Canucks Resurrect Successful Power Play Against Flames

By Caleb Harder – CanucksCorner.com

lindenvey_700x400

On Friday night, the Vancouver Canucks won their third straight game in the preseason. In the back-to-back finale against the Calgary Flames, newly acquired goaltender Ryan Miller debuted in the blue and green followed up by Joacim Errikson for the second half as Eddie Lack got the night off. The game played was a complete flip from Thursday’s outing as the Canucks turned it around showing they were clearly the dominant team in the building.

The game in itself was refreshing because it was the first game, in what has seemed like a millennium that the Canucks were a force to be reckoned with on the power play. Out of seven opportunities, the boys were able to net three goals provided by Linden Vey, Jannik Hansen, and Radim Vrbata.

The Sedins were back to their old glory days alongside Vrbata who was a seamless fit with the two stars on the first line. Everything fell right into place as the team successfully cycled the puck, knocking the Flames out of place and winding Douglas Carr into a blubbering mess on the ice. Linden Vey successfully screened Carr in the second period and scored on a rebound off the goaltender’s pads. The goal by Vey and the lead up to it made a large impression on what fans are hoping to see this year. Henrik Sedin was a key contributor to the power play on Friday setting up for the assist on all three goals scored. Radim Vrbata scored one goal and took a total of 12 shots when including attempts. As can be seen by his play, Vrbata likes to shoot and was 11th in the NHL last year with 263 shots on net.

Even though the boys played against a team of Flames that will be starring on their farm team this season, fans were still pleased to see the veteran players tie the knot. There was not a single line that looked lost in the game and it gave us a promising preview of Willie Desjardins’ four line system.

Fellow Canucks fans, the boys are back.

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder

Sloppy First Line Play Overshadowed by Shinkaruk

Caleb Harder – CanucksCorner.com

sbisa_700x400The Vancouver Canucks arrived in the Saddledome last night to begin a back-to-back preseason series against the Calgary Flames. Throughout the first thirty minutes of the game the Flames dominated the Canucks outshooting the team 20-5. A penalty shot attempt from Lance Bouma was caused by a zero effort chop from Ryan Stanton. If it were not for the smooth saves by Eddie Lack, the game would have been over by the first period. The first line consisting of Alex Burrows, Nick Bonino, and Zack Kassian looked like they forgot how to play the game and could not pass or shoot the puck at all. The defense was not much better as Stanton and Huskins were occupied playing “Dodge the Puck” and “Never Let Go, Jack” (if you do not understand this you obviously have not watched Titanic. It’s a great movie.)

Fortunately, in the second half of the game, the rookies were around once again to save the day. Hunter Shinkaruk set his name in stone with another outstanding game. The boy who appeared in a world famous hockey photo seventeen years ago scored his first goal in the Saddledome as a Vancouver Canuck.

Shinkaruk has been the most impressive prospect on the roster racking up four points in two games this year. The 19-year-old prospect is coming in a few months fresh off a hip surgery and is already performing at a professional level.  He has been nothing but impressive in his second preseason stint and is an enthusiastic playmaker that fans will never get tired of. Hunter has been full of flashy moves, excellent hockey sense and knows how to carry a team on his back.

In current analysis, Hunter Shinkaruk is projected to one day be a top six forward and is exactly the right replacement for the hole left behind by Ryan Kesler. If the second line on the regular season is confirmed to be Burrows-Bonino-Kassian, the trio is going to have a very difficult time in keeping their placement on the team.

“They push guys and guys have to get better or else we’ll go with them,” said Willie Desjardins. “We have to go with the guys who are playing.”

The young stars of the Canucks are hungry for a spot with the team and it looks like it will not be a cake walk for the veterans much longer.

HARDER’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

#3 Nicklas Jensen

G: 1 A: 0 PTS: 1 +/- 1

#2 Hunter Shinkaruk

G: 1 A: 1 PTS: 2 +/- 2

#1 Eddie Lack

SA: 20 GA: 0.00 SV% 1.000

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder

Young Stars Give Vets a Run For Their Money

By Caleb Harder for CanucksCorner.com

Hunter Shinkaruk - Photo: VancouverSun.com

Hunter Shinkaruk – Photo: VancouverSun.com

The Vancouver Canucks opened the preseason at home against the San Jose Sharks in a compelling tug of war between the two teams that had remarkably disappointing seasons last year. The Canucks played fast and scored beautiful goals but one thing was off. The young stars were the only players to produce.

The symphony created by the rookies came off as if they were already in their prime. The flood gates opened when Jordan Subban took a shot from the point netting in the first goal. The three other goals in the game were provided by Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat, and Linden Vey. 

In their opening game, the young stars were on fire in their play against the Sharks. Though the Sedins and Radim Vrbata appeared to be a threat on the ice, they didn’t go much further than merely passing around the puck. It was a surprising outcome to the game as the veterans were expected to support the struggling young players who could not seem to get the puck out of their defensive zone in the Young Stars Tournament last week. Was it all a show for the rookies in Penticton causing fans to believe they were not ready to make the big leagues? The players on the ice last night in Rogers Arena were nothing like the ones we previously saw.

The overall effort of the group was outstanding kicking off with Linden Vey taking the chance on the breakaway two minutes into the game causing Stalock, the netminder for the Sharks, to struggle to make the save. The future Canucks showed lightning speed, beautiful plays, and proved that if the veterans won’t step up, they most certainly will.

It’s hard to tell if the vets were holding back or if former head coach John Tortorella was catching on to something in the season ending press conference. The core is not too old in theory but some will need to kick their play up a notch if they want to secure their jobs with the Canucks organization.

If the rookies continue to play in the fashion they did last night, expect players like Shinkaruk and Horvat to make the main roster this season.

The future of the Canucks, though uncertain, is looking bright.

 

HARDER’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME

#3 Linden Vey

G: 1 A: 2 PTS: 3 +/- 3

#2 Jordan Subban

G: 1 A: 0 PTS: 1 +/- 1

#1 Hunter Shinkaruk

G: 1 A: 1 PTS: 2 +/- 2

 

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder

Part Three: Expanding The NHL: How An Expansion Draft Could Impact The Canucks

 expansion_part3_700x400

In a three part series Caleb Harder looks how a potential expansion draft could have an impact on the Vancouver Canucks. In the final installment, he looks at the goaltenders.

In this final installment of The NHL Expansion Draft Series, I will cover the possible scenario for the goaltending of the Vancouver Canucks should this expansion come to pass.

As discussed in my previous articles, I will be using the “7 / 3 / 2” (seven forwards, three defensemen, two goaltenders) model for who could be protected on the Canucks roster. Today we examine the goaltenders.

THE GOALTENDERS

goaltenders

(30) Ryan Miller

On July 1st, the Vancouver Canucks inked a three-year $18 million deal with veteran goaltender Ryan Miller to fill the void of the starting goaltender after both Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo were traded to the New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. Though the Canucks still had Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, it was believed by management that the two Swedish goalies would need some support and mentoring in the crease. Ryan Miller is one of the first goalies that come to mind when the new hybrid style of play in net is mentioned. The one time Vezina Trophy winner holds the franchise record with the Buffalo Sabres for most career wins (284) and most wins in a single regular season (41 in 2009-10). With Miller starting in net for his new team, it restores hope for stability in goaltending for the fans in Vancouver.

(31) Eddie Lack

This young goalie is entering his second NHL season as a Canuck. Last season, he was put to the test by playing 19 straight games from the end of the 2014 Olympic break to April 7th, 2014 under John Tortorella despite demands by management to give him a couple games off during the span. After that span, Lack proved that while he may not be ready to be the starting goalie for the Canucks, he may be a solid second benefitting from more time developing under a veteran goaltender. Overall, Eddie Lack is a talented hybrid goaltender who can fill up the whole crease. He will be the successor to Ryan Miller someday, and is one of the most lovable goalies to play in Vancouver.

THE RUNNER-UP

(35) Jacob Markstrom

Jacob Markstrom was one of two acquisitions from Florida at the trade deadline for former Canucks starter Roberto Luongo. This is the one goalie that I don’t see spending much more time on the West Coast. Without a doubt, Markstrom is a talented goaltender who had a decent lockout season with the Florida Panthers while sharing the crease with Scott Clemmensen and Jose Theodore. With the arrival of Ryan Miller to the equation, I believe Markstrom will not receive the opportunities he deserves to have as a goaltender and will be able to get a better shot in another franchise.

With these present conditions along with the recent selection of Thatcher Demko in the NHL Draft, the future is revealing glimmers of renewed hope. If the Canucks play their cards right in transitioning the role of the starting goaltender from Miller to Lack to Demko over a period of time, perhaps the city of Vancouver will no longer be considered the goalie graveyard to the rest of the hockey nation.

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder

Part Two: Expanding The NHL: How An Expansion Draft Could Impact The Canucks

expansion_part2_700x400

In a three part series Caleb Harder looks how a potential expansion draft could have an impact on the Vancouver Canucks. In part two, he looks at the defence.

As we mentioned in Part One, rumours made their way through newspaper and the internet that the National Hockey League would be granting four new franchises to Seattle, Quebec City, Toronto, and Las Vegas. If the rumours turn out to be true, the NHL will hold an expansion draft for the awarded franchises.

In the expansion draft, each existing team has the choice of protecting one goaltender, nine forwards, and five defensemen, or the option of protecting two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards. For teams that protect two goaltenders, all remaining goaltenders are required to have played a minimum of 10 NHL games in the previous season or 25 total games in the previous two seasons. Each team must also have one defenseman and two forwards left unprotected who have played in 40 NHL games in the previous season or 70 games combined in the previous two. Players exempted from the draft are first and second year pro’s and presumably other prospects.

In the Canucks current position, the team has the ability to choose whatever option they please in protecting players, but I will be using the “two goaltenders, seven forwards, three defensemen” format for this series. With all those rules in mind, if the expansion draft were to take place tomorrow, which defensemen would the Canucks protect on their roster and why?

To give an overview of the players eligible in the draft here is a quick overview chart of the defensemen on the roster.

THE DEFENSEMEN

defencemen

(3) Kevin Bieksa

Kevin “Juice” Bieksa is the true definition of leadership. Bieksa always provides 110% in the game whether it’s standing up for his teammates, delivering a solid hit on the opposing team when they get in the zone, or setting up his line mates for the winning goal. He is one of the most physical and aggressive defenders in the game and is not afraid to provide some gritty play. The Juice is a player with a true passion for the game and the kind of defenseman a team should never think twice about protecting for their roster.

(2)  Dan Hamhuis

Last year, Dan Hamhuis had the best plus minus rating among his fellow team mates. It seemed to be in the previous season that he was always on the ice when the Canucks scored and when they were scored on. Hamhuis has proven throughout his ten year career to have a decent point shot, however he is a fantastic defenseman when it comes to setting himself up an assist with a career high of 33 assists in the 2011-12 season with the Vancouver Canucks. Hamhuis also proved under the John Tortorella regime last season that he can definitely put the puck into the net and who knows, maybe this year it will be on the opposing team.

(8) Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev is the image of the Vancouver Canucks defensive future. The 24-year-old blue liner has strong hockey knowledge and can swiftly move the puck like no one else. His playing style is most comparable to former Canuck, Christian Ehrhoff, whom he played alongside in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final season. The undrafted defenseman has been one of the few successful prospects of the Mike Gillis era and it looks like it’s nothing but up for the rest of Tanev’s career.

If these three were to be protected by Jim Benning and the Vancouver Canucks, it would create the trifecta of the modern defensemen as it fills in the requirements of being tough on the ice, large on offensive strength, and honing the basics of what a strong defenseman is overall.

Part Three: Goaltenders

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder