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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Moving Day

Dear friends and readers,

After 3 seasons on Blogger, 3 months off and some convincing from The Crazy Canucks crew, I've decided to make the move to WordPress and a new domain. The new (and hopefully improved) Canucks Hockey Blog is now on http://canuckshockeyblog.com - if have a link to Canucks Hockey Blog from your site, please change the link to http://canuckshockeyblog.com or http://www.canuckshockeyblog.com.

WordPress is a new beast for me. I hope you bear with me while I learn to take full advantage of its different features, plug-ins, widgets and such. My plan is to re-create my blog roll by the weekend and just make minor layout changes as I figure out the program. In the meantime, because I know some of you subscribe to the Blogger feed, I'll make every effort to cross-post here and on the new site. (I'll promise I'll try but please don't hold me to it and just point or subscribe to the new site.) I've also made the decision to leave my all my old posts here, though I've killed my old domain so you may not be able to see some of the pictures I've posted.

Alanah kinda alluded to it in this post, but season 4 of Canucks Hockey Blog and The Crazy Canucks promises to be a good one. We're hoping to pull out all the stops and give the average fan a voice louder than Dave Pratt.

Thanks for 3 great seasons - I can't say enough how you keep me going - and see you on the new site!

J.J.
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Food, Wine and Good Company... and that's it for now

New Canucks GM Mike Gillis, capologist Laurence Gilman, Henrik and Daniel Sedin and agent JP Barry met on Wednesday night, and at least by the Sedins' account, things went well (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun).

"I felt good after the meeting," Daniel said. "I talked to Henrik in the car after and it felt good. Mike is a nice man. I like his ideas on the team. He wants to play a more exciting style of game. We had an open dialogue."
The question is if the feeling is mutual (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun):

More than anything, Daniel and Henrik Sedin went to dinner last night needing to be needed. But Mike Gillis isn't the warm and cuddly type.

The two sides will learn to like one another. And Wednesday's bread-breaking was probably a pretty good start.

In truth, Gillis has made it known for a while that he wanted his best two forwards to remain Vancouver Canucks beyond next season.

In truth, a contract offer has been on the table most of the summer. In truth.

But the universal perception -- shared by the twins -- is that Gillis was unsure about his leading scorers from Ornskoldsvik and might view them as former general manager Dave Nonis's leftovers.

That perception was largely shaped by Gillis. And not only because of his famous April quote questioning if the Sedins were "players the team will be built around moving forward," but because he didn't contact them in the following four months to provide the context he admits was missing from his remarks.
After last night, perhaps Gillis was able to explain himself to the Sedins' satisfaction.

Now, the party apparently didn't talk money or contract extension, but both sides laid down some groundwork (
TSN.ca).

Gillis described his meeting with the twins as a get-to-know session.

"We didn't discuss it last night, and I'm not going to discuss it publicly with anyone," he said Thursday. "We want to keep quality players here, we want to have players that want to play here, and the strategy for any player is to try and accomplish those goals. You know, we've had a strategy in place for some time, and we're gonna follow through on it."
If anything, there's no doubting the numbers the Sedins have put up in the last 3 seasons.

From
Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun):

You can argue Daniel and Henrik aren't "dominant" first-liners or "dynamic" first-liners or "intimidating" first-liners. You might even claim they're not "good enough" first-liners, but you must have awfully high standards because by any statistical measure, Daniel and Henrik are elite forwards.

In the last two seasons, Daniel has 158 points and Henrik 157. Mats Sundin, who has left Gillis hanging on a two-year, $20-million offer and whose only contract right now is with an online poker service, has 154 points the last two seasons.

Only 18 players have outscored the Sedins. There are 30 NHL first lines -- by definition, 90 first-line players. So the twins not only score like first-line players, but are among the better ones in the league.
And from Ed Willes (Vancouver Province):

The twins, after all, aren't exactly negotiating from a position of weakness. For starters, they are one year away from unrestricted free agency. They also represent an alarming share of the Canucks' -- for wont of a better term -- offence. (Last season Henrik accounted for 76 points and Daniel had 74. The next closest returning Canucks were Ryan Kesler and Taylor Pyatt with, ta-da, 37 points each.) And when you come right down to it, the numbers they've put up in the Canucks' no-goal system compare favourably to some of the NHL's elite.

Over the last three seasons, for example, both Henrik and Daniel have put up more points than Brad Richards, Patrick Marleau and Marian Gaborik. Of those players, Marleau will be the lowest-paid this season at $6.3 million. Uh, if we can figure that out, rest assured there are others.
In fact, the Henrik and Daniel's 232 and 229 total points, respectively, in the last 3 seasons rank 19th and 20th in the entire league and their 0.9431 and 0.9347 points per game average during the same time span rank 31st and 33rd.

JP Barry, the Sedins' agent, likes to trot out the names Scott Gomez (cap hit - $7.357 million; NTC), Chris Drury ($7.05 million; NMC) and Shawn Horcoff ($5.5 million; NTC) as comparables. Other comparables may include Martin St. Louis ($5.25 million), Mike Ribeiro ($5 million), or even, Olli Jokinen ($5.25 million) and Ales Hemsky ($4.1 million). Out of all these players, only St. Louis (246 points; 1.01 points per game average) and Jokinen (251; 1.02) have put up better numbers.

This isn't to say that the Sedins are now worth double their current $3.575 million contracts. They're certainly due for a raise, but especially given the NHL's wacky free agent market, how much of one should they get? Or better yet, how much of a hometown discount are they willing to give?

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Trevor Linden: Player for the People

There's not much more I can add to my post about Trevor Linden from a couple of months ago. Like what a lot of fans are doing today though, on the day he is set to officially announce his retirement, I'll tell you about the one and only time I met and got to talk to him.

In my nine years working at GM Place, I sometimes saw Trevor before and after games by the dressing room or even at concerts, but besides the casual "hello" never really talked to him. The time I did was actually at a Cops for Cancer fundraiser at what used to be Mavericks on the Waterfront at the Plaza of Nations. He showed up, and almost immediately, there was a large crowd of people clamoring for autographs and photos. Myself included.


Despite the number of people waiting, Trevor stood there patiently and talked to each one. My turn came up, and for whatever reason, I froze up and didn't know what to say. I mean, what do you talk about with Trevor Linden, local hero? In the end, I engaged in what I can only describe as puck bunny small talk - basically, how's the summer, looking forward to next season, hope you guys kick butt, I wuv you Trev (in a manly way) kinda small talk. Despite my mindnumbing ramblings, he stood there patiently for a few minutes and we chatted and he listened.

It's not a fancy story, but in it and from the many that we've all heard throughout his career, there's a common theme. Trevor was the kind of guy who would take the time to be with people, to be with his fans, to be with the kids at Canucks Place and BC Childrens Hospital. In this era of prima donna professional athletes, Trevor was nothing but a consummate pro. It's a shame that he never got to win the Stanley Cup; however, for many fans, not only in Vancouver or Metro Vancouver but all over this province, he's already a winner.

Thanks, Trevor.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Glen Wesley Retires and How He Still Haunts the Canucks

From TSN.ca:

For the past decade, Glen Wesley helped shepherd the Carolina Hurricanes from homeless vagabonds in North Carolina to Stanley Cup champions.

Now, the last remaining original Hurricane is calling it a career.

After 20 seasons in the NHL and 13 as one of the most popular faces of the Hurricanes' franchise, Wesley announced his retirement Thursday because of family reasons. The team then gave the defenceman a job in the front office and pledged to retire his No. 2 jersey.
Canucks fans remember this all too well (not in a good way), but in 1986, the Canucks traded Cam Neely and a 1st round draft pick in 1987 to the Boston Bruins to acquire Barry Pederson. The Bruins used the draft pick to select Wesley. It's easily one of the worst trades in Canucks history, and now that Neely and Wesley have retired, can we finally forget it ever happened?

Not quite yet.

Neely, of course, retired as a Bruin, but check out how the Bruins have parlayed Wesley into some good assets.


At 24, Dennis Wideman has blossomed into the Bruins' number two defenseman, averaging 25+ minutes per game and finishing 25th in scoring among all NHL defenemen; Milan Lucic is quickly reminding Bruins fans of a young Cam Neely; and Brad Marchand is thought of to be a very good prospect, especially after a successful junior career.

We may hear about "the trade" for years to come.

Some reaction from the 'Canes blogosphere:
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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Shorty to Sportsnet

John sent me this tidbit from Alanah's site this afternoon.

The departure of Jim Hughson from Sportsnet Pacific to the hallowed halls of Hockey Night in Canada at CBC has left a large hole in the broadcast landscape for Vancouver Canucks fans. But that might be changing in a matter of hours.

Rumors out of Sportsnet have it that John Shorthouse has agreed to a deal with the network to call all their televised Canucks games this season, while still maintaining his gig at TEAM 1040 for those games being televised on other networks.
I guess this move isn't much of a surprise. Shorty has been rumored to take over from Hughson since it was announced that Hughson would be moving full-time to CBC.

I agree with Alanah that this is a solid move. As well, it's a natural career path for Shorty, I think. The next question is, who takes over as the play-by-play guy on TEAM 1040? (Not Dan Russell please.)

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Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc

The best evidence that Luc Bourdon touched many lives in his short 21 years on this earth are the many tributes we've seen and heard in the last six days. It doesn't change the fact that he is gone, but for his family, friends and fans, surely it eases the pain to know just how much he was loved.

Perusing through the Canucks message boards, I saw the following video, a nice tribute to a good player and an even better person.



And for one more time... "Luuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuc".

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

RIP Luc Bourdon

Despite the Nonis/Gillis thing, I wanted to take a couple of months off from the blog with the intention of previewing the draft and the free agency season. I intended to start posting again in the next couple of weeks, but after the tragedy this morning, I decided I had to say something.

After a motorcycle accident this morning, Luc Bourdon is dead.

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon was killed in a motorcycle accident in northern New Brunswick on Thursday. He was 21.

Bourdon, a promising young defenceman who played his junior hockey with the Moncton Wildcats, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Val d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, split his first pro season in 2007-08 between Vancouver and the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose.

He scored two goals and was a plus-7 in 27 games with the Canucks last season.
Mike Gillis and the Vancouver Canucks issued a short statement earlier this afternoon.

It is with deep regret that the Vancouver Canucks today announced defenceman Luc Bourdon passed away in a motor vehicle accident on Thursday morning. Bourdon was 21 years old.

“We are deeply saddened by today’s news and on behalf of the entire Vancouver Canucks organization, I would like to extend my sincere sympathies to Luc’s family,” said Canucks General Manager, Mike Gillis. “Luc was an extremely talented player with a bright future. He brought great passion to the game and was a valued team member on and off the ice. He will be greatly missed.”
It's unfair that someone so young with such a great future ahead of him should be taken away. Especially someone like Luc who, you could tell, had a passion for hockey and a passion for life. In his short time with the Vancouver Canucks organization, we only got a glimpse of who he was a person, but you can tell he had a great personality about him.

Like the time he represented Canada won at the World Junior Championships:



And during the Canucks Dice and Ice Rookies Dance:



RIP Luc. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your loved ones.

[Update: 05/30/2008, 7:40 AM]

Coverage from the MSM:
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Monday, April 07, 2008

A Special Player, A Special Night

"When I took the warmup and saw how many people were down in our end, I kind of had that feeling. As the game went on, it was quite overwhelming. You think of all the tremendous athletes that have played their respective sports, for me to receive that response is incredible. It's very special."

- via Jim Jamieson (Vancouver Province)

Forget the fact that the Canucks ended the season with a 7-1 blowout loss to the Flames. Forget that, in the last two weeks, they lost seven of their last eight games when all they needed was three more points to make the playoffs. On Saturday night, those were irrelevant. Some people said Saturday was a mean-nothing game. This may have been true standings-wise, but for the fans, this game meant a lot of things.

For me - and obviously a lot of Canucks fans - it meant a chance to say thank you and farewell to Trevor Linden, and even, Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison. Though with all due respect to Naslund and Morrison, the night was undoubtedly about Trevor.

It definitely was a special night. The fans gave Trevor many standing ovations: one when he started the game with Kesler and Naslund and again; another when he started the third period; another during his final shift with a minute left in the game; another after the game was over and his teammates congratulated him; another as the Flames, one by one, came back on the ice and shook his hand (pure class by Jarome Iginla, Robin Regehr and the rest of the Flames); another as CBC, ceremoniously, named him the game's first star and he skated around the rink; and yet another when he gave the jersey off his back to a lucky fan.

In case you missed it, here is the video of his final skate around GM Place:



As long as I've followed the Canucks, and with the exception of those dark years in the late '90s, Trevor has been part of this team. Like every other Canucks fan, a lot of my memories of the team includes him. He was the captain the first time I ever watched a Canucks game on TV. He scored the OT game-winner the second game I ever saw live (1994, game 6 vs. Calgary). I remember the '94 run, the 1998 Olympics, his hit on Jeff Norton, game 7 vs. St. Louis and game 7 vs. Dallas. There are many more, of course. While I agree that it's time for Trevor to walk away, at the same time it's hard to envision a Canucks game without number 16.

His on-ice accomplishments were only a small part of what he's meant to this team and this community. He's always made himself available to many charities. He's a fixture at Canucks Place and BC Children's Hospital. He's a spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society. We don't usually hear about these instances, but that's because he never draws any attention to them. The NHL noticed and awarded him the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1997. So did the Government of BC which awarded him the Order of British Columbia in 2003.

"You know, sometimes I ask myself that because I'm overwhelmed. I'm flattered. I feel extremely fortunate, blessed, the way things have gone. But I have to be honest with you: I ask myself that, too. Sometimes I almost feel kind of like: Who deserves this? I can't begin to say the effect it had on me. I'm a guy from Medicine Hat who played a game he loved, and to get that kind of response was really amazing."

- via Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun)

Trevor's response to Saturday's events is all you need to know about his character. He is a celebrity and a hero in this province, yet always humble. He is a tireless warrior, but respected even by his biggest opponents. He is a fierce leader and role model to every player that's ever donned the Canucks jersey not named Messier. In other words, he's embodied everything we've ever wanted a Canuck to be.

Trevor said he's fortunate and blessed and that's true. But so were we, Canucks fans, to have been witness to his career.

More tributes for Trevor from John Bollwitt, Joe Pelletier, Jes Golbez and Mike the Yankee Canuck.

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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

One More Time With Feeling


Tonight, I hope the fans give Trevor Linden one, good, final hurrah (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun). And if it happens to be the last time we see Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison and Tommy Larscheid, one for each of them too.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Oilers 2 Canucks 1

Consider this an open post.

If you're a Canucks fan, feel free to rant. If you're a fan of another team, feel free to gloat.

I'm still going to the game on Saturday which, in all likelihood, is Trevor Linden's final game. I'll be back with a post-mortem on this team shortly after that.

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Game Day Post: Oilers at Canucks

The Edmonton Oilers are playing for pride (Joanne Ireland, Edmonton Journal). If the Canucks have any, they'll do the same and take advantage of an Ales Hemsky-less Oilers squad. Regardless of how the Flames' and Predators' games end.

All the cliches have been exhausted and I don't really have that much more to say about tonight's game. I'm just hoping it's not the last game I go to this season that has any significance.

Go Canucks! Go Blues! Go Wild!

From the MSM:
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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Avalanche 4 Canucks 2

In the Canucks' defense-first approach, it's no surprise that they're 30-8-4 when they score the first goal in a hockey game and 18-6-2 when they have the lead after the first period. Here's the problem. Since the trade deadline, those records have been a lot more mediocre. The Canucks are only 3-3-1 when they score first and 5-3-1 when they have the lead going into the first intermission.

Once again, they blew a decent start and pissed away two points. It's the third time they've done that in the last week and pretty much explains the position they're in now - ninth place in the Western Conference and needing to win both of their remaining games and hoping for the Nashville Predators to lose at least one of theirs.

And it's not just the fact that the Canucks are losing games, it's how they're losing them. Lately, they've allowed doubt and panic to seep into their games. One goal against is usually followed by another and sometimes another. Consider these numbers from their last four losses:

  • March 25th vs. Calgary - They allowed two goals in 41 seconds in the third period.
  • March 26th vs. Colorado - In the second period, they allowed two goals in 73 seconds and then another two goals in 62 seconds. Those four goals came in a span of only 6:47.
  • March 28th vs. Minnesota - They allowed two goals in 5:44 in the first period and another two goals in 5:00 in the second period.
  • April 1st vs. Colorado - They allowed three goals in 5:19.
In the game against Calgary and in both games against Colorado, they had the lead when they allowed those quick goals.

What happened to defense-first?

More from the MSM:

About the game around the blogosphere:


Next game:

Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Game Day Post: Avalanche at Canucks

The second of the Canucks' four must-win games is tonight and it comes against the Colorado Avalanche, a team they've had trouble beating recently (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province). The last time they played the Avs, they were slaughtered 6-3 in Denver. The last time they played the Avs at GM Place, they gave up the tying goal with 15 seconds left in regulation and then lost in the shootout.

The recipe to reverse this trend should be simple. Just play like they did on Sunday.

It's funny what a win can do. Before beating the Calgary Flames, the Canucks looked like they couldn't win a game against the Quad City Flames. Afterwards, they proved that, as long as they work hard, hit hard, go into the dirty areas and win the many little battles - in other words, as long as they're willing to play playoff hockey to make the playoffs - then they can beat anyone.

Because stats at this time of year are pointless:
  • The Canucks have won four of their last five at home.
  • The Canucks have failed to gain at least a point in only one of their last twelve home games.
  • The Avalanche have lost four straight games on the road, and since beating the Canucks at GM Place on February 27th, have lost five of six road games.
  • At 18-10-2, the Avalanche have the best intra-divisional record in the Northwest Division.
  • Despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice-time, Marek Svatos has eight points (5G-3A) and a +5 rating in five games against the Canucks this season.
  • The other Canuck-killer, Milan Hejduk has four goals and six points in seven games against them.
  • Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin lead the Canucks in scoring against the Avs this season. They have nine (3G-6A) and eight (3G-5A) points respectively.
  • Taylor Pyatt is the only Canuck with a plus-rating (+3) against the Avs. He also has five points (2G-3A) in seven games against them.
  • Last Sunday's heroes, Markus Naslund and Trevor Linden has had a terrible time against Colorado this season. In seven games each, Naslund has three points (0G-3A) and a minus-4 rating and Linden has zero points and a minus-6 rating.
Previews from the MSM:
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Monday, March 31, 2008

Flames 2 Canucks 6

One down, three to go.

The Detroit Red Wings gave the Vancouver Canucks a gift earlier in the day - the ability to control their own playoff destiny again - and the Canucks took full advantage. They beat the visiting Flames 6-2 and took over eighth place in the Western Conference.

The game was a remarkable contrast from the one they played in Calgary just less than a week ago. Last week, they built a 2-0 first period lead and then wilted down the stretch to lose 3-2. Last night, the Canucks actually initiated a lot of the physical stuff and had to claw back from two first period deficits before finally pulling away.

With three games left in the regular season, it doesn't get any clearer than this: win and they're in. And as Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) said this morning, all the criticism the team has faced would be forgotten:
For the Canucks, the only salient facts to emerge from their 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames is they're now back in eighth place in the Western Conference and with three homes games left on their schedule, they control their own destiny.

This is all you need to know. Everything else is irrelevant. So save the deeper analysis for another time because it was out of place after this night.
Not completely forgotten, in my opinion, but at least pushed aside temporarily (like, until the next loss). Last night, the team played like a team. They looked like they cared. They hit, they scored and they stood up for each other.

Like Jarome Iginla and Dion Phaneuf did last week, Markus Naslund and Trevor Linden stepped it up when it mattered the most and were absolutely phenomenal.

Here's Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):
It was an improbable throwback to a different era, an iconic image that infused hope into a fan base that had no reason for any.

As a smiling Trevor Linden glided across the ice after scoring his second of the game -- his biggest, most important goal of the season, the one that breathed new life into the Canucks' foundering playoff hopes -- his arms were outstretched to the heavens. The grateful, elated, relieved, in-love crowd showered him with a lingering standing ovation. It could have been his last as a player.

It was memorable.

So was Linden's play. So was Markus Naslund's. So were the Canucks, a team who somehow beat the Calgary Flames 6-2 Sunday when the mood, the momentum and the flow suggested they had no chance.
And Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun):
If they really will both be gone after this season ends, Trevor Linden and Markus Naslund gave us something to remember Sunday night.

They also gave Vancouver Canuck fans hope.

Linden and Naslund are two of the big reasons why we are able to put off the post-mortem and instead are once again talking about the playoffs.
The rest of the lineup was good too. Jeff Cowan and Byron Ritchie were noticeable, which means they were doing their job. Alex Burrows got Iggy off his game. Brad Isbister played big and threw his weight around. Taylor Pyatt played big and attacked the net constantly.

It was only one game but it was a good one. Three more of those this week would be nice.

More from the MSM:
About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

A visit from the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Calling Out The Coach

My apologies for disappearing for a few days. It had nothing to do with being depressed over the Canucks' now four-game losing streak, but everything to do with Shaw and my Internet service going down for the 1,406th time in four months.

*****

Since Alain Vigneault was hired as the Canucks' head coach last season, he's made it a habit to call out players for poor performances. After four consecutive losses where the Canucks have looked as bad as they've ever looked, I think it's time to call out the coach himself.

I think Vigneault has lost the room. His players look lost on the ice. They look like they don't know where to go and what to do. Their defensive coverage in front of the goaltender is horrible. Their offense is non-existent. They've given up a ton of odd man rushes. They've given up goals due to bad line changes. Simply, they're not playing together. There could be a variety of different reasons for these, but I believe first and foremost is a team that has tuned out the coach.

For almost two seasons now, Vigneault has the Canucks playing his system. And that's fine because the team has certainly had success with it. But what about the times where the system isn't working? There are, of course, many games within the games and a good coach knows to adapt to any situation. Especially in these last four games, Vigneault hasn't done that. Win or lose, he coaches the same game. Sure he juggles his lines more than Mario Lopez juggles his models, but at times when the system isn't working against a particular team, a coach needs to focus his group and adjust his attack.

Case in point was last night against the Wild. When the Canucks needed to kickstart their game on the powerplay, how many times did we see the dump and chase? How many times did the Canucks retrieve the puck? How many scoring chances did they produce as a result? The answers are: all game long, not very often, and almost none. When the Canucks fell back 2-0, why didn't the coach activate the defense? He should know as well as every other Canucks fan that sitting back and waiting for Minnesota to make a mistake wasn't going to happen.

The other night, after the Avalanche tied up the game in the second, the Canucks were noticeably rattled and started running around their own zone. Where was Vigneault's timeout to focus his team? Or what about when the Avalanche scored another goal a minute later? And another goal just four minutes after that?

Tiny details and perhaps a bit of 20/20 hindsight thinking, but the coach needs to be able to read the game and have a feel for the game.

He also has to have a feel for his players.

A few days ago after the loss to Calgary, Tony Gallagher brought up that, with the Canucks down 3-2, their goaltender pulled and obviously needing to score to tie the game, Markus Naslund wasn't on the ice. On the ice in the final minute: Sedin, Sedin, Kesler, Pettinger, Morrison and Edler. Markus Naslund's final shift in that game - he scored a goal in that game, by the way - came with three minutes left.

While Naslund would be the first to admint that he hasn't had a banner season offensively, he still has 24 goals. That's still second-best on the team. That's still 54th in the league. It's not a great total, but it's not bad. And it's still more goals than guys like Jaromir Jagr, Brendan Shanahan, Chris Drury, Patrik Elias, Ryan Getzlaf, Alexander Frolov and Jonathan Cheechoo have. When the Canucks needed a goal, why didn't Vigneault put him out there? In that same Calgary game, seven Canucks forwards had more ice-time than Naslund. Heck, Mike Weaver had more ice-time than he did. Like Trevor Linden is finding out, and especially for a lead-by-example kind of guy like Markus, it's hard to be a leader when you're not on the ice. It's hard to ask a player to be more confident when you don't instill confidence in him.

But probably the most troubling thing about this is what seems to be a disjoint between Vigneault and some of the veteran leaders of this team. It was refreshing when Vigneault came in and wasn't afraid to name the guys who he thought didn't play well. For the younger guys, that was probably a good approach as they still needed to know what the expectations are at the NHL level. For the guys that have been around, they may well have taken that approach as a slap in the face.

Let's look at the list of players that we know, at one time or another, have questioned the coach's tactics: Naslund, the Sedins, Willie Mitchell and Matt Cooke (when he was here). Trevor Linden, while he has been diplomatic, is surely wondering the same. Even Roberto Luongo, if I'm not mistaken, popped off once. Their one thing in common? They're the leaders of this team. We know Vigneault loves his grinders, and probably rightly so given what he has gotten from the likes of Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, but if he truly wants his best players to be his best players and his leaders to be his leaders, he also has to adapt his style to enable that.

By the way, the only other Canucks coach I know that has elicited this much reaction from the leadership group? Mike Keenan. And he loved his Harry Yorks and Brian Noonans too.

Now, the season isn't quite over yet. Given their inconsistency this season, it's not out of the question for them to pull out of this funk, win their last four games - all at home - and make the postseason with some momentum. When they do that, I'll give Vigneault his due credit. For now however, he needs to be called out as much as his players.

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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Canucks 2 Flames 3

I'm still trying to come up with the right words to describe last night's 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames. Heartbreaking, disappointing, infuriating, frustrating come to mind. Pissed is another.

I'm pissed off.

The Canucks shouldn't have lost last night. Not with the way they came out and outplayed the Flames in the first period. Not with the way they controlled the play, drew four powerplays, outshot the Flames 21-7 and built a 2-0 lead. They did everything right in the first 20 minutes.

And then they pissed it away.

In the final forty minutes, the Canucks were thoroughly dominated and outshot 33-13. They looked outmatched and out of it. Scarily, it was eerily reminiscent of how they looked against the Ducks in the second round of the playoffs.

The Canucks were outshot 18-3 in the second period, though thanks to Roberto Luongo, they still held a 2-1 lead going into the third. It should have been enough. After all, going into tonight's game, no team had been able to beat them in regulation when leading after two periods. They had a league-best 26-0-1 record when leading after two periods. I guess there's a first time for everything.

It wasn't just the game they pissed away. Had the Canucks hung on for the win, they would have crawled to one point back of the Minnesota Wild for the Northwest Division title with one game in hand. They would have extended their lead to four and five points against the ninth place Nashville Predators (who, by the way, shut out the Columbus Blue Jackets last night) and tenth place Edmonton Oilers respectively. This morning, the Canucks are in seventh place, four points back of the Northwest Division lead and only a two and three point lead against the Predators and Oilers.

Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun) probably described this game the best:

After a roller-coaster season, it probably should come as no surprise that the Canucks are not going to make things easy on themselves as they head down the home stretch of the regular season.

Tuesday's game was in many ways a microcosm of their season. They were very good in the first period and then played terrible the rest of the way.

Who knows which team will show up tonight in Denver.
The Canucks are like a box of chocolates and all that.

If there is one positive after the loss, it's that the Canucks, amazingly enough, still control their own destiny. If they want to make the playoffs and even win their division, all they have to do is win their games. They don't need help from other teams. They just need to worry about their own.

As demoralizing as it was to piss away a couple of points last night, at least they don't have to sit for long and dwell over it. They get back at it against the Colorado Avalanche tonight. I hope the team that showed up in the first period is the team that shows up. And shows up for the entire game.

More from the MSM:

About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

Tonight against the Avs.

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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Family Comes First

Canucks fans need not worry when Roberto Luongo returns to Florida to be with his pregnant wife. After all, this sort of thing happens, and if you ask JS Giguere of the Anaheim Ducks, it just serves to show what is important in life. Besides, the story may even have a fairy tale ending.

If you remember last year, Giguere had to leave the team in the last week of the regular season for the birth of his son (Marcia C. Smith, OC Register).

On April 3, Giguere was enjoying a rare day off from hockey in his Newport Beach home when, about noon, his pregnant wife felt her water break.

Their son was arriving three weeks early. Known for his quick reaction time on the ice, Giguere called their doctor, packed some bags and drove to Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills.

"I had always planned on being home for the birth," said Giguere, who married Kristen in the summer of 2003 after the Ducks' last trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. "It's too important not to be there."

He called Kristen's parents, who rushed to the delivery room, video cameras in hand. He tied on a paper gown and stood beside his wife, holding her leg as she labored.

Then, at 12:20 a.m. April 4, he watched Maxime Olivier Giguere — all 6 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 1/2 inches of him — wiggle into life.

Later that morning Giguere text-messaged his teammates, who had joked all season about Giguere's fatherhood arriving during the playoffs.
But that wasn't all. Little Maxime had a rare eye condition and JS had to stay behind for the Ducks' last road trip of the year and the start of the playoffs. After numerous tests and scans, doctors finally diagnosed the condition, and as we all know now, performed successful surgery. JS also returned to the Ducks and eventually won the Stanley Cup.

With all the talk in the last couple of days about what the Canucks would do when Gina's water finally breaks (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun; Marc Weber, Vancouver Province), well, it's simple really. Roberto will fly to Florida to be with Gina and Curtis Sanford will take the reins and Drew MacIntyre or Cory Schneider will back Sanford up. Family comes first and the rest will take care of itself.

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Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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