Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Hey folks, been a touch busy with things over at Nucks Misconduct, but I hope to seriously have a podcast soon. In the meantime, just wanted to share this with you...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

GAME DAY: Canucks @ Sharks

Game 81 sees the Canucks return to the (looks at his notes) the um, HP Pavillion, affectionately known as The Shark Tank. Meh. From this day forward, we shall call it The Laptop. Anyways, the Canucks playoff position is set, division title clinched and just awaiting an opponent.

So how do they get motivated for this game? Well, there's the opportunity to keep San Jose from clinching top spot in the West, but you know the Sharks will be just as motivated for that reason. There's the chance to tie the team record for most wins in a season, but they had that opportunity against the Avalanche the other night and it didn't quite go to their liking. So I guess the real motivation should be an opportunity for a Sharks team that struggles with self-doubt heading into the playoffs to get a real solid fear put into them. Slap them around at home and let them know that should they be able to overcome the mental block of the 1st round, and more of the same could be waiting for them.

Can the Canucks actually do this? Certainly. They managed to defeat the Sharks at home once this season, and while the Sharks truly are a different beast in the friendly confines of the um, Laptop, they're not an invincible juggernaut. The Canucks will certainly need better team defence, and some of the line changes tonight might be able to help that. Nolan Baumgartner will likely draw into Andrew Alberts' spot and Ryan Johnson has been replaced by Matt Pettinger, who was called up from the Moose after Johnson suffered another fracture blocking shots.

Here's the situation for the Canucks: Lingering doubts about this teams' ability to win in the playoffs, centered around the goaltender. A defence core so beaten and battered it looks more like the starting lineup of the Moose. The bottom 6 still struggling with consistency. Can this team silence the critics? Despite overcoming huge odds, Vancouver's numbers rank them with the elite this season, yet many are loathe to do so because of past performance. Forget the sheer hypocrisy of this, they are right in a way. The regular season proves nothing but home ice in the playoffs.

So despite clearing the 100 point mark and winning their division handily, the Canucks are once again being written off, some even going so far as to say their potential first round match against the Kings should be nothing for LA to fear. No respect. Good. I say let them walk into it cocky. Let them underestimate us. Up until a bad game the other night at the Staples Center the Canucks had handled the Kings easily. Going to predict a cruise to victory on one game? Go for it.

The Canucks may be struggling, as they have all season with injuries. But they are determined, none more so that Henrik and Daniel Sedin. They've had incredible seasons, especially Henrik, who is poised to become the first Canucks player to win the NHL scoring title and possible the Hart trophy as well. There are a number of players who have had career worst years in a season that's turning out to be one of Vancouver's best. They want to prove the critics wrong, and no one more than Roberto Luongo.

The criticism that he couldn't win the big game was vanquished when he backstopped Canada to gold in front of the hometown fans, but when you look at criticisms of the team lately, it's as though it never happened. Is he playing his best hockey right now? No. Is he getting more rest heading into the playoffs than in previous years? Yes. And that could end up being one of the reasons the Canucks are actually a team to fear. So like I said, take the Canucks for granted. You'll be sorry you did.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Dear Jarome;

I know it's been a while since we talked. I knew this day was coming, and I suppose I probably should have addressed this earlier, but with being away from home and everything, well... you know.

First, I just wanted to say thank you for all that you did while you were here. You were everything that we expected of you. And in the big moment, when we needed you the most, there you were. Clutch. I know it's been a tough year for you. On top one moment, in the throes of despair the next.

And yet as happy as we all were that we could count on you to help lead the nation to glory, things are back to where they were before. And it's not that we don't like you. You have a lot of the qualities we would love on this team. It's the others. As long as you're with them, well... you're one of them. And that's why we have to say goodbye.

So tonight, you will likely hear some applause, as we thank you for what you did. And when the puck drops, you will hear the vulgarities once again. There's a certain comfort in that familiarity. We still hate you. It's as passionate as ever. But we grew to respect you a little more.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Game Day: Canucks @ Predators

The Road Trip From Hell (tm) continues as the Canucks try and rebound from an effort Friday in Chicago that was disappointing no matter how you look at it. Not much time to sit and dwell though, as a team that always plays the Canucks tough will be looking to try and shore up their playoff aspirations with a victory this afternoon.

I have a real love-hate relationship with these afternoon games. Part of me likes that it's still light out at the end of the game. Another part of me also remembers a certain afternoon game that was a disaster for Roberto Luongo and his groin. Luongo will be looking to get his game back in gear, one week to the day of his gold medal victory in Vancouver.

The good news for Vancouver is that the best defenseman for Team Canada, Nashville's Shea Weber is out of the lineup with a wrist injury. That's a big loss for the Preds, especially with their already weak penalty killing. That could be just the thing the Canucks need to get their recently struggling power play back in gear.

One of the things that really stood out from Friday was just how badly we miss Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa. I don't want to knock Andrew Alberts until he's had a few games to adjust to the system, but overall it's amazing we've done as well as we have with this half-AHL defense. Getting Bieksa back soon will be good, but it's Mitchell and his shutdown ability that the Canucks will need heading into the post season.

The Canucks will likely be facing Pekka Rinne today, who has won his last two starts. The Canucks will want to key on 3 players today if they want to have success. Martin Erat has played well against the Canucks this year with 3 goals and an assist, Jason Arnott is always tough to play against, and Steve Sullivan has 10 points in his last 10 against Vancouver and 30 points lifetime.

The Canucks will need the Sedins to show some signs that they can regain the dominance they showed earlier this season. While it's great that Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Kesler, Pavol Demitra and Kyle Wellwood are playing well right now, this team needs production from it's superstars. That and a better job of defensive responsibility should lead to success in Nashville at the *checks the name* Firestone Center.

Blood On The Ice
A couple suspensions this week as Montreal's Maxime Lapierre got 4 games for dirty shove from behind on Scott Nicol of the Sharks, and Minnesota's Derek Boogaard got a paltry 2 game slap on the wrist for a brutal knee on knee hit against Ryan Jones of the Oilers. The Boogaard suspension is the same punishment given to Alexander Ovechkin for a similar hit. No word yet on whether Boogaard will use this as a bargaining chip when his current contract expires...

Big win for the Maple Leafs last night against a flu-ridden Ottawa team. You have to love that they needed a shootout to dispatch a team that had a regular parade to the dressing room of players going to vomit.

New York Rangers fans are having a 'Fire Glen Sather' rally today. The amazing thing is that they waited this long to do it...

Sidney Crosby has seemingly pulled a page out of Alex Ovechkin's book and turned down a request from David Letterman to appear on his show to do the top 10 list. One more PR embarrassment for Gary Bettman. Speaking of Bettman, the NHL is suing former Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes. The interesting part of this lawsuit? He is trying to recoup moneys owed to Wayne Gretzky. Didn't they make it so he didn't get paid in the first place due to their bungling of the whole situation?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Hodgson to the Leafs for Kaberle?

The internetz are all a twitter (and there too) with a rumor that has the Canucks sending prized prospect Cody Hodgson to the Leafs for D Tomas Kaberle. The main source of this is Ken Campbell of The Hockey News in his article speculating the Leafs could pull this off.

I have to say I got a good chuckle at the mere thought of this, as the chances of the Canucks and Leafs coming together on a trade are about as good a bet as getting a genuine, heart-felt apology from Rick Reilly. But just for fun, let's say I was the GM of the Canucks, and Brian Burke calls to discuss this possibility; here's what it might look like...

GM: Hello... oh, it's you. Mhm. Yeah, unusually warm. Good, good. That's funny, it sounded like you said you'd give us Kaberle for Hodgson. Ah. Ok, thought I was going to have to look for some Q-tips. And what else? No Brian, I mean what else are you going to give... Hello? Hello???

Anyways, if we were to entertain such nonsense, the package I would want to see would look like this:

To Toronto: Cody Hodgson
To Vancouver: Tomas Kaberle; a written admission of guilt proclaiming every instance of tampering he and his staff was involved in with the Canucks; the removal of the Silver Dollar buried somewhere in the ice at Canada Hockey Place; David Backes to be replaced on the US Olympic Team with either Keith Tkachuk, Doug Weight, Mike Modano or Bill Guerin; and when all those are completed, they may have Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier.

Fair? No. We'll keep Wellwood.

The Finns rolled to an easy victory over Belarus today, 5-1. They outshot the Belarus team 45-12, who didn't take my advice on dumping the puck in from the bench area on Kiprusoff.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin make their debut at this years Olympics this afternoon as the Swedes take on Christian Ehrhoff and the Germans. The Sedins will man the top line with one time NHL'er and CDC fan-boy hearthrob Matias Weinhandl. Weinhandl played on a line with Hank & Dank in the Swedish Elite League before they came to the NHL, so the chemistry will be there. You just know that the 'net will explode if Weinhandl is even remotely better with the twins than say, Trent Klatt. The potential for 'ZOMG Sing Weinhandel now!!!1!!! Giiiss you stupid moran!!!' posts on is so high I fear for the safety of the 'net.

Jaromir Jagr, with his mullet back and in full effect will take to the ice at 9 tonight leading the Czechs in a bloody battle against the Slovaks. Haha, just kidding. It will be more likely to feature dives, cheapshots and a sissy slapfight or two. Or maybe not. Then again, the sissy slapfights will probably come against the Russians, now that I think about it.

The Canadian Women are up 5-0 over Sweden after 1 period, which means we can look forward to more calls to abolish Women's hockey from the games as well as posts from homegrown commentators chastising them for being un-Canadian. News flash: Until the IIHF changes the goals for differential as a tie breaker, no team in the right mind would hold back. It's hockey. They're in it to win, and these other countries will only get better by playing the best. The game takes time to grow, remember we used to beat the Russians, Swedes and Finns like this years ago. Stop being so bloody impatient.

Really hoping I can get the podcasts up and running soon, been a long and trying few months to be sure. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read my post yesterday, was one of the best traffic days I've had for this blog. I appreciate it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Golden Pole

For many of us the Winter Olympics don't really start until the Mens Hockey Tournament gets underway, and it's a special moment for me as the Canadians take on Norway in the opener. For the last 3 years my wife and I have been the caretakers of the Sons of Norway lodge in Victoria. Hanging over the bar is a little momento to symbolize the true meaning of the Olympic spirit and THE special bond between the two countries that was forged at the 2006 games in Turin.

It was 4 years ago Sunday that Canadians Sara Renner and Beckie Scott were competing in the Women's Team Sprint in Cross-Country Skiing. Renner suffered what could have been a disastrous mishap: a broken pole during the race. The coach of Norway's squad, Bjørnar Håkensmoen saw this and without thinking gave his team's spare pole to Renner. Renner and Scott went on to finish in 2nd for the Silver medal, the Norwegians finished in 4th.

Much was reported about Project Maple Syrup, which saw 7200 tins of the sticky sweet Canadian treat shipped to Norway to say thanks to Håkensmoen. But Keith Wells, who was at the time a sports reporter for CHEK TV in Victoria decided to also show the country's appreciation for the selfless act. HE presenting the lodge with a special "Golden Pole". It hangs proudly in the lodge over top of the bar (known affectionately as 'Valhalla', one of the two destinations of those slain in battle according to Norse legend) and is one of the best memories associated with the Olympics for members of the lodge. Wells has moved on from the station but the pole will always be there to celebrate the connection for the members, many of whom were born in Norway.

A little sappy sentiment? Perhaps. But a nice reminder of the real message of the games: sportsmanship and the human spirit always overcomes adversity and recognizes no borders. I will be cheering loudly for Canada today, but through my association with the Sons of Norway, I will also be rooting for them to keep it close. Well, somewhat.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Hockey Day In Canada

It's been a little while since I have posted here, as I get used to my new home over at . Today is a day where as Canadians we celebrate the game that draws us together as a nation. Our passion for hockey is something akin to football in the UK. It's a game that can bring a nation to a screeching halt as we have seen in 1972 and over and over through Canada Cups, World Junior Championships and of course, the Stanley Cup.

Today hockey writers and fans all over Canada will flood the net with tales of their hockey lives; the time they scored the big goal, or maybe playing with someone who went on to fame & fortune. My story is a little different, yet it helped build my love for the game that is stronger than it would be if my circumstances were different.

I was born in Saskatoon, and I have flickers of memories of going with my parents to see the Saskatoon Blades play. They tell me I was obsessed with hockey at an early age, but the clearest memory of those days was the summer of 1972. Canada was at war with the Big Red Machine, and those grainy pictures of the men with the red maple leafs on their shirts mesmerized me. Just like fans of baseball can memorize a play by play call of a certain home run, or football fans the call of a touchdown, the words of Foster Hewitt are seemingly encoded in our DNA. "Henderson has scored for Canada!!!" A nation rose to it's feet and in a most un-Canadian manner, roared as we showed the world it was OUR game.

The following spring we moved to Kamloops, BC, and through Hockey Night In Canada I became a Canucks fan. One of my biggest thrills was getting a Canucks jersey Christmas morning, the blue and green jersey with the 'stick in rink' logo, along with matching socks. It's still the best present I ever got. Here's where most would tell you how it changed their season, right? Not me. I suffered from severe asthma as a child, and my parents felt it was better to keep me from playing than getting sick and suffering the disappointment. It was a decision that at the time, crushed me. I didn't understand it, and resented them for a long time because of it.

Instead of killing my passion for the game however, it merely poured gasoline on that fire. Many was the night I would fall asleep to Jim Robson telling me about Stan Smyl and Tony Tanti with my AM radio beside my ear, waking up the next morning and telling my dad I needed a new 9 volt battery. He always got me a new one, too. I remember one of the biggest thrills was when legendary New York Islanders tough guy Bob Nystrom came to visit my best friend's dad. They had played junior together on the Kamloops Rockets, and the neighborhood kids were crazed with the thought of meeting a real life NHL player. We were there, playing street hockey in the middle of a typical summer evening in Kamloops when his shiny yellow Corvette came down the street. We flocked to him, and he was gracious, signing our sticks, that trademark smile never leaving his face. I would meet him again a couple years later when my friend and his dad took me to a game against the Canucks. The Islanders were putting together the pieces of that dynasty back then. They manhandled the Canucks that night, but to this day I may not have hear a noise as loud as when Vancouver scored. The Coliseum exploded, the noise of 18,000 people shaking me to the core. I was torn between my allegiance to the Canucks and those Islanders, something that came to a head in 1982 as Roger Nielson and his white towel lead a rag-tag crew into battle against the squad from Long Island.

I suppose you could say that was a win-win situation, but while I was happy for the Islanders, as a Canucks fan, it still hurt. My teenage years came, and as the Oilers rose to power, my interest in the game began to wane. Perhaps it was the one-sidedness of it all, or just the natural progression from child to teen, but I lost touch with hockey. Music took hold of my life, and the seeds that led to my tv show on Cable 10 in Kamloops were planted.

My rediscovery of the game was funny when I look back on it. I had stopped at 7-11 to get a slurpee, and the clerk gave me a pack of hockey cards. It was a promotion they had at the time, and though I am sure the Pro-Set cards had no real magic, my love for the game was rekindled. Right around this time, Pavel Bure was signed by the Canucks, and suddenly Vancouver had a reason to be excited. He was an incredible player to watch, and the Stanley Cup run in 94 is something that all Canucks fans hold near and dear to their hearts. The Rangers may have skated away with the trophy, but few have ever played a more courageous game than Trevor Linden in Game 7. Forever a hero in my eyes.

I'm much older now, and though the pangs of regret of never pulling on a team sweater still exist, my hockey memories are as good as anyone's. Playing on the frozen Thompson River in Kamloops with friends, and endless nights of street hockey under the light by our house. Being a visiting team stickboy for the Kamloops Junior Oilers the season they won their first WHL title, watching that first NHL game, my first playoff game and then the best part, the look on my son's face as he opened the package containing the tickets to his first NHL game. These are the memories I wouldn't trade for anything. Well, maybe one thing... but I have a feeling that will come soon enough, as the Canucks continue their quest.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Good news everyone!

I am very proud to announce that I have been asked to join the writing staff over at Nucks Misconduct. I will be doing posts pretty much every morning over there, as well as regular updates here. Please stop in and check them out, and make sure to tell them I sent you!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pretty Eyes Won't Get You Far In Life: Canucks 4 Coyotes 0

It's been a while since I woke up and was still all fired up about the Canucks game the night before. For the first time since Petri Skriko in 1986, the Canucks had a player go back to back hat tricks. Alex Burrows has really proven now he is by far the best fit with the Sedins (sure, he doesn't have the kickass dreads of Anson Carter, or Taylor Pyatt's dreamy eyes, or Trent Klatt's uh... hmm, I'll get back to you on that one), and they were huge last night. 9 points from the line who were basically shut down by the Coyotes last time around. The Desert Dogs really seemed like the 'Yotes of old in the 1st, as the Canucks came out strong, and walked out with a 1-0 lead. The second period was a little concerning. The Canucks have had an annoying habit of sleepwalking through 2nd periods this year, and though we hadn't seen it lately, they basically allowed Phoenix to run roughshod through their zone. Thank dog for Roberto Luongo, who was stellar, stopping all 16 shots in the 2nd. You know it had to kill Phoenix a little to give up a late one, as Mikeal "Swears like a drunken sailor" Samuelsson jammed one in after some nice hustle behind the net from Ryan Kesler to make it 2-0. Cue the Alex Burrows show. The 2nd goal was vintage Sedins: hard pressure on the forecheck from Daniel to cause the turnover, quick pass to Henrik and right over to Burrows who buries it past Bryzgalov and it's now 3-0. A carbon copy of his hat trick goal 2 nights earlier makes it 4 and that's basically your game.

Random thoughts on last night:
- Taylor Pyatt made an impression last night, unfortunately for Aaron Rome, it was on his forehead. I don't know what was more surprising: Pyatt hitting someone, or that Rome bleeds like a champion. If he's not concussed I will be amazed. Say hello to Brad Lukowich, everyone.

- What was scarier: Salo getting clipped by Willie's stick, or Kesler blocking a slapshot with his cup?

- I never really noticed it when he was playing here, but Ed Jovanovski has really turned into a grouchy old man. Was he always that much of a windbag?

- Canucks went 2-0 in the fight card last night, Darcy Hordichuk with a huge bomb on Paul Bissonnette, and Tanner Glass with a quick decision over former Kelowna Rocket Vern Fiddler. It looked like Fiddler called in the linesmen early in the scrap, so not sure if he was just outmatched by the deceptively tough Glass or he injured himself.

- A number of milestones last night: Luongo's 50th career shutout, Samuelsson's 100th career goal, and the 300th game from Bernier and Wellwood.

- Another day of rest before the huge matchup against Calgary Saturday night. This one was already big, but even if the Flames win tonight (they're using their game in hand) a Canucks win will give them 1st in the division by virtue of more wins. With the Flames playing their 4th game in 5 nights, the Canucks must seize the opportunity and pound what should be a tired Flames team into the dust.

- Henrik Sedin now leads the NHL scoring race by 3 points. Some of the prognosticators out there have a number of Eastern players pegged as the MVP favorite so far, but TSN, Sports Illustrated and a few others are getting hip to the Hank 4 Hart meme. I think it's up to all Canucks fans and bloggers to push this. Hell if we could make Rory Fitzpatrick a household name for a while, we can surely do it for someone deserving of the spotlight.

- Best comment from the postgame came from Coach Alain Vigneault: "We tried to tire them out in our own end in the second period, it worked real well." We have some funny guys on this team.

Will have some thoughts on other league goings on over at later today, as we talk about sign language with Daniel Carcillo, Ron Wilson's struggles with Bi-polar disorder, the Oilers breaking the concrete at Rexall to make a new rock bottom and more...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

GAME DAY: Canucks vs. Coyotes

Game night at GM Place and this time the Canucks can expect an opponent that will put up a bit more fight than Columbus did Tuesday night. The Phoenix Coyotes are in town and with an OT loss still fresh in their memories, the Canucks will not only look for payback tonight, but to take advantage of the help they got on the scoreboard. The Flames and Avalanche both lost last night, and a Vancouver win will vault them past the Avs and into a points tie with the Flames, making Saturday night's HNIC match against the Flames even bigger. And while the Coyotes scraped out an OT victory in Edmonton after blowing a 2 goal lead, history definitely isn't on their side. The Coyotes have only won 5 games against the Canucks in Vancouver since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

The key for the Coyotes this season has been their back end. Great goaltending from Ilya Bryzgalov, and a strong Dcore has allowed them to be in a lot of close games, getting clutch goals. But they don't score a lot, in a way they remind me of the Minnesota Wild a couple years back. Good in goal, defensively sound, and opportunistic. About as exciting as watching Ben Stein go over the fluctuations of the Rupee as compared to the US Dollar in 1986. So while we won't see a 7 goal outburst from the Canucks, another confidence building win, some good incentive in the standings and the knowledge that they need to stockpile points right now should make for a decent match.

I worry about that the Canucks might be looking ahead to Saturday and the Flames, but with a chance to move within 1 point of this conference rival as well, the Canucks should be able to close this one out. Henrik Sedin's play of late is beginning to get people talking. With a point he will take over sole possession of 1st in the NHL scoring race, and he has a 7 game point streak that has him going at a 2 ppg clip. Brother Daniel is also tearing it up with 13 points of his own in that time frame, as they combined for 9 points (along with linemate Alex Burrows) against the Blue Jackets.

It's amazing to see the Coyotes in the playoff hunt when you look back at all the turmoil, the sale fiasco, Gretzky leaving the team, etc. Dave Tippett has to be a shoe-in for the Jack Adams trophy if he can keep them in the top 8. The play of Ed Jovanovski as well has helped, as the one time Canucks Dman sees him him having his best season since leaving Vancouver.

Taylor Pyatt returns to GM Place for the first time with his new team, might be a little emotional for him. No word on whether Aaron Rome will be in the #6 slot again tonight, though a lot of Canucks fans are hoping this is the night we get to see Brad Lukowich in a Canucks uniform for the first time.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Canucks 7 Blue Jackets 3

Hands up if you called the score in this one? Yeah, no one could have predicted this one, even as bad as the Blue Jackets have been lately I don't think anyone would have foreseen this. Especially they way they found themselves up 2-0 early in the first. Instead of seizing the opportunity, the Jackets looked bewildered, and a mere 29 seconds after Kristian Huselius made it 2-0, Rick Rypien fired a wobbling puck past Steve Mason, and I swear you could hear the entire team let out a huge "OMG here we go again"-type exhalation. 24 seconds later, the Sedins set up Alex Burrows for his 1st of 3 on the night, and as odd as it sounds as that tied the game, the rout was on. A little over 8 minutes later Burrows struck again, on a carbon copy of the 1st goal, and the Canucks went to the dressing room up by 1 after they had trailed by 2. Henrik Sedin made it 4-2 with his 20th of the season (that line combined for 9 points), but that goal was quickly answered by Kris Russell of Columbus. While Russell had a decent game for the Jackets (about the only player you could say played well for Columbus), that goal was all Aaron Rome, standing in front of the net as though he were waiting for a cab, Russell's shot careening in off his shinpads. Meh. To the pressbox with you, Rome! Ahem. Though it was the 5 on 5 play that killed the Jackets (as it has all season) The Canucks did get a PP goal. Some good work in the corner by Daniel Sedin forced a turnover to Sami Salo who wired one off the post and in. 5-3 and that it got weird. The Jackets appeared to clear the puck out of the zone, but it bounced off a linesman and over to Ryan Kesler, who quickly fed Mikeal Samuelsson. The salty-mouthed Swede fired it past Mason and at 6-3, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock had seen enough, pulling last years Calder trophy winner and replacing him with Mathieu Garon. Garon let in one in the 3rd, a shorthanded marker from Burrows, on a nice pass from Ryan Kesler for the hat trick. Canucks were 1-3 on the PP while they successfully killed off all 5 Columbus PP's. Rick Nash, even with 2 assists was a non-factor in the game, effectively neutralized for the rest of the evening by the Canucks defense, who really settled down after the quick 2 goals in the first. Nash was a -2 for the night, which tells out about his game. Fedor Tyutin was a -3, while Salo and Burrows were both +3. The win moved the Canucks into a tie for 6th in West, getting the nod over LA and Nashville because they have more wins. They now sit one point back of Colorado, and 2 behind the new division leaders Calgary, who defeated the Predators 3-1 last night. Christian Ehrhoff is now a league leading +22, and Henrik is 1st in the scoring race, tied with Joe Thornton at 55 points, but with more goals. A day off for the Canucks before a shot at redemption against the Phoenix Coyotes Thursday, with a battle against the Flames looming Saturday.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I hate when that happens...

Just after I posted, Sportsnet's Dan Murphy reports that Aaron Rome will be in the #6 slot tonight, meaning Lukowich will be in the press box. Also hearing rumblings of something big going down to do with Columbus. Is it a trade or a firing? I will let you know after I get back from the doctor.

GAME DAY: Canucks vs. Blue Jackets

Don't look up Ken, that just may be the Sword Of Damocles hanging over your head. A touch dramatic? Perhaps. But I certainly wouldn't put money on Ken Hitchcock having a job with Columbus if they were to get the doors blown off by the Canucks tonight. The Canucks are fresh off a great road swing where they procured 7 of a possible 8 points, including an OT win in St. Louis that saw them come back from a 3-0 deficit. The Blue Jackets meanwhile are 3-13-7 in their last 20, 6-12-4 on the road and a mere 3 points out of the basement of the Western Conference. After last year, when they made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, you have to know the ownership and management in Columbus are not pleased. So why does a team with a legitimate superstar, solid secondary players and last year's goaltending surprise end up in this situation? Slumps, injuries and the worst sophomore jinx ever. Hitch's defensively responsible style doesn't seem to be working, and certainly isn't winning over the fans in Ohio. If you factor in the 9 OTL points, it makes the situation even worse.

The Jackets have a PP and PK comparable to the Canucks, it's 5 on 5 where they get killed. Their PK will need to be good, as the Canucks have one of the best PP's at home. Henrik Sedin, the NHL's first star of the month for December, continues to have a career year. He currently sits 3 points behind San Jose's Joe Thornton for the scoring lead. He and brother Daniel lit up the opposition for 48 points in December, and became the first brothers since Maurice and Henri Richard to finish 1-2 in scoring in a month. Roberto Luongo has been, well... Luongo-like as of late. He withstood a Dallas barrage, and battened down the hatches against the Blues, giving the Canucks the opportunity to win in every game save 1 or 2 in the month of December. With the Penguins struggles of late, perhaps we can put all this nonsense about who is the #2 to rest, hmm?

The Canucks need to take that killer instinct they showed on the road and apply it at home tonight. This season, as in years past is littered with tales of a Canucks team that got outplayed by teams that had no business walking out of GM Place with 2 points. They sometimes show up a little soft first game back after a road trip, but with how strong they have played as of late, and knowing GM Place is a rink teams fear to enter once again, Coach Alain Vigneault should have his troops ready to roll tonight.

The news on Kevin Bieksa was worse than expected. 2 severed tendons requiring surgery with a 3 month timeline for recovery. The Canucks also place Ryan Johnson on the IR with a fractured foot. Ryan Kesler has certainly stepped up to try and replace Johnson's tenacious shot blocking. Pavol Demitra has been skating with the team, as has call up Brad Lukowich. Demitra should be back on Monday against the Predators, while there is a possibility Lukowich could draw in tonight. Micheal Grabner continues his conditioning with the Moose.

As bad as the Blue Jackets have played this season, the Canucks can't afford to take them lightly, as they try to stockpile wins in preparation for the pre and post Olympic road nightmare.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Monday morning coffee

Well, wasn't that a surprising road trip? 3-0-1, with some gutsy performances from a team that looked like the hockey version of the Washington Generals a few weeks ago. The timing couldn't be better too, as they continue their pursuit of the Flames and Avalanche for control of the Northwest division. Let's look back at the week, and then at the week ahead, shall we? (cue the Tardis noise)

The previous week got off to a glorious start as the Canucks marched into Calgary and laid a little beating on the Flames that was more than just payback for the previous match between the two clubs, but sending a message that this team, when healthy can manhandle the cowpokes. In a season that has been a coming out of sorts, akin to last year's emergence of Kesler and Burrows, Mason Raymond had a hat-trick, including a gut-buster from in front of the benches that no one is gonna let Kiprusoff forget (just ask Dan Cloutier). Roberto Luongo continued his strong December play, and Canucks fans were reminded once again how good this team is when the entire team plays a 60 minute game. And did I mention Kyle Wellwood got the winner?

The Canucks made their way down to Phoenix to play the surprisingly (still...) hot Coyotes. The team had been on a roll at home, and battled the Canucks hard all game, fueled no doubt to help former Canucks backup Jason LaBarbera get a win over his old team. Speaking of former Canucks, Ed Jovonovski's power play goal gave the Coyotes the lead, but it was matched by Mikeal Samuelsson, who has played very well since telling his homeland his thoughts on not being selected for the Olympic team. Petr Prucha restored the lead for the Coyotes, after slicing Kevin Bieksa's calf with his skate in a collision on the boards. Two things about this come to mind: 1) Why is the NHL not using Kevlar socks to keep up with the technological changes to skate blades? and 2) Kevin Bieksa is a cursed man. It looks like a minimum of 2 months recovery for Juice, and considering how much his game dropped after the first time this happened, you have to know the Canucks are concerned about this. The biggest issue for the Canucks this season (IMO) has been their inability to get games to OT. They're losing outright too often, not being able to get that late clutch goal they need. They got it Tuesday, and no surprise... it was KYLE WELLWOOD? Welly goes back to back and the Canucks make it to OT for just the 3rd time this season. Sure the Canucks lost in the shootout, and sure they didn't give Kesler a shot at it (I am sure the stick-breaking that ensued from Mr. Kesler was to do with the loss and nothing more), but they got a point after trailing into the 3rd, and that is a huge step forward for this team.

New Years Eve, and seriously... who wouldn't want to spend it in Missouri? Considering the way the Canucks played the last time they visited the Blues, you had to know they were eager for a little payback. They played well in the 1st, but gave up a late goal to Alex Steen on the 5 minute PP for Rick Rypien and his rule 'interpretation'. The second was a bit of a let down (gasp!) as they soon found themselves down 3-0. Cue the Sedins. Strong down-low work by Daniel and Henrik led to a late goal of their own, giving the Canucks the spark they needed. Sure it was a fluky goal, I mean he didn't mean to bank it in off that skate, right? Another goal after some strong forechecking by Mikeal Samuelsson made it 3-2, and Henrik Sedin late in the 3rd sent the Canucks to their second straight extra session. The Blues have been utterly dreadful at home, and the lack of confidence showed, as the Canucks cashed in on a 4 minute PP via Brad Boyes clipping Ryan Kesler, with Christian Ehrhoff getting the winner. Another character win, and the final nail in the coffin for Andy Murray, who micro-managed himself out of another coaching job.

The last stop on this brief road swing is Dallas, and while the Stars and Marty Turco have been playing better of late, their record is so deceptive because of all the OTL points they have. Lots of emotion in this game, as is always the case with the Stars and Canucks, but it took until late in the 2nd for someone to open the scoring, Ryan Kesler with his 11th gave the Canucks the lead. The Stars thought they had tied it on a goal from Brendan Morrow, but after a surreal 5 minute delay to examine the video replay (the Sportsnet team confirmed it long before the war room did) the goal was waved as Morrow had clearly kicked it in. The Stars were game though, and Loui Eriksson tied it in the first minute of the 3rd. Another bank shot from Daniel however put the Canucks right back into the lead, and Alex Burrows potted an empty-netter with 17 seconds to go to give the Canucks a much-deserved 3-1 win. Odd to see someone win by more than 1 when these two teams play.

The defense of the Canucks has been taking a beating, and not just because of the injury to Bieksa. Mathieu Schneider's dispute with the team that saw him placed on waivers meant a call up of Brad Lukowich from the Texas Stars of the AHL. Both cleared waivers, and Schneider will report to Manitoba (and continue to collect his NHL salary, including bonuses) while Lukowich is in the #7 slot until Aaron Rome shows that he is not what they need in a #6 dman.

3 Stars Of The Week:
1- Henrik Sedin 2 goal, 4 assists and for a moment, the NHL scoring lead. Hank is making a case for the Hart trophy, as he continues his strong play.
2- Roberto Luongo Solid all week, even in the loss as the weak goals that plagued him earlier in the season aren't beating him now. Hitting a nice groove as the Olympics approach.
3- Kyle Wellwood Yes, Wellwood. 2 goals including a game winner and a much improved work ethic. He has to be consistent, but I felt he deserved some recognition.

Another tough week for the Canucks as they return home for another string of home dates. Columbus on Tuesday followed by rematches against Phoenix Thursday and the Flames at home for the first time this season on Saturday night. The Canucks have been one of the league's best at home and will need to continue that trend as the 14 game road trip from hell looms...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

GAME DAY Canucks @ Stars

The Canucks (aka the coach killers) take their much improved road show to Big D this morning (grumble grumble)for an 11am PST match against the Stars. The Canucks pulled off a gutsy comeback on NYE against the bafflingly bad at home St. Louis Blues, and now hope to move their road record to 1 game under .500 with a win today.

Dallas is a hard team to figure out as we sit at the halfway point of the season. By now we know pretty much what to expect from just about every team in the NHL, but Dallas' record doesn't tell you if the team is good or bad. They have as many outright losses as they do OT/SO losses. Is the team good because they find a way to get the extra frame? How many of those games were blown leads? Weren't they the most feared team in the shootout a couple years ago? While the Stars sit in 9th, their loser points have vaulted them ahead of teams that have more wins (Detroit and Minnesota). Even their last 10 games doesn't give you a clear picture of what's going on (5-3-2). Is their jumbo Texas-sized beer mug half full or half empty? One thing's for sure; Brad Richards really seems to have re-discovered himself in Dallas. He leads the team in scoring this season, and should he stay healthy is on pace to set a career mark for points. The Stars have 2 solid lines, and their bottom 6 are nothing to sneeze at, and while Marty Turco is playing better than he did last season, you can't help but wonder why the Stars aren't winning more often.

The Canucks will have Brad Lukowich available for the game today, as he has cleared call-up waivers from the AHL. No word yet if Vigneault will stick him in the lineup, if not expect to see Aaron Rome in the #6 slot. It doesn't appear Rick Rypien will be disciplined by the NHL after receiving a match penalty Thursday night for having tape on his thumb. I am sure that should he fight today the officials have already been informed of the injury and we won't see a repeat. Mikeal Samuelsson has been playing extremely well since being informed of not being chosen for Sweden's Olympic squad (and revealing himself to be a potty-mouth), as the Canucks continue to get balanced scoring from three lines as well as the defense. Shane O'Brien will need to rebound from a lackluster performance in St. Louis as the news on Kevin Bieksa's cut from a skate in Tuesday's OT loss in Phoenix. The minutes are there for him as long as he continues to play well (but Shane'O, next time you see a guy like Barrett Jackman manhandling the Sedins, it's perfectly fine to go kick his ass. Really. We won't mind, and neither will AV), but Rome will need to step up or he will find himself sitting in place of Lukowich.

The Canucks and Stars have split the season series so far, both 1 goal games (aren't they always against Dallas?), but I fully expect the Canucks to gut out a hard fought victory today, as they continue to gain confidence on the road heading into the Mother of All Road Trips (tm) in February. Luongo and Turco getting the starts, and the action can be seen with Shorty & Cheech on Sportsnet Pacific, and heard at

Friday, January 1, 2010

People are really latching on to the notion that Rick Rypien is pound for pound the best fighter in the NHL, and this scrap last night with Blues knuckledragger Cam Janssen proves it. Rypien busted Janssen's nose as you can see in the video. But the officials felt that the tape on Rypien's right thumb (you know, on the hand that spent most of the time holding Janssen's jersey) was what caused poor Cam to bleed so very, very much. Coach Alain Vigneault disagreed vehemently with the call after the game, according to Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province: "We got put in a very tough position by that major penalty. In my opinion it was not the right call," said Vigneault.

"The call clearly states that there has to be a cut. There was no cut. There's a broken nose. The tape was on Ripper's right hand, he threw punches with his left, got him good a couple of times, broke his nose, that's not a cut. I thought the interpretation of that was wrong and it put us behind the eight-ball there."

Vigneault said Rypien wears the tape the protect a sprained thumb.

That could have cost the Canucks the game, as the Blues scored on that power play, but the Canucks showed a ton of heart, coming back with goals from Daniel, Henrik and Mikeal Samuelsson, before Christian Ehrhoff's OT winner. Next up for the Canucks is the Dallas Stars Saturday morning (another morning game? Seriously?), who appear to be playing better (but come on, 11 loser points?). Time for the Canucks to show everyone that Dallas is actually more an 18-22 team, not 18-11-11. I am calling a win for the Canucks against Dallas...

HENRIK SEDIN: Hart Trophy Candidate?

Yeah, I am putting this out there. No, I'm not drunk. I totally believe this and I think we really should be spreading the word about this. While the meme on the Sedins is that they actually are superstars now (we Canucks fans have known this for a while now), I truly believe this is more than just a breakout year of sorts for Hank. Hands up those of you who thought on NYE we would see Henrik 1 point behind Joe Thornton for the NHL scoring lead. And it's not just that he is putting up points. Or that he is scoring lots more goals than we are used to seeing him do (at the pace he is on, he should set a new personal best for goals/season in the next couple weeks). It's that he is scoring clutch goals. Goals that get the team rolling. Goals that spark a comeback. Goals that send us to OT. He sets them up as good as ever. He takes physical punishment from the league's best Dmen. He does it all with a smile, and with less ice time than the others in the top 10. He is having a Hart-worthy season, and I know that out here in Vancouver our accomplishments get lost in the East, so maybe by creating a buzz, we can help the media realize Hank is more than Danny's brother: He just may be the best player in the NHL this season.