Canucks Report at the Half Way Mark

tanev_higgins

After 42 games, the Canucks are 23-12-7. The team managed to string together a 7 game win streak, on their way to posting a 10-1-2 record in December, their best month of the season so far.

The team has 53 points and remains at 4th place in the Pacific Division. At the quarter pole the Canucks were at 4th in the Pacific, but had played the most games in the league. Their hot December has allowed the team to remain in the same spot while other teams have made up most of the difference in games played.

The Canucks have been bit hard by the injury bug. Defencemen Alex Edler, Ryan Stanton, and Andrew Alberts are all out of the lineup with various injuries, forcing the Canucks to call up Yannick Weber and Frank Corrado to fill in. In addition, Alex Burrows is out with a broken jaw, while Roberto Luongo was out of the lineup briefly with a groin strain. The defencemen that have remained healthy have been rock solid. The play of Chris Tanev has been lauded by Coach Tortorella throughout this season. Along with Hamhuis, Garrison and Bieksa, the top 4 defencemen have been receiving a ton of ice time.

booth

David Booth has 5 goals so far this season – one for each leaf on this “clover”.

As I predicted in a previous post, the Canucks have improved their play as the season has gone on.

The team has done this despite the top line scoring cooling off, and the power play being ice cold. Currently, the Canucks power play is ranked 26th in the NHL. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have 3 points each in the last 6 games. Secondary scoring has come from everywhere in the lineup, and the makings of a 3rd line is starting to emerge, with Brad Richardson centering Zack Kassian and David Booth. Yes, that David Booth. He has 5 goals this season and his speed and strength fit well Kassian and Richardson’s size and grit.

The Canucks schedule is tough over the next 7 games: Kings and Ducks twice each, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Phoenix. With most of these games against solid, physical teams in the West, the Canucks look to prove that they belong in the Western Conference playoff race.

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot

auld_lang_syne
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot, and auld lang syne?

The time between Christmas and the New Year is usually a time of reflection and remembrance. We think back on the events of this year, and of years past.

In the summer of 2011, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak all died. All 3 were enforcers in the NHL. Known more for their skills with their fists than for their goal scoring prowess, all 3 suffered from depression and related substance abuse problems.

The fourth NHL player pictured above is Bill Masterton.

Although most NHL fans know of the Bill Masterton trophy, not many fans know much about his playing career. He was one of the few hockey players to complete a U.S. college degree and play in NHL. Although he was highly educated as an engineer, his skill and love of the game led him to play in the NHL. Masterton was the first player to sign with the expansion Minnesota North Stars, and actually scored the first goal in North Stars franchise history.

Masterton also holds the distinction of being the only NHL player to have died directly as a result of injuries suffered in an NHL game. On January 13th, 1968, Bill took a hard hit. His head hit the ice, and the subsequent head injuries caused bleeding from his nose, ears and mouth. He never regained consciousness and died 30 hours later.

Masterton was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision, which was common for most players in that era. 11 years later players entering the NHL in the 1979-80 season were mandated to wear helmets. 18 years after that (nearly 30 years after Masterton’s death), Craig MacTavish retired, the last player to have played in the NHL without a helmet.

The Code is Dead.

After Boogaard’s death in 2011, it was revealed that he suffered from numerous brain injuries, presumably sustained in concussions throughout the many fights in his career.

Concussions in the NHL due to fights and other hits to the head have been happening for decades. The hits, clean or dirty, have robbed us fans of some of the best players in the game: Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau, Paul Kariya, Pat Lafontaine, Adam Deadmarsh, to name a few. Only within the last few years has the NHL truly been serious about getting rid of blindside hits and direct headshots in the game. Time will tell if the suspensions for headshots will make a difference in the play of the game.

Yet repeated headshots and related concussions are doled out nearly every game in fights, which are largely useless and serve no purpose.

I have no idea why fighting is still allowed in the NHL. There it is, I said it. Many players and fans believe that fighting is an integral part of the game. Yes, there was a time when fighting was somehow more useful as a deterrent to dirty hits. That time is over. If fighting still had a legitimate place in the game, how are so many of the players still being lost to injury, headshots or otherwise?

If you want to watch a fight, the UFC has plenty of blood for you. Knock yourself out. I’m sure that the pro-fight fans will have something to say about this. To save you all some time, no, I didn’t play in the NHL. I haven’t played at a high level. I merely enjoy watching and playing the game.

If it took the NHL nearly 30 years to get all their players wearing helmets, which we can all agree is a good idea, how long will it take before the NHL seriously looks at all aspects of head trauma, including fights?

Happy New Year, hockey fans.

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne.

Canucks Report At The Quarter Pole

quarterpole

After 20 games, the Canucks are 11-7-2. The team managed to post a 5-1-1 record on a long 7 game eastern road trip, ending with 3 victories in extra time – two wins in overtime and one in a shootout. They went 2-1 on a home stand, and have just finished a tough 1-2-1 California road swing.

The team’s 24 points are good enough for 4th in the Pacific Division, and 8th spot in the Western Conference, although the Canucks have played the most games in the entire league at this point in the season. When people say the West is the Best, they’re not kidding – the same 24 points would be good for 2nd place in the Eastern Conference.

The Canucks first line has been scoring, and they’ve got a healthy amount of secondary scoring from many of their bottom 6 forwards and defencemen. At 7-4-1, Luongo posted his best October ever as a Canuck. The team seems to have embraced Tortorella’s new systems and has been playing a high energy style of game that is fun to watch. The one thing the Canucks lack at this point is consistency.

In a previous post, I mentioned that if the Canucks can get through October with an even record, it should shape up to be a great season, and reiterate that now. On any given night the Canucks can play inspired and exciting hockey – a pleasant change from the last couple seasons where the team scored and seemed to sit on 1 goal leads.

So far, so good. As the season goes on, the Canucks should improve their play. Some Canucks threads this season include:

  • Tortorella’s high energy style of coaching, translating to Canucks play on ice
  • Re-signing and resurgence of the Sedin twins
  • Pavel Bure’s jersey retirement
  • Depth (or lack thereof) at any position
  • Ice time for top forwards and defencemen
  • Slow but steady development of Zack Kassian
  • Where is David Booth this week?
  • Great penalty killing, horrible power play
  • Local boy Mike Santorelli having an impact playing for his hometown Canucks

What are some of your early season compliments, gripes or stories this season?

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