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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Canucks 1 Blues 3

There may have been a couple of new characters in the lineup, but the Canucks played the same, conservative game. They generated more than a few scoring chances and won the puck possession battle. They threw 26 shots on Blues goalie Curtis Sanford but could only put one puck behind him.

The result was a 3-1 Canucks loss to a Blues team minus Keith Tkachuk and Bill Guerin. It was the Canucks first regulation loss since a 3-0 loss to another non-playoff team, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Again, the Canucks ran into penalty problems late in the third period. Down only by a goal with three minutes left, they gave the Blues a 5-on-3 powerplay. Doug Weight scored to put the game out of reach and the Canucks league-leading penalty-killing unit have now allowed a powerplay goal in five consecutive games

Roberto Luongo was pissed (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun):

A frustrated Luongo suggested the Canucks are playing down to the level of the NHL's also-rans instead of rolling over them, and said in no uncertain terms that has to change.

"We need to bury them, that's the bottom line," Luongo said after the Canucks ended a four-game road trip by dropping a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues.

"A number of times we have talked about the same thing against teams like that and we keep shooting ourselves in the foot."
I don't blame him for being upset. Hell, I'm upset. Last season, the Canucks lost all four meetings against the Blues, which very well may have been the reason they missed the playoffs. They're in a better spot this season, but of course, nothing is guaranteed yet. They can't keep giving away points like they have the last couple of games.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Curtis Sanford (STL): 25 saves and is now 5-0 lifetime against the 'Nucks.
  2. Doug Weight (STL): Veteran stepped it up in the third period and scored two goals.
  3. Daniel Sedin (VAN): Scored a goal. Would have had at least a couple of assists if Santala could shoot.

Official Statistics

Next Game

Back at home on Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Trade Deadline Post-Mortem

First of all, I want to thank everyone who swung by the liveblog today. The stats are enough to tell me that I will most probably do this again in the near future.

It's almost impossible to pick winners and losers after a day like today. Almost all the playoff-bound teams did something to improve for this season's playoffs, and those that sold off players got very good returns for their respective futures.

It just happens that the biggest trade of the day involved a team that is probably sacrificing the rest of the season. The Edmonton Oilers are an okay team with Ryan Smyth in the lineup; I don't know what they'll be like without their heart and soul guy. That said, much like with the Chris Pronger trade, Kevin Lowe did a good job getting something back for Smyth - two top prospects plus a first-round draft pick is pretty good considering the circumstances.

The Sharks' acquisition of Bill Guerin immediately gives San Jose three very good scoring lines and allows them to keep pace with Nashville's earlier acquisition of Peter Forsberg. Ditto Detroit and getting Todd Bertuzzi.

Dallas didn't get a lot of air time today, but I thought they strengthened their defense immensely by trading for Mattias Norstrom. Norstrom will join a group that already includes Sergei Zubov, Philippe Boucher and Daryl Sydor and up-and-comer Trevor Daley.

Buffalo patched up their depleted forward corps by acquiring Danius Zubrus. Even Pittsburgh strengthened their lineup - literally - by adding Gary Roberts and George Laraques.

I mostly watched the TSN telecast as their coverage was far superior to that of Sportsnet. TSN was professional and broke many of the trades. Their panel was able to provide good, instant analysis and their reporters were usually first to interview the players involved.

Sportsnet's telecast was a gong show. For all their pomp and circumstance, I couldn't watch their show for more than 20 seconds at a time. I realize that some folks like the rumor and gossip thing (much like some still subscribe to the National Enquirer), but personally, eight hours of it was a tad too much.

It was excruciatingly painful to hear Sportsnet insist that there was still a chance that Gary Roberts was going to be traded to Toronto after Roberts' agent already confirmed that he had been traded to the Penguins. Likewise when Sportsnet kept reporting that Marty Biron was most likely headed to Florida while TSN was interviewing him because he had already been traded to Philadelphia. And when Sportsnet kept saying that Ryan Smyth had re-signed with the Oilers - contrary to what Bob Mackenzie was saying - only to retract and correct their report after Smyth was, in fact, traded to the Islanders.

If Sportsnet's mandate for the show was to fuel rumors and speculation, they certainly succeeded. Their show was as embarassing and unprofessional a performance as I've seen from a mainstream sports media network. But hey, they had hot chicks, right?

The good thing is, the rumors can end for a while and the postseason is on the horizon. 20 more games then the real fun starts.

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Liveblogging on Trade Deadline Day

[update: 02/27/07, 1:00 PM]

Well, that was a crazy few hours. I don't know how Alanah does this on a regularly basis.

Anyway, I'll be back in a couple of hours to wrap-up, guys and gals. I just have to run an errand. Please feel free to post your comments below.


[update: 02/27/07, 12:34 AM]

In all honesty, I feel for Oilers fans. They're honoring someone from their past tonight, and the face of their current franchise gets traded.

TSN is reporting that the Islanders are giving up Robert Nillson, Ryan O'Marra and a 1st round draft pick.

That's not a bad return for someone they could lose for nothing this off-season. For Oilers fans, that's got to be a tough pill to swallow, but I have to give credit to Kevin Lowe for not letting his heart get in the way of making a decision that's good for the franchise.


[update: 02/27/07, 12:22 PM]

Abel to Yzerman has some quick analysis of the Bertuzzi deal from a Red Wings perspective.

I tend to agree. It's a medium-risk, high-reward kinda thing. That's why, as a Canucks fan, I hate it.


[update: 02/27/07, 12:18 PM]

There are more trades trickling in. Norstrom has been traded somewhere and Scott Parker is going back to Colorado.

Speaking of Colorado, what does it say for Jose Theodore that the Avs felt the need to trade for yet another goaltender?


[update: 02/27/07, 12:01 PM]

Is that it? Is Bulis still with us?


[update: 02/27/07, 11:45 AM]

15 minutes left and trades are coming in left, right and center: Brad May goes to the Ducks (TSN.ca); Yannic Perrault returns to the Leafs for the millionth time (via TSN, no link yet); Danius Zubrus goes to the Buffalo Sabres (TSN.ca); Pascal Dupuis goes to the Thrashers (via TSN, no link yet); and the Senators acquire Oleg Saprykin (TSN.ca).


[update: 02/27/07, 11:30 AM]

Are you freakin' kidding me? Bertuzzi to the Wings? Did Kenny Holland okay this with Chris Chelios? (TSN.ca)


[update: 02/27/07, 11:12 AM]

I won't say "I told you so"; I'll let William Houston (Globe and Mail) do that (link via Kukla's Corner).


[update: 02/27/07, 10:59 AM]

Not a lot of big names left in play. Heck, TSN and The Score have been talking 'bout Todd Bertuzzi for the last 10 minutes. And he hasn't played since October.

Where's Smyth? Where's Souray? Where's Bulis? Where's my coffee?


[update: 02/27/07, 10:46 AM]

I know Brian Burke talks a lot of lawyer-speak, but God bless him, I miss his quotes.

Good point on having 30 GM's fighting for players and only one parade in the end.

I want the one in Vancouver to go down Georgia Street. (Was that asking too much?)


[update: 02/27/07, 10:32 AM]

Mike, ask and ye shall receive.


Check the not-so-subliminal message at the bottom of the pic.

Thanks to the Chamberlands for sending it in.


[update: 02/27/07, 10:10 AM]

Following this New York Daily News article, the Rangers have traded Aaron Ward to the Boston Bruins.

Coincidence?


[update: 02/27/07, 9:56 AM]

You know, the only thing I've found out from Sportsnet's trade deadline show so far is just how much I'm craving pizza right now.


[update: 02/27/07, 9:44 AM]

Oh great, the Canucks get to face another Moore eight times a season. (Kukla's Corner)


[update: 02/27/07, 9:38 AM]

I'm sure this isn't much of a surprise but Marc Chouinard has cleared waivers (HF Boards).

Everyone else was claimed. Okay, not everyone, but most of them did: Michael Leighton went to the Habs; Niko Kapanen went to the Phoenix Coyotes; the Columbus Blue Jackets replaced Ty Conklin with Brian Boucher; Denis Hamel went to the Philadelphia Flyers (the Flyers kinda feel like an expansion right now, don't you think?); and the Atlanta Thrashers grabbed Jason Krog.


[update: 02/27/07, 9:20 AM]

Freakin' Sharks. (TSN.ca)

Thornton, Marleau, Cheechoo, Guerin.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:56 AM]

Darren Dreger (TSN) is reporting that Bill Guerin has been traded. Who are we gonna talk about now?


[update: 02/27/07, 8:45 AM]

Feel like trying to anticipate some trades? James Mirtle (Globe and Mail) has a list of pending unrestricted free agents.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:39 AM]

Per TSN: Laraque to the Penguins.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:36 AM]

More from the Phoenix Coyotes camp courtesy of The Fourth Period.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:31 AM]

And there you have it, the first "What the heck were you thinking when you traded Roberto Luongo" volley from the TSN panel to Mike Keenan. Good times.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:29 AM]

How not to ask for a trade (Arizona Republic):

Center Jeremy Roenick made it clear he wants out.

"I would like to go to another team to try to get back into the playoffs and feel that energy again," Roenick said. "But I question whether someone's going to take a chance on someone who has been buried on the fourth line for half the year and is a 10-minute (per game) player. I don't know if that's going to pan out. It's unfortunate."

Roenick made harsher comments in a television interview."(I've been) swept through the mud, so to say," Roenick told TSN. He also said the Coyotes had "driven (him) down to the basement." Roenick's comments enraged members of Phoenix's management team.
I'll bet teams are lining up now.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:19 AM]

Funny Marty Biron quote already: "I wasn't thinking about the trade deadline, I was just thinking about surviving the fight with Ray Emery."


[update: 02/27/07, 8:10 AM]

From Kukla's Corner: Marty Biron to the Philadelphia Flyers for a high draft pick

TSN is also reporting that Buffalo has acquired Ty Conklin from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

UFA to be or not, the way the market was going, I thought the Sabres would get more for Biron. Mind you, the Flyers' first-round pick would be in the top five; the second round or third round would be higher in those rounds as well.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:08 AM]

A special request from Mike the Yankee Canuck - and seconded by me, of course - if anyone has those cool screen capture things and send a screen shot of the Deal or No Deal girls, that would be most appreciated. Thanks in advance.


[update: 02/27/07, 8:05 AM]

While we're waiting - and we're doing a lot of waiting - don't forget that the Canucks play the St. Louis Blues tonight. (Vancouver Province)


[update: 02/27/07, 7:53 AM]

Do we finally have a trade? TSN is reporting that Marty Biron isn't on the ice for Buffalo's game day skate and has been told that he was traded.


[update: 02/27/07, 7:44 AM]

I know it may be asking Dave Nonis for too much considering his moves yesterday, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of Martin Gelinas in a Canucks uniform. His 147 playoff games will immediately make him the Canucks' most experienced playoff performer (Linden has played in 112 playoff games; Smolinski has played in 99) and has been to the Stanley Cup Finals four times with four different teams.


[update: 02/27/07, 7:25 AM]

Thank God for the Deal or No Deal girls. I wouldn't otherwise have thought to tune into Sportsnet.

(PS. Tracy is getting annoyed with all the channel surfing. Time to make a pitch for a new picture-in-picture TV.)


[update: 02/27/07, 7:22 AM]

Samsonov anyone?


[update: 02/27/07, 7:11 AM]

I'm sure a lot of Canucks know this already, but it's Mark Messier day today. Actually it's been Mark Messier day since yesterday. (Edmonton Journal)

Will Oilers fans be celebrating Mess' legacy or be crying over Ryan Smyth being traded? (Globe and Mail)


[update: 02/27/07, 7:02 AM]

Five hours to go. TSN and Sportsnet just kicked off their trade deadline shows.

TSN has Mike Keenan on their show. I can never get enough of the guys razzing asking him about some of his more "memorable" trades. Come on, someone ask him about the Luongo trade again.


[update: 02/27/07, 6:58 AM]

Will Todd Bertuzzi get traded today? (Globe and Mail)

... He still isn't healthy enough to play, meaning any general manager willing to roll the dice on the ex-Vancouver Canucks’ player will have to make his decision sight unseen. Bertuzzi has not played since early October after undergoing back surgery. One GM said Bertuzzi’s ongoing health issues means that if he does move as a player rental, the cost would be minimal – and probably involve one or more conditional draft choices. That’s not to rule him out exclusively.
Luongo, Krajicek and Daniel Rahimi for Auld, Allen and some conditional draft choices? Wow.


[update: 02/27/07, 6:39 AM]

With Peter Forsberg and Keith Tkachuk having been traded already, and other would have been UFAs Eric Brewer and Freddy Modin re-upping with their respective teams, Bill Guerin is the biggest name left in today's market. Or is he? (St. Louis Dispatch via Spector's)

In the first conversation, the Blues expressed "serious intent" in re-signing Guerin, who has been garnering a lot of interest leading up to the NHL trading deadline today at 2 p.m. (St. Louis time).

"We had a bit of a discussion about signing Billy," Murray said. "They were general discussions, not negotiations back and forth. We talked about parameters and we have left that with the Blues. At this point, it's in their quarters, whether they want to take the next step ... if they want to trade Billy or take a further step."

[first post: 02/27/07, 6:18 AM]

Good morning, boys and girls, and welcome to trade deadline day. It's about T-minus-a little less than six hours right now.

I haven't done any liveblogging since last season's trade deadline day so come by, come often, feel free to chime in and enjoy the day that might, for better or for worse, change your team's fortunes.

First things first: I have to get coffee. Lots of it.

In the meantime, here is the first big news of the day - Gary Roberts has agreed to waive his no-trade clause to play next to Sidney Crosby (TSN.ca). Was it really that hard to make that decision, Gary?

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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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Monday, February 26, 2007

Smoke and Sopes


Another centerman? Check.

Another defenseman? Check.

Playoff experience? Check again.

Some veteran help? Check too.

With a couple of shrewd moves today, Dave Nonis added some good depth to a (hopefully) playoff-bound Vancouver Canucks.

Bryan Smolinski not only gives the Canucks depth at center, he also brings them some playoff experience. "Smoke" has appeared in 99 playoff games, a total exceeded only by Trevor Linden's 112 postseason appearances. He has 45 points (20G-25A) in those games.

The Canucks now have Henrik Sedin, Brendan Morrison and Smoke down the middle. When he comes back from hip surgery, you can add Ryan Kesler to that list. That's about as deep and versatile a group as you'll see from any of the playoff-bound teams. With all due respect to Brad Moran, how happy will Nazzy be to finally play with a proven playmaking center? With the Blackhawks, Smolinski did a fine job centering Marty Havlat at certain points this season.

When evaluating Brent Sopel's return to Vancouver, we have to remember a couple of things.

During Sopel's first go-around with the Canucks, he was paired with Mattias Ohlund as a 1A/1B kind of defensive pairing. Most nights, Marc Crawford matched Ohlund and Sopel against opposing teams' top lines. While Ohlund performed admirably against the likes of Jarome Iginla and Joe Sakic, Sopel sometimes seemed overmatched. Sopel won't be playing in this role this time around.

Most likely, Sopel will be slotted in at the bottom-half of the defense corps and will take one of Krajicek's or Fitzpatrick's spots in the team's third pairing. More importantly, he is capable of playing 20+ minutes per game, something that Krajicek and Fitzpatrick weren't capable of doing on a regular basis, and can take over some of Kevin Bieksa's minutes if he needs to. With the Kings, he was averaging 21:06 minutes of ice-time per game.

What will be interesting is to see how Sopel adapts to Alain Vigneault's system, and I've got a feeling he will adapt well. Under Crawford's run-and-gun system, Sopel was, of course, susceptible to the occassional bonehead blunder. Under AV's system, the players breakout closer together, but also, the forwards are expected to backcheck - both of these should help Sopes.

Dave Nonis is certainly proving his worth as GM. The only roster casualty to acquire Sopel and Smolinski was Marc Chouinard, who was placed on waivers to clear some cap room. He made his team deeper and better and didn't have to give up his first-round draft pick or the Grabners, Bourdons and Schneiders.

Not a bad day's work.

[update: 02/27/07, 5:28 AM]

Some reaction on the trades from the local press.

First, Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province):

The Vancouver Canucks addressed two pressing needs Monday by acquiring centre Bryan Smolinski from the Chicago Blackhawks and defenceman Brent Sopel from the Los Angeles Kings.

Smolinski, 35, was acquired for a 2007 second-round pick while the Canucks surrendered a second-round pick in 2007 or 2008 and a fourth-round pick in 2008 for Sopel, 30. They'll be in the lineup tonight in St. Louis, where the Canucks face the Blues.

Considering the reasonable prices before today's noon (PST) trade deadline -- and heightened hype over Stanley Cup potential -- general manager Dave Nonis remains cautious.
Ed Willes (Vancouver Province) is certainly cautious:

Before the all-members meeting of the Stanley Cup parade committee, Vancouver chapter, is convened, a word of caution.

After watching 20 trade deadlines come and go, the only thing we know for certain about deadline deals is we don't know anything for certain about deadline deals.

Moves that appear to be brilliantly conceived -- Theo Fleury for Robyn Regehr and other stuff at the 1999 deadline -- blow up in a team's face. Moves that are scarcely worth an inch of six-point type -- Calgary acquired Ville Nieminen and Marcus Nilson at the '04 deadline -- help spark a deep playoff run.

So to paraphrase the immortal Joaquin Andujar, you can sum up deadline trades with three words: You never know.
So is Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun):

Luongo and coach Alain Vigneault have raised expectations, but not enough to rationally explain the disparity between projections made for this team in September and February.

The reality is the Canucks are an average team with exceptional goaltending and excellent special teams. In regulation time, they are 23-21-18. They are difficult to play against and were going to make the playoffs before Monday's trades, and their post-season success, as with the regular season, was going to be determined largely by Luongo and special teams.

Smolinski and Sopel might help, but the Canucks still will win or lose on Luongo, the power play and penalty killing. What Nonis has done is increase Vancouver's margin for error, but only fractionally.
As expected, the players are excited (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

"We got Sopes? No way, that's great," defenceman Kevin Bieksa said after Sami Salo read out the deals to a group of curious players.

The news came as a relief to a group who, despite public proclamations to the contrary, knew they needed depth both up front and on the back end to have a legitimate shot at making a long playoff run this year.

"I think these are two pretty good moves," centre Brendan Morrison said. "It's confidence from management that this group has the potential to do something this year and that's how we feel in the room."
Well, almost everyone is excited (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun):

Marc Chouinard said he was surprised and disappointed to learn Monday he had been put on waivers by the Vancouver Canucks.

Those same words could also describe Canuck management's reaction to his play this season.
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Trade Talks

With just over 24 hours remaining until the trade deadline, Canucks GM Dave Nonis is keeping tight-lipped about any potential moves:

So what's it going to be, Dave Nonis, deal or no deal?

Chances are we are going to have to wait until about noon Tuesday to find out.

The Canuck general manager joined his team in Dallas on the weekend after attending GM meetings in Florida and said Sunday he's not close to anything.

Of course, that can change with one call to the cell phone that Nonis spent quite a bit of time on his during the Canucks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars.

"I'm not close on anybody." Nonis said. "I'm having lots of conversations, but there isn't much coming out of them. That can change quickly, but right now, as we stand here, no, we're not close."
We didn't really expect specifics, did we?

As is the norm this time of the year, there are a bunch of rumors - substantiated and unsubstantiated (by the way, make sure you read Ted Leonsis' and Dump and Chase's blog posts to get some good background on this subject) - involving our own beloved Canucks.

Some may be true and some may simply be the product of knowing, as fans, where the team needs most improvement. (Some links courtesy of Canucks and Beyond.)

We know the Canucks need some depth at center.

Both on and off the ice this weekend, the Vancouver Canucks made their trade deadline target for help up front abundantly clear -- a centreman or bust.

Off the ice, the Canucks had no interest in trying to re-acquire winger Anson Carter, Vancouver's leading goal-scorer last season and, according to fans, the team's most exciting player.

On the ice Sunday, an awkward line featuring Markus Naslund, Jan Bulis and inexperienced centre Brad Moran was, well, awkward.

For two periods, Naslund looked like he was handcuffed to a couple of frat boys unsure of what party to attend. The line meandered around the ice unable to produce a single scoring chance or even a shot on net.

Then in the third, Naslund was set loose with the Sedin twins. He produced three scoring chances on his first two shifts.
We know they need another forward who can put the puck in the net.

It's believed Anaheim GM Brian Burke has turned his attention to Blues RW Bill Guerin after failing to acquire LW Keith Tkachuk from St. Louis. Ten teams are interested in Guerin -- including the Senators, Leafs, Canucks and Penguins -- and St. Louis is weighing its options.
We know that Alain Vigneault would like some depth on defense. And of course, any team would love to have more toughness and depth up front.

With the price of a rental player, as stratospherically high as Vancouver's real estate market, who knows what new players will be wearing a Canucks jersey by tomorrow. We already know what the Flyers got for Peter Forsberg, but this weekend, they just turned the undrafted Freddy Meyer Alexei Zhitnik into a top draft prospect and a mid-first round draft pick. The Blues got three, possibly four, draft picks and a roster player for Keith Tkachuk. The Sharks had to give up a prospect and first round draft pick to acquire some defensive depth.

Is Nonis poking around? I'm sure he is (he wouldn't be doing his job otherwise). Is he willing to pay? It depends on how much.

*****

There is no shortage of coverage on trade deadline day tomorrow, with TSN, The Score and Sportsnet all having all-day long trade deadline shows.

On my little corner of the web, I'm gonna try my hand at this liveblogging thing so come by and feel free to chime in.

As always, other sites like Spector's, Kukla's Corner and The Fourth Period will have full coverage. Make sure you check them out.

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Canucks 1 Stars 2 (OT)

It was my first niece's baptism yesterday afternoon so I only caught the first 20 minutes of yesterday's 2-1 OT loss to the Stars. From what I heard, it wasn't a pretty game the rest of the way, and looking at the stats, it sure seems like the 'Nucks were thoroughly outplayed.

The Canucks were outshot (again) 36-18, including 20-6 in the third period and overtime. They also gave the Stars seven consecutive powerplay opportunities, including a 5-on-3 late in regulation and one in overtime; the Stars converted on their last two powerplays.

The good news is that the Canucks still somehow managed to get a point - do I thank Roberto Luongo for that? Combined with the Oilers loss and the Avs loss, the Canucks are that much closer to a trip back to the postseason.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere

Official Statistics

Next Game

Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Game Day: Canucks at Stars

If the playoffs were to start today, the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars would meet each other in the first round. It's just as well as both teams seem to be following similar scripts this season.

The Canucks are just four points behind the Ducks with a game in hand for second place in the Western Conference. The proximity to such lofty heights seemed unfathomable before Christmas when Anaheim had a cushion on the Canucks that was more than 20 points. But a 19-3-3 run will tend to have a dramatic impact on the standings.

The Canucks have already played the Stars three times this season, winning two. Each of the games has ended 2-1.
The Canucks and the Stars have shaken earlier season doldrums and are both two of the hottest teams in the league. We know about the Canucks 19-3-3 post-Christmas run; the Stars haven't been too shabby recently, winning seven of their last ten games. Both teams play a defensive system and rely heavily on the play of their goaltenders.

Consider the other numbers:
  • Both teams have 36 wins for the season.
  • Only a point separate the Canucks (61 GP, 76 pts) and the Stars (60 GP, 75 pts) in the standings.
  • Neither team put a lot of pucks in the net, both being in the bottom third in the league in scoring. The Stars are 23rd, averaging 2.62 goals per game; the Canucks are 24th, averaging 2.61.
  • Both are in the top of the league in goals against - the Stars are 2nd in the NHL, allowing only 2.37 goals per game; the Canucks are 4th, allowing only 2.48 goals per game.
  • The Stars score on 18.2% of their powerplay opportunities; the Canucks score on 17.8% of theirs.
  • The Canucks' penalty-killing unit are tops in the league with an 88.7% success rate; the Stars aren't too far behind with an 84.1% success rate.
What does this all mean? I don't know, but rattling off those numbers was fun.

Today's matinee should be a good, close one. But then again, one could blow out the other.

Other 'Nucks-related stuff on the 'net today:
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Saturday, February 24, 2007

New Logo Old Logo?

This tidbit in today's Vancouver Sun caught my eye:
You can catch a glimpse of Johnny Canuck painted on the side of Roberto Luongo's mask on nights when the local team wears its vintage blue, green and white uniforms. And the question begs: "Is the artwork on Luongo's mask a hint of things to come?"

The modern day Canucks' marketing machine has instructed its large army of merchandising retailers to stand by for an announcement on Aug. 1.

"Right now we're ordering next year's inventory blindly," says the owner of a sporting goods outlet in North Vancouver. "All we've been told is that the colours of the uniforms will be blue, green and white, but we don't know what the crest is going to look like. The current killer whale [or orca] jersey, as we understand it, will be kept in reserve and occasionally be used as a 'classic' uniform."
Interesting, huh?

After Francesco Acquilini bought out John McCaw, there had been numeorus speculation about the future of the whale jersey. The Canucks were scheduled to wear their vintage stick jerseys for 25 of 41 home games this season; do they wear it full-time next season? Or will they unveil a completely new jersey with a new logo on August 1st?

Stay tuned.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Buffalo Line Brawl

I honestly don't know if this is an argument for or against the instigator rule. Regardless, it was one of the best sequences in the NHL this season. Hockey "traditionalists" can rest easy - old-time hockey is still alive and well:



* - video from hockeyfights.com

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Canucks 3 Kings 2

When you're hot, you're hot:
Somewhere in a reverse engineering class, someone should be studying the Vancouver Canucks.

They seem to be defying physics and the most basic laws of nature with their current pattern: No matter how poorly they play they can't seem to lose.

Nearing the end an abysmal final period, Kevin Bieksa scored off a feed from Markus Naslund to give the Canucks a 3-2 win. The goal went in at the 16:04 mark of the third period.

At the time, the Canucks were getting outshot 13-2.
Even Roberto Luongo couldn't resist taking a jab at his 'mates:

"It was a game plan well executed in the third -- spend the whole period in our zone and make sure the goalie's cold on the other side so we can get one," Roberto Luongo deadpanned.
It was interesting game, to say the least. The statistics certainly don't add up to a Canucks win - the 'Nucks were outshot 33-30 (21-9 in the last 30 minutes), they were outdrawn 57%-43% (82%-18% in the 2nd period), they were outhit 22-14, they gave the Kings seven powerplays in the last two periods - but win they did. Roberto Luongo held the fort until Kevin Bieksa scored the game-winner with less than four minutes left.

It was the Canucks' sixth straight win and extended their post-Christmas record to 19-3-3. It also improved them to a league-best 24 wins in one-goal games.

The Canucks insist all these one-goal games are not part of their master plan. They'd like to win big, but can't seem to put teams away until near the end of games.

"I don't think that's part of the plan," said captain Markus Naslund, who set up Bieksa's winning goal as well as an earlier one by Brendan Morrison. "I didn't think it was a well-played game, especially us taking way too many penalties, but it's another win and you have to be happy about that."
No complaints here.

More from the Mainstream
  • Brendan Morrison's first game as a Vancouver Canuck was in March 2000 when he had a goal and an assist. He hasn't missed a game since, and last night, broke Trevor Linden's franchise record of 483 consecutive games played in a Canucks uniform. - Ed Willes (Vancouver Province)
  • After Tommi Santala drew into the lineup last night - centering Markus Naslund no less - everyone is asking the same question. - Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province)
  • Vigneault's wishlist - and mine - includes another top-4 defenseman before the trade deadline. - Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province)
  • Here's a postgame piece from La-La land's point of view. - Chris Foster (LA Times)
  • Anze Kopitar, rookie superstar and new face of the Kings' franchise. Will forever be the comparison point for Luc Bourdon. - Brad Ziemer (Vancouver Sun)

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Lubomir Visnovsky (LA): Loved the way he moved the puck. One goal and five shots.
  2. Sami Salo (VAN): Solid, solid, solid especially on the PK.
  3. Michael Cammalleri (LA): Won 66% of his faceoffs and was dangerous around the net. One assist and six shots on goal.

Official Statistics

Next Game

A Sunday matinee versus the Dallas Stars.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Crazy Canucks: Episode 22

With 22 games left in the regular season, John, Alanah, Dave and I got together to record episode number 22 of The Crazy Canucks podcast:
Rebecca takes a healthy scratch on this episode while the rest of us, even Dave, gather together to take a look at the last four games against Minnesota, Chicago, Colorado, and Anaheim. Things have been looking really good lately, and we all feel incredibly excited at the fact that the playoffs seem more and more in sight.

Record as of this episode: 35-21-4
Northwest Division: 1st
Western Conference: 3rd

With 22 games left in the season and the trade deadline looming, there’s a lot to talk about, but none of us are really too sure as to what we can expect. Something is bound to happen, and we all have our own theories as to who might go or stay. A listener from London checks in with a question about a possible Canucks game next season in the U.K.

A lot of things are going well, but as fans, we know that we have to be careful to not get too far ahead of ourselves. However, listen to our episodes from early this season and the mood was incredibly different. Oh how things can change…
Click here to listen or download the episode.

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Game Day: Canucks at Kings

After a huge win against the Anaheim Ducks, the Canucks go to Los Angeles tonight to take on a Kings team that really is just playing for pride now. Here are today's pregame pieces.

As expected, Roberto Luongo will be back in goal tonight and he has only one goal in mind:

Alain Vigneault wanted to put an end to any goalie controversy before it began.

"Louie's playing [tonight]," Vigneault said with a laugh after Wednesday's energetic practice.

The truth, of course, is there never was a doubt.

Despite Dany Sabourin's impressive win, Roberto Luongo will be back in net trying to regain the rhythm that helped him to a 17-3-2 record in his past 22 games with a 2.18 GAA and a .935 save percentage.
Tommi Santala will also draw into the lineup:

Centre Tommi Santala, who hasn't played for the Canucks since Dec. 8, will likely dress tonight. He skated on a line Wednesday with Markus Naslund and Jan Bulis, although Vigneault said he hasn't decided exactly where he will play Santala.

"I think Tommi is going to go in tomorrow," Vigneault said. "I'm not sure where yet. I wanted to see how he fit in there."
He hasn't in the past, and I bet Markus didn't complain about having Tommi as his centerman:

He's had more linemates than he cares to count. He's been playing on the third line.

But Canucks captain Markus Naslund isn't complaining.

"He hasn't said a word," coach Alain Vigneault said.

"It's been, 'Whatever you want, Coach.' That's the attitude you want. When you have a team-first attitude, he's proving without a doubt that he's a great leader and a very good captain for this team. He knows what he needs to do. He wants to win like everyone else."
Like he has in the past, however, he simply let his on-ice play do the talking:

Naslund endured a 17-game goal drought earlier this season and his offensive game seemed out of sorts. Lately, he has been a more consistent contributor to a Canuck offence that seems to finally be living up to that scoring-by-committee mantra we heard so much about at training camp.

In his last 18 games, Naslund has eight goals and 21 points.

"I'm feeling better and better about my game and I'm feeling that the confidence is coming back, which I think is such a huge part of anyone's game and especially if you are an offensive player," he said. "It's fun. It's fun to win and it's fun to be on a roll like we are right now."
There's already been talk about Roberto Luongo's Hart trophy candidacy, but what about Alain Vigneault for the Jack Adams?

A poll on nhl.com in this age of electronic ballot stuffing isn't exactly hard science, but there is enough recent anecdotal evidence to support the results from the one the league had up Wednesday.

The poll question was simple: Who deserves the Jack Adams award as coach of the year?
Three were running away with it -- the Pens' Michel Therrien, the Predators' Barry Trotz -- and Vancouver's Alain Vigneault.
Only five shopping days till the trade deadline. And the players are trying not to care:

Canuck defenceman Sami Salo admitted he, personally, wouldn't have made the trade, and winger Matt Cooke warned: "You can criticize [a GM] for not pulling the trigger, but you give up that much, it better work out."

Later, Cooke added: "The best mindset [for Canuck players] is to approach the deadline like nothing will happen and prepare yourself to win with the guys we have here. That's what we're doing. It's expensive right now. We don't agree with giving up everything for one guy."
Kinda like what Nashville did to get that Forsberg fellow:

So in the short term, the Canucks may not be thrilled to see Forsberg in a Predator uniform for the rest of this season. But in the bigger picture, there's no question that Dave Nonis made the right move by making no move at all—at least as far as paying through the nose for a guy like Forsberg.

That's not to suggest for a moment that Forsberg wouldn't have looked good in a Canuck uniform. But the timing of such a move wouldn't have made any sense for an organization that appears to be two years away from being in the position to make a big-ticket purchase at the trading deadline.
And finally, here's a piece on Mike Johnston, former Canucks assistant coach and now with the Kings:

When it became abundantly obvious Mike Johnston's interview to become head coach of the Vancouver Canucks was nothing more than a courtesy waste of his time, he followed Marc Crawford to L.A. where they both knew the going with the Kings was going to be tough.
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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Canucks 3 Ducks 2 (OT)

I hope we all learned a lesson after this game. Never again should we question Alain Vigneault when he decides to sit Roberto Luongo and play the backup. Dany Sabourin's last two starts were against two of the better teams in the league - Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks - and he came out of it with a 1-0-1 record; last night's 3-2 overtime win against the Ducks was the first of Sabourin's NHL career and he was impressive.

Sabourin recovered quickly from a bad Tim Brent goal and was sharp afterwards.

During several barrages on the Canucks net Tuesday, you couldn't help but wonder: Was that Roberto Luongo hiding under Dany Sabourin's white alien mask?

Sabourin whirled himself around the ice, threw everything he had at the puck and with sheer effort kept the Canucks in a game in which they were often getting pounded, out-played and out-classed.
Luongo, who took Sabourin's usual spot at the bench, named him the game's first star:

"He has been working hard all year and I couldn't be happier for the guy," said Roberto Luongo, who got a rare night off. "He was the first star in my book. He made some huge saves, especially in the first period and then late in the game."
I very much ditto those sentiments.

More from the Mainstream
  • It's kinda funny that the Canucks won the game on a cheesy, Scott Niedermayer hooking penalty. The league was supposed to discuss exactly what constitutes hooking. (To be fair, I don't think what Scotty did merited a hooking penalty; but then again, Brendan Morrison was similarly called on a cheesy holding penalty in the first period.) - Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province)
  • Here's something from the Ducks side of things. - Dan Wood (OC Register)

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Dany Sabourin (VAN): I'm taking Louie's advice on this one. 38 saves on 40 shots from a dangerous Ducks team.
  2. Markus Naslund (VAN): One, goal, one assist and looking more and more like the Markus of old.
  3. Ryan Getzlaf (ANA): Good Canadian kid a threat all night. Six shots on goal plus a few more chances.

Official Statistics

Next Game

Crow, Sopel and the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday.

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