Monday, September 29, 2008

Henrik Sedin- NHL goon?

As shocking as the mostly humorous tussle between Henrik and Anaheim's Corey Perry late in OT was, even more shocking was this report from an Anaheim blog:
" The rest of the overtime period passed uneventfully except for roughing between Perry and Henrik Sedin with just :24.1 seconds left. Perry took exception to the cheap shot that Sedin threw to the back of Perry’s head and let Sedin know it would not be tolerated. Despite the rare display of chippy behavior, the game ended in a shootout." I will give you a second to wipe the milk off the screen. Where does one begin? From the implication that Perry was just an innocent victim, to the sentence that ends the paragraph (was the writer referring to the game, or Perry. If it was Perry, we need to talk...), it's simply an inaccurate portrayal of the incident. Perry clearly punched Henrik on the way into the boards, and Henrik's pop in the back of the head was a sign that indeed, it would not be tolerated. Henrik and Daniel, being the players teams often focus on when they play the Canucks are used to such abuse, and have become growingly more intolerant of it as they go on in their NHL careers. Perry on the other hand, is a very talented goal scorer, and certainly plays tough. He also has a reputation around the league for being a top notch agitator, in the league of players like Jarkko Ruutu, Darcy Tucker and the league's douchebag champions, teammate Chris Pronger and Dallas' Sean Avery. Perry's shot, while not enough to cause injury, was at best cheap and certainly showing the lack of respect that the NHL wants to get rid of. The question is, are the Canucks going to let it go, or will there be a subtle reminder from a much tougher Canucks squad on Sunday night that not only is this a team that will not be pushed around this season, but one that holds players accountable for their actions against its' star players like the Sedins and Roberto Luongo. My bet is Perry may have a full dancecard at GM Place.

Canucks 5 Ducks 4 (SO)

Kyle Wellwood (yes, you heard me correctly) had the shootout winner along with a beauty during regulation, and the Sedin/Bernier/Sedin line had 6 points to lead the Canucks to a 5-4 SO win at the Honda Center in Anaheim last night. Wellwood seems to be responding well to the pressure, as he set up the winner the night before in San Jose. He may not have been the dominant player on the ice for the Canucks, but it was still a night that will help him in his efforts to make this Canucks squad. Teemu Selanne notched 2 for the Ducks (not bad for a guy on a tryout...) and Ryan Getzlaf had 3 assists in a losing cause. The big story once again was special teams, the Canucks making the most of their few powerplay opportunities, going 2-4 with goals by Henrik Sedin and a rocket from Sami Salo, who had a 3 point night and apart from a couple giveaways had a solid game. The PK continued to shine, as the Ducks went 2-10, both from Selanne, though one of them was a 5 on 3. A huge issue was the number of hooking calls against the Canucks, seemingly a holdover from last season, and something that no doubt will need to be addressed. Anyone who believes the referees willingly even up calls should save the scoresheet from this game. A shocker in the final minute of OT saw Henrik Sedin drop the gloves with Corey Perry after Perry delivered a cheap suckerpunch as the 2 met along the boards. Both recieved roughing calls, and you can bet this will be addressed when these teams meet again in the pre-season at GM Place. Overall, another good road game, Curtis Sanford was strong, and I liked the way the team responded after the Ducks took a 3-2 lead in the latter half of the 3rd. 4 games, 4 1 goal victories. The naysayers will criticize the teams inability to blow teams out of the water, but I say they won hard fought victories over 3 of the best in the West. Last time I checked, 1 goal victories still get you two points in the standings, so if we get this kind of effort this season, it's gonna be a fun year. Next up for the Canucks is a match against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday at GM Place and the possibility of Todd Bertuzzi in the lineup, likely on a line with Jarome Iginla. They will host the Sharks in a rematch the following night, and close out the preseason with another tilt against the Ducks Sunday evening.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

GAME DAY: Canucks vs. Ducks

The Canucks continue their winning ways with a strong effort in the Shark Tank last night, and the B squad hopes to do the same tonight as they roll into Anaheim to face the Ducks. The much anticipated line of Steve Bernier playing beside the Sedin brothers will make it's debut tonight, marking the first time the Canucks have their planned #1 line in a game situation. The Canucks can expect to see the Dynamic duo of Chris Pronger and Scott Neidermeyer in the lineup for the Ducks tonight, as both players did not play in the game against Phoenix last night. Willie Mitchell and Kevn Bieksa will lead the Canucks D, along with Sami Salo and Rob Davison, who has looked solid so far, expect Curtis Sanford to get the start tonight for the Canucks, and there is much anticipation for the Canucks 2nd line featuring 1st rounders Cody Hodgson and Micheal Grabner, likely playing with Pierre-Cedric Labrie or Dan Gendur. The Canucks 3rd line should be Ryan Jonson centering Darcy Hordichuk and Alex Burrows. Reports say Brendan Morrison likely won't be in the lineup for the Ducks tonight, but there is a chance Josh Green could be. Even with it being a pre-season game, expect a physical, emotional affair, as these 2 teams always play each other hard. The way the Canucks have played so far, I see no reason to expect they can't stay undefeated.

Canucks 3 Sharks 2

The Canucks youth movement continues to show promise, as they did something they were unable to do last year, getting a win in San Jose. Goals by Jason Krog, Jannik Hansen and a beauty PP marker from Pavol Demitra, as well as more strong goaltending from Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider helped the Canucks build a 3-0 lead after 2, then hang on for the 3-2 victory. I think the thing I enjoyed the most was a consistent work effort, for the most part for a 3rd consecutive game. There are a number of players challenging for roster spots and they are definitely making their presence felt. Mike Brown and Rick Rypien both did well in fights, Brown in the 1st against Ryan Clowe, and Rypien in the 2nd against a tougher and bigger Brad Staubitz. Despite suffering a bloodied face, Rypien surprised Staubitz more than once with his ability to change hands, and landed a number of blows against the San Jose prospect. Special teams got it done for Vancouver, as they scored two PP goals on the best PK in the NHL so far this pre-season, as well as a shorthanded marker by Krog, who tapped in a rebound after Sharks' goalie Brian Boucher stopped Jannik Hansen on a breakaway. Hansen has to be considered almost a lock to make the team with his strong play, he now has 3 points in 2 games. Kyle Wellwood had a decent game, showing a loss of focus at times, but still turning in a decent performance, picking up an assist on the Hansen goal. Mason Raymond looked very fast last night, and apart from a couple giveaways, Demitra looks like he is going to fit in well in the Canucks' offensive scheme this year. The Sharks made a contest of it halfway through the 3rd as Ryan Clowe broke the shutout on Schneider on the PP, and Patrick Marleau added one with 9 seconds left, but it wasn't enough to stop the Canucks from moving to 3-0. Joe Thornton was remarkably average for the Sharks, including taking a very selfish penalty in the 1st that was rather uncharacteristic for the reigning NHL assist leader.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

GAME DAY: Oilers @ Canucks

The Canucks and Oilers go back to back tonight, and the first home appearance of the season for the Canucks gives the fans a look at a number of new faces tonight at GM Place. Darcy Hordichuk will make an appearance on the 1st line with Henrik Sedin and jannik Hansen, while the much anticipated 2nd line has Pavol Demitra and Steve Bernier centered by this years 1st round draft pick Cody Hodgson. Alex Burrows is on a 3rd line with Mark Cullen and Alexandre Bolduc and newcomer Ryan Johnson centers Mike Brown and Micheal Grabner. Luongo will get the start in goal for the first half, with Sanford playing the 2nd half for the Canucks. The Oilers iced a lineup that will probably look like the one they will start the season for them, minus just a couple notables like knuckledragger Zach Stortini, so you can expect him and Hordichuck to renew aquaintances tonight. At press time no word on the Oilers line up and once again the game is available on Rogers Sportsnet, team 1040 and streaming on Being the shameless homers that we are, we're gonna call the Canucks on this one.

Canucks 4 Oilers 3 (SO)

There were some who said the signing of unrestricted free agent Jason Krog was a bold move by new Canucks GM Mike Gillis, last night showed it may have been a smart one as well. Krog got the shootout winner in a spirited contest at Rexall Place in Edmonton as the Canucks opened the preseason with a 4-3 win over the Oilers. Edmonton opened the score early with PP goal from Sheldon Souray, set up by the Oilers' big summer aquisition Eric Cole, but the Canucks answered back just over a minute later as the Brabarian Jeff Cowan tapped one home from Labrie and Kesler. Later in the period The Cole, Horcoff, Souray combo struck again, this time it was Cole lighting the lamo, but a Canucks power play say Daniel Sedin and Kyle Wellwood set up a pinching Mattias Ohlund to tie it 2-2. The Oilers' sensational sophmore Sam Gagner made dad Dave proud, despite playing for the opposition as he scored a beautiful SH goal on Cory Schneider, but late in the 3rd Dan Gendur, from Jason Jaffray and Krog tied it at 3. Nothing of note in OT so it went to the shootout, Gagner notching a beauty over the shoulder for Edmonton, while Wellwood and Krog with the winner sealed it for the Canucks. Souray, Krog and Schneider were the 3 stars last night, Schneider was especially impressive, making a number of highlight reel saves for the Canucks.

Monday, September 22, 2008

GAME DAY: Canucks vs. Oilers

After a whirlwind training camp, the Canucks begin the first of seven pre-season tune-ups, starting with a home and home against the Oilers.

Pre-season contests are always interesting as you see who the coaches send out, especially early before the cuts have been made, but tonight will give us a look at some of the new faces as well as some youngsters. These are the projected lineups for tonight:
D.Sedin - Wellwood - Pyatt
Pettinger - Krog - Simek
Jaffray - Kesler - Gendur
Cowan - Rypien - Raymond

Ohlund - Heshka
Mitchell - Baumgartner
Rahimi - Edler
Davison - Sharrow
(Hat tip to WetCoaster of CDC)

Cory Schneider will start in goal with Karl Goehring (who?) backing him up. Not a surprise to see the Sedins split up to start the pre-season, but an interesting combination pairing Daniel with newcomer Kyle Wellwood and Taylor Pyatt. The 2nd and 3rd lines both look fast and the interesting combination of tough guys Jeff Cowan and Rick Rypien with Mason Raymond on the 4th line is an odd one... but you've got to put him somewhere, right? After the horrific number of injuries sustained in last year's camp here in Victoria, the fact they all came out of it healthy is an automatic bonus for the Canucks. At press time we didn't have a lineup for the Oilers, so your guess is as good as mine, but you can bet this being a home game the Oilers will probably give their fans a look at some of the new faces (Eric Cole, Robbie Schremp and Gilbert Brule). The Oilers haven't made a lot of changes from last year, incuding standing pat in net, and while they did play better at times, still missed the playoffs. Some are saying this team is a darkhorse to do some damage, and while they seemed to have addressed the offensive side of the table with Brule and Cole, defensively they are still in the same boat they were last year. The game goes at 6pm tonight on Sportsnet, with it being webcast on and as always on the air on team 1040. By the way, John Shorthouse makes his Sportsnet debut tonight, and no word on which of the 47 play by play men are calling the radio tonight...

This year's first bus casualty...

Looks as though all that hard work showing up early by Kyle Wellwood might have been smoke and mirrors...

Coach Alain Vigneault called out the waiver pickup, questioning his desire and commitment level, before a game has even been played. It's always a tricky thing, when a coach publicly calls out a player to try and motivate them. Some respond, others retreat further. Wellwood showed in Junior he can score, but since making the NHL has yet to really bust out the way some feel he could. You have to think for guys like Cody Hodgson and Micheal Grabner, this is a good sign, as that is another spot up for grabs (no pun intended). Wellwood will have to really turn it up, or it's gonna be a long cold winter in Winnipeg.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Training camp is underway...

Well it may have been a season to forget, but if the turnout in Whistler for day 1 of the Canucks' training camp is any indication, the fans are certainly putting it behind them. They were forced to turn people away as the veterans, including new additions Rob Davison, Lawrence Nycholat, Ryan Johnson, Darcy Hordichuk, Steve Bernier, Jason Krog, Pavol Demitra, and Kyle Wellwood. There is quite a buzz surrounding some of the kids, and lots of interesting sub-plots: Lines (the first line with the Sedins and Bernier appears set, but lots of possibilities beyond that), Who will be filling in the 6 and 7 spots on the D (Krajicek, Davison, McIver, returning Dman Nolan Baumgartner , and youngsters Daniel Rahimi and Yann Sauve, who looked good at the prospects camp), and which youngsters will graduate from the Moose, if any (Grabner, Gendur, Simek and Cody Hodgson all turned heads at UBC).
Here's what some of the press and bloggers are saying about the incredibly short camp this weekend:
Iain MacIntyre
Ben Kuzma
Elliot Pap
Yankee Canuck's Training camp open thread

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Prospects Camp Begins Friday

It's so close now you can almost feel it. Hockey season is rapidly approaching, and it all begins with training camp. This year the Canucks are up in Whistler, and will begin camp with an evaluation of their prospects starting Friday in Vancouver. Physicals will be held at GM Place, and then they will have sessions Saturday through Monday at UBC's Thunderbird Arena. They then head off to Camrose, AB for a match against the Flames' prospects Monday night, and the Oilers' prospects the following night. The coaching staff will be watching a few of the players to see if they're ready to possibly step in to the lineup, like Swedish defenceman Daniel Rahimi, Forward Micheal Grabner and goalie Corey Schnieder. We will have details on the main camp soon, as well as letting you know when Season 3 of the WAACH podcast launches, a look at the upcoming season division by division and a special focus on the Northwest and the Canucks Rivals.