Dealing With A Season of Unexpected Success and Expected Failures

Last night was one of those games you wish you could forget, the first period of the game for sure, right? I’d like to forget the last four minutes of the third period as well, but let’s not touch on that at the moment. If you want to read a hard hitting analysis of Vancouver vs. San  Jose at Rogers Arena on March, 3, 2015, you’re not going to get it here. Right now, I want to talk to some of you about how to take the next few weeks without breaking your ankles when jumping on and off the bandwagon.

What I have been noticing a lot this season is after every win, many fans react with, “OMG this team is amazing! They are going to win it all!” or something to that effect. However, after every loss, many react with, ” Trade them all! Fire Benning and Linden! The Sedins are old as crap! Trade (insert player name here) for a bag of pucks or used jock-straps!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we all have those moments, but we all shouldn’t have ridiculous pendulum swings of emotions like that for 82 games in a season. It gets draining for you that are reacting this way, and it gets really annoying and redundant for us, your fellow fans, who see it. We look at you all like a bunch of fish flipping and flopping on dry ground without anything to ground you. You only stop all the erratic movement when you’re bludgeoned or tire yourselves out, you just lay there.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to put C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to throw C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do we deal with the ups and downs of our favourite NHL team? Well, it’s all about perspective and expectation. How do you measure success of the team? It’s different for all of us, but maybe I can share how I deal with the Canucks roller coaster ride as the season progresses. Here are a few questions and my answers to how respond to the highs and the lows of Canucks season, game to game.

Do the Canucks frustrate me? Yes, there isn’t a team in the universe that frustrates me more than the Vancouver Canucks. There isn’t a team in the world that has disappointed me more in the last 30 years than the Vancouver Canucks, but like that bad romance you cannot shake, no matter how hard you try, I cannot help but love them. It’s just the way of sports and for those that are passionate about it. You just have to find a middle point of elation and frustration.

 Are they…

  • Stanley Cup Contenders? No, my expectations are considerably low this season. This isn’t the 2010/2011 team. The talent level isn’t there. The experience isn’t as deep as it was back then either. This is also probably why they went the way of prospect pickups and minor league trades on Trade Deadline Day. Why spend the future on a push for the Cup that is highly unlikely to happen? Success would be getting into a playoff spot and winning a game or two. If they win a round, they’ve played beyond my expectations.
  • Rebuilding? No, they aren’t rebuilding. A major overhaul of player personnel would have to take place for that to happen. However, with all the NTC (limited or otherwise) handed out to a good chunk of the veterans on the team, it takes the full rebuild off the table. The Canucks have to work with what they have and find pieces to fill in the holes.

At the beginning of the season, what were your expectations? I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the Sedins would be playing, if any of our youngsters would make the team, and how the infusion of free agent veterans would mesh with the core. In all honesty, I saw this team not making the playoffs, but barely missing. Sitting in 9th place.

What are you expectations now?  At the 40 games played point, I figured the Canucks would make the playoffs but either in the 3rd spot in the division or a wild card berth. They would need to win just over half their remaining games to ensure that would happe. Barring a disaster like last season, I just don’t see the signs of the Canucks surrendering to more losses than wins, even with the patchwork line-up they are currently icing.

Individual games or body of work for the season are more important? You have to win individual games to make a body of work. We all want the team to win every game, but that’s not a possibility. So we have to look at the work that has been put in over the season so far.

  • The Canucks are scoring goals, they now have to work on preventing them.
  • Only Nashville has more regulation wins than the Canucks. Sure there are teams with more W’s in the win column but some of those are OT wins or shoot out wins, not in a 60 minute frame.
  • Two 34 year old twins are looking like their 29 year old selves.
  • The youngsters, Horvat and Kenins, are playing beyond any expectations we had of them.
  • Win or lose, for the most part this season, the Canucks are far more fun team to watch this season.
  • The culture  and vibe of a unit willing to try is showing more often than not and we are enjoying it. That says a lot about them.
  • Their ability to have comebacks this season are more likely than last. That alone is a huge improvement.

For the most part, they have exceeded my original expectations. I expected more of a struggle for the Wild Card spots, not 2nd place in the Pacific Division. I know there is a lot of hockey left, but with the return of some key players, mainly their defencemen, I see improvement, not failure. So instead of getting all wired about a certain play or a certain game, find a way to assess the overall scheme of things. Take a step back, take a deep breath and hold on to something. Let’s not fall off the wagon when the team hits a rough patch. Grab on to something and ride it out. In the end, you’re going to hit one place or the other, but why get stranded on your own if they exceed where you thought they’d be? Faith is a concept that’s not easily understood, but that’s part of being a sports fan. If you’re Canucks fan, you have to learn to have a little faith or you’d be just miserable. It could be worse, we could be cheering the Leafs or the Oilers.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

 

Homeward Bound: Road Trip +/-

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it me, or did everyone seem to think this game was in the bag? It definitely had all the makings of a great Canucks road trip. The Canucks have been playing very good hockey. When in some trouble, the Canucks have managed to find ways to get out of those jams. The Sedins are on point streaks, the kids were playing with a ton of tenacity and the backup goaltender has been playing spectacular in the absence of Ryan Miller being sidelined to injury. The team was looking good and walking around with a bit of a swagger. However, all day, I have been feeling really off about the game. Almost everyone was publicly, including members of the Canucks’ media (ahem, Tony Gallagher, ahem) were calling it in already for the Canucks. . The words “when” instead of “if” were being used in regards to the Canucks/Sabres game regarding Vancouver winning. I wish I was wrong with my feelings, but the Sabres won 6-3.

The Canucks didn’t have their fairy tale ending to this Eastern swing, but they did have some positives out of it:

  • Goals Scoring: 3/5 games the Canucks have scored three or more goals. The production has been better over all since the All-Star break. With the next few weeks some very important playoff push coming up, they are going to need production up and down the line up. Seeing the kids not being afraid to shoot and the Sedins looking like their 2010/2011 selves has been promising.
  • Confident Defencmen: When you see most of the highlights on this road trip, you see Weber be much more confident jumping in on the play, taking more shots from the point (and more accurate) but also making really good defensive plays to prevent shots and goals. You see Sbisa taking to the body a little more and feeling more confident on the blue line. Clendening will shoot from anywhere and Stanton is his perfect stay at home partner, who will also seize the opportunity if he is given it. Hamhuis looks more and more like Hamhuis as the road trip progressed and Biega looked like he was on the team since October. Very promising to see considering Edler, Tanev, Bieksa and Corrado are all out with injuries.
  • The Kass: I can’t start this with anyone else but Zack Kassian. His play with the Sedins has been a point producing machine. He’s looked really good on the wing with the twins. With the injury to Burrows, Kassian should really take this opportunity to “steal the job”. When Bertuzzi really started to show real signs of being a regular power forward winger, he was about Kassian’s age now. Patience and guidance is what Zack needs, and it looks like Henrik and Daniel can show him that. 
  • The Kids: Horvat playing like he is already a 2nd line centre and having the confidence to not be intimidated by anyone, including Chara, makes every Canucks fan happy about the future. Kenins will hit anyone, anything and he isn’t afraid to try and score, from any angle. Most importantly, Kenins has the ability to make roon for Horvat and Hansen with his hits and fore-checking abilities. Stanton showing why he had high praise from Coach Q in Chicago and Eddie Lack has been playing like he was standing on his head, except for a few games here and there. It makes me excited for Virtanen to join the team next season.
  • Never-Die Attitude: Regardless of winning or losing, the Canucks are sure as hell not giving up. Even when they have been outplayed, out shot, out scored. They will keep playing until the final buzzer, which was a complete 180 of the team we saw in and around this time last season.
  • Sedinery: Henrik and Daniel have been playing some rejuvenated hockey. It’s not quite at the level they played it at in their prime, but they know this team and even themselves, are in a transitional period. Hank and Danny are taking it upon themselves to show the young guys what it takes to stay and play in the league for as long as they have. Play the right way, stick to the system and make things happen. Whether the insertion of Horvat and Kenins is what has inspired the twins, or vice versa, it’s great to see the Sedins play like the Sedins.
Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Improvements: Canucks need to work on…

  • Consistency: The biggest issue with the Canucks since the All Star break has been their Jekyll and Hyde record and it’s reflected by the intensity of their play, especially at home. They have the best road record in the NHL, but their home record has been pretty mediocre. Rogers Arena was once a safe haven for the Canucks but over the last couple of season, it’s been hit and miss.
  • Defending in the Defensive: From time to the time, the Canucks have panicked and turnovers have happened in their own end. It happened in Boston and it happened in Buffalo, numerous times. If they continue heavily rely on their goaltenders, they are asking for the world, and Eddie (and eventually Miller) cannot keep up such a high level of play. It really showed in the Sabres game, and Eddie looked average.
  • Skating Hard, Always: When the Canucks aren’t getting calls for power plays and are always finding themselves in the penalty box, they are not skating hard enough. They are gliding and hoping. They aren’t making things happen.
  • Glue-like Goaltending: When Miller, Lack and soon Markstrom are on their games, they are pretty formidable between the pipes, but this season, the good goaltending has come in spurts and at different times. Neither Miller or Lack have been consistently spectacular. They’ve had their moments. However, with the playoff push coming up, no matter who ends up being in net (Lack at this point) needs to really be on top of it and it doesn’t matter who the backup is, they are going to have to come together and be like glue.
Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat's line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat’s line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long 11 day, five-game road trip has come to an end. The Vancouver Canucks are coming home with a 3-2 record. It could have been better? Yes, and it could have been worse, if Vancouver didn’t win the Rangers game in the shootout, coming back with a losing record on this road trip would have made the playoff race much harder to keep the other teams at bay. But six out of 10 points isn’t bad, but everyone was expecting it would have been eight after tonight. Unfortunately, it was not so.

With three days until their next game, the Canucks will have a day off on Friday and a practice on Saturday to right some wrongs. The next four games coming up are against Western Conference opponents in a very tight playoff race. With St. Louis coming to town on Sunday, followed by a visit from the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks have their work cut out for them before they get on the road for two and then home for five straight, including visits from the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. With the Metropolitan Division out of the way, for the most part, the Canucks are now in for the real test and so is our fan-dom.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

#TBT: Nucks Nicknames

What’s in a nickname? For some, it’s just a variation of their given names. For others, it’s a character tell and some just don’t make sense. Remember when David Booth said everyone on the team were given animal nicknames and we were trying to figure out who he called “Whitetail”?  Over the years, there have been some pretty different and/or cool player nicknames, we have heard of and some others have not. Some were given to them by their teammates, some from fans and many of the mainstream ones from local media.

Looking back to revisit some of these monikers and share some insight (if any) given to them.

Garth Butcher was known as “The Strangler”. When he used to fight, he’d grope or grab on to someone almost like he was strangling them instead of punching. Although, Garth Butcher on its own was scary enough. The nickname was just bonus.

Big, bad Garth.

Big, bad Garth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Crawford is known to many of us just as “Crow” when he coached in the NHL. Some of that is credited to his name but I’d be the first to admit, it might have something to do with his voice as well. However, in Crawford’s playing days for the Canucks organization, his nickname was “747” due to the frequency he went back and forth the big club and the minor league affiliate.

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

A very young Marc Crawford during his Canucks playing days. Photo Credit: HF Boards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Igor Larionov is internationally known to the hockey worlds as, “The Professor”. He was considered one of the smartest players in the game and many of his contemporaries thought of him being ahead of his time. If you’ve never seen Larionov play, I suggest getting on youtube and getting educated.

"In the '80s, he was arguably the best center in the world." -- Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

“In the ’80s, he was arguably the best center in the world.”
– Wayne Gretzky, about Larionov

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Johan Hedberg came to the Canucks as Dan Cloutier’s backup in the early 2000’s. However, it’s a piece of equipment that gave him his nickname “The Moose”. When an up and coming Hedberg was in with Pittsburgh, he played with his AHL Manitoba Moose mask and never changed it. From then on, he’s had the nickname. Come to think of it, he wore that mask design with the Canucks too, even before the Moose became our affiliate in the mid to late 2000’s.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

Hedberg with his Manitoba Moose helmet mixed in with the Canucks Orca in the front of it as he played back-up to Dan Cloutier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jim Sandlak was known to all Canucks fans as, “The House”.  Sure Sandlak was a big guy at 6’4″ and 225lbs, but he didn’t get that nickname just because of his stature. I think it had something to do with eating a bunch of free hot dogs at the Pacific Coliseum in one sitting.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks' 1st round pick and a well earned nickname.

Sandlak was named the 1985 best player at the World Juniors. A Canucks’ 1st round pick and a well earned nickname. Photo Credit: The Province Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kirk McLean will forever be known for “The Save” in the first round of the 1994 playoffs against Calgary, but he also has a few nicknames. The ones the fans probably gave him is “Captain Kirk” and caught on like wildfire during that run. His teammates usually called him “Mack” but there have been others ones. One is because of the Scottish Lion on his mask, “The Scot”. I’m with the rest of the fans, I’m all about “Captain Kirk”.

Captain Kirk

Captain Kirk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 It’s not a bad start to be a reoccurring feature on CanucksCorner.com’s Throwback Thursday due to the amount of really good nicknames of Canucks players throughout team history. Got a favourite one? Let us know! We’d love to share it with our fellow Canucks fans. Maybe we can figure out who “Whitetail” is and maybe we can finally get the story on “Harry”.

 

@Aviewfromabroad

#TICH: Team Canada 2002 Gold, Salt Lake City

It was the first time in 50 years the Canadian Olympic team won Gold in hockey. A sport that is synonymous with the nation. It was today, February 24, 2002, Burnaby Joe and the rest of Team Canada could give this nation something to cheer for again in Olympic Men’s hockey.

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not necessarily a “Canucks” historical moment but there was a member of the Vancouver Canucks  on the 2002 Gold winning Salt Lake City Team Canada roster. Let’s not forget  the winning coach, our legendary Canucks coach and GM, the late Pat Quinn. 

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jovocop” made the Team Canada roster. Jovanovski was known as a free-wheeling, offensive defence-man. He also didn’t mind giving a few memorable hits here and there.  For Team Canada, Ed Jovanovski, assisted on the first Joe Sakic goal which ended up being the game winner. Team Canada defeated Team USA, 5-2 in Salt Lake City, Utah to win gold again, finally.

Ed "Jovocop" Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men's hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

Ed “Jovocop” Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men’s hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s #TICH February 24, 2002.

@Aviewfromabroad

Here is a 10 minute highlight reel, called by Bob Cole on CBC of the game in Salt Lake City.

 

Vancouver General Hospital, So it Seems

Miller gets looked at by Mike Bernstein as he went down awkwardly versus the New York Islanders. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

Miller gets looked at by Mike Bernstein as he went down awkwardly versus the New York Islanders. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday night, Hansen inadvertently bowled Miller down and now it seems Miller has a leg injury and he had to leave the game.  In the next couple of days, the Canucks will know if Miller will be out on the IR or just be day-to-day. Jakob Markstrom has been called up from the AHL in the meantime and perhaps he might even see some NHL playing time before the Canucks are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention (thanks Torts). There has been no time-table set for Miller’s return, or if he returns this season. Regardless, what a blow for the Canucks. Losing forwards and even defencemen are one thing, but goaltenders don’t grow on trees and one at the calibre of Miller’s have all been signed elsewhere.

Miller now joins:

C-Brad Richardson – Out with a foot injury and has missed 15 games.

D- Kevin Bieksa –   Broken hand has Juice miss 14 games.

D- Frank Corrado- Illness is what has kept Frankie out of the lineup and Biega was called up to replace him. He’s now missed 11 games.

C- Nick Bonino- Has now missed seven games due to a lower body injury. However, it looks like Bonino could come back to the lineup this road trip.

D- Alex Edler- has an upper body injury. He has now missed four games and is dearly missed on the first pairing of the blue line.

D- Chris Tanev- Edler’s partner is also out four games now with an upper body injury.

RW- Alex Burrows- sustained a lower body injury on this road trip vs the New York Rangers. He is listed as day to day but there is also promise of him coming back to the line up this road trip.

 

The already depleted squad now has an  injury in every position on the team. Luckily for the Canucks a couple of their wingers know how to play centre and have covered for both Bonino and Richardson while they are still hurt. Everyone who is injured, with the exception of Frank Corrado, are players on the roster sheet for opening night in October. That’s a third of the team. Since January 16, when Richardson went down, the Canucks have lost 58 man-games to the injury bug. At this point, Linden might have the come out of retirement and the pressbox to join the team if no one comes back soon. 

This is going to be a tough test for the remaining core players and the young guys. If Sunday versus the Islanders was an indication of how they are going to play, it looks promising. Until then, I’m hoping a speedy recovery to all the Canucks in the infirmary. Let’s get better sooner than later, and ensure a playoff spot.

 

@Aviewfromabroad