Down 3-1, It’s Time to Cheer Them, Win or Lose

It was hard watching the Canucks falter last night. It was even harder seeing so many fans lambast them to Timbuktu. For me, I have invested so much of my passion with this team, as many of you out there have. Although the level hasn’t always stayed steady at all times, I’ve had down turns as well, I have always loved this team.  And in their toughest hour in the 2015 playoffs, I’m still here. Although it just got tougher with two regulars out of the line-up, and an uphill battle of being down 3-1 in the series, I will be waving the towel and cheering the boys on.

If the hockey team is reflective of the support at Rogers Arena, the team is then, at the equal level. Yes, Friday was a great display of support, but the Wednesday before that, was very sub-par. I know it’s hard Vancouver, to have to cheer for something before it even gets started, but it seems we have lost our enthusiasm of our self-professed love for our hockey team. At times, I have felt, many in this fan-base seem entitled when it comes to the success of the Canucks. Success and respect is earned, and as a fan base, we still have a lot of earning to do.

  • The level of anger that goes on when the Canucks lose, even a regular season game, have half the fans wanting to blow up the team. It could have been a solution, had Mike Gillis not given so many players NTCs in their current contracts, but it’s not the reality. Not everyone is a Jason Garrison and would wave to be moved to anywhere to help out the team. It’s difficult to expect a full rebuild when you have to keep members of the old core around and have to transition around that. It’s possible to have small steps to success as we have seen here this season, but you can’t expect a full blown rebuild. Besides, who wants to be Edmonton and be rebuilding for a decade? *wink*
  • Hindsight is 20/20. Everyone is an expert when things go wrong or if things go right. I do it too. This season, I bitched for so long about Weber to be put on the PP. It didn’t matter which unit, but when the Canucks had him on the 1st unit and their scoring became viable again, I was doing the biggest “I told you so!” peacock boast. It’s happening now with the playoffs, but that’s the thing. We really don’t know. We really don’t know what is happening and why they are playing the way they are. It’s just one of those things.
  • Going after your own fan-base on a personal level because you disagree on something  . One thing to disagree and discuss, it’s another to down-right degrade. I’ve been part of a Canucks discussion board for years, and I see ‘men’ in their middle age act like juvenile delinquents if someone doesn’t see things their way. There is something about hockey that brings out the best and the worst out of people.
  • #TeamLack #TeamMiller- perhaps if Canucks fans stood more in unity with each other, especially with the tough losses, instead of dividing the camps like this season did with “Goalie Teams”. I haven’t been a big fan of Kevin Bieksa in years. He hasn’t been that guy we had in 2011, since, well, 2011. None of the guys are, but he’s definitely dropped off the most since the Cup run of the remaining players. But I know he is going to be a part of this team, unless he says otherwise. So I’ll just complain about the plays he misses or makes instead of how I am #TeamTanev. Don’t you remember? We are all Canucks.
  • Higher expectations since the Canucks did finish 2nd in the Pacific and both LA and San Jose did not make playoffs. The Canucks have brought their game more often than not when the big teams are across the ice and perhaps the Canucks and this fan base still see Calgary as a more inferior team. The thing is, Calgary knows what the Canucks can do and they came to play. I think the Canucks still haven’t gotten that Calgary is actually for real. – That’s ok. It happens. Cinderella does make the ball too.

This season, the Canucks have exceeded my expectations. I was thinking they were sneaking into the playoffs. I didn’t expect them to be as good as they have been. A lot of that has to do with making steps towards the right direction and that’s the goal, moving forward. It’s ok to stumble. In fact, I’d rather they do, so they can fix the stumble and not do it again. So in year 1 of new management and coaching staff, let them stumble. Just don’t be that asshole parent that chastises them for it but not offer any real support for them not to do it next time.

They are down 3-1. They have been kicked down enough. Lift them up and cheer them on. Who knows, it might fuel them to another game, or maybe two. But I do know one thing, it will make it easier for them to try. A little support goes a long way, even for millionaire hockey players. Pump some tires, pat some backs and wave those towels. GO CANUCKS GO!

Wave them until you can't wave them anymore!

Wave them until you can’t wave them anymore!

@Aviewfromabroad

“Line Dancing”at The Rog? Rd 1 Gm 2

 

Canucks played a pretty good Game 1 and lost it in the last minute due to very good screens by Bieksa and Sbisa, now known as SBieksa. Unfortunately for them, the screen was on Eddie Lack. Fast forward to Game 2 vs the Calgary Flames and the atmosphere at Rogers Arena was electric! It doesn’t hurt you have this guy leading #TowelPower

Kirk McLean, remembered for "The Save" in 1994 vs the Calgary Flames.

Kirk McLean, remembered for “The Save” in 1994 vs the Calgary Flames.

 

Just like the previous game, the Canucks had jump, this time, they added their execution. They win 4-1 with Daniel scoring first; Higgins breaks the net cam with his PPG and the Latvian Locomotive Ronnie Kenins scores his first ever NHL Playoff goal. Vrbata seals the deal with an empty netter late in the third.

Eddie Lack is probably the most social media interactive player in the NHL, but definitely on the Canucks. We’ve gotten to know his mom, Mia Lack and his dad, Willie. Either through the tweets of Mia Lack (@mammamialack) or Hockey Night in Canada panning over to Eddie’s dad, Will as often as they panned over to Ryan Miller’s mom earlier in the season. I guess the Canucks goalies have very likable parents. I’m starting to think the Lacks are the Swedish hockey celebrity family the NHL has been waiting for.

So there were a lot of things that happened in last night’s game. But the biggest thing everyone is talking about this morning is…

  • Matt Stajan throws down the gloves with Richardson and then all of sudden an MMA fighter was born. If B-Rad ever wanted to get a new career going, I’m sure Dana White is looking for a novelty fight on his card.
  • Best twitter reaction to the melee: IMG_0002
  • Best Teammate: Ryan Miller for chirping back at Michael Ferland as he is escorted to the Flames bench. Miller the often quiet guy wins points with the Canucks fan base with this: 
    Ryan Miller may have been sitting on the bench but he was into it.

    Ryan Miller may have been sitting on the bench but he was into it.

  • Best Contradition: Dan Hamhuis has now become Public Enemy #1 for the Calgary Flames and their fans. Yes, you read right, Dan Hamhuis. He’s probably even more mild-mannered than the Sedins, combined! But I guess owning Johnny Hockey all night long does that for you. Not to mention, manhandling both Gaudreau and Monahan simultaneously with one arm each.

Numbers Game

  • 7 home game losses streak in the playoffs since 2011 has been broken with this win. The Canucks could have set the new record with 8 in a row had they given up this one to the Flames.
  • 42 minutes is what was charged to Derek Engelland of the Flames in penalty minutes.
  • 9 hits from Edler (4) and Dorsett (5) combined. The Flames were out-muscled all over the ice tonight, mostly from these two. 
  • .957 Eddie Lack’s save percentage for this game. More often than not, that’s going to be a notch in the win column.
  • 24 goals has Daniel Sedin tying Cliff Ronning as third on the all-time club list for playoff goals.
  • 15, the number of wins left to get to Lord Stanley. The first one means everything.

The Aftermath

  • Kevin Bieksa was being interviewed about the happenings in the third and his best response to it all…“…I’m not sure what happened with the penalties but hopefully we’ll see Mason Raymond next game.”  Bieksa is one of those players I love and hate all at once and I am not the only one:

    Ms. Bayne, you hit the nail right on the head!

    Ms. Lindsay, you hit the nail right on the head!

  • The Canucks didn’t back down from the Flames when challenged. It was not always so. The push-back has been shown a few times this year, and that’s one character asset this team has over past teams. Everyone truly seems to want to play and stand-up for one another, and what a perfect time for it.
  • If there are suspensions given out, I see Engelland and Hamhuis being the guys gone for a game, but that’s up the NHL and no word yet.
  • @TheStanchion‘s tweet might push to get Russell in the suspension mix too. Side by side views of the Byfuglien cross-check with Russell’s from last night:

What a game! I was having such an intense and not so good day at work and we didn’t buy playoff tickets this year (yeah, I know, I know) but did this game ever make me forget. Off to Calgary now in what I know will be a very boisterous Saddledome. The Flames fans haven’t seen playoff hockey in 5 seasons. It should make for a great atmosphere! Glad to know there will be a good number of Canucks fan transplants in Calgary so wave those towels proud and Go Canucks go!

@Aviewfromabroad

Funny Post-script: A guy name Ronalds Kenins scored an NHL playoff goal before guys named Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Couldn’t resist, Oilers miss their 9th straight post-season and some 24 year old rookie from Latvia sniped a beautiful pass from another rookie, Bo Horvat.

PPS: Luca Sbisa, for as much as the Canucks fans and media alike get on him, makes a great heads-up play to keep the puck in the attacking zone and passes it deep to Horvat.

 

Core Of the Matter: Now or Never?

It’s true, the Canucks version of the “Core Four” is aging. The Sedins, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows are the elder statesman on the team. They aren’t those upstart young guys from Alain Vigneault’s Manitoba Moose or a couple of 1999 first round ‘wonder twin’ draft picks. They are the leaders on this team and this playoff berth shouldn’t be one they take for granted. For all they know, it could be their best and last chance at a Stanley Cup.

This could be their last real chance for a Cup. Is it time to play like playoff beasts?

This could be their last real chance for a Cup. Is it time to play like playoff beasts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This was the question on TSN 1040 Radio’s Midday show. Sekeres and Price thought it would be something to chime into, and as I was thinking about it driving, it could very well be it for Bieksa, Burrows and the Sedins.

Three are 34 and Bieksa is 33. 2011 was four years ago and all were in the prime of their careers. This time around, they are battling Father Time along with the critics and their opponents. So how could this actually be good for these four and guys like Vrbata, Higgins and Hamhuis, who aren’t spring chickens either.

Knowing they are all nearing the twilight of their careers, I could see these guys giving it their all, especially Henrik and Daniel. They are going to have to play their asses off and as a former teammate once told the press, “Compete like bastards!” and reach the one award that has eluded them.

Their first round opponents have a young upstart line in Monahan and Gaudreau, steadied by veteran, Jiri Hudler. Their ability to score is strong and they are fast. Their defence is mobile and are offensively minded. The Flames will give it all they have against the Canucks. Although Willie Desjardins will be rolling four lines, and the younger members of this team will have the opportunity to contribute, the Canucks “Core Four” are going to have to do this…

And this…

And definitely some of this…

It will harder this time around, but if they succeed, it will be so much more rewarding.

@Aviewfromabroad

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

Three Up, Three Down: January 5th

After the Christmas break, the Vancouver Canucks are 2-1-1 in their four games played. Nothing spectacular, but five out of a possible eight points isn’t so bad considering their opponents: Ducks, Sharks, Kings and Redwings. A much different cry than the October schedule that consisted of a good chunk of playing teams from Alberta. Based on last season, they would have been lucky to get two points from these four games, maybe three. However, there is no longer a John Tortorella or a Mike Gillis at the helm and just from being an observant fan, there is a different feeling from the guys we see on the ice. Despite recent struggles, they are fighting through it, instead of just succumbing to what befalls them.

Over the last four games, here are three of the guys that have been solid for the Canucks and here three of the guys who have been struggling.

THREE UP

1. Ryan Miller– Despite having some rough games in the month of December, Ryan Miller has found his form since the holiday break. He has been tracking the puck well and despite the late in the game loss to LA, he stopped 37 of 40 shots the Kings threw his way. In the OT loss to the Anaheim Ducks, Miller posted 28 saves of 30 shots while being absolutely stellar in the game versus the Detroit Redwings, last Saturday. In the four games Miller has stopped 126 of 133 SOG. His save % is at an incredible .947. If not for the play of Ryan Miller, this could be a different four games for the Canucks.

Edler2. Alex Edler– He could possibly be nicknamed “Steady Eddie” for his play the over this four game stretch. He recorded three points including a PPG versus Detroit. His +/- rating is at a +1 for these four games and the ability for him to just calmly and confidently move the puck out of this zone, gaining centre before shooting it into the other end has been a night and day difference from last season’s version of Alex Edler. Edler is looking a lot more comfortable this year on the blue line than last. He and Tanev have been a solid pairing and a bright spot for the Canucks D.

3. Alex Burrows– Say what you want about Alex Burrows and his often agitating demeanor on the ice, he is probably the most coach-able person on the team. He is  versatile. Ask him to play on the penalty kill, he is money. Ask him to play down with Horvat and Dorsett, he gives that line some good chances at the net. Ask him to play on the PP as the man in front and suddenly the very quiet power play is making a little more noise. After such a terrible and injury ridden season under John Tortorella, it’s great to see Burrows back to being Burrows under Willie Desjardins. Hard to fault him for what he does on the ice. He doesn’t seem to do much wrong. Sure we could have Burrows potting a few more to the back of the net, but I’m just glad to see Burrows feeling confident in two-way play once more and on special teams, I can’t name one person that plays them as well as Burr.

As some guys are finding their grooves, and finding their games, there are other guys on the team that have been invisible, struggling that it costs the team on the scoreboard or just plays you see and all you can do is shake your head.

THREE DOWN

Kevin-Bieksa-and-tiny-Hamhuis-600x3001. Kevin Bieksa– It’s no secret I am not the biggest fan of Bieksa’s play on the ice, and although I have thought him to be serviceable, he’s not by any means a ‘franchise blue-liner’ that some fans make him out as, but everyone knows I love the way he stands up for his teammates. I admire the way he conducts himself with the media and the fans, and his work and contributions outside the world of hockey. Kevin Bieksa is a damn good teammate, but his play since the injury to Dan Hamhuis has been far from stellar. The casual clearings of the pucks and the untimely penalties have really been glaring. They are even worse to see when he was paired up with Luca Sbisa. Things have somewhat steadied with Stanton on the other side and Juice has fought his way back to a -2 after being -7 in his +/- rating. One thing I will say, Bieksa looked pretty good versus Detroit. He made some really timely plays and maybe, just maybe, Hamhuis will be back to get Juice back on track soon.

2. Chris Higgins– Like Mikael Samuelsson before him, Higgins is a streaky player. However this long streak of being goal-less and invisible is really adding up to about a calendar month, maybe more. During this four game span, Higgins has recorded only six shots on goal. Yes, the rest of the team hasn’t really been shooting much either, but Higgins has enough speed to get himself open and take more shots. I was expecting a better year from Higgins but as of now, he’s been more often quiet than not.

3. Nick Bonino: According to Raffi (yes, that Raffi, Baby Beluga, Raffi) on twitter, the “Bonino Phone” has stopped ringing. In fact, it has rang since Dec. 13th versus the New York Rangers in a loss. Bonino is stagnant in terms of point production. He has recorded one assist in last four games. He centres the 2nd unit powerplay and some of it can be attributed to the Sedin PP unit taking up 1:30 of the 2min PP time, Bonino’s unit hasn’t produced and has looked lack lustre. Bonino needs to find a way to start contributing to the score-sheet and fast, because the Canucks aren’t looking like they won that Anaheim trade at the moment or remotely feel they ‘broke even’ on the deal. One positive about Nick Bonino in the last little while is that his faceoff % has gone up to the 50% range from the 30% range he was recording earlier in the season.

Hopefully we can get the whole ship working on all cylinders as they were in late October, early November, once again,  but each line, each player needs to be picking up the slack more when they see teammates struggle, but with the Canucks having been out-shot 133-75 in these last four games doesn’t build a lot of hope in some of the fan base. These were top quality opponents. The Sharks, Ducks, Kings and Wings are no joke. Sure you can get away with it on the Oilers, Sabres, Flames even to an extent and the Coyotes, but if the Canucks wish to have any success in the Western Conference and specifically the Pacific Division, they need to start getting more pucks to the net, causing rebounds and making opportunities.

@Aviewfromabroad