Dealing With A Season of Unexpected Success and Expected Failures

Last night was one of those games you wish you could forget, the first period of the game for sure, right? I’d like to forget the last four minutes of the third period as well, but let’s not touch on that at the moment. If you want to read a hard hitting analysis of Vancouver vs. San  Jose at Rogers Arena on March, 3, 2015, you’re not going to get it here. Right now, I want to talk to some of you about how to take the next few weeks without breaking your ankles when jumping on and off the bandwagon.

What I have been noticing a lot this season is after every win, many fans react with, “OMG this team is amazing! They are going to win it all!” or something to that effect. However, after every loss, many react with, ” Trade them all! Fire Benning and Linden! The Sedins are old as crap! Trade (insert player name here) for a bag of pucks or used jock-straps!”

Ladies and gentlemen, we all have those moments, but we all shouldn’t have ridiculous pendulum swings of emotions like that for 82 games in a season. It gets draining for you that are reacting this way, and it gets really annoying and redundant for us, your fellow fans, who see it. We look at you all like a bunch of fish flipping and flopping on dry ground without anything to ground you. You only stop all the erratic movement when you’re bludgeoned or tire yourselves out, you just lay there.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to put C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

Canucks fans down when a loss occurs, but there is no need to throw C4 to the team and see where the pieces land.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So how do we deal with the ups and downs of our favourite NHL team? Well, it’s all about perspective and expectation. How do you measure success of the team? It’s different for all of us, but maybe I can share how I deal with the Canucks roller coaster ride as the season progresses. Here are a few questions and my answers to how respond to the highs and the lows of Canucks season, game to game.

Do the Canucks frustrate me? Yes, there isn’t a team in the universe that frustrates me more than the Vancouver Canucks. There isn’t a team in the world that has disappointed me more in the last 30 years than the Vancouver Canucks, but like that bad romance you cannot shake, no matter how hard you try, I cannot help but love them. It’s just the way of sports and for those that are passionate about it. You just have to find a middle point of elation and frustration.

 Are they…

  • Stanley Cup Contenders? No, my expectations are considerably low this season. This isn’t the 2010/2011 team. The talent level isn’t there. The experience isn’t as deep as it was back then either. This is also probably why they went the way of prospect pickups and minor league trades on Trade Deadline Day. Why spend the future on a push for the Cup that is highly unlikely to happen? Success would be getting into a playoff spot and winning a game or two. If they win a round, they’ve played beyond my expectations.
  • Rebuilding? No, they aren’t rebuilding. A major overhaul of player personnel would have to take place for that to happen. However, with all the NTC (limited or otherwise) handed out to a good chunk of the veterans on the team, it takes the full rebuild off the table. The Canucks have to work with what they have and find pieces to fill in the holes.

At the beginning of the season, what were your expectations? I didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t sure how the Sedins would be playing, if any of our youngsters would make the team, and how the infusion of free agent veterans would mesh with the core. In all honesty, I saw this team not making the playoffs, but barely missing. Sitting in 9th place.

What are you expectations now?  At the 40 games played point, I figured the Canucks would make the playoffs but either in the 3rd spot in the division or a wild card berth. They would need to win just over half their remaining games to ensure that would happe. Barring a disaster like last season, I just don’t see the signs of the Canucks surrendering to more losses than wins, even with the patchwork line-up they are currently icing.

Individual games or body of work for the season are more important? You have to win individual games to make a body of work. We all want the team to win every game, but that’s not a possibility. So we have to look at the work that has been put in over the season so far.

  • The Canucks are scoring goals, they now have to work on preventing them.
  • Only Nashville has more regulation wins than the Canucks. Sure there are teams with more W’s in the win column but some of those are OT wins or shoot out wins, not in a 60 minute frame.
  • Two 34 year old twins are looking like their 29 year old selves.
  • The youngsters, Horvat and Kenins, are playing beyond any expectations we had of them.
  • Win or lose, for the most part this season, the Canucks are far more fun team to watch this season.
  • The culture  and vibe of a unit willing to try is showing more often than not and we are enjoying it. That says a lot about them.
  • Their ability to have comebacks this season are more likely than last. That alone is a huge improvement.

For the most part, they have exceeded my original expectations. I expected more of a struggle for the Wild Card spots, not 2nd place in the Pacific Division. I know there is a lot of hockey left, but with the return of some key players, mainly their defencemen, I see improvement, not failure. So instead of getting all wired about a certain play or a certain game, find a way to assess the overall scheme of things. Take a step back, take a deep breath and hold on to something. Let’s not fall off the wagon when the team hits a rough patch. Grab on to something and ride it out. In the end, you’re going to hit one place or the other, but why get stranded on your own if they exceed where you thought they’d be? Faith is a concept that’s not easily understood, but that’s part of being a sports fan. If you’re Canucks fan, you have to learn to have a little faith or you’d be just miserable. It could be worse, we could be cheering the Leafs or the Oilers.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

 

#TICH: Team Canada 2002 Gold, Salt Lake City

It was the first time in 50 years the Canadian Olympic team won Gold in hockey. A sport that is synonymous with the nation. It was today, February 24, 2002, Burnaby Joe and the rest of Team Canada could give this nation something to cheer for again in Olympic Men’s hockey.

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

Striking gold in Salt Lake City, Team Canada wins after 50 years of no hockey Olympic gold. Photo Credit: Hockey Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I know it’s not necessarily a “Canucks” historical moment but there was a member of the Vancouver Canucks  on the 2002 Gold winning Salt Lake City Team Canada roster. Let’s not forget  the winning coach, our legendary Canucks coach and GM, the late Pat Quinn. 

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

The late Pat Quinn, coached the 2002 Olympic team to gold. Former Canucks player, coach, GM and President. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Jovocop” made the Team Canada roster. Jovanovski was known as a free-wheeling, offensive defence-man. He also didn’t mind giving a few memorable hits here and there.  For Team Canada, Ed Jovanovski, assisted on the first Joe Sakic goal which ended up being the game winner. Team Canada defeated Team USA, 5-2 in Salt Lake City, Utah to win gold again, finally.

Ed "Jovocop" Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men's hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

Ed “Jovocop” Jovanovski was a member of the 2002 Gold winning Olympic Men’s hockey team. At the time he was the Canucks No.1 D-man. Photo credit: PowerLine Athletics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s #TICH February 24, 2002.

@Aviewfromabroad

Here is a 10 minute highlight reel, called by Bob Cole on CBC of the game in Salt Lake City.

 

Vancouver General Hospital, So it Seems

Miller gets looked at by Mike Bernstein as he went down awkwardly versus the New York Islanders. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

Miller gets looked at by Mike Bernstein as he went down awkwardly versus the New York Islanders. Photo credit: Toronto Sun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday night, Hansen inadvertently bowled Miller down and now it seems Miller has a leg injury and he had to leave the game.  In the next couple of days, the Canucks will know if Miller will be out on the IR or just be day-to-day. Jakob Markstrom has been called up from the AHL in the meantime and perhaps he might even see some NHL playing time before the Canucks are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention (thanks Torts). There has been no time-table set for Miller’s return, or if he returns this season. Regardless, what a blow for the Canucks. Losing forwards and even defencemen are one thing, but goaltenders don’t grow on trees and one at the calibre of Miller’s have all been signed elsewhere.

Miller now joins:

C-Brad Richardson – Out with a foot injury and has missed 15 games.

D- Kevin Bieksa –   Broken hand has Juice miss 14 games.

D- Frank Corrado- Illness is what has kept Frankie out of the lineup and Biega was called up to replace him. He’s now missed 11 games.

C- Nick Bonino- Has now missed seven games due to a lower body injury. However, it looks like Bonino could come back to the lineup this road trip.

D- Alex Edler- has an upper body injury. He has now missed four games and is dearly missed on the first pairing of the blue line.

D- Chris Tanev- Edler’s partner is also out four games now with an upper body injury.

RW- Alex Burrows- sustained a lower body injury on this road trip vs the New York Rangers. He is listed as day to day but there is also promise of him coming back to the line up this road trip.

 

The already depleted squad now has an  injury in every position on the team. Luckily for the Canucks a couple of their wingers know how to play centre and have covered for both Bonino and Richardson while they are still hurt. Everyone who is injured, with the exception of Frank Corrado, are players on the roster sheet for opening night in October. That’s a third of the team. Since January 16, when Richardson went down, the Canucks have lost 58 man-games to the injury bug. At this point, Linden might have the come out of retirement and the pressbox to join the team if no one comes back soon. 

This is going to be a tough test for the remaining core players and the young guys. If Sunday versus the Islanders was an indication of how they are going to play, it looks promising. Until then, I’m hoping a speedy recovery to all the Canucks in the infirmary. Let’s get better sooner than later, and ensure a playoff spot.

 

@Aviewfromabroad

Fan Profile: Dominador Martin- Canucks Fan in Land of the Blackhawks

As you all know, not all Canucks fans reside in Lotusland (Vancouver), but there are some fans in certain parts of the world you wouldn’t think could be Canucks fans. Dominador Martin is a Canucks  fan who lives in Illinois, Blackhawks territory. He has graciously allowed me to share his Canucks fandom story and we had a little Q&A on how someone who lives just outside of Chicago, and was born there, could rock the blue and Kelly green of the Vancouver Canucks in public and have love for them in his heart. 

Name: Dominador Erwin Martin V (yes, the fifth!)

Born: May 29, 1977, Chicago, IL

Dominador Martin V is an avid Canucks fan who lives just outside of Chicago. Surrounded by Blackhawk colours, he bleeds green and blue.

Dominador Martin V is an avid Canucks fan who lives just outside of Chicago. Surrounded by Blackhawk colours, he bleeds green and blue.

 

JG: How long have you been cheering on the Vancouver Canucks?

DEM: I have been cheering on the Vancouver Canucks since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Before that season I have sporadically followed the Canucks since the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

JG: Who is currently your favourite player, and why?

DEM: This is really a tough one, because I don’t have just one favorite. All team members, in my opinion have shown that they can make a great impact for the team this season. But if I had to completely choose ONE favorite, it would have to be The Sedins because of their longevity with the team.

JG: Living just outside of Chicago, what is it like cheering on the Vancouver Canucks?

DEM: For me, it’s such an adrenaline rush, knowing that I represent a pure and proud Canuck fan, even while living in Illinois and being buried in a sea of red jerseys at the UC during Canucks-Hawks games.

JG: How do most of the Blackhawks fans treat you?

DEM: Most Blackhawks fans that I know have been really respectful towards me. However, there have been a few, though not many, instances where I was walking down the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois and I get heckled wearing my Canucks gear. For instance, once I was walking towards one of my Psychology classes wearing my Luongo jersey and I had one or two drunk hecklers, wearing their Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane jerseys, come up to me and tell me that the Canucks suck and wanted to fight me. So I just told them to get a breath mint. Campus security had to actually arrest them for being drunken and disorderly.But all in all, all of my Blackhawk-loving friends have been really cool and respectful to me.

JG: Do you go to United Center to watch any of the Canucks/Blackhawks games?

DEM: The last game I went to was on December 20th of last year, in which our beloved Canucks won in a shootout vs the Chicago Blackhawks at the UC. Eddie Lack was in between the pipes that night, and Ryan Kesler had the winning shootout goal. Prior to the December game of last year, I went to the game on March 21, 2012, Canucks overtime loss to Chicago at the UC. Roberto Luongo was in net that night.

JG: Being of Filipino background, the culture loves the sport of basketball, how did hockey turn your attention and win your love for the sport?

DEM: You also forgot to mention our love for the sport of boxing (Manny Pacquiao)…..lol.

JG: Haha! Of course, Manny Pacquiao, and he won again last night!

DEM: All sports aside, this is a little bit of a story that I love to tell because I have an older cousin who lives in Langley, British Columbia and several years ago, back in the fall of 2007 to be exact, my cousin came to visit my family and I for about two weeks and I fell in love with the sport from there.

JG: You’ve mentioned in previous conversations on twitter and Facebook you have relatives in Vancouver, and now I know they have influenced you to be a Canucks fan. How did that happen?

DEM: I believe it was a Saturday night, October 6th of 2007. I happen to be watching TV when my cousin walked in and asked if she could join me. So we were watching TV together and she asked if I could switch to the NHL Network. So as we were watching the Canucks play the Calgary Flames that night at the Saddledome. I asked my cousin if she was an NHL fan. She responded by saying that she loves the Canucks, and as a gift to me, I received an RBK Premier Canuck jersey (with no players name). As we were watching the game together, I had asked some questions about the players themselves since a lot of them were new to me. As the game went on, I wanted to keep watching the game to see what was going on. The puck movements, puck handling skills, speed, the strategy, the shootouts, are awesome to watch. That night, the Canucks won in OT vs. Calgary and I became a fan of the Canucks and then I fell in love with the game of hockey.

JG: Have you ever seen the Canucks play at Rogers Arena?

DEM: I have never attended a Rogers Arena game, which is something that I want to do and cross off my personal bucket list. From what I have seen on televised games, Rogers Arena always looked packed, and I want to be a part of it, the next time I visit British Columbia for a game.

JG: Have you visited our fair city ?

DEM: My cousin, who visited me,her husband and their three kids live out in Langley, BC. And yeah they are all Canucks fans.. I have visited the beautiful city of Vancouver back during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Although I wish I could have seen the games live and in-person in Vancouver. I returned home the day before the 2011 Stanley Cup riots.

JG: Where you do see the team finishing in the standings this season and who are the key players to put them at your prediction point?

DEM: This is a great question. I see us also finishing in the top ten, if not, top five, in the league, with the group of guys we have now. With guys like Linden Vey, Zack Kassian, Ryan Miller, The Sedins, Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Luca Sbisa and if they can add in one, who I think is a dark horse pick, if he is called up from Utica…it is Hunter Shinkaruk, And of course there is always ‘Juice’ Kevin Bieksa

JG: So far, what do you think of the young guys, Vey, Kassian, and Bo Horvat?

DEM: Linden Vey and Bo Horvat……untapped potential. They would look great on any line. Since the February 2012 trade that sent Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack Kassian, Kass is starting to show he can be a proven commodity for the Canucks.

JG: What did you think of what happened last season? The Torts meltdown, the downward spiral of the Canucks season and the falling out between the Canucks and Ryan Kesler?

DEM: Torts who? ……haha…..Just kidding. As far as John Tortorella goes, I respect him as a Stanley Cup-winning coach, but in retrospect, his style didn’t mesh with the Canucks system, period.

To simply answer this whole question, one name: Mike Gillis……enough said.

JG: I understand that. Gillis created something good, but didn’t keep progressing on it. Moving on… If you could spend a day with one Canucks player, who would it be and why?

DEM: Excellent question. I think maybe I’d like to spend a day with either Daniel or Henrik Sedin, to see what their lives are like outside of the NHL and hockey. I’d like to see how much and what they do in and around the city of Vancouver. How their off-ice work that helps them be an integral part of the Canucks team successes.

JG: Besides the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup, what is a Canucks related bucket list you’d like to share with us?

DEM: They have accomplished everything that needs to be accomplished except bring home Lord Stanley. That’s all.

Canucks Fan For Life…..case closed.

JG: Thank you, Dominador. Hopefully, the Canucks can fulfill that bucket list item for you and for all the other Canucks fans around the world.

====

Fun Facts about Dominador Martin: He is a 2013 graduate from Eastern Illinois University, with a Psychology degree and a focus on Clinical Psychology. Since 1998, he is  martial arts instructor in Champaign, IL in the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, and is a 4th degree black belt. In his spare time, he is also a profesional part-time DJ. Pretty diverse isn’t he?

TKDDominador

“Don’t mess with me Blackhawks fans, I’m a 4th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do!” Dominador Martin is a Canucks fan in Land of the Blackhawks.

After Ten: Canucks Pull Off Exciting Start To The Season

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The month of October has passed for the Vancouver Canucks who promised in the offseason that change was coming.

Willie Desjardins’ Canucks are off to a stunning 7-3-0 start to the regular season with exceptions for two of the games. The Canucks left the gates running as they dished out victories over the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames for a three win kickoff. The Celebration came to a standstill after two straight losses to the Lightning at home and the Dallas Stars who ran them out of town 6-3. The new team found the light at the end of the tunnel after a disappointing 2-1-0 road trip last week as they held the fort for three games.

They now find themselves at second place in the Pacific Division but what has led to this early success? Let’s break it down line by line and find out.

D. SEDIN (3-9-12) H. SEDIN (4-8-12) VRBATA (5-6-11)

The first line in the ten games they played have been a force to be reckoned with. The twins and Vrbata are combined for 35 points overall and prove to be one of the top lines in the league.

These veteran hockey players have been one of the most productive power play units on the ice scoring seven out of eight one man advantage goals from the ranks.

This line is always a thrill to watch what they will do next and are on pace for a great season.

HIGGINS (2-4-6) BONINO (4-4-8) BURROWS (2-4-6)

The second line looked a tad shaky at first glance when they debuted on the ice. Without any production from themselves and the bottom six they made the Sedin line look like the only strength the team had.

It turned out they only needed a couple match-ups to warm up when they suddenly cranked up the heat in the last five games scoring 14 points. The largest effort has been made by centre Nick Bonino who has proven to be the successor of Ryan Kesler who has on amounted a record of 3-4-7 in 11 games. Bonino now has eight points on the season and is on route for a 66 tally season.

Alex Burrows has shown that being demoted after a poor season will not bring him down as he has pulled a great effort. The 33 year old is back to his 2011 form especially in scrapping. Burrows has come across an amount of trouble after delivering a controversial hit to Alexei Emelin Thursday evening. The forward has now received a 3 game suspension from NHL Player Safety for his actions.

Chris Higgins has been getting Higgy with it in his first ten games. He is one of the most noticeable forwards on the ice. Higgins has not only proven that he can maintain a second role but has proven he is definitely worth the money that management pays.

MATTHIAS (0-2-2) RICHARDSON (3-3-6) KASSIAN (2-1-3)

The third line is a work in progress that has gained traction in the last couple games. Strong efforts have been provided by Brad Richardson who scored three goals in two games. Richardson has been one of the most impressive among the bottom six with his hard shot that simply gets the puck in the net.

Shawn Matthias has begun to show glimmers of hope in his offensive play after being moved from centre to wing last week. The recently acquired former Panther has charged the net on multiple occasions and has not failed to get the puck toward the net.

Zack Kassian on the other hand has been frustrating. The wild card first round pick is still streaky in his play. Not to mention all the obscene acts he has committed in “gooning it up” he really needs to smarten up. Desjardins commented on Kassian’s outrageous applause towards the refs in a game against the Oilers.

“The referees were really good in that situation,” said Desjardins. “We can’t do that. Our players know that. We talked about that.

“That’s one thing you can’t do. I thought the refs handled it real well.”

Kassian all in all is a defective version of Todd Bertuzzi.

DORSETT (0-2-2) VEY (3-2-5) HANSEN (3-0-3)

Linden Vey though a fourth line centre at the moment has been on the top power play unit alongside the
Sedins, Vrbata and Alex Edler. The young forward has shown that he can fit in with the big boys on the roster as is fully capable in being a professional offensive force.

Jannik Hansen was demoted all the way to the bottom of the line chart but he does not seem to mind it. Hansen has provided bottom six mite in scoring three goals this season.

Derek Dorsett is an intense player. He knows when to be the tough guy on the ice and scraps a lot. Dorsett can be compared to those like the late Bob Probert who played the nitty gritty style with integrity and honour. The new enforcer is a man who will light up his team mates when needed.

EDLER (1-3-4) TANEV (0-4-4)

This top pairing has been the heart and soul of the defensive core. When the other two thirds of the blue line fail to support, Tanev and Edler know how to crack the volume up on their play. They are yet to disappoint on a major comeback from the 2013-14 regular season.

Alex Edler has gone from the worst in the NHL last year in plus minus with a rating of -39 to now maintaining a +3 rating.

Chris Tanev is now in the spotlight where he must prove his place on the Canucks for management in order to lock up a multi-year deal with the team. If Tanev keeps up his to the standard they seen him perform, it will be no problem watching him here for years to come.

BIEKSA (0-1-1) HAMHUIS (0-3-3)

This veteran blue line that was expected to carry the team this year has given insight on early rust. Both Bieksa and Hamhuis have had plausible performances on the ice but are not in their peak. The two big names will have to work hard to prove that the old guys have a role too.

SBISA (1-1-2) WEBER (0-2-2)

The third pairing on the Canucks have been an utter embarrassment. Both Sbisa and Weber have been present on the ice for the majority of goals against their team.

Luca Sbisa appears lost whenever he is on the ice and is not the player fans expected in return for Ryan Kesler in last years trade. His play is outright sloppy and to make matters worse, he holds a hefty pay cheque of $2.175 million.

WHAT ABOUT THE GOALTENDING?

The goaltending has been absolutely brilliant with the stellar performances of Ryan Miller. He has been there every time his team needs him and is currently tied with Canadiens goaltender Carey Price for most wins.

Ryan Miller in the first ten games achieved his 30th career shutout and his 300th career win.

WHAT CAN BE TAKEN FROM THIS?

Last season, John Tortorella claimed that the Canucks were simply too old and too stale. In the reign of Willie Desjardins, those remarks have been proven wrong as the team has quickly retooled and are now on pace to be a playoff contender.

Desjardins’ Canucks are slowly beginning to click together in his four line ideology. There is still much work to be done for the Vancouver Canucks and that’s alright.

Change has indeed come to the city of Vancouver.

Follow me on Twitter @cjaharder