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CANUCKS HOCKEY BLOG

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Raymond Down, Krajicek Out

From the Vancouver Province:
The Canucks were hoping an MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] procedure Monday would rid defenceman Lukas Krajicek of any lingering concern over his ankle ailment.

That hope has faded.

The MRI revealed a very small fracture in the foot along with an ankle sprain. Krajicek will wear a walking boot for two weeks. It will further keep the Canucks from icing their top six defencemen for the first time this season after Sami Salo returned last week from a wrist fracture.
From the Vancouver Sun:
The Vancouver Canucks have re-assigned left-winger Mason Raymond to the American Hockey League's Manitoba Moose, Canucks senior vice-president and general manager Dave Nonis announced Tuesday.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's Wrong With The Canucks?

Apparently, everything.

Needed: More goals, better defense (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province):
The players did the carving Monday during their annual Halloween visit to Canuck Place Children's Hospice.

The coach did his carving Sunday.

Following a 3-2 loss to Detroit that dropped the Vancouver Canucks to 5-7-0 and 1-5-0 at home, Alain Vigneault took a swipe at Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who have combined for just five of their 20 points at even strength.

Vigneault also took a swipe at Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa for bad pinches and positioning.
Double trouble (Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun):
When he awoke Monday morning and rubbed the sleep from his eyes, Vancouver Canucks left winger Daniel Sedin was the National Hockey League leader in power-play points with nine.

While that may be a special stat, it obscures the fact Danny is off to an otherwise pedestrian start with just two even-strength points. Two!

Twin brother Henrik is marginally better. He has three. Overall, Hank has one assist in his last six games and none at even strength. None!
Vancouver slow out of the gate, weak on the draw (Grant Kerr, Globe and Mail)
The Vancouver Canucks are clearly possessed because they can't seem to gain possession often enough after the puck drops early in the NHL campaign.

Vancouver is ranked a dismal 30th and last on faceoffs with a team efficiency of only 43 per cent, which partially explains the 5-7 start to the regular season.

The Canucks often are chasing the play after draws, and frustration sets in, especially on special teams when possession has added importance when killing penalties or on power plays.

They have only one player above 50-per-cent efficiency in the specialty of faceoffs, and right winger Trevor Linden takes draws infrequently. He's won 51.4 per cent of his draws.
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Monday, October 29, 2007

Red Wings 3 Canucks 2

The weekend was encouraging, though not perfect. The Canucks won one, lost one, and actually played okay. They at least looked like a team and got rid of the long stretches of brutal play, but of course, they still need to work on getting rid of the the odd blips as well. Willie Mitchell's misplayed two-on-one played as much a role in deciding the game as Taylor Pyatt's waived goal.

So have they finally turned the corner?

Louie has for sure. In the last four games, he stopped 119 of 129 shots for a 0.922 save percentage. Yes, the team only won one of those games, but they had a shot at gaining at least a point in all of them.

With Sami and Bieksa back in the lineup, I thought the defense looked much more cohesive. Nothing personal, but it makes a difference not having Mike Weaver out there and not playing Aaron Miller 18 minutes a night.

Unfortunately, the offense still isn't there, and 12 games into the season, I'm not sure if it'll ever be there for this group. They just don't seem to be a consistent threat to score.

Statistically, the Sedins are producing at about the same pace they were last season, but they haven't dominated games - or even shifts - the same way. Morrison and Naslund are producing more, but they haven't been able to take any attention away from the Sedins. Mason Raymond, God bless him, is trying out there, but even with his obvious speed and skill, his scrawny frame makes it so easy for the other team to knock him down and take the puck away. (Think the Sedins circa 2001.)

Last week, we were talking about how the Kings, Blue Jackets, Hurricanes and Red Wings all embarassed us. At least today, we can go back to talking about how the ref screwed us out of at least a point. Progress is progress I suppose.

About the game around the blogosphere:
More from the mainstream:
Next game:

Thursday night vs. the Nashville Predators
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Friday, October 26, 2007

Game Day Post: Canucks at Capitals

When the Canucks face the Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals tonight, the Canucks will have all of their top-six defensemen in the lineup. So all those excuses for their poor defensive coverage in the first ten games of the season should be a thing of the past, eh? Well, hopefully.

But what I - and the rest of Canuckville - will be looking for is whether the Canucks can generate more offense. They've been outshot in almost every game this season and create very little in terms of five-on-five scoring opportunities. Heck, five-on-five, they barely have the puck.

Let's see if that trend changes tonight and they can come home, amazingly enough, with a .500 record on this road trip.

More game day previews and stuff:

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Canucks 2 Red Wings 3

First, the good news.

For the second game in a row, Roberto Luongo was in All-World form. Against the Red Wings last night, he faced 39 shots and stopped 36 of them. And thanks to a couple of glaring breakdowns by the Canucks' defense, he didn't have a prayer in two of the three he let in.

Louie kept the score close. When Daniel Sedin scored 1:47 into the third period, he made it a one-goal game despite his team being outshot 29-11 at that point and not having the puck most of the game. The Canucks weren't playing great by any stretch, but thanks to Louie, they actually had a couple of chances to tie up the game.

The bad news, of course, is that it wasn't enough and the Canucks are now 4-6 for the season.

The stats will tell you everything you need to know about last night's game. The Canucks were outshot 39-15 and lost 65% of their faceoffs.

Save for the Kesler-Cooke-Burrows combo, the rest of the forwards didn't generate much. In 17+ minutes of ice-time, Naslund, Morrison and Raymond only had a shot each and were each minus-1. The Sedins and Pyatt were just as invisible with the exception of Danny's goal.

The defense, plus Sami Salo minus Kevin Bieksa and Mike Weaver, gave Detroit a lot of room, and obviously, a lot of scoring chances. On one horrible, horrible play, Mitchell and Miller collided with each other in front of Luongo's net, coughed up the puck and led directly to Tomas Holmstrom's game-winning goal.

The funny thing is, despite being outplayed as much as they have been and all the doom and gloom that's precipitated because of it, the Canucks still have a chance to finish .500 on this road trip. So maybe it shouldn't be all doom and gloom after all. Right?

About the game around the blogosphere:

Recaps from the mainstream:

Next game:

Friday night against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Game Day Post: Canucks at Wings

It's a classic match-up of two teams that has started the season differently. The Vancouver Canucks have struggled to regain the disciplined, hardworking game they played for most of last year. On the other hand, the Detroit Red Wings are near the top of the Western Conference again. One team is firing on all cylinders; the other is not.

There may be some good news for the Canucks as Sami Salo is almost ready to return to the lineup. He may return tonight or he may return on Friday. When he does, it'll hopefully do a couple of things: he'll hopefully help Mattias Ohlund, who has really struggled without his regular defensive partner, and also, move Mike Weaver to Manitoba. Meanwhile, Kevin Bieksa is about to be a daddy for the first time and may miss tonight's game.

My keys to the game:
  • Tighten up defensively.
  • Don't give the Wings too many powerplays.
  • Put some pucks on Hasek.
Canucks-related pieces from today's MSM:
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Canucks 1 Hurricanes 3

Obviously, it hasn't been a stellar start to the Canucks' season. There are a few things wrong with the team right now and I'll get into those either with a post tonight or on the podcast later this week.

Last night's 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes was a typical effort this season. They were outskated and outplayed for a large stretch of the game. There were defensive lapses that allowed the Hurricanes to use their speed and create scoring chances. The Canucks were a step behind most of the night and it resulted in way too many man disadvantages.

The Hurricanes looked impressive. Man, they've got skill and they've got speed to burn. Rod Brind'amour doesn't play like he's 37 - proof of that was his great pass to Chad Larose for the game-winning goal - and Ray Whitney doesn't play like he's 35. And that five-man forward unit on the powerplay reminds me a lot of the five-man PP units Detroit used to send out - lots of puck control, puck movement and shots on net.

Quite simply, the Hurricanes looked like the better team. They certainly looked like a cohesive team while the Canucks did not.

More recaps from the mainstream:
About the game around the blogosphere:
Next game:

Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Game Day Post: Kings at Canucks

It's a refreshing change that the team coming into The Garage is the team with the goaltending problems. The Kings have our previous coach and they have our previous goaltending problems. Nothing against Marc Crawford, but it is a bit of a coin-ki-dink, don't you think?

After winning their first game in London, the Kings have only won one out of their next seven games. Last night, they blew a two-goal lead and lost 4-3 to the Calgary Flames. So far this season, they're allowing a whopping 4.25 goals per game (2nd worst in the league).

Not that the Canucks are playing perfect right now either. The trademark defense that only let in 2.40 goals per game last season is currently allowing one more goal per game (3.50) and ranks 25th in the league. Obviously, this is one stat the team needs to improve on.

My keys to the game:
  • Start strong and don't give up momentum.
  • Don't give the kids - Cammalleri, Frolov, Kopitar and Brown - too many scoring opportunities.
  • Can we still draft Kopitar?
Some preview pieces from the MSM:

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quick Links - 10/18/2007

The Canucks had yesterday off so things are relatively-quiet this morning. Well, with the exception of a couple of questions:

Is Bieksa hurt (Ben Kuzma, Vancouver Province)?

Kevin Bieksa will admit his decisions with the puck have been as suspect as his positioning without it.

Bieksa won't admit that he's probably playing hurt.

"I've got a few nicks and bruises, but I'm cleared to play," said the Vancouver Canucks defenceman, who's a minus-4 with 16 penalty minutes after six games.
Is Isbister the answer (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun)?

You needed a keen eye or the official scoresheet to know that Isbister had even played two games before Monday. But against the San Jose Sharks, Isbister emerged from the press box and was one of the better Canuck forwards.

That would mean he had three memorable shifts: Two when he used his size and strength to draw penalties, and one when he lasered a shot off the post two seconds before Pyatt shinned in the rebound.

On the basis of that performance, Isbister is practising this week alongside Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund and is expected to start on the second line - and first power-play unit with Daniel and Henrik - for Friday's home game against the Los Angeles Kings.
My short answers to the two? Most likely and I hope so.

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Quick Links - 10/17/2007

Here's a quick rundown of what's making news in Canucks-land today.

Mason Raymond has been sent down to the Manitoba Moose (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

Mason Raymond is gone, but not forgotten.

On Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks sent Raymond down to Manitoba to get some playing time and how long he stays there depends on his success.

Raymond did not make it in time to play with the Moose in their game Tuesday, but he is expected to be in the lineup tonight.

If he does well, there's a slight chance the Canucks could recall him for their game Friday against Los Angeles.
For now anyway, Brad Isbister has won himself a (more permanent) spot in the lineup. And, it looks like he's getting a tryout to play with Brendan Morrison and Markus Naslund (Jason Botchford, Vancouver Province):

Next.

Following failures by Ryan Shannon, Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond to hold on to a top-six forward spot with the Canucks, Brad Isbister appears to be next in line to step into the slot that is fast becoming Vancouver's no man's land.

The puzzling, inconsistent, sometimes promising, other times frustrating power forward is a good bet to play wing on the Canucks second line with Markus Naslund and on the team's No. 1 power play with the Sedin twins Friday against Los Angeles.
Hmmm... Todd Bertuzzi v. 2.0? (There, I said it.)

And finally, apparently Alain Vigneault (as are we) is sick and tired of all those defensive breakdowns in the first couple of weeks of the season and has resorted to dressing an inanimate object on the blue line (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun).

Chairs make it into wrestling matches and other circus acts all the time. National Hockey League practices, not so much. The Vancouver Canucks unveiled their eighth defenceman on Tuesday. He had four legs, two sticks and blocked shots by Willie Mitchell and Mike Weaver.

Sure, the chair's mobility -- propelled like a curling stone by assistant coach Barry Smith during a point-shot exercise -- wasn't great, but neither was Dana Murzyn's and look how long he played.

We think the chair finished even, which was better than most Canucks with a functioning central nervous system did in the third period the previous night against the San Jose Sharks, who won 4-2 in Vancouver.
Not sure if use of the chair was a shot at Aaron Miller.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sharks 4 Canucks 2

Before the game yesterday, I wasn't sure what Vancouver Canucks team to expect against the San Jose Sharks - the one that beat Edmonton twice over the weekend or the one that has struggled against non-Alberta-based teams so far this season. As it turns out, both Canucks teams showed up last night.

The Canucks dominated the first 30 minutes of the game. They kept up with the big, fast Sharks. They drew penalties (six of them). They generated numerous scoring chances. They looked good.

But alas, Evegeni Nabokov was impenetrable and the Canucks could only get one puck past him.

The game turned midway through the second period, about the time Doug Murray and Rick Rypien dropped the gloves and Murray dropped Rypien with a few, good shots. (To be fair, Murray had pulled Rypien's jersey over his head and Rypien was throwing punches like a kid swinging blindly at a pinata at a birthday party.) The mood changed after this bout, and true enough, the Sharks built some momentum and tied the game.

The third period last night was eerily similar to the first period of the home opener. The Canucks' defense, which was supposed to be one of the strengths of this team, was anything but. Lord knows what Aaron Miller and Mike Weaver were doing that far up the ice defending a 5-on-3 when Joe Pavelski scored the tying goal. And Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo got the defense running around to score theirs. It's been an inconsistent start to the season for the defense to say the least. Sami's supposed to be back in the lineup on Friday. Hopefully, that'll help.

More recaps from the mainstream:
About the game around the blogosphere:


Next game:

Friday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Game Day Post: Sharks at Canucks

Including the preseason, the Canucks have yet to win a game against a non-Alberta-based team so I'm not sure what to expect when they face the San Jose Sharks tonight. See, the last time the Sharks were here, they built a 3-0 first period lead and pretty much coasted to a 3-1 win. They were that good (and the Canucks were that bad). Of course, the Canucks played much better against Edmonton this weekend and the hope is that they have finally shaken off any remaining off-season rust.

My keys to the game:
  • Stop Joe Thornton.
  • Score early on Evgeni Nabokov.
  • Buy Jeremy Roenick a lap dance at Brandy's.
Some preview pieces from the MSM:
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Three-For-Edmonton

It's been a great weekend for Vancouver fans and a horrible one for those from the *ahem* city of champions. The Canucks, of course, bounced back from that debacle of a Flyers game and took both games of a home-and-home, back-to-back set against the Edmonton Oilers. For good measure, the BC Lions also pulled a 24-18 win over the Eskimos after trailing for the first 56 minutes of the game.

Good times, good times.

On Friday night in Edmonton, the Canucks rode Rick Rypien's return to the roster and Roberto Luongo's goaltending en route to a 5-2 win. They played better than they did on Wednesday, though admittedly, they were outplayed for large stretches of that game. Thankfully, Louie was great and Garon and Roloson weren't and the Canucks extended their win streak against the Oilers to six consecutive games.

On Saturday in Vancouver, the Canucks made it seven straight wins against the Oilers. They won 4-1 and were full value for the victory. Louie made some great saves, the defense was solid and made very few mistakes, Morrison and Naslund combined for a goal and two assists, and the Sedins once again dominated.

Ah yes, the Sedins. They recorded five points (2G-3A) last night - they combined for seven points (3G-4A) for the weekend - and now have 31 points in their last ten games against Edmonton. And on one memorable powerplay shift, they toyed with the Oilers, hemmed them in their zone for 2:20, and scored the Canucks' second goal of the night. If you missed it, a video clip of the shift is already on Youtube:



More recaps from the mainstream:
About the game around the blogosphere:

Next game:

Monday night against the San Jose Sharks.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

Game Day Post: Canucks at Oilers

The best way to forget that embarassing loss against the Philadelphia Flyers ever happened? Just get back on the ice and get back to winning. Tonight, the Canucks start a home-and-home, back-to-back weekend set against the Edmonton Oilers.

I expect the Canucks will be a lot better than on Wednesday. Not that that's a tall task, but they simply have to be. Playing with a little more emotion will help, and certainly, paying more attention to detail on the defensive end. An even-strength goal or two would be nice as well. As it stands, the Canucks have scored a grand total of one even-strength goal this season and that happened exactly a week ago.

Here are some preview pieces:
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Kesler Lucky; Boulerice Shouldn't Be

Sometime today, we should hear about Jesse Boulerice's suspension for his cross-check on Ryan Kesler's face (if you haven't seen the video yet, it's here). The good thing is, Kesler seems okay and will be back on the ice tonight (Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun):

All things considered, Ryan Kesler felt good. Lucky, too.

Kesler was back at practice Thursday morning, about 12 hours after taking a vicious cross-check to the face courtesy of Philadelphia winger Jesse Boulerice.

"I feel good," Kesler said after practice. "A little sore, but I feel like I can play tomorrow."
Yup, extremely lucky. However, that Kesler is fine should have no bearing on Boulerice's suspension. It was a reckless, dangerous and stupid move by a goon and Kesler easily could have been hurt far worse. If Boulerice had hit him a little higher, he could've broken his nose; a little lower and he would've got him in the throat.

I hope the NHL and Colin Campbell comes down on Boulerice. If we use Chris Simon's chop on Ryan Hollweg last season as a benchmark, he should get suspended about 25 games. With the NHL's emphasis on dealing with head shots, he could get more. If he gets more than 25 games, no one will bat an eyelash. As every hockey fan knows, there's no place for that sh*t in this game.

More from the MSM:
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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Flyers 8 Canucks 2

Ugly. Just ugly.

First, the game.

The Canucks were awful. Poor defensive coverage, odd-man rushes, giveaways - you name it, there were lots of it.

They couldn't get anything going but that's because they hardly had the puck. And when they did have it, they gave it up. Case in point was on the late 5-on-3 opportunity when Henrik Sedin slipped on a piece of ice and gave the puck away to Mike Richards. With his team two men short, Richards scored on a breakaway.

Next, the Jesse Boulerice cheapshot.

(Note: In an effort to keep this blog PG-rated, I used the word "duck" in lieu of... well, whatever you want to put in its place.)

What the duck was he thinking? His team was already up by five goals when he decided to break his stick on Ryan Kesler's face. Was he trying to send a duckin' message? Was he trying to finish his check like Steve Downie? Or was he duckin' expecting candy to come out of Kesler's head? Never mind that Kesler was nowhere near the duckin' play.

This ducker should be suspended. Duck, even his coach says so, which says how duckin' stupid of a move this was.

From hockeyfights.com (via Alanah), here is the video of Bouler-ass' cheapshot:



As good as the Canucks were on Saturday, they were just as horrible last night. It's been a while since I've watched them sleepwalk through a game like that, playing with absolutely no emotion. (Though I suppose in some weird, twisted way, we can thank Jesse Bouler-ass for lighting a fire in the Canucks' behinds near the end.) It's not the Alain Vigneault way.

About the game around the blogosphere:
  • Alanah weighs in on the hit and the pay-per-view thing.
  • Orland Kurtenblog liveblogged the game. I personally would have kept the tube on Family Guy after a while. Brian in love with Lois is classic.
  • Hannah and Isabella sum up the game.
More from the mainstream:
Stats and stuff:
Next game: Friday night vs. the Edmonton Oilers

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Canucks In Lululemons (Kinda)

Here's something different (Jim Jamieson, Vancouver Province):
It's uncertain what the impact will be on their spirituality, but Vancouver Canucks players were busy working on their Cobra and Downward Dog postures Tuesday following practice at GM Place.

The NHL club will be including yoga as part of its off-ice conditioning program this season, with the aim of improving players' flexibility and core strength.

Canucks strength and conditioning coach Roger Takahashi said the team plans to include the sessions about once a week throughout the season when the schedule permits.
Will this yoga thing help with the rash of groin injuries the team seems to have? We'll see, I suppose.

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Game Day Post: Flyers at Canucks

It's been six years since the Philadelphia Flyers have been in town. When I was still working at GM Place, I remember the Canucks playing them every New Year's Eve, but of course, they haven't been around since December 31st, 2001. Mind you, the Canucks didn't have much luck against Bobby Clarke's boys in those days - they lost six New Year's Eve games in a row to the Flyers - so it was probably best they scrapped that tradition. Believe it or not, the last time the Canucks won a home game against Philly was in 1989. Tonight, they'll try to break that, er, slump against a team that is, on paper at least, vastly-improved from the one that finished dead-last in the league last year.

The Canucks are coming off a weekend with mixed results. They played horribly against the Sharks on opening night and then put together a good overtime win against the Flames on Saturday. I'm hoping the team that showed up in Calgary shows up tonight.

More of today's links:
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Friday, October 05, 2007

It Starts Tonight

As the puck drops tonight to start the Canucks' 2007-2008 season, I want to expect more from this team. I know they put together a heckuva season last season - winning the Northwest Division and making the second round of the playoffs qualifies as a heckuva season. I know that they essentially have the same core of players returning and upgraded the bottom part of the roster. Trust me, I'd take Byron Ritchie, Brad Isbister and Aaron Miller over Marc Chouinard, Tommi Santala and Rory Fitzpatrick any day (with all due respect to Rory).

Have they done enough to take them over the proverbial hump?

Well, they did very little and will have to rely on the Sedins to continue to play like point-a-game-plus players and for Roberto Luongo to continue to play like a Hart and Vezina candidate. When healthy, the top-six defensemen can stack up against any in the league.

Which leaves one question: what about that lack of scoring thing?

It goes without saying that Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison have to produce more, and at least to start the season, the Canucks are relying in large part on the youngsters to provide some offense. Can Ryan Shannon and Ryan Kesler, both playing with Naslund, and Mason Raymond, playing with the Sedins, answer the bell? If they can, this team can go far in the playoffs. Otherwise, I won't expect more than how they did last year and just let them surprise me.

Much, much more from the MSM:

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:09 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Canucks Claim Weaver

Is Mike Weaver this year's Nolan Baumgartner or Patrick Coulombe?

From Elliott Pap (Vancouver Sun):

Defenceman Nathan McIver's spot on the Canucks' 23-man roster didn't last even 24 hours. McIver was shipped to the Manitoba Moose Tuesday morning when general manager Dave Nonis opted to claim journeyman blueliner Mike Weaver off waivers.

Weaver, 29, is listed at 5-9 and 182 pounds and was plucked from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were trying to dispatch him to their farm team. Weaver spent 2006-07 with the Los Angeles Kings and collected nine points in 39 appearances.

The Canucks are concerned that Alex Edler (hip flexor) might not be ready for Friday's opener against San Jose. Edler is scheduled to replace Sami Salo (broken wrist) alongside Mattias Ohlund. Nonis felt Weaver, with his experience, was an upgrade on McIver.
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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 4:59 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Luongo's New Goalie Mask

Roberto Luongo showed off his new goalie mask at practice - freakin' sweet!




(Photos credit: canucks.com)


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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 4:48 AM | permalink/comments (0) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |

Two More Days

I'm still in Sainte-Adele, Quebec, and to be perfectly honest, I'm looking forward to going home tomorrow night. Two weeks is just way toooooo long to be away. The good news is, I'm going to be home in time for the Canucks home opener - this, I'm very much looking forward to.

I'll post my thoughts on the upcoming season when I get back, but in the meantime, here are some of today's preview pieces:

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 4:13 AM | permalink/comments (1) | AddThis Social Bookmark Button | Share on Facebook | Hype It Up! |