Not A Throw Away Season For Canucks

There were parts of the 2018 Canucks season that brought hope and there were more than enough times where the heavy reality sunk in that this team is still figuring it out. The emergence of Brock Boeser as a legitimate threat gave Canucks fans something to believe in while the rest of the (r)ebuild was going on. Jake Virtanen’s progression has been another good sign things are slowly turning around as well. There haven’t been any draft picks acquired yet but Jim Benning is trying to assemble “his” team in a roundabout way.

As bad as it’s all been, it hasn’t been a season to put in the trash.

Coach Travis Green has shown everyone that proper line deployment is, in fact, possible after the snoozefest that was Willie Desjardins tenure was put to rest. Henrik and Daniel Sedin looked like they would be phased out early in the season but are a good couple of weeks away from leading the team in points, again.

Losing Derek Dorsett to a career-ending injury was tough for everyone involved because he brought a presence that didn’t exist on the team. Push came to shove (sorry for the pun) and long-time AHLer Darren Archibald was given a contract and quite simply, a chance to prove himself and he may have earned a spot and an extension with the Canucks. Archibald’s toughness and his energy leave you with hope this team’s grit can be fixed as well.

Add to that, Jake Virtanen’s maturity as a young power forward and the Canucks are creating the building blocks for their future. Virtanen has shown he can drive the net with the puck and still maintain possession as well as a decent scoring chance where that did not exist before.

Bo Horvat has firmed up his game yet again this season which gives star forward Boeser the opportunity to make his own magic. Boeser hasn’t thrived in the dirty areas yet but he’ll most likely be asked to be more involved next season. It’s tough to do more when you don’t have anything to work with. Relying on Sven Baertschi as the team’s other top winger hasn’t been the answer and the Canucks may opt to go another direction next season.

Thomas Vanek was a nice stop-gap and the arrival of Brendan Leipsic may fill his void. Leipsic has the makings of a young Alex Burrows with more offensive potential. He was a stunner in junior and seems to have a fit with a handful of players since being traded for from Vegas.

It hasn’t been a productive season as a whole but there are small improvements that will move the needle, if only slightly, in the fall. Elias Pettersson is having a stellar season in Sweden and will most likely be a fixture up front for the Canucks next season. He has the ability to play both center and wing which may help the Canucks overload the Horvat/Boeser line in the future.

Henrik and Daniel most likely will return next season as they have shown they still matter. It doesn’t help the rebuild a whole lot but the Canucks would be a heck of a lot worse if they were already gone.

One of the more important things to take away from this regrettable year has been the resurgence of the power play and its rightful place in the top 10 again. Much of this is to do with Boeser and Travis Green will have to tweak it next season to make it dangerous again. Getting it to Boeser on every available opportunity can only work for so long; there need to be more options. Pettersson may be one of them and potentially even Virtanen.

Jim Benning will need to make some waves in the offseason to further this thing along but this stinker of a season hasn’t been all for not. It hasn’t been pretty, not even close but it hasn’t been a complete waste either.



photo – USA Today


The Sun Rarely Shines On Canucks Market; Positivity Is Like Finding Gold

On Tuesday, Sportsnet personality Elliotte Friedman hit the Sportsnet 650 radio waves and delivered a hot, hot take that couldn’t be ignored. The Vancouver sports market has felt forgotten on many occasions so when a hit like this is dropped there are tremors that travel far distances and create a response that feeds the airwaves for days.

Elliotte hit a home run and he is very “woke” as the Internet says. He sees what goes on here, he hears what many of us don’t hear and he delivered news that sparked a reaction. Is the Canucks/Vancouver market too negative? Sure. Every single move good or bad is criticized to the umpteenth degree and the powers that be aren’t oblivious to what’s going on.

When Jim Benning or Trevor Linden hit the radio circuit they aren’t shocked to hear what’s being said about them. This stuff isn’t new. The current situation that has created the ire of fans and media is the culmination of years, nay, decades of disappointment.

Not getting draft picks for Thomas Vanek or throwing away extra picks to get Erik Gudbranson is not what keeps the informed fan up at night. It might be the current reason they’re choked at the Canucks but it isn’t “the” reason. The Canucks, as we’re all well aware, have never won a Stanley Cup and closing in on 50 years in the league, it’s not exactly unwarranted that people are a little edgy.

Go back to the first ever expansion draft where the Canucks lost out to Buffalo, the trade that sent Cam Neely to Boston, the Wayne Gretzky deal gone wrong, treating Pavel Bure like a stooge, the Mark Messier/Mike Keenan era, missing out on Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, etc. I could go on. The build-up to today’s team weighs so heavy on an organization that has rarely caught a break.

Were there good days to speak of? Absolutely. Acquiring the Sedins was a work of art by Brian Burke and we’ll never be able to thank him enough for that. The path that led to the Canucks trading for Roberto Luongo isn’t all unicorns and roses, much of the pain fans suffered through led to that trade happening. Stealing Markus Naslund from the Penguins, Brock Boeser going at 23 in the draft, Elias Petterson being available at pick 5, again there have been good times.

As the Canucks re-signed Jim Benning and expected the fanbase to sit idly by while he does his work, frustration mounts when a player like Erik Gudbranson is re-upped for three years when he’s shown basically no signs of improvement and he’s proven to be a detriment to the team up until this point. Gudbranson hasn’t had a very healthy tenure in Vancouver but when he has been ready to go he hasn’t shown any reason to get excited about his presence. Brandon Sutter, who was the target of criticism before he showed fans what he could do when healthy, has turned a corner and although not a world-beater, he’s shown improvement.

Coaching hasn’t kept the pitchforks and torches at home when a simple task of starting Roberto Luongo in the “outdoor” game at B.C. Place could have put the team in a different direction, overplaying a borderline NHLer in Jayson Megna over many capable players on the power play, let alone the lineup only further draws fury.

Lately, there haven’t been many reasons to get excited and praise the Canucks for the moves or lack thereof they’ve made and when the clouds have been shadowing Vancouver for so long, both figurately and literally, it’s tough to see the sun even when it’s out. The man that has accepted a job that knowingly comes with loads of critics waiting to pounce should expect them to be negative, even overly negative as part of the gig.

There are many players in every league that plays in volatile markets that just don’t read the press. It’s not rocket science to think the knives are out daily on a whim when a decision isn’t well thought of. A general manager’s job, a president’s job, an owner’s job is to do what’s best for the team and put enough people and pieces in place to create success and eventually if all things fall into place, a championship.

Jim Benning was left with the remains of Mike Gillis who was left with Dave Nonis’ parts and so on. There is room for fixing the process and if there is a visible plan being carried out that looks like progress, the wolves back off. It’s not the easiest thing to accomplish and there will be bumps and bruises.

When JB goes public and talks about retooling on the fly or saying things will turn around in a few years and it’s already been a few years and the team is further behind, well sir, you now have some explaining to do. As the great Justin Bieber sang “is it too late now to say sorry?” No, it’s not. Admit blame, admit things were done wrong and you want another chance to fix things. Prove to everyone you’re going to do better. Honesty is the best policy.

As a fan, I don’t want to be fed a lie. Save the BS because at a certain point it’s just lip service and it becomes old. I’m personally willing to buy into a long-term plan but don’t sell me a story that everything will change next season and the young kids will change this team. They won’t because this isn’t a Disney movie. Continue to build through the draft and do your damndest to move aging assets to get more picks to turn this around sooner.

This market is negative because the history of this club has been almost anything but positive.


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Kelowna Rockets Getting Results Despite Stubbornly Challenging Themselves

The 2017/18 Kelowna Rockets have continued to prosper despite creating roadblocks on their path to the playoffs. Convincing losses to the Victoria Royals and Portland Winterhawks early in the year, as well as a few stinkers to other Western Conference opponents, put the Rockets in a position they don’t often find themselves: playing catchup.

Their roster is once again loaded for bear with star forwards Dillon Dube, Kole Lind, and Carsen Twarynski aka Leon Draisaitl Lite, taking the lead on the scoresheet most nights. On the back end Captain Cal Foote, Gordie Ballhorn, and over-ager James Hilsendager have helped propel the Rockets up the standings and currently into first place in the WHL West.

After a see-saw battle with the Kamloops Blazers on Saturday night which resulted in an electrifying 6-5 come from behind win, the Rockets should look at the road ahead and shore up a few issues they are experiencing, which to a certain degree are self-inflicted.

Giving up the lead has begun to shoot the Rockets in the foot after putting up a lead and sitting on it. Going ahead 6-2 on the Cougars on Tuesday should have been a cakewalk at that point but the Rockets let PG back into the game before finally shutting it down 6-5 to earn the victory. Saturday, Kelowna went up 3-0 before squandering their lead 4-3, tying it 4-4, dropping back 5-4, tying it again 5-5 and then stealing it late 6-5 to take the victory.

Kamloops didn’t deserve to be in that game but Kelowna let them in with a handful of decisions they most likely will regret. If it wasn’t for the balanced scoring on the Rockets it might have had a different result. That probably could be said a few more times this season as well. It’s inevitable that the Rockets will matchup against the Royals in the playoffs so do a little housekeeping before the end of the season will benefit them down the stretch.

Kelowna and Victoria split their season series 4-4. Tons of goals, a few blowouts, and a recipe for a seven-game series gem is in order.

Goaltending has been a strong point for most of the season even with the call-up of 16-year-old Roman Basran who managed to put up a shutout in only 10 games played along with a .926 SA% and a 2.28 GAA.  James Porter Jr. earned the starting job over Brodan Salmond and until his injury didn’t look like he’d be giving it up.

Salmond has taken back his net for the time being but he’ll need to be better if the Rockets want to go deep this post-season. He has never been the best option in net since arriving in Kelowna but as has been seen so many times in their net, when push comes to shove they rise to the challenge. If and when Porter returns they’ll have a 1-2 punch they can feel confident in.

The defensive unit in front of Salmond hasn’t been as elite as much as coach Jason Smith would like but he’s starting to see a progression from Minnesota Wild draft pick Braydyn Chizen, and Kaedan Korczak.

Chizen has appeared to be awkward on the ice on many occasions even with his large frame and booming shot when it gets through. Only recently has Chizen used his body to create separation from forwards and the puck and he even threw down the other night in a convincing win via KO:

His defensive awareness has grown and with Cal Foote beside him, he’s able to take a few more chances.

Kelowna shouldn’t be giving up leads like they have or going down early to teams either. Jason Smith might have to tap into his Oilers days and remind his players what they’re playing for. A WHL Championship isn’t entirely ridiculous to think about when they’re producing but this team has looked pedestrian at times which can end games quick.

As a team, the Rockets are closing deals on the power-play as often as possible and their 27.2 PP% is second in the WHL. That will be their strong suit with Dube and Lind giving goalies headaches this spring. On the PK, however, Kelowna has given up the fifth most goals while down a man or more combined with the fact they’ve taken the third most penalties in the WHL with 273, eight back of first. It’s too late to change that statistic but it resets in late March.

Discipline will be key as the Blazers game gave evidence to. Allowing Jermaine Loewen, notable Blazers tough guy, to get in their heads… and on the scoresheet is the Micheal Ferland to Vancouver Canucks equivalent. Kelowna has the weapons to go far this post-season and keeping a level head will make the Rockets a very dangerous team to play.

Of course, they’ll have to beat Everett.


Photo – World News Tweets

Is The Entire NHL Colluding To Trade Away Erik Gudbranson?

Think about it for a second, why would anyone say good things about Erik Gudbranson’s game? He’s been a bit of a band-aid the past two seasons, he doesn’t score or add any real value to his current team, the Vancouver Canucks, and he shies away from critical hits during the game. OK, he’s third on the Canucks in both hits and hits-per-game but I’m pretty sure those numbers are inflated.

His CF%, 42.47, is lowest on the Canucks as is his Rel CF% -7.9%. When he’s on the ice, it’s definitely not a great thing. He’s a right-handed defenseman, tall and, sure, can hit people but it does seem a bit strange he’s being hyped up so much, no?

What does Renaud know that we don’t? Do Canucks games fail to broadcast anywhere but Vancouver? It just doesn’t make sense reading a comment like this. Everyone in Vancouver, everyone that follows, covers or berates the Canucks has been in sell mode with Gudbranson for most of the season because he just doesn’t move the needle in terms of physicality (that’s noticeable anyway) and his failed defensive assignments continue to resemble Sbizzas night in and night out.

It’s like a Willie D redux but with a hulking statue of a defenseman.

This is the reality most games:

Yikes! The reports from the Canucks camp are that they would like to re-sign Erik to stay with the Canucks, potentially as long as fellow dud Loui Eriksson wears the whale, err… orca.

Why would the NHL’s top reporters be so gung-ho on moving Gudbranson, what information does the general public not have access to? They all see the same games, the same mistakes and the same lack of fear in opponents eyes when they face-off against EG. Is this just being left alone and accepted as reality?

Erik Gudbranson has very little going for him that would make him “tradeable”: He’s quite handsome, have to give him that, he’s a RHD as mentioned above, he’s a former third-overall pick, tall, and… OK, that’s all I have. This feels like doctors being paid to promote a drug even if they have no idea what it actually does or if it even works.

There’s a conspiracy to move Gudbranson that is being accepted by everyone outside of  Vancouver and it doesn’t sit well with me and it shouldn’t sit well with you either. The Canucks never have anything good happen to them and this is probably one of those times where the trade is about to go down and someone yells “GOTCHA!”

Someone needs to deep-dive this situation and get to the bottom of why Erik Gudbranson is a good player to trade for. The math just doesn’t add up and if it does, it will probably end up looking like $5M x 5 years. That’s the worst math of all.


Follow me on twitter: @always90four


Photo – Daily Hive Vancouver

Team Toughness Already Exists On Canucks… Without Gudbranson

First and foremost, I am not declaring the Canucks are a tough team, far from it. They also aren’t complete pushovers. With the trade deadline looming and the rumours of a potential Erik Gudbranson contract extension getting major press, it should be noted that the Canucks are doing just fine, relatively speaking, without Gudbranson’s “toughness”.

Saturday night, the Canucks had a pretty spirited game against the Tampa Bay Lightning and of all the players that should be making a case for their spot on the team, Erik Gudbranson was pretty much invisible when it came to the checking part of the game.

Technically, he had one hit. I wasn’t able to pinpoint when that was. Above him: Michael Del Zotto, Alex Edler, Jake Virtanen with nine, three, and three hits respectively. Notable hits were also executed by Brendan Gaunce who is starting to come alive, Brandon Sutter because obviously, and a hard-nosed Sven Baertschi.

All of those players were noticeable while Gudbranson could be seen many times hunched over and watching the play. OK, he’s a big guy but if his claim to fame is that he can stand up for his teammates and deliver hits that keep opponents wary of his presence, he was anything but that guy against Tampa.

He’s been anything but that in most games this season, healthy or not. He signed a “show me” deal this season to prove his injuries last year weren’t a one-off but it’s looking more and more like they were the norm. The mantle that comes with being a top draft pick is a heavy one to bear but at some point, the Canucks have to cut their losses. He isn’t the guy they thought he was.

I agree with Benning but I don’t think I agree with who he is referring to. If there actually is a market for Gudbranson, they need to move him ASAP and not let this drag on further than it has to. This also could be a defining decision to get Jim Benning re-signed or let him walk after his deal is up this season. A bitter pill to swallow is that Luca Sbisa was probably the better overall defenseman.


Statistically, Gudbranson is towards the top of the Canucks in the hit categories but it doesn’t seem to be visible during the game. He has the worst CF% on the Canucks with 42.37%, same in the Rel CF% with -8.46%, a full 1.5% lower than the next closest teammate Brandon Sutter. Vancouver shouldn’t be holding on to his services for his offensive game, which I doubt they were, to begin with, but he won’t be turning into the second coming of Willie Mitchell on the Kings.

He’s a liability to the present and the future of this team and even with the stats pointing out he’s doing an alright job of being physical, it hasn’t shown up anywhere that matters.

This guy might be serious but if the Leafs follow him on Twitter, he’s doing great work to # GetGudbransonTraded. However, looking at a bunch of his other posts, he’s a bit off the deep end.

Taking a chance on Jake Virtanen panning out is a much safer bet than signing Gudbranson long term, or at all. There are hits to be given up and down the lineup and Travis Green should be able to make his players buy in that they have to push back. Going forward with #44 would be a very bad idea and the final nail in the coffin if Trevor Linden and the Aquilini’s decision to move on from Benning.

The clock is ticking…



photo – Independent Sports News

Canucks “Very Official” Mid-Season Awards

It’s awards season everywhere! The Grammys, The Oscars, The SAGS, Golden Globes and the “very official” first-ever Always90four mid-season Canucks awards. The NHL All-Star Game has just concluded and obviously, super-rookie Brock Boeser won MVP*. He is winning everything lately, including our hearts and with all the accolades and Schedule A bonuses that he’s earned, Boeser might be well on his way to the trophy awarded to the AHL’s Championship team… no wait that’s the Calder Cup, not Trophy. Confusing.

Even though the NHL’s actual awards aren’t given out until June, I’m here to hand out the mid-season gold statues, thankfully my kids still had some gold glitter and construction paper from the birthday party this weekend.

Without further ado, here are the “very official”, “super important” Canucks Mid-Season Awards:


Cody Hodgson/Zack Kassian Award

This goes out to the player(s) that really had a lot more to give to the Canucks, or so we thought but failed to deliver on their potential. Oddly enough, this award has co-winners in the inaugural ceremony and it’s no stretch of the imagination about whom I am referring to and they are Jake Virtanen and Erik Gudbranson.

Virtanen has been given opportunities to succeed, put in a position to use his big frame but he just can’t unleash the power-forward player from within. He’s a good NHLer but as of right now, it doesn’t look like he’ll amount to a whole lot more than a third or fourth line winger. It’s a little early to suggest a trade but like the award he’s honoured by, even Cody Hodgson was dealt early on.

Erik Gudbranson was brought in to provide a physical presence much like Virtanen, but he is more of a shadow than the monument Jim Benning and co. thought he was. In all fairness, there were signs he could get back after his injury a season ago but he’s healthy now and has been less than impressive.


Sami Salo Blue Cross Award

The Finnish defender was an absolute threat with his booming slap shot from the blue line but the man couldn’t stay healthy to save himself. Vancouver has been anything but healthy this season and it’s tough to pick just one. Is it Alex Edler and his knee injury, Sven Baertschi’s jaw getting dismantled, Chris Tanev’s teeth, or even Bo Horvat’s broken foot. Jeez louise, Brock Boeser blocked a shot that we all thought was potentially going to end his season.

Taking home the mid-season Salo Blue Cross Award is Brandon Sutter. This guy has really had a rough couple of seasons as a Canuck. Last year was basically a write-off while he’s battled to stay healthy this season with what was called a hip injury. This isn’t something any player would want to be known for but such is life. If Sutter makes it a month without some sort of ailment, that in itself deserves a medal.


Tom Sestito Award

No, this is not a tough guy award. The Tom Sestito award goes to the player on the Canucks who has been given a roster spot night in and night out and has failed to do almost anything with it. Digging through the Internet to find a former player worthy of having this award named for his efforts, or lack thereof, was difficult.

The one player that pretty much stole this award on day one is none other than, wait for it… Brendan Gaunce. His career statistics should make Travis Green wonder why that spot couldn’t be better suited for a producing centre and allow a player like Reid Boucher to get called up or Darren Archibald to sign a league-minimum deal and bring some grind into the lineup. The Canucks need to figure out if Gaunce is in their future. He doesn’t feel like he will be.


Jayson Megna Loyalty Award

Everyone remembers the Lassie-like loyalty Willie Desjardins had with Megna last season which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It’s not like Megna was all that good either. Travis Green has his own loyalty towards one individual this year and just like a season ago, most of us are left shaking our heads in confusion. And the winner is…

Yup, Nic Dowd.

There really isn’t a better player to stand behind? Jake Virtanen has fought through a tough season but at the very least, give THAT guy more ice time. Heck, if it came down to it I really wonder if Green would think long and hard if it came down to Dowd or Boeser. Scary stuff.


Jeff Cowan/Jason King Participation Ribbon

Cowan the Brabarian was a folk hero for a short time before reality set in and the question of sustainability was answered. Same could be said for the former NHL Rookie of the Month November 2003, Jason King. For the smallest pocket of time both of these players ran a hot streak as good as anything seen in Las Vegas and then the bottom dropped out. They were the equivalent of a really good chorus on a single track of a 13 song album. Needs to be more than that for 12.99 on iTunes.

When the Canucks are spending $6 million a season on a player that has a good week twice in a season, they’re paying too much. The participation ribbon goes to none other than Loui Eriksson. His late November streak gave us hope but alas, it was a repeat of watching Todd Bertuzzi after “the punch”. Not the player he used to be, not at all. Jim Benning wins GM of the year if he can move that contract.


And last but definitely not least is the most important award of them all…

Todd Bertuzzi Mid-Season MVP Award

This isn’t the actual MVP award. That one is hands down given to Brock Boeser. The Bertuzzi MSMVP is given to the player who has turned in a great half-season effort, put up respectable numbers but most likely is either A) not even on the team after the season or B) has fizzled out down the stretch. It’s the backhanded compliment of all awards. There are no prerequisites to have punched and seriously injured another player, trolled a fanbase and failed to back it up, or leave the bench to start a fight.

There were a few candidates for this one but in the end, for the betterment of the Canucks future, Thomas Vanek was given the shiny glove trophy. Vanek has done everything he was signed to do, averaging 0.71 pts/game, and now that the Canucks are out of the playoff run (not actually, but let’s be real here) it’s time to focus on how great of a haul Benning can bring in.

I can’t see Vanek fizzling down the stretch, he just doesn’t have that in him. Getting traded would really help the Canucks and Vancouver could easily sign him again next season.

*Boeser won the MVP award via Twitter fan vote. The actual 2018 NHL All-Star MVP should have been Nikita Kucherov and it wasn’t close. Regardless, like an empty-net goal that ends a slump or starts a streak, Brock has another feather in his cap on his journey towards the Calder or maybe more.


photo –

Canucks Are Due For Lottery Luck

The Canucks have a history more unfortunate than anything Lemony Snicket has ever created and yet we follow their every move and complain when things don’t go their way like it’s a foregone conclusion the NHL and, life really, have it out for them. I just finished “100 Things Canucks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” and it’s not a big surprise but the Canucks have had a pretty tough go well before they even entered the NHL. A great book, you can be sure, it dictates every travesty Canucks Nation has ever endured. (Still read the book, don’t be a cheapskate!)

Over and over, Vancouver misses the boat by what seems like inches and end up becoming miles. Gilbert Perreault going first overall in the 1970 Entry Draft to the expansion Buffalo Sabres and not the Vancouver Canucks after a Steve Harvey-like mishap from then league president Clarence Campbell.


There was theatrics from day one which is a microcosm of the Canucks history, really. When it came to the standings, the Canucks were never bad enough to be last and secure the top pick and spoiler alert: they’ve never been good enough to win the Stanley Cup either. So why does this year feel like the year Vancouver finally breaks their pattern of luck and wins the first overall pick to select Rasmus Dahlin, an absolute stud of a Swedish defenseman?

Throwing the Canucks a bone is one reason. Everyone will remember after the lockout when Sidney Crosby was the prize for the draft lottery. The odds from the season prior to the lockout were set and the teams were counted down. The Canucks were still in it with 10 picks to go and after the commercial break wouldn’t you know it, the Canucks were awarded pick number 10.

Because, of course.

After all, isn’t it flat out luck that the lottery balls fall in their favour on decision day? It sure is. Playing the Draft simulator is nothing that hasn’t been done by pretty much every Canucks fan at one time or another in the last few years, hey, even Jim Benning (former Canuck player) got in on the action. Once a Canuck, always a Canuck I guess. The misery follows us all and even former players know what’s up. The NHL Draft Lottery Simulator has received heavy media attention over the years and despite its ability to show which teams could potentially win the first overall pick, the actual draft lottery has had other ideas.

Take last year for example:

The Canucks had a 12.124% chance of selecting first but based on how the lottery works, there are multiple draws, and wouldn’t you know it the Canucks ended up with the fifth pick for the second year in a row even though they finished with the second-worst record in the NHL last year. What was even crazier was that the New Jersey Devils had an 8.5% chance and the Philadelphia Flyers had a 2.20% of netting the first pick and they proved that just missing out on the playoffs was better than “tanking” and the Devils took Nico Hischier first overall and the Flyers selected Nolan Patrick with the second pick.

It’s as random as Tide Pods being a food craze in 2018 (this year is going to be so messed up) which is one reason the Canucks will win out this year. “Even a broken clock is correct twice a day” is said from time to time and even the Canucks are due for some good luck every now and then. Brock Boeser is a great example of that as is Elias Petterson. Two players that had zero business being available when they were and yet look how far each dropped.

Don’t let that little bit of good luck change you though, there were prizes available both years that could have set the Canucks up to succeed sooner than later but history reminded the club that wouldn’t happen. Luck has punched Canucks fans in the face over and over from the Cam Neely trade, to the Wayne Gretzky signing that never happened, Todd Bertuzzi trolling the Minnesota Wild fans in 2003, the Nick Lidstrom goal, the Martin Gelinas goal, Cory Schneider getting dehydrated and even Cody Hodgson’s back.

OK, the Gretzky thing wasn’t really luck, that was just plain stubbornness. So what about that Dahlin kid?

The 2017/18 World Junior Championships were a perfect showcase to display Rasmus Dahlin’s talents with Sweden and the fit he had with Petterson just felt right. If Dahlin were to become a Canuck, one final season from the Sedins and 82 games being mentored from, believe it or not, Alex Edler could pay enormous dividends. Here’s just a sample of what Dahlin is accomplishing this year:

Absolutely disgusting.

Chris Tanev, among other players, could be dealt this season and that hole could instantly be filled by a playmaking, sniper on the backend. Sometimes the cards just feel like they were meant to fall in your favour. Of course, I say that every week when I purchase lotto tickets for my office.

Vancouver has lucked out numerous times when it comes to injuries, cap space, and eventual opportunities for many of its stars and the ultimate horseshoe would be at the Lottery. Going back to 2011 is a great example of how simple luck on the injury front and a bit of hard work with understanding the salary cap put the Canucks within a win of the Cup.

That season could have gone very differently if everyone was healthy. So what does this wheel do besides give hope?

Heading over to NHL Lottery Simulator, it took 12 tries in my latest voyage to get the Canucks the first overall pick. It doesn’t mean anything and is in no way affiliated with the NHL. It wastes some time in your day and gives you the hope that the Canucks might just get their lucky number. There have been so many instances where Vancouver has been given a raw deal and it just feels like it’s time that changed, if only for a day.

All it is is luck. The Canucks are due for some good news and once, just once, it would be nice to have the shiniest toy on the playground.


Photo – Vancouver Sun

The Final Option: Put Eriksson With Boeser

Loui Eriksson is lost.  He has 13 points this season and pretty much all of them came within a two-week period. He’s barely noticeable on the ice and he is the latest Canuck to have a contract that “sucks”. Somehow, the Canucks must continue on with the Swedish Anchor for four more years. Watching the losses mount is one thing but seeing a $6 million player float in and out of existence on the ice is a tough pill to swallow. A buyout is not an option so what should the team do?

The last possible option without scratching him: Put him on Brock Boeser’s line.

Boeser has made pretty much everyone better around him. Of his 22 goals and 18 assists, here’s the breakdown of how Boeser’s stick has influenced his teammates:

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If you noticed there are only a few players not involved here that actually have a point: Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson are most notable. Jake doesn’t really need Brock’s assistance but that would sure be a fun line to see go for a night or more; they could call it “Flash and Bang”. OK, that’s more of an NFL running back tandem name but still, it’s good, admit it. The Boeser Effect has made the Canucks tolerable this season and with losses in tow, every game is a chance to see what else the rookie can do. Eriksson might be his biggest challenge yet.

In contrast, here is Eriksson’s rainbow of coverage:

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It’s bleak.

His report card would read “does not play well”. The second page of it would eventually say “with others”. Horvat is out so let’s eliminate those numbers, for now, Baertschi just came back so it could take some time to see that whole two assists increase, Vanek for now is with The Flow and the defense is a wash because they come and go.

Much like the movement to get Erik Gudbranson traded away, Loui Eriksson will need to move mountains before he’s even considered tradeable. It feels like Extreme Makeover: Eriksson Edition. Brock has two weeks to develop line chemistry with Loui and most likely Sam Gagner and show not only Travis Green but the rest of the NHL that Eriksson is indeed still capable of scoring goals or at the very least being a regular contributor.

To be fair, Boeser has only had two sets of linemates this year and really, the only change would be Thomas Vanek being subbed out for Loui. The speed difference would be most obvious change and maybe a power-play to start would be the best way to go, not sure. They both are shooting forwards so the idea of having them on opposite sides creates a problem.

Having LE as the setup guy at the top would get the ball rolling. The left-handed Eriksson feeding the right-handed Boeser flows (no pun intended) nicely and I can see a rush co-existing with these two. It intrigues the mind if only for a minute… hopefully, longer if you’re still reading that Loui has only been with the Sedins at 5v5 for any significant amount of regular time.

Small fact: Boeser and Eriksson have skated on the ice along with Gagner for just over 18 minutes of 5v5 and the small sample size isn’t amazing. It’s not a mind-blowing look and I can’t even remember which game it was exactly but it wouldn’t hurt to go back to that considering Boeser doesn’t even have a point with Eriksson at all.

Their time together wasn’t a Corsi dream, far from, but it’s not even about possession right now: it’s about production, something the Vancouver Canucks lack in almost every way imaginable.

At this point in the season, with all the losing and the injuries maiming the Canucks, why not experiment with possible options? Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter will be returning sooner than later and this may all be a moot point by then but why not give it a try? The race to the trade deadline is approaching and the idea of Eriksson being snagged is a pipe dream at best.

It’s not that people hate Loui Eriksson but for the amount of money he’s linked to regardless of the bad decision made by Benning to sign him, he’s here as a Canuck and one more productive player is all anyone really wants. there was a time where he did produce and his career should be far from over but then again, stranger things have happened.

I honestly think Loui just needs some kind of reboot and riding shotgun with one of the hottest players in the league right now would definitely be that shot he needs.

Photo: Van Courier

For Boeser or For Worse

It’s been said time and time again, “This is why we can’t have nice things”. Brock Boeser was the culmination of a month of these comments. Twenty seconds into the middle frame of the Canucks/Flames matchup on Sunday night, Boeser was felled by a Mark Giordano shot that simultaneously felled Canucks Nation.

You could have heard a pin drop. WARNING: Graphic potential season-ending content

We all felt it, immediately. This was a whole separate Provies in itself, this was a feature-length Pat-Cast, this was a 30 for 30. This may have been the end. Of course, at the time of writing this, no one but the Canucks knows the status of Boeser’s ankle/foot. Thankfully, that’s something we won’t have to dwell on until at least Monday morning.

Where was Nikita Tryamkin to give him a push to the bench, WHERE WERE YOU NIKITA?!?!

“This is why we can’t have nice things”, tanking has proven this a few times, at least for the Canucks. Injuries have leveled this team in a way that is just bizarre. How it is even possible that Vancouver has lost its top center, his wingman, and now the team’s best player who just so happens to be dominating the NHL Calder race and is ranked in the top-5 in goal scoring race?

It’s beyond crazy. From there, the injuries to Brandon Sutter, Derek Dorsett, Erik Gudbranson, and Chris Tanev are just white noise, really. Everyone hoped this day wouldn’t happen and Boeser has only been on the team for less than half a season and he’s become the most polarizing figure in Vancouver sports.

The Sedins never reached the popularity of this magnitude.

This was ONE day ago! Less than 24 hours later, here’s what is being read online:

Maybe it’s over, maybe it’s not. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been getting back to their old ways but even then, they had Boeser to take the load off so they could sneak in and do some damage.

This isn’t even a question of adversity or how the Canucks will deal with all the injuries, it’s past that point. Until February rolls around, there is realistically no chance the Canucks win more than three games until then. The sky has fallen, it’s over, the Canucks are doomed. Any other ones I missed? Team Tank will surround this like vultures by the morning. Just wait.

The World Junior tournament is just over a week away and then the focus can transition to Elias Pettersson’s dominance of a child’s league compared to the heights he has risen since his draft day. Anything to take our minds off of this doomsday situation.


Oh, and there’s no more milk in the fridge. Great.


Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – Nucks Misconduct via Mike Ehrmann

Forget the Maturation Process, the Canucks Need Goals

Travis Green needs a wake-up call. He lost his top center, one of his top wingers, he’s been without his third line center for some time and the rest of the Canucks are struggling to score. Putting in 4th line grinders in place of budding scorers is not a smart way to keep the team competitive. Once again, Henrik Sedin will be asked to shoulder the load on a team that has no clear sign of keeping up. It’s kind of getting heavy.

Save Brock Boeser (seriously, save him), there aren’t many other options to score right now. Loui Eriksson has receded into a winter slumber after going on a mini point streak, Thomas Vanek has 2G in his last 16 games, and the rest of the goals are on IR. Daniel Sedin isn’t the goal threat he once was and Jake Virtanen is only getting opportunities when the lines seem to cross over.

Couldn’t agree more, Blake.

The Canucks have called up Nikolay Goldobin because he is a…scoring…winger. He’s not going to learn much sitting in the press box in favor of Nic Dowd. This is Jayson Megna/Michael Chaput syndrome all over again. Green has made many of us believers with his slightly different style of coaching and it has paid dividends early. He can’t regress now.

He’s hit a rut, a pretty significant rut and the goals aren’t going to magically appear. Even with stellar goaltending, which the Canucks currently are not getting, they can only afford to allow 1-2 goals per game. Not a recipe for winning. Green is quite clearly playing the media he greets every day at practice, pre-game and post-game pressers, so he isn’t about to show his hand.

What many of us would like to know is: are the Canucks a playoff team or a development team? It can’t be both and properly grow; the Oilers may be a good example of this.

Goldobin isn’t the answer by any means for Vancouver but leaving out a goal scorer like they did with Boeser to start the season doesn’t build any trust. This team isn’t matured yet and players need to learn lessons but sometimes the best possible player available needs to play. That may translate to Reid Boucher getting a call-up as well, who knows?

I try to be a good parent. I discipline when necessary and I don’t give in because one of my kids wants a cookie, or both usually.  But you know what, SOMETIMES I give in and give them a freaking cookie or buy them the smoothie at the mall.

You know why?

Because it’s for the greater good of the parents, ME and my WIFE. We get peace and quiet, they behave and there’s no yelling. That’s a parenting win from time to time. Doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do or that it will happen over and over but in a pinch, it’s a win. They don’t mature any quicker but it buys us time.

Travis Green has a problem that for the immediate future needs addressing. Goldobin is the best player not playing every night. There may even be another trade on the horizon which could involve Alex Burmistrov and maybe more.

For now though, kick the maturing to the curb, coach. This team needs wins in a bad way and if they don’t start building a .500 record at the very least, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter returning will be all for not.

Throw em a bone, Travis!


Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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