Random thoughts of a thin skinned blogger before game two.

Well, game two is hours away and there is a consensus out there that it’s a pretty important one for the Canucks. It may well be, but let’s not forget that the Canucks had a 2-0 series lead in the finals last year as well. It would however be nice to see the Canucks get back to their game. Cut out the cheap stuff and trying to read the referees and just play the game. The rest should take care of itself, even though it is entirely possible that this Los Angeles team that everyone said at the start of the year was a contender, may be peaking at the right time.

Thin skinned…yeah sure…ok.

So I guess I fall under the thin skinned people that various bloggers were referring to in reference to the Kingsgate Twitter scandal. I never got worked up about it; it’s just not the way I would run my organization. There are certain models that businesses follow to achieve their goals. Whatever your preference is that’s fine. My preference would be to have my organization represent itself with class, and it does that in spades with @VanCanucks. To each their own I guess…Jim Rome has a popular talk show for a reason.

But what about Cory?

Wait! How can I scold the kings for their Twitter indiscretion but condone what Core Schneider said about Edmonton you say? Well, Schneider was already in full apology mode for making these comments in response to being asked about why the Canucks seem to be hated so much:

“You look around the league and people don’t like us and Pittsburgh and we’re two of the better teams. You saw Darcy Hordichuk and Ben Eager in Edmonton. Nobody cares about Edmonton so nobody hates them. It’s that simple.”

Now anyone who knows Cory and the type of person he is would understand Schneider was referring to the fact that no one hates last place teams. Unfortunately his words weren’t chosen wisely. I wonder if those same bloggers will accuse those folks in Edmonton of having a thin skin? The shame.

Postgame Circus

I don’t how talk show host do it. Driving home after Wednesday’s game, I turned on the postgame show on @TEAM1040 and couldn’t believe the calls that were coming in from fans. One caller called in saying the fix was in and that Gary Bettman has decreed that because of the television market, Los Angeles shall win the series. That the Bitz hit turned around on the Canucks would have resulted in a two minute penalty at the most, guaranteed. I ended up having to turn it off. The insanity was too much to take, which is unfortunate because I enjoy pregame and postgame stuff generally. Some people clearly need to step off the ledge and take a few deep breaths after a loss.

Pregame Video

The last regular season game I went to I tweeted that the Canucks pregame video was rather uninspiring. Wednesday night they made up for it with a great intro video that got the hairs raised and the goose bumps sprouting. The Canucks do a great job of these in general, and it was great to see them crank it up for the playoffs.

Can it Kesler

Please Ryan Kesler, just get back to being a dominating two way scoring threat! Leave the other crap behind and just play like we all know you can. We need Kesler leading…not getting taken off his game by all the after the whistle stuff.

Anyone but Raymond?

I don’t think Mason Raymond is cut out for first line minutes. He just doesn’t finish well enough to be playing with Henrik. I’m not sure what the answer is while we wait for Daniel’s return, but I’m not sold that Raymond is the answer. That said, every time I voice this opinion he seems to go on a two game scoring streak.

Thank me later.

Off to the game, GO CANUCKS GO!

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.

[tweetmeme]

A decent start.

Captain Hankby Jason Kurylo

On the opening night of the 2010-11 season, it would have been pretty hard for the Vancouver Canucks to live up to the pre-season hype. Heck, it would have been pretty hard to live up to the pre-game hype: Las Vegas-style scrims with Canucks stars’ faces projected 10 metres tall, Tom Larscheid’s much-publicized swansong after decades in the broadcast booth, and a dozen-plus members of the original 1970 Canucks on hand to see Orland Kurtenbach hand Henrik Sedin his brand new Captain’s C. Vancouver was positively abuzz with excitement coming up to tonight’s puck drop against the Los Angeles Kings, who to add another wrinkle to the plot, feature ex-Canuck Willie Mitchell as their senior rearguard.

Pundits all over North America have picked VanCity to hoist its first Stanley Cup since the Millionaires had their names engraved inside the bowl of Lord Stanley’s mug in 19-freakin’-15. This iteration of NHL hockey in Vancouver has seen 40 years go by without a Cup, and Mike Gillis has assembled a team that has people in Toronto and New York paying attention? The home team could have won this game 10-0 and some fans would have left unimpressed. It’s a Cup they want, not a win in mid-October.

So what does the 2-1 shootout loss to the Kings mean, exactly?

We saw tonight that the other clubs in the NHL are not just going to hand the Canucks a championship just because Gillis signed Dan Hamhuis in the off-season. Heck, the Kings didn’t even want to hand us these two points just because Roberto Luongo dropped seven pounds, passed the C to Henrik & hugged the blue paint like a good goalie should. Yes, this team has a mobile, trustworthy defense. Yes, Luongo is playing now the way he usually starts playing in November. But this team should not try to win a game 1-0. A solid D does not preclude going for the jugular.

We saw that the league’s second best offense last year will have to work just a little harder if they want to score more than a goal a game. Christian Ehrhoff was the most dangerous Canuck for much of tonight’s game. Ryan Kesler was unlucky not to score tonight – he will have be greasier. Mason Raymond played well, but he will have to go to the net just a little harder. The Sedins showed confidence and patience tonight, but with little of that sandpaper they showed after the All-Star break last year. Raffi Torres made some good plays in his first game for the Canucks, but his linemates didn’t seem to know what to do with those decent feeds.

Quick's retro pads - If you remember these, you're old. *sigh* I'm old.In all, we saw a good team that was unlucky not to win their home opener. Sure, Jonathan Quick played well in his outrageously bad ass retro pads, but the fact is, the Canucks didn’t have enough want to get it done on opening night. Most nights, if the opposition is held to one goal in regulation time, Vancouver is going to be in the W column. This Canucks team, when it gels? It’s going to be a fun time to be a hockey fan in Vancouver.

Anyone jumping off the bandwagon today should be banned from watching in April when it matters most.

[tweetmeme]

LIVE BLOG REPLAY: Canucks vs. Kings Round One Preview

Tonight we were joined by JJ Guerrero, Richard Loat, Chris Golden from CanucksHockeyBlog.com and Trevor Presiloski of The Internet Trashcan Click replay below to read the discussion we had on the Canucks first round series against the L.A. Kings!

[tweetmeme]

My Top Ten Favourite Hockey Memories

Yes it’s that time of the year again, and at this time we all reflect about the year passed.  I’ll say one thing for me, it’s been good, bad, and ugly. All things occurring, I have to take responsibility and credit.  I’ve had a great year getting back into doing what I love most, writing. I want to thank Brian and Canuckscorner.com for giving the opportunity to continue to hone my skills and write about my favourite sports franchise in the world, the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m going to take a trip down memory lane today and talk about my 27 year tenure of being a Canucks fan.  My most memorable moments, not just on the ice, but just as a fan.   As I read, in another blog and article, the Canucks mean a lot to my life. In fact, I got the privilege to be a part of the Canucks family via work at one point in my life.

Sports and particularly hockey have been a big point of bonding with my father, who didn’t have any sons, so he took his eldest daughter to all the sporting events he could muster. Well, Dad, I just want to say it worked.  I am now more of a fanatic than you are. Thank you, Dad. I miss you and I will see you soon!

10) A Canucks Fan is Born: Before I was a Canucks fan I was a Winnipeg Jets fan, and my first ever NHL game I can recollect was at the Pacific Coliseum. It was the Canucks vs. Jets and I was so excited. My father got us great seats. Section G row 11. Oddly enough those were my season tickets to the Giants.  I remember I fell in love with the Canucks that night. They were my new team.  I was amazed by the play of two players in particular, #12 Stan Smyl and probably my early favourite #23 Thomas Gradin.  We didn’t win that night, but I remember Gradin scoring 2 goals and I was hooked.  This was the moment I was hooked as a Canucks fan. That was 1981,  a 6 year old Canuck junkie was born.

9) Canucks and Friendships: My first Canucks game with my friends without my father. It was 1985, I was 10 years old and our neighbourhood parents decided to buy a block of tickets for us neighbourhood kids to go to a game together. These were the days our parents could drop us off at the arena and pick us up after the game and be safe. It was an exciting time, we all had a blast. The Canucks actually beat the Oilers that night and were in rare form. I got the see Wayne Gretzky not score a goal that night. It was a rarity indeed. I remember my friend Mike yelling, “I’m a Canucks fan for life!”.Great time, good memories

8) Birth of Towel Power: Although I wasn’t there, I got to see this on TV, but I’m sure all Canucks fan remember Roger Nielsen’s “white towel” surrender to the officials. It was Chicago stadium, I was at home watching it with my family. When the Canucks came home to the Pacific Coliseum, my dad took me to that game and I’ve never seen so many white towels being swung ever. The Canucks came home to a hero’s welcome. I was just very fortunate to be a part of it. Towel Power was born.

7) The 1982 Cup Run: Being 7 years old, it was more about the excitement that surrounded me than the actual games themselves. The Canucks were a bunch of muckers and grinders with a few talent players here and there. Nothing like the Stanley Cup Final opponents in the Islanders. The Islanders were THE team back in those days. Although we were slaughtered in the finals in a sweep, I will never forget Bernie Pascal and his enthusiasm during his sports broadcasts talking about how this lunch bucket team has captured the hearts and imagination of the city.

6) Los Angeles 1988: I got to see Wayne Gretzky live for the first time as an LA King at the Great Western Forum. My dad had made that trip to see the Lakers and the Celtics with my uncle, and he saw how much I wanted to go and so he packed me up in the car and drove down to LA with him and my uncle. We went to the Lakers game the night before, which they won, and then got tickets to watch “The Great One” as an LA King for the first time. That was a new era in hockey. Gretzky scored two that night against the St Louis Blues.

5) Pavel Bure’s first game: I’ll never forget his first game at the Pacific Coliseum. It was against my old Winnipeg Jets. Wow. I was off my seat so much I must have hit the end of it when it was raised a few times too many that night. I was 16 years old.  The Russian Rocket was the most exciting player to ever put on a Canuck uniform bar none. Many good memories of the Russian Rocket, but seeing him for the first time that night, I knew he was the real deal.

4) Sweden 2000 Canucks Training Camp: Luckily for me, I was given the opportunity to go Sweden in 2000 and watch the Canucks do their training camp and part of their pre-season there. It was the first time I got to see the Sedins and of course Stockholm, Ornkoldsvik and many other things in Sweden.  Fascinating trip, outside of Canada, I don’t think there is a county that loves their hockey as much as the Swedes.

3) 2005 IIHF World Championships, Austria: Loving my work very much at this point and also my very last assignment for this conglomerate, I was able to see international hockey with NHL stars. It was the lockout year. I balanced my time between babysitting our favourite broadcaster and hanging out and getting some fantastic interviews with members of all the teams involved. I must say the one that I had with Brenden Morrison, his wife Erin and his parents, who live in Europe, one of the most fun. It was unfortunate that the Canadians didn’t win that tournament, but it showed how much the Czech team wanted to win it in front of many of their fans.

2) 1994 Stanley Cup Run: I know that this would be most peoples’ favourite hockey memory if you’re a Canucks fan, but it’s only second compared to mine for very personal reasons.  That run captured the imagination of not just the city but of the whole entire nation.  From the Calgary series when Robert Reichel was stoned by Kirk McLean and Bure’s winner in OT, from the Toronto series, the hardest fought 6 games and finally that heart breaking loss in the game 7 at MSG. I remember being at the airport and waiting for the team and they were applauded. I remember my friend getting arrested for lewd conduct on Robson Street, prior to the disgraceful rioting. It was just a magical run, it was just so sad, and to this day it still hurts, that the Canucks didn’t have the gas to finish the race.

1) January 2001, My Daughter’s first Canucks Game: Yes, this has got to be most memorable moment. My then three year old daughter was hooked on hockey. It was great to see her cheer for our boys and see her reaction to the crowd and take in the atmosphere of a hockey game.  She got her hot dog, her drink, her Canucks shirt and she was all set and very happy.  Passing on the love of hockey to my child to me is my most fond memory. It’s wonderful to know that she can share something I am so passionate about.

Yeah those are some pretty big memories for me as a hockey fan, and especially a Canuck fan.  I just wanted to share them with you all out there.  Remember why you love this team and why you love hockey. It’s beyond what goes on in the game.

Musings from the Mud…

Lotus Blossom