Canucks Season Post-Mortem: Everybody Relax

Now that the taste of bitterness of the Canucks first round exit has diminished, and the second round is now underway, it’s a good time to look back on the Canucks season.

The Canucks earned their 2nd President’s Trophy in a row this season, earning the most points in the league again. Say what you will about a weak Northwest Division, I maintain that it’s still a great accomplishment. Look around the NHL – the only truly competitive divisions in terms of playoff calibre teams are the Atlantic, and the Central. If you’re the class of the Pacific, Northeast, Southeast or Northwest, you should have a shot at the President’s Trophy. So where are those teams in the race?

With respect to the playoffs, every year there are teams that win and lose unexpectedly. The playoffs aren’t played on paper, they’re played on the ice. Teams rise and fall in cycles – players get hot and cold, teams look good and bad. If you’ve ever played any competitive sports, you know this. Sometimes you’re in the zone, and feel unbeatable. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what you do, you can’t get it together. If you’ve watched the Canucks for a long time, this isn’t the first time you’ve suffered, and you know it won’t be the last. If you’re new to being a Canucks fan, welcome aboard, and hang on tight. There will be ups and downs, but it’ll be fun.

Coaching controversy

Alain Vigneault is still the coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and I feel he will be for next season. There is no shortage of opinion on the matter on Twitter, and @korvan made an excellent point just after the Canucks lost their series to the Kings:

If you let go of Vigneault, who’s out there that’s better?

Vigneault won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s Coach of the Year in the 2006-07 season. All he’s done since then is gone on to coach the team to two President’s Trophies and to the Stanley Cup Finals. That’s not too shabby. Who is available that can be better than that? Ron Wilson? Marc Crawford? Mike Keenan? Come on now.

Goaltending controversy

We will look back on this time as a golden age of goaltending in this glorious city. For a city with fans that love the backup more than they love the starter (Attaboy Troy!), we may all rue the day that we had to trade Number 1 away. A lot has to happen for Roberto Luongo to be traded away from the Canucks, but this seems to be a foregone conclusion. He has said he will lift his no movement clause if that is what’s best for the team, and speculation about where he will go to has run rampant since then. Toronto, Tampa Bay and Florida seem to be the most popular destinations. Other cities in the conversation include Edmonton and Chicago, among others. Personally, I can’t see Mike Gillis trading Luongo to a team that could come back to haunt us early in the playoffs, unless the deal is something he can’t resist.

Make no mistake: Roberto Luongo is the greatest starting goaltender ever to put on the Canucks uniform. The statistics below don’t lie. It’s also no coincidence that teams and cities that loved to cut Luongo down are falling all over themselves, in search of a starting goaltender who can take them deep into the playoffs. Yes Vancouver, it’s true. Many teams in the NHL believe Luongo can take them deep into the playoffs, even as some of us have doubts.

Goaltender Season GP W L T OTL     GAA     SV%
Roberto Luongo     2010-11     60     38     15     -      7 2.11 .928
Kirk McLean 1991-92 65 38 17 9 - 2.74 .901
Richard Brodeur 1981-82 52 20 18 12 - 3.35 .891
Dan Cloutier 2003-04 60 33 21 6 - 2.27 .914
Arturs Irbe 1997-98 41 14 11 6 - 2.73 .907
Corey Hirsch 1995-96 41 17 14 6 - 2.93 .903
Cesare Maniago 1976-77 47 17 21 9 - 3.36 -
Félix Potvin 1999-00 34 12 13 7 - 2.59 .906
Cory Schneider 2011-12 33 20 1.96  .937

I believe Cory Schneider looked good this year. I believe he will be a great goaltender for this team. However, what I believe, and what is factual are different things. Here are the facts:

  • Schneider is a Restricted Free Agent still in search of a long term deal. If a long term deal can’t be made, the Canucks can always make a qualifying offer for him, but risk losing him as an Unrestricted Free Agent next summer if they do so.
  • Schneider didn’t play a starting goaltender’s minutes in Vancouver this year.
  • The glare of the spotlight is much brighter – and much hotter – on the starting goaltender in this city.
  • Schneider has 1 playoff win to his credit, and 38 career regular season wins.

Hopefully Mike Gillis can get a long term deal done with Schneider, and trade Luongo to a team that won’t break our hearts in the playoffs next year.

Playoff Injury Report

It is always interesting to see which players had which injuries once they are out of the playoffs and the Cone of Silence is finally lifted. As it turns out:

  • Ryan Kesler has problems with a shoulder, as well as nagging post-surgical hip issues. He is looking at a long period of physical rehab and strengthening this summer. Only his abs remain uninjured.
  • Chris Higgins was suffering from an abdominal strain as he took the sit-up contest with Ryan Kesler a little too far.
  • Kevin Bieksa has finally admitted his “Maintenance Week” was just a little more serious than “Maintenance Days”.
  • Alexander Edler indeed played with one eye, and only one half of his brain in the first round.
  • Sami Salo is remarkably uninjured.
  • Alex Burrows and Max Lapierre were drinking Faderade instead of Gatorade.
  • Mason Raymond as suspected, has a serious leg length discrepancy, which explains all of the falling.
  • Roberto Luongo played despite a broken heart.

Nothing wrong with the Sedins – they were pretty good.

Thoughts regarding the early demise of the Canucks

The Quest stands upon the edge of a knife. Stray but a little, and it will fail, to the ruin of all. Yet hope remains while the Company is true.

Galadriel – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

There is no question that the Stanley Cup is the most difficult championship to win in pro sports.

There are 8 great teams in the Western Conference that made the playoffs this year. No easy matchups – just ask the Red Wings, Sharks, Blackhawks and Canucks – all out in the first round, joined by the Bruins and Penguins in the east. I have long stated that to go deep in the playoffs, it sure helps to have a hot goaltender. I have to amend that this year – it sure helps to have two hot goaltenders.

Still doesn’t work?

To go deep in the playoffs, it sure helps if you have two hot goaltenders, and play a goaltender that isn’t hotter, and you can score a few goals.

When the playoffs begin, it is a new season. A chance to clear away the disappointments of the regular season. As the Canucks learned, if you have a slow start in the playoffs, you might as well pack your bags. There’s no room for error. If you’re lucky enough to make it through one round, you get to do it all over again. And again. And again.

The Canucks have a great team. Two President’s Trophies do count for something. Not as much as a Stanley Cup, but .. there’s always next year.

Ryan Kesler stars in “The Guzzler”. When you’re facing elimination, there is one man you turn to.

Just thought we would have a little more fun with the Kevin Bieksa interview done by FOX Sports Radio that was all over social media yesterday. To lighten the mood a little before Game 5 a We played around with a classic movie poster to bring you a SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS Production, The Guzzler.

Enjoy the game everyone and as The Guzzler himself would say, God Bless America!

GO CANUCKS GO!

Ryan Kesler - The Guzzler

And The Beats Go On in the NHL

With apologies to Sonny and Cher:

The beats go on, the beats go on – Checks keep pounding hits to the brain…

Raffi Torres Suspended 25 Games for hit on Marian Hossa

Raffi Torres: 5 time! 5 time! 5 time! 5 time! 5 time repeat offender!

Brendan Shanahan and the NHL Player Safety Department made a statement by suspending Raffi Torres for the remainder of this year’s playoffs, and probably well into the 2012-2013 regular season. I do not have a problem with the length of this suspension. My issue is with the consistency of the suspensions as a whole. The Torres hit on Hossa was dangerous, but according to Justyna Gluch (@MidwayJustyna from Midway Madness), it was a borderline hockey play – maybe a fraction of a second too late, and if Torres had not leaped into Hossa, the hit would have a little more legal. I’d like to add and underline the word “reckless“. Torres is a 5 time repeat offender with respect to the NHL and supplementary discipline, and all of his hits have the same careless, reckless nature. They’re all at high speed, and all direct shots to the head, with the elbow or shoulder.

There’s no need for that type of play. It’s clear Torres didn’t see the pre-season video from the NHL Player Safety Department, or maybe his copy was switched with Don Cherry’s Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Hockey. Either way, if Torres wants to stay in the NHL, he needs to re-tool his game, much like Matt Cooke did this season with the Penguins.

Very little consistency from NHL Player Safety department

Torres was handed a 25-game suspension, yet Shea Weber’s WWE turnbuckle smash of Henrik Zetterberg’s head got him a $2500 fine. Other star players received fines or 1-game suspensions that did not hurt their team. Perhaps it’s just anecdotal evidence that I’m looking at, but it does seem that “star players” in the NHL are not served the same rulebook as “role players”.

No respect among NHL players

Respecting the opposition doesn’t mean you have to invite them to the team-only Super Mario Kart tournament, or to the pregame soccer warm-up. Respect to me is some basic human decency, within the framework of a game of hockey. Bodychecks are legal hits, meant to dislodge a player from the puck. A legal check doesn’t have to be thrown at 50 M.P.H. with the intent to hit the player into next week.

This has been happening for a long time. Scott Stevens made a career out of hard hits, half of which would be borderline hockey plays, and likely reviewed for suspension. There is a long list of players that have ended their careers early because of hits to the head. Hockey fans have to wonder how hockey history would be different if players like Keith Primeau, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and Marc Savard had played full and healthy careers. Sidney Crosby may yet be added to that list.

Is there anything wrong with letting up a bit? Hits at 30 M.P.H. along the ice are still just as devastating. How about a quick “Heads Up”, or God forbid letting your skills do the talking?

Players expect too much of the league, and should expect more of themselves

How many times have you watched player interviews after a game with a questionable hit? Coaches and players are guilty of trying to “let the league deal with it”. The players go out and play their game, hit their hits, and then take whatever happens with respect to discipline. Am I the only one who believes the players should just know better?

 

 

Canucks Creed: A Lil Faith, Please

Seeing all the negativity on twitter, on Facebook and all over the internet about how the Vancouver Canucks are done as dinner. It may be a truth, but it is not yet so. Until it’s final that the Vancouver Canucks are no longer part of the playoff race, I choose to remain faithful and believe in them.  I decided to make my own hockey prayer of the Apostles’ Creed and call it the Canucks Creed.

The Canucks last supper? Maybe, but keep faith. Photo Credit: Ray Galang

Canucks Creed

I believe in hockey gods,Lord Stanley almighty,
Creator of the cherished cup,and in Captain Hank,
our only voice, our leader
who was conceived with a twin spirit, Danielborn of the Swedish viking,
suffered under Dustin Brown’s hit|
was knocked down; winded and weary;
he descended to the ice;
in the same period he rose again from the hit;
he then ascended into a 3:20 minute shift,
I believe Cory or Luongo, neither will falter,
although it is 0-3 is how the Kings have led
I believe in the hockey spirit,the shot of Sami Salo,
the determination of Kelser,the speed of Jannik Hansen,
the resurrection of my team,
and the cup dream everlasting.

Amen

The boys are yet to be eliminated. It could be tonight, it could be next week, or maybe it could be never this season.  I refuse to concede defeat when the last battle has not yet to take place. I ask you all to join me in ‘prayer’ and keep the faith. It may be a last ditch effort, but it is our duty as Canucks fans to believe, keep faith, and hope for the dream to stay alive.

GO CANUCKS GO!

 

Justine Galo

twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

Canucks Need to Stop Drinking Faderade

 

Gatorade. It’s the classic sports drink for rehydrating athletes.

Haterade. It’s what everyone outside of BC drinks when the Vancouver Canucks come up in conversation. The sports beverage of choice for chirping and trolling in Calgary, Toronto, Boston and Chicago, among others.

Faderade. It’s what the Canucks are drinking this post season.

There’s no other explanation for their performance in the playoffs this year. All the way up and down the roster, with perhaps the exception of the goaltending, the Canucks have been underachieving. The Canucks were picked by many to have a good chance to go deep in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs. Many had picked the Canucks to meet the Penguins in the final, and now both teams are facing a 3-game deficit.

Defensive coverage has been indefensible. #PunIntended

Alex Edler, who led the Canucks in points from the defense, has been nothing short of abysmal. In fact the entire Canucks defense corps in Games 1 and 2 of this series was suspect. Shot blocking techniques aside, if you play defense in the NHL and you find yourself diving to reach for pucks, there is a good chance you are out of position. If you are trying to play goaltender as a defenseman, even though you have one of the best goaltending tandems in the NHL, chances are you are out of position.

If the Canucks are going to win, they will need the type of coverage we saw in Game 3.

Offensive production has been offensive. #PunIntended

The basic objective of the game of hockey is to score more goals than your opponent. The team that scores the most goals wins the game. As such you need to score in order to win.

Yes, having Daniel Sedin on the sidelines has not made it easier for the Canucks. He was the Canucks leading scorer during the regular season. However, the Canucks are built for depth. When one player is out, others have always stepped up in the past. Henrik, Kesler, Higgins, Booth, Raymond, Burrows – these guys are all capable of putting the puck in the net. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick has been very good, but he hasn’t been required to be spectacular yet.

Inspiration

The Canucks have all the tools they need to win. They’ve beaten the Kings before, without Daniel Sedin. They have usually adjusted well after losses, and come back with good effort. This year’s playoffs seem to be different. You could see it in the player’s post game interviews – frustration, with a touch of disappointment.

If the Canucks and their fans need inspiration to stay positive, confident and motivated, they need to look no further than their captain, Henrik Sedin.

Henrik was rocked by a hit from the Kings captain Dustin Brown, right in front of the Canucks bench. Brown had a line on him from well below the blue line; not at full speed, but from a long distance. The hit wasn’t dirty per se, but Henrik had a hard time getting onto the bench. After gathering himself, Henrik left for the dressing room.

Minutes later, Henrik was taking his regular shift. Later in the game, he had an amazing shift on a Canucks power play that lasted for well over 3 minutes, and did everything except put the puck in the net.

That is the type of effort that will lead the Canucks to a win in Game 4.

That is the Heart of a Canuck.