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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Monday, April 30, 2007

Ducks 3 Canucks 2

If only the Canucks had some power in their powerplay, they could be up 2-1 in their series against the Ducks instead of the other way around. Here are the powerplay stats that you're going to hear a lot today: the Canucks were 1-for-8 on the powerplay, including two lengthy 5-on-3's, and the Ducks were 2-for-4; in the postseason, the Canucks are 4-for-58 (6.9%) with the man-advantage.

Their lack of efficiency with the man-advantage isn't exactly a surprise. Their 17.2% success rate in the regular season was in the bottom-third of the league, and going into last night's game, they had only scored on three of their 50 powerplay opportunities in the postseason. They did score on one last night, but it's the seven they didn't that was the difference in the game.

Other than that, there are still some positive things to take from the game. For consecutive games now, I don't think that the Canucks were outplayed, and in fact, were better on even-strength and carried the play for much of the first period. Heck, they were able to draw eight penalties, right? Sure the Ducks came on stronger once they got some powerplay time, but until Corey Perry's game-winner, it was really anyone's game. If the Canucks were only able to connect on their own powerplay chance (or two or three), the game could have had a happier ending.

And that's probably what's most disappointing about the game. The Canucks had a glorious chance to give the Ducks their first series deficit in these playoffs. Instead, they face a must-win game on Tuesday. I know all these games are must-win games, but Tuesday's is more so for the simple reason that the Canucks wouldn't want to travel to Anaheim down three games to one.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere
  • Alanah's come down with the flu (real flu or what the Canucks call a flu?) but shares her postgame thoughts anyway.
  • Mike had the liveblog going again.
  • More from zanstorm and Hanna.

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Jean-Sebastien Giguere (ANA): Withstood the early Canucks barrage.
  2. Corey Perry (ANA): A goal and an assist.
  3. Markus Naslund (VAN): Second goal in as many games. Lots of other chances.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Game 4 on Tuesday night at 7:30 PM.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Ownership Woes

If you've been following the Canucks ownership squabble, here's an update from Brian Hutchinson (National Post):
This city is in the throes of playoff hockey ecstasy, and agony. The Vancouver Canucks are in mortal secondround combat with the powerful Anaheim Ducks. Unbeknownst to many Canucks fans, there is another battle brewing, with more at stake than bragging rights and silver trophies. On the line are family connections, closely guarded business secrets, and a $250-million prize: Control of the 35-year-old NHL franchise itself, and the 18,600-seat, profit-churning arena where the team plays.

A bitter ownership dispute between two wealthy Vancouver families goes to trial on Monday in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. In one corner is the Gaglardi clan. It claims to have been betrayed by former friends and business associates, the Aquilini family, during a protracted attempt three years ago to purchase the Canucks from reclusive Seattle billionaire John McCaw Jr.
The piece is as detailed as I've seen on this issue. More over here.

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Lucky Lou-nie

Yes, Canucks fans are certainly a superstitious bunch. Who can blame them when it works?

From Greg Douglas (Vancouver Sun):

It will be awhile before Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco has dinner again at Umberto Menghi's signature eatery, Il Giardino on Hornby Street. Not that Turco has anything against the food or service at the charming Tuscan-style villa. He loves the place. But as Turco's superstitions go, forget it.

Turco picked up the tab for eight of his teammates last Sunday on the eve of Game 7 in the Canucks-Dallas playoff series. Funny thing is, Il Giardino isn't open Sundays. But Turco insisted. He had wined and dined the same eight teammates earlier in the week and when the Stars won Game 5 the next night at GM Place, Turco wasn't taking no for an answer prior to Game 7. The Dallas players would sit in the same seats, order the same meal and drink the same wine.

After several desperate calls from Turco, the chef and two senior staff members agreed to open the restaurant for his private sitting. All in, it would cost Turco close to $10,000 to have the lights turned on, the grills fired up and the tab delivered for the nine hearty diners.

Dallas, of course, lost 4-1 the next night and Turco to this day is unaware that there was a Canucks souvenir collectible coin -- Roberto Luongo edition -- securely taped to the bottom of his chair. Turco should have known. As the team's rallying cry goes: "We are all Canucks".
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Canucks 2 Ducks 1 (2 OT)

First of all, to those who hopped back on the bandwagon after last night's 2-1 double overtime win against the Ducks, welcome back.

You had to be impressed with the Canucks' effort last night. Many people wrote them off after game one, and especially with the Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa still missing from the defense corps and Willie Mitchell supposedly playing on one leg, they dug deep and came up with a solid, solid game.

To a man, they responded to the beating they got from us fans and from the media. Like all good teams do, they adjusted their game and neutralized the high-flying Ducks. While they still had problems at times matching Anaheim's speed, they matched them in effort and kept a lot of the Ducks' chances on the outside. The Canucks outplayed the Ducks on even-strength, and in fact, most of Anaheim's chances only came with the man-advantage. They forechecked and forced turnovers and created scoring chances. They went into the corners, got dirty and won puck battles. In other words, they stopped playing like they were scared of the big, bad Ducks and came out of it with home-ice advantage in this series.

Markus Naslund stripped the puck from Chris Pronger for his first goal since game one of round one. Jeff Cowan scored his second in two games in this series. Lukas Krajicek stepped it up and did his best Jyrki Lumme impression. The rookies, Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen, looked unintimidated. I could go through the entire lineup and find something good about the way they played.

And Roberto Luongo? He answered his critics who said that the Ducks have figured him out and have gotten to his head. He stopped 43 shots and now has his first career win against the Ducks.

Now, while the win to even this series at 1-1 was huge, the more important victory for the Canucks is knowing they can beat the Ducks. They hadn't been able to solve them all season long and certainly not in game one. Now, they head home for games three and four knowing otherwise.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere


My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN): 43 saves including a lot of huge ones on the Ducks powerplay.
  2. Jean-Sebastian Giguere (ANA): 47 saves for the home team.
  3. Lukas Krajicek (VAN): Stepped up his game and was great in 32:07 minutes of ice-time.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Sunday night back at the Garage.

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Friday, April 27, 2007

Round 2 Game 2:

After being embarrassed in game one of this series against the Anaheim Ducks, it was good to hear the Canucks not make any excuses (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):
“That’s the easy way out,” said Canucks centre Brendan Morrison. “We could sit here and say we’re missing two of our better D-men [Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa]. But to be honest with you, I haven’t heard that from one guy — not even a mention of it — even with the lineup we’re dressing now.

“We believe we can win.”
I mentioned the same thing on The Crazy Canucks podcast the other night - the Canucks are going to have to learn to play with the players they have. If that means no Cooke, Kesler, Salo and Bieksa for the remainder of the series, then so be it. The fact is, all playoff teams go through all sorts of adversity and injuries. Those that can overcome them and find a Brian Glynn to step into the lineup go far.

I'm really looking forward to tonight's game. If anything, I want to see the pride and character that Fin's boys have shown all season long. I want to see them bounce back and make game two a more competitive game than game one. I want to see Roberto Luongo finally figure out the Ducks. I want to see the Sedins finally figure out the Ducks defense and Mitchell and the defense slow down the Ducks offense. The Canucks obviously didn't play their best game on Monday. From the goaltender out, they need to be better in so many areas and I want to see them do it.

And if they do, then despite the Wednesday night debacle, the Canucks could, amazingly enough, take home-ice advantage away from Anaheim in this series.


Today's pregame pieces:

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Canucks 1 Ducks 5

Well, the good news is, the Canucks got off to the start they wanted. In the first seven minutes of game one, they had three or four quality scoring chances - more than they had in some games against Dallas - and then Jeff Cowan opened up the scoring with his first ever career goal. The bad news is, the lead lasted about two minutes and the game was all Anaheim Ducks afterwards.

After the elation that followed Monday's game seven win, last night's 5-1 loss was as sobering a reality check as they come.

The Canucks simply couldn't keep up with the Ducks. It could have been the fatigue from their seven-game series against the Stars or perhaps the trickle-down effect of missing two of their top-four defensemen. Or maybe the Ducks are just that big, that fast and that skilled.

The good thing is that this was only one game - the first game - in a best-of-seven series. I've said it before but the Canucks have been very good this year at bouncing back after games like these. Hopefully they can bounce back on Friday night.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Andy Macdonald (ANA): First career playoff hat-trick.
  2. Teemu Selanne (ANA): Goal, assist and somehow shoved Burrows into a diving penalty.
  3. Chris Pronger (ANA): Did he ever leave the ice?.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Game 2 goes Friday night in Anaheim.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Round 2 Game 1: Maggie Picked Us


On paper, the Anaheim Ducks are a much better team than the Vancouver Canucks. In the regular season, they scored half a goal more per game (3.10 - 2.65) and their powerplay was five points more efficient (22.4% - 17.2%). They beat up the other team more and led the league in fighting majors and penalty minutes.

The head-to-head match-up isn't much better. The Ducks and the Canucks played each other four times and the Ducks won three of them; they outscored the Canucks 14-6 in those games.

There's no denying this is going to be a tough series for the Canucks. Up front, the Ducks have a bigger, quicker, and arguably, a more skilled group of skaters; on their back end, they have Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger and Francois Beauchemin.

The Canucks, however, have Roberto Luongo, the great neutralizer. If they are going to have a chance in this series, Louie is going to have to be great again. Hard to believe that he can be better than he was in the Stars series, but it has to help now that he has one playoff series and one playoff series win now under his belt.

Remember too that the Canucks won the Dallas series despite scoring just 13 goals (two of them in empty nets) in seven games. The hope is that they'll score more goals this time.

Almost every pundit I've seen or read in the last couple of days - with the exception of Maggie the Monkey - has picked the Ducks to win this series. If I was Alain Vigneault, I'd post those predictions in the locker room and then ask his boys to prove them wrong.


The game 1 preview pieces:
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Stars 1 Canucks 4

Some will say the Vancouver Canucks were lucky that the crossbar was placed right where Mike Modano can hit it. Some will say the Canucks were lucky that the officiating crew gave them double the number of man-advantages than they gave the Stars. (Those people obviously hadn't seen the Canucks' powerplay this series.) I'll tell you this: You have to be good to be lucky, and last night, the Canucks were good. As Alain Vigneault asked for, they worked their tushies off and were good.

Roberto Luongo was good. Okay, he was great. Stu Barnes will attest to that. In Louie's first season as a Vancouver Canuck, he took them to the postseason, and in his first postseason appearance, won stole them a first playoff series.

Trevor Linden, the game seven scoring leader among active players, was good. The scoresheet recorded a goal and an assist, but he gave the Canucks more than that. He was as much a presence on the ice as he was to the team in '94.

The Sedins were good. Especially in the latter half of game seven, they got their cycle game going and created scoring chances and drew penalties.

Taylor Pyatt was good. Guess who threw his weight around to give the Sedins room for their cycle game?

Markus Naslund was good. So were Jan Bulis, Jannik Hansen, Bryan Smolinski, and the defense. Even the aforementioned powerplay, which had only scored one goal in the entire series, responded with two big goals. In fact, it's hard to find anyone in the lineup who didn't respond to Alain Vigneault's challenge to be better than they were after game six.

Hats off to the Marty Turco and the Dallas Stars for a fine series. And when I say fine, I mean competitive. Most of the games weren't pretty but they produced the best goaltending duel I've ever seen and kept me at the edge of my seats.

Now for their efforts, the Canucks get to meet Brian Burke and the Anaheim Ducks. In the second round of the playoffs. For the first time in four years and for only the second time at GM Place.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN): Wouldn't let the Stars build on their 1-0 lead.
  2. Trevor Linden (VAN): Responded to Vigneault's rant with his best performance of the series.
  3. Henrik Sedin (VAN): Finally able to set up the cycle; one goal and an assist.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Round 2 stars tomorrow night in Anaheim.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Round 1 Game 7: Three Times A Charm?


After what seemed like a certain second round match-up against the Anaheim Ducks just five days ago, it's now come down to this. One game. Game seven. Winner takes all.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I tend to be a glass half-full kinda guy. I know I focus a lot on the positives, spin or otherwise. Right now, I would normally be rattling off stats like how long it's been since the Canucks have lost three in a row; or how many times the Sedins have been left scoreless for this many games this season; or how much more experienced the Canucks are when it comes to playing in game sevens; or how many times Roberto Luongo has lost a game seven in his career.

However, one thing I've noticed in my postseason posts is how often the games have gone against the stats I've pointed out, so for tonight's game, I'm going to point out a negative stat instead in hopes of reversing it. In all the game sevens that I've ever attended at GM Place, the Canucks are one game under .500. They've won one (Blues '03) and lost two (Wild '03 and Flames '04). Along with the Sedins' and Naslund's lack of scoring and the powerplay's ineffectiveness, surely that's a stat the Canucks want to correct, eh?

Plenty of pregame previews for tonight's game seven:
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Canucks 0 Stars 2

I'm hungover, I'm tired and I'm pissed off.

I want to curse and swear and rant on and on about how the Canucks, on their most important game of the season, didn't bother to come out and play, but Alain Vigneault already did that (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province):

Before his players could board the bus, Alain Vigneault threw them under it Saturday night.

Citing a lack of leadership and effort from his veteran core in a crucial 2-0 loss to the Dallas Stars that evened the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinal series at three games apiece, the Vancouver Canucks coach put his stars in the crosshairs and pulled the trigger.

How they respond to the tongue-lashing will either script a series victory Monday night in Game 7 at GM Place or a sorry slide from another 3-1 series lead.

"Players that have played the longest are not bringing their A-game to the table and that's why we lost," said a solemn Vigneault. "Not just the game they're putting on the ice, but their work ethic and dedication and commitment that's needed. And that's just not good enough.

"If we bring this type of game and effort on the ice [in Game 7], I don't like our chances."
Neither do I, though like they've been able to do all season, I hope they can somehow snap out this little funk and pull out the series win tomorrow night.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere


My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Mike Modano (DAL): His first goal of the series stood as the game-winning goal.
  2. Marty Turco (DAL): Two consecutive shutouts now.
  3. Roberto Luongo (VAN): Was perhaps the only Canuck to bring his A-game.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Game 7 tomorrow at 6 PM.

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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Round 1 Game 6: Take Two

Remember when the Canucks had a chance to clinch the Northwest Division against the Colorado Avalanche? Remember how the didn't but clinched a couple of days later in San Jose?

Like then, I pray to God that after the Canucks' inability to close off the series last Thursday, that they can go into Dallas and finally eliminate the Stars. Let's face it, no one outside of Texas wants to see a game seven.

In any other year - and with anyone but Luongo in goal - I would probably be nervous about going to the road team's building for a crucial game. However, the Canucks haven't lost back-to-back games in more than a month, and as you know, the Canucks always save their best games for the road (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun):

The Vancouver Canucks have the Dallas Stars right where they want them tonight: In Dallas.

Strange, isn't it? Teams sweat it out to finish high in the standings, they gain home-ice advantage and then all they do is lose.

The road is a beautiful place in this series. The road team has won four straight. The home team has prevailed just once -- and that took quadruple overtime.

Dallas, in fact, has dropped six straight home playoff dates. Things couldn't look any better for the Canucks as they attempt to finish off the Stars at the American Airlines Center.
More game day pieces from the mainstream:
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Friday, April 20, 2007

Stars 1 Canucks 0 (OT)

The Dallas Stars' powerplay, 2-for-28 in the series prior to the opportunity they got in overtime, picked a good time to get going. Brendan Morrow went to the front of the net, tipped Sergei Zubov's point shot behind Roberto Luongo and extended the Stars' playoff lives for at least two more nights.

It was a disappointing end to what was the most entertaining game of the entire series. The Canucks talked about killer instinct prior to the game. To be fair, they did all the right things except beat Marty Turco. They came out strong and generated some early scoring chances. In fact, the shots were 6-1 before the game was even four minutes old; Turco stopped them all.

It was a matter of first break gets the goal and first goal gets the win, and Dallas got their break in overtime with a lousy Canucks line change that led to their powerplay goal.

Game six is Saturday night in Dallas. It should be a hostile environment (though I don't know if Jennifer Floyd-Engel will be watching). I have tickets for game seven, but I don't want to have to use them.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere

My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Marty Turco (DAL): 2nd shutout of the series.
  2. Roberto Luongo (VAN): Only goal to beat him was a tipped powerplay goal.
  3. Brendan Morrow (DAL): Stars captain tipped in the game's only goal in overtime.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Game 6 goes Saturday night back in Dallas.

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