Bruce Ng: Canucks Advent Calendar: It all starts tomorrow!

This is it fans! The Vancouver Canucks begin their 41st season tomorrow October 6 when the Pittsburgh Penguins come to Rogers Arena.

Over the last month this series of posts has looked at a handful of the moments that made last season so awesome, and some of the players that made it happen.

Today’s blog post focuses on #1 in your program, Roberto Luongo – the best goaltender the Canucks have ever had.

You may have some doubts about this statement, people either love Luongo or want to trade him. There really isn’t much grey area on the topic. Every goal scored against him, you can guarantee that someone on Twitter will tell you he should have had that one.

Don’t think he has been the Canucks best goaltender in history? Here’s a chart of some of the most relevant Canucks starting goaltenders and their statistics in their best seasons:

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

You can argue that the Canucks have had the best defence they’ve ever had, which explains the wins that Luongo has been able to post, and maybe the Goals Against Average (GAA). But Luongo has posted numbers like these in every single season he has played in Vancouver. The goaltenders listed above had far worse averages over the course of their Canucks tenure.

Luongo started off last season slowly, but by late-November he was back to sparkling form. Around the All-Star break, Hockey Night in Canada, CBCSports.ca and the NHLPA ran a poll among players. Luongo was voted by NHL players as the Goalie Most Difficult to Score On.

The Luongo-Haters out there will say he’s not a big game stopper. He chokes. He cries. Then he chokes on his tears. I am going to present you with some evidence to the contrary.

Remember when Team Canada won the Gold Medal in the 2010 Olympics? Canada would not have been in the Gold Medal final without Luongo shutting the door on his old Canucks teammate Pavol Demitra (R.I.P. Pavol).

Then there was the stop against Patrick Sharp in overtime, in Round 1 Game 7, prior to Alexandre Burrows scoring the game winner.

Still don’t believe Luongo can make a big save? Here are some more that you have to see to believe.

I will admit Luongo showed a touch of inconsistency in last year’s Stanley Cup Final (just a touch) – but I would also say to you that the Canucks would not have made it to Game 7 without Luongo. For those with a short memory, he shut out the Bruins twice in that series. As if you’ve never had a bad day at work. Show him some love, people!

Thanks for following this series of posts – I hope that all the Canucks fans are excited for this season. Here’s to looking back on the best Canucks season ever, and even better times this year!

Bruce Ng: Advent Calendar: 3 days to get back to playing Canucks hockey.

This series of blog posts will look back on the highest highs of last season, and looks to get the Canucks faithful amped for the season to come!

Just a few short days to the season opener, and excitement is building in Vancouver. A lot of Canucks fans are still upset about the Stanley Cup Final loss; I hope that this series of posts has helped to rekindle some positive feeling – there is a lot to look forward to as Canucks fans this season.

Today’s focus is on Kevin Bieksa’s crazy season. Bieksa started the season most definitely in the doghouse, but finished as a huge fan favourite.

Early in the 2010-2011 season, many Canucks fans were on the Bieksa hater-wagon. The idea was that the Canucks were “too deep” on defence (is that an oxymoron?), needed cap room, and that one of the defencemen had to go. Bieksa hadn’t had a good season in awhile as he had been hampered by a bizarre Achilles’ tendon injuries. However, with Salo on the shelf, and Ballard falling out of favour with head coach Alain Vigneault, Bieksa stayed.

Throughout the course of the season, Bieksa played his way back into the hearts of Canucks fans. He was a natural partner for Dan Hamhuis, whose stay-at-home style allowed Bieksa to roam more freely through the neutral zone.

Then there was this interview with Scott Oake in the playoffs. Bieksa is explaining the Canucks simple plan for the 3rd period against the Nashville Predators.

Soon after that, the tribute videos poured in.

The last great Bieksa moment of the Canucks 2010-2011 moment was probably the series winning goal against the San Jose Sharks, to send the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final.

It’s these moments that get me excited for this season. Crazy moments when no one sees the puck, and all of a sudden it’s in the back of the net. When the Canucks swarm the opposition zone for 2 or 3 minutes at a time applying pressure so intense that the puck has no choice but to get in the goal.

I can’t wait to see what new memories this season will bring!

Bruce Ng: Advent Calendar: 5 days to get back to playing Canucks hockey.

This series of blog posts will look back on the highest highs of last season, and looks to get the Canucks faithful amped for the season to come!

Many Canucks fans are still stinging from the Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final, but along the way to the final, there were a number of memorable moments and games. Ask fans what their favourite moment was, and chances are they will tell you about Alexandre Burrows OT winner in Game 7 against the Blackhawks, or maybe Ryan Kesler splitting the Nashville defence to score.

Today’s memory isn’t a series winner, or a first ever goal, and it didn’t happen in OT – but it was still very important. On May 22, 2011, Sami Salo had a clutch game to give his team a 3-1 series lead.

Sami Salo’s 2010-2011 season didn’t start off very well. As usual, Salo’s latest injury was bizarre, and kept him from joining the Canucks at the start of the season. He suffered an Achilles’ injury playing floorball in Finland and would be out indefinitely.

Here’s an image to indicate exactly how crazy Salo’s time on the injured reserve has been. Click on the image for the full size version. (image courtesy of @NucksMisconduct):

Sami Salo's injury list; Image by Nucksmisconduct

 

Salo did not start playing until half-way through February, and he had a slow start. The playoffs came, and he played 6 games against the Blackhawks, and only 3 against the Predators.

Then came Game 4 against the Sharks. The Canucks had a 2-1 series lead heading into the game. Lose and they would be tied heading back to Vancouver. Win and they would hold a 3-1 stranglehold on the series.

Salo can play in any situation. He’s a dependable defender that can kill penalties, but he also has a heavy slapshot that can blow by goaltenders on the power play.

In a 2-minute span in the middle of the 2nd period, the Sharks ran into penalty trouble. The Canucks opened the scoring when Salo passes quickly around to the left boards for Ryan Kesler, who beat Antti Niemi with a hard slapshot.

Bruce Ng: Canucks Advent Calendar: 14 days to the Season Opener

CanucksCorner.com is pleased to welcome Bruce Ng to our team of writers for the 2011-2012 NHL season. Bruce is a big Canucks fan and also runs his own blog at http://transcendwebs.com/blog where you can find these posts as well as other thoughts he has on other topics. We pick up Bruce’s Canucks Advent Calendar series mid-stream as the team is just 14 days away from their season opener!

This series of blog posts will look back on the highest highs of last season, and hopefully get the Canucks faithful amped for the season to come!

14 days to get back to playing Canucks hockey. 14 days to get back to winning games.

With just 14 days to the start of the season, today’s memory is dedicated to Twitter’s @BurrowsGirl - and the focus is on the versatility of the often overlooked and under-rated 3rd member of the Sedin line, Alexandre Burrows.

Burrows started the 2010-2011 season on the injured reserve, but when he returned it didn’t take long for him to take his familiar spot lining up next to the Sedins. He has occasionally been accused of biting off more than he can chew, especially with referees (Stephane Auger controversy anyone? Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?), but Vancouver Canucks fans can’t get enough of Burr – it’s his heart, and his love for the game.

Haters around the league say that anyone could play with the Sedins and put up the kinds of numbers Burrows does. What most haters don’t realize is that the audition for the Sedin’s linemate was about 6 years long before Burrows. The closest thing to chemistry the twins had was with Anson Carter on the Triplets line. The resemblance is obvious.

Burrows is a reliable guy who can finish what Henrik or Daniel start. This setup by Henrik Sedin is nothing short of amazing – he passes between Antti Niemi’s  pads to find Burrows on the other side. Although you might think that’s an easy goal, Burrows doesn’t have much time to spot the puck and move his stick to shoot. A great example of why soft hands are important for a goal scorer.

It was this next goal that sent Canucks fans into a high Cup Fever last season. Burrows showed quickness gloving the puck to the ice, speed to skate to the slot, and a decent slapshot on a tough rolling puck. I will never tire of watching this, and to this day it is saved on my PVR.

Despite the finger biting controversy, Burrows elevated his game again in the Stanley Cup Final, scoring this beauty in Game 2. The more clutch the situation, the greater the chance that it’ll be Burrows that scores the Canucks next goal.

Should the Canucks ever find themselves trailing the opposition going into the 3rd period, the #Canucks hashtag inevitably turns to tweeting #Windaturd and #PeanutButterBurrowsTime. Did I forget to mention Burrows excellent interview skills, and his sense of humour?

Haters around the league consider Burrows to be a finger-biting, diving whiner. He is the type of agitator that teams love to hate, but with surprisingly soft hands and a nose for the net. He is an excellent penalty killer with great wheels. The Canucks have played him in every situation in the past few seasons, and this year looks to be no different.

Thanks to Trevor Presiloski (Follow on twitter: @nettrashcan) for the great Sedin’s linemate post.

Follow Bruce Ng on Twitter: @Transcendwebs