The day after the world ended…for some

Breaking News: Roberto Luongo is human.

The day after the Canucks were eliminated from the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs by the Chicago Blackhawks, the knives of Canucks fans have come out and most of them are looking to slash the throat of their goaltender, who apparently isn’t allowed to be human. It’s all his fault and it’s inexcusable that in the biggest game of the year he fell short of spectacular. Never mind a goal off a skate and some sick skills displayed by Patrick Kane. Never mind the defense who collapsed in front of him, or the player who took the bad penalty, or that turnover. Oh, and we’ll just forget how he held the Canucks in the game in the first half of the first period.

Nope, it’s all Roberto Luongos’ fault! Where is that tombstone? Cory Schneider, you’re up! [Read more…]

Well Played, Wellwood!

The Canucks came out blazing in the first two periods of last night’s game.  Although they did stumble for most of the third, allowing the Chicago Blackhawks to tie the game at three on thirteen shots on Roberto Luongo.  It was definitely something the Canucks need to be mindful of next game and prepare for better than Game 1.

Wellwood pays the price in Game 1 versus the Chicago Blackhawks

Wellwood pays the price in Game 1 versus the Chicago Blackhawks

Kyle Wellwood’s play last night was outstanding.  To me, he was the unsung hero of the game.  He drew three penalties last night including two double minors. His face paid the price, but he didn’t care.  He got stitched up and he was back on the ice like it did not even happen.  He did his job and he did it well.

All throughout the regular season stretch and the Round 1 series against St. Louis, we have seen a different side of Kyle Wellwood.  We see a guy that has re-invented himself into a very good two way hockey player.   We have seen a guy who has been in Alain Vigneault’s doghouse and was called out publicly, to someone who has become a very effective third line shut down centre.

Perhaps seeing that he cleared waivers twice, and seeing his NHL career on the brink woke something up in Kyle Wellwood and he made a choice to be the player he knows he could be.  We are seeing that on the ice presently. During these playoffs, Wellwood has scored once, had three assists and playing good defensive hockey.

What really sticks out in my mind is his face-off percentage in the playoffs. All the Canucks regular centres are doing very well, but his 56.4% winning percentage is behind that of Mats Sundin (57.5%) and Ryan Johnson (62.5%). This is an area that the whole team has improved on this season but Kyle winning key face-offs on the third line has been a big factor in his success.

His contributions on the second unit power play have been noticed. His pass on Demitra’s goal last night was brilliant and to mention the beauty to Kesler for the Canucks’ third goal of the evening.

There was something in Kyle Wellwood that Mike Gillis saw to take a $1million dollar chance on at the beginning of the season, and it’s paying off.  Whatever it is,  let’s hope it continues in this series.
High sticks and tape may break his face, but the fatty names never broke his spirit. Good job Kyle.  Glad to have you aboard, in my mind, a magical team.
Go Canucks Go.
Musings from the mud.

Lotus Blossom,Canucks Corner

Canuck Musings: Down the Stretch

Just a few random thoughts popped in my head as I was thinking of the last stretch of the regular season concerning the Vancouver Canucks.  Since February 1st, the Canucks are probably the most consistent team in the NHL.  Looks like every single player has picked up their game, with the exception of the Phoenix game last Saturday, the Canucks are looking good and finding ways to win.  Even good teams like Detroit have bad games, just as Chris Osgood in Calgary.

Roberto Luongo and his infamous comments about winning a Stanley Cup, and it didn’t matter where. I do not recall at any point in that interview that Luongo made reference to leaving the Canucks was a certainty. If the Canucks can build a winning team around Luongo next year, and they have a good playoff run this year, I don’t see Bobby Lu not considering re-signing in Vancouver.  Get your knickers out of a bunch people! Luongo is a driven, hard-working, and competitive individual that would like his team to do the same. Is that such a bad thing?

Shane O’Brien and his public comments about coaching decisions. People think already think I don’t have any love for O’Brien, but that’s not the truth.  I do think there is a lot of potential with him, I just find that he is more of a reactionary player.  I feel he is a guy that plays with raw emotion and that’s ok, I like guys that play with passion and heart, but at the same time, there has to be some semblance of control to his game. Shane O’Brien has yet to master that.  Also, his word-waging war with management and coaching decisions via the media comes off a bit whiny and unprofessional. Take it with stride big man and find ways to get yourself back into the line-up. Actions speak so much louder than words, especially this time of the season.

Sedins: “Tubthumping” seems to be their Anthem in win over Dallas. Daniel Sedin looked like he got his tooth knocked out and also his upper lip stitched up.  As the famous lyrics go,

“Oh Danny Boy
Danny Boy…”
I get knocked down
But i get up again
You’re never goin’ to keep me down

(thanks Mr. Bjorkloven) *wink*

Everyone can say what they will about Hank and Dan. Many fans around the league find them ‘soft’ and some out there still have the audacity to call them ‘sisters’, but make no mistake about it, as much as these two get knocked down. They keep getting back up, and playing on. No words of complaints, just taking it in stride, like men, and doing what they are supposed to do on the ice. Take note Sidney Crosby.

Ryan Kesler: His drive for a winning franchise
I am not sure what the big deal was for Kesler to talk about wanting to win and keeping a winning team and people taking a few paycuts here and there to sustain winning ways. In the long run, Kesler is right, but we live in a “show me the money, results now” type of world.  At the same time, Ryan Kesler is earning his paycheque.  With 23 goals on the season and playing wonderful two-way hockey, Kesler is a bargain at $1.75million this season.  Bobby Clarke saw something in the boy with that offer sheet back in ’06 and Kesler has lived up to and beyond it.

Alex Burrows: True Grit Alex Burrows is the ultimate ‘feel good’ story of the Canucks recent times. Here is a kid that wasn’t drafted and worked his way into the regular line-up with hard work. Thing is, many of us didn’t think Burrows had the talent to back-up his hard work.  Now, we see differently. A tweener project of Marc Crawford has made his way to the first lines with Hank and Dan. Seeing major ice time with the ability to play on the PK makes Alex Burrows hot commodity in the NHL. I’m am very happy that Canucks GM, Mike Gillis, saw that and locked him up for four years at $2million per annum.

As we head in towards the post season. I do want to say that the Canucks barring major injury have addressed their issues of weakness from this time last year. The Canucks were not deep on the back end and were in a lot of injury trouble. As a collective unit, they were pretty small and soft. This year with the addition of Bernier, O’Brien,and Hordichuk, I don’t see the Canucks being a team to push around.  Roberto Luongo looks more focused and I have more confidence in Jason Labarera than I did in Curtis Sanford. All and all, I do believe although the Canucks aren’t supposedly at the echelon of the big teams like Detroit, San Jose, and apparently Calgary, I believe the Canucks can give anyone they face in the playoffs a good run for their buck.

Just some musings from the mud.
LotusBlossom

No Sundin wouldn’t be the end of the world

Mats Sundin will decide before Christmas who he'll play with.

Canuck Nation is getting all riled up again with talk the Canucks may be one of the final two teams in the Mats Sundin sweepstakes, along with the New York Rangers (Yes, them again). Most insiders say that given his choice, Sundin would likely choose the Rangers, but for that to occur the Rangers need to make room under the cap.

So is Sundin serious about the Canucks, or is it because the club never wavered in their offer since July 1st, that Sundin is just keeping them around as the fallback team? If the Rangers can make it work he’ll go there, and if he can’t he has the Canucks to sign with.

Of course there is the possibility the Canucks could be the team that picks up what the Rangers have to shed to add Sundin, but with names being thrown about like defensemen Wade Redden, Michal Rozsival and forwards Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, one would have to think only Gomez might peak the Canucks interest.

If and when it becomes apparent to general manager Mike Gillis that Sundin won’t be coming here, he has left himself with a hell of a wild card to hold for the second half of the season. Gillis will be the best positioned of pretty much any of his counterparts come trading time, simply because he has salary cap room to burn. There will likely be teams that find themselves out of the playoffs, who will be looking to blow things up and rebuild. This should mean that some players that could help the Canucks will be available.

Gillis should really be commended for the position he has the Canucks in here. Mats Sundin would make them a much better hockey team, there is no doubt. But he’s made sure that if he doesn’t choose the Canucks it won’t be the end of the world. His team is leading it’s division, with the toughest part of it’s schedule behind them. He has the means to be involved in any trade activity that may pop up.

Of course he still has to make those deals, and he’ll be judged on that, but you have to like the position he has himself in, whether he gets Sundin or not.

Luongo Out! The Season is a wash! (Humour me)

Oh my God! What are we Canucks fans to do? We went from contending for the Northwest division to contesting for the rights in the lottery for Jonathan Tavares with a tweak of Roberto Luongo’s groin! Panic button I say! Panic button! The Vancouver Canucks should forfeit their season and get those extra lottery draws! There is nothing the Canucks can do to turn their season around!

…Ok, so I am playing around, but that’s what I am reading on fan forum boards all over the Northwest Division, particularly those fan forums of the Calgary Flames. I guess the Vancouver Canucks start and end with Bingo Bango Bongo, Captain Roberto Luongo. As a team they don’t have much to offer or do we? What do we do fans?

Well…

We wait till our Captain comes back and hope that our team of mediocrity can pick up a win here and there without him. That’s what we do.

Yes, it’s true, the Canucks are a better with Roberto Luongo between the pipes. There is absolutely no questioning that. I believe the word I am looking for is FACT! So why the panic? Are the Canucks that empty without Roberto? Let’s look at what the Canucks have with Roberto Luongo in the press box.

Replacing the irreplaceable, Curtis Sanford has the undaunted task of filling some pretty big blockers and goalie pads.  Sanford, is one of he better back-up goalies out there, he just had to sit on the bench a lot more because of the workhorse the Canucks have in Luongo.  He’s (Sanford) very steady, and should be alright to call upon as Bobby Lu rests his groin. Sanford is ready and will probably see more action in these next two weeks than he has seen all of last season.  Cory Schneider, Canucks #1 draft pick and goalie prospect will play back up to Sanford during the injury time. I believe we will see Schneider play at least once during this time due to a back to back in the early part of December.  This is Schneider’s time to shine and possibly steal the show. That alone is pretty exciting stuff.

Regardless of whether Sanford or Schneider being between the pipes, this is the time for the Canucks to test their character and mettle as a unit.  Can the defensive core pick up the slack and be more mindful to clear the puck and keep the puck out of the goaltenders’ way? Or will the buckle under the pressure. With their play as of late, I’d say the Canucks will answer the call. Added pressure is put on Salo, Ohlund and Mitchell to lead the way with Bieksa still out with a foot injury.  Can these three elevate their games and make sure the rest of their colleagues on the blue line follow suit? Recent play says yes, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Will the forwards on the Canucks take the pressure off Sanford and Schneider and put in some goals to help the team cause?  Sure why not?  Will Pavol Demitra continue to shine accumulating points from every game? Will Daniel continue to contribute to the score sheet now that he has that monkey off his back? Will Raymond find his swift feet leading him to a few goals here and there? Again with the recent indicating, yes, this is all possible.

The ONE question that dwells in my mind is…will AV go back to a more defensive minded strategy until the return of Lu? I believe he will tighten up the openness of the team’s game just to make sure they keep shots on goal to more of a minimum.  So yes, be prepared to watch a little more of what we saw last year from the Canucks, defensive styled hockey. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but at the moment, a necessity.

So will the Canucks falter and throw away their lead in the Northwest division, their team chemistry will be thrown out of whack while they lose their captain to a groin injury for two weeks? No, I don’t they will just completely stink up the joint so much they will be challenging the Islanders and company for the services of Jonathan Tavares, but it won’t be as ‘easy’ without the #1 guy backstopping them.

Only time will tell, but it’s not time to hit panic button yet? Is it?

Musings from the mud…

LotusBlossom