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

 

Three Up, Three Down: Winnipeg Jets Grounded at YVR

When I entered the arena last night, I felt a different vibe. I knew it was going to be good game. I just didn’t think it would be as good as it turned out. With a good number of displaced Jets fans, many former ‘Peggers, the 18,000+ seat library known as Rogers Arena, was going to be rocking just a little more than usual. From the start of the anthem, Jets fans chimed in with their famous, “TRUE NORTH” shout during O Canada. It was on. The first meeting between these two teams this year was going to be a back and forth tilt.

Jets’ Anthony Peluso decided to show how physical the Jets were going to be by getting the first three penalties of the game, in succession. As soon as Peluso was out of the box for his first stint, he gets a cross-checking penalty and then had to answer the bell with Derek Dorsett. Dorsett stood up for his teammate and ended up with an instigator penalty from that fight. The Jets are the most penalized team in the league and they don’t mind throwing their big bodies around with hit after hit. The Canucks were in for a physical match-up.

Numbers:

  • The Winnipeg Jets out-hit the Vancouver Canucks 31-12, with only Enstrom and Pardy as skaters without registering hits. There were three Jets players with 4 hits each.
  • Alex Edler lead all skaters with 26:16 TOI, playing on all 6 PPs and 3PKs.
  • The powerplay went 0/6, but the insertion of Clendening on the 2nd unit seemed to have revived puck movement. We could see a possible replacement to the ever so missed PP QB that the Canucks had in Ehrhoff. No goals, but both units looked good out there. It’s just time to get some finish.
Horvat and Ronalds Kenins celebrate after his tying goal versus the Winnipeg Jets. Two goals in three games for the Latvian. Photo Credit: The Province Sports

Horvat and Ronalds Kenins celebrate after his tying goal versus the Winnipeg Jets. Two goals in three games for the Latvian. Photo Credit: The Province Sports

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Up:

  1. Henrik & Daniel Sedin: In classic Sedinery fashion, the twins look like their 2010 selves last night. I was surprised how ‘quickly’ they were moving the puck. I was pleased to see Daniel took 4 shots and on the power plays, although no one scored, the Sedins dictated the movement and their movement of the puck was brilliant.
  2. Alex Burrows: How valuable has he become again? I’m still baffled how John Tortorella wanted him traded when he suffered two major injuries and wasn’t himself. Burrows was hitting, he was instrumental on the PK and caused great traffic for the power play. How about this goal, from Henrik and Daniel and on his knees, classic Burrows. 
  3. Alex Edler: Seeing Alex Edler playing some of the best hockey he has played in quite some time is a treat. His confidence is growing and in all truth, as much as I wanted him traded last season, I’m glad I am not part of the Canucks brain trust. He kept plays alive all through the game, and bailed out his partners a few times as well. With the unfortunate stick breaking in the defensive zone was just an unlucky play for Edler. However, in OT when everyone thought he was going to drop pass at neutral ice, he decides to channel in his inner Paul Coffey and carry the puck into the zone and shot it. Edler is finally getting to know what type of defenceman he is, and it’s great to see a coach encourage it again.

Burrows on his knees goal tying goal.

 

 Three Down:

  1. Dan Hamhuis: Not a good night for Hammer. He was beaten by a speedy Blake Wheeler for the Jets’ first goal on a breakaway. On the disallowed goal for the Jets, Hammer did not play his man tight enough and although it didn’t count, it left the shooter open. But a bad night for Dan Hamhuis is still better than good nights for some defencemen in the NHL.
  2. Chris Higgins: Higgins needs to find his finish. He had 4 SOG but nothing went in. Although he’s the only with these problems on the team, he’s the one that’s eating up 2nd line minutes not scoring.
  3. Willie Desjardins: Against a big hitting team like Winnipeg, you’d figure that Kassian would have worked in the lineup that night. With Dorsett out with a misconduct, many out in Canuckland were wondering who was left to stand up for their teammates? As big as Edler is, he doesn’t have the mean streak of Ohlund.  Kassian doesn’t mind mixing it up at all, and it made me wish at times, we kept Sestito around just for some backup.

Goal of the Game:

Luca Sbisa delivering the deep dish pass from Vrbata after doing a quick criss-cross to his forehand and rifles the OT winner past Pavelec.

Honourable Mention Goal by the young Latvian, Ronalds Kenins, from Horvat and Clendening. This goal has Jim Benning written all over it. Maybe he (Benning) is on to something.

Probably the best game I’ve seen for 60+ minutes from the Canucks against an opponent with some jam and in contention for a playoff spot. The Winnipeg Jets are proving they are a force to be reckoned with and the Canucks need to find ways to adapt their game to each team. Hopefully that’s a lesson they take with them when the face the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

@Aviewfromabroad

 

Sundin’s coming around, as are the Canucks

Hands up all of you who were running out of patience with Mats Sundin. Even of you started out cutting him some slack, the weight of the losing streak in January was testing your patience, admit it. I know I was guilty of a few sarcastic remarks.

Tuesday night in St.Louis, Sundin chipped in another two goals, while his line produced seven points on the night, in a come from behind 6-4 Canucks victory to open their road trip. Sundin is starting to get it all back and just in the nick of time. A three game winning streak has instilled new life in the team, and calls to fire the coach and put Sundin out to the same pasture as Mark Messier have subsided.

Of course, it hasn’t been all Sundin.

The emergence of two scoring lines has been huge and so has the team finally getting healthy. I thought Don Taylor at the TEAM 1040 made an excellent point the other day when he pointed out that with a healthy team again, ice time is going to be at a premium, and that should motivate all of the Canucks to pick up their game a little, in particular Kyle Wellwood, who with the team winning hasn’t been able to get back in the lineup. [Read more…]