Canucks 1 Panthers 3: Canucks Fall Apart on Luongo’s Return

Kevin Bieksa gets toppled by first overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad

Kevin Bieksa gets toppled by first overall draft pick Aaron Ekblad

AUTHOR’S NOTE: It has been over a month since I have published my last article “The Goaltending Controversy Del Två”. Due to personal obligations, I have not been able to pen my “After Ten” or other analysis articles where I discuss the current state of the Vancouver Canucks.

 

 

Last night Roberto Luongo returned to the city of Vancouver, the place he called home for eight years. The fans cheered him on throughout the game and it brought what looked like tears to his eyes. His old pals from the Canucks gave him one of the greatest presents of all, a victory in Vancouver allowing him to officially claim he has truly defeated every team in the NHL.

Five minutes into the game the Canucks looked like they had this game marked to be locked up with a win. Fans would have to guess again after the emotion took over the home bench but not the returning goalie.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored three points (2G, 1A) and rattled the Canucks to their core. The home team looked out of place and spent the majority of the time in their own defensive zone. The Canucks attempted to look like the almighty ones by sending out Dorsett to scrap almost every player on the Panthers line-up but he was eventually taken out by Luongo’s blocker.

The only players to show any consistency were Alex Burrows and Bo Horvat. Burrows lit up the highlight reel with his countless opportunities to score and Bo Horvat was, as usual, a face-off god.

It appeared the home team was dull in the second period when two goals were scored. The Panthers went in charging and did not let up on the ailing Canucks.

“When we came out our energy level wasn’t great,” Desjardins said in a post-game interview, “it seemed like we weren’t working hard enough.”

Bo Horvat looked to be in complete agreement with the words his coach spoke.

“We have to start capitalizing on our opportunities,” Horvat said, “We’ve got to play more aggressive and play with more energy.”

The Canucks are aware of their actions on the ice and how it is unacceptable, but will they be able to correct their mistakes as of late?

Ryan Miller made key saves to keep the team within reachable distance in the third period but was let down by his teammates who gave Luongo easy shots to block.

The power play was an utter nightmare, when a two-man advantage that should have allowed the boys to gain some traction did not produce a single shot on net. This is partly due to the fact they were out defended and could not match up to the Panthers strength. Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa were two of the players who were erratic on their play.

The Vancouver Canucks showed a few glimmers of hope in last night’s game but it was not enough to give them the win they needed.

 

Caleb Harder

@cjaharder

2015

Loss to Panthers No Big Deal, Perfect Night for Luongo

luu-700x400

The Vancouver Canucks lost 3-1 to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. While that generally isn’t a good thing, it’s a loss that was easy to take if you were a Canucks fan.

Roberto Luongo’s return to Roger’s Arena was pretty much the perfect script for the much loved/maligned former Canuck. The only thing that would have made it complete was if he had pitched a shutout against his friends in blue.

I’m a Roberto Luongo fan, and I think some of the stuff he went through here was pretty bush league and I blame Mike Gillis for that. He created a 2-year goaltending circus in Vancouver and it cost the Canucks one of the league’s best goaltenders, and one of its best young up and comers in Cory Schneider.

His detractors will point to his playoff collapses and his defenders will point to the lack of support in those games. Regardless of that situation he is the best goaltender the Canucks have had over their existence.

Rarely did he show frustration with the way things went down. He even went as far to say he felt Gillis did his best to resolve the situation. He handled it with class and played hard for the team until the end.

You could tell Luongo enjoyed it all. The tribute, the fans, the outcome. He even got a chance to salute the faithful after he was rightfully named the 1st star of the game. He spoke of trying not to watch too much of a first period video tribute because he was afraid his emotions would get to him.

“It was special. The whole night, people were cheering me on. Just really thankful for the support and really happy that things went the way they did,” said Luongo.

Roberto Luongo grew as a person as a Canuck. The guarded, emotional Luongo that arrived evolved into the relaxed, humorous Luongo. Maybe that was always there, but we didn’t see much of it in his early days as a Canuck. Thanks to Twitter, we saw a lot of it in his final years here.

Sure, the Canucks lost the game, but if you’re a Luongo fan, it kind of felt like a win.

As the video tribute displayed, let me just say one more time, thanks for eight great years, Lu.

Three Up, Three Down: Slump Buster Tuesday

The Islanders came to town last night and for many of the Canucks, their visit last year was one they would all love to forget, especially Eddie Lack. Last night, the team had a chance to redeem themselves from that horrible 7-4 loss last March after being up 3-0 going into the third period.Also we saw some things that we haven’t seen in a while. Guys who haven’t tallied a goal in a good amount of time were rippling the mesh and Eddie got a win for a belated birthday gift but this was probably the best gift for Eddie the Canucks have shared with everyone.

 

THREE UP

1. Ryan Stanton scored his first goal in 83 games. Stanton gets his first of the year on this beauty! A perfect time to pinch and a perfect get on the rebound. His second career goal ties the game up.  It is nice to see your “stay at homes” show some offensive initiative from time to time and this was on point.

2. Nick Bonino was on the “Three Down” side of this column last post, but either he’s read every article about his invisibility lately or he wasn’t going to let Ryan Stanton be the only one breaking a slump tonight. Bieksa is the king of giveth away but here he taketh away and shot the puck and Bonino buried the rebound. Not only did Nick bump his goal scoring slump, he and his line were creating some really good chances and making aggressive plays all night.

 

3. Linden Vey gets in on the action too. So yes, all three goal scorers get the “Three Up” from me tonight. Since it’s Slump-buster Tuesday, why not do it on a beautiful breakaway with a pass from Dorsett to put the Canucks up 3-1. Cue the cheesy puns because they were plentiful.

Honourable Mention: Zack Kassian. Although Kassian didn’t hit the score sheet two of his plays lead to goals last night. He’s hands are just incredibly soft and yet he can hit as hard as anyone. Still a young player, I can see Kassian be the next Bertuzzi on this team, if he gets some chances to play with some quality linemates and maybe see some time on the PP.

It’s really great to see these guys have a good game and I hope it continues and gets infectious (like the mumps) to get the rest of the team on the same page.

 

THREE DOWN

1. Henrik Sedin needs to learn that he doesn’t always have to pass. I know he’s not the scoring Sedin, but it would be considered an element of surprise if he just took some shots on goal once in a while. The Captain needs to find his trigger finger and put pucks towards the net. He has the fewest amount of shots out of the top six at 40. Only Linden Vey (33), Bo Horvat (17) and Zack Kassian (26) have less shots on goal than Henrik and Hank is on the ice far more than these guys and Zack has missed a month. Oh Captain, my Captain, Sedinery isn’t always to be saved for OT.

Wonder Twin powers, PLEASE activate!

Wonder Twin powers, PLEASE activate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Daniel Sedin, just like his brother needs to find his groove more and shoot. He is now too often passing and letting Vrbata do all the shooting. Daniel has great accuracy and when he gets those goals past the goalies, it’s usually a thing of beauty. Maybe he’s just trying to be too perfect, and not looking at the ‘ugly goal’ as an option. However, ugly, pretty, clean, highlight reel goal or not, they all count, so start tallying.

3. Luca Sbisa, what are we going to do with you? More often than not, Sbisa just looks so lost out there and he’s turned more into comic relief for Vancouver fans and media alike. There are genius moments when we all react dumbfounded and there are his dumb moments when we just react in a sad laughter.

I am not sure how much longer I can deal with Sbisa but I know the Sedins have enough talent in those old bones to find a groove, so be like Stella and get your groove back…and oh yeah, SHOOT THE PUCK!

Tweet of the Day:

@strombone1 strikes again with another beauty and drags a once Roxy regular into it.

@strombone1 strikes again with another beauty and drags a once Roxy regular into it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next up on Thursday, January 8th, Roberto Luongo and the Florida Panthers. I expect a good crowd at Rogers Arena and some “Lu’ing” to be happening. 

 

@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

Remembering Pat Quinn

With a heavy heart and some streaming tears, I write this today. Growing up a Canucks fan in the 80s and 90s, the Quinn era changed the face of hockey in Vancouver forever. I couldn’t imagine Canucks hockey without the stamp of Pat Quinn on it. I don’t know what else I could add to what has been written and said about “The Big Irishman”. All I can do is go back and revisit his induction to the Canucks Ring of Honour.

Saving the Vancouver Canucks: Here is Iain McIntyre talking to Joey Kenward about if Quinn wasn’t hired and didn’t changed the culture of the Vancouver Canucks. the team would have not have been able to stay in Vancouver.

The Ring of Honour Induction: Introduced by Hall of Fame, Canucks play by play announcer, Jim Robson, Quinn gets his days.  It was on the last day of 2013-2014 season. Pat Quinn meant so much to hockey in Vancouver and of course the community. In his speech, he talked about how it had to be built and that stamp is still on the team today. Near the end of his speech, Quinn address the fans as part of ‘the family’, and talked about the ups and downs together and to have hope:

 And kind of lastly tonight, another part of the family is you, the fans. We’ve hit some hard times in this organization and we’ve had some great times too. Those great times are going to be back with us again… (crowd applause)…and you have been terrific. When I came here in ’70, it was hard to find a Canucks fan, now we are all Canucks fans. And thank you all, for how you’ve treated me.

Pat Quinn’s accomplishments with Hockey Canada were golden. Winning gold on many levels of International competition as a head coach.

2002- Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games- Head Coach- Gold

Pat Quinn wins Olympic Gold as a head coach in 2002 with Team Canada in Salt Lake City, Utah defeating Team USA 5-2.

Pat Quinn wins Olympic Gold as a head coach in 2002 with Team Canada in Salt Lake City, Utah defeating Team USA 5-2.

2004- World Cup of Hockey- Head Coach – Gold

2008- IIHF U18 World Championships – Head Coach- Gold

2009- IIHF World Junior Champtionships- Head Coach- Gold

Quinn has won Golds in International competitions he has coached, including 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake.

Quinn has won Golds in International competitions he has coached, including 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake.

It’s been a difficult day. The hockey world lost one of their best today. For us here in Vancouver, as Iain McIntyre said in his column, hockey royalty lost their king today. My condolences to the Quinn family, friends and inner circle. You will never be forgotten.

Quinn will forever be my favourite Canucks’ coach and GM. He had that special something and it manifested in the way he walked, talked and smiled.

Thank you, Pat Quinn.  RIP and give Pat Burns a fist bump for us, will ya?

 ADDITION: Via @VanCanucks