No success without a dependable fourth line

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In my first article back in October I talked about the Canucks bottom 6 not being good enough. A month and a half into the season, I can say I am content with the part of the bottom 6. The third line has been dependable. The fourth line hasn’t.

John Tortorella doesn’t have faith in his fourth line and is reluctant to put them on the ice. I can’t blame him for that. For the better part of the season, it seems like whenever the fourth line is out on the ice they are getting scored on or can’t get out of their own zone. The Canucks best fourth liner is Dale Weise. He’s hurt. Darren Archibald showed more in his 8 games up with the big club than Tom Sestito, Zac Dalpe and Jeremy Welsh have shown in their games, but the Canucks sent the big forward back down to Utica to room for David Booth.

Injuries have forced the Canucks hand all year. They had not, until Sunday, been able ice the line-up they had envisioned during training camp and arguably still haven’t considering Jordan Schroeder is out for the second time this season. Jannik Hansen’s return and Richardson’s move to the fourth line didn’t make a difference in how much the fourth liners played. Richardson has averaged 13 minutes throughout the season; he played under 8 Sunday night against Dallas. Tom Sestito has played an average of five and a half minutes so far this season, he played 30 seconds Sunday. Jeremy Welsh played just 2 shifts in the game, totalling 18 seconds. It’s not a recipe for success.

Like I mentioned in my previous article, teams that win the cup have dependable fourth lines that can at least go out there to give the top guys a little bit of a break. This year’s Canucks team doesn’t have the luxury. Last year’s team didn’t have that. Amongst forwards, the Sedins and Kesler are in the top 4 for average minutes played a game. It’s not sustainable. I don’t want to beat a dead horse, but until the team upgrades the fourth line, it will be tough to make a deep run come April, May and June.

Top 10 of Number 10: Pavel Bure

All throughout that Saturday morning, from the minute I woke up to the minute I stepped out of my home, I thought about how many moments Pavel Bure has given to this city. Many are caught on camera and probably uploaded on youtube, but there were some that I simply remember sitting in my seat (most likely on the edge) at the Pacific Coliseum watching him live.  As I was riding on the Skytrain downtown to a short work meeting prior to the game, I thought to myself, “You’re one lucky lady.” I grew up in an era of Bure Canucks hockey. A player that was not only revered here in Vancouver, but all over the league and eventually found himself in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

Bure Ceremony

Bure Ceremony

Here are my Top 10 Moments of No. 10, Pavel Bure:

  1. First ever game as a Vancouver Canuck versus the Winnipeg Jets: Pavel didn’t score that night, but he must have had five rushes or so up and down the ice. I skipped school that day, drove to TicketMaster at Pacific Coliseum and lined up for stand room only tickets so I could watch Bure that night. I also believe I skipped a volleyball practice, which resulted in my coach benching me for it. It was worth it. I saw exactly why everyone was such a buzz over this guy. He undressed defensemen, he shimmy’ed around opponents and skated faster, better and in more control than anyone I have ever seen before who played in the NHL.
  2. First NHL Goal: I don’t even want to talk about it, how about we just look at it. 
  3. Elbow on Shane Churla: Not one of his classier moments, but it was memorable for sure. Bure was no pushover  and although I do not condone it, the message was simple. He wasn’t one to be messed around with, he will push back. 
  4. Stick to Skate to Stick goal: The kind of goals you mess around with in practice. Bure added a little Pele to this goal and to top it off, it was short-handed. 
  5. Speed: There has never been anyone I have ever seen live that carried that much speed and so much control over the puck. What would spin most players out of control and hurling into the boards, made Bure a HOF’er.
  6. 1994 Double OT Goal vs Calgary: The pass from Jeff Brown, the rest… 
  7. Goal vs The Devils: Dipsy doodle and doh see doh. Bure danced around everyone in the Devils’ zone and scored. 
  8. End to End: There isn’t a Canuck player past or present that can do an end to end rush like Pavel, no one. 
  9. Calling His Shot: Pavel Bure gets a penalty shot on Damian Rhodes but he tells Koharski he’s going 5-hole and gets it. Babe Ruth, what? 
  10. Finally, Rocket to the Rafters: I’ve been waiting for this moment for so many years. It was about time.

The man’s career was one big highlight reel. I am one of the fortunate ones to see most of it from beginning to end. He will  always have his place here now in Vancouver, for that I am thankful. What stuck out the most that night, was when fans, even the younger ones that didn’t get to see him play, saw the videos of Bure highlights, the reactions of “oohs” and “ahhs” were almost like he was performing them live. He was that good.

Thanks Pavel and congratulations.

And then there were four...

And then there were four…

 

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

 

10 Things: I Hate About You, Canucks fans

Sitting pretty and quietly at The Rog

Sitting pretty and quietly at The Rog

 

As I visit the twitter verse, Facebook pages, fan sites and just a simple conversation with a good number of Canucks fans, I at times want to ram my head through a wall. Why? To simplify it for some, no matter what happens with the team, some of them are just not satisfied…with anything.

I decided to put together a short list about what I hate about Canucks fans, from a Canucks fan.

1. Over-analyzing trades: There isn’t a fan base in the whole league who would break apart a trade and find as many ways as to why it was such a terrible trade for the Vancouver Canucks. It’s been nearly two years, and the Cody Hodgson/Zack Kassian trade is ripped apart on a daily, no make that hourly basis here in Vancouver. Hell, some are still talking about the Cam Neely trade from the 1980’s! Give it up already! Deal with it, and carry on. For my two cents on the Hodgson/Kassian trade. The immediacy of a competent 3rd line centre is making this trade look more like a ‘mistake’. The Canucks don’t really *need* a power forward type of player currently. It will also take Kassian to develop to see if he will make the grade. Don’t believe me? Two words: Todd Bertuzzi.
2. Blame Luongo: No matter if this man has a good game or a great game, there are many out there that would rather rip into him rather than give him any credit. He is the first to get blamed, and the last to get praise. When the Canucks lose 4-1 to any team, immediately, some fans cry, “Luongo let in four goals!” It is hardly ever, “Wow, the team only has one goal to support an effort by Bobby Lu.” I know he has to be the money guy, and at times he has been, but when there is no goal scoring, a goalie can only keep out so many on his own. Remember that “own goal”, Vancouver so graciously gave Montreal? There was a tweeter that RT’ed someone bringing up that Luongo should have had his skate right at the post so that would not have gone in. Well, smarty pants, Luongo wasn’t exactly expecting an error of communication in front of him between two defensemen that he should be guarding his post oh so dearly. If that was Schneider or even Lack in net, no one would blame them whatsoever. So, has Schneider got his first win yet on a winless NJ team? I’m sure Jersey fans are blaming their guys between the pipes for that too.
3. National Lampoon’s Anthem: I’m not sure what is wrong with some that come to the arena and hoot and holler all throughout the anthem(s), but it seems to happen way too often. How about we show the singer, the countries and yourselves a little respect and either just sing, or just shut the f*** up, please! There is no worse arena in the league that does that. Have some national pride.
4. Bronx Cheering Inappropriately: You realize how this all started right? It was the Yankees fans razzing the opposing team’s pitchers that just gave up a crap ton of runs to their team. Translate that into hockey and it’s when your team has a good lead, and the opposing team’s goalie lets in so many goals, he is either pulled or continues the frustration on the blue ice. So when Carey Price has a 1-1 tie, you can’t start rousing the “CAARRRRRREEEEEEEEE” chant. Tactless, unacceptable, and just down right makes not only you, but the rest of us look stupid.
5. Diminishing The “W”:Winning pretty or winning ugly have a common denominator, can you guess? I will give you a hint, it starts with a Wih– and ends with a “ning”. Now, I’m not sure, but I believe the objective of the game is to score more goals than the opponent. Whether is 12-1 or 2-1, both types of game equate to the same thing at the end of 60 minutes or 60 to 65 minutes or through to the shoot out, two points. Now, although I would love to see the Canucks win with pretty goals, keeping their opponents on their heels, an ugly win still counts. If the team is struggling but still winning, it does make it easier for them to get a groove and feel less pressure to live up to the expectations. Take the two points, know it can get better, but two points now is just as important as two points in March.
6. The Game Starts at…:So get your asses in your seats and get ready for game time! So many times, I am in my seat, and I see between 1/4 to 1/3 of Rogers Arena and it takes well into the first period before the seats looks more full than not. Is it the beer lines? Is it the entrance door staff? Whatever it is, when the puck is dropped, a good number of the Rogers Arena Contingent can’t seem to be on time for the start of the game.
7. “The Sellout” Crowd: Yes, technically if all tickets are sold, but not all seats are filled, it’s a sellout. And I don’t really blame the Canucks for this one. You can have people buy the tickets, but you can’t head to their houses and places of employment or hire a F/T person to individually call the season ticket holders who leave their seats empty for games they aren’t attending to show up come game time. If you have tickets, but cannot attend the game, instead of wasting them and not having success re-selling them, how about donating them to a local charity? I’m sure a worker, or a prize winner would love to have that as a bonus.
8. Gossip Girls/Guys: Whether a rumour be true or not, I find it extremely laughable how much some out in Canuckland, eat the gossip cookies like it was their last meal. People get fed a rumour about the team, and next thing you know, a player was traded as a result of that rumour. Who really knows but those with the inside track. If someone brings up points to oppose the popular beliefs, they are tagged as “ignorant” or aren’t “in the know” of the inner dealings, feelings and wheelings of the Vancouver Canucks. Ask yourself, unless you were a fly in that jock strap, are you an insider?
9. Rogers Library errr Arena: I am not quite sure what has happened over the last few years, but the once electric atmosphere of Rogers Arena/GM Place, is more these days seemingly a part of the Vancouver Public Library branches. You don’t have to have permission or repeatedly be told to “MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” by DJ Dave. Make some on your own accord. Have some fun, cheer on the boys when they are down, make those around see how much you enjoy the game and your team. Having to be prompted to cheer on your team is right up there with Inappropriate Bronx Cheering. The only time that place gets loud is when there is a big round of boo’s or when a Canucks goal is scored.
10. “Gotta Catch the Skytrain Before The Rush”: Really? You’re going to get out of the seat that you paid a good amount of $$$ for because you want to be the first to get on the Skytrain home? I don’t care if the Canucks look like paint gun victims and the goal light is permanently red at the Canucks end, I don’t *get it*. . It could be an amazing victory by the home team, but between 3-7 minutes to go in the third period, a mass exodus of Canucks “fans”, make their way for the exits and are homeward bound. Why can’t you just sit another few minutes and finish the game? It’s only a few more minutes? If you’re not standing in a line up to get out of the arena, you’re standing at the Skytrain to get a fare ticket for your ride home or elbowing your way to a cab. I have been to 27 arenas in the NHL, and the Canucks fans are by far the worst at leaving the arena early and so many other fan bases comment on it after seeing it on TV and shake their heads like you caused them to have Parkinson’s disease. So do yourselves and your fellow Canucks fans a favour, sit the f*** down and finish the game. It’s embarrassing.

First blog of the year and I have made sure I endeared myself to the general fan base. Virtual high-fives all around!

Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

Bottom 6 Still Needs a Fix

Sukh Purewal – Canuckscorner.com: 

Yes, it was just the first game of 82, but it looks like a problem that has plagued the Canucks the last few seasons is going to be a problem once again. The bottom 6. No one on the fourth line played more than 5 minutes against the San Jose Sharks. Dale Weise led the way playing 4:49. Tom Sestito played 3:28 and Zac Dalpe played 3:19 and very little if any of that in the third. That’s not a winning formula. It puts too much of a strain on the rest of the team. Stanley Cup winning teams have third and fourth lines that can play in most situations. The Canucks haven’t had that luxury since 2010-2011. Coincidently, that team went to game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Brad Richardson, who was supposed to be the third line centre this season, played just 12 minutes. His line mate Mike Santorelli played 14 minutes and Jannik Hansen played almost 16 minutes. You can count the number of chances the bottom 6 forwards had in the Sharks game Thursday night on one hand. A strong forecheck by Santorelli gave Booth an open look that Niemi swallowed up.

An upgrade to the bottom 6 is necessary. It was necessary all summer. It was necessary all last season. It’s an issue that Mike Gillis just has not been able to solve, but needs to solve if he wants his team to make a run deep into playoffs. Whether it’s promoting from within and giving Kellan Lain a chance, making another trade (Dalpe was acquired from the Hurricanes on the weekend), or dipping a toe into the remaining free agent pool. Gillis has to do something quick and improve his team, especially because they can’t beat up on the dreadful Northwest division anymore.

CanucksCorner.com welcomes Sukh Purewal to our blogging team and we look forward to his contributions this season.


 

 

Raymond Kirk: Vancouver Canucks / San Jose Sharks Preview

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The 2013 NHL Dress Rehearsal is over, and now it’s time to play for keeps. The Vancouver Canucks will open up the 1st Round of the playoffs against the San Jose Sharks, a familiar post season foe, and the most famous Stanchion goal in NHL History as Kevin Bieksa sent Canuck Nation into a frenzy and a Stanley Cup Final appearance just two seasons ago, dispatching the Sharks in five games in the Western Conference Final.

On the final day of the Western Conference NHL season, it was yet to be determined if the Canucks first round match up would be against the San Jose Sharks, LA Kings or St. Louis Blues. While all three teams are formidable opponents, it is my opinion that Vancouver could not have asked for a better draw than San Jose. Not only have they had recent post season success against San Jose, but both clubs mirror each other’s strengths and weaknesses this season.

Without question, the Sharks have what on paper should be a formidable offensive attack, with the likes of Joe Thornton, Logan Couture, Devon Setoguchi, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Martin Havlat. Their blue line is solid with Dan Boyle, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brad Stuart, and not to mention Brent Burns, who has transformed his game from being a solid Defenceman into a power forward for this Sharks club, chipping in key points for San Jose as the season has moved along. Yet, with all the weapons the Sharks have at their disposal, offensive production has escaped them this year, as they finished 24th in the NHL in scoring.

If not for the Vezina caliber season of goaltender Antti Niemi, the Sharks would find themselves on the outside looking in this post season. Niemi has been fantastic all year long, stealing many much needed points for San Jose allowing this team to play a lower scoring; low risk system that almost played itself into home ice advantage in the first round? Sound familiar, Canucks fans?

The Canucks, on paper, can go toe-to-toe with San Jose offensively. Although Henrik and Daniel Sedin are far from having a career best offensive year, their two-way game is as good as it’s ever been. Having a healthy Ryan Kesler at this time of year is as good as any NHL Trade Deadline acquisition could be, as to me; this series will go as Kesler goes. If he is healthy, he will cause havoc for the Sharks. It is for Wednesday and beyond why GM Mike Gillis went out and got Derek Roy as a deadline rental, as what he can provide offensively for the Canucks from the 3rd line and 2nd Power play makes Vancouver a dangerous team forwards one through nine, and he has shown that he knows where the other end of the ice is as well and will not be a defensive detriment to this team. The Canucks goaltending from Cory Schneider has been almost as good as what Niemi has produced in San Jose. Schneider has had to steal victory from the jaws of defeat more than should have been required. I feel that goaltending is awash in this series.

To me, the series will be won or lost not on goaltending and offensive production. It will be won on defence and Special Teams. The Canucks blue line has been an enigma all season. The two constants have been Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison. Garrison, who struggled mightily finding his niche the first quarter of the season has found his game and not only is contributing on the score sheet, but has been more than dependable in his own end. Alex Edler could be the key to the whole series, in my eyes. Edler is capable of being the best d-man on either club this round, and maybe should be. Yet his game has been consistently inconsistent this year, with poor decisions on the power play, bad first passes out of his own end which have led to many quality shots against, and poor reads in all zones of the ice, which have bade him a liability more than an asset on too many occasions. The health to Kevin Bieksa is crucial for this team in the playoffs. He is a riverboat gambler, but plays with a mean streak, can chip in with timely offensive production, and be a royal pain for the Sharks top forwards. The loss of Chris ‘Cool’ Tanev hurts, but it appears the Canucks are willing to roll the dice on young Frank Corrado, who did not look out of his element in his first week in the NHL.

Special Teams has been a strength of the Sharks all season long, boasting a top 10 record both Shorthanded and on the Power play this season. It is well chronicled just how anemic the Canucks power play has been this season, yet it showed serious signs of life the last quarter of the season, with the return of Ryan Kesler to the lineup and the addition of Derek Roy. I feel that Jason Garrison has earned his way onto that first unit, yet he has not been able to find himself in that spot. To me, this is a mistake. You have to use your best weapons at this time of the year, and to me, Garrison is a much better fit than Alex Edler at this stage. The Canucks penalty kill has been fantastic down the homestretch. It will need to continue to be so. If it can, it will stifle a Sharks offense that struggled in a big way at 5 on 5 this season.

Prediction? I say the Canucks in 5. Not because San Jose is a weak team and I feel they should be taken lightly. I just feel that this club has shown more consistent success in May hockey than San Jose. (and there is not many teams you can say that about) The goaltending is a wash, in my opinion and I feel the Canucks feel they have just as much to prove as San Jose does. And I’m maybe in the minority, but I am not worried for a second about the health of Cory Schneider when Wednesday rolls around. If there was true fear from the management and coaching staff as to his health, do you really think Roberto Luongo would have even started the last game of the regular season against the Oilers, for fear of losing him to injury and running to the playoffs with Joe Cannata as your #1? I think not. I see many 2-1 or 3-2 games in this series future. Maybe two in OT. But past success, and an equal drive to win when it matters most, along with home ice tells me the Canucks find a way to close this series out in five.

Your thoughts? Thanks for reading.

Follow me on Twitter: @RayRay2233