Out of Odds & Down to a Long Shot?

From game 1 to game 82 every season, I will always be a Canuck.

From game 1 to game 82 every season, I will always be a Canuck to the core.

It’s incredibly easy to cheer for and support a team when everything is going well but can be incredibly difficult for some to do the same when things are not going well with a team. Like my Vancouver Canucks for example, has this season been picture perfect for them? Not even close. So many things that seemed like absolute impossibilities did in fact occur this year. Rumors of rebuilding and throwing Torts under the bus have become a part of the everyday vernacular with the local media.

I cannot recall there EVER being a season in which nearly every big name player has been injured at some point of the season and often more than one of them at the same time. It has been an extremely rare occurrence to have a complete roster in the second half of the season. The impossible has hit the team in the most ridiculous ways: injuries galore, a suspension to Torts, a trade that couldn’t be done felt like it was done over night, iron man Henrik Sedin who has almost never missed a game was forced to sit out not once but twice this season due to injury.

To be completely honest, I do not think it fair to judge John Tortorella on a season in which he never had a complete roster at any point of the season for a long stretch to the absurd injury massacre that hit the team this season. Torts not returning to the Canucks come September would BE a mistake in my books. Why not see what actually happens when he has a FULL roster and the odds are not stacked against him? Torts has proven in his past coaching experiences that he improves over time getting BETTER once he’s past the first year. I’d like to see what will happen in year two and potentially a healthy roster before we send him packing. I think it would better to have Gillis step down from his GM duties and bring in a new voice as General Mangager…perhaps someone like Markus Naslund(*familiar with the organization, players, fans & media as well brings his experience with MODO in the Swedish Elite League).

Am I an optimist? Probably but I am also realistic and I am well aware that the odds are stacked against the Canucks making it to the playoffs this season BUT whether they make the playoffs or not does not make or break my support for the team. I am now and have always been and always will be a fan and supporter of the Vancouver Canucks. Bad seasons will and do occur for every team in the NHL. Is it easy to watch when the bad seasons happen? No, but bad seasons are not why you chose to support a team and bad seasons are not a reason to stop supporting a team. If anything, that is when you should support them even more.

It is down to long shot and getting a lot of help from other teams while winning. The odds may not be in their favour according the near impossible to overcome stats or the every day doomsday media opinion, but that doesn’t mean I will cheer any less or quieter when the Canucks hit the ice. Five games remain on their regular season schedule to be played out and no matter what the end result I will still be a Canucks fan to the end.

Did I mention that playoff hockey is nearly here? (yes I know that may not include my Canucks BUT no matter who the final 16 teams are…ALL hockey fans are in for some great playoff hockey where ANYTHING can and will happen!)

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Road Trip #1: Part ONE

Stop ONE: It’s always sunny of Philadelphia or so they say. The atmosphere in Philadelphia has changed drastically since the loss of former captain Chris Pronger from the lineup who has not played since suffering a concussion in 2011. Things have been tough going in Philadelphia the last two seasons. This season has hardly been a sunny one for the Flyers just 8 games into their season. From Laviolette being fired 3 games into the new season and just 1 victory, it has not been easy going. Struggling teams are the teams that most take for granted and expect an easy win BUT the struggling teams also tend to put good teams to the test.

Game 7: Philadelphia vs. Vancouver

Game 7: The Philadelphia Flyers vs. The Vancouver Canucks

A road trip can be a great building block and a good bonding experience for a team that is adapting to new systems.The Canucks match up with the Flyers came following back to back losses at home in Vancouver. Both teams needed to put better games on the ice.

Both teams had struggled offensively heading into this game and were looking to change that fact. The Flyers struck first to grab a 1-0 lead BUT just 10 seconds later and fortuitous bounce in front of the Flyers net to Kesler, this game was tied up 1-1.

A tough early goal in the second period as the result of a hand pass [uncalled! but alas I digress!] put the Flyers up 2-1.

Once again the Canucks put themselves on the comeback trail heading into the third period…a pattern that has become WAY too common this season! Cue the #Torts strategy that WON him the Calgary game: a split of the Sedin twins & creating what I call a #SwedeAmerican line [Henrik, Kesler & Higgins]. Just over 7 minutes into the final frame, a beauty of a pass from Henrik to a wide open Higgins saw this game once again all tied up!

The game looked as though it would need overtime UNTIL a certain Ryan Kesler scored the go ahead goal with 2:25 remaining in the game. In the final minutes there was a Flyer scramble in Luongo’s crease but Philly couldn’t get the tying goal to force extra time. A win in the books for the Canucks to start their road trip on the right note.

Stop TWO: “Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight…”

The majority of last season and the first 9 games of this season has been somewhat of a nightmare for the Buffalo Sabres who have just one win. Rumors are continuously spinning that Miller and possibly Vanek are on the trading block before the season ends.

Heading into this game Buffalo was looking to build upon their first win of the year and Vancouver wanted to build upon their Philadelphia victory.

The Canucks set a dominant the pace in the first period as soon as the puck dropped, peppering 19 shots at Miller and only allowing 7 shots on Luongo. The Canucks eventually grabbed a 1-0 lead thanks a goal from Higgins nearly 15 minutes into that first period and kept the Sabres to minimal chances.

The second period has not been the Canucks forte as of late…the pattern has been the give up the lead and as we all know: NO leads are safe in any game. The pace slowed a little in the second period with not as many shots getting through BUT the Canucks were able to do something they have only done once this season: grab a 2 goal lead! The second goal came from Brad Richardson while the Canucks were shorthanded. Despite being down 2-0, the Sabres were still in this one thanks to Ryan Miller.

This was the first time since the Edmonton game that Vancouver was beginning a third period with a 2 goal lead, it was refreshing to see! Buffalo started the third period with a little more jump and early in the period it looked like they had comeback within ONE. That is until the play was reviewed showing that while the puck did beat Luongo, it hit the crossbar going along the goal line BUT never crossed the goal line: NO GOAL. Tough break for the Sabres[every hockey fan can relate!] The third period was Luongo’s toughest with the Sabres out-shooting the Canucks 11-6 BUT it was Vancouver that provided the offense. Ryan Stanton who has played solid defensively since joining the Canucks was the benefactor of a #sedinery play and made NO mistake putting the puck past Miller for the 3-0 lead. Congratulations Stanton, on scoring not only your first Canuck goal, but also your first NHL goal!

Roberto Luongo

LUUUUUUU making ONE of 25 saves in his 63rd CAREER shutout vs. the Sabres.

The final score: Canucks 3-0 Sabres. Roberto Luongo earned his 63rd career shutout moving him up to 15th on the all-time record list [just 4 more shutouts and he will surpass Patrick Roy!]. Congratulations Roberto! Luongo finished the game with 25 saves with a little help from the team who blocked 17 shots. This was a full 60 minute effort from the team…now to work on that power play!

Next Stop: TODAY at the Igloo! aka Pittsburgh and a very tough Penguin team being led by the very talented Crosby. It will be an early matinee game for those back east and a mid morning game for us on the west coast! It will not be easy to shut down Crosby and company, the Canucks will have their best effort and special teams are sure to be a game changer on both sides.

Here’s to a great game on both ends of the ice! #GoCanucksGo

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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!

Game 4 Recap: Canucks vs. Devils

Vancouver Canucks vs. New Jersey Devils.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Game at a glance!

Game at a glance!

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

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Game 3 Recap: Canucks vs. Flames

Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

Game 3 Recap: Vancouver Canucks vs . Calgary Flames

Be honest, you panicked a little when Calgary went ahead 3-1 early in the third period didn’t you? Nearly everyone on my twitter feed went absolutely crazy when the Canucks were trailing and very few had faith that this team could possibly comeback in the game let alone win in overtime.

The Canucks went to Calgary in the back end of their first back to back situation this season searching for their first road win. David Booth opened the scoring early in the first period notching his first goal of the season and 200th career NHL point. Congratulations Booth! Eddie Lack in his first ever NHL start looked very sharp early on but the Flames kept sustained pressure on Lack pushing for the tying goal.

Calgary took over the game following the 1-1 tie and carried the momentum into the second period. The Flames scored to take the 2-1 lead midway through the second period. The Canucks got themselves into a little bit of penalty trouble in the middle frame BUT once again the penalty kill unit came through.

The Canucks put themselves in a 2 goal deficit at the start of the third period when Calgary quickly took a 3-1 lead. Not exactly the best way to start the third period is it? Queue the panic ensuing from many of the fans as they believed the game was becoming out of reach. How quick people were to give up as they did not think it plausible for a comeback as games from the past two years supported that theory. That being said, they also forgot momentarily that it was Torts behind the bench and not AV until he did the unthinkable. In just the third game of the season, Torts split the Sedins apart in the third period to act as a spark for the team. Props to Torts for thinking outside the box. It WORKED! The Sedins responded by each setting up a goal [Hansen & Santorelli] and suddenly we had ourselves a 3-3 tied game with 10:33 left in the game.

Time was winding down on the clock and there were some good chances on both sides. Sometimes in hockey you have to expect the unexpected, such as an important goal from the fourth line. Dale Weise scored the go ahead goal with just 3:54 remaining giving the Canucks the 4-3 advantage. We all know what happened next, Calgary kept pushing even pulling MacDonald for an extra attacker. The strategy of pulling your goalie does not always work BUT in this game it did and we once again had ourselves a tied game.

Cue more panic from many of the fans on social media as they have seen this story before or at least what happened in the recent past with a game like this one. In the recent past, overtime has not been kind to the Vancouver Canucks.

Overtime commenced with an incredible #Sedinery play and was met with a very good save by MacDonald. SANTA came 3:17 into OT to seal the 5-4 victory for the Canucks! Comeback complete thanks to SANTORELLI!!! Congratulations Eddie Lack on winning your first ever NHL game!!

Be honest, after everything that’s happened in the last two years you were hesitant to believe that the comeback could be possible. In the end, the Canucks walked away with the win two very important points. This is not last year or the year before. Will they win every game that goes past regulation? Probably not but when they play the way they did in this game, it gives them the confidence to know as a team THEY CAN.

Game 3 at a glance

Game 3 at a glance

Next up: The Canucks will host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday [October 8th] at 7:00 PM pacific time. It is expected the Cory Schneider will get the start versus Luongo. It is the first time Schneider will play in Vancouver since the unexpected trade to the Devils.

As always, until next time nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Bonus: Here’s the latest #Canucks song by @CanuckClay, @mariehui & @ajtuliao:

Raise-A-Reader 2013 Edition!

The LAUG's representing Raise-A-Reader 2013 in Canuck style!

The LAUG’s representing Raise-A-Reader 2013 in Canuck style!

Every year the Vancouver Canucks participate in the Vancouver Sun’s Raise-A-Reader campaign. This year was no exception and they were out bright and early. Vancouver Canucks players downtown is a HUGE draw for fans of the team.

The campaign went from 7:00AM-9:00AM. There were representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, B.C. Lions, Global News, and of course the Vancouver Sun. You can guess who I went downtown to see, right? Is it even a question?!

Of course it’s my Canucks! Support a great cause & meet part of the team?!

Team representatives today were: David Booth, Zack Kassian, mascot FIN! Kirk McLean was representing the alumni [but I missed out on meeting Captain Kirk…next time!! Even so, I still have some great long lasting memories!]

It was an absolutely fantastic way to start my day!

First meeting of the day: David Booth!

Met David Booth!

Thanks for the photo David!

Second meeting of the day: Zack Kassian! [side note…Jeff Vinnick {Canucks photographer} got an awesome shot of my 3 sisters & I with Kassian…hope to get a copy to share!]

Met Zack Kassian!

Thanks for the picture Zack!

And no Canucks fan outing would complete without a sighting of everyone’s favourite mascot: FIN!

FIN always takes a bite when our paths cross!

FIN always takes a bite when our paths cross! Seriously…every time!

Walked away with 3 awesome autographs!:

SarahsAutographs!

Helped the #raiseareader campaign & walked away with the perks of being an early bird! 3 autographs: newspaper[FIN!], Jersey[#9 Kassian], & hat[#7 Booth]!

Thanks again David Booth, Zack Kassian, & FIN for an epic start to my day! It was great to see so many Canucks fans out there support the #RaiseAReader campaign & supporting the team! Hope to see you all out there next year!

[Canucks met previously: Mason Raymond & Ryan Kesler. Still on my list of Canucks to meet: Luongo, Linden, the Sedins & Bieksa]

I do not think I can thank the Vancouver Canucks enough for my wonderful morning! It only made me that much more excited for the regular season to begin[despite the lack luster preseason!].

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Toast to Torts

John Tortorella, the new head coach for your Vancouver Canucks!

John Tortorella: Head Coach for your Vancouver Canucks!

“One of my dreams … was hoping some day I could coach in Canada. To be with this team where it’s at … I couldn’t be more excited.” – Torts at his 1st official Canuck Press Conference

I know I am more than a little late to the party BUT I wanted to wait until closer to the season to post this. I believe it is fair to say that following a Q&A from the fans and his introduction to Vancouver media, John Tortorella had turned a lot of people from their preconceived notions regarding his demeanor. Everyone seemed to be expecting to see the man who hates losing and has put himself into hot water with his words but that was not the man who presented himself to the fans and this city [except of course, he still hates losing as do we all!]. Does he have a past and has he made mistakes? YES, hasn’t everyone?! Tortorella acknowledged from the get go of both interviews that he’s working to change that perception of himself and noted that he doesn’t want to put himself or the Canucks organization in a sticky situation.

Every SINGLE time he has addressed the media, EVERYTHING he has said is OVER analyzed. He recently made comments in regards to his dislike for twitter and that he does not want his players to use it too much or leak what’s happening within the locker room. Is it wrong of him to want to keep team dynamics private? I don’t think so. Shortly following what the media dubber his twitter tirade, during another media press conference a cameraman’s cell phone went off interrupting the conference causing Torts to threaten to walk if it happened again. Perhaps a little rash to walk out BUT recently the local media have had little or NO respect for the team.

For the first two pre-season games, Torts was not behind the Canucks bench but rather watching from above. Many commentators and fans alike disagreed with this decision. I liked the decision. By watching from above he could get a real sense of this team, the prospects and see what areas need to be addressed before the regular season begins come October 3rd.

Things are not going to be the same with Torts at the helm of this team and whatever perspective you had of him before is likely to change. He’s going to run a tight ship and the team will have to work hard BUT perhaps his style is what they need to get that extra push throughout the season and down the stretch drive.

Success can be hard to come by in any career but looking at the history of John Tortorella, one can see that he has achieved many success at every level of his coaching career. He has coached the AHL’s Rochester Americans to the Calder Cup victory in 1996, coached the Tampa Bay Lightning to Stanley Cup Victory in 2004 [also won the Jack Adams award in 2004], and helped to coach the US Olympic team to a Silver medal in the 2010 Olympics.

NHL coaching record: In the 854 NHL games he has coached, Torts has amassed a record of 410 WINS-340 LOSSES-37 TIES-67 OVERTIME LOSSES. This year with the Canucks, he will surpass the 900 games coached milestone. Let’s hope it’s a big year for Torts and the team!

He might not have been the coach that many desired or expected to land in Vancouver BUT he is the coach that chosen for the job. He might possibly stir up the media with a comment or two that they over analyze as they do everything. He might do things that make you question his motives BUT everything he does in regards to the team will be to push them to give their best every game. Will they win every game? Probably not, BUT hopefully each loss[may they be few!] will teach them something and be another push to make them better individually and as a team.

I’ll leave you with this last quote from Torts:

“It’s a pretty unique situation coming to a team that’s winning, that has done a lot of great things along the way [like] almost winning a Stanley Cup [in 2011],” he said. “It’s the next level the [Canucks] organization is looking for. I know how I’m going to approach it. It’s going to be asking the players that are here, hopefully some younger players coming through to our organization, for more out of them.”

Welcome to Vancouver, Torts! I look forward to the ups and downs and all the in between as this new chapter with the team begins!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.