Hockey is…

Ryan Kesler and Ryker Kesler (little Kes!)

Ryan Kesler and Ryker Kesler (little Kes!) perfectly displaying the adage “Like Father, Like Son”.

Somewhere in North America there was a hockey game last night. Anthems were sung relatively in tune. The whistle blew. The puck was dropped. The players raced down the ice from end to end. The game was tied and overtime was forced. The clock was winding down and with one last rush down the ice the home team scored a goal to end the game. The crowd went wild.

Hockey is more than just a game, it is a way of life to those who play the game. Hockey is an unbreakable bond between players, their parents, coaches and the ice rink which is a second home. The players on one team form a bond that will never be broken save for when they play on opposite sides of the ice. Some play at the professional level and others play just for fun.

To be successful in this sport EVERY player on the roster needs to put their best game on the ice every game. “Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful.” -Wayne Gretzky

Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waynegretz454033.html#pXQdKQcejWd2dRgA.99
Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waynegretz454033.html#pXQdKQcejWd2dRgA.99
Hockey is a unique sport in the sense that you need each and every guy helping each other and pulling in the same direction to be successful.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/waynegretz454033.html#pXQdKQcejWd2dRgA.99

Hockey brings fans from all over the world together. We may not always cheer for the same team and be from different cities BUT we are all enraptured by the game that is hockey. Sometimes there are incidents that will cause fans and media alike to be divided once more. Some nights the game will appear more like fight night or so it seemed when my Vancouver Canucks faced off against the Calgary Flames on January 18th.

Hockey Night or Fight Night?!

Hockey Night or Fight Night?!

The Flames head coach started his 4th line heavy weights and Torts countered with his 4th line. TWO seconds into the game [yes, you read that correct, TWO seconds] 5 fights broke out at centre ice as the teams had amassed 142 minutes and 8 players ejected from the game. Was it a premeditated incident or a spontaneous reaction just after puck drop? There was the animated less than thrilled reaction from Torts on the bench as all the majors were announced, Burrows got hit from behind by the Flames captain Giordano, at one point it looked like there would be no players left on either bench and then there was the first intermission when Torts attempted to enter the Flames locker room to confront the Flames coach Hartley. Torts is NOT the only one with blame in this game, as Hartley knew what he was doing in putting enforcer Kevin Westgarth as his opening center. Was it the best idea to storm to the opponent’s dressing room? Definitely not BUT Torts wanting to stand up for his players is something that the team will hold on to LONG after this game.

As result of said events Torts had a hearing in New York. Hartley did not have a hearing BUT was fined $25,000 for his actions. A 15 day, 6-game suspension with NO team contact was assessed to Torts. Long story short, in the next 6 games the team will have to play their best for their coach who stood up for them as he is forced to watch from the sidelines away from the team. One thing is absolutely certain, press conferences will NOT be the same while Torts is suspended. Torts will be eligible to return to his spot behind the bench February 3rd when his team is in Detroit.

Somewhere where in North America a hockey game was played. One team won and one team lost. One game over and another is on the horizon as the journey is not yet over as more games remain. Some players will reach new heights, some will disappoint, some will take us all by surprise and SOME are still dreaming of what playing the NHL will look like:

For some the dream will come true and this crazy thing called hockey will become so much more than a game. No one game is ever exactly the same and within one game the momentum can swing ever so swiftly. Opinions will vary for fans of every team in regards to every game that is played but on ONE thing do we all agree: we love the game that is HOCKEY and all that comes with it.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

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A tale of 39 games…

We are nearly halfway through the season! Can you believe it? Last year at this point it still was not clear if there would even be a season!

39 games in & Tortorella’s influence on the team is becoming clearer with each game played.

What exactly would the Canucks look like as team coached by John Tortorella after being coached by Alain Vigneault for 7 years?Would Torts be able to light a fire under this team that they had been missing for almost two years? Would he have the same ever interesting relationship with the Vancouver media that he had with the New York Media? How would the players react to Torts? Would there be communication between the coach and his players and would it translate onto the ice?

Torts is never afraid to show his passion for the game with the players or the refs.

Torts is never afraid to show his passion for the game with the players or the refs.

OVERVIEW:

October was an incredible surprise as many did not expect the Canucks to have any real success in the early goings of learning an entirely new coaching system. Octobers prior to Torts time have not been kind to the Canucks, but this season they surprised nearly everyone posting an impressive 9-5-1 record. Perhaps the most impressive part of October was a season long 7-game road trip on which the team finished 5-1-1 picking up 11 of a possible 14 points. Remember it was trip that most did not have any expectations for the team do well.

November opened with a bang on Pavel BURE night as the Canucks opened the month with a BIG win against Toronto. The games that followed were back and forth contests and despite playing many of the games very well they could get win back to back games for the entire month. The most frustrating stretch for the team and fans alike was perhaps the 5-game losing streak that included 4 straight home game losses. They finished what felt like a very long November with a 4-5-4 record to bring their season record to 13-10-5. The Canucks would have a long climb ahead of themselves as a member the Pacific division that you cannot afford to lose points in and 4 other rivals playing well.

December where to begin? The team knew they had find a way to get better results and end up on the winning side more often than not. Cue two back to back two-goal games from Ryan Kesler to lead to the team to back to back wins for the first time since OCTOBER. The question remained could they make it three in a row when they returned home for a 5-game home stand? They opened with an overtime win against Phoenix and thanks to Luongo and Santorelli they also beat Patrick Roy’s Avalanche to stretch their success to a 4-game win streak. Could they continue their success? YES..they posted back to back shutouts [ONE each by Lack and Luongo] to stretch the streak to 6 games!
Boston came knocking in the next game and the atmosphere in the arena was electric like that of a playoff game…the fans were LOUD. It was a tight game until early in the second just after Boston tied the game at one and Torts called for T/O to get the team back on track..they never looked back winning to game 6-2 and a season best 7-game win streak. [Did I mention that was 5 straight wins at home?!]
The team struggled a little in their next few games BUT they found their way back to win column against the Blackhawks and the Jets. In 11 games in December they have posted a very impressive 9-1-1 record with 3 games left to play before the new year.

FINER DETAILS:

SPECIAL TEAMS: Everyone knows that you need to have success not just 5-on-5 but also on the special teams [power play & penalty kill] to have success in this league.

POWER PLAY: It is no secret that the team struggled on the power play to start the year. It was highlighted by every media outlet and fans alike. Why couldn’t they have the success they used to? Through the first 20 games of the season, the team only managed to score just 6 power play goals; whereas in the last 19 games they have scored 13 power play goals, including a stretch where they scored a PPG in 7 straight games! It’s been fun to watch the team’s success in an area that they struggled with early on.

PENALTY KILL: Success on the power play is important BUT it is also vital that a team kill penalties they take rather than allow their opponents to score on the man advantage. Shot blocking is KEY to a successful penalty kill. This team has had some great shot blockers in the past BUT Torts made it clear that EVERYONE would need to pitch in the shot-blocking department. The entire team has pitched in with the shot blocks but the defense has stepped up the biggest this year with Tanev leading the way with 73, Bieksa with 70, *Edler with 67, Hamhuis with 61, Garrison with 54 and Stanton with 47. All those shot blocks and some great goal-tending have allowed the Canucks to have the league’s best penalty kill success rate of 89.4% while allowing a league low 13 power play goals against.

Like I said, special teams are vital to a team having success in this league and incredibly vital to success in the post-season.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE:

Roberto Luongo with his position on the team CLEAR, he has been able to let his game on the ice do the talking for him. Despite the outcome some nights, he always gives the team a chance to win games and has been the most consistent Canuck, including having his BEST Canuck October!¬† Luongo’s December in particular [minus that Dallas game] has been sparkling and has played himself into Olympic contention. The only question that remains with Bobby Lu is when he will return from his recent injury? If there ever was a good time to have an injury occur, it was right before a 6-day break like it happened. Here’s hoping that Luongo returns to the line-up sooner rather than later! No matter the length of his time out if any games are actually missed, the Canucks are in good hands with Eddie Lack to man the crease.

Ryan Kesler leads the team in goals with 15 and has been playing his best season in 2 years. May I just say that it is incredibly refreshing to see a 100% healthy Ryan Kesler back to his heart and soul play making ways?! He will be a force for the USA during the Sochi games.

Everyone was so focused on the big trades and big signings that Mike Gillis DIDN’T make that they didn’t consider how big or important a small signing could turn out to be.

Mike Santorelli has more than exceeded the expectations that people considered him to be worth. Santorelli has been a perfect fit with Torts and the players…and his versatility enables him to play anywhere in the line up. Recently he has found a permanent line spot with Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins as they have formed a line with some fantastic chemistry that is fun to watch. Santorelli quietly gave this team some depth that a lot of people did not expect the team to have this season. Santorelli has been one of the most consistent players in the line up this season going back to training camp. With 26 points in 39 games and 550k cap hit he IS without a doubt one of the league’s best steals.

How about rookie defense-man Ryan Stanton who Mike Gillis picked up off the waivers from Chicago? Stanton until a recent injury has been one of a few very dependable defensive players including a respectable 47 shot blocks and 11 points. He has been a great find this season!

It’s true that Gillis didn’t make the big trade that people expected or sign any big names this summer that people wanted BUT he did find some great signings that have more than exceeded any expectations that people had. Perhaps we shouldn’t focus on the things that did not happen but on the ones that did and have had an impact on this team.

It has been quite a ride through 39 games as the team has adapted to the Tortorella system and surprised a lot of people in the process. Torts has been everything that he said he would be in his first press conference, and only had ONE note worthy bench rant during the Boston game. He has brought a determination back to this team and even in their losses they have a compete in their game that had been missing for the last two years. The team needed a change of voice and Torts has been up to the task in helping this team find their way again. As he said from the start, he hates losing, he’s a bad loser and to be a good loser, you are a loser.

DIVISIONAL CONUNDRUM:

43 games remain to be played before the new playoff format madness begins. A lot will occur between now and then BUT one thing remains true; the Pacific Division will be a battle all the way to the final buzzer of the regular season. 9 points separate the top 4 teams…just 4 points separate the Canucks from 2nd and 2 points separate them from 3rd. It’s going to be a wild finish, are you ready for all the will occur between now and then?

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Unofficially Official

Unofficially official is how the media is calling it with their prediction of John Tortorella being named as the next Head Coach of the Vancouver Canucks officially at a press conference being held June 25th 1:00PM. I say let’s wait and see what happens with Torts at the helm before deciding it will be a disaster or success. You never know, Torts could take us all by surprise! Welcome to #CanuckNation TORTS! It’s bound to a be an interesting relationship between you and the fans, and you and the media. Next question…who will his assistants be?[I’d love to see someone like Linden fill such a role]

Look out Canucks fans, media days just got a WHOLE lot more colorful…it will be an interesting ride to say the least. Perhaps @stombone1 can save us all a seat at the press conference or in the very least provide us with an entertaining twitter commentary as always!

Rumors of the LA Kings trading Jonathan Bernier went from the rumor mill to FACT Sunday morning when it became official that the Kings had traded Bernier to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goalie Ben Scrivens, forward Matt Frattin and a second round draft pick. Toronto’s GM Dave Nonis says that this is the beginning of the changes coming before July 5th. What does the acquiring of Bernier say about about James Reimer’s future with the Leafs will he be playing tandem or relegated to the role of backup? I feel bad for Reimer who all year had to prove himself to the Leafs and the league alike and still it seems as though it may not be enough.

The Phoenix Coyotes have called a press conference for June 28th to make some sort of announcement regarding their future. Will they be re-locating or staying in Glendale?

Speaking of continued NHL off-season movements have you heard that Philadelphia is just using one of their compliance buyouts on Ilya Bryzgalov but also using the 2nd one to buyout fan favourite in Philly: Danny Briere. I don’t know how realistic the possibility would be of Briere coming to Vancouver, but I think he’d look great on a line with Kesler and Higgins[or Schroeder]! Off-season changes are coming for many teams and will be happening more rapidly as the NHL draft and the JULY 5 free agency frenzy draw closer.

The drama of the off-season will only intensify as the Stanley Final draws to a close tonight. Chicago stunned Boston with two late goals 17 seconds apart to CLINCH the 2013 Stanley Cup. Congratulations to both teams for a heck of a series and congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks who completed their storybook season with the best possible ending.

The off-season has arrived hockey fans and its about to get very interesting with the numerous possible compliance buyouts, trades, and re-signings that are coming. As one season ends, the build up for the next begins in the off-season. #isitOctoberyet

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Call Me Maybe: AV to NY 4 Torts to VAN?!

Do hear that ever growing loud buzzing noise? Those are the whispers regarding the newest potential Canucks head coach getting louder. First it was Dallas Eakins as the front runner until he struck Oil in Edmonton as a great fit for a young core team. Next in the front runner positions are John Stevens who is currently an assistant coach in LA, Lindy Ruff who was fired earlier in the year by Buffalo and former head coach of the NY Rangers the ever colorful John Tortorella.

The most interesting of the three candidates is perhaps John Tortorella not just because of his colorful way of dealing with the media but because former Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault has reportedly signed a 5-year contract with the New York Rangers [rumored to be worth $10 million].

Could it be former Canucks head coach headed to the Rangers & for NY Coach Tortorella to Vancouver?

CoachTortsCould it be with former Canucks head coach AV headed to the Big Apple & that former NY Rangers coach Tortorella will be headed  to Vancouver?

Wouldn’t it be something if these two switch places? I know I am not the only one who would be slightly amused by role reversals. Both cities are hockey markets where the fans and media alike have expectations on the daily basis from both the coach and the team. It is not yet official as to who will be the next coach for the Canucks but the rumors regarding Torts to Vancouver are getting louder with each day that passes. Best of luck in New York AV!

What are your thoughts #CanuckNation about the possibility of Torts coming to the Canucks as head coach? He has Stanley Cup experience[Tampa Bay], and has worked in a hockey mad market[New York] and can more than handle whatever the media tries to throw at him. Perhaps he could be a the trigger to light a fire under this team or perhaps not. Imagine Torts addressing the media…can you picture it? I think he would have tone down his colorful commentary slightly but sometimes the media in this town are crazy and should be called on it.Maybe he will be the next head coach or maybe Gillis and company will go another direction [Stevens or Ruff or perhaps a former player will be added to the mix!]. All that being said the team will hopefully name a coach prior to the draft and free agency madness.

Any of you still watching the Stanley Cup Final? Its a hard match up for me to watch as a Canucks fan..but because I am a fan of the GAME itself I have watched. Currently 3 games done and Boston leads the series 2-1. The first two games both went to overtime [stretching over 10 periods of hockey!]. The third game has been the only one to end in regulation and Boston taking the series lead. Rask is a huge part of the reason why Boston has been so good this post-season and he proved that in game 3 posting his 3rd shutout in the last 7 games. Game 4 will be a series changer if Boston takes the 3-1 series lead OR if Chicago finds their scoring touch and returns to Chicago with a tied series. I will not pick a side in this series but it will be interesting to see how the rest of this series goes as a hockey fan.

In other NHL news, Logan Couture has inked a new 5-year contract worth $30 million [an annual cap hit of $6 million] and Pavel Datsyuk has signed a 3-year contract extension worth $22.5 million[an annual cap hit of $7.5 million]. Rumor has it that LA is preparing to trade back up goalie Jonathan Bernier with Toronto and Philadelphia emerging as the frontrunners in that race. For Philadelphia it would be great to give Bernier a chance as a starter and to push Steve Mason. For Toronto it simply raises more questions regarding their goal-tending situation as it seems no matter how good James Reimer plays it is never good enough. Then again, LA was supposedly going to trade Bernier last year.

The drama never seems to end in the hockey world. By next week’s end the Stanley Cup Final will be over and the draft about the start. Trades pace the NHL draft prior to the start of the craze that is free agency beginning July 5.

I will sign off today, asking you #CanuckNation: who do you think will be the next Canucks head coach? Drop a comment with your choice/reason regarding the coach you’d like to see behind the bench!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.