eddie lack

New Year, More Problems, Same Canucks and a Camel Story

2015 sure was a bizarre year for the Canuck faithful. It really gave us the highs and lows of a team in transition and that isn’t always fun. As the clock strikes midnight, which it definitely will ya doomsdayers,  we look back at the year that was and pout. The beginning of the year gave us some of that hope stuff people talk about and we liked Willie Desjardins and applauded his decision making, I think? We could see the potential of Eddie Lack as the true starter and Bo Horvat quickly became “the next one”. But then the playoffs.

Radim Vrbata wasn’t his normal staring self, he went invisible like a straight to dvd sequel of Serendipity starring Joan Cusack and probably Nic Cage because he’s doing stuff like that now. Luca Sbisa was internet infamous, Sbizza actually was just between us (he seriously didn’t even know) and we had no answer to NHL super enforcer Michal Ferkland (sp?) Ferglund? Ferland. There, got it.

Will anything change or will the Canucks stay the same?

After the Lameoffs all of that changed for the worse when we shipped away fan favourite Eddie Lack to Carolina, Nick Bonino to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter (still don’t really like that one…for either team), had the news that Ryan Miller COULD have been traded and Frankie Corrado was waived. That all sounds like doom and gloom but it isn’t entirely.

Breakout defender and twitter sensation by hashtag anyways, Ben Hutton aka #HUTTONmania, earned a spot on the big club and hasn’t given any reason to relinquish it. He’s been a welcome sight on the back end and with some patience and guidance, he could be the offensive version of Chris Tanev. We like Tanev.

Rookies Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen both made the team as well and all of Canucks land was a fluster. Could the Canucks truly be rebuilding? Is this the time we finally see the young guys work their way into stardom? Not exactly. Jared McCann is still largely between Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust and even though its a learning curve, they’re duds.

You would never put a camel in a grizzly farm and say “hey camel, be a grizzly!” Not gonna happen. That camel can only be a camel; but if you put that camel with other camels at the camel farm, he can be a …..totally wrong analogy. I really don’t know how the camel would get better.

Basically you don’t put a budding offensive centre with 2 plugs. That’s the jist of it. Remember the camel story, that might be huge one day.

Jake Virtanen has time to learn his skill and we will continue to see his development as the year goes on. Not every player can be a Horvat and even Bo isn’t having a great sophomore year. What we have learned is that the team is committed to these guys and at some point, the veterans will start to be phased out.

The Sedins aren’t going anywhere and at 35, they still look as amazing as they did years ago. Sure, there’s a miss here and there but with 37 and 33 points, Daniel and Henrik Sedin respectively, are every bit as effective as they once were; the down side is that they’re the only ones….ok them and Jannik Hansen.

Speaking of the Great Dane, Jannik Hansen is alive once more with the sound of (whatever the heck his goal song is). Salvaging good story lines has been tough this calendar year but he of Danish origins has kept the Sedins fresh. Once on the rumoured trade block, Hansen has finally seen his game elevate and has brought worth to a team project a few years in the making. Good to see.

With all this, there are low lights like the distribution of minutes amongst players that shouldn’t even be in the lineup, the decision to keep important players out of the lineup, not keeping the goaltending tandem fresh with quality starts by each and an absolute failure to address the scoring needs this team so desperately has.

How Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce and Alex Grenier AREN’T on the club yet, I’ll never know. Chris Higgins isn’t what he used to be and is ready to maybe not be put to pasture but maybe let him outside for a run and don’t lock the gate. Dorsett and Prust are not #MUST guys and they don’t look like they will be anytime soon.

Anyone putting in a quality effort seems to suffer because the other lines are being misused. The Canucks also aren’t very big so the ability for them to be literal pushovers is alarming.

As the year turns to 2016, the Canucks haven’t really changed their direction a whole lot and maybe thats just the fan in me saying that. They definitely have made transitional moves and I guess the team is quite different from a year ago but nothing says they’re going to be better or more competitive than they have been.

In 2016 Mr. Benning, Desjardins and Linden, please know that we’re willing to wait for this ship to turn itself around, but give us a reason to be hopeful. Clearly we’ve waited THIS long so just be fair to us, that’s all we/I ask.

Happy New Year for Always90four

Also, remember the camel story.

 

Canucks Are Kinda The Phantom Menace

Positive – I just saw the new Star Wars movie. It was pretty good. Some cheese but building basically a new story isn’t easy. Its been a few years since Episode VI so you can forgive them a bit. 

Negative – The Canucks can’t seem to figure out what it is they’re doing. Are they destined to tank and get Auston Matthews, he of Zurich fame? Or will they continue to part together this team and hang by a thread like Luke Skywalker’s hand did in the Empire Strikes Back? Sweet reference hey?

How do these both tie together? The Canucks are basically Episode I – The Phantom Menance. Everyone couldn’t wait to see the rebuild, the how it all began or in the Canucks case, will begin; but sadly once people saw it, they realized it wasn’t all that good and everyone wondered if the franchise would get any better….or if this was the new suck they would have to endure.

A long time ago, in a salary cap era far, far away…

 

The 2013-2016 Canucks existed. There were questionable draft picks, questionable trades, questionable signings and ROCK SOLID CRITICISM at every turn. This has always been the norm in Canuckland but lately it seemed every decision was getting harder and harder to make. Was this team really that bad? Or are they a victim of injuries, some bad roster moves and an inability to see the forest for the very near trees?

Jim Benning and Trevor Linden have done some things that would make you scratch your head: trading for Derek Dorsett, Brandon Prust and Brandon Sutter are a few of those things. Signing those same players PLUS Luca Sbisa, Linden Vey to not very good contracts as well as waiving what seemed to be up and coming defenseman Frank Corrado are also things that happened. If you’re shaking your head even with no numbers in front of you, odds are your neck hurts.

This has and will continue to be a season of “Will they or won’t they” draft Auston Matthews with the first overall pick and it also is joined very tightly by the question of will this team lose out in the first round of the playoffs? As of today, both are very real possibilities which should frighten everyone. How can a team be so bad that they pick first overall but good enough, albeit, in a Wham!’s greatest hits (awful) of a division to hang around in the playoff hunt?

In two words – The Sedins.

No matter how hard this team seems to botch the opportunities they get, the Sedins always seem to be there to bail them out, usually in droves. Jannik Hansen is the latest benefactor of their talents and he’s having a career year, it’s no joke. The rest of this team is struggling to even possess a cold body that the crime lab could identify dental records from; they’re basically a skeleton.

The word “tank” comes up so much but no respectable athlete will ever tank. It’s not in their DNA. No one likes to lose. What the Canucks have in front of them though is a losing lineup. Injuries to star players, and I use that term quite lightly, Dan Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Ryan Miller and Chris Tanev (OK he’s actually a star) have hampered the team to the point of starting Linden Vey, Linden Vey and unbenchable Alex Biega.

Other decisions however, put the team in a position to lose all on its own. Starting Linden Vey in place of Adam Cracknell against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night is dumb. Does Vey really bring that much physical impact to a game that benching the only guy even putting in a visible effort on that line makes sense? It’s beyond me. That’s on the coach.

These decisions, however minuscule add up and eventually may be the reason the Vancouver Canucks are proud to select from Somewheres, Arizona…Auston Mat…you get the point.

I have long supported this team, even with the decisions that have been made and I still believe there is some grand plan. What I don’t get is the path on how they plan on getting there. Finding out a trade was available for Ryan Miller to be shipped is shocking; Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom would have been an entertaining tandem until Thatcher Demko was ready to take the throne.

Giving in to Ryan Kesler’s demands and sending him to Anaheim when, if you really think about it, Chicago wouldn’t have been that much worse seems like a forced hand move. I don’t know what the return is on any given team for the players Benning wanted gone, but there has to be better options than what he received.

Thankfully there are bright spots, like the Phantom Menace, that keep us interested. Only recently have some of these come to light; take for example the Sven Baertschi line and what it’s produced. There hasn’t been a whole lot of actual “production” but the Baertschi/Horvat/Vrbata line since its brief inception around the beginning of December has netted those three a combined CF% of 59.4. Stunning!

George Lucas had to start somewhere and we got to see how cool pod racing was and the force, the force was there.

The goals haven’t arrived in particular but their opportunities have increased immensely. The Kings hammered the Canucks on Monday 5-buzz but guys like Baertschi have started to make an impact both physically and offensively. I believe its a matter of time before this line catches extreme heat. I’m rarely wrong, ask anyone.

Jared McCann is also a bright spot and carrying guys like Dorsett and Prust can’t be easy. This guy has had to endure awful linemates while his faceoff talents go to waste. He too will rise up the depth chart soon enough.  Being stuck with two Jar Jar Binks can only last so long before they axe those characters.

Playing out the games right now is all that they can do. A trade might be on the horizon but gifting a prospect or someone who can actually help the future isn’t the way to do it. This team might in fact go all the way to last place and if it does we should be ok with that. What isn’t OK is all the knee jerk reactions that come with it.

The coach can only ice what he’s given, the GM what is made available to him through trade or other. In the mean time, the Canucks will still struggle and that is all part of the process. It’s not fun most nights but it’s still a process.

Like Star Wars, it didn’t really get good until Episode IV.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Ryan Miller And Chill

I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I still don’t know what that means. I don’t even have Netflix so the reference is lost on me. That being said I DO know one thing for sure: I may be wrong about Ryan Miller and its safe to say most of you are too! After 3 games this year he has posted an impressive 3-0-1 and 1 shutout (LA) along with a chipper 1.21 GAA and .955 SA%

This just in: Ryan Miller is very good at the puck stopping.

Miller seemed like a decent signing a year ago as the Canucks were looking for a new #1 goalie to mentor Eddie Lack and win the big games. Well, last season didn’t exactly go Miller’s way and late in the season it was questioned if he should even BE a Canuck. Pretty harsh criticism but quite typical in a market that can turn on their goalies after a bad pumpkin spice latte.

When Miller was bowled over by Jannik Hansen in a game against the Islanders last year, it gave then back up Eddie Lack the keys to a very touchy sports car which he did not want to relinquish after a phenomenal spring. As Ryan Miller neared return, the question was does he deserve the net back?

All in all, he came back but the Canucks were far from ready for anyone to be the goalie as they couldn’t even hold their own up front with the Calgary Flames completely outplaying the Canucks in round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So what is so different from last year’s start that gives us hope this season? As of now, not a whole lot. Miller posted a solid 16-4 record to start his season, with 3 shutouts and 3 one goal games. It seems that even in Canuck nation if we aren’t awarded a Stanley Cup (which they’ve never won) after every win, the team fell short.

Kinda ridiculous but that’s how we roll.

In comparison, Roberto Luongo’s first season in Vancouver wasn’t exactly the best season ever in his first 20. OK, we all know he played lights out almost the whole season, finished a win shy of the NHL record and was robbed of both a Vezina and a Hart trophy, but I digress.
Luongo posted a 10-9-1 record in the 2006/07 season after his first 20 games but considering the team had to be almost all defense, his performances took on a life of its own.

Like Luongo, Miller came from the Eastern Conference and had to learn a whole new travel system, a whole new coaching system and a conference that is Fast and Furious 8, seven days a week. Miller did have a stop over in St. Louis for 19 games and then was easily knocked out of the playoffs in 6. He, like Justin Trudeau “just wasn’t ready” for the West quite yet. But he figured it out.

Ryan Miller isn’t exactly that type of cat though; he’s very chill, possibly even….Miller Chill? I would guess lime because its the best of the chill drinks one would assume. He is a gamer like any other top goalie, he puts his jock strap on one loop at a time and after playing in Buffalo for so long, a bit of angst is allowed. He’s played in some pretty big games, most notably in 2010 in the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Olympics in which he gave up the winning goal to Sidney Crosby on Canadian ice. He continued to impress that same year taking home the Vezina as the top goaltender in the NHL.

But back to him being awesome in Vancouver.

Miller time has once again made an appearance and this time around, Canucks fans seem to be warming up to the guy. He isn’t any more approachable, he still clings to the “team game” mentality when conducting interviews and even WITH the injury to Jacob Markstrom and having Richard Bachman as his backup, he still plays like it’s his job to lose.

Good on you Miller!

Millsy as his team mates probably call him is building confidence with a very fragile fan base and the defenders in front of him are making his job quite easy. But in case they do screw up, he’s been every bit an all star as rookie dman Ben Hutton. Roberto did it with more swagger but maybe we need a guy that just plays net for a living? I’m not sure if that actually was a question but imma roll with it.

Miller Chill is just that; he doesn’t seem to panic when the puck frenzy is in front of him. He just goes about his business and he focuses on just stopping the puck. Seems like an obvious deal there but making the save that stops the play is just as important as keeping the first few out of the net. Its rebound control 101.

It is kinda weird that even with Eddie Lack, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider all gone from Vancouver, we actually are at the point of embracing a goalie because he just plays for his team and goes home. Better late than never to have a revived career and it looks like he might even get better, wouldn’t that be nice?

We welcome your chillness Ryan Miller, we welcome it with two arms and an approval looking nod. You signed on for 3 years in a city that you knew could possibly hate you after 1 month, but there was enough money on the table that you figured “Hey, hate doesn’t hurt if I don’t acknowledge it”. Bad theory to go on but he has stepped his game up and the team in front of him seems to have done the same thing.

Miller doesn’t need fancy stats, zone entry data, corsis or even tacos to be successful. For that you should go on over to Canucks Army.  Come to think of it, I don’t either but here I am writing about these things (actually I’m only writing about the words fancy stats, zone entry data and corsis) and I don’t need to be flashy or swaggered out.

After only 3 games, a handful of media and fans have anointed Ryan Miller the MVP of the season and what could be better? The answer is the Stanley Cup but maybe lets not jump the shark quite yet. I can’t believe I’m saying this but even Luca Sbisa is playing better this year and that can only mean great things for Ryan Miller…and rookie sensation Ben Hutton. But this isn’t about them, its about the guy with the bulldog on the back of his mask.

So lets all Miller Chill with Ryan Miller and let him do his thing. Let’s let this season materialize organically and see how everything pans out. What do we have to lose? Not much. What I know is all this guy wants is for Miller to stay chill and maybe a tweet back:

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Follow me and my hilarious taeks (sp?) on twitter: @always90four

Bowness Coverage – Post Draft, Pre Frenzy, Present Disappointment

This past week has really been a circus of emotions but that hasn’t stopped Canucks twitter and pretty much anything with a pulse from having a say. The NHL draft came and went with many storylines dictating the start to the summer, free agency begins July 1st and hopefully there is a shred of happiness that comes with that. Above all else, it seems Jim Benning may have some critics.

Early Saturday morning Eddie Lack was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 3rd round pick and a 7th next year. On Tuesday afternoon the move we all thought was coming before the draft finally happened, but to a team we never expected; Kevin Bieksa is a Mighty Duck in exchange for the Ducks 2nd round pick next year. 

That alone is a big pause for the cause. 

1) The outrage in Canucksland was heard when Lack was moved for a 3rd round pick, many believing he was worth more. Benning was approached with eight offers and Carolina had the best one. What makes me wonder is if that was the best he could do, why trade him at all? 

Going forward why not keep the combo of Lack and Miller? Big deal if Markstrom walks, at the very least they could have moved HIM for a pick. It hasn’t seemed to matter who is in charge of the Canucks when it comes to goaltending, no one has a clue how to approach it. 

By the time Thatcher Demko is ready, Eddie Lack would be finishing off his 3 or 4 year deal and no doubtedly we would have found someone to partner up with Eddie, quite possibly Joe Cannata or someone else in the system. Everyone knew Lack would be able to sign a very cap friendly, team friendly deal and give the Canucks quality goaltending. Miller is our stop gap and with that tandem they could have actually made it work.

The goalie problems will never end in Vancouver, but thats ok, we’re used to it.

2) Just when the summer was about to get real snarly for Kevin Bieksa, Jimbo made the move I guarantee he did not want to do. Canucks South gained another member on Tuesday when Bieksa was sent to Anaheim to join buddy Ryan Kesler.

Benning did secure the 2nd round pick he was asking for, sadly it was the same one San Jose was offering and you wait, it would have been A LOT better. Bieksa is now on one of the most dangerous teams in the league, one that will most likely destroy the Canucks 5+ times next year.

Jimbo did well to get value out of Bieksa before he entered free agency and with all Juice’s injuries its actually a pretty saavy move. Its a shame he didn’t get what he was offered last week, we could be talking about a good player instead of guy that was just there in round 2. But the draft isn’t a sure thing so I give you kudos Mr Benning.

3) Yannick Weber was not qualified by the Canucks this week which begs the question: WHY!!!!? He was one of the few bright spots the Canucks had last year, he actually made a few powerplays worth watching and we actually didn’t care his name wasn’t Shea. How Benning let this guy slip to not even have leverage to oh I dunno keep his rights at least is nuts. 

Am I wavering here? I can’t tell. Maybe Benning has bi polar disorder or schizophrenia? Make one bad move, then one good move then another bad one. By October, there might be nothing left to criticize: we’ll all be dead from sarcasm.

4) On the plus side, Alex Biega and Linden Vey signed, oh and so did Jacob Markstrom. All very cap friendly numbers and maybe all this hair pulling will end up being a good thing? We wanted a rebuild, we wanted the problems gone and in a roundabout way I think Benning might be doing it.

Im not having fun typing those words and by the time free agency is in full swing I could take back everything and call for his head. Being a Canucks fan isn’t easy, being a Canucks armchair GM is even harder.

5) Side bar – Mike Richards may have a very rough ride back to the NHL; and that’s if they even let him back. He was stopped at the border with oxycodone, a very strong pain killer, and with that, the Kings released him. Richards was given a second chance in LA and it looks like thats all he’s getting. How serious is this? We will probably find out in the coming weeks.

6) Kind of got away from the draft so lets get back into it. At pick 23 Nick Merkley, Kelowna Rockets star forward, was NOT picked by the Canucks. I cried for a short time and my wife pretty much wanted me to shut up but as life happens we ended up getting the better version of Mike Fisher aka Mr. Carrie Underwood. 

Brock Boeser is the newest Canucks forward and although I know jack squat about him, it sounds like he is all business, and his business is doing the hockeys. Getting through the hyped up first round was tough and from the looks of things we did better than Boston.

Mr. Minnesota is a 6 foot hulking winger who is a self professed “power forward” that goes to the net and gets dirty in the corners. Maybe we’ll be so busy hoping Zack Kassian turns into Milan Lucic that Boeser will be our diamond driller.

The past few years have been good to the Canucks in the draft and hopefully ol’ Eggs Benny gets lucky from this one. Years from now we may look back and see all of our fortunes started here; I’m wrong a lot so lets not dwell on this. 

7) Going into July 1 there are a few guys the Canucks could take a swing at and even though they aren’t winning a cup soon, they can take a chance on these fellas and maybe parlay them down the road:

Cody Franson – Vancouver is in the mix to bring the BC boy home but he may not come cheap. With Bieksa gone and not having to sign Lack, there may be a few bucks in the kitty to sign this dman. We don’t have what you would call a good defensive core so Franson would definitely help. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Joel Ward – I’ve wanted this guy for probably 4 years now and even though he’s getting older he still has some skill a few of our boys could learn from. He’s beat us around the net when he played for Nashville so we know he gets dirty. Won’t cost tons so he’s potentially affordable. WANT LEVEL – MEDIUM

Mike Green – I guess Washington isn’t home for Mike Green anymore. He’s still a valuable defenseman in many peoples eyes and if he somehow came to Vancouver I’m pretty sure he bounces back. Losing Kevin Bieksa and gaining Mike Green? I like that trade off. WANT LEVEL – HIGH

Johnny Oduya – Something something Stanley Cups. He’s 33 but he’s been to the top of the mountain twice and that might be worth talking about in the dressing room. Is this the direction Benning wants to go though? Maybe a bit more than we need. WANT LEVEL – SEMI MEDIUM

Antoine Vermette/Justin Williams – Doubt either of these guys gets a contract but they are worth talking to. 

8) Is Jim Benning done surprising us? Are there any other guys tha have played their last game in a Canucks jersey? Burrows? Edler? Higgins? Sbisa? Don’t hold your breath, I don’t think we’re done.

9) Pass it to Bulis is done with the Vancouver Sun. Daniel Wagner and Harrison Mooney put me on the Stick in Link feature one Tuesday and the next thing I know I’m the GDT guy for Canucks Army. I owe tons to these two and I can only hope their podcast keeps going and they keep pumping out quality shenanigans. 

SALUTE!

10) I ended on a music feature last time and becaause its summer, this one is no different. Here’s one of my new favorites from an amazing band. I hope Canada Day puts a smile on my face for the hockey fan in me but honestly, spending the day drinking beer, swimming in the sun and painting an apple box with my two little girls is all I need.

Enjoy!

Canucks Draft Weekend Resembles Dumb and Dumber To

As many of you know, I was quite excited for this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The Canucks had a chance to draft WHL superstar Nick Merkley from the Kelowna Rockets and all would be right…in my eyes anyways. That didn’t happen. Everyone had somewhat high hopes as well that GM Jim Benning could potentially right the ship with trades involving Bieksa and Lack and a solid first round choice. What we all expected was what we hoped Dumb and Dumber To to be; we all forgot that sequels rarely deliver and in true Canucks fashion, Vancouver followed suit with that theory; It might be a long summer.

 

Jimbo didn’t have many picks to work with this year after trading away rounds 2 and 3 for Sven Baertschi and the pick that went with Ryan Kesler. One could assume a decent trade would be made for goalie Eddie Lack and a 2nd seemed feasible. Early Saturday morning the hammer dropped and Lack was sent to Carolina for their 3rd and 7th round picks.

The Bieksa trade hit a snag with San Jose over what is to be believed an extension after the move would occur as well as what year the 2nd rounder coming back would be (2016 apparently, not this year’s). A pick that may have done some damage, who knows.

Benning had 8 teams that were putting in offers for Lack but Carolina had the firmest. Harry and Lloyd are even losing interest here.

So why move him at all? I understand the market dictated the price and that is fine, maybe not fair but fine. If the buying price is too low, walk away. Every deal that you get low balled you should walk away. Pretty sure Lack’s value only increases here on out and quite frankly what if Markstrom is a bust?
We all know Lack basically had the most value but once again they make the move for the guy they probably should have kept. If Ryan Miller somehow is traded, unlikely, this fan base will implode. As far as the 2nd we moved to get Baertschi, that can still end up being a good play and I don’t mind waiting there.

Again, why make this move. If he could have been signed long term to a team friendly deal, it just doesn’t make sense.

Even with new blood at the top, it seems the same decisions continue to be made; you all know the ones. What irks me is that they fail to value the WHL which is right in their backyard. In a loaded first round, a guy like Nick Merkley seemed like an easy choice for a team many of us see boat loads of highlights from and know his immediate value.
Benning picked Brock Boesner as our latest star  and although I do not know a ton on him, it sounds like he could be OK. Personal feeling: disappointed, People that know’s feeling: we’ll be alright.

Still not excited yet and after last season’s tortoise like climb I don’t think I will be for awhile.

The Oilers and Flames have clearly gotten better over the last year with the draft culminating what Edmonton and Connor McDavid are about to do and what once was a prime destination for players to come to is now only prime if the money is right. How Vancouver has changed. 

The Canucks can’t rest on their laurels of yesteryear and assume the best is yet to come. They have zero Cups to show for their efforts and at some point this rabid fan base will want to see the return.

Everyone wants the new out of the box thinking GM that has analytics and fancy words, sleep doctors and the like; to me out of the box means refurbished. I don’t want a refurbished GM. I want an ACTUAL GM. We are starting to see Benning was left out of the big boy meetings when it came to final say on players in Boston.

Alright, alright. That’s a bit harsh. His scouting is great and I love that he cares so passionately about seeing guys first hand, but he’s missing out on the important stuff like I dunno locking up the RIGHT guys and not fringe contributors. Looking back, we really like our gently used, not actually GM’s yet…GMs.

Dave Nonis was the first, Gillis was the second and now Benning is number three. The slippery slope may very well continue and its only a matter of time before we are calling for his head. And at that time, it better be for a current or former GM, no more nonsense.

The Canucks are basically treading water and even though 2011 is a far distant memory….i’ll wait, the current situation is nowhere near the team they used to be. Not sure how this is OK with the Aquillinis as an investment. How long is acceptable to wait for the REAL Vancouver Canucks (whatever that is) to be assembled?

I get the feeling that the Canucks are headed towards the excitement of the NEXT generational player like McDavid when they will have a pick inside the top 3 overall Hate to say it, but prove me wrong.

Sorry for the redundant comments but just read what’s there: the Canucks are in serious trouble! My boy Thomas Drance says it best here.

Free agency is next week, so unless Jimbo can get that briefcase to Aspen (aka deliver the goods), it’s Mary Sw, Swammy, Swan, SAMSONITE all over again. The Canucks have really been Dumb and Dumber lately and after seeing the sequel, I really hope they don’t plan on following that path as well.

The ratings are in at the box office and they don’t look good.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

When Are We Done With These Goalie Controversies?

I’ll admit, I like drama. No, not the Entourage character; he’s alright but I wouldn’t say I like him. I enjoy talking, debating, even yelling to people that are flat out wrong about the Canucks goaltending situation. The thing is, do they really have to keep up this charade EVERY year? When are we done with these goalie controversies?

Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller have all found themselves in the latest controversy in the Canucks net. There are plenty of ways this could go but the fact that Vancouver runs into this problem so frequently is a cause for concern. 

There really wasn’t a thing when Cloutier and Auld were in the mix, it was just “when are we going to get a better goalie that doesn’t let in beach balls?” That was fun. Those were simpler times. We just accepted that we had to wait.

Hey and then we drafted Cory Schneider. It was finally going to happen, our FRAN-CHISE goalie was here! College would be over in a few years and our knight in shining armour would arrive. The plan was set.

Oh right, then Dave Nonis went and pulled the ol’ We got a Todd Bertuzzi and he just totally tanked any stock he had when he punched Steve Moore so LETS TRADE HIM TO FLORIDA move. God bless the Panthers. Apparently, two problems create an answer.

Bertuzzi had seen his time pass in Vancouver and disgruntled superstar goalie Roberto Luongo wasn’t happy with his treatment in Florida so the trade was put in motion. Vancouver had its hero.

There’s no way anyone could have seen it end the way it did.

For the first few years it was ALL Roberto all the time and it didn’t seem to matter. Finishing one win off the NHL record in his first season, being nominated for everything under the sun and bringing the Canucks back into the conversation; Luongo hit the reset button hard and cemented himself as the Canucks best goaltender ever…and for a time, it’s best player.

It wasn’t all birthday cakes and unicorns though; Luongo had his critics and because he couldn’t do it all himself, he saw the storm coming and it was going to get messy. By the time Cory Schneider was ready, Luongo had hit the big time and an uber athlete like Roberto wasn’t giving that net up.

Schneider and Lu went neck and neck from the 2010-2012 seasons. Luongo starting as the alpha and finishing as the beta. Trainwrecks are better looking. The rumours of trades for both Cory and Roberto loomed large for such a long time and it became its own beast.

Even the hardcore Canucks fan was getting a little annoyed about how everything was playing out. Whatever you are going to do, DO IT!! We just all want to move on already. The rumours of where Cory could be dealt were intriguing and a player like Jordan Eberle coming back for Schneider would have been ok by me.

Playing a team six games a season isn’t that big of a deal. It may become that way now, but it surely wouldn’t have been back then and having a goalie as the guy you play against isn’t the worst, well unless he has a wrist shot.

So Schneider gets dealt to New Jersey for what would become Bo Horvat and that was it. We aren’t talking about it anymore, we moved on right?

WRONG.

All seemed right as Roberto Luongo was given back his team and new coach John Tortorella was going to push him to be his old self. He pushed him alright, right out of Vancouver. Luongo’s mismanagement was basically what sent him to the Canucks in the first place and now it had him going back to Florida for the same reasons minus the contract.

Lost in all of this was Eddie Lack. He never asked to be a part of the mess that is Vancouver’s goalie graveyard but here he is. Luongo was now gone and everything pointed to Lack and Jacob Markstrom (the goalie that came back in the Lu trade) as the new tandem. New GM Jim Benning had other plans it seemed.

Was Lack ready to handle the load? It didn’t exactly seem like it after Luongo was let go but how many backups really take a stranglehold on the starter job in a hockey nuts market? Im guessing not too many. Benning went out at free agency and threw 18 mil/3 years at aging tender Ryan Miller and he got his man.

Here we go again.

It turned out that yes indeed, we were right back in the muck. Ryan Miller would suffer an injury that forced Eddie Lack back into the spotlight and this time, he didn’t disappoint. This never ending roulette wheel kept spinning. Markstrom’s AHL fame gave him a chance to make his mark and with one loss, it all went away.

Markstrom’s run in the Calder Cup playoffs has given him another shot at the bigs and even if the Utica Comets, Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, loses the Final, there will be heavy chatter at the NHL Draft in Florida (go figure) about what the Canucks are going to do in net.

There is another college kid who should be ready around 2018 or so and by then if Lack and Markstrom are still here, we will have all found a way to hate one of them. Staying the course is the hardest thing to do with goaltending but with no real threat up front, the Canucks would be wise to let this all play out.

That or get back some picks, a player in return and even some hope that GM Jim Benning knows what to do with those things. At some point this nonsense has to end.

The Minnesota Wild made Devan Dubnyk a star, it doesn’t have to be this hard.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Cover photo – theprovince.com

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

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 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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Playoffs Loom Large; Eddie Lack is NOT Roberto Luongo

As Ryan Miller went down after Jannik Hansen collided into him, there was a silent fist pump by many that felt Eddie Lack was ready to take the lead in net. I still believe he is the more consistent choice to go with down the stretch and into the playoffs, but as good as Lack has been he hasn’t had a break. He’s the #1 right now but I’m not sure he is built to be literally an every game player; he’s not Roberto Luongo.

I should probably clarify and maybe I’m contradicting myself here so I’ll just get it out; Eddie Lack is a solid starting goaltender and his ability to stand in for Ryan Miller since the injury has been hero like. He has basically played every game since, aside from Jacob Markstrom’s coffee cup appearances. He is on a collision course to burn out though. Here’s where I compare him to Luongo.

Roberto played 18 of the final 26 games of the regular season in 2010/11 and he also had a stellar partner in Cory Schneider. Luongo won 11 of those 18 games and even though he had a heavy work load, he was fresh when he needed to be and had a reliable replacement. We all know how that spring went and it’s not a surprise why Vancouver’s goaltending was as amazing as it was even against Boston.

Eddie doesn’t have the same team in front of him that Roberto had and he also doesn’t have a goalie equally as talented as Cory Schneider, at least not yet. We’ve seen goalies burn out from playing too many consecutive games (Kiprusoff, Luongo in 07) and its a recipe for disaster. 

Lack has played 17 of the last 18 games since Miller went down, winning 10. He was yanked twice and you can tell he has been fatigued. His resiliant play has redeemed his shaky early starts though. A few starts on games against the bum teams (Sabres, Oilers, Arizona, Etc.) may have made things a bit easier.

The Canucks are on the brink of a berth in this year’s post season and Lack will no doubt be the man they turn to. Even when Ryan Miller is 100% healthy he won’t be even close to playoff ready and aside from a series swing where a goalie change is needed, he won’t see the ice as a participant. Will Lack be able to stay fresh? Possibly.

With 5 games left, Eddie will probably play 4 of them, potentially less if they clinch early or clinch and have a guaranteed opponent. That being said, it won’t get any easier after that. Games played every second night will be gruesome dogfights and he will be relied upon more than ever and giving up the usual 2-0 deficit won’t fly.

Luongo had his faults as well and wasn’t perfect the entire playoffs, he had some off nights. But what Luongo had learned in previous years was how to win and lose on the big stage. It took some time but he came into his own and was almost unbeatable when it mattered. Again, he had rest and was fresh almost every night.

Willie D has been very loyal to Lack and what he has done for the Canucks, but could it be a big mistake if they crash and burn in the first round? Tough to say but one thing is for sure; without Lack, that wouldn’t even be an option.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo credit – vansunsportsblogs.com

Eddie Lack’s BIG Day

After a big win against the Jets on Tuesday night, Eddie Lack was all laughs. He played amazing and helped the Canucks get one win closer to the playoffs. But it isn’t about just hockey for Lack; it’s tacos, mama lack tweets, dreaming of better times with Luongo and avoiding texts from Ryan Miller.

We occasionally get to see inside Eddie Lack’s life through his tweets, the odd interview and the socially awkward CBC features. What if you could see a timeline of a typical Eddie Lack day, maybe TODAY’S day! You’d like that. 

Time to wake up, it’s a day in the life of Eddie Lack!

6:57 am – Alarm goes off, it’s a goal horn. It always reminds me that I’m not perfect and every time I hear that horn, I challenge myself to make the save instead of hearing that horn. WHOA! What if that horn never went off again? Would I have slept in, would I be dead? A permanent shutout. FREAKY!

7:07 am – Empty the tanks, check my phone and see if maybe Roberto wants to plan a summer vacay in Cabo this year. I miss that guy so much, but I’m the big cat now; it feels good. Looks like he’s busy, I’ll check later.

7:08 am – Coach Willie sent me a text “Hey Eddie, great game last night. You really have turned into a star. Want to get lunch with me today at Joeys? I feel like we have tacos too much lately.

HA, ya right coach! I’ll pass.

8:10 am – Eat my froot loops, check the standings and see how far ahead of LA we are

  

8:12 am – Ryan Miller sends YET AGAIN another text letting me know rehab is going well and he can’t wait to play in the playoffs. “Hey Eddie, things are going well, Millsy’s getting ready to shock the world”

This guy just doesn’t get it.

Gotta get ready for the morning skate, heard the chef has a new taco recipe today, SWEET!

11:11 am – Practice over. Worked in the Millionaires gear, big game tomorrow. Jannik is really taking this best practice player thing to heart now. The guy scored in the shootout, wow. Saw a 4 day old wasted taco in my stall someone clearly is buggin me with. Who does that, why not eat those things? What a waste. 

12:28 pm – Late submissions for my goalie equipment came in. Hmm, might rock these. Green, blue, white and stripes with a logo in the middle? That will really show my wild side.

12:59 pm – Roll by Taco Bell for a light snack. Spicy sauce? yes please.

Starting to get worried, Mama Lack hasn’t called me today. What the heck, she knows I won last night right?

1:16 pm – Mama just called. Life is normal again. Meeting up with Tans to buy a new suit. Mr. Moneybags all of a sudden. Maybe he should worry more about keeping the puck out of our zone and less time on his Versace game.

3:00 pm – Nap time. OH, just got a tweet from @Rammer34, my OVR in NHL 15 just got raised. Good to be me.

4:30 pm – Alarm goes off, gotta stop those pucks. Feels like a taco night tonight. Wonder if Marky is free?

5:10 pm – Catch some action around the league, that Hamburgler guy is killing it out there. Hamburgers, they’re no tacos though.

6:27 pm – Grab some dinner from Chronic Tacos, Marky was busy so looks like more for me. How could anyone eat another food?

8:45 pm – Dumb and Dumber is on Movietime, well, my night is planned. Big day tomorrow. Get to wear my Millionaires gear again. Thankfully, Ottawa isn’t playing us, man they were tough last year.

11:00 pm – Time for some shut eye.

11:02 pm – RYAN, SERIOUSLY!!!! STOP TEXTING ME! Hopefully Kenins runs him next time he’s out there. What an annoying guy.

So a typical day for Eddie Lack. Just to forewarn you, I am not Eddie and I do not know how he actually spends his day. If I had to guess though, this is pretty close. 

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