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

 

Fan Profile: Dominador Martin- Canucks Fan in Land of the Blackhawks

As you all know, not all Canucks fans reside in Lotusland (Vancouver), but there are some fans in certain parts of the world you wouldn’t think could be Canucks fans. Dominador Martin is a Canucks  fan who lives in Illinois, Blackhawks territory. He has graciously allowed me to share his Canucks fandom story and we had a little Q&A on how someone who lives just outside of Chicago, and was born there, could rock the blue and Kelly green of the Vancouver Canucks in public and have love for them in his heart. 

Name: Dominador Erwin Martin V (yes, the fifth!)

Born: May 29, 1977, Chicago, IL

Dominador Martin V is an avid Canucks fan who lives just outside of Chicago. Surrounded by Blackhawk colours, he bleeds green and blue.

Dominador Martin V is an avid Canucks fan who lives just outside of Chicago. Surrounded by Blackhawk colours, he bleeds green and blue.

 

JG: How long have you been cheering on the Vancouver Canucks?

DEM: I have been cheering on the Vancouver Canucks since the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Before that season I have sporadically followed the Canucks since the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.

JG: Who is currently your favourite player, and why?

DEM: This is really a tough one, because I don’t have just one favorite. All team members, in my opinion have shown that they can make a great impact for the team this season. But if I had to completely choose ONE favorite, it would have to be The Sedins because of their longevity with the team.

JG: Living just outside of Chicago, what is it like cheering on the Vancouver Canucks?

DEM: For me, it’s such an adrenaline rush, knowing that I represent a pure and proud Canuck fan, even while living in Illinois and being buried in a sea of red jerseys at the UC during Canucks-Hawks games.

JG: How do most of the Blackhawks fans treat you?

DEM: Most Blackhawks fans that I know have been really respectful towards me. However, there have been a few, though not many, instances where I was walking down the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois and I get heckled wearing my Canucks gear. For instance, once I was walking towards one of my Psychology classes wearing my Luongo jersey and I had one or two drunk hecklers, wearing their Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane jerseys, come up to me and tell me that the Canucks suck and wanted to fight me. So I just told them to get a breath mint. Campus security had to actually arrest them for being drunken and disorderly.But all in all, all of my Blackhawk-loving friends have been really cool and respectful to me.

JG: Do you go to United Center to watch any of the Canucks/Blackhawks games?

DEM: The last game I went to was on December 20th of last year, in which our beloved Canucks won in a shootout vs the Chicago Blackhawks at the UC. Eddie Lack was in between the pipes that night, and Ryan Kesler had the winning shootout goal. Prior to the December game of last year, I went to the game on March 21, 2012, Canucks overtime loss to Chicago at the UC. Roberto Luongo was in net that night.

JG: Being of Filipino background, the culture loves the sport of basketball, how did hockey turn your attention and win your love for the sport?

DEM: You also forgot to mention our love for the sport of boxing (Manny Pacquiao)…..lol.

JG: Haha! Of course, Manny Pacquiao, and he won again last night!

DEM: All sports aside, this is a little bit of a story that I love to tell because I have an older cousin who lives in Langley, British Columbia and several years ago, back in the fall of 2007 to be exact, my cousin came to visit my family and I for about two weeks and I fell in love with the sport from there.

JG: You’ve mentioned in previous conversations on twitter and Facebook you have relatives in Vancouver, and now I know they have influenced you to be a Canucks fan. How did that happen?

DEM: I believe it was a Saturday night, October 6th of 2007. I happen to be watching TV when my cousin walked in and asked if she could join me. So we were watching TV together and she asked if I could switch to the NHL Network. So as we were watching the Canucks play the Calgary Flames that night at the Saddledome. I asked my cousin if she was an NHL fan. She responded by saying that she loves the Canucks, and as a gift to me, I received an RBK Premier Canuck jersey (with no players name). As we were watching the game together, I had asked some questions about the players themselves since a lot of them were new to me. As the game went on, I wanted to keep watching the game to see what was going on. The puck movements, puck handling skills, speed, the strategy, the shootouts, are awesome to watch. That night, the Canucks won in OT vs. Calgary and I became a fan of the Canucks and then I fell in love with the game of hockey.

JG: Have you ever seen the Canucks play at Rogers Arena?

DEM: I have never attended a Rogers Arena game, which is something that I want to do and cross off my personal bucket list. From what I have seen on televised games, Rogers Arena always looked packed, and I want to be a part of it, the next time I visit British Columbia for a game.

JG: Have you visited our fair city ?

DEM: My cousin, who visited me,her husband and their three kids live out in Langley, BC. And yeah they are all Canucks fans.. I have visited the beautiful city of Vancouver back during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Although I wish I could have seen the games live and in-person in Vancouver. I returned home the day before the 2011 Stanley Cup riots.

JG: Where you do see the team finishing in the standings this season and who are the key players to put them at your prediction point?

DEM: This is a great question. I see us also finishing in the top ten, if not, top five, in the league, with the group of guys we have now. With guys like Linden Vey, Zack Kassian, Ryan Miller, The Sedins, Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Luca Sbisa and if they can add in one, who I think is a dark horse pick, if he is called up from Utica…it is Hunter Shinkaruk, And of course there is always ‘Juice’ Kevin Bieksa

JG: So far, what do you think of the young guys, Vey, Kassian, and Bo Horvat?

DEM: Linden Vey and Bo Horvat……untapped potential. They would look great on any line. Since the February 2012 trade that sent Cody Hodgson to Buffalo for Zack Kassian, Kass is starting to show he can be a proven commodity for the Canucks.

JG: What did you think of what happened last season? The Torts meltdown, the downward spiral of the Canucks season and the falling out between the Canucks and Ryan Kesler?

DEM: Torts who? ……haha…..Just kidding. As far as John Tortorella goes, I respect him as a Stanley Cup-winning coach, but in retrospect, his style didn’t mesh with the Canucks system, period.

To simply answer this whole question, one name: Mike Gillis……enough said.

JG: I understand that. Gillis created something good, but didn’t keep progressing on it. Moving on… If you could spend a day with one Canucks player, who would it be and why?

DEM: Excellent question. I think maybe I’d like to spend a day with either Daniel or Henrik Sedin, to see what their lives are like outside of the NHL and hockey. I’d like to see how much and what they do in and around the city of Vancouver. How their off-ice work that helps them be an integral part of the Canucks team successes.

JG: Besides the Canucks winning the Stanley Cup, what is a Canucks related bucket list you’d like to share with us?

DEM: They have accomplished everything that needs to be accomplished except bring home Lord Stanley. That’s all.

Canucks Fan For Life…..case closed.

JG: Thank you, Dominador. Hopefully, the Canucks can fulfill that bucket list item for you and for all the other Canucks fans around the world.

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Fun Facts about Dominador Martin: He is a 2013 graduate from Eastern Illinois University, with a Psychology degree and a focus on Clinical Psychology. Since 1998, he is  martial arts instructor in Champaign, IL in the Korean martial art of Tae Kwon Do, and is a 4th degree black belt. In his spare time, he is also a profesional part-time DJ. Pretty diverse isn’t he?

TKDDominador

“Don’t mess with me Blackhawks fans, I’m a 4th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do!” Dominador Martin is a Canucks fan in Land of the Blackhawks.

The State of California:Two out of Three Ain’t Bad

After winning in Colorado 5-2 after being down 2-0, the Canucks headed to sunny California. A state that hasn’t been kind to Vancouver over the last three years. Last year, only one victory was recorded and it was in San Jose. The winning goaltender was Roberto Luongo. The only other victory over an NHL California-based team was at home was versus the LA Kings and Eddie Lack backstopped that one on April 5.

First stop San Jose

The Canucks carried some good momentum coming into San Jose with a come from behind win against the Avalanche in Denver. However, it did not translate into a good start or even a good game for the Vancouver Canucks in the Shark Tank.  Ryan Miller stopped 34 out of 36 SOG. The Canucks couldn’t get much offense going throughout the whole game. Only recording 19 SOG for the game, it’s a wonder how they came up with the victory. Much credit goes to Ryan Miller but Vrbata on the 2 on 1 with Daniel, opened up Canucks scoring with this glorious goal in the dying seconds of the 1st period.

The Canucks didn’t even skate well enough to draw many penalties from the Sharks this game. In fact, they had one power play but they made it count. Edler with a tally from the point.

With less than three minutes to go in the game, Nick Bonino scores the winner from a pass after a takeaway made by Alex Burrows. It was a beauty.

Ryan Miller steals one for his team in San Jose and the Canucks are off to Los Angeles.

Still Can’t Beat LA

 The Canucks are still trying to figure out one side of the same colour of the Rubik’s Cube when it comes to finding out how to win over the LA Kings. Ryan Miller looked human and Eddie Lack started the third period. Higgins managed to keep the Canucks not being shut out streak alive just over halfway through the third. Perhaps, Desjardins will look at finding a way to figure out this puzzle and the next time the Canucks face the LA Kings, the results will improve.

Another 19 SOG effort from the Canucks was not even close to being enough to compete with the LA Kings, who decided to show up and play versus Vancouver after dropping a game to the New York Islanders. LA brings their A-game when they want and they seem to really want when they face the Canucks. They seem to want to turn the switch on when it’s playoff time as well and have it resulting in two Stanley Cups in the last three years.  LA has mastered “The Switch”, maybe the Canucks should ask them how exactly they can do that.

Redemption in Anaheim

With much talk about the Ryan Kesler trade in this match up, the Canucks were now down in the OC to face the Ducks. Which team is getting the benefits of the trade early this season? I’ll break that down shortly but more importantly, as a team, they needed to bounce back after an atrocious effort in LA and for most of the game last night, it did. A much better effort for most of the game from the Canucks. They played what many of the experts call a “smart road game”.

With no Vrbata, Dorsett and Kassian, the Canucks had a very hard task ahead of them. Going into Anaheim to face the best team in the NHL with Hansen playing on the top line and the insertion of Nik Jensen and Defazio from Utica and Bo Horvat gets to play his fourth straight game.

Kesler/Bonino Round 1

Both Kesler and Bonino assisted on the regulation goals. But it was the shootout where Bonino prevails and Ryan Kesler’s shots are still hitting the posts. However, isn’t Ryan Kesler an incredible two-way player? I miss that, and that’s the Ryan Kesler that played 11 years in a Canucks uniform. Anaheim is very lucky.

Winner of trade Round 1: Nick Bonino 

Canucks win in the shootout and Eddie Lack finally gets his first win of the season and first win ever over Anaheim last night.

Finally got to see some Lack Dancing. Photo credit: Vancity Buzz

Finally got to see some Lack Dancing. Photo credit: Vancity Buzz

Overall, the Canucks have a lot of work to do when it comes to playing teams in California. They have to find a way to throw more activity at the goalies. Shoot more pucks and pounce on more rebounds. Keeping it simple and effective, much like their Saturday night opponents, the LA Kings. However, I will take the points on this road trip. Six out of eight points starting in Colorado and 2/3’s of the state of California had the Canucks in the win column.

Some of us, however, are not convinced.

Are they contenders? No, and this isn’t 2011 either. Changes have been made and adjustments still needed. However, they aren’t that bottom third of the league as they were last season.  Resilience is a good trait to have. It helps pave the way to move forward. There is a lot to improve but unlike last year, they seem to listen and value their coaching staff and each other a little more and the last two periods in Anaheim, it showed.