came back the second time he came back with a fire in his eyes and looks like he’s ready to activate that thing we call beast mode. The Canucks will need a 100% healthy Kesler to alleviate the pressure that is sure to surround the Sedins as it always does during the playoffs. Jason Garrison will be making his HOMETOWN playoff debut in Game 1. For the 2013 playoffs, the Canucks have recalled the following players from Chicago: Jordan Schroeder, Nicklas Jensen, Darren Archibald, Kellan Lain, Alexandre Mallet, Jim Vandermeer, Peter Andersson and Eddie Lack.

The San Jose Sharks like the Canucks, had both good and bad streaks throughout the season. Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton, and Antti Niemi will be looking to lead the Sharks past the first round. Marleau was unstoppable in the first few weeks of the season but his goal production slowed and the rest of the team had to find ways to score when he struggled. The Sharks will be hoping that their regular season record against the Canucks will help them succeed in the post-season, but they have to remember those games do not necessarily affect the post-season games at all. This will be a re-match [albeit in the first round] for these two teams who met in the Conference Finals two years ago. The Sharks will be looking for revenge and the Canucks will looking to take advantage of their home ice. It will be a very interesting series as these two teams renew their rivalry!

Prediction: Vancouver in 6 games.

4. The St.Louis Blues [29-17-2] vs. 5.The LA Kings [27-16-5]. Game 1: April 30th 5:00PM

Last year, no one properly anticipated the talent that LA possessed until they saw for themselves as LA dominated everyone in the playoffs. Last year LA swept the heavily favoured St.Louis Blues who definitely will want to change their fate this season. The newly acquired Jay Bouwmeester will be making his LONG anticipated playoff debut with his new St.Louis team. St.Louis strengthened their blue line and have been getting some solid goal-tending from Brian Elliot down the stretch. They will need use their defensive strengths and also score goals. They will be hoping to have forward T.J. Oshie back for game 1. LA will be looking to remind St.Louis that the road to the Stanley Cup goes through them and they are not looking to let it be taken from them easily.

Prediction: St.Louis in 7 games.

Eastern Conference Quarterfinal match-ups also look to have some interesting storylines and I thought I’d make a few more predictions. Predictions for the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:

1.Pittsburgh Penguins vs. 8. New York Islanders. Pittsburgh will hoping to get the boost of their Captain Sidney Crosby to help them get past the first round for the first time since the 2010 playoffs. The Islanders while not the obvious choice should not be taken lightly as they make their first trip to the post-season since 2007 and oh yeah, they have this guy name John Tavares who has been very clutch for the Islanders this season! Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6 games.

2.Montreal Canadiens vs. 7.Ottawa Senators. An all-Canadian match-up. Can it get any better for fans back East? The Canadiens have greatly benefited from a coaching change and a new team identity this season. Anyone seen that guy they call P.K. on the point? Look out for his shot! The Senators have played a very decent season despite a very depleted line-up and they got a huge boost at the end of the season when Erik Karlsson returned.  Prediction: Montreal in 7 games.

3.Washington Capitals vs. 6. New York Rangers. At the beginning of the year everyone thought New York would finish at the top in the East, and while that did not happen they did show what they are capable of with the talent in their line-up. Lunqvist may have struggled at times during the season but he got scary good down the stretch. The Rangers made some big splashes in the summer and at tht deadline acquiring Nash, Brassard, Clowe, and a few others. Washington was a major question mark in the first half leaving many people to wonder where oh where did Ovechkin go? That question was answered in the second half when the Captials were lead by #8 from the bottom of the East to the top 3. Ovechkin found his scoring touch and looks dangerous heading into the post-season. This will be a re-match of last year’s semi-final. The Capitals will be looking for a different finish. Prediction: Washington in 7 games.

4.Boston Bruins vs. 5.Toronto Maple Leafs. Prediction: Boston in 6 games. Two original 6 teams meeting in the post-season and two teams with very rabid fan bases. It will be interesting to see how the Maple Leafs handle the Bruins style of post-season hockey in their first trip back to the playoffs in nine years. It will be a series to keep an eye on.

*Some of these predictions may differ from yours or be similar, but they are just meant to be that. You may or may not agree with my predictions but that’s okay, you do not have to agree with me. As we all know, predictions made during the playoffs do not always work out the way we expect or want them to but it’s part of the tradition that is playoff hockey! [Feel free to share your own predictions in the comments!]

In a year when everyone told me that there would be no NHL season, I will simply enjoy getting to enjoy my spring tradition of 2 months of great hockey! Enjoy whatever these next two months bring, the madness is sett to begin TONIGHT!

PLAYOFFS ARE HERE! Are you ready? Where will you be watching Game 1 from? I will be watching my Canucks LIVE at Rogers Arena tomorrow and in case you missed it, I am beyond excited! It feels like Christmas Eve as tomorrow is GAME DAY for my Canucks and their playoff journey begins. Mind you it is only round one, but getting that elusive 16th victory in the finals begins with success in round one. 16 teams are fighting the same battle this week and in two weeks only 8 teams will remain in the quest for the Stanley Cup. Like I said, the madness is just beginning and no one knows what will happen.

The playoffs are when players and teams alike surprise you and sometimes it is a player or team that you did not anticipate, but that is what makes this time of year so exciting!!  I love playoff hockey, there is nothing quite like it! #GoCanucksGo!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Rumors, Trades, and Facts

March Madness continues to pick speed as the April 3rd trade deadline approaches. Now that Anaheim has settled the matter of signing both Getzlaf and Perry, the rumor mills are picking up speed every day in regards to the fate of Jarome Iginla. Everyone seems to believe that he will be moved by the trade deadline, it just a matter of where. It seems Calgary management may be willing to part with their eternal Flame[admitting that it is time to rebuild] and Iginla willing to admit that the Flames are nowhere near being the contender they want to be and he deserves to play with a contender. Iginla gave the Flames the green light to wave his NTC[no trade clause] and supposedly also a list of teams he would be willing to go to. Teams rumored to be Iginla’s list are: Pittsburgh, Boston, LA, Detroit and Chicago[even Vancouver has been mentioned but that is a highly unlikely destination]. The movement of Iginla is sure to upset many fans but at this point moving Iginla and beginning their rebuild seem to be their only options. Last night may or may not have been his last game as a Flame, and only time will tell which destination becomes his next reality. Following last night’s game, Iginla refused to comment on situation not wanting to add fuel to the fire. Reports have suggested that in exchange for Jarome, Calgary would like one young promising prospect and two draft picks. The rumors will only grow louder as more and more players are thrown into this fruit basket upset that is known as the trade deadline draws ever closer.

Speaking of rumors, the whispers became fact yesterday when the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired [now former] Dallas Stars Captain Brendan Morrow in exchange for a draft pick & defensive prospect Joe Morrow. Add the the San Jose Sharks to the trade talk mix as rumor has it that they may be looking to move Ryane Clowe, Dan Boyle or Douglas Murray as the team has struggled to find that consistency they had at the start of the year. Make the SJ trade talk official as the Pittsburgh Penguins continue to push for an extensive playoff as they have acquired Douglas Murray from the Sharks in exchange for two 2nd round draft picks. The Penguins have been the most dominant team of the East with the dynamic duo of Crosby & Kunitz, as well they are currently on a 12 game win streak. Looks like the Penguins will be the ones to beat the East. The question now for San Jose is do they continue to sell in order to collect draft picks or do they make one or two BIG moves prior to the deadline in the hopes of making a playoff push?

Outside of the growing trade talk madness, this weekend also marked Tampa Bay’s Guy Boucher as the latest coach to meeting the chopping block. The firing comes following a second straight disappointing season leaving many to suggest that either veteran coach Lindy Ruff or the Tampa AHL affiliate coach Jon Cooper will be asked to take his place.

Back to my Canucks.The Canucks have returned home having completed a 3 game road trip with a perfect 3-0-0 record and are back atop the North West Division [Minnesota is only 2 points behind & have 2 games in hand, they will play tonight]. With the road trip success it brings the Canucks win streak to 4 in a row, and I must say it is much more fun to watch win streaks than losing ones! The last two victories came with the Canucks missing Alex Edler on defense as he was forced to sit both of them out due to a two game suspension[he will return to the lineup March 26th]. With Edler out of the line-up the rest of the defense had to step up and they did. Also it certainly helped that Cory Schneider seems to have found his game again and that consistency that everyone came to expect from him last year! Welcome back Schneids! It will be fun to watch both him & Lou down the stretch over the next 4 weeks as they both drive one another to play better.

In other Canucks news, they learned this week that David Booth will be out for the season following season ending surgery [small sliver of hope he could be back for playoffs], and with his absence the Canucks have had to recall Schroeder who has been EXCELLENT since his be recalled. Jordan Schroeder when combined with Jannik Hansen and Mason Raymond has had great chemistry. It is extremely fun to watch those three play together! The Canucks also had to call upon defenseman Keith Ballard to play forward for a couple games as they were short-handed in the forward department. He played fairly well and had some pretty decent scoring chances.

May I also take this moment to remind you that it is nearly time for Ryan Kesler to return to the lineup as the Canucks prepare for the stretch drive. He could return as soon as within the next week but probably not until the first week of April. The Canucks could definitely use some extra depth at center, particularly in the face-off circle! Wanted: Ryan Kesler 100% healthy and beast mode ready.  #RK17

And just in case you missed this beauty of a gem last night, here it is, Alex Burrows GWG[P.S. that was the 23rd game winning goal of his career!] What a goal!! Enjoy.

Let’s hope that as the Canucks return home they are able to continue their recent success and continue to fight Minnesota for that NW Division leading spot! #GoCanucksGo

Trades, rumors and facts = March Madness indeed! Only time will tell the drama that is sure to continue to unfold as the April 3rd deadline nears and teams make moves for that elusive playoff run.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Western Conference Quarter Season Facts

The 2012-2013 NHL season was shortened [due to Bettman’s 3rd lockout] to 48 games.  12 games in marks the quarter mark of the season [All teams have played 11-14 games].

Here’s an overview of the Western Conference thus far into the 2013 season[with a slightly more extensive look at my #Canucks]:

1. Chicago Blackhawks [10-0-3 –23 points] As much as it pains me to say this….they are playing some incredible hockey so far. They remain the only team to be undefeated in regulation this year. Their offense is firing on all cylinders and Corey Crawford has been lights out in the net. It pains me even more to type this next sentence….the Chicago Blackhawks are being led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane & company towards a possibly lengthly playoff run. It’s not easy to play so many early games on the road, but the Blackhawks are finding the answers, picking up points in every single game they have played in. They are playing some unbelievable hockey.

2. Anaheim Ducks [9-2-1 –19 points] The Ducks ruined the Canucks home opener and the Canucks ruined their home opener. While Jonas Hiller has struggled in the net, his team has helped with offense to help win games. It doesn’t hurt that his backup Victor Fasth is undefeated in his NHL experience! Has anyone mentioned the age of Teemu Selanne affecting his play? No they have not because this guy is still putting up points and making ridiculously awesome plays despite his age.

3. Vancouver Canucks [8-2-2 –18 points] After 12 games the Canucks who are perennially slow starters are off to a 8-2-2 start. The Canucks were without Ryan Kesler and David Booth to start the season, but have found a way to win games. Zack Kassian has been a pleasant surprise to Canuck fans this season finding an offensive spark, even earning playing time with the twins. Mason Raymond looks like he has finally found his speedy stride again posting 8 points[4 goals, 4 assists] in 12 games. The Canucks are getting secondary scoring from their defense, 2nd, and 3rd lines which is extremely important in a shortened season and building towards a playoff run. A closer look at the defense reveals the Canuck defense has contributed 27 points [9 goals, 18 assists] through 12 games, that is comparable to the triplets [the Sedins & Burrows] posting 24 points[6 goals, 18 assists]. Did I mention Alex Edler is leading the rear guard with 9 points? Henrik Sedin may not have a goal [yet, its coming, SOON!] but he is just ONE point behind Markus Naslund on the all-time points leader of the franchise{fun fact:Daniel is just 27 points behind Hank and looks to be passing Nazzy soon as well}.The Canucks are currently on a six-game WIN streak. Rumors are swirling that Ryan Kesler and David Booth are nearing their return to the lineup within the next games. The question remains with both presumably back sooner rather than later what will become of rookie Jordan Schroeder? The kid has been incredibly solid and scored his 1st two NHL goals in one game in front of a crazed home crowd….not too mention a shootout winner against Chicago!!! Speaking of rumors…can we let the goalie controversy crap end please? Relax. In a shortened season such as the current one have TWO incredibly goalies is an incredible gift and fans should appreciate this luxury. It’s funny that all those fans who said they wanted Luongo gone are suddenly singing his praises. The guy never stopped being a #1…he simply has stepped his game up to a new level….and his numbers have him sitting #2 behind Ottawa’s Anderson. Luongo has posted a 1.45 GAA and 0.943 save percentage. Luongo is undefeated in regulation yet thus far….his current run is reminding me of a 16-0-5 run he helped lead the team on back in the 2010-2011 season. Cory Schneider has been solid in his recent games…bringing his numbers to a respectable 2.36 GAA and 0.921 save %. With so many teams having lost their #1 goalies to injuries, the Canucks are extremely lucky to have not just one #1 but two goalies capable of giving the team a chance to win every game. Every game and every point matters in a shortened season.

4. San Jose Sharks [7-3-3 –17 points] The San Jose Sharks were off to an incredible start this season…a franchise best even going 7-0-0. January was incredible for their big name players, particularly for Patrick Marleau. February has been a much different story as they have yet to register one win, the Sharks are 0-3-3 in 6 games. They will to need to go back to finding the offense[hello Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture…where did you go?] that won them all their January games before they find themselves in an irreversible rut.

5. Detroit Red Wings [7-4-2 –16 points] Following a disappointing 6-0 opening loss to the St.Louis Blues, the Red Wing have been extremely solid. Henrik Zetterberg was name captain following the retirement of Niklas Lidstrom and is off to a great start…including a hat trick! The Red Wings have been a cornerstone of the West for the last two decades, and all signs point to them continuing their dominance as they find their stride. Detroit has a great history of developing amazing players through their organization and this year is not different with the emergence of rookie Damien Brunner.

6. Nashville Predators [6-3-4 –16 points] The Predators lost Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild in the off-season to the tune of a $98 million contract and followed up that loss by locking Shea Weber into their own ridiculous long-term deal. Weber has yet to register a goal, however the Predators have been able to rely on the consistent play of goalie Pekka Rinne to keep them in reach of the division lead.

7. St.Louis Blues [7-5-1 –15 points] The St.Louis Blue opened the season by beating the Detroit 6-0, picking up right where they left off last season. Since that game however, they have not been able to find that same consistency. Brian Elliot is still searching for his form from last year while his goalie partner Jaroslav Halak is out injured. Last year the Blues led the league with fewest allowed goals. The brightest spot on the Blues this season is their rookie Tarasenko who has made a name for himself in St.Louis just 13 games into his career.

8. Dallas Stars [7-6-1 –15 points] The Dallas Stars have been up and down. Jaromir Jagr has found his offensive spark once more despite his age. Offense has been good despite the delay in the re-signing of Jamie Benn who has helped lift this team over .500 level hockey and start a 5 game win streak that came to a halt in Calgary.

9. Phoenix Coyotes [6-5-2- 14 points] Shane Doan played coy during the off-season until re-signing with the team he has ever played for. They have had some good moments giving fans a glimpse of the team that went to the conference finals last season. The Coyotes have considerably well despite the continued issue of uncertainty regarding their ownership.

10. Minnesota Wild [6-6-1 –13 points] This is the team that spent nearly $200 million signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter in the off-season. Those two signings were supposed to catapult the Wild into a high scoring team, but it just has not happened yet. Parise has found some offense, the same cannot be said of Ryan Suter who has yet find the back of the net. The Wild are barely above 0.500 and are beginning to look the way they did the in second half of last season when everything fell apart for them. They need to find their balance offensively and play the way they did at the beginning of last season….and get their two newest Wild members to play the way they have been known to in the past. Rumor has it that the head coach Mike Yeo is on the chopping block.

11. Edmonton Oilers [5-5-3 –13 points] The Edmonton Oilers won the Justin Schultz lottery and he has been a major asset to them on the blue line 13 games in. The Oilers are stacked with young talent, but have faced the trouble of inconsistent play and injuries costing them important points. If they tighten up defensively and add some consistency to their game, they will turn it around. Their young core definitely has a bright future.

12. Calgary Flames [4-4-3 –11points] The Calgary Flames have picked up right where they left off the last few seasons…in a disappointing fashion. They have yet to find their scoring niche. They say as Iginla goes so do the Flames….and he is not yet at the top of his game. Iginla and the Flames are typically slow starters but in a short season the entire team needs to pick up their game with more efforts like the game against the Stars.

13. LA Kings [4-5-2 –10 points] The LA Kings have hardly looked like the dominant team that won last year’s championship. They are without Mitchell and Greene to help solidify their defensive play. Jonathan Quick has also not played to his full capacity just yet, but he definitely is more than qualified. The Kings still have most of their championship core in place, but they need to find that drive that catapulted them to the Stanley Cup last season if they are looking to repeat.

14. Columbus Blue Jackets [4-7-2 –10 points] The Columbus Blue Jackets were faced with beginning the year without the former face of the franchise Rick Nash[he is now a New York Ranger]. They have begun slowly losing some important games while showing some great moments in their few wins. They need to find secondary scoring as they can no longer depend on Rick Nash scoring their goals. In the latest news the Blue Jackets fired GM Howson following their 13th game.

15. Colorado Avalanche [4-6-1 –9 points] The Colorado Avalanche are just in a string of bad luck…with injuries to everyone from their Captain Gabriel Ladeskog and Eric Jonhson and losing games they need to win. Not too mention all the drama with last year’s scoring leader Ryan O’Reilly still unsigned. Initially the Avs said they were working to re-sign the forward…and than talks broke off and rumors have begun to swirl that he will either be traded or sit out for the entire season before being signed. The Avs could really use a player like O’Reilly to help them get back their scoring touch. Head Coach Joe Sacco will have to find a new approach to snap Colorado out of their skid.

The post lockout issue between the NHL and NHLPA is the ‘Re-Alignment’. Have you heard about the re-alignment? Do you even care? The details at this point are limited as it is still in the discussion process. Here are the basics: The NHL wants to realign the league to 4 conferences [instead of the current two conference and 6 division split]. The league was looking to pass the realignment last season but it fell flat when the NHLPA voted against the notion in December 2011. The two sides are in renewed talks about this proposal and the owners are expected to vote on it, if approved by them, the vote would then go to the players. If this newest proposal gets approved by all parties the realignment would go into effect next season. One of the issues with this 4 conference format was the fact that there were no clear lines regarding playoff qualification as the West would have had two 8 team conferences whereas the East would have had two 7 team conferences. We shall see what the two sides come up with should they address all the issues.

It is only the quarter mark of the season and already so many stand out moments have occurred [From Chicago’s ridiculous point streak, teams winning/losing streaks, to goalie controversies and media speculated rumors]. Streaks good and bad have begun and will continue to occur throughout the remainder of the season. Players will be injured forcing teams to respond and others will return from injury giving teams a boost. We will have to wait and see what both the conference and the league look like at the halfway mark.

As always until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Canucks & Burrows talking + BEAM me up SCOTTY extended in Philly + Cherry Commentary

The Vancouver Canucks Assistant GM Gilman has been quoted saying that YES they are in the beginning stages with Burrows agent to get him re-signed beyond next season long-term. Burrows has positioned himself in a place of receiving a well deserved raise (he has scored 26 or more goals in each of the last 4 seasons…MOST of those were even-strength goals as he gets limited if any power play time with the Sedins & Kes being the #1 power play unit. Rumor has that the Canucks are also looking to lock up Edler with an extension beyond next season…#23 has been becoming more & more consistent the last few years…he put up 49 points(incredible saying as no one was supposed to get those type of numbers except Ehrhoff…fascinating tidbit: last year Bieksa also hit +40 points with a total of 44 points & Hamhuis hit 37 points….our top 3 offensive D combined for 130 points…that’s sensational!). Let’s get Burr signed quickly, MG & then Eddy too!

Rumor has it that the San Jose Sharks in trouble….reports have come out that they lost $15 million last season despite having sold out every home game. We’ll have to wait and see how accurate those reports are and how it will affect the franchise, if at all.

While the Philadelphia Flyers have a fading blue-line…they have secure one of their most exciting forwards in signing Scott Hartnell to a SIX-year extension[$28.5 million with an annual cap of $4.75…extra note:BURROWS could request that type of $$ but he probably wouldn’t]. Way to go Scott, the contract was well earned…this guy scored 37 goals last season!  Hartnell is always fun to watch…one of my favourite moments was watching him in the ALL-Star game last year and he kept razzing Phaneuf  or him & Lupul commentating while they were mic’d up so the viewers could hear.Plus that guy has a habit of scoring some clutch goals…like another gritty player I know(#14 in green & blue)! Solid signing Philly! Now they just need some help on the defense.

In the world of CBA negotiations, the ever colourful Don Cherry[you either love the guy &his suits or you hate him] is back at it, giving loud commentary regarding the NHL. He has stated that he believes its a shame that there is going to be a lockout as both sides have yet to come to a new agreement, however he predicts that it will only last two months. Could we have a lockout and hockey in November? People may not always like what Don Cherry has to say, but this guy has NEVER been afraid to call them like he sees them and in this comment…he could very well be correct. While the idea of a lockout is disturbing to me and many other hockey fans…I would take a shortened season any day over NO season. Let’s hope that should there be a lockout, that is a very brief work stoppage. The next round of CBA meetings are set to resume Wednesay between the NHL & the NHLPA and both sides will have to give a little in order to make a new CBA a reality.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.