Not a feature was playing, no video montage.
Now hit away! Shoot away! Score away all!”
Bone crunching sounds along with the stretch of the gristle.
I’ll see you on Robson with foamy-head pucks!
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Three Up, Three Down: Shootout in Dallas
The Canucks are in Dallas to face-off with the Stars, but before that, they thought to take in some American Thanksgiving tradition and bought a suite in Jerrywood for the day. Rumour has it, the Sedins were the ones to arrange all this, but you would never hear either of them take credit.
Tonight, we saw the Canucks out-shoot the Stars, but nonetheless, they lose to the best team in the Western Conference in a shootout. This was also the first game the Canucks came back to send into OT after being down after two periods. A few improvements, but still some questions are looming the Canucks, especially in the play of their special teams. However, we have our three standouts in this game. Oddly enough, all three have one thing in common. They are all 35 years old.
1. Daniel Sedin: Daniel was the best skater tonight for the Canucks. A goal to tie it up 1-1 and an incredible assist on the power-play on a goal for Henrik to knot it at 2-2, sending the game to OT and eventually a shootout. That pass to Henrik for the goal ended up using Johnny Oduya like a croquet wicket and shuffling the puck between his legs.
2. Ryan Miller: Ryan Miller was spectacular, but in OT, he was brilliant. That leg stretched out to make that save, unreal. Only Seguin beat Miller in the shootout, but it was enough for the Stars.
3. Henrik Sedin: Captain Hank and his doppelganger seem to be the main source of offense for the Canucks lately. Twins on the power-play are money, even if they don’t always score. When you see them on the ice with the man advantage, they are usually possessing the puck and keeping play in the attacking zone. Tonight, it was no different, but that beautiful twin telepathy they possess resulted in the 2-2 tying goal. Watch Daniel’s pass on Hank’s goal.
1.Alex Edler: I’m not sure where his head has been lately, but the bad passes and turnovers have making him look like Tortorella was still coaching this team. Sometimes I feel he has ear buds on and listening some indie rock and not really paying attention to what is happening around him.
2.Penalty Killing: The Canucks have allowed 14 goals in 12 games, being a man down. Against Dallas, they allowed two goals on five PKs. Do I need to go into it more than that? That is dreadful and for this team, unacceptable.
3.Willie Desjardins: A few things that did not make Willie “real good” in this game vs. the Stars. Willie’s untimely bench minor penalties of ‘too many men’ are often happening. Too many men on the ice in OT should never be happening. Never. If it wasn’t for the stellar play of Miller, the Canucks would have another 3-on-3 OT loss in the books.
Also, Higgins on the shootout? I don’t mind Higgins, but he hasn’t had a goal since early in the last road trip and only two for the year. He hit a post in this game, but it wouldn’t be enough to put him in as the third shooter. However, my biggest gripe with Desjardins is his reluctance to play the young guys more late in the game and especially in OT. My biggest pet peeve in the extra period is Willie’s insistence of having a double D-man combo to hit the ice. Why? 3on3 OT should be all about offense, so let’s just keep it to two forwards and one blue-liner.
Jared McCann: This kid just ‘gets it’. Each and every game, he is improving and willing to work for it. He had four shots on goal against Dallas, and if he keeps that up, the puck will start going into the net again.
Jannik Hansen: Whatever Jannik Hansen is doing out there, it’s creating opportunities for the Sedins that we haven’t seen in a few years. Hansen is Burrows 2.0. He is doing exactly what Burrows did for the twins back in their Art Ross days with a little more speed. Great for us to see, but even better for Daniel and Henrik.
Yannick Weber: A few fans in the twitterverse don’t want to see Weber on the ice, but in all honesty, he hasn’t been as glaringly bad as some seem to think. Between him and Sbisa, the blue line whipping boys positions are currently occupied. I know he’s not the most physical D-man and he is definitely our smallest. He is also a guy who isn’t afraid to shoot the puck from the back end and get it through some traffic. He had 10 shot attempts and a team high five shots on goal. You can’t fault him for working his game to stay in the lineup. Were we not complaining about not shooting enough?
Another overtime loss, another overtime point. Do you remember when the Oilers went to the Stanley Cup final recently? They had less wins than the Canucks, beat them out for the final playoff spot but the amount of OTL’s gave them 8th place and a run to the Stanley Cup. I’m not saying I wouldn’t like to win one of these 3 on 3 overtimes, but I sure would rather take the point than none at all.
The loss to the Ottawa Senators was a tough one to swallow. Especially since after 17 previous tries, the Vancouver Canucks finally scored on the Power Play. So far the Canucks are 1-2-1 on this road trip with Toronto waiting in the wings on Saturday. However, as a fan base, we are all on the edge of our seats with every stumble on the ice. In Columbus, the Canucks had 15 minutes of power play time, with no goals to show for it. One of them was even for five full minutes! What is happening and what is wrong with the Canucks? I don’t know for sure, but we can have a look to see what could help.
The Power Play
Up until Edler’s very late power play goal versus Ottawa in the 3-2 loss, the Canucks have been 0 for 17 since their last recorded PPG. This was just after going 6 straight games with power play goals making the score sheet. Until the Canucks start punishing teams with their PP, the opposition will continue to take liberties with members of team since they can’t score on the PP anyway. So what could help?
The Penalty Kill
This aspect of special teams play has usually been a very good part of the Canucks’ game. However on this road trip so far, it’s been atrocious. Ottawa had two PPGs in the last game.
Lack of Physical Play
With two of the more physical players on Injured Reserved, the Canucks cannot expect Jake Virtanen and Brandon Sutter to make all the big hits. The absence of Luca Sbisa has really made the blue line soft. Hamhuis not hip-checking like his used to, Edler having troubles at times just staying on his skates and Tanev not really known as a big hitter but a good positional player, Sbisa’s ‘edge’ is missed. Weber lacks the size to be physical, I haven’t seen much from Bartkowski and Hutton is better with the puck than the others.
Prust being out hasn’t been good for the team either. Sure he’s a 4th line guy, but his presence and leadership shows. With only Dorsett to defend other teammates, Prust’s injury has really affected the physical part of the fore-check. There is much lacking. Virtanen has shown he can drill guys with a good hard check, and Hansen has been more effective with the puck than he has without lately, that other guy who can keep the other team in check isn’t there and isn’t keeping the dirty stick work at bay.
Ryan Miller has been the Canucks’ best player so far this season. He’s a big part of the reason why the Canucks have a winning record opposed to one looking more like the Flames. Until recently, he’s been excellent. However, with only resting for two games, it’s starting to take its toll on him. The bad defensive play in front of him has not helped out his numbers. With Jakob Markstrom back, Miller will get the much needed rest between starts he will need and gives the Canucks a capable backup who has already shown he’s ready for the NHL. The least of the concerns for the Canucks is in the blue ice.
We could even bring it down to some bad luck. It was rearing its ugly head in the Ottawa game for sure, but we’ve seen it earlier in this road trip as well. The bounces aren’t coming. However, having some lucky bounces on the ice usually coincides with some good play. The Canucks have to play 60 minutes, play a strong 200 foot game and play smart hockey.
I don’t believe they will generally be this bad consistently, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. It’s one thing for the Canucks to plod through a tough time, but it’s another to wallow in it. I do see some good things even though they aren’t playing their best hockey at the moment.
It’s just about getting the team to click all at once. It can happen at any time. I believe that. It’s tough to believe it presently but I can see it happening. There is still a lot of season to play and a few more road trips to win. I’m concerned, but I’m not panicked. Patience, my fellow Canucks fans, patience.
Thomas Gradin is a huge reason I became a Canucks fan. I was six years old and when I saw him skate for the first time on that very rare TV appearance, I knew I was hooked. My family wasn’t all that big into hockey at the time, I grew up watching a lot more football up to that point. Also, I was six, I just learned to write my name and here I am trying to figure out which hockey team I was going to cheer? It was 1981 and Gradin was the first player to ever possess such a high level of natural skill. He was a far cry from his linemates, Curt Fraser, and much more refined than Stan Smyl, with his hockey gifts. However, that rookie line worked out quite well together.
Gradin was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 1978 in the 3rd round, 45th overall. He came to play for the Canucks via a trading of his contract rights. Oddly enough, Gradin also was drafted into the WHA by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1st round, 9th overall. He became one of the first Europeans to join the Canucks organization along with his fellow Swedes, Lars Zetterstrom and Lars Lindgren. In his rookie year, Gradin scored 20 goals, 31 assists for 51 points. He shared the Cyclone Taylor award for Canucks MVP with goaltender, Glen Hanlon.
On March 8th, 1985, Thomas Gradin scored his 500th NHL career point, becoming the first Canuck to reach that Milestone. The Canucks defeated the LA Kings that night, 4-3.
Gradin spent eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and one with the Boston Bruins before calling it a career in the NHL. He returned to Sweden to play in the SEL for another three years before retiring as a player. In 1994, Gradin came back to the Canucks organization as an amateur scout. Presently he is the Associated Head Scout, a role he has held since 2007.
Notable names Thomas Gradin has helped bring to the Canucks organization:
On January 24, 2011, Gradin was inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour. He ended his NHL careeer with 209 goals, 384 assists and 593 points. Fittingly enough, Gradin averaged just above 23 goals/year in his NHL career. Thanks Thomas, for validating my reason to become a Canucks fan way back when. You’ve helped mould that six year old’s sports passion and especially for the Canucks.
That’s #TICH today, March 8, 1985.
Is it me, or did everyone seem to think this game was in the bag? It definitely had all the makings of a great Canucks road trip. The Canucks have been playing very good hockey. When in some trouble, the Canucks have managed to find ways to get out of those jams. The Sedins are on point streaks, the kids were playing with a ton of tenacity and the backup goaltender has been playing spectacular in the absence of Ryan Miller being sidelined to injury. The team was looking good and walking around with a bit of a swagger. However, all day, I have been feeling really off about the game. Almost everyone was publicly, including members of the Canucks’ media (ahem, Tony Gallagher, ahem) were calling it in already for the Canucks. . The words “when” instead of “if” were being used in regards to the Canucks/Sabres game regarding Vancouver winning. I wish I was wrong with my feelings, but the Sabres won 6-3.
The Canucks didn’t have their fairy tale ending to this Eastern swing, but they did have some positives out of it:
Home Improvements: Canucks need to work on…
A long 11 day, five-game road trip has come to an end. The Vancouver Canucks are coming home with a 3-2 record. It could have been better? Yes, and it could have been worse, if Vancouver didn’t win the Rangers game in the shootout, coming back with a losing record on this road trip would have made the playoff race much harder to keep the other teams at bay. But six out of 10 points isn’t bad, but everyone was expecting it would have been eight after tonight. Unfortunately, it was not so.
With three days until their next game, the Canucks will have a day off on Friday and a practice on Saturday to right some wrongs. The next four games coming up are against Western Conference opponents in a very tight playoff race. With St. Louis coming to town on Sunday, followed by a visit from the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks have their work cut out for them before they get on the road for two and then home for five straight, including visits from the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. With the Metropolitan Division out of the way, for the most part, the Canucks are now in for the real test and so is our fan-dom.