nick bonino

Canucks All Smiles After Trading Kesler and Bieksa…Mostly

Watching the Canucks wait for the opening puck to drop after 60 minutes against the Ducks was tough to watch. Plenty of story line to go on and if Vancouver even puts in 40 minutes, they probably could have beaten the Ducks. That didn’t happen, they didn’t put in 5. Aside from that game though, things are noticeably better in Vancouver after jettisoning Kesler and Bieksa to Anaheim. They didn’t really have a choice but Vancouver’s loss is actually their own gain. Who would have thought no Kes or Juice would be a good thing? 

You can’t replace experience but the Canucks should be all smiley face emojis now that they don’t have a selfish centre and an aging, stale defensemen bogging them down. 

Only recently has Ryan Kesler started to show his worth after inking a 6 year deal worth $41M. His 3 goals are alarming but his body has been beaten to nothing over his career. Thankfully the Canucks brass saw that they had an unhappy, selfish player and granted his exit to the Ducks, apparently Chicago wasn’t lucky enough! Now, the Ducks are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted space and it only gets worse for them.

The Canucks took on up and coming defenseman Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino as well as Anaheim’s 2014 1st round pick who now is the Canucks 2nd line/3rd line pivot Jared McCann. We all know Nick Bonino aka  too many men on the ice was moved to the Pens for Brandon Sutter and his injury is being felt up and down the middle of the lineup.

On the surface it would seem the Canucks are very happy with their return on Kes and on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces, they have to be an 8. McCann is quickly turning into a reliable two way centre and is leaned heavily upon only 26 games into his career. When Sutter returns, McCann will be able to see a bit more space and further his game even  more.

Luca Sbisa has gone from new guy to token hated new guy to apparent 2016 Cyclone Taylor Winner. Figure that out. The return for Kesler a year later is easily in favour of the Canucks and for Anaheim, they  have to start breaking down how much Kesler is going to cost them:

So far, Ryan Kesler’s “Between Two Zambonis” skits are costing the Ducks $1.25M/ per episode – might want to get syndicated Kes. Imagine if they continue to film these things? Their budget will be through the roof and for a guy that isn’t exactly friendly, they’ll be off the air in no time; but they’ll still be paying him until Ryker, his son, gets drafted.

Feeling better yet Canucks fans? We don’t have to pay for this guy anymore and look how much happier the team is. Ben Hutton can’t wipe the smile off his face but I’m beginning to think he has a medical condition because no one should smile that much. Just kidding Ben, nothing but love.

HUTTON MANIA!!!!

But who really cares about Kesler anymore? Let’s go over how disappointed the Ducks must be that they have a extremely underperforming defender in Kevin Bieksa.

I love Bieksa, I really do. His interviews are the stuff of legends and he doesn’t hold a grudge against Vancouver. You can tell when he converses with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. They’ll always be bros…fo sho.

Bieksa just signed a 2 year deal that will net him $4M per. We thought Luca Sbisa was overpaid? I’m so happy we’ve come around to seeing Sbizza has more to offer. Can you imagine paying Bieksa that kind of coin for 2 seasons? Oh man, that’s not even healthy. At some point Dave Nonis will be let go for suggesting the awfulness that is the old Canuck guard.

Jim Benning has quickly become a genius and even though many of us are ready to have his head on a platter, he quietly has turned the Canucks around and if we’re all patient enough we might just buy him a Christmas card next year. Not this year though, they’re awful.

It is yet to be seen what the pick for Bieksa will turn into but having moved him has given Vancouver the ability to give Frankie Corrado Ben Hutton a roster spot and if you watched the two of them on split screen in the same game, its not close. Ben Hutton can become a hybrid of Edler and Tanev and imagine if he does; ok don’t, I hate seeing those pictures all mashed together like they do on the Internet, its creepy.

At some point, everyone will stop grading this trade like so many others that have gone down and we can all focus on one of two things:

  1. How bad the Canucks are currently doing and….
  2. Is Willie Desjardins still the coach?

I feel like this is the direction we are headed and to put a final stamp on things, YES, the Canucks won those trades and they purchased the uber smiley emoji because they are set up the middle for years to come; or until they waive one of them for nothing and Toronto picks them up.

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Debunking Your Canucks Arguments Because You’re Wrong

Since moving away from the lower mainland a few years ago, my intake of radio armchair GM’s has dropped dramatically. Thankfully I have been able to take a more thought out approach to my opinions without being influenced by the wacky ideas and comments that flood Vancouver sports radio on a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for the “intelligent” minds there really is only talking heads, that participation is crucial.

That being said, there are a few arguments out there that seem to gain steam, some that are downright ridiculous and believe it or not, a few good ones. WIth all the opinions out there, there’s bound to be a few that actually make sense. However, the wrong ones are the ones we debate the most and I am going to rip through all of those zany ideas and show you why you’re wrong. 

(Now go to your kitchen cupboards and grab a grain of salt.)

THE ARGUMENT: The Sedins are second liners now; they don’t have what it takes to be a top line anymore.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: This one got me thinking after listening to the latest Pass it to Bulis podcast. You’d be hardpressed to find more than maybe eight teams that they wouldn’t be top line players. As far as the Canucks are concerned, they are still the number one line. They still  get the top matchups every night and lead the team by 11 points at 60 with Radim Vrbata next at 49. The drop off is huge after that. Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen all have 30 and down it goes after that.

Second line players don’t lead your team in points, well this team anyways. Until the Sedins show a dramatic drop off or they retire, odds are they are going to be the top line in Vancouver. They aren’t 100 point players anymore and maybe the 80’s are as high as they get now but by the looks of this season, 60 points this late is really good. John Tavares of the Islanders has 72 points for the league lead. Enough said. 

So if you have some crazy notion that Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Shawn Matthias are your top line, or that Sidney Crosby is done too, you are very wrong.



 

THE ARGUMENT: The Canucks aren’t a very good team.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG…..TO A DEGREE: The Canucks are definitely not the king of the castle anymore, but they are way better than a season ago and really, better than they were in 2012. As soon as they lost the Cup in 2011 everything changed. Countless identity changes later, Vancouver finally is following a path that seems to be paying off. Credit WIllie Desjardins, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning for changing it to its current state.

The power play this season is atrocious I’ll give you that and sure, they don’t score a ton of goals and yes I’ll agree they seem to enjoy being down two and three goals before they get their game going; but if you take away the fancy stats and some of the basic ones, they’re second in the Pacific. Albeit, a weak division that had their way with the Canucks last year, aside from a large collapse the Canucks are playing for the Stanley Cup this year.

Losing to the awful teams sure doesn’t help my case here but the overall game they have played this season has been fairly entertaining and has every line involved…every…single…game. The injuries definitely took their toll on the lineup but it forced half of the Utica Comets to show what they could do. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was great. You now love Ronalds Kenins.

If the Canucks weren’t a very good team we wouldn’t be talking about the potential for upsets in the playoffs or how well our three second/third lines are. A bit more grey area here but they dont’ suck. Agree to disagre on this?

THE ARGUMENT: Ryan Miller is washed up, he looks like he voluntarily gives up soft goals and he is passed his prime.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: Actually, I agree with most of that. Even though Miller did post 28 wins, 6 shutouts a perfect shootout record going 2 for 2; game in and game out he struggled to make the easy saves and as a fan, didn’t look like he gave his team a chance to win EVERY game. Every goalie goes through struggles and the ones learning a new team, a new system and a goalie coach, they have it worse. With Eddie Lack gaining confidence and believing this is HIS team, Miller at the end of the day ends up being an expensive bridge to the future.

Ryan Miller may not play another game this season for multiple reasons, the main one being that even if he’s healthy; it will be the heart of the playoffs and there is no team that starts a cold goalie when you only get 4 losses in a series. Even the expensive mistakes have silver linings. 

So on this one YOU’RE RIGHT!

WILLIE’S ARGUMENT: Ronalds Kenins is the odd man out until someone plays bad enough or Kenins pots a goal every game.

WHY HE’S WRONG: Now that the Canucks are basically healthy (just Miller really), every game Willie D has quite a task of deciding who should sit. I called out Chris Higgins because I felt he hadn’t held his own as much as he should have this year, I did that twice. Both times, he scored and we won. So anyone can be wrong. What WD is doing is so wrong though. He has put Kenins in the linup and he has outperformed what most of us, if not all of us thought he would do originally. Once the injured players started coming back, Kenins looked to be the odd man out.

Thankfully, through some divine intervention a new injury reared its head and WHAMMY! Ronny gets put back in. His line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen has been electric for some time now and their chemistry shows. Kenins has 11 pts in 19 GP and if Bo Horvat is considered the teams fourth line pivot, thats pretty good output for a fourth line player that was riding the bus to start the year.

There are a few options of who should be coming out now: Linden Vey and ocassionally Nick Bonino. Yes, both are centres but its not a stretch to move Shawn Matthias up to the middle. At some point its the guys that are getting it done that you want in.

So Willie, put Ronny in FULL TIME, because YOU’RE WRONG!

This doesn’t cover all those wacky theories that are out there but debunking a few of them will help you get through your day. I know i’ll sleep better tonight. Just remember, when you go to bash your Canucks think about how much worse you could have it. Check the standings, see where the Twins are in the scoring race and maybe chill out a bit.

The Canucks are winning the Cup this year because they are a elite team. They have everyt….I can’t go on anymore. Just settle down and realise you have it pretty good here. Really good.

I take back the Cup comment until further notice.

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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 Need Recharge On Powerplay

Much like the two men in this photo, the Canucks powerplay was once very productive. Gone are the days of the booming shot from the point by Sami Salo, a monolith in front of the net in the form of Todd Bertuzzi, the snipe from the top of the face off circles by Markus Naslund or heck, Henrik and Daniel Sedin just cycling their way to an easy goal. What started fairly hot this season with Hank, Danny and the VRB; has turned into nothing more than a fun exercise in passing. The Canucks PP is in serious need of a recharge.

As of Wednesday Dec 10, Vancouver was ranked 16th on the PP at a 18.3% clip. With 3 PP markers in the first two games, the tease of something finally working again was easy to buy into. Radim Vrbata fit in quite nicely as the final play when the Sedin’s were done goofin around with the puck and adding ex Los Angeles Kings AHL star Linden Vey to the first unit had an immediate impact. Had we figured it out, was the farce over? No it wasn’t actually; but the positive start gave us something to work back to.

Amazing how these two are related isn’t it? You can sense the bitterness built up from years of failure, false hope and pure unadulterated anger. Considering games are won and lost in the playoffs on special teams, you’d figure that would be a key focus point. We remember the good days of being spoiled with Nazzy, Bert, Morrison and Salo. They just made it look so flipping easy.

When you look at the Capitals power play, they have it figured out; they have Alex Ovechkin at the blue line and everyone’s job is to essentially get him the puck so he can blast it into the net. It’s worked pretty well too! They’re 2nd in the league with a 28.8% success rate. Not bad. Ovie has 6 goals thus far with the extra man and my guess is that climbs higher.

In 2010/2011, Vrbata had 10 power play goals, he’s at 5 already this year. Maybe they need to tweek how they setup and have him at the blue line. His shot is so hard and when it’s up close it takes more work for him to get that final pass. Set him up like Ovechkin and let it rip. Get Linden Vey down low with the Twins or at least work him into a position where Vrbata can set up at the back.

They aren’t reinventing the wheel here folks, there have been proven ways to make the power play work. It usually starts with the faceoff, so maybe throw in Bo Horvat as an experiment, his focus at the dots is amazing and who knows, maybe he can turn it up. But that just gets the first unit going.

When the A team doesn’t get it done, there isn’t an answer behind door #2. Sure, its a bit of a case of yips but there needs to be the same hustle and dedication as the first group. Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins have been criticized lately for their lack of well, anything. Clearly everyone can see that Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen and Shawn Matthias are blowing up on the radar so give them their due and blend them in.

Burrows may have hit his production wall and could easily be on the decline so if it IS broke, fix it. Have Bonino, Richardson and Higgins as a unit. Chris Tanev can help but maybe its the whole setup that’s wrong. There is a fix here and all the armchair coaches have their opinions. Go back to the strengths and just exploit them. This Canucks team has a lot to offer still, they just need to find their way….maybe tomorrow would be nice.

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