Homeward Bound: Road Trip +/-

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

It will be up to Eddie Lack to shoulder the heavy load with Ryan Miller out for four weeks. Photo Credit: The Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is it me, or did everyone seem to think this game was in the bag? It definitely had all the makings of a great Canucks road trip. The Canucks have been playing very good hockey. When in some trouble, the Canucks have managed to find ways to get out of those jams. The Sedins are on point streaks, the kids were playing with a ton of tenacity and the backup goaltender has been playing spectacular in the absence of Ryan Miller being sidelined to injury. The team was looking good and walking around with a bit of a swagger. However, all day, I have been feeling really off about the game. Almost everyone was publicly, including members of the Canucks’ media (ahem, Tony Gallagher, ahem) were calling it in already for the Canucks. . The words “when” instead of “if” were being used in regards to the Canucks/Sabres game regarding Vancouver winning. I wish I was wrong with my feelings, but the Sabres won 6-3.

The Canucks didn’t have their fairy tale ending to this Eastern swing, but they did have some positives out of it:

  • Goals Scoring: 3/5 games the Canucks have scored three or more goals. The production has been better over all since the All-Star break. With the next few weeks some very important playoff push coming up, they are going to need production up and down the line up. Seeing the kids not being afraid to shoot and the Sedins looking like their 2010/2011 selves has been promising.
  • Confident Defencmen: When you see most of the highlights on this road trip, you see Weber be much more confident jumping in on the play, taking more shots from the point (and more accurate) but also making really good defensive plays to prevent shots and goals. You see Sbisa taking to the body a little more and feeling more confident on the blue line. Clendening will shoot from anywhere and Stanton is his perfect stay at home partner, who will also seize the opportunity if he is given it. Hamhuis looks more and more like Hamhuis as the road trip progressed and Biega looked like he was on the team since October. Very promising to see considering Edler, Tanev, Bieksa and Corrado are all out with injuries.
  • The Kass: I can’t start this with anyone else but Zack Kassian. His play with the Sedins has been a point producing machine. He’s looked really good on the wing with the twins. With the injury to Burrows, Kassian should really take this opportunity to “steal the job”. When Bertuzzi really started to show real signs of being a regular power forward winger, he was about Kassian’s age now. Patience and guidance is what Zack needs, and it looks like Henrik and Daniel can show him that. 
  • The Kids: Horvat playing like he is already a 2nd line centre and having the confidence to not be intimidated by anyone, including Chara, makes every Canucks fan happy about the future. Kenins will hit anyone, anything and he isn’t afraid to try and score, from any angle. Most importantly, Kenins has the ability to make roon for Horvat and Hansen with his hits and fore-checking abilities. Stanton showing why he had high praise from Coach Q in Chicago and Eddie Lack has been playing like he was standing on his head, except for a few games here and there. It makes me excited for Virtanen to join the team next season.
  • Never-Die Attitude: Regardless of winning or losing, the Canucks are sure as hell not giving up. Even when they have been outplayed, out shot, out scored. They will keep playing until the final buzzer, which was a complete 180 of the team we saw in and around this time last season.
  • Sedinery: Henrik and Daniel have been playing some rejuvenated hockey. It’s not quite at the level they played it at in their prime, but they know this team and even themselves, are in a transitional period. Hank and Danny are taking it upon themselves to show the young guys what it takes to stay and play in the league for as long as they have. Play the right way, stick to the system and make things happen. Whether the insertion of Horvat and Kenins is what has inspired the twins, or vice versa, it’s great to see the Sedins play like the Sedins.
Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Kassian and the Sedins celebrating a goal by No.9. Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home Improvements: Canucks need to work on…

  • Consistency: The biggest issue with the Canucks since the All Star break has been their Jekyll and Hyde record and it’s reflected by the intensity of their play, especially at home. They have the best road record in the NHL, but their home record has been pretty mediocre. Rogers Arena was once a safe haven for the Canucks but over the last couple of season, it’s been hit and miss.
  • Defending in the Defensive: From time to the time, the Canucks have panicked and turnovers have happened in their own end. It happened in Boston and it happened in Buffalo, numerous times. If they continue heavily rely on their goaltenders, they are asking for the world, and Eddie (and eventually Miller) cannot keep up such a high level of play. It really showed in the Sabres game, and Eddie looked average.
  • Skating Hard, Always: When the Canucks aren’t getting calls for power plays and are always finding themselves in the penalty box, they are not skating hard enough. They are gliding and hoping. They aren’t making things happen.
  • Glue-like Goaltending: When Miller, Lack and soon Markstrom are on their games, they are pretty formidable between the pipes, but this season, the good goaltending has come in spurts and at different times. Neither Miller or Lack have been consistently spectacular. They’ve had their moments. However, with the playoff push coming up, no matter who ends up being in net (Lack at this point) needs to really be on top of it and it doesn’t matter who the backup is, they are going to have to come together and be like glue.
Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat's line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

Kenins has been a great compliment to Bo Horvat’s line. Creating space and crashing bodies has made Kenins a force on the ice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A long 11 day, five-game road trip has come to an end. The Vancouver Canucks are coming home with a 3-2 record. It could have been better? Yes, and it could have been worse, if Vancouver didn’t win the Rangers game in the shootout, coming back with a losing record on this road trip would have made the playoff race much harder to keep the other teams at bay. But six out of 10 points isn’t bad, but everyone was expecting it would have been eight after tonight. Unfortunately, it was not so.

With three days until their next game, the Canucks will have a day off on Friday and a practice on Saturday to right some wrongs. The next four games coming up are against Western Conference opponents in a very tight playoff race. With St. Louis coming to town on Sunday, followed by a visit from the San Jose Sharks, the Canucks have their work cut out for them before they get on the road for two and then home for five straight, including visits from the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks. With the Metropolitan Division out of the way, for the most part, the Canucks are now in for the real test and so is our fan-dom.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

A Canuck Nation Growing

As we draw near the end of the eastern road swing for the Vancouver Canucks, there is one constant occurance that has come to my attention. The fan support in the east has strengthened for our beloved team, and surprisingly really showing up strong in the arenas away from home. In fact, many comments throughout the league about the growing support for the Canucks in eastern cities. So what triggers the surge of support?

Montreal had to be the one town that wouldn’t sway their loyalties. The Bell Centre is a different beast from the other two arenas visited. Although I have noticed the pockets of Canucks fans seem bigger than those of previous visits. I have to say it is one arena where you know the undying love for the Habs will never be overshadowed of that of the visiting team. It was enough to propel les Canadiens to a shutout victory (2-0) over our Canucks.

In Ottawa, the pockets for Canucks supporters were evidently quite bigger than it has been in the past. I’d dare say the Canucks had about a third of the arena on their side. That’s a significant number of supporters in the nation’s capital. It was great to see a few westerners also make an eastern road swing trip to support the boys on Remembrance Day on their way to a 6-2 victory over the Senators. There was even a small bar meet-up (so I was told) after the game of Canucks fans. Unfortunately for me, being sick with the flu, I had to decline.



Toronto is Canuck Land? Photo taken by Justine Galo


Now the most surprising surge of support for the Canucks was in the “Centre of the Universe, also known as, Toronto. I used to live in Toronto, both downtown and on the east side, and I’ve run into very few ‘vocal’ Canucks fans in the 416 (or 905 for you suburban people). Usually, the only time I see those fans are when the Canucks visit the Air Canada Centre and even then, they are more reserved. This year, the support for the Canucks in Leaf territory, was, for me, surprisingly stronger than I could have imagined. The support for the Canucks was crazily visible in the stands. Not just pockets of supporters but rows of Canucks fans. More than it has been in the last four years since they started doing the home and home once a year again. Canucks fans were yelling, “Lu!!!!” at the ACC. It was so evident that it couldn’t even be masked on Hockey Night In Canada’s broadcast of the game. I remember just last January, when the Canucks visited the ACC, and the out-right support for the team wasn’t as vocal and in abundance. That was only 11 months ago! I’d dare say the Canucks had about 2000 fans on Saturday night, and that is a huge feat in Leaf Nation. I think only the Montreal Canadiens and the Canadian Sabres fans would be greater in numbers.

So the Canuck fan base is growing, but why? Could it be Luongo winning a gold medal for Canada at the Olympics, or the playmaking of the Sedins? Or could it be that they are a very good team, it makes the easterners realize they probably have the best chance of the Canadian teams to contend for the Stanley Cup. I’m not quite sure, and to be honest, I don’t really care, but it’s been nice to see Canuck Nation growing, especially in places it was once shunned.

On to Buffalo…


Justine Galo [tweetmeme]

Make Some Noise For The Boys!

Make some noise for the boys!

Saturday evening the Vancouver Canucks return home. It will be the first time in 42 days the majority of the Canucks have stepped onto the ice at General Motors Place.

What better way for fans to show that support Saturday to wear blue to the game, and give the team a playoff type welcome back. There will likely be a ceremony to honour the teams Olympians, but it would be nice if the fans gave the team a standing ovation when they take to the ice.

“There were days when you woke up in another hotel and wondered ‘Where are we now?’ before you get it together a little bit,” said center Ryan Kesler, “The last six we’ve played here on the other end of the Games, that hasn’t been as bad … but those first eight were real tough. They took forever.”

The longest road trip in NHL history, 13 cities, 14 games and 20,737 kilometers is over. And the Canucks emerge from it 8-5-1, collecting 17 of a possible 28 points and still sitting 3rd in the conference and atop the Northwest Division. There were bumps along the way, but the club has to be pleased at how they coped with the trip, especially with key injuries to the defense adding to an already tough stretch.

Now, with 10 of their last 15 games on home ice, the Canucks look to kick their road weary bodies into overdrive and hit the playoffs running on all cylinders. They will likely get the services of Kevin Bieksa back soon while the future of Willie Mitchell is unclear.

So make some noise for the boys! Spread the word, tell your fellow fans, tweet your faces off! They did us proud now let’s get loud and show the team we’re behind them down the stretch!

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