Monday, October 31, 2005

Cloutier Out At Least A Week

The Canucks will be without their number one goaltender for at least a week as Dan Cloutier recovers from a concussion. Cloutier is back in Vancouver and is under observation. The NHL requires a minimum of one week off for all concussion injuries.

That means Alex Auld will get the next three starts, while Rob McVicar is expected to be called up from Manitoba for Wednesday's game against Minnesota. McVicar is getting the call because Wade Flaherty would have to clear waivers to be called up. If a team were to claim Flaherty, Vancouver would be on the hook for half his NHL salary. (I can't see this rule lasting beyond this season, minor league veterans are not too happy about it). McVicar is 2-1 with a 2.25 GAA and .919 SvPct for the Moose.

In the short term, Alex Auld will get all the playing time barring a blow out. If Cloutier is out for an extended period of time I would expect the Canucks to sign one of the many veteran goaltenders who are currently free agents.

Note: I don't have a game report for Saturday's loss, but I will have an "October Report Card" up soon, possibly tonight...

Friday, October 28, 2005

Game Report: Colorado 6 - Vancouver 2

For the second time this season the Vancouver Canucks failed to show up in the first game of back-to-backs in the same city. Last time, in Minnesota they we're creamed 6-0, this time in Colorado the result wasn't much different.

Vancouver came out of the gate flat and lifeless. Early penalty troubles and extremely poor defensive coverage compounded problems. The Canucks best players were their worst: Morrison -3, Naslund -3, Bertuzzi -2, Jovanovski -2, Ohlund -2. Considering the attention on this game it's hard to understand how the Canucks could be so lifeless.

The first two periods were terrible, but the Canucks showed some character by coming out strong in the third period, out-shooting Colorado 23-0. It would have been easy for them to phone in the third period, but guys like Ryan Kesler stepped it up and helped gain some momentum heading into Saturday night's rematch.

Canucks Report Card

The Forwards: C-

It was a poor effort all-around and the forward group set the tone for mediocrity. Todd Bertuzzi returned to floating form, Morrison was terrible, Naslund not much better. Once again faceoffs were a problem, Linden was 5 for 10, Sedin 5 for 15 and Morrison, who is having a terrible year in the faceoff circle, was 7 for 16. The only bright spot was Ryan Kesler 8/11.

There were a couple positives on the night, mostly limited to the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler's strong third period.

Overall a pretty crappy effort by the forward group.

The Defense: D

As bad as the forwards were the defense was even worse. With Bryan Allen out of the lineup others had to step up... they didn't. Nolan Baumgartner was brutal in the first period, his play directly contributing to two Colorado goals. Steve McCarthy took two minor penalties. Ed Jovanovski and Mattias Ohlund were both -2.

The down low coverage was non-existent as Colorado pretty much toyed with the Canucks in the offensive zone. It was a poor night on the blueline.

Wade Brookbank actually got some ice-time and was one of the few Canucks to show that they cared about the game. Although he took a couple penalties someone needed to do something to spark the team. Of course Colorado was well aware of this and they did their best to prevent Brookbank from lighting a spark. Brad May's been around a long time in that role to know that there was no reason to give the Canucks any life. The officials didn't help the Canucks cause, as any sort of physical play resulted in a penalty. Clearly they did not wan't things to "get out of hand."

The Goaltending: D

While the goaltenders didn't get any help, they didn't step up to bail out their teammates.

Dan Cloutier looked very sharp early in the first, but poor coverage resulted in a few Colorado goals. As good as Turgeon's shot was you can't allow goals from there. Cloutier started strong, but failed to keep his team in the game.

Alex Auld was not much better. The goal he allowed against Turgeon was brutal.

Neither goalie got any help, but the one positive from this game is that neither goalie was good enough and at least the Cloutier bashers can't whine and say that Auld would have done a better job.

Special Teams: F

The numbers speak for themselves: Vancouver PP 0/8. Colorado PP 3/8.

Overall: D

It was a terrible game by the entire team. The effort was non-existent and the defensive coverage was terrible. The only positive was that they showed up for the third period and I didn't have to miss watching Alias.

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

Since there were no Canuck stars I'll just go with the announced stars: 1) Ian Laperriere 2) David Aebischer 3) Pierre Turgeon.

Next up: Colorado Saturday 7:00 CBC

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Gameday: Vancouver at Colorado

The Vancouver Canucks are in Colorado for their second meeting of the season. And of course this is Bertuzzi's first game back in Colorado since you know what.

In the last meeting in Vancouver, the game was a rather mundane affair which featured little physical play and no fights. Will things be different tonight? Don't count on it... of course the (Canadian) media will do their best to hype the game.

Vancouver (8-1-1)

The Canucks have won six in a row and have tied the franchise record for the best start to a season. Vancouver's recent success is largely due to two things. The first is their work ethic, they have not been outworked since the 6-0 loss to Minnesota. The second is the improvement of their special teams and their ability to stay out of the penalty box. The power-play is now up to 18.2% and while the penalty kill stats are not good, 78.1%, they have been much better than at the beginning of the season.

Vancouver has been healthy all season, but tonight they will be without the services of Bryan Allen who is suffering the ill-effects of a few blocked shots. Wade Brookbank will take his place on the blueline.

Dan Cloutier will get the start in goal.

Colorado (4-4-1)

Colorado have one two of their last three games, both against the Oilers. The Avalanche will be looking to improve their home record(2-2-1) after blowing three goal leads in their previous two games at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche were arguably the better team during 5-on-5 play in Vancouver. This time they have to capitalize on their scoring opportunities and they must find a way to contain the Canucks defense which contributed two goals.

David Aebischer will be getting the start in goal. Aebischer is 3-3-0 with a 3.54 GAA and .870 SvPct.

Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams & Discipline - This is starting to sound like a broken record, but let's face it, with so many penalties each night most games are being decided by special teams.
  2. Goaltending - In the last meeting, Dan Cloutier was the difference in the first period. Who's going to be the difference tonight?
  3. Avoiding Distractions - Both teams will have to deal with the media attention and the unruly Colorado fans. Both teams must focus on the game and not the hype.

TV: PPV 6:00

In other news Vancouver signed Jason Doig to a two-way contract yesterday. Doig will remain in Manitoba.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Game Report: Vancouver 3 - Minnesota 1

The Vancouver Canucks got on the board first and never trailed in their 3 - 1 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

A few notes...

  • Alex Auld had a strong game stopping 27 of 28 shots. It will be interesting to see if Auld gets one of the starts in Colorado.
  • The Canucks continue to struggle in the faceoff circle. Brendan Morrison was brutal winning only 5 of 17 draws. This will eventually become a problem if they do not improve.
  • The third line is stuggling to find any kind of offence. They managed only 4 shots between them.
  • Bertuzzi still lacks confidence... shoot the puck!

I did not order the PPV so instead of the usual report here are some links to check out...

The Canucks are rolling along and hope to set a new record for the best start to a season tommorow night in Colorado (6:00 PPV).

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Gameday: Vancouver at Minnesota

The Vancouver Canucks are returning to Minnesota for the third meeting of the season between the two teams.

Last time in Minnesota the Canucks of course lost 6-0 in what was by far their worst effort of the season. Vancouver would get some revenge by defeating the Wild 5-3 at GM Place.

Vancouver (7-1-1)

Vancouver has won five straight since their loss in Minnesota. Coming off a perfect homestand the Canucks are now out on the road for three games.

Ed Jovanovski has been red hot, 2 goals 6 assists on the homestand, leading a Canuck defense core that has consistently contributed offence. The defense have helped to improve the power-play which now ranks 12th in the league.

The Canuck lineup should once again remain unchanged. Alex Auld is expected to start in goal.

Minnesota (5-3-1)

Minnesota is coming off a 4-2 loss to Chicago, however they are 4-1-0 at home and are looking for their third straight win on home ice.

The Wild will once again be without Marian Gaborik, who re-injured his groin(or hip-flexor?) on Sunday. Also injured are Phillip Kuba and Alex Henry, Pascal Dupuis is a game time decision.

Manny Fernandez is expected to start for the Wild.

Keys to the Game

  1. Scoring First - As is always the case against Minnesota, it's always a lot easier to win when you score first.
  2. Special Teams - Both teams will need to come through on special teams if they wan't to win.
  3. Goaltending - The Wild always get good goaltending against Vancouver, tonight we'll see a showdown between Auld and Fernandez.

TV: PPV 5:00

With 4 pay-per-view games this month(and two this week) I'm going to take a pass on this one. I've already spent $10.95 watching the Wild once and that's enough for me. So, tomorrow's game report won't be the usual type.

For those interested, the NY Rangers have called up Fedor Fedorov. Fedorov had 1 goal and 4 assists and was a -3 in 5 games for Hartford... Josef Balej has 2 goals and 2 assists in 6 games for the Moose.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Game Report: Canucks 6 - Avalanche 4

(This one is a day late, but here it is anyway)

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Colorado Avalanche 6-4 in a game that failed to live up to the media hype. But that wasn't surprising to anyone paying attention. It had been over a year and a half since the two teams played each other and with so much turnover in Colorado there was no spark in this traditional rivalry. In fact this was probably one of the tamest contests between the two since they met in the playoffs.

For the most part, Colorado was the better team during 5-on-5 play, however Dan Cloutier kept the Canucks in the game. Unfortunately for the Avalanche they lost the special teams battle. Vancouver went 2 for 9 on the power-play, while Colorado was 0 for 5 before a late power-play goal in the third period.

Speaking of the third period, Vancouver learned a valuable lesson. Leading 5-1 with less than five minutes left, Vancouver stopped playing. They now know you cannot afford to do that as Colorado scored three straight goals to draw within one before Linden scored an empty net goal to finish off the game.

Canucks Report Card

The Forwards: C+

While the Canucks scored six goals, most of them were as a result of power-play opportunities. During 5-on-5 the Avalanche were usually the better team, as evidenced by the final shot totals 32-23. Brendan Morrison had a good game, scoring once and adding two assists. The Sedins were also good, contributing two goals, Henrik was also 8 for 11 in the faceoff circle. Matt Cooke led all players in hits with six. Overall it was a decent effort by the forward group, however they shut it down far too early in the third. They need to finish stronger than that.

The Defense: B-

The defense once again contributed on the scoreboard. Bryan Allen picked up his first goal of the season and Ed Jovanovski had a goal and an assist. On the defensive side of things, Dan Cloutier was forced to make too many good saves as Colorado forwards enjoyed several great scoring opportunities. Overall the defense was adequate, but they can be much better.

Goaltending: A

Quite simply Dan Cloutier was the difference in the game. Cloutier stopped 13 first period shots which included a couple great saves against Joe Sakic. Unfortunately for Cloutier his team hung him out to dry in the final minutes and Colorado added 3 goals to his goals against total.

Special Teams: A

The Canucks power play continues to roll as they scored two goals in nine opportunities. They also had a couple goals which came shortly after the penalized player returned to the ice. The penalty kill was also very good, the only blemish a late goal to Alex Tanguay.

Overall: B

Special teams and goaltending won them this one. They need to play better 5-on-5 and they cannot quit early, even with a 4 goal lead.

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

  1. Dan Cloutier - Ya ya, he gave up 4 goals, but before his teammates decided to quit early Cloutier was the runaway first star of the game.
  2. Ed Jovanovski - Jovo had another two points in nearly 27 minutes of ice-time. Another strong effort from Jovo.
  3. Daniel Sedin - Daniel had two goals, including the game winner. He also generated several other scoring opportunities.

Next up: Vancouver in Minnesota, Tuesday (PPV).

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Gameday: Colorado at Vancouver

It's the first meeting between the bitter Northwest rivals since you know when. The media has hyped this game beyond belief so I'll spare you that... you'll get you're fill of hype on NHIC.

Let's get to the point...

Vancouver (6-1-1)

The Vancouver Canucks have won five straight since their drubbing in Minnesota. Clearly the embarrassing loss got the team's attention.

Since the Minnesota loss, the Canucks have come out very strong in the first period of each game and will need to do the same again tonight against the Avalanche. In addition to strong starts, their power-play has been scoring on a nightly basis and while the penalty kill struggled early in the year the Canucks were perfect against Phoenix.

The Canucks are getting huge contributions from their defense, Ed Jovanovski has six points during the winning streak, while Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo have been scoring on the power-play.

The Canucks lineup has remained unchanged during the win streak and I would expect that to continue tonight, although there is a chance that Wade Brookbank could draw into the lineup (I'll try and post an update if I get confirmation on Brookbank).

Dan Cloutier is expected to start.

Colorado (3-3-1)

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a dominating 7-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night. Milan Hejduk made his return to the lineup and managed to score twice and add an assist. Hejduk is a familiar face, referred to by many as "the Canuck Killer", but there aren't too many familiar faces left on the Avalanche. I believe there are only 8 players who were in the Colorado lineup last time these teams met.

The new faces include the likes of Pierre Turgeon, Patrice Brisebois, Andrew Brunette, Anti Laaksonen, Ian Lapperriere and of course Brad May.

Defenseman John-Michael Liles leads the Avalanche in scoring with 4 goals and 6 assists. Alex Tanguay has not scored, but does have 8 assists. Joe Sakic and Pierre Turgeon both have 7 points, while rookie Marek Svatos has 5 goals and 2 assists.

On the blueline, newcomer Partice Brisbois has 3 goals and 2 assists. Rob Blake has had a rough start to the season, Blake is sporting an ugly -5 although he does have 5 assists.

Colorado's special teams have been very good. The power-play is cruising along at 25% while the penalty kill is at 86.6%

Rookie goaltender Peter Budaj is getting the call tonight. Budaj is 1-0-1 with a 1.92 GAA and .931 SvPct.

The Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams & Discipline - As has been the case for a lot of games this season, this one will probably come down to staying out of the box and taking advantage of your power play opportunities.
  2. Maintaining Focus - With all the hoopla and hype surrounding the game both teams will have to remember that their are an important two points up for grabs.
  3. Hard Work - The Avanlanche are playing their second road game in two nights, the Canucks need to take advantage of that by working hard and starting strong.
  4. Faceoffs - Both teams are struggling in the faceoff circle at around 45%. Whoever prevails tonight could gain an important advantage.

Enjoy the game, it should be a good one.

TV: CBC 7:00

Friday, October 21, 2005

Game Report: Canucks 3 - Coyotes 2

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in a penalty filled contest which also included some controversy.

Vancouver started strong again, outshooting the Coyotes 19-11 in the first period, however Curtis Joseph was outstanding. Ed Jovanovski scored the only goal of the period on the power play. Phoenix was lucky to get out of the period only down by one.

In the second, Keith Ballard put his team on the board to tie the game at one. Midway through the period Nolan Baumgartner would score on the power play, however shortly after that Geoff Sanderson would even the score with his first goal of the season. Despite being out-shot 30-18, Phoenix would head into the third period tied at two.

With the teams playing 4-on-4 Matt Cooke scored a controversial goal that would hold up as the game winner. Cooke fed a pass to Jovanovski who went to the net hard, the puck ended up at the side where Cooke crashed the goal and knocked the puck in and the net off its moorings. Mick McGeough immediately waved off the goal and called upstairs for a video review.

Replays showed that the net was lifted up as the puck went in the net. However, unlike the old rule where a goal would not count if the net was lifted up at all, the new rule this season states that the goal must be completely off its moorings. The video goal judge made the correct call(judging by how long it took, it was likely the boys in New York who made the call), and allowed the goal to stand. However, despite the goal judge making the correct call, the call by the on ice officials was suspect. Jovanovski was clearly in the crease and a strong case could be made that he interfered with Joseph. That said the NHL has been fairly consistent in allowing these types of goals where the puck carrier goes to the net with the puck and crashes into the goalie. In this case Jovanovski did just that and even made an attempt to avoid the goalie. It's a highly debatable play and I would really like to hear the NHL's stance on the matter.

Despite the controversy, Phoenix certainly had opportunities to tie the game. They enjoyed a 5-on-3 shortly after the Cooke goal, but could not score thanks to some excellent penalty killing by Trevor Linden and Bryan Allen. In the final minutes, Phoenix had the luxury of a 4-on-3 power-play, which would be a 5-on-3 with Joseph out of the goal. Shane Doan hit the post, but that was as close as the Coyotes would come to scoring. Phoenix would finish 0 for 8 on the power play.

Canuck Report Card

The Forwards: C+

It was a tough game for the Vancouver forwards. With 44 minutes in minor penalties it was difficult for the lines to get in sync. Even strength minutes were tough to come by, as a result the 3rd and 4th lines were largely ineffective. Jarkko Ruutu only found five minutes of ice-time, while Lee Goren managed seven thanks to a couple minutes on the power-play. Defensively the forward group was good, especially Trevor Linden who was great on the penalty kill.

The Defense: B-

Once again the Vancouver defense contributed offensively. Both Nolan Baumgartner and Ed Jovanovksi would score on the power-play. Defensively Bryan Allen didn't have one of his best games, but he was great on a third period 5-on-3. The defense grade would be higher if not for a rare miscue by Salo and Ohlund which resulted in the Coyotes second goal.

The Goaltending: B

Dan Cloutier stopped 22 of 24 shots, picking up his 4th victory of the season. Cloutier would probably like to have the Ballard goal back, as he cheated a bit and left too much room upstairs, but overall it was a solid game. Cloutier was especially good in the final hectic minutes of the third period.

Special Teams: A-

For the first time this season the penalty kill came though big time, finishing a perfect 8 for 8. Trevor Linden was the leader of the PK, fearlessly blocking shots and successfully killing off two 5-on-3's. The power-play was once again good, going 2 for 10 on the night. Two power play goals are great, but the Canucks failed to finish off the Coyotes when they had their chance, hence the minus.

Overall: B

The Canucks dominated the first period and were nearly as good in the second. It wasn't their best game and Curtis Joseph was the only reason it was close, however Vancouver failed to put the game away when they had the chance and as a result the game could have easily gone the other way.

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

  1. Curtis Joseph - Cujo was outstanding, he was by far the best player in the game despite giving up three goals and taking the loss.
  2. Ed Jovanovski - Jovo scored a goal and an assist with three shots on goal and three blocked shots in 28 minutes of ice-time.
  3. Sami Salo - It was tough picking the 3rd star, but I went with Salo for his assist, six shots on goal and most importantly his 6:14 of ice-time on the perfect penalty kill. Honorable mention to Keith Ballard for his goal and a fight. He looks like a keeper.

The Canucks are now at the top of the NHL standings with a 6-1-1 record.

Next up: Colorado in Vancouver, Saturday night (CBC).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Gameday - Phoenix at Vancouver

The Phoenix Coyotes are in town for the second time this season. In their last matchup on opening night Vancouver defeated Phoenix 3-2. However this is a different Coyotes team than the one that opened the season. Both teams are currently playing their best hockey of the season.

Vancouver Canucks (5-1-1)

Vancouver is coming off a 6-2 victory over Chicago and have won three in a row.

The Canucks have their power-play rolling, now 12th in the league at 18.%, and while their penalty kill continues to struggle (70.5%) they are doing an excellent job of staying out of the box (34 times shorthanded, tied for 4th best in league).

Vancouver's top line had their best game of the season against Chicago, Todd Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison we're much better than they have been all year. With all 4 lines and defense contributing, the offence is in top form.

Now that the big line is playing well you can expect to see more consistency on the forward lines. Lee Goren has settled into the physical 4th line with Linden and Ruutu, while the third line of Cooke, Kesler and Park have provided excellent speed and a strong forecheck. All things considered, the Canucks have a well balanced forward group.

On the defensive side of things the Canucks have done a pretty good job. In 5 on 5 play the Canucks have only given up nine goals, good for 9th in the league. If they can continue staying out of the box (nearly half their goals against have been while shorthanded) they should be tough to score on.

Dan Cloutier is expected to get the start, should things change today I'll try and post an update.

Phoenix Coyotes (3-4-1)

Led by the excellent play of Curtis Joseph the Coyotes are coming off a two game sweep of Alberta.

As mentioned earlier this is a different team than the one we saw on opening night. Brett Hull retired suddenly on Saturday. On Tuesday they traded centre Jeff Taffe to the Rangers in exchange for Jamie Lundmark. On the 8th they traded LW Jason Chimera, D Cale Hulse and C Mike Rupp to Columbus for former Canuck Geoff Sanderson and RW Tim Jackman. Petr Nedved and Ladislav Nagy have both returned from the injured reserve, however they have lost Denis Gauthier(broken finger) and Mike Ricci(broken nose).

Oleg Saprykin and Paul Mara lead the team in scoring with 6pts each, while Mike Comrie is stuggling (2 assists, -4).

The key to the Coyotes' success has been Curtis Joseph. In 5 games Joseph is 3-2 with a 1.80 GAA and .930 Sv%. Cujo is looking for his 400th career victory.

On special teams, Phoenix has the 8th best power play at 21.2%, while their penalty kill is 18th at 81.4%.

Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams & Discipline. Give them opportunities and Vancouver will beat you on the power play. Phoenix has to limit Vancouver's chances and they must capitalize on their own.
  2. Curtis Joseph. For Phoenix to win, Joseph will have to be the difference.
  3. Focus on tonight. With the most anticipated game of the year coming up on Saturday, Vancouver must remain focused on tonight. If they start the way they have the past three games only Joseph and special teams can prevent them from winning this one.

TV: 7:00 RSN

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Game Report: Canucks 6 - Blackhawks 2

The Vancouver Canucks won their third game in a row, defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. It was one of the more entertaining games of the year, especially in the third period which had long stretches without stoppages, some pretty plays and several big hits. Coming into the game Chicago knew they had to stay out of the box, unfortunately they failed to do so and that ultimately proved to be their downfall.

Chicago actually played well in the first period and remained in the game despite taking three minor penalties.

It was a different story in the second period. Daniel Sedin would open the scoring 2:01 into the period on a wrist shot through traffic. Soon after, the Chicago penalty parade would begin and the Canucks capitalized. Chicago would take five minor penalties leading to two Canuck power-play goals by Mattias Ohlund and then Sami Salo. Ohlund would add another goal to put Vancouver up 4-1 after two.

Chicago would open the third period with a power-play goal of their own, however they would soon find themselves in the penalty box leading to a Morrison power-play goal. Markus Naslund would add one more in the last minute of play.

The game was ultimately decided by Chicago's poor grasp of the "new NHL." Chicago penalties: hooking, interference, holding the stick, hooking, hooking, hooking, goaltender interference, hooking, hooking and interference. The Chicago coaching staff must be driving themselves crazy.

Vancouver didn't make things easy on Chicago. They worked hard and skated well all night, not letting up at all even in the third period when the game was out of reach. It was a complete team effort.


  • The WCE had their best game of the season. Todd Bertuzzi had his best game, skating well and showing confidence with the puck. Brendan Morrison was also great. At times the line was nearly too good, over-passing the puck, but at that point the game was decided and they can be excused for putting on a nice show for the fans.
  • Mattias Ohlund was outstanding, scoring two goals and laying out several big hits. Pavel Vorobiev will not look forward to returning to Vancouver.
  • I've been ripping McCarthy a lot, so I have to point out that he had his best game as a Canuck.
  • The Sedin's are playing well, showing tremendous puck possesion. Daniel in particular is playing with a lot of confidence, as demonstrated by his 4 shots on goal.
  • I really liked the way the team stepped up the physical play in the third period after the high stick on Jovo. They were taking the body hard, sending a message that GM Place won't be a fun place to play. I especially liked the dynamic Goren brings and Ryan Kesler looked possessed, he's going to be a good one come playoff time.
  • Faceoffs are still a problem, Linden was the only centre above 50%(7/13)

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

  1. Mattias Ohlund - Ohlund was a force, great hits and two goals.
  2. Brendan Morrison - During the 3rd I was debating who would get the 2nd star... Morrison sealed it with his goal that added to his two assists.
  3. Todd Bertuzzi - Bertuzzi had his best game finishing with 3 assists. When Bertuzzi goes into a slump he needs to pull out the tape of this game. Skate and you can dominate! It's as simple as moving your feet.

Next up for Vancouver are the suddenly streaking Coyotes, Thursday 7:00 pm RSN.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Gameday - Chicago At Vancouver

The Chicago Blackhawks are in town to face the Vancouver Canucks in their first meeting of the season. The Blackhawks have not won in Vancouver in more than four years and are coming into the contest with three losses in their last four games. It wasn't long ago that Chicago used to own Vancouver's number, but times have changed...

Vancouver (4-1-1)

Vancouver has won back-to-back games, coming out of the gates strong in both contests. After a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Minnesota, Vancouver has stepped up their work ethic and the result has been apparent on the score sheets. The Canucks combined to outshoot the Wild and Stars 76-33, while outscoring them 10-5.

Vancouver finally got their power-play going against Dallas, however they still rank 15th in the league at 15.5%. While the power-play is improving the penalty kill is still struggling. Vancouver is ranked 29th in the NHL at 72.4%, only Calgary is worse at 68.1%. Fortunately for Vancouver they are the 2nd least penalized team, being shorthanded only 29 times.

One area of concern for Vancouver is in the faceoff circle. Vancouver is 2nd last in the league at 44.8%, fortunately Chicago is not much better at 47.6%. Vancouver centres (Sedin 48%, Linden 44.9%, Kesler 44.3%, Morrison 41.3%) need to improve in the faceoff circle.

Expect Dan Cloutier to get the call in goal and the rest of the lineup should remain unchanged from Sunday.

Chicago (2-4-0)

Chicago is at the end of a four game road trip in which they have lost two of three so far. In a strange scheduling quirk, this is Chicago's only game this week so expect them to "leave everything on the ice."

The Blackhawks have struggled on special teams. Their power-play is ranked 20th in the league at 13.6% and they have given up 2 short handed markers, putting their power-play at +4. Meanwhile their penalty kill has not been any better, it ranks 23rd at 80%. To make matters worse, Chicago has been shorthanded 50 times(3rd most in league), 21 more than Vancouver!

Their biggest off-season acquisition, Nikolai Khabibulin, has dissapointed so far. Khabibulin is 2-3 with a 3.40 GAA and .866 Sv%. Fortunately for Khabibulin, the Blackhawks other big acquisition will be returning to the lineup. Adrian Aucoin is making a return visit to Vancouver, Aucoin has been nursing... you guessed it, a sore groin.

Chicago will however be without the injured Eric Daze (what else is new?) and Tuomo Ruutu is questionable with a sore back.

Keys to the Game

  1. Hard Work - If the Canucks are working and skating hard they should be able to dominate the Blackhawks.
  2. Discipline - The Blackhawks cannot afford to take penalties. They must do a better job staying out of the box.
  3. Goaltending - If the Canucks show up the Blackhawks will need Khabibulin to be the difference.

TV: PPV 7:00

Monday, October 17, 2005

Weekend Wrap-up

I had a couple of game reports ready to post over the weekend, but alas internet troubles prevented me from doing so. Instead I'll combine the two game reports into one...

Vancouver 5 - Minnesota 3

It's amazing what happens when you move your feet. After a terrible effort on Wednesday the Canucks came out of the gate with some determination and effort, out-shooting the Wild 13-1. The hard work continued into the 2nd period, yet somehow the Wild managed to score twice on only 6 shots. However, the Canucks finally got a bounce to go their way as Naslund tied the game on a lucky bank shot off a skate. Three minutes later Kesler showed great hands, first by accepting the bouncing pass from Richard Park and then by deaking Rolloson and roofing the puck under the bar. The lead was short lived as Brian Rolston tied the game with a power play goal in the final minute of the period.

After two periods the shots were 31-9 in favour of the Canucks, yet the score was even at 3 a piece. But Richard Park gave the Canucks the lead early in the third period when he snapped a wrist shot past Roloson. The Canucks would hang on and Bertuzzi would seal the deal with an empty net goal, much to the chagrin of the fans in attendance.

The Canucks worked hard all night, out-shooting the Wild 41-13. It was a much needed great effort, marred only by difficulties on the penalty kill.

Vancouver 5 - Dallas 2

The Canucks started their first homestand of the season the same way they ended the road trip. They came out of the gate skating and working hard. Brendan Morrison set the tone for the night early in the first as he battled to win a faceoff and then out hustled the Stars power play down the ice. The Canucks' hard work payed off early as they drew several penalties, leading to power play goals by Daniel Sedin and Sami Salo. The Canucks out-shot the Stars 13-6 in the first period and enjoyed a 2-0 lead heading into the second.

Despite the two goals, the Canucks had squandered a 5 on 3 power play opportunity which included a double minor by Boucher (ridiculous call on Boucher by the way). The Canucks would regret the squandered opportunities as Jeri Lehtinen would score two goals in the second to tie the game at 2-2.

However the Canucks were not discouraged, they continued working hard and took the lead after Lee Goren deflected a point shot for his first goal as a Canuck. Bertuzzi would score on the power-play and Richard Park would add another (on a weak play by Turco) to give the Canucks the 5-2 victory.

Some Thoughts...

  • Hopefully the Canucks have realized that their success, or lack thereof, comes down to their effort. When the team is skating and working hard they are very difficult to beat.
  • Todd Bertuzzi appears to be getting his hands back, however I am far from satisfied with his work ethic. He needs to be moving his feat to be successful, he spends far too much time coasting.
  • Bryan Allen has quite simply been outstanding so far this season. He's blocking shots, throwing hits, moving the puck well and he has been positionally sound. He has been a rock on the blueline.
  • Nolan Baumgartner had his best game of the season against Dallas. He showed a lot of confidence with the puck and played a strong positional game.
  • Unfortunately the same cannot be said of Steve McCarthy. McCarthy clearly does not have the confidence of Crawford. He needs to play much better in his own end and he has to show the skating and puck skills that made him attractive to the Canucks. His physical play has improved in the last few games, but he needs to do more.
  • Lee Goren is fitting in nicely on the 4th line. Not many teams have the luxury of a 4th liner who can put the puck in the net. While not a great skater or checking forward, his size, grit, willingness to fight and scoring ability have been a pleasant surprise.
  • Matt Cooke continues to play well, providing much needed energy whenever he is on the ice.
  • Richard Park has been great, proving to be Nonis' best move so far.
  • Mattias Ohlund looks a little tired, he's still been good, but the last few games haven't been up to his usual level.
  • Finally, despite not playing their best hockey, the Canucks have started the season at 4-1-1. That is a very good sign.

Next up are the Blackhawks on Tuesday (PPV)

Friday, October 14, 2005

Gameday Part 2: Vancouver at Minnesota

I'll skip the regular gameday preview and get right to the point...

Keys to the Game

  1. Effort - No need to elaborate here.
  2. Scoring First - As we saw in the last game, once they fell behind the Canucks started to press and played right into the Wild's gameplan. Scoring first will be practically essential if they hope to win this one.
  3. Breaking the Trap - The first two keys to the game will play a major role in breaking the trap, however they must also do a much better job on dump ins.
  4. Special Teams & Discipline - The Canucks started the first game by taking some lazy penalties, they must stay out of the box. The Canucks powerplay(3-29) also must be a lot better.

TV: RSN 5:00pm

Moose Notes

The Manitoba Moose have lost defenseman Tomas Mojzis who broke his jaw in Wednesday's game against Omaha. Mojzis is out indefinately. The loss of Mojzis is a major blow to the Moose blueline and does not help matters for the Vancouver Canucks weak back-end. With both McCarthy and Baumgartner struggling, Mojzis could have been a candidate for a callup should the aforementioned continue their poor play.

The Moose are now 1-2 after three games... Mike Keane will make his debut tonight.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Game Report: Wild: A whole bunch - Canucks: None

Great game eh?

It was quite a pathetic display by the Canucks. It was so bad I didn't even watch the third period, so this won't be a proper game report.

I only have one thing to say.

The first period effort was absolutely pathetic. Leading the charge of patheticness was Todd Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi should be completely embarrassed by his play, his game was a text book example of floating. Just pathetic. He of course wasn't the only floater on the night, but really, as a veteran of the team and a supposed leader he needs to be much better.

I could go on a big rant about the game, but I'm not going to. I'll just stop right now and be sure to buy plenty of beer for Friday's game just in case they put on another embarrassing performance.

If you really wan't to read about the game check out the papers.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Gameday - Vancouver at Minnesota

The Vancouver Canucks are in Minnesota for the first of two back to back games against the Wild.

NOTE: The start time has been moved back by half an hour to accommodate the double header on TSN. Game time is now 5:30 pst

With back to back games in the same city, we get our first look at the new scheduling quirks introduced this season. This should definitely increase the intensity level between these two divisional rivals.

Vancouver (2-0-1)

The Canucks are coming off a 4-2 victory in Detroit on Monday. Vancouver juggled their forward lines in an effort to avoid Detroit's checking line and also to get more ice-time for the guys who don't get out on the power play. If there are several penalties early, I would expect Crawford to start mixing things up again.

Previous to the Detroit victory Vancouver lost in a shootout to the Oilers. To improve their shootout prowess the Canucks have been practicing shootouts. Vancouver struggled with the shootout in the pre-season and did not look any better in Edmonton.

As for the Canuck lineup, Wade Brookbank is the only healthy player on the roster who has not seen action. With back to back games against a division rival, who also has a couple tough guys, the Canucks can certainly use some toughness. According to Tom Larschied, Brookbank will be in the lineup at the expense of Lee Goren.

With Alex Auld starting in Detroit, Dan Cloutier is expected to get the call between the pipes.

Minnesota (1-1-1)

The Wild lost their last game 2-1 in overtime to the Kings on Sunday. After scoring 6 goals in their first game, the Wild offense has dried up, producing only two goals in their last two games. The offence was hoping to receive a big boost tonight as star forward, and Canuck killer, Marion Gaborik was hoping to return from a groin injury. However, Jacques Lemaire is being cautious with his star, keeping him out for the rest of the week.

Minnesota's success largely depends on the stifling defensive system of Jacques Lemaire. Despite the new rules designed to open up the game, the Wild will still base their game on sitting back and waiting for turnovers. The Wild have a tremendous transition game and their offence almost entirely relies on their ability to create turnovers and to use their speed to capitalize on mistakes by the opposition.

Between the pipes, the Wild feature the goaltending duo of Manny Fernandez and Dwayne Roloson. Fernandez played Sunday after missing the first two games with a back problem, so Dwayne Roloson is likely to get the start.

Last time hockey was played, Minnesota won the season series (2-1-3)... Roloson was undefeated in the five games he started.

Keys to the Game

  1. Scoring First - The Wild would love nothing more than to score first and then sit back in an attempt to frustrate the Canucks. If the Canucks can get on the board first they can put a lot of pressure on the Wild's struggling offence.
  2. Turnovers - As mentioned earlier, the Wild love creating turnovers in the neutral zone and at their own blueline. Vancouver must avoid making mistakes in those areas.
  3. Special Teams & Discipline - Staying out of the penalty box will be a key for both teams. The Canucks, while always dangerous on the PP, are only 3 for 21(14.3%) so far this season. They have also had a little trouble on the PK at 82.4%. Meanwhile the Wild are ranked 3rd in the league in both penalty killing and on the power play.
  4. Goaltending - As most games often do, this one could come down to goaltending. Cloutier has been excellent so far and both Minnesota goalies have always enjoyed success against Vancouver.

TV: TSN 5:30 pm.

Also, the Canuck radio broadcast will be synched up to the TV feed, so there will not be the usual two second delay.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Vancouver Canucks Depth Chart

Last Updated: October 11th

Left WingCentreRight Wing
Todd BertuzziBrendan MorrisonMarkus Naslund
Daniel SedinHenrik SedinAnson Carter
Matt CookeRyan KeslerRichard Park
Jarkko RuutuTrevor LindenLee Goren
Tyler Bouck*Josh GreenJason King*
Brandon Nolan Nathan SmithMike Keane¥
 Craig DarbyJozef Balej
Mattias OhlundEd Jovanovski
Sami SaloBryan Allen
Steve McCarthyNolan Baumgartner
Wade Brookbank 
Kevin Bieksa*Tomas Mojzis
Jason Doig¥Sven Butenschon
Brett Skinner 
Dan Cloutier
Alex Auld
Wade Flaherty
Rob McVicar
  • ¥ - Must be signed by the Vancouver Canucks.
  • * - Currently injured.


  • This is a depth chart of players eligible to play for the Canucks, it is not a prospect depth chart and it does not list players who are currently in Europe. This means you will not see Luc Bourdon or Cory Schneider and you will not see Artem Chubarov or Brandon Reid. For a prospect depth chart visit Hockey's Future.
  • The main purpose is to show who would/could be called up to the Canucks in case of injury.
  • The positions do not necessarily represent the order of callup. IE: If Ruutu were to be injured it is unlikely that the next LW (Nolan) would called up.
  • The defense are not listed by the side they play.
  • As Manitoba's season progresses the depth chart will be more accurate/relevant and some players may "earn" or "lose" their spot on this chart.

Long Weekend Wrap-up

The Vancouver Canucks played two games over the Thanksgiving Weekend, losing in a shootout to Edmonton on Saturday and winning in Detroit on Monday.

Saturday was a penalty filled contest which included a lame penalty to Mattias Ohlund in the last minute of play, giving the Oilers an opportunity to tie it up. The Oilers outplayed the Canucks for most of the night and deserved the win, however the penalty to Ohlund was cheap. I've never liked the rule when it applied to goalies accidentally clearing the puck over the glass and it's even more absurd to call it on a player who accidentally shoots the puck over the glass. Please note the emphasis on "accidentally." If any player (goalies included) intentionally shoots the puck out of play it should be a penalty, however penalizing a team for accidentally shooting the puck over the glass is ridiculous IMO. Imagine a playoff game where a team loses because a defenseman shot the puck an inch too high... there that's my rant.

As for the game itself, the Canucks were generally out-worked and out-played and if it were not for all the power play opportunities they would have likely been out of the game early. The Canucks were simply out-worked all night long, Edmonton deserved the win.

It was a different story in Detroit. Unlike in Edmonton, the Canucks out hustled a Detroit team who was playing it's second game in two days. Managing to stay out of the penalty box, Vancouver rolled four lines all night long as Detroit had trouble matching the Canucks forward depth. Alex Auld was solid in his first start of the season and the Canucks finally got some offence from someone not named Naslund. The Canucks now have 3 out of a possible 4 points on the road trip which continues in Minnesota on Wednesday.

Thoughts on the season so far...

The Canucks are 2-0-1 despite having not played up to the level they are capable of.

The Forwards

The Canucks have been led by Markus Naslund, who has been great so far this season. Naslund looks to be in mid-season form, he's even starting to play the body, something he has rarely done in his NHL career. Unfortunately for Vancouver the rest of the forward group has not been good.

Todd Bertuzzi has been mediocre and that's being kind. I understand that it will take some time for him to get back into form, but that does not excuse his lack of hustle. Move your damn feet!

The other third of the West Coast Express is also struggling. Morrison was brutal on faceoffs in Edmonton and has yet to click offensively. He has been sound defensively but the Canucks need more offense out of B-Mo. I have some suspicion that Morrison may be nursing an injury... combine his face-off difficulties and the fact that Crawford was so quick to break up the WCE in Detroit... just a guess on my part.

The Sedin-Carter line was nearly invisible until they broke out in Detroit. Hopefully the confidence boost will boost their play.

The speedy third line was disappointing in Edmonton, but it was Matt Cooke who started the ball rolling in Detroit(BTW Cooke should be suspended for the knee on Williams). Kesler also looked good, especially when playing with Naslund, and Richard Park also had a solid game.

The fourth line has had trouble finding consistent ice-time so far this season, but they had their best game in Detroit. Trevor Linden was flying while Jarrko Ruutu and Lee Goren forchecked well, drawing a penalty and generating a few decent scoring chances.

It's been a slow start, but overall the Canucks have shown that they have tremendous depth up front. When they are capable of rolling four lines there are very few teams who can keep pace.

The Defense

The weakest link of the Canucks has pretty much played as expected. Mattias Ohlund and Ed Jovanovski have played very well. Sami Salo has been outstanding while logging a lot of minutes. Most encouraging is the play of Bryan Allen. Allen has simply been great so far.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the bottom two defensemen. Nolan Baumgartner has been decent, looking good on the powerplay, not so good at even strength. Baumgartner simply isn't an everday top 6 defenseman. He's doing a decent job filling in, but the Canucks could certainly use an upgrade. The scary part is that Baumgartner has been the fifth best defenseman, outplaying Steve McCarthy. McCarthy has been brutal, there's no other way to say it. We all new that he would probably have trouble with the physical side of the game, however we expected his skating and puck moving abilities to compensate. So far McCarthy has done nothing offensively and has been overmatched defensively. If he hasn't already, McCarthy will soon become the new whipping boy for Canuck fans.

The Goaltending

After 3 games the goaltending has been the strongest component of the Vancouver Canucks. Dan Cloutier has played well and has kept his team in it when they have been outplayed. Alex Auld was solid in Detroit and should certainly give Crawford confidence in his backup. There's not much more to say about the goaltending, they've simply got the job done.

Finally today, I just have to say that it was awesome to have Hockey Night in Canada back. Saturdays just weren't the same without it.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Fedorov Traded to Rangers

The Vancouver Canucks have traded Fedor Federov to the New York Rangers in exchange for Jozef Balej and a conditional draft pick.

Wow, the Canucks actually got a body back in exchange for Fedorov. Not only did they get a body, but they got a pretty decent prospect and a conditional draft pick.

Jozef Balej(23) was drafted by Montreal in the 3rd round(78th overall) in 2000. In 2002 he was traded, along with a 2nd round pick, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Alexei Kovalev.

Balej is a right winger who has the potential to be a second line winger in the NHL. In his final year of junior he scored 51 goals in 65 games for Portland. In his somewhat injury plagued AHL career he has scored 51 goals and 73 assists in 185 games.

Like Fedorov, Balej has the talent it just remains to be seen whether he can be successful in the NHL.

This trade has to be consider a good one for Dave Nonis. The jury is still out on both players, but Nonis did a good job of acquiring a quality asset for a player who was unlikely to ever play for the Vancouver Canucks.

Bajel will report to the Manitoba Moose.

More info on Jozef Bajel

More on the Doig & Keane Contracts

Just wanted to clarify the Doig and Keane contracts.

The contracts are what's known as "pro-tryout" contracts which are for 25 games. At any point the contract can be voided by either the team or player. Once the 25 games are up they have to sign another contract.

So that means if either Doig or Keane receives interest from an NHL club they can cancel their deal and sign with the NHL team. - Info straight from Moose play by play man Kelly Moore on the Blake Price show(Mojo Radio).

Jason Doig Signs with the Manitoba Moose

Defenseman Jason Doig has signed a pro tryout contract with the Manitoba Moose.

Doig was invited to the Vancouver Canucks training camp, however injuries limited him to only one pre-season game. The Canucks did not offer him a one-way contract.

Obviously Doig failed to find any other takers around the NHL. He will now try and impress Canuck brass in the hope of finding NHL employment.

Tyler Bouck Out Indefinately?

Vancouver Canuck forward Tyler Bouck is currently out with a groin injury suffered during Tuesday's practice. Some sources are stating that Bouck could be out until January. Tough break for Bouck, as he finally had a shot to establish himself in the NHL.

With the loss of Bouck, who will likely go on the injured reserve list, the Canucks will be down to a 21 man roster. Currently there is no urgency to add another forward to the roster, so they could stick with 21 guys until there is an injury.

Fedor Fedorov

Fedor Fedorov left the Canucks and skated with the Vancouver Giants yesterday. Fedorov is seeking a trade since the Canucks will not offer him a one-way contract. GM Dave Nonis is likely having difficulty finding any takers for Fedorov. Combine Fedorov's demand of a one-way contract and the fact he has proven nothing in the NHL (or AHL for that matter) and you have a player worth next to nothing. There will be few teams willing to offer a one-way contract, and none willing to trade anything of significance.

However the injury to Tyler Bouck does offer Dave Nonis another option. He could potentially offer Fedorov a two-way contract offer with the promise that he will start the season on the Canucks roster. Would Fedorov accept this offer? Who knows, but he is not going to get a one-way deal from the Canucks and this may be his only opportunity to get a chance in the NHL this season. Of course this is all speculation on my part, for all I know the Canucks may not have any interest in having Fedorov on the NHL roster. Still, it's an opportunity for Nonis to maximize the value of his asset, something his predecessor was often too stubborn to do.

One final note... defenseman Kevin Bieksa is still out with an injured ankle, he will not be on Manitoba's opening 5 game road trip. The Moose open their season tonight against the Peoria Rivermen

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Mike Keane Signs with Manitoba Moose

Mike Keane has signed with the Manitoba Moose.

Keane last hockey action was with the Vancouver Canucks before the lockout. This could be a "try-out" for Keane, or it could just be veteran depth for the Moose. I'll try and find some details on the contract, in particular whether he is being payed more than the $75,000 waiver cut off.

Game Report: Canucks 3 Coyotes 2

The Vancouver Canucks opened the season with a very solid victory against the over matched Phoenix Coyotes. Unfortunately for Canuck fans we missed the first six minutes of the game due to the Senators/Leafs game going into overtime. Most are criticizing the "Toronto Sports Network", however I thought they made the right call. The Sens and Leafs were putting on a great show and I wanted to see the end of the game. My only complaint is that there were a couple long delays where they could have switched over to the Canucks game. It was a no-win situation for TSN and it's unfortunate it had to happen on opening night.

As for the game itself, it was a pretty entertaining game with plenty of flow and chances. The Canucks look to be tailor made for the "new NHL". The defense was jumping up in the play all night as they really put a lot of pressure on Phoenix.

The Coyotes started strong, firing 16 shots on Dan Cloutier. However the Canucks took over the game in the second period and never really looked back. They were in control for most of the night, the final score flattering the Coyotes who never really threatened the Canucks.

The most surprising aspect of the game was that there were only 8 power plays between the two teams. By the end of the pre-season it was apparent that the Canucks were adapting well to the new standard of officiating and that carried over into the first game. Compared to the other games I watched the officials let a little more go, which might not be a bad thing.

Todd Bertuzzi made his much heralded return to the ice. It was not a great game for Bertuzzi. He looked very sluggish, was not very physical and had trouble handling the puck. He did however contribute on a beautiful tic-tac-toe scoring play. Bertuzzi should improve as he get more playing time under his belt.

Overall it was a solid effort by the Canucks, however the outcome could have easily been different against a better team. They will have to be a little stronger against the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.

Canuck Report Card

Forwards: B+

The forward group was a little rusty at times, especially Todd Bertuzzi, but they generated several quality scoring chances. Markus Naslund was in mid-season form, scoring two nice goals. The Sedin line was not as good as the pre-season, but they still managed to put pressure on and generate chances. The third line was flying out there, I thought Kesler looked very good. The 4th line managed to get about a dozen shifts and were a plus on the night. It was an all around solid effort by the forwards.

Defense: B+

The top 4 was very good, especially Mattias Ohlund. Bryan Allen had a strong physical game, I believe it was his hit on Nedved that knocked him out for the remainder of the game. The only major gaff by the defense was the 4-on-4 in which Jovanovski and Allen got caught along the boards leaving the Coyotes with an easy chance to score. Nolan Baumgartner had a very solid game, picking up an assist on the PP. Steve McCarthy was the only disappointment on the blueline. He did not do much of anything and looked small and non-physical during his 14 minutes of ice time. Sami Salo led the team with 26:34 of ice-time, followed by Jovo at 24:06. As a whole the defense was sound in their own end and they generated plenty of chances by jumping up in the play. Also of note, they combined for only 2 penalties in the "New NHL".

Goaltending: A

Dan Cloutier kept the team in the game during the first period and made some great saves. With a few exceptions he was also very good at controlling his rebounds and unlike the pre-season, he was not over-committing. Great start for Cloutier.

Special Teams: C+

Vancouver was 0-4 on the power play, however they did generate several chances. On the PK side, they allowed a late goal to Oleg Saprykin as Phoenix went 1-4 on the power play.

Overall: B+

The Canucks were never in trouble and once they were on the board they controlled most of the game. The first period was not great, as they were out-shot 16-12, however they picked it up in the second, scoring twice and out-shooting Phoenix 14-7. Playing with the lead in the third, Vancouver tightned up defensively and held Phoenix to 9 shots. Overall it was a very solid start to the season.

The Canuck Fan's Three Stars

  1. Markus Naslund - Two goals sealed the victory
  2. Dan Cloutier - Was very sharp especially in the first
  3. Curtis Joseph - Kept the Coyotes in the game

ESPN Box Score

Next up: Edmonton on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Vancouver Canucks 2005-2006 Transactions

Transactions by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2005-2006 season:

November 1st 2005:
F Josh Green and G Rob McVicar recalled from Manitoba
F Matt Cooke place on injured reserve (broken jaw)
October 26th 2005:
Signed D Jason Doig to a two-way contract. Doig assigned to Manitoba.
October 7th 2005:
Fedor Fedorov traded to the New York Rangers in exchange for Jozef Bajel and a conditional draft pick.
October 4th 2005:
G Brent Johnson claimed on waivers by the Washington Capitals

Gameday - Phoenix at Vancouver

Today is the day.

After 18 months, the puck will finally drop in a game that means something. All 30 NHL teams are in action tonight, a first for the NHL. The Vancouver Canucks are at home to face the Phoenix Coyotes.

There are of course two big stories coming into this game. One is Wayne Gretzky's coaching debut, the other is Todd Bertuzzi's return to the ice. But really we don't care about those stories, the Canucks are back and that's all that matters.

Vancouver (Pre-season: 3-2-2)

Vancouver started the pre-season slowly, but finished strong. Their power-play was outstanding and they adapted quickly to the new rules, taking far fewer penalties than their opponents.

Coming out of the pre-season there were two injury concerns, Mattias Ohlund and Todd Bertuzzi both dealing with back troubles. Both skated this morning and are expected to be in the lineup. The only other injury to report is to Tyler Bouck. Bouck injured his groin in practice yesterday and did not take part in today's morning skate.

It is expected that Crawford will dress Wade Brookbank as the 7th defenseman/12th forward. Brookbank had a strong game against Edmonton on Saturday. His defensive game was much improved from the last time I saw him play. Since Brookbank should be in, that means that Lee Goren will not play.

Judging by the practice lines and pairings, here's what the forward lines and defense pairings will look like:

Bertuzzi - Morrison - Naslund
Sedin - Sedin - Carter
Cooke - Kesler - Park
Ruutu - Linden - Brookbank

Ohlund - Baumgartner
Allen - Jovanovski
McCarthy - Salo

Dan Cloutier will get the start between the pipes.

Phoenix (Pre-season: 2-6-0)

The Phoenix Coyotes are probably a lot different than you remember. The biggest change is obviously behind the bench, but they've also made several changes to their roster...


Phoenix is actually looking pretty good up front. They are strong down the middle with Mike Comrie, Petr Nedved and Mike Ricci. They also have some skill on the wing with Shane Doan, Brett Hull, Mike Leclerc, Ladislav Nagy, Mike Johnson and Oleg Saprykin.

With depth down the middle and skill on the wings Phoenix should be able to put the puck in the net on a consistent basis.


Unfortunately for fans in the desert, they do not have the same depth on the blueline. The defense core will be led by Derek Morris, but after Morris it gets a little thin. Denis Gauthier will add some needed toughness, David Tanabe and Paul Mara add skill, however neither are defensive specialists. They also have two young offensive minded defenseman in Keith Ballard and Zbynek Michalek. Rounding out their defense are veterans Sean O'Donnell and Cale Hulse.

The Phoenix defense has quite a bit of skill, but they have serious questions on the defensive side of the game. Will the new rules help this defense? Perhaps, but this defense is young and tilted too far on the offensive side of the scale. Phoenix will have trouble keeping the puck out of the net.


The Coyotes added former star Curtis Joseph in the off-season. Joseph's best days are behind him, but there is certainly a chance that he can regain is form of old. Cujo has always been a goalie who played better as he received more action. He will likely be very busy this season, it should be interesting to see how he plays.

Joseph will be backed up by rookie David LeNeveu. Brian Boucher is currently on the injured reserve with a groin problem.

Overall the Phoenix Coyotes are a better team than the one we last saw. They have more scoring depth, both up front and on defense and they have a goaltender who could regain is all-star form. On special teams they should have a good power play with plenty of options for the point and good skill up front. The penalty kill could be an issue due to their defense core, but their PK forwards should be solid.

If everything goes right for Phoenix their is no reason why they can't compete for a playoff spot.

Current Injuries: G Brian Boucher, F Jason Chimera, and F Ladislav Nagy.

Keys to the Game

  1. The Phoenix Coyotes must stay out of the penalty box. Vancouver's power play was lethal in the pre-season, Phoenix simply cannot afford to give the Canucks opportunities on the power play.
  2. Vancouver must control their emotions. The atmosphere of this game will be almost like a playoff matchup. The city is jacked, and the building will be jumping. The Canucks must avoid losing their focus.
  3. Curtis Joseph. For Phoenix to win, Joseph will have to be outstanding in his debut.
  4. Special Teams. There will be plenty of penalties in this one and whoever wins the special teams battle will likely come out on top.

TV: TSN 7:30 PM

Canucks Official Opening Day Roster

The NHL has released the rosters for all 30 NHL teams.

Your Vancouver Canucks:

  • Bryan Allen
  • Alexander Auld
  • Nolan Baumgartner
  • Todd Bertuzzi
  • Tyler Bouck
  • Wade Brookbank
  • Anson Carter
  • Dan Cloutier
  • Matt Cooke
  • Lee Goren
  • Ed Jovanovski
  • Ryan Kesler
  • Trevor Linden
  • Steve McCarthy
  • Brendan Morrison
  • Markus Naslund
  • Mattias Ohlund
  • Richard Park
  • Jarkko Ruutu
  • Sami Salo
  • Daniel Sedin
  • Henrik Sedin

Missing from the list is of course Fedor Fedorov. Unwilling to play for the Moose, Fedorov is refusing to sign a two-way contract and appears destined to play in Russia. Unless Nonis can convince him to pay his dues in Manitoba, this is likely the last time you will see Fedor Fedorov in the Vancouver organization.

I'll be back later with a gameday post and the team payroll will be updated to reflect the updated roster.

Lastly, former Vancouver Canuck first rounder R.J. Umberger failed to make the Philadelphia Flyers.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Capitals Claim Brent Johnson

The Vancouver Canucks goaltending depth has taken a bit of a hit.

According to the Washington Capitals website goaltender Brent Johnson has been claimed off waivers.

Johnson had a strong camp in Vancouver, however it was not enough to beat out Alex Auld for the backup job. Had the Canucks kept Johnson, Auld would have been the one being claimed off waivers.

The number 3 position on the depth chart now falls to veteran Wade Flaherty. Unless the Canucks acquire another goaltender, Rob McVicar will likely get the backup job in Manitoba.

Other news...

According to the Toronto Star the CBC should be airing the Saturday game between the Canucks and Oilers.

Darling is hopeful the CBC can produce all three scheduled games Saturday night, with a regional Ottawa-Buffalo game and a national Vancouver-Edmonton contest also on the schedule. "I'm waiting to find out if we'll do the third game in Ottawa," he said. "I talked to (CBC Sports head) Nancy (Lee) this morning and told her my preference is that we do it."... Darling expects newcomer Jim Hughson to work the game in Edmonton alongside Greg Millen

Monday, October 03, 2005

Payroll Updated

The Vancouver Canucks Payroll has been updated to reflect the current 24 man roster.

Assuming Fedorov and Goren sign for the minimum, the 24 man roster totals $39,465,521.

Removing the injured Jason King and one of Fedorov, Goren or Bouck, the 22 man payroll will come to $38,565,521. That leaves no room under the $39m salary cap.

Roster Reduced & Weekend Wrap-up

The Vancouver Canucks have reduced their roster down to 24 players.

Heading to Manitoba are Tomas Mojzis and Kevin Bieksa. Soon to join them if they clear waivers are Brent Johnson, Sven Butenschon and Josh Green. Luc Bourdon was assigned to his junior club and Jason Doig was not offered a contract.

Nolan Baumgartner has made the team as the 6th defenseman while Alex Auld earned the backup job. Up front, Lee Goren, Fedor Federov and Tyler Bouck remain on the roster for now.


On the blueline, Nolan Baumgartner was not a surprise choice. Kevin Bieksa has not had a chance to play, Sven Butenschon did not impress and Luc Bourdon is not quite ready yet. Baumgartner's only real competition was Tomas Mojzis. I thought both players played very well on Saturday night, the Canucks likely decided to go with Baumgartner's experience. The ability to easily send Mojzis to Manitoba was likely also a factor.

Up front is where it gets interesting. There are 3 players left on the roster and only 2 spots available. Lee Goren had a strong pre-season, albeit while seeing some premium ice-time. Tyler Bouck did not do a whole lot, but the Canucks like his physical play and versatility. Fedor Fedorov had by far his best game of the pre-season on Saturday, picking up a nice assist and the shootout winner. Jason King is also still on the roster, however with his concussion problem he will likely be placed on injured reserve or assigned to Manitoba. That would leave the roster at 23.

So who makes the cut?

It's unlikely the Canucks will go with 23 players so that means one forward has to go.

Fedor Fedorov is the most interesting player. He is without a contract and says he will return to Russia if he does not stick in the NHL. Will Dave Nonis offer him an NHL contract? It's hard to say. If he goes back to Russia he's unlikely to ever return to Vancouver and the Canucks probably do not wan't to give up on his skill package. However, if they do offer him a contract he would likely split time between the pressbox and a line with Trevor Linden. Signing Fedorov would also raise a few eyebrows, since several players had much better camps and did not make the cut. Alternatively, they could be keeping him around in an attempt to trade him before the season starts.

If Fedorov stays it will likely be at Lee Goren's expense. Goren had a good pre-season, scoring twice and adding three assists. However he did so while getting some power play time and time with Morrison and Naslund. Goren has demonstrated that he can score, but what the Canucks need to know is how he will play on the 4th line.

The remaining forward is Tyler Bouck. Bouck did not do anything exceptional in the pre-season but he has stuck around. His one-way contract has probably played a large part in him sticking around. If he was on a two-way, Josh Green would have probably beat him out. That's not to say the Canucks don't like what he brings. Regardless of his contract status, he wouldn't be here if they didn't think he could play. He plays a physical game, can skate and can also help out on the penalty kill.

We should find out soon whether the Canucks offer Fedorov a contract. Depending on the salary cap situation, they may not immediately reduce the roster. There is a decent chance that all 3 forwards receive an opportunity in the regular season. The decision should come before opening night.

Waiver Wire

There is no longer a waiver draft in the NHL, but there are still players who must clear waivers before being assigned to the minors. Dave Nonis is keeping an eye on the waiver wire, likely looking for another defensemen. I'll see if I can find a list of players available.

Two Weekend Victories

The Canucks won both of their games this weekend, they defeated Calgary 4-2 on Friday and Edmonton 6-2 on Saturday.

The Edmonton game was on PPV and it was nice to see the Canucks in action. Here's some thoughts...

I was impressed with the play of Tomas Mojzis. I thought he looked very good with the puck and played a strong defensive game. He really made a strong push for the last job on defence, and will likely be considered with Bieksa for the first callup on defense. Unfortunately for Mojzis, Nolan Baumgartner had a very strong game, logging 28 minutes. Baumgartner stepped up and won himself a job.

In net, Dan Cloutier had a bit of a shaky first period, often over committing himself, however he was excellent in the final two frames.

Up front the Sedin's and Carter were outstanding. Daniel Sedin looks to have gained a step and it also seems like he has a harder shot. Carter is fitting in extremely well, should he remain healthy I would say that the 20 goal mark is guaranteed.

As for the rest, I thought Josh Green played well, likely earning "first callup" status should the Canucks require someone on the bottom two lines. Most of the remaining regular forwards appeared to be waiting for the regular season to start, can't really blame them. Once the Canucks put the game out of hand it was just a matter of getting through the game without injuries.

As for the game itself... well as expected there we're lot's of penalties. The new rules are obviously having an effect on the play, Fedor Fedorov's assist being a prime example. Coming down the wing with speed their was nothing much the defenseman(Cross?) could do without taking a penalty for using his stick. The most noticeable thing about the "New NHL" is the huge offensive zones. There is now a lot of room at the point and very little in the neutral zone, making the removal of the red-line a necessity. The new "trapezoid" zone seems like a completely pointless rule, which hopefully only lasts this season.

Other notes...

The CBC has finally resolved their labour issues, which means we should be seeing the Canucks on HNIC this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed.

Finally, I'll be updating the team payroll and depth chart sometime this week.