Dan Hamhuis Injury Crucial To Canucks

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On Thursday night, the Vancouver Canucks played the Anaheim Ducks. Within seconds, Dan Hamhuis tripped on the skate of Daniel Sedin and slid into the boards. 

He lay there motionless until the whistle blew the play dead. It was then that all fans knew something was wrong. 

Henrik Sedin came to help the crippled Hamhuis off the ice as the fans were at their quietest on that night. 

Since the incident, it has been reported by multiple sources that the veteran blue liner could be out “for months” with a lower body injury. 

The Vancouver Canucks now find themselves in a vulnerable position. If Dan Hamhuis were to be out until February, it would for a total of 27 games.

In wake of the injury, the Canucks have called up Frank Corrado from the Utica Comets. Though calling him up has been the first plan of action, it is highly unlikely the Canucks can brush off missing a Top-4 defenseman.

At some point it may become plausible to make a trade to tighten up the ranks. In order to maintain their position among the toughest division in the NHL, it may be in their best interest to make this decision.

It is difficult to make these calls when it is not known how many months a key player is out, but it has to be done. The Canucks already have found themselves in a difficult position with a thin defensive line.

It appears that Luca Sbisa is not ready to take on a top 4 role in the roster and may require another year of development. Placing Corrado in Hamhuis’ spot would not be the wisest in the long run either. He is not NHL caliber and needs more time to season his play.

All in all, it is up to management to decide how they will patch up this gaping hole in the blue line.

Until then, Canucks fans will be wishing Dan Hamhuis a speedy recovery and hope to see him back on the ice soon.

Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

Ryan Kesler Returns To Unwelcoming Fans

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On a night Ryan Kesler thought he would be embraced by the Canucks fans in Rogers Arena, he was greeted with jeers.

The Canucks organization decided to show a brief highlight reel of Kesler’s eleven years as a Vancouver Canuck. This was only the beginning of a terrible night for the former player. Every time Kesler would touch the puck, fans in the crowd would begin to boo him.

In an earlier interview on his return, Kesler stated that the jeering would fire him up. The boo’s however, did not. Ryan Kesler looked like a whining toddler on the ice as he dived, slid around, and threw fits on the ice when he did not have his way.

It appeared to be that Kevin Bieksa was no fan of Kesler’s play, as the new rivalry became quite heated. Bieksa was the heart and soul for the Canucks defensive play as he stood up for his teammates when they were down 2-0 after the first.

Before the intermission, Kesler and Derek Dorsett were ready to square off in a match that was immediately cut-off by the refs. Bieksa however was able to grab Ducks star forward Corry Perry by the jersey and swing a solid punch. Though it looked like multiple players on both teams would be thrown out for fighting after the period concluded, Kesler was the player who got slapped with a two minute minor for cross checking.

In the second, the Canucks got to a speedy start when Bo Horvat scored his first career goal in NHL. Horvat was the first teenager to score a goal for the Vancouver Canucks since Ryan Kesler scored his first on November 29th, 2003. The opening goal fired up the fans that did not stop cheering for a few minutes.

Kesler later on congratulated Horvat on his milestone during a face-off saying, “good job.” The goal led to the opening of floodgates as Jannik Hansen and Radim Vrbata scored back-to-back goals to give the lead in the second.

The Anaheim Ducks however answered back to tie up the game. In overtime, the Canucks defense collapsed as Chris Tanev had two opportunities to score, but decided to hold onto the puck. This lead to almost three minutes of the Ducks striking hard as the Canucks slowly moved around. Fortunately, Eddie Lack had a solid game against the Ducks and held his ground firmly though he allowed three goals against.

In the end the Vancouver Canucks surrendered in the shootout. Ryan Kesler in the end left unsatisfied from the city he once called home.

 Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

 

 

Sukh Purewal: Fixing the Power Play

It used to be the strength of this team: the powerplay. Gone are the days of the number 1 ranked unit in the league. It’s hard to fathom how far they have actually dropped. Heading into the Coyotes game, the Canucks were ranked 23rd in the league clicking at a success rate of 15.4%. That number is going to drop after an 0 for 7 effort against the Coyotes. Gone are Ehrhoff and Salo who helped make the powerplay what it was. But it is hard to believe that even with Henrik, Daniel, Kesler and Edler still around, and with the addition of Jason Garrison, how bad it looks. The team is struggling to get into the zone. If you can’t get into the zone, you’re not going to score. It’s simple.

What Glen Gulutzan is doing just isn’t working, and it seems like he isn’t really willing to change anything. Game after game we saw Dan Hamhuis on the ice as part of the first powerplay unit. No disrespect to Dan, but he is not exactly the type of guy who strikes fear into an opponent on the man advantage. We’ve seen Tom Sestito get powerplay action, Dale Weise has been out there.

The personnel and the way they set up doesn’t make sense a lot of the time. It’s frustrating when you see Henrik setting up on the left wall. Setting up on that side completely eliminates Kesler from the man advantage, and allows teams to zone in on Garrison’s shot from the right point and like I mentioned before it doesn’t help having Hamhuis as the defenceman on the left side.

With the first unit, the Canucks should set up on the right hash with Kesler and Garrison on the point. Let Daniel and Henrik do their thing down low and along the wall. Kassian, Burrows, or Higgins are all players who can make an impact standing in front of the net. With this set-up, not only is Garrison’s shot a threat, Kesler and Garrison can play catch at the point and considering they are both playing on their off sides, they are in prime position to one-time the puck at any moment.

I get that it’s hard to overcome some of the injuries the team has had. They haven’t had the personnel they’ve wanted. Missing Burrows has caused the team a lot of problems. He has missed most of the season thanks to a broken foot and then a broken jaw. The Sedin’s have struggled mightily at 5 on 5 without him, and that’s likely led to their powerplay struggles. Burrows will likely be back Saturday, and I believe he will be put right back on the top line and he will hopefully be able get the Twins going, both at 5 on 5 and with a man advantage.

Edler being injured for the last month or so has also caused the Canucks to experiment a little bit. We have seen Chris Tanev get a chance to play the point. Tanev’s shot has gotten better since he first came into the league, but let’s be real, it’s still not great. The team has missed Edler’s shot. He is a guy who can make the first or second unit better, depending on where he is used. He and Bieksa would do a great job quarterbacking the second unit. Edler and Garrison on the top unit would terrify all of the penalty killers and whichever Canuck has the unfortunate pleasure of standing in front of the net with those two unleashing bombs.

I understand that it is a tough fix but it is something the team should be practicing more. The Canucks struggle to score at the best of time. They’ve scored one goal in the last 200 minutes of game action. They have to take advantage when they go up a man. They Canucks are going to make the playoffs. Their goaltending, especially when Luongo is back, is too good for them to not. But unless they start scoring more goals they won’t make any noise. They need the powerplay to start clicking. That might mean pulling the trigger on a trade for a sniper. Their penalty killing is remarkable. If they could get the other part of their special teams going, who knows what this team would be capable of.


 

Top 10: Canucks-Friday Night Oil Spill

 

rsz_game02hallIt is pretty evident, the Canucks and the Oilers don’t like each other. In fact, it got so ugly between the teams this year, the two franchise official twitter accounts went at each other publicly during a night the two teams weren’t even playing one another.
Perhaps, most of the hate this season started on September 21. A pre-season game, when Canucks forward, Zack Kassian, broke Sam Gagner’s jaw with a reckless hit and was subsequently suspended five games. Last night was the first time Sam Gagner faced off against the Canucks since that injury. Here’s a look at that play.

No, it wasn’t pretty. Yes, Kassian got a just suspension for it. Meanwhile, the Oilers, their fans and Sam Gagner haven’t forgotten or forgiven. So what does Zack Kassian do? He mocks Sam Gagner during a skirmish on the ice about the addition to the bottom of his head gear. The enforced chin strap that dangled to protect his jaw.

This became such a huge topic. It even took a life of its own on twitter, on blogs and both teams respected Facebook pages. Even members of the Oilers media started getting really sensitive about the chin-strap incident.

@TSNRyanRishaug: Can confirm that at no point did Kassian reach out to Gagner after he shattered his jaw, No apology at all. Then that tonite, pretty bad.

Absolutely, not cool nor ‘classy’. However, people forget, even hand gestures on the ice are part of the ‘trash talk’ package. I’m pretty sure even Gagner wasn’t exactly “Silent Sam” throughout the night on the ice. Words get thrown around and a hand gesture or two might be exchanged, but that’s always been a part of the game. Maybe if Sammy kept his mouth shut, Kassian might not have ‘gone there’, but he did.

There are enough blogs to systematically break down the art of hockey trash talk regarding last night’s incident between Kassian and Gagner. I want to share 10 things that stuck in my head about other happenings around the game last night.

  1. Shutout #65: Roberto Luongo gets his 65th shutout of his career with a 19 save effort against the Edmonton Oilers. First of two games back to back this weekend the Canucks net -minder not only seems to be focusing on the task at hand, but working to solidify his spot on the Canadian Olympic roster.
  2. Foot in Mouth Tweet winner:

    Dan Tencer So, Vancouver is still trying to pretend that Zack Kassian might be a player? Ok, then.

  3. Best Reply to Foot in Mouth Tweet winner:

    @taj1944 EDM is still trying to pretend that Oilers are a NHL team? RT @dantencer: So,Van is still trying to pretend that Kassian might be a player?

  4. Tortorella-ism of the Night: “Who cares what Mike Milbury says. No disrespect to Mike, but we can’t worry about what commentators, and all these guys outside the game, say about our players.” I love Torts. So much more enjoyable to listen to over AV’s constant cliches.
  5. Swedish Thuggery: You know you’re bad when your fan base (and much of the league) are calling the Sedin twins “sisters” and your team gets pushed around by them. –Torts: “See Danny run a guy over tonight.” Indeed he did, Johnny, indeed he did.
  6. Beastmode: Not really a big fan of the nickname for Kes, for me, it belongs to Lynch of the Seattle Seahawks, but the Oilers felt Kesler’s presence all over the ice, the boards and on the scoresheet. 3 shots, 4 hits and 2 assists at a +2 rating for the night. He has been the hottest Canuck in the last 10 games for sure, and possibly the last 30 days.
  7. Call me Don Draper, I’m THAT Cool: Chris Tanev continues to amaze me with his poise, his patience and his growing ability to read the play and make the right decision on how to counter it. Jim Hughson brought up Bieksa’s comment about how Tanev could play with a cigarette in his mouth, he is that cool.
  8. Don Cherry Hooked on Phonics award: Craig Simpson calling Dubnyk DUHB-NIK instead of DOOB-NIK on air. Really Craig?
  9. Hairdo of the Night: Dallas Eakins with his Brandon Walsh 90210 coif. He’s more worried about his hair than the fact his team is in the running for another race to the 1st over-all pick.
  10. Trash talk of the night: Zack Kassian. I don’t want to explain it to you, I’d rather show you. 

 

Top 10 Honourable Mention: Dale Weise with a power play goal. The fourth line clocked over 10 minutes of ice time. Their presence was felt. They were rewarded and Weise capped it off with a nice dinger on the power play. Good job to Weise, Welsh and Dalpe.


 

The Canucks showed up last night. The Oilers did not. The Canucks were focused while the Oilers were distracted. However, the better team won, and the better team showed why they are fighting for a playoff spot instead of another “First Overall” draft pick. Yes, Edmonton fans, my team has yet to win a Stanley Cup. Yes, your team has five of them. I get it, you can count. I have some numbers too…

3- Goals Devan Dubnyk let in 5-hole last night. I almost mistook him for the Massey Tunnel.

0- Are the number of goals score by Eberle, Hall, RNH, Gagner and Yakopov last night.

2-0 The season series between the Canucks and the Oilers so far. Canucks are the two, in case you were wondering.

23- The number of years since the Oilers won the cup. Your most recent three “First Overall” draft picks weren’t even born. Taylor Hall (b.1991) Ryan Nugent-Hopkins(b.1993) Nail Yakopov (b.1993) Long gone are the days of Messier, Gretzky and co. Relevance, matters.

8- post seasons the Oilers have missed presently and consecutively.

25- Points in the standings. Good enough for last place in the Western Conference. Only Buffalo is worse with 23, but they have some guys on defence and Ryan Miller. First Overall Pick is looking like a possibility again!

In conclusion, I would rather be in the shoes (and the city) of the Vancouver Canucks than the Edmonton Oilers right now. Sure the Canucks might get ousted in the first round again, or they may not, but having that chance at the post season is a far better problem to have than what is going on in Edmonton. See you in January.
Justine Galo

@Aviewfromabroad

 

 

 

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.