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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Season Recap and Thank You's

I know this post is a few days late but 1) I'm in Canmore, AB right now for our annual week-long family vacation and 2) I purposely wanted to wait a few days to recap what was an amazing season without being compromised by its heartbreaking end.

There was much to like about this Canucks season. While the guys fell short of their ultimate goal, they far exceeded all our expectations. Besides John Garrett, did anyone really expect the Canucks to set franchise records in wins and points, to win the Northwest Division, and to not only make the playoffs but to also win its first round series against the Dallas Stars?

Now, none of those accomplishments would have been possible without Roberto Luongo in goal, and really, Louie putting on a Canucks jersey is the best part of this season. Louie came as advertised and broke Kirk McLean's franchise records for goaltender wins by a goalie in a season. He gave the Canucks a fighting chance in games they had no business being in, and for his efforts, he is a finalist for the Hart Trophy, Vezina Trophy and Lester B. Pearson Trophy.

More importantly - and I say this with all due respect to Markus Naslund, Trevor Linden and all the other leaders in the room - Louie proved to not only be the team's best player but also its most vocal leader. He elevated his game when it mattered the most, and when it was necessary, he grabbed his teammates by their throats (figuratively I'm sure) and urged them to do the same.

The Sedins, Taylor Pyatt and Kevin Bieksa all had career seasons. Trevor Linden was perhaps the best Canucks skater in the playoffs. In the second round, Markus Naslund played the best postseason games of his Canucks career. Even the kids - Lukas Krajicek, Jannik Hansen and Alex Edler - all elevated their games, and for the most part, didn't look like they were playing in their first NHL playoffs.

As much Dave Nonis was criticized after last year's fiasco, he deserves credit for righting the ship so quickly. Removing Todd Bertuzzi from the dressing room was a tough decision, and on its own, could have been addition by subtraction. Somehow, he also managed to get Roberto Luongo and Lukas Krajicek in the return. Ditto with removing Marc Crawford and putting Alain Vigneault behind the bench.

What helped is that the new people in the room all bought into the culture that Nonis and Vigneault wanted - the team-first culture that, quite honestly, we didn't see much off last year. They instilled a culture of work ethic and accountability, and allowed the players to gel together and perform, collectively, at a higher level than the sum of their individual parts.

Dave Nonis still has some work to, but with such a sound foundation in place, it's a relief to know that the Canucks won't - or shouldn't - tailspin into mediocrity like they did in the late-90's. Nonis' challenge this offseason is to improve the team some more with, once again, limited cap room. The difference is that this offseason, he is working with a team that won a division title and went into the second round of the playoffs instead of one that didn't even qualify for postseason play. He also has the comfort of having Luongo, the Sedins and his veteran defense core all signed to long-term deals.

What could help Nonis is the promising play of some of the youngsters in the organization. For the first time in a long time, the Canucks actually have some depth. I already mentioned Krajicek, Hansen and Edler. When both were healthy, Bieksa and Ryan Kesler also played significant roles. From the junior ranks, Luc Bourdon is waiting for another shot at the bigs. Michael Grabner and Juraj Simek were among the top scorers in the WHL and it's not inconceivable that one of them can see some playing time in the NHL next season.

This season was deemed a rebuilding year. Boy, did they ever rebuild, and with that in mind, this season was an unqualified success. Nonis turned over 13 players and most of the coaching staff from the '05-'06 season and rebuilt the Canucks into a hard-working, hard to play against team, one that many of us can be proud off.

Thanks for a season to remember, guys.

*****

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who swung by this season. Last season, about 30,000 of you came by and visited this site; this season, that number was multiplied almost five times more. As well, I felt honored to be recognized, contacted and linked from some in the mainstream media, including the Canucks official site, the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, CBC TV, CBC Radio, and CTV.

Like Dave Nonis, I hope to make this blog even better next season. I'll probably play around with the layout a bit more, and of course, I'm certainly open to suggestions from you. (To those who emailed me about blog links, I'll update my blog roll when I get back.)

For now, I'm going to finish off my vacation, hit the links and the trails in Canmore and Banff and the hot tub in our resort. When I get back, I'll post on some of the more note-worthy goings on with the Canucks and the Stanley Cup finals, and the crew from The Crazy Canucks podcast will hopefully do a recap episode soon. I'll probably also follow the Vancouver Giants and Manitoba Moose's continuing playoff runs. Thank you again and I hope everyone has a safe summer.
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:54 AM | permalink/comments (7) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Friday, May 04, 2007

Canucks 1 Ducks 2 (2 OT)

I'm gonna wrap up last night's game in this post and then recap the Canucks season tonight or tomorrow. Looking back at last night's game, I feel dejected and disappointed; looking at the larger picture however, the season was very much a successful one. But please, allow me to mope for now.

Last night's effort wasn't what I expected. Facing elimination, it was probably their worst effort of the series. They seemed sluggish and disinterested, and were being outplayed, outshot and outchanced. In fact, if it wasn't for Roberto Luongo - and Dany Sabourin for three minutes (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province) - there was no way the game would have even gone into overtime, much less double overtime.

Louie is, naturally, dejected (Ed Willes, Vancouver Province), but the rest of the team should be as well. Louie had 56 saves last night. Before Niedermayer's goal, he had stopped 54 of 55 shots and gave the Canucks every opportunity to steal a win and bring the series back to Vancouver. They needed one more goal, just one more goal, but couldn't get it.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere


My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN): 56 saves on 58 shots.
  2. Scott Niedermayer (ANA): Heads-up play on the game-winner.
  3. Samuel Pahlsson (ANA): Solid two-way play produced first goal and stopped the Sedin line.

Official Statistics


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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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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Round 2 Game 5: One Game, One Period, One Shift At A Time


Alanah and I recorded a brief episode of The Crazy Canucks podcast last night. While we didn't disagree that coming back from a 3-1 series deficit is a huge hill for the Canucks to climb, we also both know that it's not impossible to do. Something she mentioned, however, is something I hope the Canucks keep in mind when they take to the ice tonight for game five - the Canucks need to take it one game, one period, and even one shift at a time. Winning three games in a row against the Ducks is a tall task. Winning one game isn't.

I wouldn't change anything in what the team is doing right now. Well, a Sedin goal and a more effective powerplay would help. Other than that, the Canucks have proven that they can win games playing the way they play. The boys just need to go out there and play like they've played in the last three games. I don't like the 3-1 deficit either, but given what they've shown us all season long, if any team is going to come back from it, it would be this team. One game, one period, one shift at a time.


More pregame pieces:
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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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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:58 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ducks 3 Canucks 2 (OT)

I wish there were room for moral victories in the playoffs. I wish the Canucks could take solace in the fact that as much as the Canucks are down 3-1 in their series against the Anaheim Ducks, it could easily be the other way around.

After the game one drubbing, no one gave them much of a chance in this series. They were supposed to get run over by big, bad Anaheim. They were supposed to be outmuscled and outskilled by the still mighty Ducks. That hasn't happened.

The Canucks again held the upper hand last night. They were outplaying the Ducks and had a 2-0 lead going into the third period. I know they've had problems protecting two-goal leads but it seemed for a while that they were going to do just that. That is, until Chris Pronger scored and Anaheim got the shot in the arm they neeeded.

Time to put my brave face on.

This series is far from over. Despite losing both home games, the Canucks have proven that they can play with these guys. A powerplay goal or two in game three and a Smolinski or Hansen goal in game four and this series could have looked a lot different. If the Canucks can show as much heart as they've shown so far, they can steal game five in Anaheim and bring the series back to Vancouver for game six.

Don't jump off the bandwagon just yet.

More from the Mainstream

About the game around the blogosphere


My 3 Stars of the Game

  1. Chris Pronger (ANA): One goal, one assist and 32 more minutes of ice-time.
  2. Brendan Morrison (VAN): Best game - and first goal - of the playoffs.
  3. Teemu Selanne (ANA): Tied the game late in the third period.

Official Statistics


Next Game

Game 5 in Anaheim on Thursday night.

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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, May 01, 2007

Round 2 Game 4: Do or Die

I hope the Canucks can get over the disappointment of losing game three faster than I can. Truth be told, I'm still upset at their blown opportunity. It's not often the Ducks will giftwrap eight powerplays, including two long 5-on-3's, and it's not often Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger will both have subpar games in the same game. The stars seemed aligned for a Canucks victory. Seemed.

Tonight, the Canucks face their latest, biggest test of the season. While the series can't end yet, a loss means they have to win three straight games against the Ducks to still take series. Not that I don't believe in the boys. I'd just much rather them not be in that position.


Today's mainstream pieces:
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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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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:57 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |