There’s good news, and there’s bad news…

The good news – it was a night of firsts

The Vancouver Canucks won their fourth consecutive game in Edmonton on Tuesday night, beating the young Oilers 4-3. With the win – the team’s first on the road so far this season – the Canucks have risen to the top of the Northwest Division with 14 points in 11 games.

Alex Burrows made his return to the lineup last night, and looked good early in the game. He went to the right places, and nearly potted his first goal of the season on a cheeky centering pass from Daniel Sedin. He was visibly tired in the second half of the game, understandable seeing as he hasn’t seen game action since the spring.

Raffi Torres - Photo Credit: Canucks.comRaffi Torres scored his first career hat trick, and interestingly became the first ex-Oiler to net three goals in one game against Edmonton. (That’s right, Wayne Gretzky couldn’t do it. Mark Messier didn’t manage it. Before Torres, no one had been able to score thrice in one game against the Oil after leaving the Edmonton organization. That’s right – not even Jimmy Carson.) Torres, one of the few NHLers of Latin American descent, now has six goals in 11 games – he scored 19 times in 74 games last season, and has a career high of 27 goals back in 2005-06 while skating for those same Oilers.

Daniel Sedin scored his team-leading 8th goal. Brother Henrik is first in the league with 12 assists. Before Dustin Penner’s wraparound goal – see the bad news below – Roberto Luongo threatened to go on his first shutout streak of the season. He looked solid, even intimidating, playing the day after beating Martin Brodeur’s New Jersey Devils 3-0.

The bad news – an old pattern resurfaces

Last year’s Canucks juggernaut was exceptionally proficient at putting the puck in the net. Unfortunately, whenever they went up early in a game, the team would collapse into a defensive shell and let the other guys come at them, wave after scary wave. No lead – whether one, two, three, even four goals! – no lead was safe as long as the forwards stopped pressing the hapless opposition.

Unlike Alain Vigneault and his coaching staff, the Oilers apparently watched those tapes. When the Canucks went up 3-0 on Tuesday night, they looked like an infinitely more experienced, composed squad and threatened to put the boots to these youngsters. Even when Andrew Cogliano surprised Andrew Alberts behind the Vancouver net, and Dustin Penner swept in a wraparound to make it 3-1, the Canucks should have taken it in stride. They should have pushed to answer. They should have done anything necessary to regain their three-goal advantage. Mikael Samuelsson, to name one, should have, I dunno, tried.

Instead, they treated Taylor Hall and Co with that respect usually reserved for untouchables like Sid the Kid, or elder statesmen like Nik Lidstrom and the Detroit Red Wings. They let these embryonic superstars skate unchallenged at poor Roberto Luongo. They dropped checks: Mason Raymond was actually the goat on that first Edmonton goal – he let Cogliano go unimpeded into the big Canucks D-man to jar the puck loose.

The Canucks panicked. When Gilbert Brule blew a laserbeam top shelf to tie the game at three, Vancouver fans had to be running endless mental film from last season’s blown leads against a truckload of teams. Hell, of last playoff’s blown leads against Chicago in particular.

Raffi Torres scored the winning goal on a lucky dribbler from just inside the blueline. Don’t get me wrong – a good team needs to win on a lucky goal once in a while, too. But great teams don’t need a horseshoe where the sun don’t shine – not when they’ve taken a 3-0 lead by halfway through the first period.


Follow Jason Kurylo on Twitter.

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Jason Kurylo: No time to panic

Jason Kurylo, CanucksCorner.com

After the fourth game of the season, the Canucks have been the better team in 10 of 12 periods so far. They’ve held time-of-possession advantages in each game, out-chanced the other guys, and they’ve offered occasional flashes of the exciting, offensive hockey that won them the Northwest Division last season. They’ve shown, for the most part, defensive responsibility and solid, confident goaltending from Roberto Luongo.

Yet somehow, the Canucks have lost twice to the Kings – once in overtime – and been beaten in regulation by the lowly Ducks. Their only win of the young season came in unconvincing fashion against a team that will likely finish at the bottom of the hockeytrocity that is the Southeast Division.

So, as many a Canuck fan is posting on Twitter, “WTF?!?”

Canuck shooters have made Jonathan Quick look even better than he really is in consecutive losses. When they have put pucks past the young LA netminder, they’ve just plain missed the net. There have been posts, rolling pucks, bobbled chances, bad ice and good saves by opposition goalies. Mikael Samuelsson even managed to hit a crossbar against Floriday – while Tomas Vokoun was on the bench for the extra Panther attacker.

Roberto LuongoComing the other way, the Canucks could easily have had shutouts in both home games so far this year. The Kings took advantage of a late power play to score their only goal on opening night in a game they would eventually win in a shootout. Those Panthers also scored just one goal against Luongo: a desperation shot that pinballed off of two different players on its way in. Similarly, the Kings’ second goal in game four went in off the skate of Kevin Bieksa, on what looked like a broken play.

But why stop there? Referees seemed to scheme against the Nucks in Anaheim, giving the Ducks a pair of two-man advantages on phantom calls. Throw in a missed too-many-men call that resulted directly in the winning goal against, and Vancouver hockey fans were left scratching their heads.

So what’s the good news?

This edition of the Vancouver Canucks, led by the new captain Henrik Sedin, is saying all the right things. “We should have put them away in the second period,” said Henrik of the Ducks, acknowledging the referee mistakes are no excuse for allowing a lesser team to stay in the game. And he’s right; if Vancouver had buried just one or two of their myriad chances in the first forty minutes, those sleepy Ducks and their ref-assisted goals would not have mattered.

Even Ryan Kesler, whose penchant for complaints on-ice and moody media scrums probably took him out of the running for the captaincy, shrugged off the poor early record. “The refs miss calls like we miss plays,” he said after Stephen Walkam’s officiating crew gifted the Ducks their sole win of the season. “We can’t blame them for our missed chances.”

Now, don’t get me wrong – the Canucks haven’t done themselves any favours, either. Perhaps as a result of all the pre-season hype, Vancouver skaters have elected to pass far more often than shoot. They haven’t driven the net like they should. Opposition goalies have seen far too much of the puck, and not nearly enough of Canuck screens on the edge of the crease. Kesler should be fighting for pucks within a three-foot radius of the net, not finessing wrist shots into the netminder’s breadbasket from the blue line. Unless your name is Sedin, you probably shouldn’t be trying to find a cross-ice seam when you’ve got a chance to go to the net. After that debacle of game management that was the 4-3 loss to the Ducks, these guys should have come out on fire in LA. They outshot the Kings, sure, but looked flat much of the night, and once again saw zero offense outside of a pretty rush by the Sedins.

It took these same boys a while to learn these lessons last year as well. Remember, the Canucks followed up an 0-3 start to the season by winning the division.

If Vancouver is still looking for better results after three or four weeks, panic buttons should be pressed. But chances are, once Manny Malhotra gets a gimme of a short-handed goal, or Kesler gets a lucky one to go in off his left butt cheek, or hell, when Luongo gets enough bounces to tally his first shutout of the year, this team will see some serious win streaks start to pile up.

This team has too much talent, and too few egos, not to.

Follow Jason Kurylo on Twitter: @PuckedInTheHead

Subscribe to his NHL hockey podcast, Pucked in the Head, on iTunes.

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CanucksCorner.com wants you! Talented Canucks fans apply within!

Well, it’s been a bit slow around here, but we can’t ignore it any longer! Hockey season is around the corner, and now’s time to get the place looking good again for our internet Canucks fans.

We’re starting our 14th season of Canucks hockey on the web and we’ve evolved from a  fun project, to message board, to an article based site and finally the fan blog and social media site we have become today.  Maintaining content is a lot of work and that’s where we need your help.

I’m looking for about four talented and aspiring podcasters, video bloggers and writers to help provide content. Since I don’t get paid, I can’t pay you, but if you’re a budding journalism student looking for some experience or just someone that enjoys writing and loves  the Canucks or the NHL CanucksCorner.com, I’d like to hear from you.

We occasionally get access to some cool stuff involving the Canucks and as a writer/podcaster/video blogger there is a chance that you could be part of that from time to time.

The ideal candidate:

  • A knowledgable hockey fan.
  • Posesses good writing skills and attention to grammar and spelling.
  • Has some experience with WordPress. (Not necessary, but an asset).
  • Graphics skills would be an asset.
  • Proficiency with and ownership of Podcasting/Video equipment definitely an asset.
  • Is able to provide at least an article per month.
  • Can help at Canucks.com functions like tweetups and playoff parties.

Sounds like fun? Send me an e-mail telling me a bit about yourself. If you can include a brief paragraph or two with some sample writing that would be great!

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Podcast: Name The Podcast, Canucks/Blackhawks Wrap Up

Jason and Chris are back and they have a problem. They can no longer call the podcast “Bernier Is A Turd” and they need to come up with a new name. Sounds like a good excuse to give away a prize right? I have a 2009-2010 Vancouver Canucks Yearbook, as well as an official Canucks Playoff towel for the person who comes up with the best name, as chosen by Jason and Chris. You can leave your suggestion as a comment here, or send us a tweet (@CanucksCorner, @TrimTheMullet, @Chris_Withers).

In addition to the search for a new name, the boys also discuss the end of the season for the Canucks and dissect the series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Also, after weeks of saying, “I’ll get to it”, I finally go to it and set up a couple of feeds you can use to subscribe to this podcast in iTunes as well as our new FeedBurner RSS feed. Just click the appropriate icon below, and you can keep updated on all our blog posts and podcasts.

The Nameless Podcast:

MP3 Version :: M4A Version (With Images)

Subscribe Via Feedburner Subscribe Via Feedburner
Add To iTunes Subscribe to this Podcast in iTunes





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CC’s Tom Benjamin on HNIC

Never one to toot his own horn, our own Tom Benjamin, of hockey’s most popular bloggers, was a guest on Hockey Night in Canada’s playoff primer show last night. I had no idea Tom was doing the show, so thanks to Lotus Blossom who gave me the heads up!

Tom really does do quality work, and it was great to see him be acknowledged by Ron McLean and the crew. If you missed it, you can check it out below!

When Tom approached me about douing a blog about 5 years ago, he told me that blogging was the next big thing, and he thought it would be a good addition to the site. He was sure bang on about that, as blogs have taken over the fan site world. I am so thrilled he chose CanucksCorner.com to display his work.

Congrats to Tom, and I thank him for his quality contributions to this site!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4RfIf7UKjA