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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Preseason: Sharks 4 Canucks 3 (SO)

Something about California-based teams seems to bring out the worst in the Vancouver Canucks. Another game against the San Jose Sharks last night, another loss. The Canucks are 2-2-2 in the preseason, but have lost all four games - and have looked horrible (okay, sounded horrible) for all four losses - to the Sharks and the Anaheim Ducks.

It's obvious some work still needs to be done. The good thing is, they have two preseason games left to get it together and neither is against California.

Today's links:

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Canucks Cuts

Ryan Shannon is on the team for now (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province), but 11 others aren't anymore (canucks.com):

Vancouver Canucks Senior Vice-President and General Manager Dave Nonis announced today that the Canucks have reduced their training camp roster by eleven players. The Vancouver Canucks will now have 32 players on the roster.

The following players have been assigned to the Manitoba Moose, the Vancouver Canucks AHL Affiliate:

Fitzgerald, Zack Defence
Fortunus, Maxime Defence
Heshka, Shaun Defence
Labrie, Pierre-Cedric Left Wing
MacIntyre, Drew Goaltender
Schneider, Cory Goaltender
Sharrow, Jim Defence
Simek, Juraj Forward

The following players will be placed on waivers for assignment to Manitoba:

Balej, Jozef Right Wing
Classen, Greg Centre
Moran, Brad Centre
The rest of today's links:


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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Getting The Good Habits Going

It's never too early to send a message, and after a couple of bad losses over the weekeed, Alain Vigneault decided it was time to send one (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Province):
"It's important our guys start to feel interested," Vigneault said before climbing into his golf cart.

"I understand about veterans, knowing there's not two points on the table right now and not wanting to risk getting injured, I understand that. But it's also time to get interested as far as getting ready.

"None of our veterans so far, except maybe for Alex Burrows, the [Sedin] twins and Louie [goalie Roberto Luongo] have got their game where it needs to be. We've got three games remaining and have got six practices in total remaining. It's time they got interested and get ready."
I don't blame Vigneault for wanting to instill good habits early on, but I'm obviously not going to pass judgement on the guys after five preseason games. I thought that last year's team was one of the hardest working teams in the league and I don't see that changing. Vigneault won't let that happen; neither would Louie for that matter.

While the weekend losses were bad, it's hard to tell if they were due to the fact that ten veterans are currently injured or because the ones that aren't simply haven't played that well. I'm sure it's a combination of both. The good thing is, Linden, Kesler, Mitchell and Bieksa are all hopeful to be back in the lineup soon and Vigneault mentioned that he would trim the roster before tomorrow night's game against Edmonton.

It would be nice to build some continuity and momentum before the puck drops for real next Friday. Rounding up the roster and getting the guys to play with their regular linemates could be the jolt they need to get the good habits going again.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Preseason: Canucks 0 Ducks 5

Thankfully, I've got free high-speed connection from my hotel here in Gatineau, just across the Pont du Portage bridge from downtown Ottawa. That said, I don't know if I should be grateful for being able to listen to the 5-0 loss to the Ducks last night.

From the sounds of things, the 'Nucks got thoroughly outplayed much like they did against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday and coach Alain Vigneault wasn't pleased (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):

Despite missing nine injured veterans and forced to play nine rookies against the veteran-laden Stanley Cup champions, Vigneault didn't cut his club any slack. And he was especially disappointed in those who should be more prominent.

Brad Isbister and goalie Curtis Sanford were singled out for sub-par play, while Ryan Shannon, Nathan McIver and Alex Burrows got the thumbs-up. Defenceman Dan McGillis, on a tryout and playing his first NHL game since the 2005-06 season, got a passing grade.
Here are the rest of today's links:
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Housekeeping Note: Eastbound

I'm off to Ottawa and Montreal for the next couple of weeks. I'll be back on time for the Canucks home opener, but in the meantime, I hope I can get some Canucks coverage out there and chime in on things before the puck drops for real. At the very least, I'll hook up with my co-hosts at The Crazy Canucks podcast and record an episode or two with them; one thing I'll be paying attention to are the final roster cuts as some of the kids continue to impress and the team is decimated by injuries.

Stay tuned.

(PS. By chance, is anyone going to be at the Sens/Flyers game in Ottawa on Tuesday night?)

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Preseason: Canucks 1 Sharks 3

Tough game for the Canucks last night as they lost 3-1 to the San Jose Sharks. The score was a bit flattering; if it wasn't for Bobby Lou, the score might have been more lopsided (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province).
With 10 Canucks sidelined by injury -- the list grew by two Friday with Ryan Kesler becoming the sixth to sustain a sore groin while Kevin Bieksa has abdominal soreness -- and Mattias Ohlund the lone veteran blueliner, it was left to Luongo to steal the show.

Luongo even gloved a Tomas Pihal penalty-shot attempt in the middle frame when the Sharks centre was hauled down on a partial breakaway by Jim Sharrow.

The Canucks took four-straight penalties to start the game and the Sharks went 3-for-9 on the power play while the Canucks were 0-for-6.
Nope, it wasn't pretty.

On the injury front, the news isn't much better (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun).
The Vancouver Canucks added another body to their lengthy injury list today when centre Ryan Kesler, the first star in Thursday's 5-4 win over Edmonton, came up with a sore groin and was scratched for the weekend's pre-season road trip to California.

Kesler joins Trevor Linden, Willie Mitchell, Byron Ritchie, Rick Rypien and Brendan Morrison on the sidelines, all with groin soreness, although Morrison is close to returning.

Morrison plans to practise with the team Saturday morning and if all goes well, he will suit up for the Anaheim game on Sunday. The Canucks meet San Jose on Saturday.

Also out of the lineup and not on the trip are Sami Salo (broken wrist), Aaron Miller (abdominal surgery), Kevin Bieksa (stomach inflammation) and young forward Jannik Hansen (broken thumb).
That's a total of 10 guys down. Nine of them regulars. And the season hasn't even started yet.

*sigh*

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Canucks TV Schedule 2007-2008

By now, I'm sure you've seen the 2007-2008 Canucks TV broadcast schedule already. The thing is, I need this post to "sticky" a link under the calendar you see on the sidebar.
  • Fri., October 5th vs. San Jose Sharks, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., October 6th at Calgary Flames, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Wed., October 10th vs. Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 PM, PPV
  • Fri., October 12th at Edmonton Oilers, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., October 13th vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Mon., October 15th vs. San Jose Sharks, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Fri., October 19th vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., October 21st at Columbus Blue Jackets, 2:00 PM, PPV
  • Mon., October 22nd at Carolina Hurricanes, 4:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., October 24th at Detroit Red Wings, 4:30 PM, TSN
  • Fri., October 26th at Washington Capitals, 4:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., October 28th vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:30 PM, PPV
  • Thurs., November 1st vs. Nashville Predators, 8:00 PM, PPV
  • Sat., November 3rd at Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Thurs., November 8th at Calgary Flames, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Fri., November 9th vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., November 14th vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 PM, TSN
  • Fri., November 16th vs. Minnesota Wild, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., November 18th vs. Calgary Flames, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., November 20th at Edmonton Oilers, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., November 21st at Minnesota Wild, 5:00 PM, PPV
  • Fri., November 23rd at St. Louis Blues, 5:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., November 25th vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., November 27th vs. Anaheim Ducks, 7:00 PM, TSN
  • Thurs., November 29th vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., December 2nd at Minnesota Wild, 3:00 PM, PPV
  • Wed., December 5th at Chicago Blackhawks, 5:30 PM, PPV
  • Thurs., December 6th at Nashville Predators, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., December 8th vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Mon., December 10th at Los Angeles Kings, 7:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., December 12th at Anaheim Ducks, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., December 13th at San Jose Sharks, 7:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., December 15th at Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Tue., December 18th vs. New Jersey Devils, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., December 20th vs. Dallas Stars, 7:00 PM, PPV
  • Sat., December 22nd at Phoenix Coyotes, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Sun., December 23rd at Colorado Avalanche, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., December 27th vs. Calgary Flames, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Sun., December 30th vs. Anaheim Ducks, 5:00 PM, PPV
  • Mon., December 31st at Calgary Flames, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., January 3rd vs. New York Rangers, 7:00 PM, PPV
  • Tues., January 8th vs. New York Islanders, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., January 10th at San Jose Sharks, 7:30 PM, PPV
  • Fri., January 11th vs. Phoenix Coyotes, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., January 13th at St. Louis Blues, 3:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., January 15th at Columbus Blue Jackets, 4:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., January 17th at Detroit Red Wings, 4:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., January 19th vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Mon., January 21st vs. Minnesota Wild, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., January 23rd vs. St. Louis Blues, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., January 29th vs. Dallas Stars, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., January 31st at Tampa Bay Lightning, 4:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Fri., February 1st at Florida Panthers, 4:30 PM, PPV
  • Tues., February 5th at Dallas Stars, 5:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., February 7th at Atlanta Thrashers, 4:00 PM
  • Sat., February 9th vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Sun., February 10th vs. Chicago Blackhawks, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., February 14th vs. Minnesota Wild, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., February 16th vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Tues., February 19th at Minnesota Wild, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., February 21st at Nashville Predators, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., February 23rd vs. Detroit Red Wings, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Wed., February 27th vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 PM, TSN
  • Fri., February 29th vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., March 2nd at Chicago Blackhawks, 12:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., March 4th at Colorado Avalanche, 6:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., March 6th vs. Nashville Predators, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., March 8th vs. St. Louis Blues, 7:00 PM, CBC
  • Mon., March 10th at Los Angeles Kings, 7:30 PM, Sportsnet
  • Wed., March 12th at Anaheim Ducks, 7:00 PM, PPV
  • Thurs., March 13th at Phoenix Coyotes, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sat., March 15th at Dallas Stars, 4:00 PM, CBC
  • Mon., March 17th vs. Phoenix Coyotes, 7:00 PM, PPV
  • Thurs., March 20th at Edmonton Oilers, 6:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Fri., March 21st vs. Minnesota Wild, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., March 25th at Calgary Flames, 6:00 PM, PPV
  • Wed., March 26th at Colorado Avalanche, 6:00 PM, TSN
  • Fri., March 28th at Minnesota Wild, 5:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Sun., March 30th vs. Calgary Flames, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Tues., April 1st vs. Colorado Avalanche, 7:00 PM, Sportsnet
  • Thurs., April 3rd vs. Edmonton Oilers, 7:30 PM, PPV
  • Sat., April 5th vs. Calgary Flames, 7:00 PM, CBC
Radio broadcasts are on TEAM 1040.

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Friday, September 21, 2007

The Crazy Canucks: Episodes 40 and 41

This week, we recorded a couple of episodes of The Crazy Canucks podcast. In episode 40, we have the final word on those new jerseys, talk about training camp and the start of preseason. In episode 41, we sit down with CBC sports reporter and weekend sports anchor, Shanel Pratap, and talk about his experiences covering training camp in Victoria. We also talk about Ryan Shannon and the other young guys in the system.

Make sure to pass by and listen.

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Preseason: Oilers 4 Canucks 5

I finally made it down to GM Place for last night's preseason game, a fairly entertaining 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers. It's always nice to get that first hot dog of the season.

Because the Canucks didn't ice very many veterans (actually neither did the Oilers), I saw a lot of the kids the press has been hyping up for the last couple of weeks. They didn't disappoint.

Mason Raymond was solid and scored a heckuva goal after a heckuva pass from Ryan Kesler. Ryan Shannon, while he didn't show up on the scoresheet, played with a lot of poise; I'd be very surprised if he didn't make the team. Kesler had a great game - on both ends of the ice - and chipped in a goal and a couple of assists. Josef Balej, Brad Moran and Jason Jaffray all had their moments.

Luc Bourdon played more than 22 minutes last night and was mostly unnoticeable except on the Oilers' fourth goal, when he and Lukas Krajicek seemed out of position. But largely, not noticing Luc on the ice is a good thing. I didn't even realize he played as many minutes as he did until it flashed on the jumbotron. It means he didn't make as many bad decisions as he's been prone to make in his still very young career.

I know I shouldn't get too excited about the preseason, but if last night's game (and the one against Calgary the night before) was an indicator of the team's future, Canucks fans are in for a treat. There's some real skill in the system and some of these guys definitely have NHL game.

They attack the net and do it with speed and with regularity. A lot of their chances came from right in front of Mathieu Garon. They even had the powerplay going. On paper, they were 2-for-7, but they also had a lot of puck possession and certainly had their share of quality chances.

If the kids keep this up, they will force Dave Nonis and Alain Vigneault to make some tough decisions. Because the Canucks already have 12 forwards on one-way contracts, they have room on the roster for maybe one more. The good news for Canucks fans is that the guys that are up for that spot have all stepped up.

More Canucks stuff on today's MSM:
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McGillis Tries Out

I'm not doing cartwheels over this but I suppose it doesn't hurt. With Sami Salo (wrist), Aaron Miller (abdominal surgery) and Willie Mitchell (groin) out for varying lengths of time, the Canucks have signed Dan McGillis to a professional tryout contract (Jason Botchford Vancouver Province):

Sometimes you're in the right place at the right time, which seems to be the case right now for journeyman defenceman Dan McGillis, who the Canucks have brought in for a tryout.

McGillis, a big 35-year-old D-man who can move the puck, spent last year stuck in the AHL playing with the Lowell Devils.

Though he was one of Lowell's best defenceman, the New Jersey Devils couldn't afford to promote him because they were so close to the salary-cap ceiling.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Preseason: Flames 0 Canucks 4



I wasn't surprised that last night's 4-0 win versus the Calgary Flames was as chippy as it was (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province). After all, we hate these guys almost as much as we hate the Leafs.
"It was crazy, I guess it's going to be a fun series against them this year," Jeff Cowan said. "It was intense right from the start to the end.

"Their style of play is real dirty and grinding and with Keenan there it's only going to get worse."
What surprised me though was the collective play of the younger guys. Maybe it shouldn't have because of the praise we've been hearing about this group especially during training camp, but against a Flames team that iced a fairly veteran lineup, they certainly stepped it up a notch.

Michael Grabner, often-criticized for his soft play, didn't seem to mind going into the tough areas and scored a goal and an assist. Jason Jaffray scored a beauty when he knocked down a Grabner shot and then fired it into the net. Ryan Shannon was good again and scored a goal skating down the wing - more on Shannon later today. Alex Edler, Nathan McIver, Corey Schneider - all stood out in a tough game, albeit in the preseason, against a tough team.

More of today's links, including a chat with Mike Keenan and more rave reviews for the younger Canucks:
The Canucks are back on the ice tonight against Dustin Penner and the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drops at 7 PM; radio broadcast, as usual, on TEAM 1040.

(Photo credit: canucks.com)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Preseason Game Day Post: Flames at Canucks



Mike Keenan is in town tonight as the Canucks face the Flames in preseason action. Here are the quick links:

Puck drops at 7 PM. Radio broadcast on TEAM 1040.

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Scrap The Schedule Please

Finally, the NHL is poised to scrap the unbalanced schedule (David Shoalts, Globe and Mail) that allows Canucks fans to see Sidney Crosby only for the time this season, his third in the league.

A decision will be made at the governors' next meeting in late November and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said two options are being considered.

One choice is to drop one of the eight divisional games and make that a game against a team from the other conference. Under that proposal, teams from opposing conferences would travel to each city every other year. The current schedule has teams playing only teams from one division in the opposing conference every year, which means stars such as Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins are seen in western cities once every three years.

The second choice will drop the divisional games to six and have full interconference play with a home-and-home series between every team.
Personally, I wish they'd adopt the latter option and ensure that each team plays in every city. After all, it's hard to market the players when fans only see those players every other year (or every three years as the case is now). I'd willingly sacrifice two games a season each of the Wild, Oilers, Flames and Avs for a guaranteed chance to see Jagr, Lecavalier, Staal, and Heatley every year.

More on this from Bob Mackenzie (TSN.ca).

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Preseason: Ducks 3 Canucks 2 (OT)



As could be expected from a roster filled with mostly farmhands and prospects, last night's OT loss showcased some good things and some bad things.

From Elliott Pap (Vancouver Sun):

It was about the kids for the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and Ryan Shannon, the 24-year-old baby-faced forward, showed he was more than all right.

Playing both right wing and the left point on the power play, Shannon demonstrated his speed, skill and savvy as the Canucks opened their 2007 pre-season schedule with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
And Jason Botchford (Vancouver Province):

The Ducks won 3-2 in overtime when Petteri Wirtanen scored his second goal of the game. But that hardly mattered.

What did mater was Ryan Shannon had spark, Alex Burrows had edge and Luc Bourdon had a few headaches.

The winning goal deflected off of Bourdon after the young defenceman attempted an ill-advised pass. It wasn't the only time Bourdon had problems. He couldn't clear the puck out of the crease on the second goal when Wirtanen barrelled into the net, and he made a half-hearted effort one-on-one with Travis Moen in the first that led to a holding penalty.
The rest of todays' links, including updates on Sami Salo's injury:

(Photo credit: canucks.com)

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Monday, September 17, 2007

They Are All Canucks Too

I thought this piece deserved a separate post (Cleve Dheensaw, Victoria Times Colonist):
After yesterday's annual Blue-White intra-squad game, captain Markus Naslund wanted to thank the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre capacity crowd of 7,006 and went looking for a microphone in the penalty box only to discover there wasn't one. Legendary GM Place public-address announcer and Victoria-raised John Ashbridge, who used to skate at the old Memorial Arena, had the microphone high above the stands in the media box.

So Naslund instead gestured to the Canucks players and they waved their sticks at the crowd in appreciation and skated off to a rousing ovation.

"I was going to thank the fans because it's been a great four, five days," said Naslund. "It's been awesome and the welcome here in Victoria has been overwhelming and hopefully we get a chance to come back. It's unreal for us to see the following the Canucks have around B.C. You can tell that all of B.C. is following us."
The Canucks' following around this province never ceases to amaze me.

Great job, Victoria!

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Luongo Okay; Salo Not So Much

It wasn't just the 7,006 fans at Victoria's Save On Foods Memorial Centre that went quiet after Brad Isbister's shot felled Roberto Luongo. The rest of us in Canuckland did as well.

The good news this morning is that Luongo seems okay and will be back practicing before their first preseason game. Unfortunately, the news isn't as good for Sami Salo and Trevor Linden:
Even if Luongo is okay, defenceman Sami Salo may not be.

After having his left wrist jammed on a bodycheck, Salo was sent to hospital for X-rays. He returned to the rink wearing a splint but won't know the extent of the injury until today. Teammate Trevor Linden also was unable to finish the game and is out day-to-day with a groin injury.

Salo looked despondent as he spoke about the injury, which comes after a summer spent recovering from last season's back, groin and shoulder problems.
More links from today's MSM:
Tonight's preseason game, against the Anaheim Ducks, starts at 7 PM at GM Place.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Intrasquad Game Injuries



Sonuvabitch. (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)

Vancouver Canuck goalie Roberto Luongo left the National Hockey League team's intrasquad game injured after being hit on the collarbone or throat by Brad Isbister's high shot.

Luongo, a finalist for both the Hart and Vezina trophies last season, lay facedown the ice for several minutes at the Memorial Centre in Victoria after getting beaned by Isbister late in the first period Sunday morning.
And Louie wasn't the only casualty. Via canucks.com:

Sami Salo also left the game after jamming his wrist and will get x-rays, while Trevor Linden left the game with a pulled groin.
More updates as they come.

(Photo credit: Vancouver Sun)

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Camp Quick Links - 09/16/2007



More links from training camp this weekend.

If anyone is going to the Canucks intrasquad game this morning, I would love to hear your stories and see some pics.

(Photo credit: canucks.com)

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Expecting More From Markus



Statistically-speaking, Markus Naslund had his worst season in eight years, recording a "measly" 24 goals and 60 points. For an average NHL player, those totals are okay; for the $6 million captain of the Canucks and former first-team All-Star, it's not good enough.

We know it and he knows it (Cleve Dheensaw, Victoria Times Colonist).

Although goaltender Roberto Luongo is now clearly the face of the team, Naslund is still the captain and needs to be the fuel that sparks the offence.

"I want to have a better season than last year. Last season was not up to standards," said Naslund, who has six seasons of 30 or more goals in his 10-year Canucks career.

Having a better season could be linked with the need to become a little more selfish. All great scorers are like that.

"Shooting more has to be a priority," said Naslund.

"The top scorers around the NHL all do that. You have to be doing that. I don't want to be thinking about things and analyzing as much as last year."
Is it a result of having to adjust to a new system and a new role on the second line? Or is it a sign that, at 34 years old, Naslund is slowing down? Whatever it is, he didn't put the puck on net as often and with much authority as he has in the past. His 222 shots on goal last season was his lowest in well... eight years; his 10.8 shooting percentage ranks him in the middle of the lineup.

The good news is, he sounds ready to bounce back this season (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun).

"I don't think I'm done as a player," Naslund said. "I'd like to think I have a lot left to offer. I want to have a better year than last year, but I didn't think last year was a disaster, even though I didn't play up to my standards. That being said, I know I can play better hockey and I want to show that."
Here's hoping that he does.

Postscript: More on Naslund in today's paper (Tony Gallagher, Vancouver Province).

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Talk Of Training Camp



It's certainly not the first time the Canucks have drafted a player with as much offensive upside - on draft day, every pick has some sort of potential - but it's not often that they develop as much as Mason Raymond has.

With a top-six forward spot still available, Raymond is the talk of training camp (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):

Kesler can't contain his enthusiasm for Raymond. His Canucks training-camp linemate and roommate continues to dazzle with speed, stick handling and a rapid release. The skill set suggests the winger may leap from two solid U.S. college seasons -- and just two dozen games with the Manitoba Moose last spring -- right into the NHL.

"He's made a believer out of me," said Kesler. "If he keeps playing the way he is, it's likely he'll stick. Just playing with him, you can tell he's going to be good for a long time.

"He has the wheels and smarts. He just needs a couple of games under his belt."
From Coach Vigneault:

However, the Canucks coach heaped more praise on Raymond in advance of today's intra-squad game. And knowing that Vigneault is far from settled on line combination this just adds more intrigue to the Raymond Watch.

"This kid has a tremendous amount of skill and potential," Vigneault said Saturday. "Sometimes, you're ready to play and sometimes you need a little seasoning in the minors.

"I'm not sure where his game is, but today he was flying."
Could Ron Delorme have actually found a player in the draft who can put the puck in the net? As we know, that list is embarrassingly short; in the last couple of decades, it includes Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Petr Nedved and the Sedins. Maybe Mason Raymond now too?

(Photo credit: UMD Bulldogs)

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Camp Quick Links - 09/14/2007



I'm late for work so I'll comment more later. In the meantime, there's lots and lots and lots of Canucks coverage from training camp in today's MSM:
(Photo credit: canucks.com)

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Camp Quick Links - 09/13/2007

Training camp is upon us. Here are today's quick links:

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One More Kick At The Can



Every season is an important season for any player, but for a few members of the Canucks organization, this could be a more important one. Tommy (Larscheid) and Trev and Matty (Cooke) and Markus and Mo could be playing their final games as Vancouver Canucks (Grant Kerr, Globe and Mail).

These are some of the longest-serving guys in the organization. (Matty Ohlund too but he's got one year left on his contract.) Except for a few years in the early 80's, Tommy has been broadcasting Canucks games since 1977 (wiki). Trev is entering his 16th season in a Canucks uni; Markus his 11th; Cookie his 9th; and Mo his 7th. None of them are signed past this season.

It will be the end of another era when these guys leave the organization. They formed a large part of the team's core and identity when Ronning, Courtnall, Gelinas and McLean left in the late 90's. After this season, surely another group of players will do the same, and in fact, we are already seeing guys like Willie Mitchell, Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler take on more visible roles.

More importantly, if this is indeed these guys' final season, then it will also be their last opportunity to be the ones to bring the Stanley Cup to Vancouver. Part of the reason we remember the Ronnings and McLeans of the team's history so fondly is because of '94 Stanley Cup run. As good and as lovable as these guys have been, they haven't had nearly the same amount of success. Linden was of course part of the '94 run, but unfortunately for Naslund and the others, their tenure with the team may be defined by the fact that the Canucks have only won two playoff series since they came on board.

This could be their one, final chance to change that.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

There For The Taking



A couple of days before main camp begins, Alain Vigneault said the stuff every player wants to hear (Bob Mackin, 24 Hours):

"Part of the message in our orientation meeting to the group is that whoever deserves to be here and whoever helps us win games is going to be here," Vigneault said yesterday in a telephone interview from Vancouver.

"It's not about contract status, it's about performance on the ice. It's going to be up to us as the organization, management and coaches to find room for the ones who deserve to be here.

"I've said this many times, for me talent has no age."
The Canucks have 20 guys on one-way contracts, including 12 forwards and their top-six defensemen. On paper at least, the roster is set except for the 13th forward and 7th defensemen positions. And that's if the team chooses to carry 22 players with them. For most of last season and the season before, they went with 21 players on the roster.

That said, this is a prime opportunity for young guys like Mason Raymond, Jannik Hansen, Michael Grabner and Juraj Simek. The Canucks still have a glaring need for a scoring forward, and unless Nonis pull a Peter Forsberg out of his hat before October 5th, that spot is there for the taking. I'm sure Vigneault just wanted to remind them of that.

More of today's 'Nucks-related links:

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