ryan miller

Canucks Are So Bad, They’re Good…No Really

There are times I’m happy I that I don’t get overly emotional about the Canucks and their peaks and valleys. There are so many of them over the course of the season that I’d be in a straight jacket if I followed through on all of them. This year’s Canucks have been quite unpredictable and yet lately, as bad as they’ve been, the playoffs would include them if it started today. I hate to say it but the Canucks are so bad, they’re good.

 

I have found it hard to believe that this team is at all competitive right now with the losses piling up like dishes after hosting Thanksgiving for both sides of your family. The compete level could be questioned and they’ll tell you they play to win but honestly, you can’t say you’re playing to win with the way you’re losing. After going essentially O-fer on the long road trip they have some big issues they need to deal with.

If you think about it, the Canucks almost lost to Columbus, they actually almost lost to the Jackets! I almost wished they had just to confirm the miserable state they are in. Losing by a goal is still losing and as good as Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller are, they don’t shoot the puck 200 feet top shelf.

Speaking of Ryan Miller, his “instinctual” style he has adopted this season has gone from adapting to just plain stink. It’s a little late to adjust your swing their tiger. Call a spade a spade and play the angles again. Jacob Markstrom will be there to challenge him and it won’t be surprising when the 2015/16 edition of the Canucks goalie controversy pokes its ugly head again. To be fair, goaltending is the least of the Canucks worries but its starting to become part of their problem.

But what about the being good part? As awful as this road trip was, our Canucks hold on to the 3rd spot in the Pacific and they’ve done it with the biggest lack of swagger, Jay Z has asked they stop playing his music in their warm ups and in the dressing room. Especially this track. At  7-7-6, the OTL column is their biggest claim to fame and without them they’re tied for 2nd last in the freakin conference. Willie….you’re not a .500 team, not even close!

Here’s another doozy, the Canucks are 2nd in the conference in goals for, yup…truef! On the road believe it or not has been the strong suit for the Canucks, 5-4-3. I’m not making these stats up, the NHL site is all seeing, all knowing and with loss after loss they still are technically a good team. That’s a very loose term but it is what it is.

I can’t imagine they blow anything up or fire the coach but its concerning to say the least. They aren’t physical, they aren’t competitive, they don’t play 60 minutes, they don’t even play 40; the holes in the system they employ are hoola hoopesque. You can read this and criticize me because I’m just spewing off very available stats and a few catchy phrases but how is this not alarming?

Every game on this road trip has been a tour de farce and with Chicago coming up this weekend playing like Stanley Cup favourites, they’re at the point where PVR’ing the game isn’t the best use of space. I love this youth movement and in a few years it’s going to be quite the ride but at the very least the veterans should be giving a bit more, no?

This season has been so topsy turvy that LUCA SBISA was the Canuck we couldn’t wait to get back in the lineup. Think about that for a second.

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I tried finding a Sbisa tweet where you all hated him but I stopped looking after 30 minutes because it seems everyone is undecided still. Last season, different story. There will be a formula to figure this stuff out but that guy is on holidays right now.

Thankfully, rebound seasons from Jannik Hansen and Alex Burrows have made the sting less stingy (sp? not stingy but sting-y). Jared McCann has 6 goals to his name early in his career, Ben Hutton ever the popular one has 8 assists and rarely is brought up in the teams woes and some guy named Adam Cracknell has not only made the club but contributes a fair bit.

Does this make the Canucks problems moot? HA not even close but as bad as they’ve been, it’s not as bad as it could be. Vancouver will have to get their ish together soon if they want to keep butts in the seats and entertain the notion of the playoffs, 4 games anyways. The Canucks have brought me to song and they’re losing……..

One thing is for sure: if you love the Canucks and believe at some point it will turn itself around and everything will be ok….don’t go online. You’ll only be disappointed, laughed at and possibly asked to play for them on the powerplay. I can’t believe I’m saying being on the Canucks powerplay is a bad thing

Maybe they ARE bad.

Follow me on the twitter: @always90four

 

Willie Desjardins Losing The Room With New Look Canucks

We’ve seen it before, teams go from the top of the mountain to the deepest pit. The stars are scoring, goaltending is closing the door and everything is right in the world. But then something happens, something changes and the world turns on its side. In coach Willie Desjardins’ second season as Canucks head coach he is already beginning to lose the room. I’m as surprised as you; it was going so well so what happened? 

 

By now you’ve seen the video; Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen are NHLers and in typical Canucks fashion they gave them the shock of their lives. What is being overlooked however, is that Willie Desjardins didn’t even tell the guys himself. This early in the season, you want to know your coach believes in you and he didn’t even stick around to welcome his new players to the show. Take a look:

The other surprising part of the video is when the team calls for a PLAYERS ONLY meeting. Willie is asked to leave the room (which is somewhat inaudible) and the players air our their grievances. Bo Horvat seems to have a bit of beef with the new guys. It’s a bit early to have a players only meeting and it usually means there is some dissension in the room. Hopefully there are better times ahead for the Canucks as I’d hate to see this team blown up because of some petty crap.

Something else that should be taken of note is the sparsely used Richard Bachman. Willie has ridden Ryan Miller in every game but one this season and that only happened because of a back to back on the road. With Jacob Markstrom out still, he clearly has zero trust in his backup. Why bother playing him at all Willie, why bother dressing him? I’m sure there’s a defenseman who would love to crack the lineup.

When former coach John Tortorella took over we expected a few of these tendencies and a bit of his arrogance and bravado but not from calm, cool and collect Willie Desjardins. That didn’t seem like his style. Boy were we wrong. He may allow cell phones in the pressers but he doesn’t give you much to go on when speaking about his players, mainly falling back on his “real good” comment. Somethings up!

Willie’s lack of respect for his players, forcing them to be “employees first, players second” by making them man the door like a lowly bouncer at a Castlegar night club:

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His trust issues with his players are another thing. Does WD even believe his team can play a full 60 minutes? Does he even respect them to be on the ice long enough to contribute?

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Tough to say if Willie even lasts the year behind the Canucks bench the way he is running the ship. He apparently thought Dorsett, Prust and McCann was a good idea. No coach can make a line like that look good.

I believe in this team, I really do but are we headed for another first round exit to the Flames? I sure hope not.

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

Canucks Should Welcome 3 on 3 OT Spree

Things aren’t going to drastically change this season for the Vancouver Canucks and in a way that’s a good thing. Its no surprise things will once again be tight on the scoreboard but it may finally play into their favour. Overtime was once boring but oh how the times have changed.



Last year the Canucks were involved in 31 one goal games, 20 of those believe it or not were wins and get this: 12 of 17 games were won in OT or the beloved shootout.

With the NHL switching to 3 on 3 overtime this season, fans everywhere will be treated to fast paced, insane odd man rushes and hopefully quicker finishes to games that drag on longer than they need to with the gimmicky shootout bonus round.

So why should Canucks nation be excited about this? Well if you saw the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, B.C. this past weekend, you know that 3 on 3 creates excitement and it creates winners….quickly.

The Canucks are no longer an offensive juggernaut as they will be searching for scoring from pretty much everyone but Henrik and Daniel. That being said, the Twins aren’t spring chickens anymore and they won’t be producing to the levels they did when they were poppin collars and collecting those Art Vandelay Ross trophies.

Moving to 3 on 3 will actually give the Canucks reason for hope though. Sadly, as many games as I think they could win will be moot when and if they make the playoffs and they get brutally embarrassed once again by a Calgary or Anaheim or quite possibly the Los Angeleses. I think i just pluralized Los Angeles.

Lets let that sink in. It’s impressive.

Going back to that neato stat at the beginning, just over 1/3 of Canucks hockey last year was of the nail biting variety. I prefer not to relive it so if you go back we probably blew a good chunk of games too!

Again as I stated above, they won 12 of those games past regulation. So its safe to say even if they get remotely better this year whether it be better goaltending, a few of the young bucks having a surprisingly good year or just playing enough teams at the height of their suckdom; the Canucks can benefit from dragging out their games past 60 minutes.

Henrik and Daniel are the obvious choices to be put out for NBA Jam type hockey and Willie D may need to have 3-4 set options come OT. Practicing the shootout was something coaches didn’t really want to put too much effort into but with OT changing this year, this is a new outlet for the Canucks to specialize in.

I’d venture the Canucks can close out at least 5 more wins this year in OT with the new format. Having a puck moving defenseman will be key and if Luca Sbisa can work on one thing this year, it can be a successful outlet pass that isn’t turned into a breakaway on Ryan Miller. But lets be serious, he won’t be out there.

Canucks fans should embrace this new reality and maybe even cheer for it. I know, cheer for your team to drag their knuckles until its GO TIME!!! We don’t have Mason ” I’m fast but I trip over the blue line” Raymond anymore to give us the speed but guys like Bo Horvat, Jake “All the murders” Virtanen, Sven Baertschi and Mr. Clutch Canuck Alex Burrows can all make a difference in the new overtime.

This no doubt will turn OT into a young mans game or Sidney Crosby’s paradise, I’m not sure which. However, in a search for goals this year, the Canucks can definitely count on overtime being kind to them.

There will be plenty to complain about and I’ll be right there with you but one constant we will most likely cheer for is the puck dropping in OT. A line of Bo Horvat, Alex Burrows and Alex Edler could be very dangerous, I like danger….

Everything could go swimmingly in OT for the Canucks this year but they’ll have to get their first and if they don’t score enough goals or obviously keep them out; OT will be something we’ll see in every other arena outside of the lower mainland.

Maybe let’s just win in regulation, by a goal or two. I know, that’s crazy you say.

It’s too crazy, too crazy indeed.

Worst case scenario, we get this:

Follow my antics on twitter: @always90four

Bowness Coverage – The NHL Draft Hasn’t Been Kind To The Canucks

June has already been a pretty jam packed month and its only half way over. The Stanley Cup went to the Blackhawks (surprise, surprise), the Warriors won the NBA FInals, Jim Benning isn’t trading Ryan Miller and next week the NHL Entry Draft will commence with the next wave of stars finding homes. With all this, I am trying a new feature here at Always90four called Bowness Coverage that is Canucks first, NHL second and then a whole lot of everything else.

Its kind of like Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts over on Sportsnet, but I’ll keep it to about 10. Hopefully it’s worth doing every 2 weeks or so that it becomes a staple. Let me know what you think!

1) So, the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup YET AGAIN for the 3rd time in 6 years. Its not a dynasty but its darn close. The group that has managed to stay together is pretty special. Led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa; the Hawks have found a way to keep a very expensive core together and continue to win with new parts each time.

Duncan Keith is a big reason this is even possible. He logs more minutes of play than an 18 year old when the new Call of Duty comes out. He’s gritty, offensively clutch, a pain in the butt to play against and brutally decorated with achievements: 3 Stanley Cups, 2 Olympic Gold Medals, a Conn Smythe, 2 Norris Trophies, etc, etc. He is everything you want in a defenseman and above all else, he wins.

But what if the Canucks were smart enough to have drafted him in 2002 in what largely was a dart board of picks every round? Would Keith have developed into the premier player he has become? The way the Canucks drafted that year and beyond, he would have been frustrated. What really stings is that Vancouver picked well before Chicago in Round 2 and would not have needed to stretch to get him.

Kiril Koltsov was the Canucks first choice at pick 49, with Keith going at 54. Koltsov played all of ZERO games in the NHL so it was a really great pick. Having seen Keith play in Kelowna on a nightly basis, he did all the right things and if the Canucks even bothered to acknowledge the WHL existed, maybe Duncan Keith would have lifted a Conn Smythe for Vancouver, who knows? You want to talk about misses, sometimes its the guy you could have taken that’s the miss instead of who you chose.

2) Speaking of the NHL Draft, there’s another player that I have been bragging about for about 2 seasons now: Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets. This guy is basically the full package of talent. He is only 18 so he can hone is craft and really strengthen his game more than he has already. The Canucks really should be jumping up to get this guy. He is a phenomonal playmaker, a slick goal scorer and his puck possesion reminds me of that guy that played in Edmonton in the 80’s. 

I am not saying Merkley is like Wayne Gretzky but he has similar traits that you just don’t see in every player. Merkley is a hybrid forward that can play both centre and wing and his forecheck is a thing of beauty. Anyone that watched the WHL Playoffs or the Memorial Cup this year knows exactly what he can bring to the table.

Canucks GM Jim Benning went on TSN 1040 on Wednesday and here is a piece that was taken from it:

I really don’t know who else they want in the first round. They’ll have to make a move to get him but man oh man is he worth the risk. His rookie year he played centre and won Rookie of the Year honours, this past season he was moved to the wing and led the Kelowna Rockets in assists and points (20G, 70A, 90PTS). Nick Merkley will only get better and with the right development he can really boom. 

Benning has had an iffy start so far but this is one player he can win with.

3) Sticking with Kelowna Rockets related players in the draft, a defenseman that will be a steal and can be had in the 4th or 5th round, is defensive defenseman Joe Gatenby. Gatenby’s ability to seperate his man from the puck is scary. The way he just becomes a wedge is something not every blue liner can just do. His speed to chase down forwards when his team has maybe pinched too hard is something to watch. 

The Canucks have been anything but successful in drafting defensive prospects. I mean, they aren’t the worst, but I can name a ton of teams that have done better. Joe Gatenby is a safe pick that will turn into an Alex Edler type player, he’s been ok. OH, and he was a Kelowna Rocket too! See a pattern here? Ranked at 174 by ISS, he’s a smart play.

4) Apparently, Ryan Miller isn’t going anywhere. *Insert frowny shrug* Jim Benning feels when Miller is playing   well he gives the team confidence. I am not by any means an NHL GM but is that not what every goalie does for their team? $6M per could be used in more constructive ways than aging Ryan Miller’s equipment.

There has to be a team for him to go to. We are already overpaying for Sbisa, to a degree Dorsett and we need some Canadian Tire money for Brad Richardson among others. Admitting to mistakes makes you a better person, I do it all the time. Admit that Miller was a safe move and you no longer see the need to keep him.

Canucks fans want a Stanley Cup and with Ryan Miller, thats one burnt year without a real shot. Trade Miller and move on Jimbo. I give you permission.

5) The Arizona Coyotes sure know how to stay relevant. How is this farce not over yet? Figure it out and get back to us. The news of Glendale cancelling the lease on the arena agreement for the Yotes was just a greedy, selfish mess. Grow up desert! You are an absolute joke, so much so you let your local residents tase you for charity.

This makes me sick.

6) The Golden State Warriors are NBA Champions. No exclamation point needed. If you have stayed loyal to me and kept reading this was actually a good series. You know, until the Cavs lost everyone but Lebron James. Cleveland just lost pace at a certain point and it was over. I was bored and I happened to have switched to TSN and the game was on, thats how I know.

I swear.

7) CBC Hockey Night in Canada’s PlayOn! 4 on 4 street hockey tournament is in my hometown of Kelowna this weekend and I’ll be there. Word is there are a few NHL teams in the elite division so I can totally understand if my games don’t get the crowds I’d expect. Riiiiiiiight. Its going to be a blast and getting to play hockey with two ringers makes my dismal skills look ok. You can check it out here.


8) Its still a few weeks away but NHL Free Agency opens July 1 and the Canucks would be smart to look at the defensive market this time around. The forwards are starting to show up on the farm so balancing the defense would seem to be a smart move.

There isn’t a lot to choose from but making a splash and landing at least 2 of these guys would fill a void that is um, very voiding. Christian Ehrhoff, Cody Franson, Mike Green and Johnny Oduya are all guys Vancouver should target while sending aging players Kevin Bieksa, Chris Higgins and ugh, Luca Sbisa is newly signed; packing.

Might Jim Benning do something that BENEFITS the Canucks? Time will tell. Its just…Groundhog Day is getting old.

9) You may have quite a different taste in music than I do but Muse has a new album out and its great. Check this song out, I bet we both like it a lot.

10) Finally, as good as the Toronto Blue Jays are playing right now, and I haven’t seen a lot; if they don’t make a serious push for talented, reliable closing pitching they will just be a team that has fun in the summer. Put up your hand if you’re bored of this repeat issue.

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

Canucks Next Step Is So Important

Optimism only can last so long once reality rears its ugly face. The Vancouver Canucks were eliminated by the atrocious Calgary Flames on Saturday night. It hurt even for the ones that didn’t think they’d get THIS far. Now we are all left licking our wounds and wondering what the next step will be. I would hope at the very least its finding a way to trade Luca Sbisa and/or Kevin Bieska (yes I spelt it wrong).

I don’t hate Bieksa, he is actually one of the best characters on the Canucks. His play over the last year, really two, has raised many questions as to what he still brings to this team. When he was with Hamhuis, Juice could afford to pinch a bit more while Deputy Dan held the fort in case it went awry. Luca Sbisa isn’t any of that and I think we all still wonder why he was re-signed let alone for that much.

All in all for Kevin, he has a year left on his deal and if there is a trade to be made then it wouldn’t be the worst decision to get younger there. The worse decision already happened and he wears #5.

Speaking of defensemen that need a contract, Yannick Weber is due. His use on the powerplay was actually an improvement to the tire fire they had. And then he wasn’t used there for awhile. I think Willie D is still figuring out how NHL players fit into his brain thoughts. We like Weber and he shoots hard and stuff, please bring him back.

Goaltending ended up being more of a discussion topic than I anticipated this season; Ryan Miller was pretty good, but Eddie Lack stepped his taco game up and gave Jim Benning some serious options. WIth Jacob Markstrom at a point he needs to be a NHL backup and Thatcher Demko being groomed, Ryan Miller after one season may be gone.

That’s a pretty big price tag to put out there and there might only be a few teams even remotely interested in that guy. If Lack is the guy, that cap number drops considerably. If Ryan Miller stays, he needs to work on basically everything to make it work here. Both options are fine as goaltending didn’t lose us that series, but it was close.

UFAs Brad Richardson and Shawn Matthias may be put to pasture and that sucks. Linden Vey could have potential but if the Canucks are supposed to make a run in the immediate future, Vey is a boring, inconsistant opton. All that hush money that went Derek Dorsett and Luca Sbisa’s way has strapped Benning a bit and even though the cap rises to $71.5M, spending money because you have it isn’t a smart idea.

2015/16 will be the year of the young gun in Vancouver. A full offseason and maybe Calder Cup playoffs with Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk could do wonders for the Canucks. Giving Jake Virtanen a chance early next year like they did Bo could also translate to some early returns. Right now, those are small pipe dreams but at some point all those guys will play together. Ronalds Kenins was the big surprise this year and he has earned himself a spot for next season. His murders, along with Virtanens will be a welcome addition.

At som point we will find out about Zack Kassian and Alex Burrows and pray nothing major is going on. Kassian missed a solid amount of time after really finding his stride on the top line. Burrows freak accident (whatever that actually was) might be something he has to rehab into the season. Again, speculating but in this new NHL, we have no clue. If Kassian needs back surgery, I sure hope its minor; bodies like his eventually break down heavily and he isn’t very old at all. 

 And finally to the big guns! Radim Vrbata seemed like a consolation prize last July and he ended up being a solid addtion to both the Sedin line and the second line. His lack of grit was noticed in the playoffs and really, thats where it all counts. The Canucks lack of grit everywhere was noticed by all and adding a power forward would get things going. Henrik and Daniel looked like maybe they were starting to hit the back nine of their amazing careers but then they went and finished in the top 10 in scoring. 

The Sedins are always welcome on this Canucks club and their leadership will help take this next Canucks team to the top once again.

For now, we sulk for 5 months and figure out what went wrong. We curse the wretched Flames and hope Benning and Linden make some savvy moves. 

As for me? The Kelowna Rockets are making a ru nto the Memorial Cup this year and they get my full support now. And Jim, if you’re reading…please draft Nick Merkley.

Goodbye 2015 season, it was real.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Law And Order CVU: Canucks Victims Unit

This series has gone from bad to worse. We all wanted the Canucks to matchup against the Flames figuring THAT was their best way to advance, we were so wrong! What we failed to realize or maybe some of you didn’t was that even though the Canucks stellar record got them in the playoffs, they are far from contenders. OK thanks Capt. Obvious, we knew that. But seriously, how many opportunities did they have this year to right the ship or even put away awful teams or even worse: the Sabres?

Too many.

Willie rolled four lines and it proved to be a winning formula, enough to make the post season; adding unforseen depth in Bo Horvat and Ronalds Kenins has filled some gaps a lot quicker than first thought; heck even Yannick Weber has found a spot of meaning here. These additions are great and all but compare them to the teams they are trying to equal and they still aren’t close. A mediocre Flames squad is proving this quite easily.

So the referees haven’t exactly helped either. They have let Michael Ferland charge his way time after time to hit Kevin Bieksa, Kevin Bieksa, Kevin Bieksa, Luca Sbisa and Kevin Bieksa. No one debates a good hit but when the hit is preceeded by oh I dunno 5-6 strides, that’s a problem. The Canucks aren’t doing themselves any favours but the stripes aren’t making it any easier.

Vancouver has been left beaten, bloodied and left for dead. Short of a chalk line, the Canucks are basically D.O.A. No special victims unit can help this crew right now, they need a CVU: Canucks Victims Unit; I take that back, WE need a CVU.  

Do you know what it’s like to be bombarded by Flames fans arrogantly flaunting their new found wealth? It’s horriawful (horrible and awful mixed in a smoothie). They think this is just the top of the pops! Well i’ll let you down lightly Flames faithful, yo may beat the Canucks but there are a lot better teams than this. Four extra games isn’t as fun as you’d think.———–>Living proof<————-

Maybe the fix is on from the inside? Just kidding, we’ve all had it up to here with the conspiracies. But Brandon McMillan and Linden Vey? Bro.

It’s befuddling how Sven Baertschi gets called up and they throw in these guys? The lack of use of Henrik and Daniel over the first four games is enraging and to add to the fire Linden Vey, Derek Dorsett and Nick Bonino are the first choice? Wow! It might be time to promote Bo Horvat and get Radim Vrbata with the Sedins. Its not like that’s what you signed him for.

To see everything unravel regardless of the end result, hurts. Most of us had the mindset that if the Canucks made the playoffs this year, they were cool with losing if they went down fighting. This isn’t close to that scenario. Sure, Burrows getting the Sami Salo disease doesn’t help anything and Zack Kassian being sidelined by a mysterious injury never gave him the opportunity to set the bar. This team just hit their funk at the worst time possible.

Slightly better than the Jets though, not by much.

A higher draft pick would have been great but as one of the teams on the brink of elimination, they are one of the highest seeds to potentially fall. Was the late stretch really worth it? You have to believe it was and with some serious additions from the young guys next year (Shinkaruk, Virtanen, McCann?), the current new crop of players can build off of what essentially was a pretty good, nay, “real good” year.

There are still games to be played, at least one more tonight in Vancouver so all the worries could be meaningless if they flip the switch and make a series of it. The Canucks aren’t the best team in the post seasaon but if they figure it out, they aren’t the worst either.

Ryan Miller is supposed to start and Baertschi is making his debut. Baby steps. Score the first goal and go from there. NO, not YOU Calgary! I still believe in these guys even though I haven’t stopped crying since the end of Game 3. Just win Canucks, help get us to Saturday soberly.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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. 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Shawn Matthias Is The New Higgins, Time To Go Higgy

Chris Higgins was a great deadline deal for the Canucks and former GM Mike Gillis. His soldier like effort game in and game out made him a fan favorite and a great match for his coaches. He could be put anywhere in the lineup and produce. Well even though he has signed that nice little deal, there are cheaper options already making their mark and it looks like his time could be up. 

Shawn Matthias has a lot of those same characteristics, 4 years younger and producing at a higher clip. Matthias I believe, has also been very impactful to Zack Kassian. While Kass was busy being healthy scratched, he had time to see how the power forward position is played. Driving to the net, playing along the boards and the sweet finishing touch has given Jim Benning an upgrade at the 7th forward. Jannik Hansen has seen plenty of time at that spot and the natural progression is taking place.

Because Kassian is so young, emulating that type of player can only benefit his game and might be the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level of his career. Matthias is a UFA this summer and Benning would be smart to keep him around. Every team needs its stars but they also need a solid bottom six and having Matthias heading up that area is good for business. 

In 2011, when it all seemed to come together, Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were brought in at the deadline. Having those two experienced playoff performers put the Canucks over the top, well until Game 3 anyways. We uh, we lost the Cup after that. With Matthias here, he seems to be filling that role now.

With every game  Bo Horvat plays he climbs up the depth chart;  the emergence of Ronalds Kenins, as well as Kassian’s improvement, Higgins is being out youthed and simply outplayed. His ice time unfortunately doesn’t neccesarily dictate that but having to be paired with Radim Vrbata keeps him safe. 

Eventually Brad Richardson comes back and Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett will flank his wings; Chris Higgins will really need to prove he still holds value in a Canucks jersey. 

The Canucks didn’t need to make any moves this year and the term “stand pat” was used a bunch and if it’s one thing I love, it’s a good catch phrase. It sure says a lot about the future of the team when we still have Virtanen, McCann, Jensen and a good stable of picks. Benning wants to see this team through and didn’t want to jeopardize the future for a quick fix.

Higgins isn’t the only guy that most likely will be moved after this season and if for whatever reason the Nucks miss the spring dance, there is a boatload of talent in the top 15. Don’t be surprised if Bieksa and/or Hansen is moved as well, might be worth a hefty ransom.

Chris Higgins is still a very good player but at 31, and thats not old, his job can be done by a 25 year old. I’ll save the Ryan Miller debate for another day.

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Photo credit – metronews.ca