alex burrows

Alex Burrows Lived The Dream

On July 6, 2018, Alex Burrows announced to the hockey world that he was retiring from the game after 13 seasons. The truly remarkable thing is that he almost never played a single game in the NHL. His story has been chronicled over the course of his playing days and Canucks fans celebrated his efforts when he was traded to the Senators just over a year ago.

It is inevitable that he will be inducted into the Canucks Ring of Honour and the only real question is how soon that will take place? It has been a pretty eventful offseason already for Canucks fans as Henrik and Daniel Sedin both retired and now Burrows as well. The Sedins will have their numbers raised to the rafters most likely next season and it would be fitting if Burrows saw his name enshrined in Canucks history with the likes of other Canucks legends leading up to the Canucks’ 50th season celebrations.

What really makes Alex Burrows special was the fact he ground away in the ECHL before a chance opportunity put him with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL, from there, he tirelessly worked on becoming a true pro and went from an agitator to the “Third Sedin”. Burrows was involved in many memorable moments with the Canucks, both good and bad, but the slaying of the dragon most likely tops everyone’s list:

Of course, it can’t be forgotten that he scored another significant goal that spring:

These videos have been posted before in the linked Canucks Army article above but as far as Canucks history goes, they’re staples of what this team was able to achieve.

This could be a whole thread of epic Burrows goals, shenanigans, and tear-jerking memories but thankfully if you’re reading this you have a basic understanding of how you can relive the rest of them on the Internet.

A ball hockey beast for the Montreal Red Light before his pro days, he knew what hard work looked like and like every young Canadian dreaming of making the NHL, he got his chance and made the most of it. When you think about it, it’s pretty crazy the way it all played out.

As Alex Burrows departs the NHL for his next career, an assistant coach with the Laval Rocket of the AHL and maybe GM of an NHL team one day, his time on the ice will be cherished. He made you believe that dreams were possible and that hard work, believe or not, actually pays off. Being paired with the Sedins not only made Burrows a household name but it allowed the Sedins to step their game up as well and were eventually recognized as two of the greatest players to ever play the game of hockey.

Burrows had that subtle slyness to him like he shouldn’t be in the NHL but he wasn’t going to tell anyone and he kept plugging away. He closed in on just shy of 1000 games in the NHL, played for Team Canada, and rode shotgun on a line many NHLers could never handle.

I am reminded of the humour of Alex a day after he signed his first contract extension in 2009 when he was doing an autograph signing in the mall I worked at. Being the funny guy I thought I was, I frankly asked him what now seems like a really dumb question “I have to know, how big IS Kesler’s nose in person?” He responded without skipping a beat with a laugh “Oh, it’s huge”.

Many people will have their own stories of the Canucks’ hero but one thing everyone shares is their admiration for what he did for that team.

Alex, what a career you had! Good luck in the next chapter of your life and thanks for being a Canuck.

 

Cover photo – The Hockey Writers

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Gutting Current Roster Stalls Canucks Future

The NHL Trade Deadline is fast approaching and the rumour mill is churning out new material by the day. Regardless of what side you’re on, the changes the Canucks make could potentially shake the future direction of where the team wants to go. It’s no surprise who’s on the block, what their respective trade destination list looks like or who potentially will be the realistic destination for any of the said players. What may end up being a surprise is what could happen if Jim Benning decides to stock the cupboards with picks and prospects and lose valuable mentors in the room.

Building for the future comes at a cost, how quickly they decide to build will dictate how soon the true results are achieved.

I, like everyone else, want the Canucks to turn the corner and become what they used to be: a competitive, winning hockey team. I understand that they had an opportunity to get to the top of the mountain and they let the window close for any future chances at getting back to the Stanley Cup. It’s been a trying few years and now, Vancouver is facing some tough decisions with their current team.

On the one hand, they can trade Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, and Ryan Miller to name a few and get valuable draft picks to start putting together a stable that will compete 3-5 years down the line. There are other players who haven’t been mentioned that could be moved right now and in return would bring players that have already been developed by other teams.

There have been discussions on the Internet about moving Ben Hutton because of the progression of Troy Stecher and Nikita Tryamkin and the promise of Olli Juolevi. What people don’t realize is that you can’t just eliminate a player like Hutton and expect that everything will be ok. Every action causes a reaction. If Hutton goes that leaves a spot for Erik Gudbranson or even Jordan Subban. Minutes go up for players that aren’t used to seeing that kind of action and the dominos begin to fall.

Does everyone remember when Kevin Bieksa was forced to play monster minutes? Ya, it didn’t go so well. Same goes for Luca Sbisa or even Alex Edler. Unless you are a true star and survive on your own, being thrown into the fire hampers the effectiveness of the player in question. Can taking Hutton out of the mix really help the Canucks? It just doesn’t feel like the right move. The other take there is the question of why would you even consider trading him so early on when he hasn’t even developed yet?

Moving on from Ben Hutton could end up being a huge mistake and considering the huge mistakes the Canucks have made in the past, there could be some serious damage done to the franchise.

Trading away Burrows gains a draft pick and there is a chance the Canucks can re-sign him in the offseason. Same can be said for Jannik Hansen and even Ryan Miller. Parlaying all those players puts a pretty big hole in the lineup and inevitably a freefall will occur. The problem with getting rid of all of these guys is that the leadership of the team takes a monster hit and it puts the Sedins in an awkward position to step their roles up on the team.

The Canucks need to ease the Twins into a supplementary role where they can maintain minutes in the low teens and still be effective. It’s obvious they aren’t getting any faster and their decisions throughout the game are starting to be routinely compromised. Their bodies aren’t reacting as fast as they can think the game and it shows.

Sure, they still sit among the leaders on the team in points but they are placed in so many situations that they have become overworked and in turn, it affects their teammates progression as well.

So what do the Canucks do?

They need to rebuild but they can’t have a massive void that keeps them from smoothly transitioning. Is it a case of starting over cold turkey or can they make the move a few players at a time? There no doubt are players coming up from the farm and in junior that will put the Canucks in a better position to win but not all of those players will be instant impacts on a nightly basis.

When those players make the switch to the NHL it also empties the cupboards of anything they have been working on and puts the team right back in the same position, not enough players drafted that they can develop.

I think this is called a “catch-22” situation.

What the Canucks SHOULD do, in my opinion, is admit defeat with a few players and maybe even the coach and give the players they moderately more responsibility. Loui Eriksson is a good start to move on from. Whatever the Canucks believed they had in Eriksson has not shown up on the scoresheet this season.

Maybe he’s injured and maybe he’s not but a player making $6 million a year for the next 5 years after this one is a pretty big waste of money if this is as good as he gets here. There is no Patrice Bergeron to play with and even playing on a line with Bo Horvat won’t amount to all-star numbers within a season, I just can’t see it happening.

Finding a buyer for Eriksson would be just as hard but Benning is a confusing character so I do have odd faith that he could pull it off. Jake Virtanen could be yet another “power forward” that doesn’t work out and he could be another Hunter Shinkaruk clone that fizzles out. A pick or a comparable prospect or a package deal to go get a star from that Denver team would be great.

Ryan Miller is the odds on favorite to move this year or at the very least, be the first one shipped off. The handling of both goalies this year has really clouded up what the team has in either player. Miller performs well when he’s rested and Jacob Markstrom performs well when he’s played more than once every three weeks.

Thatcher Demko shouldn’t be rushed into the league which means the Canucks need more time. Sending away Miller puts everything on Markstrom’s shoulders and even though he wants the chance to shine, there’s no way he sustains a winning record with no one to spell him after the burnout. Is trading Miller the answer in net?

The critics say yes but what does that solve? Not a whole lot and it creates issues in net which in turn means the Canucks would have to either find a cheap backup for Markstrom or take Richard Bachman from Utica and force Demko to be everything on the farm.

There is no easy fix and it feels like if the Canucks cut the wrong wire or push the wrong button, this team will create more problems than they originally had.

But hey, at least we’ll all scream at them regardless of what they do. That’s our thing.

Follow me on Twitter: @always90four

photo – vancitybuzz.com

Why Are The Canucks Playing The Good Hockey?

This season was supposed to be a dud. It was supposed to equate to 65 points and one of the worst NHL seasons ever, combined most likely with the first overall pick. But, we all know they could never achieve such a feat. Now, the Canucks are winning multiple games in a row, playing without regular NHLers and it looks like they are having fun.

How do you even explain this season? It’s not like any fancy stats can back up how surprising this team has been, heck, the real stats say they suck too! So why does it feel like the Canucks can actually achieve more than they should? Let’s take a look:

First off, there isn’t any particular reason that injuries should make any team better aside from seeing how some of the prospects on the farm are coming along, but injuries to key Canuck players like Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen have forced the Canucks to dress half of the Comets pretty much.

Starting Troy Stecher in Utica seemed like the dumbest move ever but sure enough, the injuries came and Stecher was back on a plane to start on the number one pairing. That gave the Canucks just enough time to see a bit of Philip Larsen and what his PP decisions looked like. It’s evident he has lost that job, on the first unit anyways.

Stecher looks like a seasoned vet out there and when he unleashes that shot, you’d never believe it could come from such a small man. Ben Hutton is getting right back in there and looks like he has been on the team for years. Crazy to think Hutton was just a rookie last year.

Nikita Tryamkin started the season a little shaky and even though he was able to play out the end of last year to gain some valuable experience, it didn’t feel like he was going to make an impact… until he did. Tryamkin is yet another surprise player that most Canuck fans couldn’t see this team without.

Tryamkin has a powerful body that can dominate on the boards, the accidental injuries he has caused prove there is a lot of power there. So far, it doesn’t look like Nikita will be an offensive weapon but he can do what Erik Gudbranson was supposed to do, but for way less money.

These are just the guys on the team RIGHT NOW. Olli Juolevi is still in junior and will eventually challenge for another spot. The expansion draft next year will most likely peel away Luca Sbisa for cap reasons but that still leaves 5 other guys. Chris Tanev isn’t going anywhere, neither is Hutton or Stecher. Alex Edler is up there in age and the amount of sticks he breaks is getting borderline ridiculous, but aside from a trade he’ll probably finish out as a Canuck.

That leaves two spots and with Erik Gudbranson becoming an RFA next season, there will be some important decisions made.

But back to how weird this team has been.

Vancouver starts the year 4-0, then goes on a 9 game losing streak. They split a few here and there before putting themselves in a position to now win 3 straight. I don’t get it. This isn’t an overly talented bunch, compared to the rest of the NHL but somehow they are staying relevant. You can’t miss a game because there always seems to be a story.

After the Canucks finished off the Wild on Tuesday, a team they probably should have lost against, this happens:

So now they just score goals all the time, a squad that… doesn’t score goals very often? OK, I’ll bite. There was an article about the Canucks face-off success and how Manny Malhotra has helped them get back to winning those battles, cheating a bit and starting with the puck instead of losing draws and eventually giving up goals.

One area the Canucks have stepped up is at the Bo Horvat position. He is the heir apparent and it doesn’t look like that will ever change. Horvat leads the team in points, has re-ignited long-serving Canuck Alex Burrows and has created options for coach Willie D to use Brandon Sutter up front with the Sedins while $6 million dollar man Loui Eriksson, makes Michael Chaput and Markus Granlund look like real NHL players.

It feels like the Canucks have channeled their inner District 5 Ducks talent and taken a rag-tag group and made them into a team that can compete, you know, without the DUI.

Making the playoffs is still quite a long shot for this team but if the Canucks are going to actually rebuild which is what I believe we have been sold, this is sure a fun team to watch despite the ultimate goal of hoisting the Cup.

Waiting a bit longer for this team to rise up again isn’t always a fun task but as I’ve said before, guys like Juolevi, Brock Boeser and Thatcher Demko make waiting a bit more tolerable.

I still don’t know how the Canucks are making this happen, though. Proper lines is a good start.

Follow me on The Twitterâ„¢: @always90four

 

Photo: nhl.com

No Quick Fix For Canucks; A Season Lost Is a Season Gained

By now it’s fairly obvious I am a philosophizer of words, a craftsman of verbiage and a knight of partial sentence structure. The Canucks have turned me into a 21st century literary magician and I only have them to thank. But enough about me; this latest Canucks season may have looked like a colossal tire fire on the outside but the guts of how they got there and the results that follow are a positive.

There is no magic bullet, I mean there is and its $39.99, but a handful of things that occurred this season paired with the recent draft success of Trader Jim Benning will help put this team in a better position to succeed down the road. As the title states, a season lost is a season gained.

Let’s look at the positives and more specifically Jimbo’s draft picks. He didn’t pick Nick Merkley and for that I may never forgive him but he did pick some kid named Brock Boeser and he just won the NCAA Championship with North Dakota. Add to that Boeser’s goal and three assists in the final and things are already looking up for a future Canucks star.

Rewind a bit back to the Frozen Four and 2014 2nd round pick Thatcher Demko just lost out in the semis. He capped off a monster season with a 28-7-4 record, 10 shutouts, 1.88 GAA and a .935 SA%. The kid is good.

After Demko’s first two games this year, he shut out his opponents six of the next seven games. If you thought Cory Schneider was awesome, it’s safe to say we might have a short memory.

Fast forward to Benning’s current success stories and although he can’t claim responsibility for Ben Hutton or Bo Horvat (edited, thanks for the reminder @GoFour3,it was late), JB did bring on Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann. Benning hasn’t been the GM of the Canucks that long and all 3 of these guys currently occupy a regular roster spot. The obvious stand out is Horvat.

In just his second season, he has more than developed into a key member of the Canucks and had Brandon Sutter not been injured as much as former Canuck Sami Salo, Bo may have had a better statistical season. That being said, Bo was dealt a less than favourable situation and was forced to do more than he should have.

He was voted most exciting player this year and if you check out a recent piece I wrote about Bo, he has the skills to pay the bills.

OK, a lot of the good things end here. The Canucks finished 28th overall in the standings which sounds great if you know, you’re in nationals for I dunno, high jump? This is the NHL and with only 30 teams, it isn’t a good place to be.

There may or may not be a glimmering prize at the end of this season but was watching this season implode before our eyes really worth it? How can Jim Benning and company honestly say they progressed this year? Last year?

The frivolous signings and downright odd ball trades make you wonder if Benning or moreso John Weisbrod got their GM certificate from collecting 6 UPC’s from Froot Loops. What do other GM’s around the league think? They can’t possibly view the Canucks as the model franchise anymore, or did they ever?

Zack Kassian for Brandon Prust —— This actually happened and one wonders why. Even Cody Hodgson was caught off guard.

Matt Bartkowski – 1 yr/1.75M ——REALLY??? Was there no one better, did you really think Frankie Corrado was that bad?

Derek Dorsett – 4 yr/10.6M ———– A fighter and 4th line fill in basically. Hardly the guy you want mentoring the actual talent on the team. He’s here until my 2yr old is done kindergarten. Think about that, I sure will be.

Luca Sbisa – 3 yr/10.8M ———- Benning didn’t have to sign him. The Kesler trade could have played out and that would have been the end of it. You don’t commit to something like that unless that player has shown you he’s worth hanging around. I use that term loosely.

Trading Hunter Shinkaruk for Markus Granlund – what in your right mind would make you think that’s a good deal? Shinkaruk didn’t even get an instant cup of coffee in the NHL before management decided he wasn’t a Canuck. If we are being told patience, the least they could have done was shown a bit of it themselves. This one is seriously going to bite them back.

Putting Frankie Corrado on waivers when Chris Higgins could have gone on LTIR at the beginning of the year and they could have salvaged a valuable asset for more than….nothing. This pattern is becoming quite disturbing.

However, all these moves have helped structure what needs to be done and that is the rebuild we all talk about. After the 2012 season, it was perfectly clear that the Canucks were no longer on top of the mountain and the mountain was quickly fading in the distance. This season ended up being so bad that it highlighted the exact places where depth players and youth should be stationed.

It’s clear that Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev are the future on the back end but if those are the only two, we have problems. When Luca Sbisa and Alex Edler were injured it was apparent what their presence and big time minutes meant to the team. Combine that with Matt Bartkowski, his fluky defense leading 6 goals and the errors, oh the errors; its a recipe for disaster.

Thankfully late in the season towering d-man Nikita Tryamkin came and gave us all a breath of fresh air. He is the player the team could have used in 2011 but better late than never. Tryamkin will definitely be a fixture on the Canucks defense for years and if he’s anything close to Zdeno Chara, we should be so lucky.

Unfortunately, that’s how bad it’s gotten. We were looking forward to the guys on the farm to save the team. Shouldn’t that be the job of the mainstays, the vets? This was the first year in a long time where the goaltending really didn’t matter because they were the only guys showing up every night.

Even with Ryan Miller’s hefty contract and what began as Jacob Markstroms clean resume, they managed to be the one consistent thing going.

Next season goaltending will not be addressed because for now, it works. If Thatcher Demko ends up signing on, it’s only a matter of time before his throne is made available.

Starting Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann on the big club this year was the way to go and even though they were met with many struggles and adversity, they can start next year in Utica and play at a level that they can build their skill base. These are two very talented young men and their development at the pro level is now the next task.

Having this year’s crop of rookies growing up on the farm for at least a year will free up spots once again for some free agents and maybe a proper trade or two. Is Alex Burrows still in the Canucks plans? The fan in me says I hope so but he was so bad this year and its surprising he wasn’t asked to leave before some of the other rumoured guys like Vrbata and Hamhuis.

There is some big money coming off the books and fans have been told the team will spend on July 1. Steven Stamkos is quite unlikely but adding real depth around the Sedins, Horvat, Sutter and on the back end will make this team better.

Back to Burrows though, he has been everything to the Canucks and at the very least he deserves a shot. I’d give him a chance to start the year and if they aren’t seeing what they want, trade him. He has a decent cap hit at 4.5M next season so if there is anything to offer elsewhere, he should be easy to move.

Finally, the Canucks are saying Willie Desjardins is their guy next year. Desjardins really didn’t look great this year and with so many injuries and having to ice a team that maybe he wouldn’t have picked if he had the ultimate say makes his coaching look suspect. To be fair, he did much of the same things he did in his first season. He just had a really poor roster this year.

It might be a lot of the same next year or it might involve Auston Matthews and a new coach but the struggle this year was a place to grow and they did, we did too.

We all found out what we were willing to tolerate this season; some of us 82 games, others sporadic periods. We have been so spoiled for so long, it felt good to be ok with losing. This team will bounce back and its when you see the absolute bottom that you can truly appreciate the top.

So long 2016, we hated you.

Photo credit – vancouversun.ca

JAKE VIRTANEN VS. JARED MCCANN: THE DECISION

ESPN never came knocking on the Canucks door when they decided to give both Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann the 9 game audition in the NHL. Do these kids have what it takes to warrant a 60 minute sitdown interview with The Province’s Jason Botchford? Probably no is the answer. Botch might be able to get a good show out of it but I doubt Willie drops the hammer at the closing credits and tells you who is taking their talents back to junior. Is Botchford ESPN caliber? Well, that’s not for me to answer. Lets focus on our two young prospects. What is their fate? What is the decision?

Its been 6 and 5 games respectively for McCann and Virtanen and its a tough decision to make as to who stays up with the big club. Do both of them stay? Tough to tell. With Jared McCann he brings the versatility of playing the pivot and the wing and would theoretically receive more ice time mainly because you need that guy to start the shift and he has two vets in Prust and Dorsett to help him along. Are they the best guys to develop Jared, I don’t believe so but that’s the reality thus far.

If Benning and Linden based their decisions solely on points, McCann stays but not by much. The other thing here is that they’re ROOKIES!!! You aren’t going to see the Bo Horvat type of transformation inside of the first month but there has to be more of a sample size; these two guys need to see more opportunities. Willie is limiting them and in turn their linemates as well but we need to see more.

With Jake Virtanen, you get an electric player that has the chance to be a bull in a china shop and he can explode a hit on someone at any moment. He hasn’t exactly done that since the infamous “McDavid Mash”…no one’s calling it that but its alliteration. You know what, let’s take a look at it again.

Doing a quick youtube/google search on Virtanen will unleash a plethora of hits, hit compilations and awkward teenage hockey player profile pics pointing a stick at a camera. Its so early to get a good read on Jake but he can hold his own physically and he has had some grade A chances to put the puck in the net. Some guys get the chances and can’t put it home but if you GET the chances you’re in the right places.

This is a different season for the Canucks in that they have 3 true rookies in the lineup and they don’t exactly look out of place. I could go off on a tangent about the craze of #HUTTONmania but I had that fluff piece air a few days ago. McCann and Virtanen also are forwards and you grade them differently.

Keeping Virtanen just for the physical game would be shameful and when Chris Higgins returns its no secret that Jake’s minutes will drop; unless he can start making an impact that keeps him relevant. Its a lot to ask of rookies but Willie has floated him a bit with different linemates to try and find that chemistry. Putting Brandon Sutter on a line with Virtanen and Burrows is a great mix and we’ll get to see that against the Canadiens. Its a perfect mix of speed, skill and veterans to give Jake that confidence to just play HIS game. Easier said than done.

McCann albeit a centre and a guy that we all believed HAD to crack the opening night roster hasn’t shown the stature that makes him a nightly NHLer. Kinda like the Trudeau attack ads, we’re not saying never, just not right now. Adam Cracknell also made the team and he most likely is waiting his turn until they decide what to do with McCann. If it’s me, I take Cracknell based on his experience and let Jared get one more year in the Soo.

It’s not the first time a team has done that and he’ll get more ice time as well as the chip on his shoulder to bulk up and prove himself come next season. Jared’s 19 and has a long NHL career ahead of him and I hate to see guys rushed in. Enjoy your time in junior, enjoy being a kid.

You didn’t come here for fancy stats or necessarily even normal stats, not in this piece anyways so I’m not going to break down how his Corsi needs to be better or that his zone exits are better than Virtanen’s. As you know, I am  the Game Day Preview guy for Canucks Army and they’re the guys you want to hit up for that stuff.

At the end of the day who do we choose to continue with the Canucks this year? In a quick note: Jake Virtanen. He’ll have more opportunities to move around and his “presence”, going Eric Lindros there, will eventually transition from rookie nerves to “WATCH OUT, HERE COMES VIRTANEN!” Just like any job, once you get past the probation period, you can calm down more and ease in. At the very least, Virtanen has that monster hit and all his other ones and at some point they’ll benefit him greatly.

I’m really excited that these are the kinds of discussions that are taking place with the Canucks and not the every polarizing goalie debate, Luca Sbisa checklist of errors and did we win the “insert public opinion bad trade here”. The Canucks are changing, lets embrace it.

Oh, we picked Virtanen right? Ya, Virtanen is the answer to the headline. But maybe also McCann, but for sure Virtanen. So Virtanen and maaaaaybe McCann.

Virtanen. Definitely Virtanen.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

JARKKO POLO:  Rescindments, Fertlands and Dumb Dumbs

The Stanley Cup Playoffs have begun! Actually, they’re very much going and kind of in the middle right now. Your Vancouver Canucks were lucky enough to host the Calgary Flames in Round 1. Every Canucks fan got what they asked for; the best matchup for the Canucks to prevail. Ask and ye shall receive.

These things are a recap for the people that may have been on vacation in the U.S and A where NBA and Nascar hilites are the only thing that make headlines. For those in the know, this might not be as fun for you. But fear not, I will save your sad face emojis! The Canucks opened up with the noise but through 3 games, they sure have quieted down.

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

GAME 1 – CANUCKS VS. FLAMES – LOSS 2-1 (Reverse Shades of Game 1 against Boston)

RECAP: The towels were waving, the fans were….cheering? Rogers Arena was buzzing heading into Game 1 and the Canucks were ready to show they were going to own this series. Bo Horvat scored his first ever Stanley Cup Playoff goal off a ricochet and put the Canucks up 1-0 in the 2nd period. The Flames would tie it in the 3rd on a David Jones shot. In what has become standard in these playoffs, the Flames would go ahead with under 40 seconds left in the game off a Kris Russell blue line rope. Flames go ahead in the series 1-0.

FOOTNOTE: Eddie Lack was beyond good and looked like he was ready to silence the critics in his first ever playoff start. We also were introduced to Michael Ferland.

Photo - Calgary Herald

Photo – Calgary Herald

GAME 2 – CANUCKS VS. FLAMES – WIN – 4-1 (TAKE THAT CALGARY!!!)

RECAP: Again Eddie Lack put up quite the game and held a shutout until the bitter end of the game, before giving up one. The Canucks absolutely owned the Flames in pretty much every category. Ronalds Kenins scored, so did Daniel Sedin. Radim Vrbata emptied a net with his first and good ol’ Higgins got one of the hockey goals too. Derek Dorsett ended the night with Deryk Engelland and some fisticuffs which were oh so dandy! Brad Richardson mamed Matt Stajan in their tilt and again, we saw the antics of Michael Ferland. Canucks were in the driver’s seat all game, they never looked back.

FOOTNOTE: Engelland was sure energetic this game. He got 42 minutes in penalties and THREE game misconducts however one was rescinded. Lucky duck!

GAME 3 – CANUCKS @ FLAMES – LOSS – 4-2 (The shoe finally dropped)

RECAP: If you would have told me the Flames would score the first goal in this game, I wouldn’t would totally have believed you. Corning the Canucks at every turn, there was nowhere to hide. Shawn Matthias would tie it but it really didn’t matter. Michael Ferland hit everything that moved and had the Canucks anticipating his hits all night which…is not good. The electric 18 year old Sam Bennett took a beating all night as well and kept ticking until he scored in the 3rd. 18 years old folks, he’s so resilient.

FOOTNOTE: Alex Burrows took his turn getting ejected for his hit on Johnny Hockey and the fight that followed. It too was rescinded. See a trend here?

Photo - Steve Belski USA TODAY Sports

Photo – Steve Belski USA TODAY Sports

Vancouver has been playing catchup in 2 of the 3 games and it doesn’t bode well for them if they keep it up. We’ve seen how they spot teams leads in the regular season and that doesn’t even seem to be the problem, they just aren’t matching Calgary’s intensity level! The talent is there but the goals aren’t.

Having Kevin Bieksa and Luca Sbisa baking turnovers is really hurting the bottom line as well. Coach Willie should mimic his use of that pairing like he uses the Sedins, not a lot. I still believe in these Canucks but they have to show life or so help me, the Flames will beat them quickly.

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

 

This series is not over yet and the Canucks just need to tap into that “skill” thing. Calgary has upped the ante and Flames Nation will be out in full force. Still saying

Canucks in 6

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

JARKKO POLO: Clinching, Clenching, VRBAWESOME!

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are just over a week away and every game’s importance is magnified tenfold. The Vancouver Canucks went into last week with quite the task: away games against the Blues, Preds, Hawks and Jets and hopefully enough points to keep Calgary and Los Angeles at bay. The results were actually surprising except for the patented two goal deficits….they made their return.

You have to love the midwest road games; early start times mean you are just leaving work when they get going so you HAVE to PVR them to see it from start to finish. I have two little girls so I’ve PVR’d 3/4 of the season anyways, and I said I never would. RIGHT. The Blues were first up and despite their record, they aren’t as good as they show. The Canucks played them amazingly well and got what they came for. Nashville was without Shea Weber and James Neal but they still managed to give the Canucks a full 65 + min. A showdown with the Blackhawks just ended up being too much for the Canucks.

Finally, the Nucks went to the ‘Peg and I really thought that game was going to end different.

Let’s see how our boys faired:

THE GAMES WE PLAYED

@ St. Louis Blues – WIN 4-1 (Who’s singing the blues now?)

RECAP: A rare game that the Canucks didn’t give up the opening goal, they played the Blues hard and proved they can hang with the top teams. I don’t believe the Blues ARE a top team but their record says they are. Shawn Matthias got back on the scoreboard this week with a tight feed from Chris Tanev to give the Canucks the opening marker. Nick Bonino and Radim Vrbata both had goals with Alex Burrows adding an empty netter and the Canucks actually owned the Blues 4-1.

Have to like that start to the week!

@ Nashville Predators – WIN 5-4 in a shootout (AWFUL REFEREEING ALERT!)

RECAP: I’m just going to cut and paste this line from another game. The Canucks went down 2-0 in the first and Nashville looked like they might have the Canucks on the ropes. Here’s where the next cut and paste job comes; Vancouver ties it up in the second and wouldn’t you know it, they go ahead too! Linden Vey and Jannik Hansen netted some huge goals to get things going and King Clutch Alex Burrows scored a shorty breakaway to tie it up early in the third. Chris Higgins would put the Nucks ahead but not before Eddie Lack let in the tying goal late.

An absolute screwjob of a call against Burrows on Paul Gaustad got him ejected along with Kevin Bieksa for one can only assume taunting, but who calls that really? The Nucks had to kill off a 5 min penalty with 4 mins and change left in the game. Eddie Lack played lights out and got Vancouver to the shootout with Vrbata and Bonino scoring the goals that won it for Vancouver.

Despite the awful officiating, it was a great game.

@ Chicago Blackhawks – LOSE 3-1 (They are who we thought they were)

RECAP: This one plain and simple was not the Canucks night. The opportunities were there and blue collar Derek Dorsett gave the Canucks hope tying the game up late in the first period, but Corey Crawford proved too much for the Vancouver offense and absolutely stole the two points for Chicago. Patrick Kane is still injured and he is a huge loss to the Hawks but man, Chicago is still an amazing team! If the Canucks make the playoffs and they should, they will have to bury their chances because the goaltending only gets better in the spring.

Eddie Lack is only so good so his defense in front of him has to make their assignments and stick to them. Chicago is a good measuring stick of what the Canucks should expect from every team. They play hard, roll four lines and have timely goaltending. We all can’t wait for April 15 but the Canucks need to fill some holes if they want to play in May and June.

@ Winnipeg Jets – LOSE 5-3 (Nail Biter Central)

RECAP: I probably made mention of the Canucks going down 2-0 in this game before the puck dropped so when it happened I could only laugh. Here’s my take from the Jets/Canucks game on canucksarmy.com:

MY TAKE

Those Canucks are still at 95 points, the Kings thumped the Oilers two nights ago 8-2 to gain some ground and they still have a BEAUUUUUUUUTY matchup on Monday so I’m guessing the Canucks take care of business today to swing things in their favour. The Jets will not lay down for the Canucks – no sir – so giving up the patented 2 goal start may not end the same way again. Canucks need this one. Need it big. 3-1 Canucks is my prediction. – canucksarmy.com

 The Canucks, true to their play, obviously came back to tie it and we figured it would be last goal wins. It almost was. Ondrej Pavelec was great and made some saves he had no business making. Henrik and Daniel both put goals in the net, Vrbata hit the scoresheet a few times and Alex Burrows did his thing late in the third to get the game close.

The Canucks lost this one but in doing so, they helped keep the LA Kings back as the Jets got 2 points they desperately needed. Sometimes you have to take one for the team and we’ll know next Sunday if it all paid off and the Canucks don’t have to face LA.

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

FINAL THOUGHTS

Going 2-2 this week was actually a good week. Real good? Well I dunno Willie. Some lessons were learned and it looks like Ryan Miller may be closer to returning than we thought. Doubt he does factor in before the playoffs but you never know. Hopefully Zack Kassian and Brad Richardson come back soon; their presence is needed. This is the final week of the regular season and I can’t wait! Final games against LA, Arizona and the lowly Edmonton Oilers will close out the season. I predict 3 for 3 and its awesome sauce time!

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When It’s Not A Conspiracy Anymore

The title suggests the Canucks are victims of an ongoing conspiracy theory to royally job them; that isn’t the case.  We all have our theories about how the refs are out to get the Canucks or how the league has it in for them. Maybe its payback for missed calls (Burrows/Auger) or the need to have a scapegoat to show the league is “serious” now (Bertuzzi/Moore). 

Tonight’s call or lack thereof really had me shaking my head not just because it was the Canucks, but that the NHL’s officiating needs a serious overhaul. We all remember the replacement refs in the NFL and the infamous “touchdownerception” between the Packers and Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Once that glaring error was made, everyone knew it was time to get serious and bring in the pros.

The one problem we all continue to point out is that the NHL is watered down with too many teams and players that might not even be in the league if they contracted down to say 28 or even 26. Same can be said for referrees. As fast as this game is, these refs are trained to call it at a professional level. Do all these new additions to the league not have the stones to call a proper game? Seeing no call after Alex Burrows ran into Paul Gaustad was fine. Its the continued play that followed by the Canucks taking the puck up ice and eventually Nashville getting possession to get a whistle that started the debate. 

OK, first there is NO CALL! Immediately Kevin Bieksa is given the game misconduct for who knows what. Then, they give Burrows 5 and a game for his hit, WHICH WASN’T EVEN CALLED! The fact this all happened in the first place was a call for concern, adding to this all was that there was less than 5 minutes left in the game and it was tied. Unless it was a legitimate call to begin with and was warranted, you can’t have a game decided or potentially decided by the referrees. You just can’t.

The Canucks killed off the lengthy 5 minute penalty including part of overtime and were able to pull ahead in the shootout. A good ending to a horrific final frame.

The conspiracy is not on the Canucks, its a lack of true professionalism by the zebras calling every game. If you don’t see it, you can’t call it. Unfortunately, this will get worse as the playoffs begin and will basically cease to exist come the Stanley Cup Final; Canucks fans know this all to well.

When the NHL went into its 2nd lockout back in 2004-05, many called it a bush league. Its sure looking that way again. Don’t ruin the product because you want to look good for the boss. Stand up for what you see, don’t back down. Yes, the Canucks have been jobbed a fair amount of times; but they’re not the only ones believe you me.

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JARKKO POLO: Canucks Week of Jan 12/15

Amazing the difference a week makes. Going in, it was a nice roadie to start out in Smashville with the Preds on top of the pops. Two weak teams later on should have topped up the points category and hopefully all would be right again. Well, Nashville didn’t treat the Canucks very nicely but Ryan Miller’s “sickness” motivated the team after that. Here is, the week that was Jan 12.

Coming off losses to Roberto Luongo’s Panthers as well as the Calgary Flames; the Canucks seemed a bit deflated in the obvious area of, wait for it: SCORING! Yes, it’s been an up and down battle this year putting pucks in the net. Lately, it’s been feast or famine so no one really knows how to gauge what’s happening. One minute its Linden Vey with the breaking and the awaying, Radim Vrbata with the goal/stare tactics, the next moment Vancouver is being outshot one Vegas bachelor party to DD’ing on the long weekend.

Would a road trip fix the Canucks woes? The red hot Predators hosted Vancouver and early on, it wasn’t close. Pucks just went in. Going down 2-0 early hurts. Things haven’t gone well lately and digging a hole like that is counter productive. Alex Edler is looking great this year and put his name on the score sheet, but that is as much as they’d get. The Canucks lost 5-1 but they left Nashville doing some damage to the Preds; Pekke Rinne was injured by Chris Higgins in the crease in the 3rd and will be out for a bit. If you don’t let us score, we’re gonna make you pay.


credit – nhl.com

Ok so things are bad mmmmkay? On to Philly! Well, the sick Ryan Miller was ready to test his health and baaaaasically put on a clinic. Before we get started, just wanna say God bless Shawn Matthias. This guy is doing everything right this year and is giving the Canucks life when they may not have it. The Luongo deal is slowly panning out, same can’t be said for the Kassian/Hodgson cluster. Ok, so Vancouver pressed early and it all got started with, how shall I put this, the dirty Bonino spinoramawesome goal. I don’t know if that was supposed to happen or whatever but I can watch it over and over again.

Hank the tank was feeling a little “tipsy” and potted goal numero deux of the night and it seemed like things were happening, they were. Radim “the dream” Vrbata scored from his office in the 2nd followed by Jannik Hansen’s breakaway goal. Its weird to keep saying that. Addition to Vrby, he scores from that spot, keep getting him the puck, its not a coincidence. Miller was amazing and really earned the shutout. People like him now.


credit – nhl.com

Finally, the boys in blue made their way to Carolina. Vancouver likes Carolina. This one had a rough start, but thanks to Ryan Miller, Riley Nash and a bit of luck, the Canucks took a poorly outplayed first and parlayed it into an onslaught on the second. Always the goal scorer, Derek Dorsett had a beautiful break and put home goal number one in the second period. These outlet feed passes are becoming a thing for some reason and all 3 Canucks goals actually came off them. Did I mention Shawn Matthias was amazing?

He had his standard drive the net, don’t let Zack Kassian see, move and put it behind Cam Ward. He is so much fun to watch and I think if the naysayers get their way and the Kass man is shipped out, Shawn Matthias might get a bump up in the lineup. Maybe we aren’t pumping his tires enough, Roberto?

Alex Burrows got the final tally on a slapperoo and that was it. Ryan Miller recorded back to back ROAD shutouts on back to back nights for the first time in Canucks history.


credit – canucks.com

A good week all in all and how better to start the following week but a date with our ex, Roberto Luongo with his new suitor. Canucks are coming on just in time for All Star weekend and the slump buster may have sparked the fire they needed. Now go beat the Panthers, the tears are over!

Jarkko………..POLO!!

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Canucks Win Two In A Row: Tom Sestito Wins Lottery

That escalated quickly! The game of hockey has it’s ups and downs and the Canucks are a prime example of that. Monday night, Vancouver throttled the Arizona Coyotes 7-1 at Rogers Arena. The previous game against Calgary went to OT but the Canucks snuck out a beauty from the stick of Chris Tanev. Losses were mounting, systems felt flawed and the bounces weren’t bouncing but if you play YOUR game consistently it’s bound to come back.

As for Tomplay me or trade meSestito, he finally got his wish: he played. He looked a little rusty on the score sheet however, with every player but him getting a point. He did shoot back with this gem though:

Oh Tom, you can stay, you’re funny.

It was a night of slump busters up and down the lineup; Alex Burrows potted two goals and fought hard to try for three, Kevin Bieksa redeemed his penalty by coming out of the box and netting a slick one, Daniel Sedin did a goal score and rounding out the fun, so did Matthias, Richardson and Higgins. Everyone had a point except Sestito, but really, who’s surprised?

What a game to get back some positivity! Canucks fans get to feel good going into the Christmas break with a two game win streak and every line getting back to their scoring ways. A new line comprised of Burrows, Bo Horvat and Derek Dorsett fit right away and seemed to energize the once surefire Burrows.

The Sedins got back to being productive as well and gave some hope to coach Willie D that things are about to get better. Does this mean Vancouver is about to make a run? Probably not, but when the Canucks roll 4 lines, they are a force to be reckoned with.

Sitting 6th in the West after Monday, the Canucks still need to build on that fortune they have created. Anaheim has taken over the position Vancouver once held and it won’t be easy to get back there.

Even though the Canucks beat the Coyotes, they can’t fight the moonlight…..that’s Tom Sestito’s job.

Just couldn’t resist the Coyote Ugly reference.

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