Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Time to Show Up

I was off enjoying Grey Cup festivities, so fortunately I was not subjected to yet another blowout loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The Canucks have now lost two in a row and not surprisingly, call-in shows and message boards are full of people bitching about the state of affairs in Canuck land. If you had just awoke from a coma and looked at the standings you'd wonder what the fuss was about. 15-8-2, leading the division and people are complaining? This is the same franchise that has finished at .500 or above in only 11 of 34 seasons?

It seems strange complaining about a 15-8-3 team, doesn't it?

Let's face it, there is nothing wrong with the record of this hockey club, but something is not right in Canuck land.

They have continually been out-played in the first period, one of their best players shows up once a week, they have been abysmal on the road and yet nearly perfect at home, and most perplexing of all, they have repeatedly come out flat against their biggest rival.

Tonight they are playing the Avalanche for the sixth time this season. Vancouver has lossed each of the last four meetings while being out-scored 21-10. How many times will they need to be embarrassed before they show up to play? Will tonight be the night?

Vancouver is 5-5 in their last ten games and have seen their division lead dissappear. If they don't get their act together they could easily find themselves in 4th place behind the Avalanche, Flames and Oilers. Clearly the players have taken notice of their precarious position, yesterday they called a players only meeting. Pehaps it was long overdue.

Of course, while there is plenty to be concerned with, the sky isn't falling. The team is still 7 games over .500 despite not finding consistency in their game. They have been nearly unbeatable on home ice. Their special teams have steadily improved since a slow start. They've even managed to "win ugly," something which they have been unable to do in years past.

So then what's wrong with this Canucks team?

While there are many things which need improvement it all comes down to one simple concept. Hard work.

It really is that simple. On their bad nights this team is still good enough to beat most teams based on talent alone. They can beat teams in 5 minutes while most opponents need to play 60 just to be in it. They can coast for the rest of this season and still finish in the middle of the conference.

However that is not going to cut it if they hope to have any playoff success. Teams like Calgary and Minnesota will out work them and it will be another early exit for this core of players.

Speaking of the core, this is it for them. Rightly or wrongly Dave Nonis has given this core another opportunity. There is no cap-room to make significant changes without weakening another area of the team. The coaching staff isn't going to take the fall for the players' lack of effort. What you see is what you get and the sooner the players realize this the better.

The success of this team is squarely on their shoulders and it is completely up to them to show up and play like they mean it.

Tonight is a critical juncture in this season. Another slow start and weak effort would be very disturbing.

It's time to show up.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Gameday: Sharks at Canucks

The San Jose Sharks haven't won a game in almost three weeks and they come into Vancouver to face a team who is 9-1-0 on home ice. To make matters worse for San Jose they are playing their second game in two nights... doesn't look good on paper, but you've still gotta play 'em.

Team Notes

San Jose Sharks (8-8-4)

Special Teams: PP 13.6% (25th) PK 81.3% (20th) PPopp/TS (139/102 +37)

  • San Jose's season has been a tremendous disappointment thus far and it does not look like it's going to get better any time soon.
  • They have lossed seven straight and have not scored more than 3 goals in their last 10 games.
  • The one bright spot for San Jose, Nolan Shaeffer, is expected to get the start in goal.
  • The Sharks power play has been dreadful this season and is obviously a huge contributing factor to their disappointing 8-8-4 record.
  • San Jose is playing back to back road games... they will really have to work hard tonight in order to avoid taking lazy penalties. As of 11:30 am the Sharks have not yet arrived at GM Place(due to fog at airport)... it could be a tough night.

Vancouver Canucks (14-6-2)

Special Teams: PP 17.5% (19th) PK 81% (22nd) PPopp/TS (154/132 +22)

  • Dan Cloutier is out with a sprained knee so Alex Auld will start. Rob McVicar has been recalled to back up Auld. According to Crawford, Cloutier felt the injury in his last game against Anaheim (where he was getting run repeatedly). He did practice yesterday, but he is now being instructed to rest and he will not be accompanying the team on the road trip. Crawford did say that if he was a forward he would likely play, so take that for what it's worth.
  • Sven Butenschon has also been recalled from Manitoba. The Canucks have essentially been playing with 5 defenseman, Butenschon will help relieve some of the workload. That means Nathan Smith will not get a chance to build on his solid game.
  • While Vancouver's power play is still ranked in the bottom third of the league, they have steadily improved over the course of the season... in fact they've added a full percentage point since the last week.
  • Led by Ryan Kesler, the Canucks got a great game out of their third line against Chicago, a good game from their 3rd in 4th lines will put a lot of pressure on a tired San Jose team.
  • The achilles heal of Vancouver has been their slow starts and inconsistent effort. There will be no excuse for losing this game. A good effort will make things extremely difficult on the Sharks.

Game Notes

  • Vancouver defeated San Jose 3-1 last Wednesday in San Jose.
  • Obviously Vancouver is the heavy favorite in this one. The Canucks are on a bit of a roll, while San Jose is mired in a slump. But we all know slumps eventually end and if the Canucks take the Sharks lightly San Jose could easily manage an upset.
  • So how will the officials call this one? Will we get another crapfest like Anaheim or a "whistles in the pocket" game like Chicago? I'm guessing somewhere in the middle.
  • Discipline and special teams will likely decide this one. The Canucks did a great job of staying out of the box against Chicago, while San Jose will likely be tired and could get into penalty trouble. Discipline has been one of San Jose's strong points this season and they will need to draw on that in order to avoid Vancouver's dangerous power play.

TV: SNET 7:00

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Game Report: Vancouver 3 - Chicago 1

"We had to work for this win." Markus Naslund.

It's been said many times this season that the Canucks have not had a full 60 minute effort. They may have finally put that to rest. Led by a strong first shift from the number one line, Vancouver put forth a very good effort against a Chicago team that came out strong in the first period.

While Chicago took the lead late in the first period, the Canucks matched their work ethic and gave you a sense that they would eventually prevail. Led by Markus Naslund and Ryan Kesler, Vancouver would take the lead in the second and finished well for their 14th victory of the season.

Game Notes

  • All the talk after the game was concentrated on the great game by Ryan Kesler. After struggling in recent weeks, Kesler came up with what was probably the best game of his NHL career. Hopefully he can build on his confidence and provide Vancouver with a strong 3rd line presence, something which has been lacking in recent weeks.
  • If Markus Naslund can play like that on a regular basis I would be a very happy camper. That's the kind of effort you need out of your captain. Naslund helped set the tone in the first shift and he maintained his intensity for the entire game. I was especially impressed with his defensive play and effort.
  • Unfortunately I was less than impressed with Bertuzzi. While he started strong he faded as the game went on. There was one play that was indicative of everything that is wrong with Bertuzzi. A Chicago player was skating with the puck along the end boards while Bertuzzi trailed just behind. Instead of skating up beside the Chicago player and hammering him into the boards and taking the puck, Bertuzzi simply coasted behind him. It was just a small little play, but it really stood out to me.
  • The strong effort out of the gate also played a factor in Vancouver only taking one minor penalty. That is not a typo. Go figure, when you actually move your feet and aren't lazy you don't need to take hooking penalties.
  • Alex Auld rebounded well from his last start. Auld was sharp, stopping 32 shots. Also credit the defense for making it very difficult for Chicago to get shots from quality positions.
  • Speaking of the defense, Mattias Ohlund and Bryan Allen were excellent.
  • Nathan Smith looked pretty good in just his third NHL game. Smith got the call rather than Josh Green who was probably a little gassed from all his recent travels. It will be interesting to see if Smith can maintain his level of play once the adrenaline of a callup has worn off.
  • For the first time in a while the bottom two lines had solid contributions. Obviously a lot of that had to do with the amount of 5-on-5 play, but the Canucks need more of a presence from their grinders. For the most part this season our grinders have been outplayed by the opposition's.
  • Finally it was nice to see Henrik Sedin rewarded with a goal. The Sedin line has been the most consistent line all year long and even when they have been slumping on the scoresheet they have made solid contributions game in game out. Anson Carter was particularly good last night.

Next up are the Sharks on Thursday.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Game Report: Vancouver 3 - San Jose 1

The Vancouver Canucks defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-1 last night, in what was one of the more boring games of the season. And of course I payed $11 to see it.

The first period was very tight, but Richard Park managed to put the Canucks on the board with a nice shorthanded goal. The Sharks were the better team in the second and managed to tie the game after a poor play by Wade Brookbank and Todd Bertuzzi at the Shark blueline. But in the third, Vancouver was the better team and managed to draw some penalties from the usually disciplined Shark squad. The Canucks capitalized on the opportunities and that was the difference in the game.

Game Notes

  • The Canuck defense was very good, especially Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo and Bryan Allen. They were punishing Shark forwards at every opportunity.
  • Vancouver's third and fourth lines really set the tone in the third with back-to-back strong forechecking shifts early in the period. Forechecking from the bottom two lines has been something that has been missing from the Canucks for most of the season.
  • One line that has consistently forechecked well is of course the Sedin line. They were at it again last night, controlling the play in the San Jose zone. Even when they are not scoring they are still controlling possesion, something that shouldn't be overlooked.
  • You could tell right away that Bertuzzi was not going to be a factor. His fancy drop passes and little deflection passes are usually a sign that he's going to take the night off. The attempted third period pass through several players was something he simply cannot do. There's no reason to attempt that pass, especially when you are protecting the lead in the third period. Bertuzzi needs to take that puck deep into the offensive zone instead of turning it over in the neutral zone. Boneheaded play.
  • Dan Cloutier had another very solid game. Sure he had some luck, but he was still very good when he had to be.
  • Nolan Baumgartner has really picked up his game this month and Crawford has taken notice. Baumgartner played nearly 18 minutes and even saw a little PK time. Obviously some of the ice-time has to do with Brookbank being in the lineup, but Baumgartner has earned the extra minutes.
  • Josh Green needs to stay up with the club. Despite his travel fiasco, he was once again one of the better Canuck forwards.
  • Special teams were the difference in this one, and as I mentioned yesterday, the Sharks would have to win that battle if they hoped to win the game. They didn't.

The Canucks are in LA tonight to face the Kings (7:30 SNET). I'll see if I can get a preview up later...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gameday: Canucks at Sharks

The Vancouver Canucks begin a three game California road trip tonight in San Jose. Vancouver is coming off an impressive 4-1 victory over the league leading Detroit Redwings, while the streaky Sharks are currently on a 3 game streak of the not so good variety.

Team Notes

Vancouver Canucks (11-5-3)

Special Teams: PK (81.3% 20th) PP (16.7% 19th) PPopp/TS (131/107 +24)

  • Vancouver is a perfect 7-0 outside of their own division, however they have lost their last 4 games on the road.
  • After reagravating his groin in practice yesterday, Steve McCarthy is not on the road trip. That means Josh Green is back up with the club and Wade Brookbank will dress as the 6th defenseman.
  • The big line is rolling for Vancouver with 14 points in their last 3 games, including a hat-trick performance by Todd Bertuzzi against Detroit.
  • Dan Cloutier will start in goal. Cloutier is coming off what was arguably his best game of the season.

San Jose Sharks (8-7-2)

Special Teams: PK (81.8% 18th) PP (13.2% 27th) PPopp/TS (113/88 +25)

  • San Jose has lost three in a row, scoring only six goals during that time. The Sharks have struggled with offence this season, scoring only 2.71 goals per game.
  • Evgeni Nabokov returned to the net against Dallas after missing 8 games. He is expected to start tonight.
  • Scott Hannan, who played on Canada's World Cup blueline, is struggling with only 3 points and a -12 rating.
  • LW Scott Thornton has missed the last 5 games, but could suit up tonight. Thornton has given Vancouver trouble in the past.
  • To help improve their struggling power-play, San Jose is experimenting with Patrick Marleau on the point. It worked for one goal against Dallas.

Game Notes

  • Both of these teams have struggled on special teams this season, however they are both good at generating more power play opportunities than shorthanded opportunities. In fact San Jose has only been shorthanded 88 times this season.
  • While San Jose is currently stuggling they've got the talent to turn it around in a hurry. Players like Marleau and Sturm are very dangerous and could break out at any time. Vancouver can't afford to turn the puck over in their own end or they'll soon find it in the back of their net.
  • One other thing these teams share in common is a lack of faceoff prowess. Both are sitting at 48%. This is likely a factor in the stuggling special teams.
  • With the poor special team rankings, five-on-five play could decide this one. Not exactly a good thing for San Jose who have a 0.72 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio, compared to Vancouver's 1.07.
  • Finally, both teams are perfect when leading after the first period, something tells me that will change tonight ;)

I would say that this game is Vancouver's to lose. Right now they have their offense on track while San Jose does not. San Jose will have to jump on Vancouver early and win the special teams battle if they hope to break their slump.

TV: PPV 7:30.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Weekend Wrap-up and a Few Thoughts

The Vancouver Canucks played two games over the weekend losing 5-3 to the Avalanche on Friday and winning 4-1 against Detroit last night.

A few thoughts...

  • Vancouver had yet another terrible first period on Friday, something that has to be a major concern. Fixing the problem isn't as easy as you might think. Obviously the Canucks should be "up" for facing the Avalanche and they themselves are prepared and excited to play. So why the poor start?
  • One thing which is contributing to the slow starts, and has become a big problem, is the poor faceoff numbers. When you are losing draws and thus losing possesion of the puck, it's easy for things to snowball and get out of hand like they did against Colorado. You can prepare and focus as much as you wan't, but if you are continually chasing the opposition you're going to get in trouble. Teams like the Avalanche will bury you if you keep giving them possesion. Faceoffs is the one area that absolutely must be improved and it starts with Brendan Morrison. While Henrik Sedin has improved from 49.4% in Oct. to 52.5% on the year, and Trevor Linden is up from 47% in Oct. to 50.3% overall, Brendan Morrison is still at 45.6%. Granted he was at 42.2% in October, so he is getting better, but it's not good enough, especially for the centreman who is taking the most draws on your team.
  • Ed Jovanovski had an absolutely terrible game against Colorado. He was truely awful. Three of the four goals directly resulted from poor plays by Jovanovski. At this stage in his career(and at his salary) there is no excuse for the types of mistakes he is making. These aren't mistakes caused by "high-risk" offensive play, they are terrible blunders which are not caused by taking offensive chances. Jovo simply needs to be better.
  • Josh Green got the call again from Manitoba and this did not surprise me. I thought he has been very good so far both in Manitoba and Vancouver. I've been impressed with his skating ability and hustle. I would not be surprised if he eventually unseats Lee Goren as the 12th forward.
  • Nathan Smith was also re-called briefly, which is good news for Vancouver. The former first round pick has so far proven to be one of Brian Burke's worst decisions. Smith was nearly out of the Canucks plans until a strong playoff run with Manitoba caught management's attention. Now, there's still a chance that Smith could develop into a 4th line checking centre. While not what you want from a first round pick, that's still better than a complete bust, which was what Smith was looking like not too long ago.
  • Todd Bertuzzi finally had his breakout game and looks to "be back". He's showing some much needed confidence with the puck and seems to be playing without that big weight on his shoulders. Still it's only a few games, so the jury is still out, but that hat-trick is certainly a welcome sign.
  • The officiating in the Detroit game was terrible. Not only was it inconsistent(see goaltender interference or lack therof) but several things were missed including an obvious high stick on Goren(who was the puck carrier no less) and a bizarre delayed call on Fischer who hit Kesler from behind. Throw in plenty of non-calls on hooking and some general weak calls (see Yzerman) and it was a terrible display of officiating.
  • Dan Cloutier returned from his concussion injury and looked extremely sharp against Detroit. Always a good sign.
  • Do the Canucks really miss Matt Cooke? Certainly their record hasn't been great since he went down, but I don't think his absence has been the reason. Is the difference between a Lee Goren, or Josh Green in the lineup, and Matt Cooke really worth $1 million? At the time I did not like the Cooke contract summing up my thoughts with "The bottom line is that the defense is weak and the forward group would be just fine without Cooke." I still maintain that the Canucks would be better off with Cooke's money placed on the blueline.
  • With Steve McCarthy still nursing a groin injury and Wade Brookbank being spotted on the blueline, the rest of the blueline is playing a lot of minutes. This is going to become a problem in the second half if the Canucks cannot find a way to balance out the minutes more. Sami Salo cannot continue playing 25 minutes a night or it will start to catch up with him. He tailed off some in the last half of last season, and will likely do the same if he continues playing this much. Vancouver needs more than 5:00 out of their sixth defenseman.
  • Speaking of the defense, that was a great pass by Baumgartner to send Bertuzzi in alone. His defensive play leaves a lot to be desired, but he certainly has the offensive skills.
  • Finally, there's some good news on the Canuck prospect front... Kirill Koltsov is having a good year in Russia, Jannik Hansen (9th Rd 2004) and Alexander Edler (3rd Rd 2004) are up at the top of the WHL rookie scoring race. There is also a good chance that the Canucks could have two goaltending prospects in the World Junior tournament, with Julien Ellis potentially making team Canada and Cory Schneider potentially starting for the Americans. For more on the Canucks prospect's in the CHL check out Hockey's Future.

Anyway that's all for today. The Canucks are in San Jose Wednesday (PPV), I'll try and get a preview together.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Gameday: Colorado At Vancouver

The Vancouver Canucks are back at the friendly confines of GM Place where they look to maintain their unblemished 7-0-0 home record. In town are the red hot Colorado Avalanche. Colorado leads the season series 2-1.

Colorado Avalanche (8-4-2)

The Colorado Avalanche have been on a tear, finishing their 6 game homestand with a 5-0-1 record. The Avalanche are having no trouble scoring goals as they rank 3rd in the league with 4.3 goals scored per game. In addition to their offence, their special teams also rank up at the top of the league. The power-play is at 22.3%(t 4th) and the penalty kill is at 87.6% (4th).

Defenseman John-Michael Liles still leads the Avalanche with 16 points while Marek Svatos and Antti Laaksonen are tied for the team lead with 6 goals. Colorado has a well balanced attack with 9 players with between 10 and 16 points.

The Avalanche have often started strong, outscoring their opponents 22-10 in the first period leading to a 5-2-1 record when leading after one.

David Aebischer, who has won 6 straight games, will get the start in goal.

Vancouver Canucks (10-4-2)

The Canucks are coming off two straight losses in their back-to-back games in Calgary and have seen their division lead fall to just 4 points. While they have struggled on the road, they have been perfect at home. A win tonight would set a new franchise record.

On the road trip previous to Calgary, Vancouver was in Colorado where they lost 6-2 and 4-3 in OT. Vancouver will be looking for a better showing on home ice.

Vancouver has been bitten by the injury bug of late and tonight defenceman Steve McCarthy will be out of the lineup with a minor groin pull. Taking his place will be Sven Butenschon who was recalled from Manitoba. Butenschon has 6pts in 13 games for Manitoba, he is expected to be paired with Sami Salo.

Up front, there will be a new look on the third line as Lee Goren is expected to join former Moose linemate Ryan Kesler and the slumping Richard Park. Wade Brookbank will draw in on the 4th line with Jarkko Ruutu and Trevor Linden.

In goal, Alex Auld will get the start and Dan Cloutier will be backing up.

Vancouver will need to work hard on special teams which are not performing well. The power-play ranks 18th at 17.2% while the penalty kill is ranked 21st at 80%.

Keys to the Game

  1. Special Teams and Discipline - Both teams need to stay out of penalty trouble as the special teams battle will likely decide the game.
  2. Scoring First - Both teams sport great records when they score first, that's not likely to change tonight.
  3. Playing a full 60 minutes - It's not over till it's over - as both teams have learned in their previous meetings.

With the Bertuzzi "stuff" out of the way, these two teams can finally have the focus back on hockey and the division race. It should be a good one.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

October Report Card

In the better late than never category, here is the Canucks report card for the month of October.

First a few notes on the grades....

  • A: The player is consistently playing at the top of his game and is doing more than expected/demanded.
  • B: The player is doing a good job at what they are expected to do.
  • C: The player is not doing what he should be doing and is under performing.
  • D: The player is significantly under performing.


Stats: Games - G A Pts - Avg Ice Time(Even Strength/Short Handed/Power-play) PIM(Fights)

Bold indicates team leader.

Todd Bertuzzi: C-
12 - 2g 8a 10pts - 18:48 (11:51/0:09/6:48) 19m(1)
It was a tough return to the NHL for Todd Bertuzzi. His 2 October goals translate to less than 14 over an 82 game schedule... not good enough for a player making Bertuzzi money. Despite nearly 7 minutes of pp ice time per game, Bertuzzi managed only 2 pp points. If it were not for the hot start of Markus Naslund, Bertuzzi's numbers would be even worse than they are. On most nights Bertuzzi was simply a non-factor.
Anson Carter: C+
12 - 2g 2a 4pts - 13:58 (8:45/0:54/4:19) 11m(1)
Carter got off to a hot start in the pre-season, unfortunately that did not carry over into the regular season. Four points simply isn't good enough for Anson Carter, especially with the amount of power play ice-time he's receiving. That said, his linemates have been successful and some credit must go to Carter. Carter seems to be opening up more room for the Sedins, giving them more options. With a little more hard work and some puck luck, Carter's numbers should improve.
Matt Cooke: B
12 - 3g 2a 5pts - 13:41 (10:59/2:14/0:27) 14m
Matt Cooke got the big contract, one that raised more than a few eyebrows in Canuck land. Despite the new contract, Cooke's role has essentially remained the same. His ice time is not up and he is rarely seen on the power play. Cooke's production is adequate for his role and on most nights he was noticeable, leading the team with 33 hits. Overall it was a solid month, exactly what you expect from Matt Cooke.
Lee Goren: C+
11 - 1g 0a 1pt - 7:31 (6:08/0:00/1:21) 21(3)
Lee Goren made some noise in the pre-season and managed to make the team. He got off to a pretty good start, scoring a goal early in the year, but he hasn't found the net since. Overall Goren has done his job on the 4th line, throwing checks and generating the odd scoring chance. His skating and defensive game leave a lot to be desired, but his size, physical play and shot give the Canucks a different dynamic on the 4th line.
Ryan Kesler: B-
12 - 2g 0a 2pts - 13:08 (10:22/2:23/0:23) 10m
With only two goals in October, a B- may seem a little generous. However, considering Kesler's age and experience he has done quite well in his first full NHL season. All you have to do is look at the responsibility Crawford gives Kesler. Kesler is getting a lot of penalty kill time and that will only increase as the season moves along. While his offensive game is not there yet, it should come around eventually. Another area needing improvement is his faceoff game. Kesler was 48.3% in October, that must be improved.
Trevor Linden: C
12 - 1g 1a 2pts - 11:36 (8:08/3:09/0:18) 0m
The stat line for Trevor Linden is not pretty. Relegated to 4th line duty Linden has found the points tough to come by. Is Linden on his last legs? I don't think so. Linden can still skate and because of that he is still a very useful player. I expect Linden to get better as the season moves along.
Brendan Morrison: B-
12 - 3g 7a 10pts - 20:06 (12:16/2:41/5:08) 6m
Inconsistency has been the knock on Morrison's game for most of his career and October was just that, inconsistent. He is capable of playing much better and I expect he will. One area where he must improve is on faceoffs. Morrison was terrible in the faceoff circle, winning only 42.2% of his draws.
Markus Naslund: A-
12 - 7g 7a 14pts - 19:17(12:04/0:06/7:06) 4m
Although his linemates struggled, Markus Naslund did not. While he tailed off a bit in the last third of the month, his 7 goals and 14 points lead the team.
Richard Park: B
12 - 3g 3a 6pts - 13:31 (10:18/2:29/0:43) 0m
Richard Park got off to a pretty good start with his new team. Six points in 12 games is a solid contribution from one of your third line players. Park has used his speed and deceptive wrist shot very effectively. He's looking like a very shrewd pickup for Dave Nonis.
Jarkko Ruutu: C+
12 - 1g 1a 2pts - 9:22 (7:33/1:32/0:16) 8m
With so many penalties early in the season Ruutu found consistent ice-time difficult to come by. Ruutu was not bad and he was not good, he was simply "there". With Cooke out for a while Ruutu should have a much better November(which he has started well).
Henrik Sedin: A-
12 - 4g 7a 11pts - 14:26 (9:47/0:11/4:27) 8m
Henrik Sedin is off to the best start of his NHL career. While the second line got off to a bit of a slow start, they heated up as the month progressed and they are now at the point where Crawford is being forced to find more ice time for the Sedins. Through October, Henrik is on pace for a 75 point season... needless to say, the Canucks would be thrilled with that.
Daniel Sedin: B+
12 - 4g 5a 9pts - 14:00 (9:22/0:15/4:22) 10m
Daniel Sedin looks like a different player this year. He appears to have picked up a step in his skating (he is now noticeably faster than his brother) and his shot is also a lot harder. The improved physical skills seem to have led to improved confidence. Daniel Sedin is simply a more confident player. When they have possesion of the puck, the Sedin's now know that they have the ability to score.


Bryan Allen: A+
10 - 1g 2a 3pts - 18:56 (15:12/3:28/0:15) 8m
Bryan Allen gets the highest grade of any Canuck in the month of October. He exceeded expectations and was simply a rock on defense. There were stretches last season where Allen showed he could be a top defensive defenseman... this season Allen has consistently been a top defender, especially on the penalty kill. If he continues to play this well you'll see his minutes creep over the 20 minute mark.
Nolan Baumgartner: C+
12 - 1g 5a 6pts - 15:17 (9:41/0:22/5:13) 2m
What you see with Baumgartner is what you get. He has good puck skills and is very useful on the power play. On the defensive side of things, he is not big or strong on the puck and he often makes mistakes when under pressure. Baumgartner can get exposed in his own end, but when put in the right situation he is a solid contributor. If he can limit his defensive mistakes, his grade will improve.
Wade Brookbank: Incomplete
3 - 0g 0a 0pts - 7:35 (6:28/0:51/0:05) 14m
Brookbank did not receive enough playing time to warrant a grade.
Ed Jovanovski: A-
12 - 2g 8a 10pts - 25:21 (15:03/3:38/6:39) 10m
Ed Jovanovski is certainly making a bid to return to the Canadian Olympic team. Jovo had a great month, especially on the power-play. The only thing missing from Jovo's game is more physical play.
Steve McCarthy: C
12 - 0g 1a pts - 13:39 (11:05/1:12/1:21) 8m
McCarthy had a terrible start in Vancouver. For the first few weeks McCarthy was pretty much brutal. He was not displaying any sort of offensive game and he was continually getting out muscled in the defensive zone. It was not pretty. However over the past few weeks McCarthy has gotten a lot better. He is starting to be more assertive and more physical in the defensive zone and he has cut down on the number of mistakes. If he can get his offensive game together, the Canucks blueline will be looking much better.
Mattias Ohlund: C+
12 - 3g 1a 4pts - 23:16 (14:48/4:19/4:08) 26m
Mattias Ohlund missed the pre-season and it showed in his first month of the season. While he certainly was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, he was not Mattias Ohlund. At times Ohlund has looked a little tired, but as the season progresses I expect him to return to form.
Sami Salo: A
12 - 3g 7a pts - 25:51 (15:13/4:33/6:04) 16m
Sami Salo was one of the more under appreciated Canucks last season. That is starting to change as more people are taking notice of his great play. Salo leads the team in minutes per game, has been a tremendous threat on the power-play and he leads the team in ice-time on the penalty kill. You can't ask for much more.


Alex Auld A
3-0-1 2.25 GAA .914 SvPct
You can't ask for much more from your backup goaltender. Auld only saw four games, but he played well in all. The Canucks finally have a backup they can have some confidence in.
Dan Cloutier B-
5-2-1 3.54 GAA .873 SvPct
As has been the case through most of his tenure with the Canucks the numbers aren't pretty, but you can't argue with the result. Cloutier's numbers are bloated by the blowout in Minnesota and the third period meltdown against Colorado, but for the most part Cloutier has been solid this season. Still Cloutier can be better and he needs to be.

Overall Team Grade: B+

Despite the great record in October, the Canucks have yet to bring their best game. For most of the month the Canucks controlled their fate. If they showed up to play, worked hard and were disciplined they would win. When they didn't show up... well it was ugly.

The Canucks can play better and yet you can't complain about the record. Life's pretty good in Canuck land.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Matt Cooke Out With Fractured Jaw

Vancouver Canucks forward Matt Cooke is out indefinately with a fractured jaw suffered in practice. Cooke will undergo surgery and will be placed on the injured reserve.

With injuries to Bryan Allen, Dan Cloutier and now Matt Cooke, the Canucks are a couple men short.

According to Sportsnet, Josh Green will be getting the call to replace Cooke. Green has 4 goals and 6 assists in 9 games for the Moose.

They will also require a goalie for tommorow's game. Rob McVicar seems to be the most likely candidate, unless the Canucks look outside the organization.

More details on the roster plans should be available tommorow.

Also, the October Report Card is in the works and should be available sometime this week.