vancouver canucks

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

Anatomy of Bo Horvat: The Next Ryan Kesler

It’s no secret we all love Canucks sophomore Bo Horvat. He’s physical, he’s fast, he has amazing hands and he’s like-able. His progression up the depth chart in less than a calendar year has not been seen in some time by a Canucks forward and it looks like he’ll only get better. We’ve seen this before; Ryan Kesler was that guy that we couldn’t stop talking about. Will this time around be different or are we destined to repeat history?

 

Bo Horvat enters his second season as the favorite to take over the 2nd line centre position, much to the chagrin of Brandon Sutter I’m sure. All Horvat has done is win endless amounts of faceoffs, create energy on a team begging for a spark and put the puck in the net. Maybe Bo isn’t quite Kesler 2.0 yet but he’s being put in a position to climb that ladder.

With 13G, 12A, a SHG and a GWG in 68 games, Bo wasn’t a world burner last season but his presence at the face off circle made him a threat every time he was on the ice. He finished an impressive 2nd on the team with a 51.4% clip in the middle along with his shooting % of 14.1. On a team that really doesn’t shoot a lot outside of the top line and the defense, that isn’t exactly amazing news.

But it’s not just the statistics that make Horvat a future star, it’s his hustle and willingness to create the play, he doesn’t just wait for it to happen. He’s wise beyond his years and understands that the pro game isn’t just one step and you’re there; it’s progression. Jason Botchford wrote a great piece about Bo here and it shows how he has elevated his maturity and readiness to be more for the Canucks this season.

Last season, we all wanted Bo to make the squad but it wasn’t just because he looked good out there, he looked like he belonged. That’s a tough thing to accomplish as a 19 year old but as the season went on and Willie Desjardins loosened the leash a bit, Horvat began to blossom.

The natural progression of any young player is to work your way up and earn your keep; Bo made quick work of his 4th line duties and even the 3rd line position. He just kept getting better and on a Canucks team that wasn’t, he brought more and more every game.

Sound familiar?

Ryan Kesler was that player we all wanted in the lineup but in a different sort of way. Kesler had a similar drive to Horvat but he had a bit of a mean streak to him as well. A slightly cocky American teenager, Kesler had grit. He was an absolute competitor and even if his body failed him, his heart and mind pushed forward.

Receiving a serious eye injury in the 2004 World Junior Championship against Slovakia, Kesler was close to losing sight in that eye, but he pushed on and was right back at it against Sweden. He would kill penalties and in the Gold Medal game against Canada he netted the infamous GTG against Marc Andre Fleury. USA would go on to win the Gold Medal.

Ryan also suffered a hip injury in 2006-07 and upon his return to the playoffs broke his finger in the opening round as noted here in a 2011 article:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Ryan Kesler would never admit that he and the Vancouver Canucks need a few days off before the Western Conference finals.

Kesler is the player who asked doctors to cut off a badly broken finger in his first postseason game four years earlier, and he is also the guy who returned to Game 5 on Saturday night against the Nashville Predators in the same period in which he was hit so hard by a deflected puck that the cut went right through his lower lip and knocked out a tooth.

So even with his swollen face turning shades of yellow and purple around the stitches crisscrossing jaggedly an inch below his lip, Kesler wouldn’t say he wanted time to recover.

Stubborn? Yes. Dedicated. Absolutely.

Kesler was a gamer for the Canucks and his shift disturbing nature along with team mate Alex Burrows gave the Canucks a needed edge in games where they weren’t always the favourite. He was everything we wanted in a Vancouver Canuck and he delivered the goods.

In the 2011 Western Semi-Final against the Nashville Predators, Ryan Kesler put the Canucks on his shoulders and almost singlehandedly won that series. Beast mode had arrived. Unfortunately, after that playoff run we never saw the same Kes.

His drive put him at another level and his body suffered and the strained relationship between the team, fans and Kesler began. It was never repaired.

Bo Horvat has a very similar motivation. He is a student of the game and unlike Kesler, he passes the puck when the time is right. Bo doesn’t necessarily have or require a “scoring winger” yet but when the time comes, there will be weapons readily available to him in the form of Brendan Gaunce, Hunter Shinkaruk and Jake Virtanen.

Both players have been very efficient when down a man and Bo is quickly becoming the PK monster that we lost when Kesler departed. It was such a huge part of the Canucks game when Ryan could kill important penalties and help the Canucks rebound the other way.

Vancouver isn’t going to be a team that draws too many penalties but when they do, Horvat will be a mainstay at some point and his ability to win the all important face off will set the team up for so many more goals than they deserve.

Looking at the similarities between Bo and Ryan is easy in some respects but when it comes to the chirping and the play after the whistles, its safe to say Bo will let his play between the whistles do the talking; something Kesler took awhile to establish.

This go around will be different for the Vancouver Canucks as they are making their build count this time. It may take a few years to fully develop but the future will be in young Horvat’s hands.

Hopefully Bo doesn’t require emergency eye surgery or have his finger practically dismembered to prove his dedication to his team and fans; we’re done with the travesties.

The trade that sent Cory Schneider to the Devils for the 9th overall pick may end up being the Canucks saving grace and as Bo continues to develop into an all around threat at both ends of the rink, we can only smile more.

Ryan Kesler may have left the Canucks and all the great years he gave us will not be forgetten; but Bo Horvat has an opportunity to eclipse Kesler and turn the Vancouver Canucks into HIS team. The fans are already on his side and so is the coach. Both so different and yet very much the same, Horvat at some point will be compared to Kesler for his accolades in Vancouver but his path will be much different.

As the comparisons pile up to who the next Cam Neely will be, why not see what the current Bo Horvat can do? The sky is the limit for this kid and at some point he’ll probably be awarded a letter that only a few players before him have worn better.

Bo Horvat isn’t Ryan Kesler . He’s Canadian, he’s young…and he’s a Vancouver Canuck.

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