Friday, October 31, 2008

Canucks 4 Kings 0

After an evening of frustration against Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins, you could almost feel Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks were going to come charging out of the gates Thursday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and that's exactly what happened. Slump busting nights from Daniel, Henrik and Taylor Pyatt and the best game of the year from Roberto Luongo led the Canucks to a 4-0 victory over the Kings, a team they struggled against last season.

The Kings ran into early penalty trouble, with Dustin Brown (who was shockingly given 3rd star honors... not much homerism there, eh?) drew a double-minor for high sticking, on a play that will go down in history as the time an NHL referee actually saw Ryan Kesler get high sticked. Matt Greene then took a hooking penalty during the sustained pressure, and while the Kings were able to kill off Brown's penalty, Daniel from Henrik and Kevin Bieksa opened the scoring. The Canucks made it 2-0 on a beauty from Mason Raymond while the teams were 4 on 4, faking out the defenceman and driving to the net and depositing a wicked wrist shot behind Jason LaBarbera. Another PP goal in the 2nd as Kyle Wellwood continues to put up points, getting his 3rd since being called up from Manitoba on a beautiful setup by the Sedins for an easy tap in. Taylor Pyatt got his 1st of the season, a fine reward for a very strong game as he deflected home a Willie Mitchell point shot to round out the scoring in the 3rd. Roberto Luongo stopped 28 for the shutout including a Dmitri Frolov penalty shot. Luongo is now 2 for 3 on penalty shots this season.

Pretty much a flawlessly executed road game, the Canucks capitalized on chances when they got them, and held the Kings to under 30 shots, 8 of them coming from Dustin Brown. Rookie Oscar Moller had a few good opportunities and was robbed by Luongo more than once. Mason Raymond now has 7 points in his last 7 games, and Willie Mitchell notched his 5th of the season already, on pace to shatter his career best 14 points in a season. The win was Luongo's 40th career shutout, making him the 28th goalie in NHL history to hit that mark. No time to rest though as the Canucks are heading across town to square off against the red hot Ducks tonight at the Honda Center. After a slow start the Ducks have rattled off 5 straight wins, and will be eager to get at the Canucks, who split the preseason series with them and won 3 of 4 last season. The game marks the regular season debut of Brendan Morrison against his old squad, and another ex-Canuck has joined Burke's ranks: Bret Hedican, who signed with Anaheim recently. Roberto Luongo should get the start tonight, while J.S. Giguere will likely get the nod for the Ducks. Gametime is at 7pm and it's on Rogers Sportsnet. Family commitments are keeping the podcasts out of commision for a couple days, but we will likely be back on Tuesday. More blog updates before then though...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

GAME DAY: Canucks vs Bruins

A much more energized Canucks team laid it to the Oilers on Saturday night, as we saw signs of the team that rolled through the preseason in a 6-3 victory over the Oilers. The game was prefaced with something as Canucks fans we have never, ever heard before: "What will the Canucks do about secondary scoring?". As you saw in the game, the secondary scoring is fine. It's our first line that has been awfully quiet as of late. 2 goals from Janick Hansen and Mason Raymond as well as markers from Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog (which didn't cause a flurry of discussion on CDC at all), and 4 for 6 on the power play led the Canucks to victory.

Another tough test tonight at GM Place as the Boston Bruins roll into town, fresh off a 1-0 ot win over the Oilers last night. Boston is off to a decent start, and have played well on the road so far this season. They haven't been to Vancouver in almost 3 years, and haven't won here since 2002, but you can bet they and former Vancouver Giants star Milan Lucic will be looking to change that. Lucic has been turning heads this season with his 1st career hat trick against Atlanta last week and a devastating hit against the Maple Leafs' Mike Van Ryn. Tim Thomas got the shutout last night, so you can expect to see a familiar foe in net for the Bruins: former Minnesota G Manny Fernandez is expected to get the start. Phil Kessel is also having a great year, with 6 goals so far. The Bruins have a pretty decent mix; size, speed, skill and toughness, and it's helped them keep pace in a very competitive NorthEast Division (hell even the Leafs are still in the hunt). For all the bitching and moaning from some on the CDC board, Mason Raymond has quietly put together a 5 game point streak and will look to keep that going tonight. The Canucks are hoping to have Sami Salo back in the lineup tonight, but recieved more bad news as Rick Rypien suffered a sports hernia tear working out in preparation to return from a viral infection. He will need abdominal surgery and is out indefinitely. A real shame, as Rypien has been a very pleasant surprise this season. Roberto Luongo, who played better in the win over the Oilers gets the start tonight. Ryan Kesler leads the Canucks in scoring, and is also proud owner of a 5 game point streak, and Daniel Sedin broke his 5 game slump with an assist in the last game.

The keys to a Vancouver victory in this game:
1- Train Kept A Rollin'- The PP is back in a big way after going 1 for their last 13. 66% will certainly help you win a game, and was the biggest factor Saturday night. The PK also re-emerged as they held the Oilers to 0-4 on the man advantage. The Canucks are 3-0 when not giving up a short handed goal, so discipline and continued strong work on the PK will be huge.
2- Who doesn't like Swedish twins?- While certain players are taking the brunt of the wrath from fans and press alike, the Sedins have been far too quiet this season. Nothing like a nationally televised game to bring out the best in the Dynamic Duo, so look for them and linemate Steve Bernier to have a strong game.
3- 666- The Canucks 2 home ice wins have seen them score 6 each time, so maybe we can expect another big outburst? Probably not, but after a hard fought game against the Oilers, the Canucks need to use their speed to take advantage of what should be a tired Bruins squad and get an early lead for the 7th man to latch onto and spoil Lucic's homecoming.

Up next for the Canucks is a short jaunt down the California coast to wrap up October with games against the Kings Thursday (PPV) and Friday against the improving Ducks. After that they kick off a tough November with a visit from the defending Stanley Cup Champs from Detroit on Sunday. Our next podcast will be online Thursday with Bruins post game reaction as well as a preview of the Thursday tilt in Los Angeles.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

GAME DAY: Canucks vs Oilers

We knew this 12 day 6 game road swing at the start of the season was going to be a tough one. Many of us dared not admit the scenarios we saw in the back of our heads: a litany of injuries and less than half the games won. So here we are, sitting in the basement of the NW Division, desparately needing a win to keep pace tonight in the first real crucial game of the season. Despite the injuries, the Canucks find themselves in a pretty decent position tonight. They are back at home and have had 3 days rest, and are facing an Oilers squad that has lost their last 2 contests and have suddenly started looking human after a 4-0 start. The injury bug has hit the Oilers too, as they could be missing Shawn Horcoff, Fernando Pisani, Steve Staios and J.F. Jacques. The Canucks have added Kyle Wellwood and Jason Krog to replace Pavol Demitra and Rick Rypien (rib contusion and viral infection, respectively). Wellwood had a goal and an assist, and Krog will be on a PP unit with the Sedins as Taylor Pyatt has been demoted from the special teams unit. Darcy Hordichuk may be back tonight, and Sami Salo is listed as day to day with a groin injury. The Canucks were 4-1-3 against the Oilers last season, but no doubt the April 3rd win by the Oilers to knock them out of the playoffs is on the minds of a few of the Canucks. A number of things are going to have to happen for the Canucks to snap this 3 game losing streak tonight. Special teams must improve greatly, especially the PK, which has been horrible after a run of 14 straight kills to start the season. The power play must score (anyone remember 'The Shift' from last season? That was against the Oilers...) and score more than once. They must lock things down defensively right from the start, as the first periods have been killing the Canucks this season. Roberto Luongo must be the better goalie tonight. He has been below average on this trip, giving up uncharcteristic goals, and not making the big save when the Canucks really needed it. They also need to avoid the shootout, as we went 0-3 against the Oilers last season. And once again we need a huge game from the Sedins. The Canucks haven't lost when they both get a point, and are 150-49-20 when that happens.

It should be a good game, better than what we have seen over the last week from the team, as they attempt to get back on course early in the season. Oh and did you hear that Mats Sundin is working out in L.A. to prepare for a return to the NHL. Just sayin'.

In other news, the St. Louis Blues decided to one-up the Flyers by asking Sarah Palin to drop the puck at their game, well after her blatant race baiting and lies had been cranked up. So is it any wonder that not only did the Flyers finally win a game last night, and the Blues lost to the Kings, but also Blues G Manny Legace was injured in the pregame ceremony by tripping over the red carpet? Stunning to see that the NHL and some of it's teams are so desparate for fans and publicity that they would attatch the game and its' reputation to a figure so utterly repugnant recent polls show voters find Dan 'Potatoe' Quayle more qualified to be Vice President than Palin. How embarassing for hockey. The NHL seems to be getting their marketing heads out of their collective asses with their Super Saturday promotion. The main issue though, is that there isn't a game on NBC, to provide the maximum exposure. The idea is a good one though, but they could do so much more to push the whole 15 games in one night idea. Maybe there is hope for them after all, but probably not... And before you get on the idea that I think the Flyers Palin curse is over, they lost Danny Briere for up to a month last night. Heh.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

PRE GAME: Canucks @ Chicago

After a crappy start to the game in Buffalo Friday night the Canucks actually didn't play that bad, but having already spotted the Sabres a 3 goal lead it was too much for them to overcome. This afternoon they take on a Chicago Blackhawks team that was expected by many to be a lock for a playoff spot, but have already fired their coach 4 games into the season. Who ever said don't kick a man when he's down, never saw a hockey game.

It's early in the season, but this one could be the 1st must win game of the year. The situation seems to be set for a Canucks win, facing a team struggling, looking for an identity with a new coach, lacking confidence and having blown a 3rd period lead with less than a minute to go, the night before to lose in the shootout.

Roberto Luongo has many people scratching their heads right now. After opening the year with a shutout over Calgary, he has gone 2-1 and given up 12 goals in those 3 games. It's a given that he will need a strong effort today to help the Canucks right the ship and avoid losing 2 straight. But that's not the only issue facing the Canucks. The PP, which looked impressive in the preseason, is chugging along at 8%, while the PK has slumped to 77.8%. They will have their hands full again on the PP, as Chicago is ranked 6th on PK, but their PP is nearly as bad as the Canucks. They must start playing better on the special teams if they wish to keep pace with Minnesota and Edmonton, who are both off to great starts so far this season.

Chicago seems on paper at least to have something to build on. They have some incredible young talent up front and on the back end, and 2 quality veteran goalies. So is it just the coaching that has them floundering to start the year? Can the Canucks catch a team in an early season tail-spin and get back in the win column? Here's the keys to the game:

1- Dominate early- The Canucks downfall this season has come in the first period. They have been able to come back from getting behind, but in the NHL the team that scores first usually wins. The Canucks need to come charging out of the gate like they did in Detroit Thursday using their speed and size and take a team already struggling with confidence, and their fans, out of it early.

2- Top line must show up- After a great start against Calgary, the Sedin/Sedin/Bernier line, while not playing bad has been rather silent. The young defence of the Hawks could be just the thing they need to get back in the swing of things.

3- Discipline and tightening up the back end- Ok so that makes 4 but they are both important. The Canucks have spent way too much time in the box lately, and will need to make sure they don't find themselves shorthanded too often. After a game against Buffalo which saw usually rock steady Dman Willie Mitchell play one of his worst as a Canuck, the D needs to step up and ensure that shots don't get through to Roberto Luongo and that anyone who attempts to go to the net pays a price for it.

We will touch on this game a little more after a recap of last night's events:
-Dallas continues to struggle as Colorado got two from Milan Hejduk in a 5-4 win in Dallas, Fabian Brunnstrom scored again for Dallas, giving the rookie 4 in 3 games,

-Montreal continued to roll as Alex Tanguay had 2 in their 4-1 win over Phoenix at the Bell Center

-The Bruins got a pair from Phil Kessel en route to a 4-2 over the Sens in Ottawa last night. Daniel Alfredsson had one for the Sens.

-Sidney Crosby was one of 4 goal scorers for the Penguins in their 4-1 romp over the Leafs

-Zach Parise had the shootout winner as the Devils came from behind to beat the Capitals 4-3. Alexander Semin had 2 for the Caps to continue his strong play.

-It took a shootout to do it, but Slava Koslov got the skills competition winner to lift the Thrashers to a 3-2 win over the Sabres last night. Thomas Vanek and jason Pminville scored for Buffalo, while Ilya Kovalchuk and Bryan Little replied for Atlanta.

-Rick Dipietro may be back but that didnt help the Islanders as they were shutout 2-0 by the Panthers who got goals from Nick Boynton and Cory Stillman, Tomas Vokoun with the SO.

-Aaron Voros had 2 for the Rangers but it was Marian Hossa with his first as a Red Wing as Detroit took down NY 5-4 in OT.

-Minnesota remained perfect to start the year as Annti Miettinen got the shootout winner to defeat Tampa Bay 1-0
Nick Backstrom and Mike Smith were both credited with shutouts.

-Nashville got 2 from Martin Erat as they stomped Columbus 6-3

-St. Louis needed a shootout goal from rookie TJ Oshie as the Blues came from behind to beat the Blackhawks 4-3, The blues had tied tied it with under 14 seconds left. Keith Tkachuk got his 6th of the season in that one, making me wonder if his contract expires this season...

-Miikka Kiprusoff gave up 3 goals in just under 4 minutes in the 2nd, blowing a 2-0 lead as the Oilers swept the Flames in the back end of their home and home series 3-2. Kiprusoff has now allowed 19 goals in 5 games and has a save percentage of .843 in the first 4. Todd Bertuzzi had a goal for the Flames in a losing cause

-The Sarah Palin curse continues for the Flyers as they lost 5-4 in OT to the Sharks. Dan Boyle with the winner and Daniel Briere had 2 for the winless Flyers.

The Canucks are in game 5 of this 6 game road trip, and though there have been ups and downs, a win today in Chicago and Tuesday in Columbus will certainly help them . They return home and have 3 days rest before a big game against the Oilers Saturday, then a visit from the Bruins next Tuesday. They wrap up October with a jaunt to Southern California to take on the Kings and the struggling Ducks.

We will have complete post-game wrap up and a preview of the last game of this 6 game road trip in our next podcast for you Tuesday. The game today of course is PPV, and can be heard on the air and online at

Friday, October 17, 2008

Buffalo 5 Canucks 2

Ebb and tide... I swear the Canucks at least keep you guessing. It's not that tonight's effort was bad. Buffalo is a highly skilled team that took advantage of their chances, got some bounces and a little help from McCreary and Fraser (these 2 are getting grouchier and more out of step every year). The Canucks made a few errors and the Sabres made them pay for it. Should make for an interesting round of discussion with all the 'experts' on Saturday as they will no doubt pay more attention to the loss tonight than the victory last night. Oh yeah and all those guys on tv will talk about that, too. The Pyatt/Demitra/Raymond line looked better tonight, but the Sedins spent most of their evening doing that maddening 'cycling til we get the perfect set...oh... I lost the puck' thing. I feel bad for Curtis Sanford sometimes. I know he tries his ass off, and it's not easy being Luongo's backup, but at the same time he needs to make that big save and tonight he wasn't able to. Hopefully they can rebound in time for Sunday. The next podcast should be posted Saturday evening, but may be delayed til Sunday because of work tomorrow.

Wellwood on Waivers

As one who um, sometimes shows up a little out of playing shape, I was hoping Kyle Wellwood could get it together. Sadly, No (apologies to the fine folks at Sadly, No). Can't say I blame the Canucks on this one, given the way guys like Rick Rypien, Ryan Johnson and even Darcy Hordichuk are playing, there's no room for a guy like Kyle. Maybe he can get his head clear in Manitoba and come back, because the guy does have skills, it just seems like they're more about NHL '09 than playing in the NHL.

Canucks 4 Red Wings 3 OT

On opening night this year the Red Wings unveiled their Stanley Cup Banner, and then lost to the Leafs. After last night's ceremony honoring longtime Red Wing great Alex Delvecchio with a statue only to see them give up a 3rd period lead and lose in OT, you think maybe they might want to keep the ceremonies to themselves. A great road game for the Canucks last night led by the 3rd line of Kesler, Burrows and Hansen, each one scored along with Mason Raymond as the Canucks rattled off an impressive 4-3 OT win at the Joe Louis Arena last night. The Canucks did a great job of matching the Wings speed wise, and while it wasn't Luongo's best game, he made some key saves, especially in the 3rd period that enabled the team to get back in the game and tie it up. While they got a fairly consistent effort from the entire team, the Kesler line as well as strong play from Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo and Alex Edler showed that this team can compete, and sent a message after the Washington loss Monday night that they are a team that needs to be taken seriously. No rest for the wicked though as the Canucks are right back at it in Buffalo tonight. Curtis Sanford will be getting the start as The Canucks rest Roberto Luongo for Sunday's match against the Blackhawks. It will be a big night for Steve Bernier as he goes up against his former Sabres teammates for the first time. The Sabres are off to a great start, 3-0-0 with just 3 goals against in those games. Thomas Vanek is off to a great start, with 5 goals already in this young season, and G Ryan Miller is 2-0-0 with a 0.96 GAA. Curtis Sanford saw his first action of the season in the 3rd period of the Washington loss and stopped all 10 shots he faced, and was strong in the pre-season. With his 2 point performance last night Alex Burrows took over the team scoring lead with 5 points, as that checking line of the Canucks continues to do more than neutralize the opponent's top lines but score as well. Congrats to Jannik Hansen on his first career goal and to Roberto Luongo for career win #200! Game time is at 4:30 on Rogers Sportsnet and Team 1040, we will have postgame wrap up and the preview of Sunday's match against the Blackhawks on the next episode of WAACH on Saturday.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

GAME DAY: Canucks vs Red Wings

Time to erase Monday from your minds as the Canucks roll into Detroit to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions. We've made some changes to the podcasting schedule, you can now check out new podcasts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. We kick it all off with the pregame show right here.
Just a note, Henrik Zetterberg will not dress tonight for the Wings, so that certainly helps the Canucks' chances, and Canucks D Lawrence Nicholat will draw into the lineup paired with Shane O'Brien.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

As the smoke clears...

You know I don't really think this is a place for too much politics, I have other blogs for that. But it is blog action day, so I just want to use this blog and my other blogs to get you all for just one second and think about poverty. Chances are, if you're reading this you aren't suffering from any type of poverty. You own a computer, have a roof over your head, food to eat. Last night's federal election really left me discouraged and dismayed at this country and 40.9% of the citizenry. That's the number of you that felt it simply wasn't important enough to try and shape the future of this country. You didn't care about saving our healthcare system from being dragged into an American style user pay system. You didn't care enough about the environment. You didn't care about an economic system that is spiraling downward and shall soon see many of us, people that you know and love, experiencing poverty. And you didn't care that the Prime Minister of this country broke a law he passed, lied about it, and spent over 300 million dollars to take a few seats from the Liberals. As far as those of you who actually voted for the Conservatives, shame on you. Shame on you for being so easily deceived that "youth crime" is actually one of the top 5 concerns facing this country right now, let alone top 20. Shame on you for supporting an administration that has spent the last couple years hiding their agendas from us, lying about how much things cost and using OUR money to campaign for this election for almost 2 years now. At a time when the world is awakening to how conservatism as a movement is an abject failure, when the greed and utter contempt for humanity that is part and parcel of the conservative agenda is finally showing it's fruit, bank failures, economic disaster after economic disaster, you said "please Sir, may I have some more"? Congratulations. May you all get exactly what you wished for. Have fun enjoying the parade of youth criminals being carted off to prison in less numbers as the crime rate continues to drop as it has for years. Have fun seeing healthcare destroyed. Have a blast seeing our country's soldiers dragged into other unwinnable conflicts and then have the true costs hidden. That's what you wanted. American style government with no accountability.

*steps down off the soapbox*

I noticed something interesting this morning looking at something besides depressing election news. It's is very early, and I am certainly being careful not to invite karma, but I found it fascinating that some of the sure-bet big teams as predicted by so many of the pundits seem to be stumbling out of the gate. Dallas, Anaheim, Chicago and Philadelphia are all winless. Calgary notched their first last night. There are some ones that were correct, such as San Jose at 4-0-0, and the Avalanche going downhill fast already. If things continue on this path, Detroit looks like they actually have competition this year, though I am sure that they will run away with it in no time. Someone remind me again what kind of impact Ryan Hollweg was supposed to have for the Leafs besides clearing a spot on the bench for someone else to play? TSN is debuting it's new version of the Hockey Song tonight. It's been re-done by Simple Plan. Bloody Hell. Thanks, CBC. You could have prevented all of this. Now we have a Canadian institution performed by one of the most utterly craptacular bands this country has ever produced, and a new theme for Hockey Night In Canada that is about as inspiring as the Leafs themselves. This country is going straight to hell...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ugh. Caps 5 Canucks 1

Well that was ugly, wasn't it? You had to know after winning 8 of 9 since the start of the pre-season, the Canucks had to turn in a clunker. A shame it would happen on a PPV night, but I don't think they could have played much worse than they did. I feel fortunate to have not actually seen it, the radio call was bad enough. But after emotional victories over Calgary and a long streak with just 1 OT loss in 9 games, it's actually not a bad thing this happened. A little humility goes a long way, and sometimes you find out more about someone at their worst than at their best. The Vancouver Sun has reported this morning that Taylor Pyatt was not on the ice practicing in Washington with his teammates, as he was nursing a bruised foot suffered in last night's game.

So now it's time for the coaching staff to sit down and examine the damage from this loss. No doubt we will see the boys come charging out of the gates in the Motor City Thursday, those who don't should expect to have a fair amount more time on the bench. Roberto Luongo also needs to quiet the critics (out so soon... sheesh) and turn in a strong performance. The next podcast will be available Thursday, we will look at the pregame for the Canucks/Red Wings game, recap the news and lots more.

On a sad note, we wish to let all the Rangers fans know our hearts are with them over the loss of 19 year old Alexi Cherapanov, who died Monday in a KHL game. It's an ugly one, to be sure, and we know their feelings, having just dealt with this loss ourselves.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Canucks 5 Flames 4 (OT)

"Typical. Refs help the Canucks, as usual."
Gotta love the trolls on CDC. Forget that the Flames gave up a 3-1 lead, and then a 4-3 lead. Forget that they had Robyn Regehr back in the lineup, after apparently missing him so much Thursday (he was a -2 and coughed up the puck on the game opening goal from Daniel Sedin). It was the refs helping the Canucks. They certainly don't mind being the Rodney Dangerfields of the league. The Canucks moved to 2-0 with a home and home sweep of the Flames in a wild one, that featured some great plays, hits, fights and goals, in a game that was marred by bad calls (and non-calls) on both sides by the refs that really took the flow out of the game at times. A bit of a costly loss as Kevin Bieksa left with a leg injury after he got can-openered by Wayne Primeau. Some interesting notes:
- Rick Rypien equalled his goal total from last season already... and did he ever clean Brandon Prust's clock
- Todd Bertuzzi was a huge factor in the game for the Canucks tonight, oh... right he plays for the Flames. -1 and a goal he totally didn't mean to score, along with cheap shots on Daniel and Ryan Johnson (sure Johnson helped it out, but it was still dirty) proving that no matter how talented he is, he still finds ways to hurt his own team.
- Roberto had a shaky start, not all his fault but battled back and made some good saves. Kiprusoff though, looked shaky again...
- Can't say enough about Willie Mitchell tonight, +3 and a great scrap with Jarome Iginla.
- No matter how many times you see them do it, it still makes your jaw drop when the Sedins score goals like that.
- Cheers to Darcy Hordichuk for a decent game, making the most of very little ice time, he made his presence felt.
- Pavol Demitra picked a great time to show up... and Burrows and Kesler continue to turn heads around the league
- Mason Raymond looks so damn dangerous... now if we can just get Pyatt out of his slumber.
- Overall, a huge character win for the team as they head out east for some big games, starting with Alexander The Great in Washington.

Oh, and did I mention Rypien?

Random Saturday-ness...

Looks like the Leafs are coming crashing to earth as the Habs are up with 2 goals in 1:39 in the first... Florida's Bryan McCabe's MRI has revealed just bruising and no fractured vertebrae as originally suspected, good news for the Panthers as that would have been a huge blow to them so early in the season... Take Anze Kopitar off the wishlist, he was scheduled to become a free agent after next season, but the Kings today signed him to a seven-year, $47.6 million extension, making him the richest man in that tiny little country where he is from. Bet that buys a lot of goats... Need further proof that Sarah Palin is poison? Rangers 4 Flyers 0 in the first. The Alaska Disasta is looking like a real flop for Ed Snider as well as McSame... The Islanders are off to a good start tonight, up 3-0 against the Blues, but got some bad news as G Rick DiPietro has sweeling and fluid buildup around his recently operated on knee. That 100 bazillion dollar contract they signed him to is starting to make those AIG guys look like they actually know what the hell they're doing...

Canucks @ Flames pregame podcast

The podcasts are back! We have our first episode up and ready to go with tonight's pregame, just click here to listen.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Canucks 6 Flames 0

It was a night the Vancouver Canucks set aside to honor a fallen teammate. They then served notice on the Calgary Flames, the rest of the NHL and pundits across the continent: This Threat Is Real. While some have noted that the Canucks have added toughness and some offensive ability to the lineup this season, no one was willing to give them a chance, and some have the team finishing as low as 14th in the conference. I am not saying that the Canucks are going to unseat the Red Wings at the top, but this Vancouver team is very much alive, thank you. An emotionally charged team shook away the fog after the moving tribute to the late Luc Bourdon and scored a late one in the first, Henrik Sedin from his brother Daniel and Ryan Kesler as the Canucks took advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the Flames. The Flames had a number of power play opportunities in the first, and 8 scoring chances, but Roberto Luongo kept the gates closed to give them a chance. And that was exactly what they needed, as they stormed out in the second, with goals from Steve Bernier (his first as a Canuck) and Alex Burrows in the first 2 minutes. The Flames had absolutely no response for this new version of the Canucks, as they were outhit and outhustled for the entire 20 minutes. Their frustration showed as they found themselves shorthanded 3 times, and their 3 biggest players, Iginla, Phaneuf and Todd Bertuzzi were the culprits, taking undisciplined penalties. The Canucks were right back at it in the third, Burrows netting his second early on from new Canuck Ryan Johnson, who was impressive, blocking shots and working hard on the PK. Mattias Ohlund was a tower of strength on D last night, leading the way with 5 hits and was rewarded with a PP goal into an empty net after a rush from Taylor Pyatt left the big Swede unchallenged in front of the net. The game was chippy at times, even Jannik Hansen dropped the gloves with Damon Langkow after he took a poke at Roberto Luongo. This was probably the biggest message sent of the night: This team is not going to let anyone take liberties any longer. That was evident again as Dion Phaneuf rocked Daniel coming across the blueline (he clearly leaves his feet to make the hit, but hey, there was no injury and we won so I will let it slide), and had to answer to Steve Bernier, who was an assist short of the Gordie Howe hat trick for the night. The PP the Flames recieved didn't help, as the speedy Rick Rypien stole the puck and potted a beautiful shot top corner on Miikka Kiprusoff for the final tally of the night. After the slow start, the Canucks showed what had been developing during that great 6-0-1 preseason run: speed, toughness and tenacity, the likes of which we have rarely seen in this town. Oh, and lost in all this offense was a 25 save shutout by the new captain (sorry Don Cherry, some goalies are not shrinking violets). Another notice served against one of the better goalies in the league for sure. To be fair to Kipper, his D left him hung out to dry a number of times. Kinda sad to see how ready the CBC crew of Mark Le and former Canucks coach Marc Crawford were to remind everyone that Robyn Regehr was back in Calgary with his wife in labour. One player makes not a team, and as good as Regehr is, nothing could have stopped a team as focused as the Canucks were last night. A fitting tribute to Luc (who wore the #6 in Moncton for his Jr. team, as someone on the Canucks board pointed out), and a hell of a way to open the season. The team has a 6 game road swing coming up, starting with a rematch against the Flames Saturday. You know they will come out fighting after being thoroughly embarassed last night, so this will be the first real test. After that its 5 games out east, starting with Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals Monday. We will have the Canucks/Flames pregame podcast for you tomorrow, so check back.
The Canucks announced today that they have signed Alex Edler to a 4 year contract extension. A great move to lock up a kid who is becoming a bright light on our backline, and may be a star in this league if he continues to develop at the pace he has shown.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Podcast issues

We had our season premiere all ready to go, but some sound issues that simply couldn't be corrected means we have to miss our pregame report. Our apologies, and let's hope the boys get off to a better start tonight than we did.

You mean all we had to do was ask Avery???

Yes hockey fans, I know that we are all so very thrilled the sport we love gets underway for real tonight. And what would hockey season be without controversial comments from Sean Avery? The newest Dallas Stars forward is giving Marty Turco a run for the job of official team crackpot, based on his recent interview with ESPN:

"Our commissioner hasn't realized that he needs to probably do a better job of marketing the game and certainly some of the players in it," said Avery in an ESPN radio interview. "Nobody cares about Jarome Iginla and guys like that. They're just not exciting enough. They don't bring enough to the game.

"They haven't figured it out that villains and heroes are what sells, but I don't think that's ever going to change unless they hire me to run their marketing stuff."

We all know that hockey is in trouble in a number of markets in the U.S., but if anyone thinks that Avery knows what is best for hockey, let alone even cares about what is best for anyone but Sean Avery, you're as deluded as Avery is obnoxious. Yeah I know any reference to Avery is just giving him what he wants. But the sad reality is, he is more like Bettman than he realizes. He is self-centered, stubborn, and does things without regard of what the consequences are. And wouldn't you know he has just given everyone a reason to watch the first time Dallas comes rolling into Calgary.

Palin associates with known thugs

In an era where the game of hockey struggles with it's identity in the United States, Ed Snider of the Philadelphia Flyers has decided bad publicity is still publicity.
"Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, the nation’s most popular hockey mom, will join the winner of the Philadelphia Flyers regional search for the “Ultimate Hockey Mom” contest and drop the puck at the ceremonial opening face-off as the home team Flyers host the New York Rangers at the Wachovia Center on Saturday, October 11 at 7 p.m.

“Because of the tremendous amount of publicity she has brought to our sport, we invited the most popular hockey mom in North America to our home opener to help us get our season started,” said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider who founded the Flyers in 1967. “We are very excited she has accepted our offer and we are very proud of the publicity she is generating for hockey moms and the sport of hockey.”

The Flyers have been searching for the ultimate hockey mom in the Greater Philadelphia Region through an on line contest which asked hockey players or hockey moms themselves to submit their hockey mom poster to the team."

First of all, there is never a good reason to inject politics into sports. I don't care if they have Obama the next night. It's hockey. Leave the political grandstanding at home. Secondly, the press release from the Flyers is a tad decieving. It says nothing of Palin being the Vice-Presidential candidate, which is why she is there, not that she is the Governor of Alaska or "America's Favorite Hockey Mom" (by the way, can anyone confirm that any of her kids are still playing hockey? And just for clarification, hockey moms don't collect a per diem for taking their kids to the rink). It also implies that Snider is just trying to tie in a cute little promotion. A quick check of Mr. Snider's campaign donations show that perhaps it was his $25,000 donation to McCain's campaign that had more to do with it than anything else. The reaction from Flyers' fans has been strong to say the least, with a lot of strong feelings of anger on both sides. Expect her to get booed, rather soundly. That's not the big deal here. The big deal is another situation where hockey looks bad in the eyes of Americans. Take a bow, Mr. Snider. You've taken the lead from Gary Bettman in the "one up" game to destroy the NHL.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canucks swap 2 with the Bolts

Mike Gillis continued to leave his imprint on the 08/09 version of the Canucks as he traded D Lukas Krajicek and F Juraj Simek to Tampa Bay for D Shane O'Brien and F Michel Ouellet. O'Brien was on his way back from Prague, where the Lightning opened the NHL season this past weekend with a pair of games against the Rangers. O'Brien was a healthy scratch Sunday, probably and indication the deal was in the works. He is a rugged blueliner who has 330 penalty minutes in 158 regular season games. Ouellet was with the Penguins before being signed as a free agent last season by Tampa. He has 80 points in 123 games, including 17 goals in 2007/08 for the Lightning. Ouellet will report to Manitoba, while O'Brien should be in the lineup against Calgary Thursday night in the season opener. I like this move. Krajicek was not really living up to his potential, and was error-prone. He seemed to lose his confidence after suffering injuries last season and physically doesn't match the blueprint for the Canucks backline this season. Our D got tougher, and a little bit better, giving Canucks fans another reason to be hopeful this season. Just a note, we will have our first podcasts of the year, a season preview and the first pre-game show of the year Thursday, so don't miss it.

Worst. Ending. Ever.

It was an improbable notion at best, the thought of the Canucks going undefeated in the pre-season. And yet in the 3rd period of Sunday night's game, there they were, down a goal when Mason Raymond scored his second highlight reel goal from Pavol Demitra, the Canucks' 3rd of the night, and suddenly it was tied. A late penalty from the recently claimed off waivers Nathan McIver seemed to set up the fairytale ending. A 4th powerplay goal and a 7-0 record in pre-season play. That's the funny thing about irony. Sometimes you see it coming and are totally powerless to stop it. As soon as John Shorthouse mentioned McIver was coming out of the box, you know he saw it coming, and my stomach dropped. Come on!?!?!?!?! Nathan F'n McIver???? Roberto Luongo was not at his best, as 3 of the 4 goals he surrendered were stoppable. Still, as so many of you non-belivers have harped "it's only pre-season". I think actually the loss is good. It helps bring them back to reality a bit, and makes them determined to get into the win column right out of the gate. Calgary will be quite prepared to avenge a 6-1 arse-kicking handed to them last week, so definitely helping them realize there are things that need to be worked on is a good thing. It was very odd seeing Brendan Morrison in a Ducks uniform. Good on him (and McIver for that matter) for having decent nights in their return to GM Place. Hopefully their next visit isn't as pleasant. As stereotypical as it is to complain about officiating after a loss, it's my blog, so... Basically, the refs really didn't have a feel for the game, and the 5 minute boarding call on Mattias Ohlund for catching Corey Perry with his head down was a bad call. Factor in Perry and Getzlaf (I believe it was, I may be wrong) hitting Canucks from behind later in the game and not getting called for it merely emphasized how bad the Ohlund call was. The puck was in his skates, Ohlund didn't charge, didn't leave his feet, use his elbow or make contact to the head. Perry was down for a while (maybe he had the wind knocked out of him, maybe it was for show), either way there he was setting up Morrison for the opening goal of the game. We have shown we can hold our own with the Ducks, skillwise and in the toughness department. Burke's band of goons had best take the lesson Perry learned and keep their heads up this season. This is not the old Canucks team that got pushed around.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

GAME DAY: Ducks @ Canucks

For the Vancouver Canucks, this year's pre-season seems to not just be about getting prepared for the upcoming 82 games, but about new beginnings and exorcising some of the demons that plagued them last year. After a team record setting season 2 years ago, last year was a huge step back for the Canucks, one that ultimately cost GM Dave Nonis his job. New GM Mike Gillis has brought in a number of new faces, and while he didnt hit the homerun by snagging Mats Sundin or another superstar free agent, the players he did bring in seem to have meshed well, to the point the team appears to now have 3 solid lines. The losses in personnel from last season are big, but this improbable 6-0 run seems to not only have taken everyone's minds off who has left, but taken some of the sting away from missing the playoffs last season and given fans and the team optimism for the upcoming season. The boys in blue wrap up the preseason tonight at GM Place as they take on the Ducks. Both teams will be icing lineups that are essentially what they will start the season with, barring a couple exceptions. The line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin with Steve Bernier will be front and center tonight. The line has 16 points in 3 games and seems to really coming together. Roberto Luongo has been stellar this preseason, his save percentage just a shade under 97% and a GAA of 0.90.

The Ducks will be led by their usual cast, but you may see Brendan Morrison in the lineup tonight on a line with Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz, marking Mo's first return to GM Place since signing with the Ducks in the offseason. This game should have some emotion, with the scuffle between Corey Perry and Henrik Sedin late in the contest a week ago probably not completely forgotten, and both teams proabably still have a couple roster spots up for grabs. Nolan Baumgartner was sent to Manitoba by the Canucks, while Jeff Cowan and Nathan McIver wwere placed on waivers, McIver interestingly enough was quickly grabbed by the Ducks. If Cowan clears waivers he will report to Manitoba. The Canucks hope to make tonight their first unbeaten preseason in team history and their best since 1973 when they went 7-3. The game goes at 7pm and can be seen live on, or on the radio on team 1040.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

GAME DAY: Sharks @ Canucks

Ok, show of hands... who predicted the Canucks would 5-0 in the preseason heading into this game? LIARS!!! Yes, it's pre-season, but the kind of hockey we are seeing from this team as the season draws near is at the least very encouraging. Balanced scoring, toughness, great D and amazing goaltending, but they will be tested tonight as they take on the San Jose Sharks at GM Place. The Sharks were not too impressed with their efforts Saturday night in the Shark Tank and have brought a lineup that is essentially what they will start the season with, so you can be sure Joe Thornton and co. will come out firing on all cylinders. Roberto Luongo is likely to get the night off, meaning Curtis Sanford will get the start. Sanford is coming off a shootout win Sunday night over the Ducks. Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa will be back in the lineup tonight, and the line of the Sedins with Steve Bernier will be the #1 line for the home team, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Kesler/Hansen/Burrows line again tonight after their 8 point performance against the Flames. To be honest, I believe while it will be close, I expect the boys to drop this one. I hope to be wrong.

Canucks 6 Flames 1

Stop me if you've heard this one, but remember, it's still the preseason so try not to read too much into it. That being said, you really have to like the approach the Canucks took to their contest against the Flames last night at GM Place. Pavol Demitra set up Alexander Edler 21 seconds in to really set the pace, and the line of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen were on a mission, making it 2-0 less than 5 minutes in. Hansen would add a sexond goal, while his linemates finished the night with 3 assists each. Demitra had a goal and 2 helpers, while Lawrence Nicholat and Mason Raymond rounded out the tallies for the home squad, Robyn Regehr scored for the Flames. Roberto Luongo was both stellar and captain-like in goal, leading his team to victory with some amazing stops, giving up just his 2nd goal in the preseason. The line of Raymond, Demitra and Taylor Pyatt were a threat all night, tantalizing the fans with the thought of 3 lines capable of scoring, this team may just be better than a lot of the so-called experts are claiming. The Canucks D was rock solid last night, especially when you consider they played without Ohlund, Salo, Mitchell or Bieksa. Lawrence Nicholat was a +3 with a goal and an assist and almost 20 minutes of ice time, and while he struggled at times, Nolan Baumgartner led the Canucks in ice time at 24:24 and a +1. You have to think that with the way players like Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen are stepping up, guys like Matt Pettinger, Cody Hodgson and Jeff Cowan may not be around much longer, either going to the Moose or placed on waivers. Calgary didnt dress a number of their opening night roster, but Jarome Iginla was a -2, and dman Adrian Aucoin was a -3. Miikka Kiprusoff certainly didn't look like the highest paid goalie in the NHL last night, as the Canucks had their way with him, and if not for some saves that showed the Kiprusoff of old, this one could have gone to double digits.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

GAME DAY: Flames @ Canucks

In an era of lopsided divisional play, rivals are many in the NHL, but when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, is there an opponent that brings out as much passion as the Calgary Flames? And it's fitting then that two of the hottest teams in the preseason clash tonight as the Canucks begin their final 3 pre-season contests, all at GM Place. The Canucks are currently 4-0, while the Flames are coming off a 4th straight win after opening the pre-season with a loss. The lineups haven't been released yet, but one thing is certain, new Canucks captain Roberto Luongo will not be in the lineup, as he suffered a minor groin tweak in a colision with Jannik Hansen in practice yesterday. Expect the Sedin/Sedin/Bernier line tonight, as they were dominant in San Jose, as well as Pavol Demitra, possibly on a line with Mason Raymond and either Taylor Pyatt or Kyle Wellwood. The big buzz on the Flames is some of the new faces in the lineup, and whether they can replace some of the players that departed, most notably Kristian Huselius, Alex Tanguay and Stephan Yelle. It's up to Todd Bertuzzi, Rene Bourque and Mike Cammalleri to step up. The Flames have gotten younger, with the additions to the lineup as well as returning youngsters like Eric Nystrom and Dustin Boyd. If Calgary has a weak link it's on defence. Sure they still have Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf, but Adrian Aucoin is injury-prone and after that it's Mark Giordano, Cory Sarich and Jim Vandermere. Once again the Flames will rely heavily on Miikka Kiprusoff, who was sub-par last year after signing a huge contract extension. This year he is the highest paid goalie in the NHL and if he doesn't play like it the Flames are in serious trouble. Curtis Joseph is gone as back up, meaning Curtis McElhinney will get the support role, but if he fails to impress as he did last season, don't be surprised to see the Flames shopping for a goalie.

The key to tonight's game will be the line matching. Both teams will likely ice lineups close to what they will start the season with, so the pressure will be on players like Jarome Iginla and the Sedins to shine, as well as players on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines to take advantage of their TOI. It should be a typical Canucks/Flames match; spirited, a little nasty and a lot of fun to watch. One of these teams will leave with their 5th win of the preseason tonight, and the beauty is, TSN is carrying it, puck drop is at 7pm.

Captain Lou?

While the chances are you won't see him hitting someone over the head with a chair, and sporting rubber bands as facial piercings, the Canucks definitely caused a stir in the hockey world with the announcement yesterday that Roberto Luongo will be the 12th Captain in team history. This year the alternates will be Mattias Ohlund, Willie Mitchell and Ryan Kesler. Thanks to the last goalie to be a team captain Bill "Time to talk to the ref" Durnan of the 47/48 Montreal Canadiens, the NHL has a rule prohibiting goalies from being Captains. Let's face it, it's a stupid rule. Your captain should be the guy who leads, and on this team, is there anyone with more passion and competitive fire than #1? Ohlund will handle ceremonial faceoffs and Mitchell, the shrinking violet that he is will be the one conversing with officials. No word yet on whether Marty Turco plans to file a lawsuit against Luongo and the Canucks.