arizona coyotes

Rockets’ Nick Merkley Turning Heads Again After Surgery

Almost a year ago, Nick Merkley was dealt a pretty devastating blow after being drafted by the Arizona Coyotes that past June and then tearing his ACL in February in a game against the Spokane Chiefs. It was the kind of injury that couldn’t have come at a worse time as his team was gearing up for another run in the playoffs and having been drafted, it was a chance to show what he could be to the Coyotes.

Life throws some interesting curves.

Fast forward to this year and Merkley’s rehab from his injury was slow going. He was getting the proper conditioning and treatment down in Arizona and when it was time to come back to Kelowna, everyone felt he was good to go. The thing is, ACL’s don’t just “heal”. It’s a pretty significant injury that can affect how a player in any sport reacts going forward.

Unless you happen to be Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings (a superhuman, basically) you probably will have a longer healing period to get back to the point you were producing, if at all.

Upon returning to Kelowna, Merkley had a slow start which should have been expected. In his first 10 games this season, Nick racked up a paltry goal and 4 assists, with his first goal coming in his 10th game back. Including that 10th game, Merkley went on to score 6 times and added 2 assists in his next 6 games.

It wasn’t just the production on the score sheet, but the way in which he got back to what he did best. Merkley fought the puck a lot to start the year and it was pretty visible that his frustration caused him to clinch the stick a bit tighter and get away from the thinking game he dominated so much. You no doubt have heard me sing his praises since his rookie campaign, and for good reason: he’s amazingly talented.

As this season has gone forward, Nick has put the team on his back many nights and just when opponents tried to get on his, he brought “the swivel” back into his game and quite frankly, there aren’t many players that I’ve watched in any league that can execute that shake like he can.

Maybe not one of his best, but the success rate he has with that move is almost 100%.

Watching Merkley perfect the little things is what excites me the most, his shot seems to be more on point and his passing game is once again becoming a strong suit. He still is a little choosy when dishing the puck but he rarely disappoints when the puck hits his team mate’s stick, maybe you’ve seen this one already?

Despite the losses his Kelowna Rockets team has endured lately, Merkley has put up 8 points in his last 10 and with rookie Nolan Foote being out for an extended amount of time, Dillon Dube, Tomas Soustal and Calvin Thurkauf being away at the World Juniors and now Kole Lind and Cal Foote strutting their stuff at the Top Prospects Game, there have been many nights where Merkley has had to step up and represent the “A” on his shoulder.

Many of these players have been getting more publicity in the media lately as they have their own stories to be told but Nick has been evermore the continual beast on the ice and looks to prove his doubters wrong (if there are even any) that an ACL can’t hold him back. His late first round spot also serves as a chip to show the rest of the NHL what they are missing out on.

In his rookie season, I stated he had the hockey mind of Wayne Gretzky. Super, bold statement, I know. I am not comparing the two as equals as a whole and there will definitely be someone that will want to destroy me for even uttering those words but watching him think out the game in real-time is amazing to watch.

You can tell he knows where the puck will end up because either he’s there shooting it or another Rocket has the puck creating a scoring chance off his pass. It’s a shame that Nick wasn’t able to showcase himself at the World Junior tournament the last two years but it only serves to motivate him in his quest to be an NHLer.

Breaking down his distribution of points, of his 22 assists this year, Merkley’s has 18 primary assists, 1 back of first on the team. He accounts for 7.87% of the Kelowna Rockets’ total team points which ranks 4th on the team and his percentage of total goals created is 4th with 21.94%. As far as the power play goes, 75% of his goals are produced on the man advantage, which is tops on the Rockets this season. Shame to see him out of the lineup, although with the staggering amount of penalties the Rockets take, 812 total PIM and 16.2 PIM/GM (both tops in the WHL), the power play isn’t exactly out that much.

No longer having Rourke Chartier as his linemate, Merkley’s rediscovered how to be self-sufficient and at the same time put his stick in a position to help the rest of his team out. Having Thurkauf on his line is a treat as they just know how to feed off of each other. The open ice hits have come back as well to Merk’s arsenal and he’s proving he isn’t a one-trick pony.

Kelowna will have to get their problems figured out if they’re going to have any kind of success this postseason and Nick Merkley will once again be a major reason they achieve extended success. Surgery hasn’t silenced Merkley, in fact, it’s awoken the beast.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – kelownarockets.com

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NHL Breathes Sigh of Relief; Can NOW Tell Sedins Apart

Wow, I don’t think anyone ever saw this coming – Daniel, let alone ANY, Sedin getting facially disfigured. We all felt it, it was awkward, painful and terrifyingly real. Daniel Sedin had a puck batted into his face by Michael Stone and he lost a few chicklets…and it was gruesome! But lost in all this is the giant sigh of relief the rest of the NHL felt when they were FINALLY able to distinguish Daniel Sedin from Henrik Sedin.

Not unlike many famous twins (Mary Kate and Ashley, Tia and Tamara from Sister/Sister, Jaleel White and Urkel, Khloe and Kim Kardashian and of course Lindsay Lohan and her twin in The Parent Trap), its no secret that over the years, many players, coaches and media alike have found it impossible to identify which Sedin is which. Tough task I know. It took me at least 5-6 seasons to really get a grasp on it but eventually I came up with a system and now I’m a Sedin Identifier extraordinaire!

First of all here’s the vid:

 

Its bad right?

Twitter exploded and did things only the Twitter can do when such an event takes place; obvious, somewhat unviewable things:

Ugh, that was real!

So how does one separate one Sedin from the other? Well now we have some pretty solid evidence and that makes it easy; but before the first period of Monday night’s game against the Coyotes, what where the key features? Well, you don’t come to this blog for stats, OK sometimes you do and I half deliver. You came here for a smidgen of humour and life lessons to carry out and share with your friends. I have none, so I’m relying on you to enjoy this with your circle.

These are the important ones to remember:

  • The Numbers – Henrik Sedin wears #33 on the ice and Daniel wears #22. Kinda easy I know but you can’t always see the namebars on the back. They’re so fast sometimes that the blur just doesn’t translate properly and you don’t want to spend 30 min on your PVR slowing it down just to make it out. But what if they’re NOT playing hockey, at a PR function requiring them to wear jerseys or you’re relying on NHL.com to give you the proper stock photo when you type their name?
  • Standing/Scoring situations – Google this, I’m right. Daniel…stands on the left in almost every photo whilest Henrik is on the right. Agreement since birth? Not too sure, I’ve never asked; but it does make you wonder….what are they hiding?

See? blogs.theprovince.com

blogs.theprovince.com

blogs.theprovince.com

See?
blogs.theprovince.com

 

 

 

 

 

  • Serious one though – jaw lines. Daniel has a much narrower jaw line and Henrik a little bit rounder. It affects their facial structure and that is one of my biggest tells on them. Tough one to figure out but its a good one considering they have identical facial hair and everything else.
  • Trophies – Henrik was the first one to win a major NHL trophy; Daniel had to wait a year to equal at the very least Henriks Art Ross award. Henrik, although very subtly, walks with a bit more swagger because of this. He’s not cocky about it but people close to them can tell. I just heard about it.

Ok, so you think you have these Sedins figured out? Here’s a fun little quiz to see if you really know them. Let me know how you do.

 This tweet from Daniel Monday night says it all.

  
Follow me on twitter: @always90four

 JARKKO POLO: 101 Reasons To Love The Final Week

This Canucks season has been all kinds of different; new coaches, GM, prez, goalie, no kes and Ronalds FREAKIN Kenins. Making the playoffs would have been welcome but not expected. I really don’t think we could have expected the current team to be as productive as it has. Its kind of like the Fast and the Furious series; the first one was great, but knowing how sequels go you usually expect a letdown. This year was like Furious 7 (which I have not seen yet but heard its awesome), seems like just another sequel but it rocks your world. That being said, we get to find out HOW productive they can really be.

Going into the final week, the Canucks had an opportunity to clinch at some point after failing to do so the week prior. Monday we played the Kings and dubbed it “the biggest game of the season” and boy was it! Thursday the Coyotes came to town and didn’t put up much of a fight. On Saturday, not gonna lie, I was watching the Kelowna Rockets attempt to dismantle the Victoria Royals in game 2 of the WHL Western Semis. But we played the Oilers and boy oh boy do the Canucks like a good story.

So here it is, the final week of the regular season – JARKKO…..POLO!

THE GAMES WE PLAYED (started week at 95 points)

Vs. Los Angeles Kings – MONSTER WIN  2-1 SHOOTOUT

RECAP: We all figured this one would be epic, it would essentially decide if the Canucks or Kings would make it to the post season on top of what the rest of the week would mean. In typical Canucks fashion, they went down 1-0 to Dwight King and would have to battle hard to get anything. Eddie Lack and Jonathan Quick were fetch on this night, no they were other wordly. There were a handful of saves that Quick, one would assume, guessed/fluked on, he was that good. As any good story goes, late in the third Henrik came down the left side, started to turn around the net and dished what can only be described as a telepathic drop pass to Daniel, which in turn opened up quite the spot for Daniel to wire a laser top shelf past Quick.

NOW AT 97 POINTS

Not only did this one need OT, it went to the famous shoootout which believe it or not the Canucks are actually good at this year. Once again, both goalies not letting anything by. Chris Higgins would make good on his post shot earlier in the game and put one past Quick for the game winner! The fans chanted “Eddie, Eddie, Eddie” after Lack’s monster performance and the Canucks beat the Kings for a second time, this one way more dramatic.

BREAKING NEWS!!!!! KINGS LOSE 4-1 TO OILERS, CANUCKS CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT!!!

Vs. Arizona Coyotes – WIN 5-0 (Hammer Time)

RECAP: It was all Vancouver in this one. Penalties cost the Yotes big time and in a meaningless game for them, the Canucks had home ice on their minds. Brother Daniel put his name on the score sheet with a difficult tip shot in front to put the Nucks up 1-0. Ronalds Kenins found the back of the net next on a nice drag move around Mike Smith. Then it was the powerplay that took over; Yannick “Don’t Call Me Shea” Weber BLASTED two consecutive bombs past Smith from inside the blue line to put the Canucks up a whopping 4-0!

The game had one more nice story as well; Dan Hamhuis put on quite the little dangle earlier in the game but didn’t score. He looked like he did when they panned to him on the bench.

With three minutes and change left, the Canucks got one more PP and Hamhuis got his first goal of the season on the second last game of the year. 5-buzz Canucks.

NOW AT 99 POINTS

Vs. Edmonton Oilers – WIN 6-5 OT THRILLER

RECAP: With the Flames losing to the Jets in spectacular fashion earlier in the day, the Canucks secured home ice advantage for the first round against those same Flames. In basically a meaningless game, it was one final tune up before the big dance. Gino Odjick was honoured on Fan Appreciation Night and the fans showed their support for one of Vancouver’s greats.

Last game of the season or not, the Canucks finished up in style. Spotting the Oilers THREE 2 goal leads,  they would come back each time. Daniel Sedin scored yet again but couldn’t catch Jamie Benn for the Art Ross, he needed about 12 more points. Second best Sven ever for the Canucks, Baertschi, lit the lamp twice, Hansen got back into it as did Bieksa.

Ryan Miller started this game and gave up two goals about 20 seconds apart half way through the first period. The Canucks didn’t exactly help his cause but at the end of it all, the blue and green prevailed. Nucks forced OT in this 11 goal affair and Alex Edler tapped in a 2 on 1 pass from Daniel to end it all.

FINISHES AT 101 POINTS!!!! Not bad for a team led by the washed up Sedins.

 

3 THINGS FROM TWITTER

Photoshops have taken over this season in the Canucks twitter world, also known as PSHAPS. This week’s 3TFT is dedicated to that.

 

So the regular season is over and now its on to the Stanley Cup Playoffs! Canucks/Flames round 1 starts Wednesday. We’ve all waited apparently 23 months to be back here, hopefully it was worth the wait. The last time the Canucks played the Flames in the playoffs, Jarkko was actually involved, so its fitting you read this post this week.

JARKKO………….POLO!!

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