The Goaltending Controversy Del Två (Part Two)

eddie-lack-ryan-miller-nhl-vancouver-canucks-dallas-stars-850x560

Since the arrival of Cory Schneider in the 2010-11 season, a significant era began. This period is what fans like to call “The Goaltending Controversy”. 

Schneider came waltzing in swooning the fans and management away from Roberto Luongo. The rookie eventually stole the spotlight from Luongo and became the new starting goalie. Schneider’s reign came to an abrupt end in 2013 when he was traded to New Jersey for a first round draft pick.

Luongo was the starter again and it was the end of the never-ending story. Then came along the 2014 Olympic break. When the break was over, former coach John Tortorella anointed Eddie Lack as the Canucks new starter.

The shafted Luongo was eventually traded to Florida and all was good again. The Canucks, under the new management of Jim Benning, signed Ryan Miller to become the new starting goalie. It was apparent the controversy was finally over and it was the start of a new chapter for the franchise.

Today after a pre-game practice on the Canucks seven game road trip, Jason Botchford went to Twitter with some “big news”.

“Miller will start,” Botchford tweeted, “Willie was leaning Lack but Miller made what the coach thought was a good point.”

One minute later Botchford continued to say, “Miller said it would be more difficult for Lack starting a day after a team day off. Easier to go with the guy who has been playing.”

After these tweets came out, social media erupted with debates and thus re-sparked “The Goaltending Controversy”.

It would be an absolute shame for this to become the highlight of the season. Vancouver has had enough of this recurring theme. It is unclear whether Miller was being selfless or selfish in stealing a game against the Washington Capitals from Lack. From how it has been interpreted by Botchford and other sports news personalities, it appears to be more selfish.

Eddie Lack has started in five games this season. Some may argue he will not be starting tonight because of his 1-3-1 record this season but Lack is not at fault for these losses. In his few starts, Lack has been thrown out to the wolves on the short end of back-to-back games.

Tonight Lack would have had a chance to prove himself to Canucks fans and his teammates as a reliable goaltender but has been given the shaft. It would make more sense to start Ryan Miller in the next game where they play the Pittsburgh Penguins and give Lack the start tonight. For all fans know, Lack may be in net on Thursday, but it will most likely be Miller taking both starts.

It would be a shame to give Lack only the short end of back-to-backs and it could be detrimental to his development. Miller has been given four straight starts as of Sunday afternoon.

It seems to be a no-brainer to start Lack in net after Millers disaster in Detroit on Sunday afternoon. If Miller blows up again tonight, it will be interesting to see what unfolds next.

Welcome back to the Goaltending Controversy.

Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

Has the Goaltending Controversy Reignited?

Dan Hamhuis Injury Crucial To Canucks

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 5.31.11 PM

On Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks played the Anaheim Ducks. Within seconds, Dan Hamhuis tripped on the skate of Daniel Sedin and slid into the boards. 

He lay there motionless until the whistle blew the play dead. It was then that all fans knew something was wrong. 

Henrik Sedin came to help the crippled Hamhuis off the ice as the fans were at their quietest on that night. 

Since the incident, it has been reported by multiple sources that the veteran blue liner could be out “for months” with a lower body injury. 

The Vancouver Canucks now find themselves in a vulnerable position. If Dan Hamhuis were to be out until February, it would for a total of 27 games.

In wake of the injury, the Canucks have called up Frank Corrado from the Utica Comets. Though calling him up has been the first plan of action, it is highly unlikely the Canucks can brush off missing a Top-4 defenseman.

At some point it may become plausible to make a trade to tighten up the ranks. In order to maintain their position among the toughest division in the NHL, it may be in their best interest to make this decision.

It is difficult to make these calls when it is not known how many months a key player is out, but it has to be done. The Canucks already have found themselves in a difficult position with a thin defensive line.

It appears that Luca Sbisa is not ready to take on a top 4 role in the roster and may require another year of development. Placing Corrado in Hamhuis’ spot would not be the wisest in the long run either. He is not NHL caliber and needs more time to season his play.

All in all, it is up to management to decide how they will patch up this gaping hole in the blue line.

Until then, Canucks fans will be wishing Dan Hamhuis a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the ice soon.

Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

Ryan Kesler Returns To Unwelcoming Fans

image

On a night Ryan Kesler thought he would be embraced by the Canucks fans in Rogers Arena, he was greeted with jeers.

The Canucks organization decided to show a brief highlight reel of Kesler’s eleven years as a Vancouver Canuck. This was only the beginning of a terrible night for the former player. Every time Kesler would touch the puck, fans in the crowd would begin to boo him.

In an earlier interview on his return, Kesler stated that the jeering would fire him up. The boo’s however, did not. Ryan Kesler looked like a whining toddler on the ice as he dived, slid around, and threw fits on the ice when he did not have his way.

It appeared to be that Kevin Bieksa was no fan of Kesler’s play, as the new rivalry became quite heated. Bieksa was the heart and soul for the Canucks defensive play as he stood up for his teammates when they were down 2-0 after the first.

Before the intermission, Kesler and Derek Dorsett were ready to square off in a match that was immediately cut-off by the refs. Bieksa however was able to grab Ducks star forward Corry Perry by the jersey and swing a solid punch. Though it looked like multiple players on both teams would be thrown out for fighting after the period concluded, Kesler was the player who got slapped with a two minute minor for cross checking.

In the second, the Canucks got to a speedy start when Bo Horvat scored his first career goal in NHL. Horvat was the first teenager to score a goal for the Vancouver Canucks since Ryan Kesler scored his first on November 29th, 2003. The opening goal fired up the fans that did not stop cheering for a few minutes.

Kesler later on congratulated Horvat on his milestone during a face-off saying, “good job.” The goal led to the opening of floodgates as Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata scored back-to-back goals to give the lead in the second.

The Anaheim Ducks however answered back to tie up the game. In overtime, the Canucks defense collapsed as Chris Tanev had two opportunities to score, but decided to hold onto the puck. This lead to almost three minutes of the Ducks striking hard as the Canucks slowly moved around. Fortunately, Eddie Lack had a solid game against the Ducks and held his ground firmly though he allowed three goals against.

In the end the Vancouver Canucks surrendered in the shootout. Ryan Kesler in the end left unsatisfied from the city he once called home.

 Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

 

 

After Ten: Canucks Pull Off Exciting Start To The Season

image

The month of October has passed for the Vancouver Canucks who promised in the offseason that change was coming.

Willie Desjardins’ Canucks are off to a stunning 7-3-0 start to the regular season with exceptions for two of the games. The Canucks left the gates running as they dished out victories over the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames for a three win kickoff. The Celebration came to a standstill after two straight losses to the Lightning at home and the Dallas Stars who ran them out of town 6-3. The new team found the light at the end of the tunnel after a disappointing 2-1-0 road trip last week as they held the fort for three games.

They now find themselves at second place in the Pacific Division but what has led to this early success? Let’s break it down line by line and find out.

D. SEDIN (3-9-12) H. SEDIN (4-8-12) VRBATA (5-6-11)

The first line in the ten games they played have been a force to be reckoned with. The twins and Vrbata are combined for 35 points overall and prove to be one of the top lines in the league.

These veteran hockey players have been one of the most productive power play units on the ice scoring seven out of eight one man advantage goals from the ranks.

This line is always a thrill to watch what they will do next and are on pace for a great season.

HIGGINS (2-4-6) BONINO (4-4-8) BURROWS (2-4-6)

The second line looked a tad shaky at first glance when they debuted on the ice. Without any production from themselves and the bottom six they made the Sedin line look like the only strength the team had.

It turned out they only needed a couple match-ups to warm up when they suddenly cranked up the heat in the last five games scoring 14 points. The largest effort has been made by centre Nick Bonino who has proven to be the successor of Ryan Kesler who has on amounted a record of 3-4-7 in 11 games. Bonino now has eight points on the season and is on route for a 66 tally season.

Alex Burrows has shown that being demoted after a poor season will not bring him down as he has pulled a great effort. The 33 year old is back to his 2011 form especially in scrapping. Burrows has come across an amount of trouble after delivering a controversial hit to Alexei Emelin Thursday evening. The forward has now received a 3 game suspension from NHL Player Safety for his actions.

Chris Higgins has been getting Higgy with it in his first ten games. He is one of the most noticeable forwards on the ice. Higgins has not only proven that he can maintain a second role but has proven he is definitely worth the money that management pays.

MATTHIAS (0-2-2) RICHARDSON (3-3-6) KASSIAN (2-1-3)

The third line is a work in progress that has gained traction in the last couple games. Strong efforts have been provided by Brad Richardson who scored three goals in two games. Richardson has been one of the most impressive among the bottom six with his hard shot that simply gets the puck in the net.

Shawn Matthias has begun to show glimmers of hope in his offensive play after being moved from centre to wing last week. The recently acquired former Panther has charged the net on multiple occasions and has not failed to get the puck toward the net.

Zack Kassian on the other hand has been frustrating. The wild card first round pick is still streaky in his play. Not to mention all the obscene acts he has committed in “gooning it up” he really needs to smarten up. Desjardins commented on Kassian’s outrageous applause towards the refs in a game against the Oilers.

“The referees were really good in that situation,” said Desjardins. “We can’t do that. Our players know that. We talked about that.

“That’s one thing you can’t do. I thought the refs handled it real well.”

Kassian all in all is a defective version of Todd Bertuzzi.

DORSETT (0-2-2) VEY (3-2-5) HANSEN (3-0-3)

Linden Vey though a fourth line centre at the moment has been on the top power play unit alongside the
Sedins, Vrbata and Alex Edler. The young forward has shown that he can fit in with the big boys on the roster as is fully capable in being a professional offensive force.

Jannik Hansen was demoted all the way to the bottom of the line chart but he does not seem to mind it. Hansen has provided bottom six mite in scoring three goals this season.

Derek Dorsett is an intense player. He knows when to be the tough guy on the ice and scraps a lot. Dorsett can be compared to those like the late Bob Probert who played the nitty gritty style with integrity and honour. The new enforcer is a man who will light up his team mates when needed.

EDLER (1-3-4) TANEV (0-4-4)

This top pairing has been the heart and soul of the defensive core. When the other two thirds of the blue line fail to support, Tanev and Edler know how to crack the volume up on their play. They are yet to disappoint on a major comeback from the 2013-14 regular season.

Alex Edler has gone from the worst in the NHL last year in plus minus with a rating of -39 to now maintaining a +3 rating.

Chris Tanev is now in the spotlight where he must prove his place on the Canucks for management in order to lock up a multi-year deal with the team. If Tanev keeps up his to the standard they seen him perform, it will be no problem watching him here for years to come.

BIEKSA (0-1-1) HAMHUIS (0-3-3)

This veteran blue line that was expected to carry the team this year has given insight on early rust. Both Bieksa and Hamhuis have had plausible performances on the ice but are not in their peak. The two big names will have to work hard to prove that the old guys have a role too.

SBISA (1-1-2) WEBER (0-2-2)

The third pairing on the Canucks have been an utter embarrassment. Both Sbisa and Weber have been present on the ice for the majority of goals against their team.

Luca Sbisa appears lost whenever he is on the ice and is not the player fans expected in return for Ryan Kesler in last years trade. His play is outright sloppy and to make matters worse, he holds a hefty pay cheque of $2.175 million.

WHAT ABOUT THE GOALTENDING?

The goaltending has been absolutely brilliant with the stellar performances of Ryan Miller. He has been there every time his team needs him and is currently tied with Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for most wins.

Ryan Miller in the first ten games achieved his 30th career shutout and his 300th career win.

WHAT CAN BE TAKEN FROM THIS?

Last season, John Tortorella claimed that the Canucks were simply too old and too stale. In the reign of Willie Desjardins, those remarks have been proven wrong as the team has quickly retooled and are now on pace to be a playoff contender.

Desjardins’ Canucks are slowly beginning to click together in his four line ideology. There is still much work to be done for the Vancouver Canucks and that’s alright.

Change has indeed come to the city of Vancouver.

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder

Hockey With Harder: Canucks Have Best Season Start Since 1999

457408456_slide

For the first time since 1999, the Vancouver Canucks have had their best start to the season. In a 2-0 shutout victory against the Edmonton Oilers, they hold a 3-0-0 record in the standings and are now one win away from tying for their all-time franchise best start set in 1992. The Vancouver club remains alongside the New York Islanders as the only undefeated teams in the league.

It was lights out tonight for Ryan Miller as he finally gained some traction in the Vancouver crease. Miller continued his unbeaten streak against the Oilers which has now climbed to an outstanding 9 game run. In tonight’s game he received his 30th career shutout.

Though the Canucks had players appearing in and out through the game, they still held their ground against the struggling young Oilers who desperately needed to win in order to avoid their worst start in franchise history. Towards the end of the first period, Ryan Stanton left the game with a suspected lower body injury. Dan Hamhuis briefly left the game in the second period after getting a nasty stick to the face from Mark Arcobello who should have received a major penalty but got off scot-free.

Tonight’s game was loaded up with penalties for the Canucks but it did not seem to imprint a dark mark on the play as the team locked the gates on the penalty kill.

The first line once again separated the boys from the men as they provided two goals in Rexall Place. Both Sedin twins and Radim Vrbata picked up two points each on the evening and now carry a combined 17 points to kick off the 2014-15 hockey season. The top line for the Canucks has been one of their best strengths in the first three games as they have successfully kept the puck in the offensive zone and provided many of the shots on the opposing team.

The Canucks played hard from start to finish coming out with the win they needed to continue on the high road. Tomorrow night they take on Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning at home in Rogers Arena. This is where the real challenge will begin. Time will tell if Willie Desjardins and his Vancouver Canucks can become a force to be reckoned with in the Pacific Division.

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder