Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Canucks Rolling Through December

The Vancouver Canucks are mowing down opponents in December, sporting a 7-1-1 record as they head into Detroit to take on the 2nd place Red Wings. They now have an opportunity to move into 2nd place in the conference with a win tonight. Despite the great December record, Colorado is putting up a strong fight for the Northwest Division title, both teams have 42 points.

Vancouver has played the second fewest games in the NHL. On one hand those 6 points could put Vancouver at the top of the Western Conference standings. On the other hand, those 3 extra games have to get crammed into the schedule somewhere. As a result the Canucks have a very ugly January schedule. It all starts the first week of the new year where they play an insane 5 games in 7 days. That makes the last 5 games of December pretty important especially since 3 of the teams are currently ranked in the top 4 of the NHL standings.

Notes from Nuckland...

  • What more can be said about Ryan Kesler? He has taken his game to an entirely new level, despite not getting a whole lot out of his linemates. He leads the team in even strength goals(10) and at the same time the defensive side of his game has been outstanding. Kesler has to be a leading candidate for the Selke trophy.
  • While Kesler has been getting most of the headlines of late, Roberto Luongo has been quietly putting up some great numbers. Luongo is 7-1-0 with a 1.73 GAA and .925 SvPct in December.
  • Kesler's play has taken some of the pressure off the Sedins and for some reason their seems to be a perception that the Sedins aren't playing that great. Well lets take a look at the numbers: Daniel has 11 points in 9 December games, Henrik has 10. Daniel is on pace for 42 goals and 100 points, Henrik is on pace for 82 assists and 97 points. Not too shabby.
  • Despite the great record there are several Canucks who can be a lot better. Jeff Tambellini's play has tailed off, but he appears to be coming on. Even though he is on pace for a career high in points, Samuelsson has not scored since November. Raffi Torres has 1 goal and 4 points in his last 19 games.
  • For perhaps the first time in the Mike Gillis era the Canucks are getting a contribution out of the 4th line. Having a centre who has some size, can skate and plays physical is a huge part of that. Alex Bolduc is a huge upgrade on Ryan Johnson. During the Johnson era a shift in the offensive zone was a rare occurrence, now it's happening on a regular basis. Tanner Glass is playing the best hockey of his career. Jonas Andersson was solid in his short callup and Aaron Volpatti has already contributed.
  • On the blueline Kevin Bieksa is playing as good defensively as he ever has. The brain farts are still there, but overall he is playing well. Christian Ehrhoff has gotten his game together and Alex Edler continues to be the teams best defenseman. Dan Hamhuis has put his foot injury behind him and Keith Ballard is finally starting to see his minutes climb.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Poetic Performance by Luongo in 3-0 Shutout of Blackhawks

Roberto Luongo's poetry skills were on display last night, but more importantly so were the goaltending skills which once had many believing he was the best goaltender in the world. Luongo's game stealing performance was all the more impressive/encouraging because it came against a Chicago team that was "in the head" of Luongo and the Canucks. Luongo stealing the game was impressive, but it was the way he stole the game that really resonated with Canuck fans. It was the first time in a long time that Luongo truly frustrated a team. It reminded me of Kirpusoff's Vezina winning season, where team's knew they needed to be lucky just to get more than one goal. In the past few seasons that fear and dominance has been missing from Luongo's game. It's only one game, but it's a start.

Perhaps the significance of the game - and in turn Luongo's performance - is being overstated, but Canuck fans have to be encouraged by the team's response to their humliatating 7-1 home loss to the same Chicago Blackhawks. On to the game notes...

  • While the shot totals do not flatter the Canucks, it was actually a fairly even game. The Hawks obviously had a few grade a chances and the Canucks didn't play enough in the offensive zone, but most of Chicago's shots were from the outside or above the circles. After the first Chicago only had 13 even strength shots on goal.
  • Other than Ehrhoff's terrible turnover on an ill advised behind the back pass, the Canucks six defensemen had a great game. Keith Ballard was outstanding blocking 6 shots and delivering 4 hits in only 12:45 of ice time. Easily his best game as a Canuck - he deserves an increase in ice-time. Dan Hamuis was also oustanding, it looks like he is finally getting over his foot injury.
  • The Canucks special teams continue to reside at the top of the league and they came through again in Chicago. The penalty kill was perfect and the power play came through with the key insurance goal in the third period.
  • The 4th line has received a lot of criticism this season, but delivered a solid game. Glass scored what turned out to be the game winning goal and Perrault had his best game as a Canuck.
  • The third line had a tough assignment and struggled at times, especially Torres and Samuelsson, but Malhotra was once again dominant in the faceoff circle winning 15 of 20 draws!
  • Jeff Tambellini showed that he can be effective in tight physical games. He was credited with a team leading 6 hits and had a solid night overall.
  • As a team the Canucks blocked 19 shots and did a great job at containing the Blackhawsks on the outside. The forwards and defense were particularly effective defending Chicago's tactic of circling up high in the offensive zone. The Canucks communicated well and stayed with their checks, switching off or staying with their man whenever it was appropriate.

With the "statement" game out of the way the Canucks take on the slumping St. Louis Blues Sunday night in Vancouver. After a great start to the year the Blues have lost 4 in a row and are 3-9-1 since November 10th. The Blues play in Edmonton Saturday night so they should be ripe for the picking on Sunday.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Canucks Dismantle Flames 7-2

After 4 days off the Canucks returned to action and dismantled a sad looking Flames squad 7-2. Despite a pretty sloppy effort overall - culminating in a brutal 5:00 min power play to end the second - Vancouver exploded in the third with 4 goals, much to the delight of the Canuck fans on hand at the Saddledome. The Canucks were simply too fast for Calgary and by the end of the third even Miika Kiprusoff had given up on his team. Game notes...

  • While the final score and most of the stats were impressive, the Canucks didn't really play that great of a game. There were way too many turnovers, especially in the first, and the Canucks were failing to clear their zone far too often.
  • Jeff Tambellini had another great game. He now has 2 goals, 2 assists and 9 shots on goal in three games since being re-called from Manitoba. If he keeps playing like this he won't be going back.
  • Mason Raymond had a break out night with his second career hat trick. That's the Raymond we saw last year, he was flying and getting quality shots on goal. That short handed goal was impressive.
  • The second power play unit was terrible. I'm not even sure they managed to setup in the offensive zone at all. They got on the board late in the third after the Flames had given up, but when the game was still on the line they did not get it done. The number one unit is still producing at a league leading rate, but at some point Kesler might need to move to the 2nd unit.
  • Kevin Bieksa showed why he frustrates fans so much. There were two instances last night where Bieksa moved the puck up the boards directly to the opposition. Terrible decision making and way to casual. Kevin was credited with 3 giveaways on the night.
  • After a good night against San Jose the 4th line returned to form. With Bolduc heading down for a conditioning stint with the Moose (who play Friday and Saturday) Joel Perrault's days are numbered. He's got Friday and and Sunday to show he is capable of helping this team. A -1 and 2 for 7 in the faceoff circle VS Calgary did not help his cause.
  • Roberto Luongo was not busy, but still managed to look shaky. Luongo gave up a patented Beached Whale Goal™ to Alex Tanguay, but didn't have to do much after that.
  • Keith Ballard looks to be getting a little more comfortable as a Canuck which isn't easy when you are paired with Andrew Alberts. Look for Ballard to start carrying the puck up ice more often.

Finally for those fortunate to be going to next Saturday's game against Tampa Bay, the start time has been moved back to 7:30 and the doors will be open at 5:00. The Canucks are recommending that fans should be in their seats by 6:00pm. I guess they're going to raise Naslund's number really slowly.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Canucks First Quarter Report Card

The Vancouver Canucks have now played 21 games and are a quarter of the way through their season. That means it's time for some letter grades...

Note that player grades are relative to expectations for the player!

Team Grades

Overall Team Grade: C+
The Canucks are 11-7-3 for 25 pts which puts them on a pace for 97.6 pts. Last year in the west, the 7th and 8th positions required 100 and 95 points respectively. Clearly the Canucks season so far hasn't quite been up to expectations.
Power Play: A
The Canucks have the best power play in the NHL at 25.6%. The only complaint with the power play is that there is a big drop off to the second unit. Despite that perception the non first unit forwards do have 5 goals which isn't too bad considering the amount of time they receive. Still you'd like the 2nd unit to be more consistent in terms of controlling the play in the offensive zone.
Penalty Kill: A
Last season the penalty kill was a huge issue, this year it is currently ranked 5th at 86.8%. They finished last season at 81.6% 18th overall. That is a huge improvement.

Player Grades

D Alex Edler: A
Alex Edler has been AV's go to guy and he's been the best overall Canuck this season. His offensive numbers are solid, while his defensive play has taken huge strides. He leads the team in ice time at almost 25 minutes a game and is out their in every critical situation.
F Daniel Sedin: A-
Daniel is tied for 5th in points (26) and is ranked 4th in goals (13). It's hard to argue with that kind of production. That said, the Sedins haven't controlled the play enough 5 on 5, so there is still (scarily enough) room for improvement.
F Henrik Sedin: B+
Like Daniel, Henrik's numbers put him up with the best of the NHL. He is tied for 5th in points (26) and leads the NHL with 24 assists. However Henrik hasn't been the same Hart Trophy player he was last season. He isn't taking the puck to the net enough and too often passes off the puck when last year he would try and score. As a result he has only 2 goals. He has become too reliant on Daniel and needs to remember that he's also capable of putting the puck in the net.
G Cory Schneider: B+
Up until the Buffalo start and Chicago debacle, Schneider had been absolutely brilliant, posting outstanding numbers.
F Ryan Kesler: B
Kesler has only 4 assists and half his points have come on the power play. Five on five the 2nd line has been a disappointment and Kesler is a part of that. On the positive side, Kesler's overall play has improved as the season has gone along and he is now playing very good hockey.
F Manny Malhotra: B
Malhotra has been a huge part of the Canucks improved penalty kill. He is ranked 2nd in faceoff pct at 62.3% and is 4th in total won faceoffs despite taking far few faceoffs than the guys in front of him. The only negative against him is that his line has been on for a few too many goals against.
D Andrew Alberts: B
I don't think anyone expected Alberts to play in every game and play 15 minutes a night - all while playing as well as he has. Sure there have been some low points, but overall Alberts has been pretty solid. The Canucks would like to dial back his minutes to the 12:00 mark, but so far he has met and maybe exceeded expectations.
D Kevin Bieksa: B-
Many will grumble at this ranking, but overall Bieksa has been pretty solid this season. You'd like higher offensive numbers and he frustrates you with his decision making, but he has been very good on the PK and is a +2 on the season.
F Alexandre Burrows: B-
Burrows has been a slight disappointment in 11 games since his return, but his struggles were expected. He appears to be on the cusp of returning to last year's form.
F Jannik Hansen: C+
Hansen needs to contribute more offensively, but he has been very good on the forecheck and has been a key contributor to the strong PK.
F Raffi Torres: C+
Torres has come pretty much exactly as advertised. He is great for a few games and is completely MIA in others. The inconsistency in offence is expected, but the Canucks need more consistency in terms of focus. Torres is capable of being a physical force far more often than he has been.
F Tanner Glass: C+
While the 4th line has been terrible Glass has had a decent start. He's managed to pop a couple goals, is on pace for nearly 20 points and has contributed to the PK as the 5th forward. If the 4th line wasn't so bad he'd deserve a higher grade. With better linemates (Bolduc, Hansen) Glass should have a better grade next quarter.
D Aaron Rome: C+
After sitting to start the season Rome has found himself playing more than expected. He has been a serviceable 3rd pairing guy, but he gets exposed when he has to play too much. So far this season he has been playing far too much at 17:04. Like Alberts the Canucks would like that down near the 12:00 mark.
F Peter Schaefer: C
Peter Schaefer's time as a Canuck is over, but he still gets a grade here. Schaefer was good on the PK when he got into the lineup, unfortunately for him he didn't make any kind of impact five on five.
F Guillaume Desbiens: C
Desbiens had a good opportunity coming out of training camp before he broke his hand in a fight. Despite the opportunity he didn't do much. I'll give him some slack because of the poor centre icemen he played with, but 4 shots on goal in 12 games shows that he hasn't been good enough on the forecheck and a -3 shows that the 4th line is "losing" too many shifts.
F Mikael Samuelsson: C-
The second line needs to be better and Samuelsson is a huge part of that. The effort has been there, but he looks like he is trying to do too much. He is over handling the puck and isn't playing with enough confidence. The numbers aren't terrible, but they need to be better.
F Mason Raymond: C-
Raymond has also struggled. It's believed he is playing with a hand injury so some of his play can be excused, but not all of it. Raymond is playing like the 08-09 Raymond, not the 09-10 Raymond. He should be better as the season progresses.
F Christian Ehrhoff: C-
While playing a tonne, Ehrhoff might be the most disappointing Canuck this season. The defensive game just hasn't been there. Too many turnovers and some weak physical play. The Brouwer goal (where he walked around Ehrhoff to the front of the net) pretty much sums up his weak play this season.
G Roberto Luongo: C-
8-7-2 2.82 .907 isn't good enough for a goalie making as much money as Roberto is. Luongo has had his moments of brilliance, but he has been inconsistent and has been outplayed by the other guy far too often.
D Dan Hamhuis: C-
Hamhuis got off to a great start, but has had his season derailed by a nagging foot injury. He should be arguably the team's best and most reliable defenseman. He's been far from bad and once healthy again he will be much better.
D Keith Ballard: D
Ballard has been a huge disappointment thus far, but things are starting to turn around. He is a much better defenseman than what we saw through the first quarter of the season. As he puts his health issues behind him and gets comfortable in Vancouver he is going to play a lot more and much better.
F Rick Rypien: D
It's not clear how much his personal issues have affected his play, but it is clear that Rypien is not good enough to be of much use right now. He failed in his opportunity to show he is capable of centering the 4th line and his poor puck skills have been a major factor in the ineffectiveness of the 4th line (can't get the puck out of the defensive zone).
F Jeff Tambellini (Incomplete)
In his first stint with the club he failed to do much as a bottom 6 forward, but when playing in a top 6 role he was much more effective. He's now back up and in a top 6 role and so far he has made the most of it. He's doing a great job at getting in a position to shoot the puck. If he keeps it up he'll find himself with a regular job on this team.
F Mario Bliznak (Incomplete)
Bliznak's called up was part of the Canucks new philosophy of giving guys some experience in the NHL to prepare them for future callups should the need arise later in the season or playoffs. Bliznak made the most of his 4 games, he has been the best 4th line centre the Canucks have iced since Bolduc went down in game 1. Needs to work on his faceoffs.
D Ryan Parent (Incomplete)
In limited action Parent was mistake prone, but showed flashes of why he was picked in the first round. The Canucks want to hang on to him and do not want to expose him to waivers. He will likely spend the rest of this season as the 8th defenseman and will only play in emergency situations. Currently the Canucks are taking advantage of the option to send him down to Manitoba for a conditioning stint.
F Joel Perrault (Incomplete)
Has only played 3 games, hasn't made much of an impact but has been good in the faceoff circle. Has a few games left before Bolduc returns and likely steals his job.
F Alexandre Bolduc (Incomplete)
Had a very good camp before spraining his ankle in the first game of the season. The 4th line has been terrible this season, the Canucks are counting on Bolduc to remedy the issue.

You can send your comments and hate mail via twitter: @TheCanuckFan

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rick Rypien Takes Another Leave of Absence

Rick Rypien is once again taking an indefinite leave of absence from the Vancouver Canucks. Two years ago Rypien was limited to only 12 games because of a similar absence due to personal reasons. It looks like fans and media will be left speculating again.

Rick Rypien certainly deserves his privacy, but you have to wonder if the speculation is more detrimental than the actual reasons behind his leave of absence. Regardless, good luck Rick.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Canucks Try to Get Back on Track

Well I sure picked a good time to miss watching my first game of the year. Yes I was fortunate enough not to be watching the HNIC debacle on Saturday night. Instead, I watched it off the PVR (without knowing the score) on Sunday before the Phoenix game... well I watched part of it anyway. You can only stomach so much of that. Does it get any worse than being completely embarrassed by your arch rival on Hockey Night in Canada?

Usually a blowout loss in the regular season doesn't really mean a whole lot. They piss you off, but they happen every now and then - no big deal. However, losing to the Blackhawks like that really raises some red flags with this club. Clearly the Hawks are "in the heads" of the Canucks, Roberto Luongo in particular looks like an AHL goalie vs Chicago. At this point Mike Gillis has to be a little concerned. The December 3rd game in Chicago is going to be a real measuring stick for the Canucks. Anyway, enough about that game...

  • After the road trip last week I asked "What's going to happen when the power play cools off a little?" Well the Canucks couldn't even generate a power play on Sunday and as a result they only scored twice. Five on five play needs to be better
  • Peter Schaeffer's time as a Canuck (and likely time as an NHLer) is over. Out of camp Schaeffer won a job because of his versatility, specifically his ability to kill penalties. Unfortunately Schaeffer didn't have any kind of impact. He couldn't find a way to earn more ice time and he was easily replaceable on the penalty kill.
  • Jeff Tambellini will be taking Schaeffer's place and will be playing with Kesler and Raymond on what should be a very quick line. Don't be surprised to see him reunited with the Sedins should the Canucks struggle offensively.
  • The bottom six will also have a different look as Samuelsson will drop down to the third line, bumping Hansen down to the 4th line. The 4th line is a lot better without Rick Rypien and I'm interested to see what they can do with Hansen's speed on the line. Tanner Glass is a guy that can contribute, but he needs players around him that can retrieve and move the puck. If he's with bad players he's going to be a bad player. Put him with some guys that can play (Hansen) and he can contribute.
  • The Canucks desperately need Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard healthy and playing up to their capabilities. Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome are serviceable guys, but neither should be playing much more than 13 minutes a night.

The Canucks begin the second quarter of their season tonight versus the division leading Avalanche (yes Colorado has taken over the division lead). Tomorrow I will post player report card ratings for the first quarter of the season...

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Canucks Complete Disappointing Road Trip

The Vancouver Canucks completed their five game road trip with a 3-1 loss to Sydney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins - leaving them with only 5 points in 10 games. For most teams a .500 road trip would be considered fairly successful, but for a team that is supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender .500 is not good enough.

So what went wrong? It took them until Buffalo to actually have a good start to a game. Even though they got a quick lead in Ottawa, the first 10 minutes of each Canadian game was awful. A main reason for the slow starts was just plain old sloppy play. The entire road trip was filled with awful passes and turnovers. The Canucks were simply being too cute. Too many touch passes, too many blind passes, not enough hard work and get the puck to the net mentality.

Maybe the Canucks have been reading too many of their headlines. They seem to think they can pass the puck around at will, they seem to try for the pretty goal instead of taking their opportunity to get the puck to the net. How many times did you see the Sedins make a blind behind the back pass? How many times did you see them pass up a shot on goal in order to pass the puck? Sure it's awesome when it turns into a goal, but the over passing becomes contagious. Everyone starts to make that one extra pass - often resulting in a turnover - instead of getting the puck on net.

The Canucks success this year has been heavily reliant on their special teams. Vancouver is currently ranked 2nd on the power play at 27.1% and 6th on the penalty kill at 86.6%. That's outstanding. However five on five play is another story. Their goals for/against ratio at five on five is 0.97 which puts them at 16th in the NHL. That's not going to get you far in the playoffs. What's going to happen when the power play cools off a little?

It seems a little silly to be criticizing a team that's 2 points out of first place in the conference and which is lead by two players who are tied for 5th overall in league scoring. But this is a major hockey market who believes this team may be Vancouver's best Cup chance ever. This team is going to be under the microscope all season long. So in the spirit of looking under the microscope here are some random observations....

  • While the defense is very deep, Kevin Bieksa is the only right handed shot and that's making it tough on the guys who have to clear the puck out of the zone on their back hand. Sure Sami Salo's return would alleviate the problem, but that type of injury is tough to come back from.
  • You can debate the value or necessity of the 4th line, but one thing remains clear, the Canucks 4th line isn't very good. While Bliznak has done a pretty decent job, he is saddled with a couple wingers who are awful with the puck. Tanner Glass is a serviceable 4th liner, but Rick Rypien is an awful hockey player. Sure he can fight, but other than that he brings nothing. In 5:07 of average ice time he is a team leading -5 in only 9 games. He is incapable of getting the puck out of his zone and you just can't have that when you are on the road in the playoffs.
  • What is with Roberto Luongo? Just when you think he's getting in a groove and is recapturing his vezina nominee form, he gives up a goal like the lazy wrap around last night. That was just a pathetic attempt at getting across the crease. Unacceptable for a supposed elite goaltender.
  • Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson have to be a lot better. There's no reason why the 2nd line should be a minus on the year.
  • The guys coming off injuries have to start becoming integral parts of the team. Alex Burrows now has 8 games in, time to get it going. Keith Ballard needs to start moving up the depth chart. I'll give him this homestand, by the end he should be contributing over 18 minutes a night. I'll also give Hamhuis a pass, he's been pretty solid but he is capable of being this team's go to guy. Once his foot problem clears up he should be that guy.

The Canucks are now off for a couple days before they face the Blackhawks on Saturday. That means they finally have a chance to get a practice in. Hopefully AV can get the sloppiness out of their game.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Colin Campbell in Hot Water - Canucks in Buffalo - Lions Lose Thriller

So if you've been on a hockey related website, blog, or forum today you've probably seen the story on Colin Campbell and his emails concerning NHL officiating. If you haven't, check out TSN or the original story at (site is down today due to the attention the story is getting).

Is anyone really surprised by this? First even if you ignore the informality of the emails, the content has to be pretty alarming for the NHL. Clearly Campbell is showing some strong bias and whatever credibility he had as the NHL's disciplinarian is gone. Is anything going to happen as a result of this? Probably not. The NHL is going to keep downplaying this as much as they can and unless the NHL media really pushes this story, it will eventually go away.

It makes you wonder what juicy emails Campbell sent during the Burrows-Auger incident last year. Most in Vancouver believe the NHL (aka Colin Campbell) did not thoroughly investigate the incident. Judging by the thought process Campbell displays in his emails I'm guessing he wrote off the entire incident as a "fake artist" whining about a call.

Canucks in Buffalo

  • The Canucks are in Buffalo tonight where Cory Schneider is expected to start for the first time since November 4th. Schneider has been nearly perfect so far this season stopping 94 of 97 shots. Unfortunately the shutout has eluded him, will this be the night?
  • Once again Keith Ballard will be a healthy scratch. A lot is being made of having a $4m player sitting in the pressbox, but I think the situation is pretty simple. Ballard just isn't quite up to par physically in terms of his conditioning. Simple as that, no controversy. He'll get back in soon.
  • Follow @TheCanuckFan for tonight's live Twitter blog of the game.

Lions Lose a Thriller

Wow, what a football game yesterday. Simply amazing game, sports just doesn't get better than that. Lulay was great, too bad the defense (especially the secondary) couldn't make a stop in the second half. Regardless, great outing, good performance by both teams and in the end the Riders made one more play than BC. Things are looking up for the 2011 Grey Cup.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ballard Healthy Scratch as Road Trip Begins in Montreal

The Canucks will start their five game eastern road trip in Montreal with Keith Ballard in the press box. With Dan Hamhuis set to return from his foot injury and Aaron Rome playing the best hockey of his career, the struggling Ballard is the odd man out.

Ballard struggled in training camp, but got off to a decent start when the regular season began. Unfortunately missing 5 games with a concussion has set Ballard back, something which he readily admits. "I haven't played well enough... I've probably played games when I should have been scratched. I'm disappointed, but there are a lot more important things than my feelings." Kudos to Ballard for dealing with the situation with class. He knows he needs to get better and the Canucks are going to do everything they can to get him back to the level of play he is capable of.

The Canucks need Ballard to get his game together, not only because of his salary and the price the Canucks paid to acquire him, but because he is a much better defenseman than he has shown so far. Both Aaron Rome and Andrew Alberts have taken their game to a new level, but as their ice time goes over the 15:00 mark the limits in their abilities start to get exposed. You can handle that in November, but come April it's another story.

Canuck Notes:

  • With 5 goals and an assist in 4 games Raffi Torres was named the NHL's first star of the week. Since being reunited with Jannik Hansen the third line has hit their stride and have played exceptionally well. Manny Malhotra is earning every dollar of his contract and is probably the best 3rd line centre in the NHL right now. The quality of the third line is a big reason why the Canucks are not only a Stanley Cup contender, but also a favourite.
  • Cody Hogdson continues to improve with 3 goals and an assist over the weekend for the Manitoba Moose. After early season struggles Hogdson is now tied with Shirokov for the team lead in scoring with 6 goals and 3 assists in 13 games.
  • While the third line has been thriving the second has not. Kesler had a great game on Saturday and Samuelsson finally got his second goal, but Raymond isn't playing up to the level he is capable. All three can be better as a unit.
  • Finally, Canucks GM Mike Gillis is now on Twitter. You can follow Gillis @GMMikeGillis. While you're at it follow @TheCanuckFan as well.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Canucks Keep Rolling After Long Layoff

After a ridiculously long layoff the Vancouver Canucks have returned to action winning back to back games to start the month of November. With their first road win last night the Canucks have now won 4 in a row as they approach their first eastern road trip next week.

Before the road trip the Canucks take on the Avalanche tomorrow and the Red Wings at home Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada... yes the Canucks are finally on HNIC again. With Luongo starting back to back games this week Cory Schneider may get the nod tomorrow in Colorado, while the rest of lineup will remain the same.

Alex Burrows Returns
After missing the first month of the season Alex Burrows made his debut last night in Edmonton and didn't look too bad. One thing to keep and eye on with Burrows is whether Vigneault is going to play him on the power play this season. AV may opt to keep him fresh for his PK duties, or he could put him out on the first unit in Kesler's place. The PP has been very successful this season, so there is no reason to change things up, but at some point the second unit is going to need a legit centre and it just makes sense for Kesler to be that guy.
Forward Lines
With Burrows returning the rest of the forward lineup has fallen into place (for the most part). The top 3 lines are exactly what the Canucks envisioned in the off-season and (barring injuries) will be the lines the Canucks ice in April. While the top 3 are set, there are issues with the 4th line which the Canucks are just going to have to live with until Bolduc and Rypien return. Being so close to the cap means the Canucks are going to stick with what they've got for the foreseeable future.
Down on the Farm
So what's been happening in Manitoba? Well first, the Manitoba Moose website is awful. Truly terrible. Anyway, the Moose have lost 3 in a row and are currently 5-5 on the year. So how are the Canuck prospects doing?
First the good news. Defensemen Kevin Connauton and Lee Sweatt are putting up some nice numbers. Connauton has 3 goals and 3 assists in 10 games while Sweatt has some eye popping numbers: 3 goals, 2 assists, +7 with 36 shots on goal. Up front Sergei Shirokov is off to a decent start with 7 pts in 10 games and Joel Perrault also has 7 pts and is a +4 in 10 games. In goal, Lack and Weiman have split the duties with Lack posting a 2-3 record with a 2.19 gaa and .917 svPct.
Now the not so good news. Cody Hogdson got off to a rough start, but seems to be coming around. Hodgson has only 4 pts and is a -5 . The good news for Hodgson is that his 4 pts have all come in the last 5 games so he appears to be getting it going. The other not so good news is that Jordan Schroeder has yet to score and has only 5 shots on goal in 10 games. Yikes, not sure what's going on there. (Again the Moose and AHL websites are seriously lacking)
Roberto Luongo
Luongo has come out of the break looking very sharp. He was of course excellent in his shutout of the Devils and looked really good again in Edmonton. The only goal I didn't like was the Randy Jones goal. It wasn't a bad goal, but Luongo has to find a way to keep those garbage goals out.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Canucks Bounce Back From Minny Debacle

After a brutal outing in Minnesota the Vancouver Canucks bounced back with a solid outing in a shootout loss to Chicago and a dominating home performance against the Wild.

The Canucks were simply brutal in Minnesota. Short two of their top defensemen it was an embarrassing night, culminating with Rick Rypien's stupidity. In the end Rypien got six games, which was in the range of what most expected. Unfortunately for the Canucks this leaves them without a natural 4th line centre. It looks like they don't intend to call anyone up to fill the void, this is likely due to salary cap concerns and also their extremely light schedule over the next week. They appear to be content with Schaefer filling in at center, while having someone else take the defensive zone draws if the 4th line happens to be in their own zone.

On Wednesday the Canucks bounced back with a solid game against a Chicago team that's still pretty damn good. The Hawks were the better team for the first half of the game, but the Canucks built momentum and took over the second half. Unfortunately Roberto Luongo couldn't keep the puck from trickling into his net in the shootout and the Canucks lost despite scoring on 2 of their 3 shootout attempts.

Last night the Canucks got some payback against the Wild as they dominated the game, giving Cory Schneider his second easy win and near shutout of the season. Coach V finally stopped the sillyness and put 3 solid lines on the ice. Jeff Tambellini had a very good game with the Sedins. Ryan Kesler finally had some linemates and the third line had their best game of the season putting up seven points.

The Canucks now play one game in the next nine days, more brilliant scheduling from the NHL. The break actually comes at a pretty good time as it will give Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard time to recover from their respective injuries.

Next game is Tuesday vs the Avalanche.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How Many Games Should Rick Rypien Be Suspended?

In tonight's Canucks - Wild game, Rick Rypien went after a fan in the stands on his way to the dressing room. The attack seemed to be unprovoked (the fan wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary - ie no beer thrown).

So the question is how many games should Rick Rypien be suspended? (Poll Question on the Right)

Here's a better Youtube video:

Canucks Bump Slumps Before Road Test

It was a slump busting night on Sunday as several Canucks got on the board against the jet lagged Hurricanes. Mason Raymond, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson all got on the scoresheet for the first time this season. Finally some secondary scoring.

Alain Vigneault's line juggling paid off. Ryan Kesler had his best game of the season leading all forwards with over 20 minutes of ice time. Raymond seemed to fit in well with the Sedins (who doesn't) and it should be interesting to see how long AV sticks with that line. The third line got an offensive boost with Samuelsson on the wing and Manny Malhotra was an absolutely dominating 94% in the faceoff circle including 11 for 12 in the defensive zone.

Cory Schneider made a rare home start for a Canuck backup and was very solid. It was a great decision to get Schneider into a home game early in the season and more importantly the timing of facing a tired Carolina squad was a perfect way of allowing Cory to gain the confidence of his teammates and to a lesser extent the home fans. It's easy to say you want to play the backup more, but actually being able to do it is something that isn't always easy to do. The standings in the NHL are always tight, every point counts, so it's hard not to go with Luongo when you really need the 2pts. So far Schneider looks capable of taking some of those key starts.

The Canucks are now off on their toughest road test to date as they face the Wild and Blackhawks on back to back nights. Obviously most are looking forward to the matchup against the Blackhawks, so it will be important for the Canucks not to overlook the Minnesota Wild tonight.

Tonight's game is the first on the Sportsnet Vancouver channel (aka Sportsnet One). More info on tonight's game and lineup later in the day...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

California Power Outage - Canucks Drop Two

The short road trip to California should have got the Canucks back to playing a hard working "get the puck at the net" style, instead the Canucks limped back to Vancouver taking their anemic offense with them.

Anaheim 4 - Vancouver 3

On Wednesday night the Canucks failed to capitalize on their opportunities and let the Ducks hang around when they should have been dead and buried. Sure the officiating was very questionable, but that wasn't the reason Vancouver lost. The Canucks simply failed to score. The Ducks were absolutely terrible in their own end, the number of turnovers was unbelievable. It's going to be a long year in Anaheim.

Los Angeles 4 - Vancouver 1

Friday night the story was a little different. First Vancouver was actually playing a competent team, so the fact that they lost wasn't as troubling as in Anaheim. However, this time it wasn't a matter of not putting a team away, instead the Canucks failed to get themselves into the game. Two periods and no goals. When they finally got one (by the Sedins of course) LA answered quickly when Anze Kopitar skated around Bieksa like he wasn't there and then setup Dustin Brown for the back breaking goal.

Where's the Secondary Scoring?
The only Canuck forwards with goals are Daniel and Torres. That's no goals out of the 2nd line. The goals are going to come eventually, but this is getting ridiculous. Kesler and Raymond have 37 shots between them, but neither has found the back of the net. Jannik Hansen has played well, but hasn't shown any indication that he's going to add some offensive touch to his game.
Kesler with the Sedins on Power Play
The experiment of having Kesler on the number one PP unit with the Sedins doesn't seem to be working, but that's not because of the number one unit. They've actually been pretty good, scoring twice in Anaheim. The problem's with the second unit. Without Kesler at centre they're just not effective. The difference between Kesler with the twins vs someone else isn't going to be that much - whoever's out there will get some goals. However, the difference between Kesler and someone else on the 2nd unit is significant. The current power play configuration just doesn't make sense.
Ballard and Bolduc Out
The Canucks got some bad news late last week as it was learned that Alex Bolduc is out with the feared high ankle sprain. Bolduc is expected to miss 6-8 weeks which leaves a significant hole on the 4th line. For now Rick Rypien is going to be given a chance to show that he can play centre at the NHL level. Rypien's first focus will be winning defensive zone draws, which he has been successful at in limited action so far. However the Canucks need more than that, they need a 4th line which can play in the offensive zone by generating a forecheck. That's hard to do without a competent centre - as Ryan Johnson demonstrated during the past few years - we'll see if Rypien can get it done.
On Friday the Canucks also lost Keith Ballard to a concussion. Ballard had played in 250 straight games - welcome to Vancouver's blueline Keith. The Canucks will follow the NHL's concussion guidelines so Ballard likely won't play for a couple weeks. That means Aaron Rome will slot in alongside Alberts.
Peter Who?
Peter Schaefer had a great pre-season and won a job on the third line mainly because he plays a solid two way game and can kill penalties. Four games in and Schaefer is a minus 2 with no points and only 5 shots on goal. He's going to have to have more of an impact if he wants to keep his job in the NHL.
Raffi Torres - The Tale of Two Players
On Wednesday, Raffi Torres was great. Before getting a cheap instigator penalty Torres was the best Canuck in Anaheim. He was hitting, causing turnovers and was a general menace on the ice. On Friday... well he was barely noticeable. Is this the Raffi Torres we should get used to?

Canucks VS Canes Tonight

The Canucks will be mixing up their lines when they take on the jet lagged Hurricanes tonight in Vancouver (Note the 6:00 PM start time).

Mason Raymond is moving up to play with the Sedins - Jeff Tambellini will take his place on the 2nd line with Kesler and Hansen - Samuelsson drops down to the third with Malhotra and Torres - Schaefer moves down to the 4th with Rypien and Glass.

Follow @TheCanuckFan for tonight's live Twitter Blog


It looks like Cory Schneider will get his first start of the season tonight (thanks to @reidder and @sportsnetmurph). Wow a home start for the backup goalie.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Twitter Blog - Canucks Vs Ducks

Trying something new for tonight's game in Anaheim. Follow the Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog live on Twitter.

Follow @TheCanuckFan and get comments on the game as they happen.

Anaheim has been brutal so far this season, 3 losses and 2 goals for vs 13 against. This should be the night that the Canucks finally crack the 3 goal mark...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkey Weekend Wrap Up

The Canucks opened their season paying tribute to the 1970 Canucks and naming Henrik Sedin as their new captain. The night was going according to plan until a late penalty allowed the Kings to tie it up and eventually win in a shootout. On Monday, the game felt very similar with the Canucks holding onto a slim 1-0 lead. The Panthers would tie it up late in the 2nd, but Daniel Sedin scored his second goal late in the third to help Vancouver salvage their opening homestand of the year.

  • The biggest story out of the weekend was the exceptionally good play by Roberto Luongo. Luongo looked sharp in his limited pre-season action and that continued into the regular season. Rollie Malanson appears to have Luongo back on track.
  • The offense produced only 3 goals and it looks like going out on the road will do the team some good. They were being a little to fancy in front of the home crowd. Let's see a little more shooting and a little less passing.
  • The new and improved 4th line didn't last long as Alex Bolduc went down with a suspected ankle sprain. Tambellini took his place on Monday and well, he looked out of place at centre. Rick Rypien is ready to get back into the lineup and will likely slot in at centre, but he's not a long term option there.
  • The new defense looked pretty good, especially against the Panthers. The physical play was outstanding. Teams aren't going to like coming into Vancouver if the Canucks are going to throw their weight around like that.
  • Manny Malhotra has been as advertised. Great in the faceoff circle and on the PK. Hopefully he can also help the 3rd line generate some offense.
  • Keith Ballard looked way better than he did in the pre-season.
  • Did AV swap Torres and Hansen based on who the opposition was or did he not like what he saw against the Kings?
  • Many questioned the wisdom of having a 2nd power play unit which does not have a centre... unfortunately we did not get to see if AV changed things up because the Canucks somehow managed not to draw a penalty against Florida. How does that happen?

Vancouver's off on a short two game trip to California where they'll take on the Ducks Wednesday and the Kings on Friday.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Opening Night in Vancouver - Canucks Vs Kings

Finally, it's time to drop the puck for real. After another long off-season and a pre-season of overanalysis the 40th season in franchise history begins... Is this the year?

Opening Night Lineup

After all the salary cap maneuvers here's what the roster looks like for tonight's game:

  • Sedin Sedin Samuelsson
  • Raymond Kesler Torres
  • Schaefer Malhotra Hansen
  • Glass* Bolduc Desbiens

Jeff Tambellini may take Glass' spot (strep throat) and Rick Rypien is starting the season on the IR

  • Hamhuis Bieksa
  • Ehrhoff Edler
  • Alberts Ballard
  • Rome

Ryan Parent is still with the team as the 8th defenseman. The Canucks have 10 games (or 30 days) to evaluate Parent before they must make a decision on him. Parent has cleared waivers, but if the Canucks sent him to Manitoba he would be subject to re-call waivers if they called him back up. So the Canucks are going to take a look at what they have, before sending him down. It would be difficult to get him back up once they do, someone would likely take a chance on him at half the salary/cap hit.

  • Luongo
  • Schneider

Henrik Sedin to be Named Captain?

The Canucks have waited until the last minute to name their new captain and most expect it to be Henrik Sedin. Ryan Kesler is the second choice, but Henrik will get it for one simple reason. He's much better at dealing with the media.

Since the media aspect was the reason they removed the captaincy from Luongo, it makes sense that this aspect should be the overriding factor in choosing a new one. On the ice and in the locker room, either player would be a fine choice, but in dealing with the media Kesler isn't in the same league as Henrik. He just doesn't have the attitude or patience to be the guy who has to answer all the questions every night. That's not even considering stuff like calling Andrew Ladd a "coward".

Tom Larscheid's Final Game

Love him or hate him, it's an end of an era for the Vancouver Canucks. Tonight will be Larscheid's final broadcast as the radio colour guy.

He may not have been a great analyst and he certainly was a homer, but the best thing I can say about Larscheid is that when I tuned into a game on the radio I could always get a feel for how the Canucks were really playing. Good or bad (and there were a lot of bad years). For that one aspect, he was a great radio colour guy because he could convey what I couldn't see.

Good luck Tommy.

Great read: An End of An Era

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Sportsnet One Now Available on Bell TV

Fear not Canuck fans, (at least those of you with Bell TV), Sportsnet One is now available on Bell TV (ch 1409 HD, 418 SD). Note that Sportsnet One won't actually be carrying the games, instead it will be on the "companion channel" Sportsnet Vancouver (channel 1436 HD). That's right, Sportsnet One won't show your team's games, instead they will be shown on one of the other 4 "companion channels". That's what? 9 Sportsnet channels now? Get ready for more poker, dog shows and darts!

So it appears Rogers dirty tactics have paid off for them. The last major hold out has fallen. After pulling a large number of Blue Jays games onto Sportsnet One, and pissing off many fans in the process, television providers have now caved as hockey season arrives.

Can't say I didn't see this coming. But whatever, as one of those pissed off Jays fans I won't be buying any Rogers products other than their sports channels (can't live without that).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Darcy Hordichuk Traded to Florida for Andrew Peters

True to his word, Mike Gillis has found an NHL home for Darcy Hordichuk sending him to Florida in exchange for heavyweight Andrew Peters.

Peters isn't much of a player, but he fills the role of the organization's resident tough guy. He is on a cheap two way contract (500k/75k) which also means that he is not subject to recall waivers, so the Canucks can move him up from Manitoba freely.

In other news, both Jeff Tambellini and Ryan Parent cleared waivers and will report to Manitoba.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

More on Shane O'Brien Trade and Other Stuff

Alright it's been a busy day in Canuckland and it figures to be busy again tomorrow as the Canucks will submit their official roster to the NHL... an official roster which, for salary cap reasons, will be different than the one you see on Saturday night.

Universities could offer a course on the NHL salary cap, but for now there are probably only a handful of people on the planet who really understand the Canucks cap situation. Basically it boils down to the Canucks wanting to be as close to the salary cap as they can, so that they can maximize their long term injury relief. Anyway, here's some thoughts on the days events...

Shane O'Brien
Moving Shane O'Brien is probably best for both parties. O'Brien is a bottom pairing defensemen who hasn't really reached his potential and hasn't shown many signs that he will reach it. O'Brien was saying all the right things heading into the pre-season, but he clearly showed no willingness to be the player the Canucks wanted him to be.
SOB's pre-season can really be summed up by one fact: he did not drop the gloves. Not once. This from a guy who is supposed to be a tough physical defenseman. This from a guy who knew his job was on the line and who should have known that his competition was outplaying him. He either does not understand what the Canucks wanted out of him, or he was simply unwilling to be that type of player.
At a cap hit of $1.6m the Canucks could no longer afford to be patient. It was time to move on. For O'Brien he gets to go to a place where his nightlife and off-season issues won't be under the microscope. He also joins a young blueline where there is an opportunity for him to play a more prominent role. We'll see if he takes advantage of the opportunity.
Finally it sounds like O'Brien is taking some shots on his way out the door, while Mike Gillis went out of his way to see SOB playing in the NHL this year. "He's an NHL player and we didn't want to see him in the minors... we don't want to be known as an organization that's gonna bury guys in the minors because of the cap situation". Looks like SOB still has some growing up to do.
Ryan Parent and Jonas Andersson
While he still has to clear waivers, the Canucks have acquired a former first round pick who has bounced around a bit and has yet to live up to his potential. If he clears waivers Parent will be reunited in Manitoba with his former junior coach Claude Noel. The Canucks are hoping that they can tap in to Parent's unmet potential.
Andersson is a big (6'3 - 210) 29 year old winger who has played most of his career in europe (only 5 games in the NHL). Last season he played in the KHL recording 20pts in 30 games. This summer he signed with the Predators, the team who originally drafted him. Like Parent he is also being reunited with Claude Noel, who coached him with Milwaukee in the AHL. While he has a one way $675k contract, he is not subject to re-call waivers, so the Canucks have acquired a forward who they can call up at any time should the need arise - something which is of value in today's NHL.
Tambellini out Schaeffer in?
In some news that has been a little overshadowed today, Jeff Tambellini has been placed on waivers. That means the 3rd line left wing spot appears to be Peter Schaeffer's, although he does not yet have a contract - again likely due to salary cap reasons.
Unlike O'Brien, Tambellini has been both mature and classy saying "It's been a great opportunity, hopefully I'll clear waivers and be part of this organization for a very long time" Tambellini had a pretty decent pre-season, but he didn't really fill a particular role for the Canucks.

So that's the news for today, there's sure to be more tomorrow...

Shane O'Brien Traded to Nashville for Ryan Parent

Shane O'Brien has been traded to the Predators for D Ryan Parent and F Jonas Andersson. F Dan Gendur is also heading to NSH.

Parent is currently on waivers and must clear before he is sent to Manitoba.

Jeff Tambellini has also been places on waivers, indicating that Peter Schaefer may have a contract coming his way.

More to come...

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Brendan Morrison Released from Player Tryout Contract

Brendan Morrison's quest to become a Vancouver Canuck appears to be over as the Canucks have released him from his PTO, meaning he is free to negotiate with other teams.

In the end Morrison didn't really fit in with the team's game plan of being bigger and grittier. AKA being hard to play against.

Right now the Flames look like a pretty good destination for BMo...

Canucks Cut 5 Players

In addition to releasing Morrison, the Canucks have also sent five players to the Manitoba Moose

  • F Victor Oreskovich
  • D Yann Sauve
  • F Sergei Shirokov
  • F Bill Sweatt
  • D Lee Sweatt

No surprises in that list. Still another round of cuts due by end of week...

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Canucks to Make Final Cuts This Weekend

The Canucks closed out their pre-season with a win in Anaheim Friday night, now it's time to make decisions. Canucks management is meeting today to decide on what kind of a lineup they want.

Brendan Morrison

The first decision they need to make is whether they think Brendan Morrison has a role on the team and at what price. Once that decision is made, a lot of things fall into place. The biggest thing working against Morrison is the team's desire to be bigger and grittier this season. For that reason, it seems unlikely that they would sign Morrison to be strictly the 4th line centre.

So where does that leave BMo? Can he temporarily slide into the top 6 and replace Alex Burrows for the first month and a half of the season? Maybe - he might fit well on the right wing of Kesler's line - the problem is during the pre-season he was never really utilized with any of the Canucks top 6 players. That appears to indicate that the Canucks would be more likely to use him on the 3rd line, pk and pp. However in that role there are bigger and grittier players available.

Morrison would help the team in many ways, but the fit just doesn't seem quite right. The Canucks might still go with him, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Bottom 6 Forwards

There are a few guys who are locked into their spots on the 3rd and 4th lines. Assuming Raffi Torres is likely to start the year up with the Kesler line, Manny Malholtra and Jannik Hansen will comprise two thirds of the 3rd line, while Tanner Glass has a spot on the 4th line. That leaves 4 spots - 3rd line LW, 4th line C, 4th line RW and the 13th forward.

On left wing there may actually be a spot for Peter Schaefer. The Canucks have taken a long look at Schaefer and he's played pretty well. He can kill penalties, has some skill, can skate and he's very strong on the boards. He could fit in well on a 3rd line checking unit who can play in the offensive zone and pop some goals.

Alternatively the Canucks could go with Jeff Tambellini or the aforementioned Morrison. Tambellini has had a fairly good pre-season. His speed is a great asset, but like Morrison, he isn't the big gritty type. Perhaps the biggest thing working against Tambellini is that he doesn't kill penalties and wasn't even tried in that role during the pre-season(at least in the games I watched).

On the 4th line, things may have gotten a little clearer in the past few games, mainly due to the strong play of Alex Bolduc. Bolduc showed some feistiness and grit and looks like a pretty good 4th line centre option, especially at a cap hit of $500k. A 4th line of Glass - Bolduc - Rypien is looking pretty decent as long as Rypien is ready to go to start the year. Darcy Hordichuk appears on his way out (see below) and Vic Oreschovich appears to have dropped below Guillaume Desbiens on the depth chart. For cap reasons the Canucks may go with only 12 forwards to start the season.

Andrew Alberts VS Shane O'Brien

As I type this, Dan Murphy has tweeted that Shane O'Brien (and Hordichuk) have been placed on waivers.

Andrew Alberts completely outplayed O'Brien and when you look at the salaries it was a fairly easy decision for the Canucks. O'Brien wasn't delivering in the physical department. There were too many instances of the opposition crashing the net with SOB doing basically nothing. It's the pre-season, it's okay to take a penalty defending your goalie. O'Brien simply didn't step up. Meanwhile Alberts played really well, he finally looks comfortable out there. This was an easy decision for the Canucks.

Final Thoughts

It's been an interesting pre-season, with many good battles. It's not too often that so many roster spots are available. We'll find out soon who makes it, but I have a feeling that the Canucks are going to lean towards size and grit on most decisions...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pre-Season Depth Chart Rankings (Version 4)

After another pair of exhibition games the roster picture is getting a little clearer, but there are still some question marks.

Up front the Canucks have to decide if there is a role for Morrison and whether they can work out a deal to satisfy both sides. After that things should fall into place on the forward lines. On the back end it looks like Shane O'Brien is the odd man out. Alberts has been better and O'Brien makes too much money to be a 7th(or 8th) defenseman.

Cody Hogdson appears destined for a stint with the Moose. Consider that in place of Hogdson's cap hit the Canucks could carry Glass, Bolduc and Tambellini. Then consider his pre-season play and the fact that he barely played any hockey last year and it's a no-brainer for him to start with the Moose.

Here are the pre-season depth chart rankings heading into the last game against Anaheim...


"Safe Group"
Daniel Sedin; Henrik Sedin; Ryan Kesler; Mason Raymond; Mikael Samuelsson; Manny Malhotra; Raffi Torres; Jannik Hansen;
"Should Make It"
  • 9 Tanner Glass (10) - Don't see anyone pushing him off the roster.
  • 10 Rick Rypien (12) - Likely to stick with the team whether he is healthy by opening night or not
"Outside Looking In"
  • 11 Brendan Morrison (9) - Had a few good shifts in SJ, but overall didn't like his game. Not sure if he's the right fit for the Canucks, at least not for the money he could likely get somewhere else.
  • 12 Darcy Hordichuk (13) - No one else has really done anything to push him off the roster.
  • 13 Alexandre Bolduc (18) - One of the best Canucks in SJ, played with intensity and showed that he wants it. Might be the best option for the 4th line centre position.
  • 14 Jeff Tambellini (15) - If he killed penalties he would probably have a spot locked up, but I'm still not sure if he fits in. Has one more game.
  • 15 Cody Hodgson (11) - Isn't ready yet and needs to play hockey. Better off with the Moose, especially when you consider that the Canucks can have two or three players on the roster for the same cap hit as Hogdson.
  • 16 Victor Oreskovich (14) - I believe he is exempt from waivers so he is likely to be a guy who shuttles between Vancouver and Winnipeg. Hasn't done enough to unseat one of the incumbent 4th liners.
  • 17 Peter Schaefer (16) - Has the smarts and some offensive skill, but showed in SJ that he still doesn't move his feet enough. Canucks are too close to the 50 contract limit, so I don't see a contract heading Shaeffer's way.
  • 18 Joel Perrault (17) - Completely eclipsed by Bolduc in the SJ game.
  • 19 Guillaume Desbiens (19) - The Canucks like him, but as another waiver exempt player he's heading back to the farm for now.
  • 20 Sergei Shirokov (20)- Will be on his way to Moose camp soon.
  • Aaron Volpatti
  • Jordan Schroeder


"Safe Group"
Christian Ehrhoff; Keith Ballard; Alexander Edler; Dan Hamhuis; Kevin Bieksa;
"On The Bubble"
  • 6 Andrew Alberts (6) - Has been better than O'Brien and is cheaper.
  • 7 Aaron Rome (7) - Solid in SJ despite his partner (see below)
  • 8 Shane O'Brien (8) - At $1.6m SOB is not doing enough. Isn't playing tough enough while his competition is.
"The Depth Guys"
  • Lee Sweatt - Still around, but he's not anywhere near ready for the NHL
  • Nolan Baumgartner
  • Evan Oberg
  • Christopher Tanev
  • Kevin Connauton
  • Sean Zimmerman


  1. Roberto Luongo - Was on the ice today, will be good to go by opening night, maybe sooner.
  2. Cory Schneider - Much better game against SJ.
  3. Eddie Lack - Got shelled in SJ, but there's still a lot to like. Great net coverage and rebound control. For a big guy he does a real good job of covering the 5-hole.
  4. Tyler Weiman


  • F Alexandre Burrows
  • D Sami Salo
  • D Yann Sauve

One more game and then it's decision time. The Canucks will then trim the roster down, but may not make any immediate decisions as they still have a week of practice time before they have to decide on their final roster.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Pre-Season Depth Chart Rankings (Version 3)

As expected the Vancouver Canucks have made some roster cuts after their weekend games. The following players are on their way to the Manitoba Moose: Nolan Baumgartner, Mario Bliznak, Kevin Connauton, Evan Oberg, Prab Rai, Jordan Schroeder, Chris Tanev, Aaron Volpatti, and Sean Zimmerman. The most notable name on the list is Schroeder who was likely destined for the Moose no matter what he did.

Here is the third edition of the pre-season depth chart rankings...


"Safe Group"
Daniel Sedin; Henrik Sedin; Ryan Kesler; Mason Raymond; Mikael Samuelsson; Manny Malhotra; Raffi Torres; Jannik Hansen;
"Should Make It"
  • 9 Brendan Morrison (10) - Has had a very strong pre-season, the Canucks will do their best to fit him in under the cap. If not he'll have a job somewhere.
  • 10 Tanner Glass (13) - Has the confidence of the coaching staff as evidenced by his pk time.
  • 11 Cody Hodgson (9) - Has the skills with the puck, skating and strength are still questionable. Cap hit also working against him.
  • 12 Rick Rypien (11) - Likely to stick with the team whether he is healthy by opening night or not
  • 13 Darcy Hordichuk (14) - Willing to take on anyone, has a good chance of being the 13th forward.
"Outside Looking In"
  • 14 Victor Oreskovich (12) - Decent game in Edm on a very bad night. Has to keep going to the dirty areas.
  • 15 Jeff Tambellini (16) - Wasn't great, but also wasn't bad with the Sedins. He'll still get a good look.
  • 16 Peter Schaefer (17) - Has looked pretty good but it's hard to see a fit contract wise with the Canucks, but should catch on somewhere.
  • 17 Joel Perrault (15) - Hasn't been bad but hasn't done anything to take the 4th line centre job. Still has a chance though.
  • 18 Alexandre Bolduc (21) - Was a little better on the weekend, but still not outplaying his competition.
  • 19 Guillaume Desbiens (19) - Unlikely to make it, but should get another chance after surviving monday cuts.
  • 20 Sergei Shirokov (20)- "Getting extra work" with the conditioning coach - not a good sign for Sergei.
  • Aaron Volpatti
  • Jordan Schroeder


"Safe Group"
Christian Ehrhoff; Keith Ballard; Alexander Edler; Dan Hamhuis; Kevin Bieksa;
"On The Bubble"
  • 6 Andrew Alberts (8) - Had a good game against Anaheim.
  • 7 Aaron Rome (6) - Not a great night in Edm.
  • 8 Shane O'Brien (7) - See above.
"The Depth Guys"
  • Lee Sweatt - Not good in Edm, no one was, but has had a good camp
  • Nolan Baumgartner
  • Evan Oberg
  • Christopher Tanev
  • Kevin Connauton
  • Sean Zimmerman


  1. Roberto Luongo - Looked great against Anaheim, tweaked groin will leave him out until Friday.
  2. Cory Schneider - Soldiered through a terrible performance by the team in front of him in Edm.
  3. Eddie Lack - Should get one more start before heading to Winnipeg to battle for the starting Moose job.
  4. Tyler Weiman - Moose bound soon.


  • F Alexandre Burrows
  • D Sami Salo
  • D Yann Sauve

There are a few main stories going on. The first is Morrison, who is now a lock to make the team... that is if they can work out a contract.

The second is Hodgson who has his work cut out for him. Skillwise he is ready for the NHL, but his strength and skating aren't quite there yet. He's not ready to play centre ice in the NHL, but he is capable of playing the wing and the powerplay. Hogdson's $1.6m cap hit is also working against him. Having Hodgson in Manitoba playing 18-20 minutes a night and also saving salary cap room is an attractive scenario for the Canucks. Still, with Burrows out, there is quality ice time available, so with three games remaining he has a chance to play his way into a spot.

Finally, there's a good battle on the 4th line with Darcy Hordichuk showing that he can be effective as a fighter.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cody Hogdson to Make Pre-Season Debut Tonight

After four pre-season games Cody Hogdson is finally going to make his much anticipated debut tonight. Those who have seen him practice say he looks way better than a year ago. Hogdson doesn't have much time to show that he is ready to play in the NHL this year, but there is definitely a spot available should he have a strong showing.

Some quick thoughts on last nights win over Anaheim...

  • Brendan Morrison had another strong game and judging by Mike Gillis' comments on HNIC the Canucks seem to be serious about getting him under contract should he continue to play well.
  • Dan Hamhuis looked really good. His puck moving skills are very strong.
  • Luongo was very sharp in the 3rd period, and as was pointed out on HNIC, new goalie coach Rollie Malanson has him playing deeper in his net. So far the change looks like a good one, as Luongo was not nearly has vulnerable to the cross crease pass type plays.
  • Jeff Tambellini had a decent game with the Sedins although he didn't finish off any chances. Not sure if there is a spot for him on the team. If he can't score he's not going to be doing much else.
  • Jordan Schroeder had a pretty good game and unlike Tambellini he did finish off his scoring chance.

Tonight will be the last chance for several players to make an impression as the Canucks will likely make many cuts on Monday. You can watch the game on Sportsnet pacific at 5:00pm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pre-Season Depth Chart Rankings (Version 2)

After three pre-season games here are the updated depth chart rankings. Check out the initial rankings here.


"Safe Group"
Daniel Sedin; Henrik Sedin; Ryan Kesler; Mason Raymond; Mikael Samuelsson; Manny Malhotra; Raffi Torres; Jannik Hansen;
"Should Make It"
  • 9 Cody Hodgson (9) - Appears ready to play his first game, it's his spot to lose.
  • 10 Brendan Morrison (10) - Had a strong first game
  • 11 Rick Rypien (12) - Out of the lineup again, but the Canucks know what he can deliver, should still have a spot locked down.
  • 12 Victor Oreskovich (11) - Not going to be the answer as an enforcer, but still should be able to find room on the 4th line.
  • 13 Tanner Glass (13) - His spot isn't assured, needs to play like he did last pre-season.
"Outside Looking In"
  • 14 Darcy Hordichuk - The Canucks might need a fighter so he has a decent chance of making it.
  • 15 Joel Perrault - Decent game in CGY, RH shot would help the team in the faceoff dept.
  • 16 Jeff Tambellini - Great speed, but is there a role for him?
  • 17 Peter Schaefer - Decent first game, but will really need to force his way on to the team.
  • 18 Aaron Volpatti - Good physical play, outside chance of a 4th line job.
  • 19 Guillaume Desbiens - Needs to step up physically.
  • 20 Sergei Shirokov - Coach didn't like his game and didn't show any signs of improvment over last year.
  • 21 Alexandre Bolduc - Needs to get noticed out there, Perrault knocks him down the C depth chart.
  • 22 Jordan Schroeder - Talent is there, but has no chance this year without some big numbers.


"Safe Group"
Christian Ehrhoff; Keith Ballard; Alexander Edler; Dan Hamhuis; Kevin Bieksa;
"On The Bubble"
  • 6 Aaron Rome (6) - With his cap friendly salary would really need to crap the bed not to make it.
  • 7 Shane O'Brien (7) - Salary doesn't help his case, might need to show more.
  • 8 Andrew Alberts (8) - Good start, looks a little quicker.
"The Depth Guys"
  • Nolan Baumgartner - Destined for Manitoba, decent depth option
  • Lee Sweatt - Showed off his offensive skills
  • Evan Oberg
  • Christopher Tanev
  • Kevin Connauton - Needs more pro experience.
  • Yann Sauve - Still out due to injury.
  • Sean Zimmerman - Awful game in CGY.


  1. Roberto Luongo
  2. Cory Schneider - Has looked good so far, looks quicker going across the crease.
  3. Eddie Lack - Very impressive game in CGY, could still give Schneider a run.
  4. Tyler Weiman - Will be fighting for starts against Lack


  • F Alexandre Burrows - Career as a colour guy seriously in doubt
  • D Sami Salo

There are some interesting battles going on, especially for jobs on the 4th line. Morrison and Hodgson are likely to be the big stories over the next couple games. It's going to be interesting to see what direction the Canucks want to go. There are several guys who aren't going to make the team simply because they won't fit in to the role the Canucks are looking for. Guys like Tambellini and Schaefer really need to do something exceptional to steal a roster spot from a bigger more physical player. At the same time the physical grinder types need to step up and show they can 1)play physical consistently; 2) take a regular shift and be effective; 3) fight.

The two weekend games are really going to narrow down the field.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Vancouver Canucks 2010-2011 TV Broadcast Schedule

October 2010
Sat, 9KingsCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Mon, 11PanthersCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Wed, 13CanucksDucks7:00 PMTSN
Fri, 15CanucksKings7:30 PMSNP
Sun, 17HurricanesCanucks6:00 PMSNP
Tue, 19CanucksWild6:00 PMSNV
Wed, 20CanucksBlackhawks6:00 PMTSN
Fri, 22WildCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Tue, 26AvalancheCanucks7:00PMSNP
November 2010
Mon, 1DevilsCanucks7:00 PMSNV
Tue, 2CanucksOilers6:00 PMSNP
Thu, 4CanucksAvalanche6:00 PMSNV
Sat, 6Red Wings Canucks7:00 PMCBC
Tue, 9CanucksCanadiens4:30 PMSNP
Thu, 11CanucksSenators4:30 PMSNV
Sat, 13CanucksMaple Leafs4:00 PMCBC
Mon, 15CanucksSabres4:00 PMSNP
Wed, 17CanucksPenguins4:00 PMTSN
Sat, 20BlackhawksCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Sun, 21CoyotesCanucks6:00 PMSNP
Wed, 24AvalancheCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Fri, 26SharksCanucks7:00 PMTSN
December 2010
Wed, 1CanucksFlames6:30 PMTSN
Fri, 3CanucksBlackhawks5:30 PMTSN
Sun, 5BluesCanucks6:00 PMSNP
Wed, 8DucksCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 11LightningCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Sun, 12CanucksOilers5:00 PMSNP
Wed, 15Blue JacketsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 18Maple LeafsCanucks4:00 PMCBC
Mon, 20CanucksBlues5:00 PMSNP
Wed, 22CanucksRed Wings4:00 PMTSN
Thu, 23CanucksBlue Jackets4:00 PMSNV
Sun, 26OilersCanucks6:00 PMSNP
Tue, 28FlyersCanucks7:00 PMTSN
Fri, 31CanucksStars5:00 PMSNP
January 2011
Sun, 2CanucksAvalanche5:00 PMSNP
Mon, 3CanucksSharks7:30 PMSNP
Wed, 5FlamesCanucks7:00 PMSNV
Fri, 7OilersCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 8Red WingsCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Tue, 11CanucksIslanders4:00 PMSNV
Thu, 13CanucksRangers4:00 PMSNP
Fri, 14CanucksCapitals4:00 PMSNP
Sun, 16CanucksWild3:00 PMSNV
Tue, 18CanucksAvalanche6:00 PMSNP
Thu, 20SharksCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 22FlamesCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Mon, 24StarsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Wed, 26PredatorsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
February 2011
Tue, 1CanucksStars5:30 PMSNP
Wed, 2CanucksCoyotes6:30 PMSNP
Fri, 4BlackhawksCanucks7:00 PMTSN
Mon, 7SenatorsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Wed, 9DucksCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 12FlamesCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Mon, 14CanucksBlues5:00 PMSNV
Tue, 15CanucksWild5:00 PMSNP
Thu, 17CanucksPredators5:00 PMSNP
Sat, 19StarsCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Tue, 22CanadiensCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Thu, 24BluesCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 26BruinsCanucks7:00 PMCBC
March 2011
Tue, 1Blue JacketsCanucks7:00 PMSNV
Thu, 3PredatorsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 5CanucksKings1:00 PMSNP
Sun, 6CanucksDucks5:00 PMSNV
Tue, 8CanucksCoyotes6:00 PMSNP
Thu, 10CanucksSharks7:30 PMSNP
Sat, 12CanucksFlames7:00 PMCBC
Mon, 14WildCanucks7:00 PMSNV
Wed, 16AvalancheCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Fri, 18CoyotesCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Wed, 23CanucksRed Wings4:00 PMTSN
Fri, 25CanucksThrashers4:30 PMSNP
Sun, 27CanucksBlue Jackets2:00 PMSNP
Tue, 29CanucksPredators5:00 PMSNP
Thu, 31KingsCanucks7:00 PMSNP
April 2011
Sat, 2OilersCanucks7:00 PMCBC
Tue, 5CanucksOilers6:00 PMSNV
Thu, 7WildCanucks7:00 PMSNP
Sat, 9CanucksFlames7:00 PMCBC

All Games Pacific Time - SNV = Sporstnet One/Vancouver - SNP = Sportsnet Pacific

Tuesdays Split Squad Rosters Vs Calgary Flames

The Canucks pre-season gets under way Tuesday, with two squads playing the Flames.

Game 1 in Calgary (6:00pm SNP - Team 1410)

  • Tambellini – Perrault – Hansen
  • Glass – Bolduc – Schroeder
  • Volpatti – Bliznak – Morin
  • Hordichuk – Rosa – Anthony
  • Ballard – Baumgartner
  • O’Brien – Ramsay
  • Zimmerman – Alberts
  • Polasek
  • Weiman
  • Lack

Game 2 in Vancouver (7:00pm - Team 1040 (w\ Alex Burrows))

  • Schaefer – Rypien – Oreskovich
  • Torres – ?? – Desbiens
  • Sweatt – Morrison – Shirokov
  • Rai – Schneider – Weller
  • Rome – Sweatt
  • Connauton – Bieksa
  • Oberg – Tanev
  • Ellington
  • Schneider
  • Shantz

These lineups are obviously subject to change and likely will. It's too bad the more interesting team is not involved in the televised game.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pre-Season Depth Chart Rankings (Version 1)

With the pre-season officially getting underway Monday, here's a look at where everyone stands in the battle for roster spots.

Rankings will be updated as the pre-season progresses.


The Canucks will likely carry 13 forwards, but that could change due to cap considerations.

"Safe Group"
  • 1 Daniel Sedin
  • 2 Henrik Sedin
  • 3 Ryan Kesler
  • 4 Mason Raymond
  • 5 Mikael Samuelsson
  • 6 Manny Malhotra
  • 7 Raffi Torres
  • 8 Jannik Hansen
"Should Make It"
  • 9 Cody Hodgson
  • 10 Brendan Morrison
  • 11 Victor Oreskovich
  • 12 Rick Rypien
  • 13 Tanner Glass
"Outside Looking In"
  • Darcy Hordichuk
  • Jeff Tambellini
  • Alexandre Bolduc
  • Joel Perrault
  • Peter Schaefer
  • Aaron Volpatti
  • Jordan Schroeder
  • Sergei Shirokov


For now the defense rankings will be based on merit and not salary cap considerations, with the exception of Aaron Rome who is a lock to make the team due to his cap friendly $750k contract. That leaves O'Brien and Alberts battling for the 6-7 spot.

"Safe Group"
  1. Christian Ehrhoff
  2. Keith Ballard
  3. Alexander Edler
  4. Dan Hamhuis
  5. Kevin Bieksa
  6. Aaron Rome
"On The Bubble"
  • Shane O'Brien
  • Andrew Alberts
"The Depth Guys"
  • Nolan Baumgartner
  • Evan Oberg
  • Lee Sweatt
  • Kevin Connauton
  • Yann Sauve
  • Christopher Tanev
  • Sean Zimmerman


These are unlikely to change, but their is a small possibility that Lack puts a little pressure on Schneider.

  1. Roberto Luongo
  2. Cory Schneider
  3. Eddie Lack
  4. Tyler Weiman


  • F Alexandre Burrows
  • D Sami Salo

So that's how things stack up heading into the pre-season. Unlike most years there are many jobs available in 2010.

Up front spots in the bottom 6 are up in the air, while there's even room for someone to jump into the top 6. Will Hodgson earn a spot and if so can the Canucks afford the cap hit? Will one of the ex Canucks earn a contract? Will the Canucks go with muscle or is there room for Tambellini in the bottom 6?

On defense, the Canucks are very deep and very expensive. The salary cap will likely decide who makes it and who does not.

Canucks Pre-Season Schedule

  • Tuesday, September 21st vs Calgary (7:00 PM)
  • Tuesday, September 21st @ Calgary (6:00 PM - SNP)
  • Wednesday, September 22nd vs Edmonton (7:00 PM)
  • Saturday, September 25th vs Anaheim (7:00 PM - CBC)
  • Sunday, September 26th @ Edmonton(5:00 PM - SNP)
  • Tuesday, September 28th vs San Jose (7:00 PM)
  • Wednesday, September 29th @ San Jose (7:30 PM - TSN)
  • Friday, October 1st @ Anaheim (7:00 PM)

All games are supposed to be televised, however not all games are officially scheduled to be televised. Sportsnet should be picking up the remaining games. All games are available on the Team 1040 and on

Canucks Open Training Camp in Penticton

It's that time of year again, training camp has officially opened!

For the hardcore fans you can actually watch the camp scrimmages live on

The Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog will have new content soon and is currently being re-designed (so things may look a little strange at the moment)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Canucks Sign Dan Hamhuis and Manny Malholtra

On the opening day of free agency the Vancouver Canucks went out and got the two guys they wanted, defenseman Dan Hamhuis ($4.5m 6yrs) and centre Manny Malholtra ($2.5m 3 yrs). Prices and term are always higher than what players are "really worth", but Mike Gillis just addressed the two biggest needs of the Canucks and still has cap room to fill in the rest of the roster.

Dan Hamhuis $4.5 million over 6 years
Dan Hamhuis was one of the more sought after free agents on the market, his rights were traded twice and there were reportedly many other teams interested, however he chose to play for his "home town" team at a salary which is likely less than what others had offered. Six years is a long time, but at 27 the Canucks are paying for his prime years, so term should not be an issue. A salary of $4.5m is a relative bargain for a sought after free agent defenseman, but may be a little over priced for a player who has yet to prove he can be a top pairing guy and who is joining a team whose salary structure has limited defensemen at the $3.5m mark.
Like the recently acquired Keith Ballard, Hamhuis is a legitimate top 4 defensemen who can play at both ends of the rink, but perhaps the most important adjective to describe the two players is "durable". In his 6 year career Hamhuis has missed only 9 games. For a team who saw their playoff chances dissipate due to injuries on defense, durable defensemen are a welcome sight.
With the addition of Hamhuis someone is obviously on the way out. The general consensus is that Kevin Bieksa will be traded with Shane O'Brien likely being moved as well. But that's not necessarily a sure thing. There may be enough minutes to spread around on defense and there is even the small possibility of Bieksa playing up front if needed. Logically Bieksa seems to be on his way out, but there's still a possibility of the Canucks hanging on to him if they can find the cap room.
Manny Malholtra $2.5 million over 3 yrs
Let's get this out of the way... yes the salary is at least $500k too much and the reported no trade clause isn't great. Ok, now that that's done with Manny Malholtra is exactly the player the Canucks needed... a 6'2" 215 lbs centre who can also play the wing, kill penalties, win faceoffs (62.5% last year) and chip in offensively (14g 19a vs Wellwood's 14g 11a).
Malholtra had a very good playoff run for San Jose and will bring some much needed size and grit to the Canucks bottom 6 forward group and to the penalty kill. Should Cody Hodgson make the team as a centre Malholtra has the ability to move to the wing.
Other Moves...
The Canucks also signed former first round pick Jeff Tambellini to a 1 year deal and centre Joel Perrault to a 1 year deal for $510k. Perrault may have a chance at the 4th line centre spot, but both will be in tough to make the team out of camp especially with Gillis likely still in the market for another bottom 6 forward.

In other news Canuck fans are still ecstatic that Darryl Sutter still has his job in Calgary.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Canucks Trade Grabner, Bernier and 1st for Keith Ballard

The Canucks made their first big move of the off season yesterday by trading their 25th overall pick along with Michael Grabner and Steve Bernier to Florida in exchange for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich.

At first glance the price looks very steep from a Canucks perspective, but in the end this is a good trade for both teams. Remember trading isn't about "winning" the trade, it's about making your team better.

Heading to Florida:

Michael Grabner
It always sucks when you give up a player with Grabner's skillset. In their 40 year history the Canucks have had few players with Grabner's combination of speed, goal scoring instincts and shot. Grabner looked a little overwhelmed in the playoffs, but he showed flashes of star talent during the regular season. Also keep in mind he missed most of the season with a freak pre-game injury. It's hard not to see Grabner being at least a 20 goal scorer with the potential to one day approach the 40 goal mark. But you've got to give to get and the Canucks dealt from a position of strength, with Raymond in the top 6 and Shroeder and Hodgson knocking on the door someone had to go. With Grabner being at the tail end of his entry level contract and the emergence of Raymond, he was the logical one to move.
Steve Bernier
Bernier was a disappointment in Vancouver, but he was a serviceable bottom 6 winger with size. Unfortunately last season his injury issues took away his physical game and he wasn't effective on the forecheck. At $2m he was simply too expensive for his role.
First Round Pick 25th Overall
The value of a draft pick is a funny thing. At the trade deadline or during the season a first rounder has pretty high value. However come draft day when you have knowledge of who exactly is available at your slot the value can be a lot less. When Jarred Tinordi was snatched up by Montreal at #22 the Canucks did not see anyone else they really liked at #25, so they decided to trade the known commodity (this year's pick) instead of next year's. A pretty shrewd move on Gillis' part. Holding on to next year's pick also keeps the option of an RFA offer sheet intact.

Coming to Vancouver

Keith Ballard
Ballard is a huge addition for a few reasons. 1) He fills a desperate need, a need which will be very difficult to fill through free agency. 2) He's under contract during his prime years at a time when the Canucks are set to lose key components of their defense core via free agency or declining ability. Sure there's a risk Ballard's contract (5 more years at $4.2m) could be a problem down the road, but that risk is minimal when you consider his skill set (skating and puck moving ability).
There have been some complaints about his size, but he plays a gritty game, blocking a lot of shots and delivering a lot of hits. If he was 5'12"(aka six feet) people probably wouldn't be complaining half as much.
Guess how many defensemen played 82 games last year... 28, Ballard's done it in 4 out of 5 seasons in the NHL. Guess how many defensemen had 28 points last year... 58, that's less than 2 per team, in the Canucks system over 82 games Ballard should have no problem hitting 35 points.
Victor Oreskovich
Oreskovich is an interesting player. A big winger (6'3", 215), who quit hockey altogether before returning to the game last season, will add some much needed size to the bottom 6 forward group. After quitting hockey some may legitimately question his character, on the other hand the fact that he was able to come back so quickly has to count for something both in the character/work ethic department and in his physical ability to do so.

Ballard makes the Canucks a better team today and there are still plenty of moves to come. Another defenseman is a must, perhaps Dan Hamhuis will be available on July 1. The futures of Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa and Shane O'Brien are up in the air, at least one possibly two will likely not be back next season. The 3rd line still needs to be addressed and Gillis seems intent on getting tougher and harder to play against. It's going to be an interesting summer, the fun is just getting started...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Game 3 - Kings 5 - Canucks 3 - Game Notes

Some quick notes before a pivotal game 4...

  • The Canucks penalty kill has been beyond terrible in this series. The PK is at the point where they may as well just concede a goal and save themselves the 2:00 off the clock. Vancouver absolutely needs to be better on the PK or they are done, simple as that.
  • And the guy who can help the PK get it done is Roberto Luongo. Just when I thought Luongo had turned a corner he comes up with another brutal performance. That fourth goal, no matter how poor a play it was by Wellwood, is inexcusable from the supposed leader of the team. I don't want to see Luongo take one look or have one conversation with an official. Focus on the puck and stop the puck.
  • The Canucks power play was just as bad as the PK. Christian Ehrhoff was awful and showed none of the strong play we saw in the regular season. He handled the puck like a grenade and could not handle the pressure.
  • As strong as Wellwood has played down the stretch and even in the first two games of this series, the fact that the Canucks have a 3rd line centre who does not produce offensively and cannot kill penalties is really hurting then right now.
  • Finally the disallowed goal... The best part about the NHL replay system is it's consistency. Whatever game you are watching when you see a goal reviewed the vast majority of the time you know what the call is going to be. In the past they have always been consistent - the puck might be across the line but if you can't see it on video it's not a goal etc. etc. - that's why this decision is so aggravating to Canuck fans. This same play has been called a goal over and over and over, that was until Monday. The fact that the decision overturned the on-ice call, favoured a large US market team and was made by an ex-King, and now has Colin Campbell claiming he actually made the decision even though it was pretty clear it wasn't his decision (yes the same guy who supposedly "investigated" the Burrows-Auger incident) - well it really brings into question the credibility of those involved.

    The Canucks are behind in this series because they haven't played well enough, but it's hard to ignore the fact that they have had two calls go against them even though those calls directly conflict with the language in the official rule book. The explanation of the Sedin non-goal was ridiculous. It's debatable whether Sedin even saw the puck come off Burrows' stick let alone attempted to kick the puck. But I guess by slowing the replays down enough and by looking at all the angles Mike Murphy somehow managed to get inside Daniel Sedin's head and determined that yes he intentionally kicked the puck in.

    But hey it must have been the right call right? Otherwise why would you have to take the unprecedented step of having to go on hockey night in canada to defend a video review call immediately after the game?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Game 2 - Kings 3 - Canucks 2 - Game Notes

After game 1 the question was how would the Kings react after getting a game under their belt? On Saturday night the Kings were much better while the Canucks lacked the sense of purpose they played with in game one. The result was a 3-2 loss in overtime on an unlucky, if not questionable, too many men on the ice penalty.

I don't like to blame officiating for a loss, but penalties in overtime are a different animal. First you had the non-call on Ryan Smyth's high stick which was somehow deemed a follow through even though he was not taking a shot, he was simply flailing at a lose puck and got his stick up... what happened to being responsible for your stick? The refs let that go and I would have been fine with that, until the too many on the ice penalty (called by a linesman no less). Did the Canucks have too many men on the ice? Yes, that was obvious. However, 1) the puck was shot towards the Canuck bench by the Kings; 2) It hit Bieksa who was coming off the ice and was not played by a player coming on to the ice. In the NHL those types of plays are usually not called, let alone called in overtime during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

That said it wasn't the officiating that cost Vancouver the game. They simply didn't play hard enough. The Kings were better in that department and in the end their hard work got them the breaks they needed to win the game.

  • If their was one silver lining for Vancouver it would be that the real Roberto Luongo made an appearance at GM Place for the first time in 2010. That is the Luongo we are used to seeing. He was razor sharp all night and for the first time in a long time I felt 100% confident in him.
  • It has become apparent that this series is going to be determined by special teams. The Kings power play has been lights out and the Canucks have taken far too many penalties. Vanocuver's PK needs to be much much better. Right now they are giving too much respect too the points and it has resulted in the Kings easily moving the puck across the ice through the middle and down low. The Canucks need to tighten up and make some adjustments.
  • Andrew Alberts is an awful defenseman. There's a reason one of the worst teams in the NHL wouldn't give him any important minutes. The Canucks needed a defenseman at the deadline, but Alberts for a third is looking like Gillis' worst move as GM. In his first few games Alberts seemed to be on the ice for half the team's goals against. He looked a little better in the final few games of the year, but two games into the playoffs he has been a disaster. Alberts has nearly single handedly kept LA in this series.
  • Where was the 4th line? If you can't get them some ice at home how are you going to do it in LA? Three minutes of ice isn't enough. Mike Gillis chose not to get any help for the bottom 6 and so far it has resulted in Vancouver playing a 3 line game. Pretty tough to go 4 rounds doing that.
  • The Sedins were great in game one, and not too bad in game two, however it was Henrik Sedin being late on the backcheck which allowed the Kings to tie the game up.
  • Where has Demtira's game gone? Maybe the Canucks should put a Slovak jersey on him and see what happens. If he doesn't show signs of life soon, I'd like to see Grabner moved up to play with Kesler.
  • Alex Edler was great in game one and solid in game two, but he's got to hit the net. Edler missed the net 5 times on Saturday night.
  • The Canucks found an edge in the faceoff department, which should help as they head down to LA.

Game three goes Monday at 7:00 pst. Let's hope we don't get stuck with that stupid high camera angle that is used so often in California.