Friday, December 19, 2008

Sami Salo Out 4 Weeks

According to the Team 1040 Sami Salo will be out 4 weeks with a broken rib.

Better news than the apparent shoulder injury everyone thought it was. Of course when it comes to injuries the Canucks are often vague and maybe even downright "untruthful" on occasion, so who knows...

Sundin Contract Details

According to the Vancouver Province Mats Sundin has signed for $1.4m less than the $10m he was offered.

The total cap hit for Sundin will be $5.625m leaving the Canucks with $2.5m in cap space. That's plenty of room to add a quality player or two.

Mats Sundin a Vancouver Canuck

Christmas has come early for Canuck fans.

Before July 1st I was looking at the list of free agents and there was one name that jumped out. Mats Sundin. Forget Hossa, Malone, Jagr, Ryder, etc. Mats Sundin was exactly what this team needed, a big top line centre who could make the players around him better. When word of the Canucks huge contract offer came out I was pretty excited. Sure it was a lot of money, but it wasn't my money and the cap space was there. I never suspected that we would have to wait almost six months to find out if Sundin would be a Canuck. It was well worth the wait...

So what are the Canucks getting?

Almost the perfect player for their needs. The only downside to Mats Sundin is his age. It's a legitimate concern, but I don't think it will be much of an issue. The Canucks don't need Sundin to play 20 minutes a night and carry the team on his back. He doesn't even need to play on the PK. This isn't Messier part deux.

Last season Mats Sundin finished 20th overall in the NHL with 78 points in 74 games, almost 20 points more than any other Leaf. I don't see Mats Sundin falling off a cliff statistics wise, especially when he can play behind the Sedins.

Over the years we have been force fed the Leafs every Saturday night on HNIC. As much as I hate having to watch the Leafs I always admired Mats Sundin. How many times did you see Mats Sundin involved in some improbable last minute goal? When Sundin was on the ice there was always a threat of the Leafs scoring. He was that good.

The Canucks are getting a great player.

I'll have more thoughts later today... how does the lineup shake down, what's next on Gillis' agenda etc.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Mats Sundin Signs With Canucks!

It's official. Mats Sundin is a Vancouver Canuck!

After working two days with almost no sleep, this was great news to wake up to on Thursday evening. I'll have more soon...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Sundin-O-Meter

Introducing the Sundin-O-Meter -- Which way I'm leaning at any given time based on the entire Sundin saga...

  • Date/Time - VAN-NYR
  • Dec 16/5:00pm - 60-40 (Gillis very positive, Met twice with Barry, NY Cap issues)
  • Dec 16/AM - 50-50 (Nothing happening out of NY)
  • Dec 15 - 45-55 (Fan 590 "report" that Sundin has agreed to NY)

Mats Sundin to Make Decision on Thursday?

According to Canucks GM Mike Gillis, Mats Sundin will make his decision on who to sign with on Thursday. Why Thursday? Because Sundin doesn't want his story to overshadow the Trevor Linden jersey retirement.

So what can we read from this? Only that it is extremely unlikely that Sundin has already made a decision to sign with New York... if he had J.P. Barry would have told Gillis who would have told everyone else. There would be no need to "delay the story" until Thursday.

Scott Gomez ain't commin' here

Seriously people. Look at the numbers. It makes 0 sense. None.

The whole idea of a Rangers/Canucks trade is pretty outlandish. Anyone the Canucks would want doesn't clear enough salary for New York, or has a ridiculous long term contract that would completely handcuff the Canucks.

The Canucks aren't going to help New York sign Sundin unless the Rangers give up some ridiculous combination of guys like Zherdev, Dubinsky, Voros, Mara or Stall. The Canucks do not want Gomez for five more years at $7.35m or Drury for three more years at $7.05m. Not when they have the Sedins, Ohlund, Burrows, Bernier(RFA) and Wellwood(RFA) to take care of this off-season and Kesler & Luongo in 2010. Combine those players and a decreasing cap and Gomez has negative value to the Canucks.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Mats Sundin - Rangers VS Canucks

Bob MacKenzie is reporting that the Mats Sundin Sweepstakes are "likely" down to New York and Vancouver.

Nothing really new or surprising, but it does lend some credibility to the various rumours/stories of Chicago and Montreal being out of the running.

It's going to be an interesting week of speculation...


J.P. Barry has officially stated that Mats Sundin has narrowed his choice down to New York and Vancouver:

"Mats has had enough opportunity now to obviously look at all the different proposals and he's focused on Vancouver and New York," Sundin's agent J.P. Barry told on Monday. "I expect him to make a decision in the next week so that he can join one of those teams after Christmas."

J.P. Barry has also shot down the report on the Fan 590 that Sundin has agreed to sign with the Rangers.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

November Report Card

Team Grades

Overall: A- (Oct: C+) (W 8 - L 3 - OTL 2 - 18pts, GF 34 GA 29)
For the Vancouver Canucks the month of November was one of the best months in recent memory. It began with an important 6 game homestand before a terribly scheduled 4 game road trip. The Canucks went 4-1-1 at home which set them up for the usual goal of having a .500 road trip. The trip started off with a wasted opportunity against the Islanders. What followed was three very impressive victories against the Rangers, Minnesota Wild and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Unfortunately Roberto Luongo went down with a serious groin injury and the Canucks were faced with the possibility of not having their most important player for more than a month. Still riding high, the Canucks would come home and beat the Detroit Red Wings in overtime for the second time this season. To finish off the month the Flames and Canucks would square off in a home and home series with a huge point swing up for grabs. The Flames would go on to spoil what was otherwise an outstanding month for the Vancouver Canucks.
The Penalty Kill: C+ (Oct: C) (PK% 81.0, 47 for 58, SHG 1, Home 80.0%, Road 82.6%)
The Canucks were only one kill better in November, oddly enough they were shorthanded 58 times -- the same as October. So why the higher "C+" grade? Well, although the PK numbers were nearly the same on the road the PK was a solid 82.6%, up from October's dismal 73.9%. I think it's safe to say that the Canucks wouldn't have gone 4-0-1 on their 5 game road trip from hell had they continued to only kill 3 out of 4 penalties.
The Power Play: F (Oct: B) (PK% 11.9%, 7 for 59, Home 11.9%, Road 11.8%)
It's remarkable that the Canucks managed to pick up 18 of a possible 26 points in a month where their power play was so terrible. At the best of times the Canuck power play isn't great, but without two of their best point shots (Salo and Bieksa) in the lineup the power play becomes anemic. Really there's not much more to say, the power play was simply atrocious in November. The Canucks won't make the playoffs with a 12% power play success rate.

The Forwards

Format: Grade (Oct) (Games, Goals, Assists, Points, +/-, IceTime[season avg] )

Daniel Sedin A- (C) (GP 13, G 8, A 6, PTS 14, +8, 19:46)
November was a big month for Daniel, as he scored at a 50 goal pace and nearly brought his numbers up to a point a game pace. He was also a plus 8 in nearly 20 minutes of ice time per night. The only downside to Daniel's game was the 4 minor penalties which is one or two too many for a non-physical player (IE: too many hooking type penalties).
Pavol Demitra A- (C-) (GP 8, G 5, A 5, PTS 10, +3, 17:52)
After missing half the month Demitra returned to the lineup with a vengeance, putting up 10 points in 8 games. Demitra found himself riding shotgun on the Sedin line and he capitalized on the opportunities. Demitra's point totals included 5 goals and an assist during the critical 4 game road trip.
Kyle Wellwood B+ (B) (GP 13, G 6, A 2, PTS 8, +4, 13:50)
If October solidified Wellwood's spot in the lineup, November solidified his status as a key offensive contributor. Wellwood has an uncanny knack for coming out of nowhere to score big goals. Question marks still remain regarding his liabilities defensively, but he continues to be excellent in the faceoff circle and shows great intelligence both offensively and defensively. The only thing limiting Wellwood's defensive ability is his body (size, strength, conditioning and skating) -- the brains are there.
Taylor Pyatt B (D) (GP 13, G 2, A 4, PTS 6, +2, 14:58)
Taylor Pyatt had a terrible October, but managed to turn things around in November. Yes, you want more than two goals in 13 games, but Pyatt did put up a 38 point pace in November, which is exactly one point more than the 37 pts he has in each of his two seasons as a Canuck. What wasn't really expected from Pyatt is his strong contribution on the penalty kill where he added nearly a full minute to his average short handed ice-time per game, demonstrating the confidence he is receiving from the coaching staff. While he is never going to be a "mean power forward", Pyatt is finally using his size effectively which is a good sign for the remainder of the season.
Henrik Sedin B- (C+) (GP 13, G 1, A 12, PTS 13, +6, 20:08)
Henrik Sedin nearly managed to put up an assist per game average, but only scored 1 goal all month. One goal isn't good enough. That said, a point a game is great and Henrik continued his strong play in the faceoff circle, maintaining his 52.4% rating.
Darcy Hordichuk B- (C) (GP 13, G 1, A 0, PTS 1, +3, 5:47)
Darcy Hordichuk picked up his first goal as a Canuck and was a +3 for the month. Combined with his enforcer contributions it was a very solid month for Hordichuk, but I would like to see more good forechecking shifts from the 4th line.
Ryan Kesler C+ (A) (GP 13, G 1, A 2, PTS 3, +3, 19:06)
After a red hot October, Kesler cooled off in a big way in November with only 3 points. However his strong defensive play continued as did his faceoff numbers. Offensively the Canucks expect more, but you have to wonder if Kesler is playing hurt. He's been noticeably banged up on numerous plays this season and the offense has been limited.
Alex Burrows C+ (A) (GP 13, G 2, A 2, PTS 4, +1, 16:02)
Alex Burrows continued to play his usual strong defensive game on the Canucks third line and the PK. However, the offense dried up a little bit. Burrows needs to find a balance between his October 67 point pace and his November 25 point pace.
Ryan Johnson C+ (C+) (GP 11, G 1, A 0, PTS 1, +0, 12:01)
Johnson managed picked up his first goal of the year, a game winner against the Rangers, but that was it for offensive contributions. Defensively, he continued to be a monster shot blocker but also struggled in the faceoff circle. We would later learn that he was playing with a fractured foot.
Jannik Hansen C (B) (GP 9, G 0, A 5, PTS 5, +4, 13:36)
Hansen missed four games with an injury and failed to put the puck in the net all month. He also managed a meager 9 shots on goal. Numbers aside, during his injury Hansen's presence was missed and that says a lot about his non-offensive contributions.
Mike Brown C (C-) (GP 6, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +0, 5:41)
It was a better month for Mike Brown as he finally contributed something more than a willingness to drop the gloves. Still, that something wasn't much. He had a couple games where his ice-time got up around 9:00, demonstrating that he can earn ice-time when he is effective (ie: generating a forecheck). However he still had too many sub 6:00 minute games.
Mason Raymond C- (B+) (GP 13, G 2, A 2, PTS 4, +6, 15:08)
It was a disappointing month offensively for Mayson Raymond. Two goals in 13 games is not good enough for someone who is supposed to be an offensive contributor. Raymond was demoted to the 4th line and saw his season ice time average drop by nearly an entire minute. To make matters worse he took 6 minor penalties, that's nearly one every other game. His low point may have been a terrible game on Long Island.
Steve Bernier D+ (C+) (GP 12, G 1, A 1, PTS 2, +4, 14:05)
While I don't think Bernier played as poorly as his numbers would indicate, this game is about results and the results simply aren't there for Bernier. Bernier has been a huge disappointment offensively. Still there are things to like. He leads the team in hits by a wide margin and is also right up there in takeaways, which tells you that he has been strong on the forecheck. He also continues to go to the net and is still getting shots on goal. If he keeps doing these things eventually the offense should come.
Jason Krog NG (C) (GP 1, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +0 10:14)
Not Graded
Rick Rypien NG (C+) (Did not play)
Not Graded
Alexander Bolduc NG (NG) (GP 2, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +0, 7:34)
Not Graded
Michel Ouellet NG (NG) (GP 3, G 0, A 0, PTS 0, +1 9:38)
Not Graded

The Defense

Willie Mitchell A (B+) (GP 13, G 1, A 2, PTS 3, +8, 22:45)
Willie Mitchell probably had the best month of his career and was a major factor in the Canucks successful road trip. Up until the Calgary back to back, Mitchell had a stretch of 14 games where he was not a minus and there was also a stretch where he wasn't even on the ice for an even strength goal. As if his defense wasn't enough, Mitchell has also shown a new emphasis on joining the rush and also on getting pucks on net. The result: 8 points and 29 shots on goal in 24 games. His career bests: 14 pts and 67 shots.
Shane O'Brian B+ (C) (GP 13, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +5, 16:05)
Shane O'Brian stepped up in a big way during Bieksa's injury. O'Brian was a completely different player than the one who arrived in Vancouver. He showed great poise and confidence with the puck and was very solid in his own end. The only downside to his game was the obscene number of minor penalties.
Mattias Ohlund B+ (B) (GP 13, G 0, A 6, PTS 6, +12, X:XX)
Ohlund finished November without being a minus in any game and was an impressive +12 for the month. While he was strong defensively Ohlund failed to step up on the power play with only one assist. He did a better job of getting pucks through to the net, but the Canucks need Ohlund to contribute on the power play, especially when Bieksa and Salo are out.
Kevin Bieksa B (B+) (GP 7, G 1, A 3, PTS 4, +2, 24:13)
Kevin Bieksa missed the middle of the month with an injury and played in only 7 games. Before his first game back against Calgary, Bieksa had a streak of 8 games without being a minus. He continued his strong play from October and aside from the injury he had a good November.
Sami Salo B (B) (GP 11, G 2, A 3, PTS 5, +4, 19:59)
Sami Salo scored twice and made them count as they were both game winners. He also managed an average of two shots on goal per game, a welcome sign for someone who often seems unwilling to shoot the puck. Defensively he was his usual solid self. Unfortunately Salo again missed a couple games, which is very concerning moving forward -- the Canuck power play isn't great with him in the lineup and is downright terrible when he isn't.
Rob Davison B- (NG) (GP 5, G 0, 0 X, PTS 0, -1, X:XX)
Davison stepped in and did a decent job during Bieksa's injury. He even earned the start against Detroit (over the more mobile Nycholat) after what was his best game of the season in Pittsburgh where he was a plus 1 in almost 15 minutes of ice-time. Davison lived up to his role as a physical7th defenseman -- he didn't hurt his team during a key stretch and he was ready and willing to drop the gloves.
Alexander Edler C- (B-) (GP 11, G 0, A 2, PTS 2, -3, 21:51)
Alexander Edler had his worst month as a Canuck. His struggles in October were only a small sign of things to come. Poor passes and giveaways in his own zone were familiar occurrences. Offensively Edler managed only a pair of assists and failed to take advantage of his opportunity to get back on the power play during the absences of Salo and Bieksa. The Canucks need Edler to be better.
Lawrence Nycholat C- (NG) (GP 5, G 0, A 1, PTS 1, +3, 10:15)
With injuries on the blueline, Nycholat had an opportunity to step in and show what he could do. Unfortunately it wasn't much. At a time when the Canucks power play was struggling and lacking defensemen, Nycholat didn't step up in what should be his niche role. Nycholat also saw his ice time decrease in each consecutive game of the road trip -- with such a travel schedule you would think you would want to spread the ice-time around -- Nycholat couldn't earn the confidence of the coaching staff. That said, he was a plus 3 on the month and only took one minor penalty so he wasn't terrible.

The Goalies

Roberto Luongo A (C) (GP 9, Record: 5-1-2, GAA: 1.11, Sv%: 0.959, SO 3)
Roberto Luongo was simply outstanding in November. Tremendous numbers and three consecutive shutouts. A big improvement over October, hopefully his injury will not keep him out for too long.
Curtis Sanford A- (C) (GP 4, Record: 3-1-0, GAA: 2.25, Sv%: 0.921, SO 0)
Sanford stepped in and got the job done in a difficult stretch of games. Despite a few soft goals, the numbers don't lie. The only blemish on Sanford's month was the final game against Calgary, aside from that Sanford came up with 3 huge victories.
Cory Schneider NG (NG) (GP 1, Record: 0-1-0, GAA: 3.00, Sv%: 0.903, SO 0)
Not Graded

Previous Report Cards

Avalanche 5 - Canucks 4 - Game Notes

Another game in Colorado another loss for Vancouver. Continuing their trend of mediocrity vs the Avalanche, the Canucks find a way to lose a game they should have won...

  • This one falls squarely on the shoulders of Cory Schneider who let in a terrible goal to tie the game and couldn't stop anything in the shootout. None of the Colorado goals were particularly good, although they did catch a break when Ryan Smyth did not get called for clipping Schneider's mask.
  • The Canucks dominated in the faceoff circle winning 69% of the draws.
  • Sami Salo left the game early with an undisclosed injury, no info on the injury as of yet. Kevin Bieksa finished just shy of 29 minutes of ice time.
  • It was nice to see Steve Bernier get a couple goals, hopefully this is a sign of things to come.
  • The Canucks did a poor job of exploiting Peter Budaj's rebound control, or lack thereof.

Not much more to say about this one. The Canucks were the better team in almost every area except goaltending.

Almost finished the November report card, just have to finish off the defensemen...

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Streak Snapped, Sundin Decision Soon, Coyotes in Trouble

Canucks 2 - Wild 1

The losing streak is over... about time.

For the second time this season the Canucks pulled off a huge win in Minnesota playing on back to back nights. The Canucks were perilously close to losing 5 games in a row for the first time in nearly a decade... the strange thing was that they weren't playing that bad. They were in every game, at times even leading, yet they weren't good enough to win. It was the little things that were costing them games. The defense core was having a terrible time with the puck, often giving the puck away in their own zone (particularly down low) when they had opportunities to get the puck out. The team as a whole was taking far too many penalties, while at the same time failing miserably on the power play. As if that wasn't bad enough the goaltenders were averaging a soft goal every game. The difference between winning and losing in the NHL is often a fine line and it's usually the little things that decide which side of the line you fall on.

For most of the night in Minnesota the Canucks were doing the little things. They weren't taking penalties, or giving the puck away down low. They were also managing to get shots through on the power play and to top it all off the goaltending didn't give up any weak ones. But then with a few minutes to go in the game Willie Mitchell, who had plenty of time, failed to dump the puck deep into the Minnesota zone which led to a Taylor Pyatt penalty on the Wild transition into Vancouver territory. I was thinking "Oh boy here we go again..." Fortunately the Wild power play was short lived and the Canucks managed to kill the rest of the clock. Still, it was one of those little things that nearly cost Vancouver the regulation win.

Sunding Decision Coming Soon

Canuck fans will soon find out whether they will be receiving an early Christmas present. According to Sundin's agent J.P. Barry, Sundin should be making a decision by December 15th. Mike Gillis was also on the Team 1040 and sounded optimistic about the chances of Sundin landing in Vancouver. He will be meeting with Barry soon. Obviously Sundin would be a huge addition to the Canucks, but as a long suffering Canuck fan you can't help but think something will go wrong and Sundin will end up somewhere like Colorado.

Coyotes Facing Bankruptcy?

According to the Globe and Mail, the Phoenix Coyotes are in serious financial trouble. With the current economic crisis you have to wonder how many other teams are in serious jeopardy. As much as I would like to see more teams in Canada, it's never a good thing when a team has to move or fold.

Still working on that November report card... I'm going to force myself to get it done by tomorrow.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Around the Web (Dec 4 Ed.)

Yes I'm still alive. Apologies for the lack of updates, it's been a busy week. It hasn't been a complete right off though... I'm about half way finished the November Report Card and hope to have it posted before the weekend. In the meantime here's some reading material...

Canucks at Detroit

The Canucks will have their hands full as they try and stop a three game losing streak. The problems for Vancouver have been pretty obvious -- they're taking too many penalties, not scoring on their power play opportunities and their goaltending has been average at best.

Will have some game notes later in the day...