Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Moose's Jessie Schultz – Called up to Canucks

Jessie Schultz of the Manitoba Moose joined the Vancouver Canucks on the road in Phoenix. A Right Winger, Schultz is the Moose’s leading scored with 37 points, 23 goals and 14 assists in 49 games played in this season. The 6’0”, 192 pound, Strasbourg Sask native was expected to play on Trevor Linden’s line with fellow Moose Josh Green at Center. However Schultz didn't make the line up and Tyler Bouch who would have been a healthy scratch scored a goal and had a fight with Phoenix's Gauthier.

Tags: ; ;

Monday, January 30, 2006

Playoff Hunt 30-Jan-06

Given that this North West Division, and the Western Conference for that matter, is going to be so competitive I’ll start a Monday playoff watch. My goal is to look forward on the week at the involved teams and their games with focus on key match-ups that are going to impact the pairings for the second season.

Period of Analysis 30-Jan-06 to 5-Feb-06

SeedTeamCurrent PointsLast 10 PointsPredicted Points
Detroit should remain the first seed playing three games and will likely pick up all six points. Key matches will be with Minny who have twelve points in their last ten games and next Saturday with Colorado who are even hotter with fourteen points in their last ten.

Dallas has three games against San Jose, Nashville and St Louis. The St Louis points should be a given and I suggest one of the Sharks or the Predators could win. I’ll predict the Stars pick up four points.

The Flames draw St Louis, Columbus and Vancouver in the three games they will play this week. As always the Blues and CJB’s should be easy prey. Let’s also give Cowtown an OTL against Vancouver.

Paul Kariya’s crew have one of the tougher schedules this week. While they get St Louis next weekend they also have to face Dallas and Colorado back to back nights mid week. Let’s figure one of Colorado or Dallas will win. The most points they can come up with this week is four.

5Los Angeles63765
LA only has two games this week with the Ducks and the Dogs on the agenda. With only seven points in their last ten (3-6-1) I’ll give them a win and a loss. LA should drop in the seeding this week.

Vancouver’s draw looks like the Dogs, Calgary and Edmonton. I think the effort in Colorado will carry over to Phoenix and I’ve predicted an OT win in Calgary. In Edmonton let’s make it interesting and predict and OT loss. Coming out of Alberta with three of four points would be optimistic results. Total of five points for the week.

The Oil will face only the CBJ and Vancouver this week. I’ll give them four points. Vancouver might beat them but it is a home game with the Canucks coming off a game with the Flames the previous night. I’m not sure how Auld will hold up to the workload.

Colorado certainly has the toughest schedule. They host a hot Minny and conference leading Detroit with a trip to Nashville sandwiched in between. It is hard to predict the outcomes of these individual games so let’s give the Avalanche a .500 record for the week. They will pickup three of six points available.

Outside looking in.

The remainder of the west with a chance of making it to the Stanley Cup Tournament are Anaheim, Phoenix and Minnesota. Anaheim is the best of the bunch and Phoenix is the hottest of the bunch. But with Anaheim five points in back of Colorado I do not see any of this trio breaking into the top eight seeds over the coming week.

The San Jose Sharks with 52 points in 48 games are worth mention. That low total of 48 games gives them at lease two games in hand over everyone, a minimum of three against the current seeds and six over Los Angeles.

Key Games for the Canucks.

Of course the two back to back games in Alberta are the key to success this week. I’ve boldly given the Nuck’s three of four points for these games. If the team does another 0 for Alberta showing their total could be as low as 65 points at week’s end. Pair this with an extra win along the way by the Avalanche and Vancouver could drop to as low as the seventh or eight seed.

Predicted Dance Partners.

If the playoff were to start on February 6th my predictions for match ups are as follows:

Detroit – Colorado
Dallas – Los Angles
Calgary – Edmonton (wow!)
Nashville – Vancouver


Tags: ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Hockey Night In Canada – 28-Jan-06

Canucks 4 Avalanche 3 Shoot Out (1-0)

Oh man the North West Division! Where to start? So much happened that perhaps the best thing is just to go by some bullet points.

> Wounded – Naslund was scratched and we now know the problem with his groin is more significant than the average fan knew. With Jovo, Cooke and Park also watching the game from home. In his first shift, Wade Brookbank took a big hit on the end boards from Boughner. Brookbank didn’t return. The Moose call ups had to have a good night and for the most part they did.

> Ryan Kesler – One stat short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Kesler was only missing an assist as he fought Laperriere in the second period and had Vancouver’s third goal of the night at 9:12 of the third to put the Nucks up 3 – 1 with ten minutes and change to go.

> Alxeander Auld – The game's first star keep his team in the game for significant stretches. The save of the night came when the Nuck’s defence coughed up the puck and Hejduk streaked in cutting across the crease right to left. He shot back to the right side against he and Auld’s flow but Auld dragged his trapper and picked the puck out of thin air. Auld earned first star honours again with 40 saves on 43 shots.

> More fisticuffs – Brain Allen won a decision over Laperriere early in the first period off a scrum at the Vancouver net. Lapperriere must have been feeling a little upset and decided to take on the smaller Kesler in the second period. Kesler was game and landed a blow early but was in tough against the larger more seasoned Colorado winger. Early in the third period some bad feeling must have carried over from the second period or something. Right off the face off to start the third, Hinote flew directly at Kevin Bieksa who was only too willing to oblige. As with Colley of the Islanders, Hinote for his effort came out on the wrong end of a Bieksa decision.

> Classless Colorado Fans Part I – Hey Colorado get over it! Again the Pepsi Center patrons were relentless in their jeering of Todd Bertuzzi. Fair enough if they want to boo and hold up stupid signs professing some knowledge of Bert’s preference in underwear. But it shows a simple lack of sophistication when they cheer, as they did, for injury to a player regardless of who he is or what the history has been. Late in the second Liles lay a vicious slash on Bertuzzi right in that area between the top of your glove and bottom of the elbow pad. Bert applied ice and sat out the remaining minutes of the second period. The HNIC cameras caught a glimpse of the damage to Bert’s arm. Sure stuff like this happens in hockey every night but when the fans cheer for an injury it just shows their lack of class.

> Classless Colorado Fans Part II – Mid way through the third period another fan incident occurred. It wasn’t clear on HNIC what exactly was happening but the Refs had to have some overweight woman in a Hinote Jersey ushered out. This morning the reports were that she had thrown a set of nesting dolls at Bertuzzi. Yes indeed, I know rinks around the league are filled with rabid fans clutching their Russian nesting dolls just hoping for the opportunity to toss them at the opposition’s perceived villain. Grow up Colorado!

> With about six minutes to go in the game there was some sort of power outage that caused a loss of the HNIC TV feed. While we were gone the Avalanche scored to tie the game. They continued to press late in the game. Auld was very good in sending the game to an extra frame. TV coverage returned for Overtime. The Nuck’s took a penalty. The Avalanche pressed. The Avalanche took a penalty. With the teams three on three there were some chances at both ends. When Rob Blake returned from his time in the box the Avalanche tried to hit him with a pass behind the Vancouver defence. The hockey Gods smiled on Vancouver as the Linesman checked Blake and allowed the Nucks defence to get back into the play. This was the second of three moments of divine intervention. In the second period the Avalanche took a delayed penalty. Some how the Canucks got the puck sliding slowly back into their own zone with Auld on the bench. It was so painful to watch. The puck hit the outside edge of the starboard post of the empty cage. Phew! That one would have been on the highlight reels nationwide for weeks.

> A shoot out. Personally I hate the shoot out. But it is here and we live with it. With 65 minutes unable to find a winner Ruutu, Kesler and Carter shot it out with Svatos, Sakic and Tanguay. Ruutu found net with a carbon copy of the Penalty Shot goal he scored last visit to Chicago. Sakic beat Auld with a nice shot but in a third moment of divine intervention the puck rang off the port post and stayed out. Auld had already stopped Svatos and then went on to stop Tanguay to improve his Shoot Out record to 4 goals on 13 shots. Ruutu has 9 goals on the season and is a career agitator. Svatos (30), Sakic (19), and Tanguay (22) are all elite scorers but didn’t beat Auld on this night. Really, why not just flip a coin for the ‘bonus point.’

The two points were huge. In the standings the Canuck are tied with Calgary with 63 points. Colorado has 61 and Edmonton has 60. The next game is in the desert followed by two Alberta road games with the order of stops Calgary then Edmonton. If the playoffs were to start today Vancouver would draw Calgary without home ice advantage.


Tags: ; ;

Friday, January 27, 2006

Red Wings end losing streak – Canucks don’t.

Red Wings 2 Canucks 1 – 26-Jan-06

Two teams coming off consecutive loses faced off in ‘the Joe’ on Thursday night. The Red Wings showed why they are top of the table in the west. Detroit has a veteran team that played the Canucks for the middle of the pack team that they are. While Vancouver took an early lead the Wings make the most of their power play chances at opportune times and secured the available two points with a 2 – 1 win. The superior PP/PK of a first place team was painfully obvious throughout the night. The Nucks were better than their previous two outings. As coach Crawford mused after the game, the effort put in would have likely resulted in wins against struggling teams in the previous two games. This version of the Canucks, even back in ‘03-04 season, is able to play to their opponent’s level. Unfortunately, far too often this means they play down to lesser squads. It is more common to see them lose 4 – 0 to St Louis than blow out the Islanders 8 – 1.

The affair was a good game to watch with some emotion and strong effort by both teams. The Wings were fortunate to benefit from a weak call by Koharski for a phantom hook by Josh Green with B Mo already in the box. The Nucks were down two men for 1:15 and the Wings made full use of the time, scoring with 4 seconds left in the Morrison minor. Late in the third the breaks went Detroit’s way again when a goal was called off for reasons still not completely certain. I suspect it was one of those the ref lost sight of the puck things. This time, Lego must have been checking for babes in section 36C because he wasn’t looking in the Wings net where the biscuit lay.

Kesler played a good game and had 5 of the teams 15 hits. He, Burrows and Ruutu seemed to be in the face of the Wings and particularly Chris Chelios all night. Burrows came away with a bloody beak for his efforts. Kesler, who is growing with the season, needs to improve his face off wins.

The West Coast Express started the night well. I even made a first period note of Naslund and Bertuzzi checking deep in the defensive zone. My game notes also include Bert taking a big shot from the left face off circle with neither Naslund nor Morrison driving the net. At one point the trio looked like keystone cops with the puck deep in their own zone. It was a case of a very unfamiliar event for them. By the middle of the second period the WCE had gone back to sleep and not much more was heard from the Nassy/Bert camp. Although to be fair Bert was in the middle of the mix when Lego called off our goal late in the third with Auld on the bench.

Auld played a better game taking much more care in control of his rebounds. He was good for 33 saves on 35 shots and good enough to be the game’s second star. At the other end Legace had a quiet night facing only 15 Nucks shots. Seven of those were from the defence with three from Ohlund on a single fruitless power play. When four forward lines, 0 for 4 on the power play, can only muster 8 shots on the night chances are you are not going to win.

On deck is the Avalanche in another of those crucial 4 point divisional games. This game could be quite pivotal and could mean the difference between keeping pace with Colorado for second, within reach of Calgary in first or being in a down the stretch street fight with Edmonton for the final playoff spot in the west. The game will be on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday evening.



Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Four Games all with the same 6 – 5 score

January 24, 2006 is a bitter sweet day for the entire world of hockey let alone simple fans of the Vancouver Canucks. On that day in hockey history Mario Lemieux retired as a player for the final time. My tendency to mark the passing of this moment in time is to remember three games played in September 1987 as arguably the best hockey ever played by the best players to ever play. The venue was the Canada Cup. The finalists were Team Canada and the Soviet Union. Canada’s team featured both Wayne Gretzky and Super Mario playing on the same team and eventually the same line. The Soviets had the KLM line (Krutov, Larionov and Makarov) at the height of their careers. The support cast for Team Canada included Mark Messier, Glenn Anderson, Grant Fuhr and Paul Coffey who were joining Gretzky from the then three time champion Oilers. As well Mike Gartner, Doug Gilmour, Dale Hawerchuk, Larry Murphy and Ray Bourque rounded out team.

The Soviets won Game One 6-5 in OT in Montreal. The remaining two games were played in Hamilton. They also both ended in 6-5 scores with Team Canada retaining the Canada Cup with the better end of a three games series two to one. What is more important is how those games were won.

In Game Two at 10:01 of double overtime Super Mario scored the winner. He was set up by Gretzky who recorded his fifth assist of the game on the play. This game was in many opinions the greatest game ever played. One may have felt the earth move that night but what was to occur two nights later cast Wayne, Mario and the Canada Cup into the annals of hockey history.

Canada fell down 3 – 0 and 4 – 2 in Game Three. But they battled back with pure skill unlike the pure intimidation that was required to win in 1972. Canada was up 5 - 4 starting the third but the Soviets pulled even again. In the dieing moments with the score tied 5 – 5, Wayne and Mario took to the ice. They gathered the puck up off a face off in their own end and Wayne rushed down the left wing. Along with Larry Murphy they broke in three on one. The Great One hit The Marvellous One with a laser pass inside the Soviet blue line and Mario took his place as a legend of the game. With 1:26 left in the game, from the slot, Mario blew the puck by Soviet goalie Sergei Mylnikov. It was the prettiest play in the highest of pressure situations on the biggest of stages. If you are a true hockey fan close your eyes and think big goals. You see: 1970 Orr floating in air after the OT winner over the St Louis Blues to win the Stanley Cup; and Wayne blazing down the wing, over to Mario, bam, Canada Cup stays in Canada. Big celibration on the boards in those classic one half a red maple leaf on white jerseys. The order is immaterial.

Four games 6 – 5? Oh yes on January 24, 2006 the local Can-knuckle heads dropped a game to some team called the Columbus Blue Jackets (CBJ’s) by that same 6 – 5 score. In doing so they disgraced the game. On the day after Mario retired the Nuck’s get no more mention other than “hey guys Detroit Thursday. You better think about waking up."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Canucks 0 Blues 4 – 22-Jan-06

On a night where the primary focus was minority political change across the land, I’m not sure which is more surprising. The Liberals retaining as much popular vote and parliamentary seats as they did or the fact that the Blues have beaten only two teams in all of 2006: the Canucks; and the Canucks.

As I’ve ranted in the past, big wins like the blow out of Montreal last Saturday mean nothing unless you are prepared to follow up will a solid effort in the next game. Well, a solid effort was exactly what the Blues gave Election Night and they were rewarded for it. The Canucks showed up for stretches in third period which isn’t good enough to win. Even when the opponent, last in the league, has eighteen fewer wins than you do. Untimely penalties were the biggest problem in the first two periods. It would be kind to suggest a hot goalie named Curtis Sanford was the problem in the third but let’s go with that.

The Nucks took seven penalties for 19 minutes in the bin. While a few players committed lazy errors, Ryan Kesler seemed to stand out. Number 20 was off for hooking when the Blues got there first goal in the later part of the first period. He took a second trip to the box in the second period. Kesler had about the best offensive chance of the night when he rung one off the post / crossbar – redemption almost.

Maybe a bright spot was that 5 of the 19 minutes were to McCarthy for fighting in defence of his goalie. Raycroft tossed the Omelette (Ouellet) in the first period. McCarthy started good with a few shots and finished good with a flurry and a take down but got tagged with a heavy blow in between. Most judges would call it a draw.

So what is the deal with this team?

Is it coaching? The team was clearly not prepared to play the game. You would think that when the worse team in the league embarrassed you 4-1 only a few weeks earlier you’d be fired up to prove yourself. But not these Canucks.

Is it complacency? The team sleep walked through the first two periods with the exception of the twins. Carter took a 4 minute penalty but when he was on the ice he also provided his usual role as the other brother for the triplets. The rest of the team and especially Nasland and Bert were still checking their luggage back at YVR. A Blue nailed Bert with a good hit and the look on his face was more one of ‘how dare you disturb my snooze’ rather than ‘ok now I’m going to score my third hat trick of the year.’ But not these two Canucks. I think Bert and Nassy are already in Torino sipping cappuccinos.

Was it goal tending? Both Ouellet and Sanford played OK games. The Omelette gave up three goals and an empty netter. The Omelette looked a bit more solid than his other two outings. The first goal was a nice defection on the power play. Ouellet was more a victim when the goat Jovanoski coughed up the puck a couple of times at his own blue line including four on four in the second period which resulted in the Blues second goal: a nice tip in by Bryan Allen. How many of those has Allen put in his own net this year? Well better he gets it out of his system now and not in a game seven in May. Sanford stopped 34 shots including a few quality chances in the third period. He was rewarded with the goose egg and first star honours. As previously mentioned Kesler blew one by him but the starboard post made an equally pretty save.

Next up. Tonight we have the lowly Blue Jackets – the second worse team in the west. With Calgary two points up after another win in the battle of Alberta and the distance between first and 5th in the division only seven points, the team that played host to Montreal on Saturday better show up tonight. Having lost all those four-pointers to Edmonton, Calgary and Colorado the boys can not afford to be fumbling easy points.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Yikes! Six Goals in Thirteen Minutes

Canucks 6 Habs 2 – 21-Jan-06

Are you ready? Will you believe this?!? Jose Theodore and the team in front of him certainly were not ready. The second game on HNC featured the Nucks and the Habs. With more Hab’s jerseys in the stands than Canuck’s retro unis. The jersey / fan count was about all the Habs won on the night. Wow!

0:57 Morrison from Bertuzzi – 1 Zip nice start
1:51 Burrows from Henrik – 2 Zip way to go Alexandre and a better yet
2:22 Komisarek off for hooking
4:20 Ohlund from the twins power play – 3 Zip – I like this.

OK everyone catch your breath – we all think good first period!

10:44 Dandenault another hooking call
12:25 Naslund from Bertuzzi and Ohlund second rotation on the power play – 4 Zip
13:17 Henrik from Daniel and my other brother Anson we’re at 5 Zip now if you are still counting
13:17 Exit Theodore enter Cristobal Huet
13:47 Linden from Brookbank and Green – huh? 6 Zip. Who’s next on the score sheet? Jack McIlhargey?

In summary 5 goals on 11 shots in just over 13 minutes. Pull the goalie and the fourth line scores on the first shot of the next shift.

Soon after it started the blow out was over and the teams settled into a night of hockey. It was too bad that Auld gave up a two goals on only 24 shots. With one of those late in the third period too. Auld was good enough that the HNC crew awarded him third star. When I coached I used to ask the boys to win every shift and win every period. By that measure the Canadiens won the game 2 periods to 1. Some allowance must be given to the Nuck’s though as they did seem to let their collective foot off the gas out of respect for the storied old Canadiens franchise. Every Nuck except Brookbank (9:10) got over ten minutes of ice time. One might think on a similar night a team like Ottawa would have dumped the Hab’s by a double digit margin which just leads to bitter feelings when taking the 2 points and everyone still able to go out for a pop would be good enough.

Some trends I notice. The Triplets continue to out play the West Coast Express. Something is up with Naslund. His groin is still bad or something. The twins were the first two stars. Scott Oak interviewed them after the game. In my humble opinion, as much as I’d hate to admit it, Burke was right. Did you pick up on the insights and articulate interaction of the two? Especially Henrik who seems to have grown tremendous presence since the last season played. Anyone know does Neil McRae still call them ‘the sisters?’ If he does he hasn’t watched a Canuck’s game in 2006.

Bieksa has shown a few cracks in the last few games but this has been offset by McCarthy’s improved play. I’m pleased that even with Jovo out for this long we really do not seem to miss him all that much. Keep in mind the Nuck’s defense is a collective +4 better with Jovo out. Bieksa is the only other minus D man on the squad. Matt Cooke, another guy with bad plus/minus rating, has also been out a few games. The Nuck’s have not missed him all that much as well. Josh Green played a couple games, Tyler Bouck played a game and Wade Brookbank has played on the wing a few games more than he normally would. In this area I think the biggest difference has been the play of Alexandre Burrows (5 points in 10 games). He is only playing ten minutes a night but you notice number 14 out there. Green did get an assist in this game but he and Bouck are invisible. Maybe that isn’t such a bad thing for your third and fourth line support contingent. I seem to think we are doing better when the likes of Ruutu, Kesler, Cooke and now add Burrows are highly visible in the game.

Next up the Blues on the road. Hopfully the boys will go in to St Louis with a chip on the team’s shoulder and erase that 4-1 loss to the dreadful Blues which started 2006. They’ll need the two points to keep pace with Calgary who gets their turn to visit St Louie next week.

Where have I been?

With all the rain the Missus decide it was time to escape to the tropics with the kids to try and dry off. They’ve been gone a week and a bit and they’ll be back in a week and a bit. With the new domestic duties of care and feeding of myself I’ve had less time to update the Nuck’s game reports.

NJ Devils 3 Canucks 0 – 13-Jan-06

A typical ole time Devils game. The boys just could not get out from under the blanket the Devils threw over them. The key to the game was a late first period power play in which the Nuck’s didn’t score. All three of NJ’s goals were in the third period and on the Power Play. Had the Devils been down one starting the second period maybe they’d have been forced to open up a little and provide us some entertainment.

Islanders 1 Canucks 8 – 14-Jan-06

The game was on Pay Per View so it was a radio affair for me. Radio is not all that bad. John Shorthouse calls a good game. Tom Larscheid, shrill as he is, provides the ultimate homer colour commentary. Larscheid is far more entertainment than the incessant drivel of John Garret. Jim Hussen in my opinion is one of the best but he does go to the well a little to often – “Great Save {insert goalkeepers name here}!” and “The fans call a penalty: the refs don’t.” Roll you eyes now. Shorty is good. However I’m off topic.

The thing about the game with the Islanders was damn why couldn’t they have spread the eight goals out over two nights. A 4-3 win in New Jersey paired with a 4-1 win on the island would have left one feeling a little more satisfied. Bert got a hat trick even if his contribution to the first goal was to have Cooke bounce it in off his butt. As strong a game as Bert had, I felt the Triplets were the stronger line on the night.

One other item of note was Colley of the Islanders ill advised attempt at a momentum swing with his team down 3-0 a little more than half way through the first period. Colley picked Kevin Bieksa as his dance partner. Bieksa obliged by laying a beating on Colley that likely had more than a few sit up and take notice that the ‘Nucks new kid on defence is not one to be lightly taken into a scrap. Any resulting momentum swing was all Canucks.

Penguins 2 Canucks 4 – 16-Jan-06
Or ‘Sid the Kid’ 1 Canucks 4 and Penguins 1

It was interesting to see Sidney Crosby in an NHL game. He certainly has skill and he carried the Pens for the night as I believe he does most games. His goal was on a two man advantage. Sid was under the skin of a few Canucks including Bryan Allen who dumped him on this ass more than a few times. I’d say all in all pretty amazing at 18 years old. What Crosby lacks in Pittsburgh is Dave Semenko. That may be the politically incorrect thing to say in ‘the New NHL’ but it amazed me that the Pittsburgh players never stepped up to defend Crosby. When I played the game, in no way could you ever confuse me as an aggressive player. Put me in that game and I’d have fought a Canuck or two including Allen to protect my marquee player. Perhaps all Crosby’s chirping is also not endearing himself to his team mates. It is one area he might be advised to tone it down a little. Think back to the early eighties when Gretzky and the Oil used to come into the Coliseum. Back then Wayne wasn’t ‘the Great One.’ He was ‘Whiner Wayne.’ So Crosby is like Gretzky was in too many ways. Difference is Wayne had Semenko to keep things calm. Crosby looks like he’s going to have to do it all by himself. Side Note: Notice how Wayne still whines a little too much from behind the Coyotes bench.

Other observations of the game were that given the blow out the prior game with the Islanders it was nice to see the team back it up with a solid and hard effort in a physical game. Steve McCarthy played his best game as a Canuck and had the team’s first goal.

Canucks 4 Sabres 1 – 19-Jan-06

Before we start you do realize that Buffalo is one of the best teams in the east. It is nice to see them have turned their franchise around and I’m happy to welcome them back to the NHL’s first class.

The Canucks returned home from a successful road trip which saw them pick up 4 of 6 points. On the road they out scored the opposition 2 to 1 (12-6). Again, too bad some of those goals could not have come in New Jersey. The Sabres and the Nuck’s played a pretty much ‘cat n mouse’ game through the first 40 minutes and entered the third period tied 1-1. Alex Burrows opened the scoring with his second of the year on a huge individual effort after Kesler set him free and short handed to boot. Burrows willed the puck into the net through sheer determination that at least three Sabres were unable to cope with.

In the third period the Nuck’s put it to the visitors and Auld stood up in defence when Buffalo tried to battle back. Auld earned himself the first star for his effort. Baumgartner from the twins on a power play and Morrison from McCarthy and Naslund gave the Nucks all they needed and insurance before Ruutu added an empty net marker.

I should point out a trend that I noticed sometime during the previous road trip and has been a welcome change introduced by the coaching staff. Maybe even as far back as the Toronto win on January 10th the Triplets are playing the first half of the power play with the West Coast Express taking the second rotation. I believe this change has been a positive one as the triplets seem to either wear the top PK unit down or set up our other brother Carter for a goal. Crawford should stick to this until whatever it is that is keeping Naslund out of domination of games passes.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

It is Never Simple - January 10th

The Canucks came away from a game with the Toronto Maple Leafs last night with a 4 – 3 win. Why am I not ecstatic? I suppose it was more of how they won and not that they won. The ‘Nucks third and fourth lines beat the Leafs third and fourth lines. Auld, after a scary start, beat Belfour. The difference in the game was the Triplets combined with 8 minutes and change to go in the third period to put the home team up 4-2 and the insurance was enough to bring in a win. On the power play, Brother Carter tipped a Daniel aerial passed Belfour with ‘my other brother’ Henrik picking up the second assist. It was a variation on the slap pass play that you’d like to see them be successful on a couple times a night rather than every other night. However, Carter with sixteen goals seems rejuvenated and while it may have taken five years to get there, the twins seem to have arrived.

Ryan Kesler played perhaps one of his best games of the season. He was into the game with two shots, two hits, two assists, two minutes in the bin but most importantly two key plays. Middle of the second he made a beautiful pass to the Cooker who tied the game 2-2. He also came up with a key own zone face-off win late in the third period with the Leaf’s pressing. Alexandre Burrows scored his first NHL goal and seemed to be in the play far more than his meagre 7:06 of ice time suggests. A mixed line of Kesler, Burrows and Bert seemed to show some real spark Ruutu got another goal mid first period to erase an early Toronto marker.

Then why not so ecstatic? Giving up an early, shorthanded, ugly, first shot of the game goal was a major gaff. Being out shot two-to-one typically does equate to being on the winning end of the equitation. Credit be given to Auld as he did make some clutch saves in the second and third periods to save a win. He was named the game’s first star. Had he not given up the soft one early or had he stoned the Leaf’s one more time I’d be keen to say he clearly stole the game for the team. But he did not and I will not. He’s beaten Hasek, Kiprusoff and now Belfour which should certainly please the faithful. The West Coast Express was a minus two on the night. With Bertuzzi’s assist on the Burrows goal, Bert escaped the night minus one whereas B Mo and Nassy were both minus two.

We have reached the mid point of the season. The Nucks are second in the division two behind Calgary and sixth in the conference one point ahead of Edmonton and three points behind LA. If the playoffs were to start today we’d play Calgary without home ice advantage. The team is on a pace for 106 points. Last time there was a season, 101 points was enough to be the third seed in the conference. With the three point games will 106 points be enough to win the division? I except not. It is going to take over 110 points to win a division and maybe as many as 120 to win a conference. With the success in the last ten games far below that of the first twenty games, I believe, there currently is untapped potential within the team.

Friday night is a trip to see the Devils: another tough game on the road. Auld will need to be sharp. Naslund and Morrison need to deliver bigger games. It is possible and I am hopeful.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Hockey Night in Canada – January 7th

In the Province Newspaper when the Canucks beat Chicago last Thursday the lead headline read “Finally, Finally, Finally.” One had to agree. On a four game road trip where success would have been six or seven of eight points the boys came home with two, or was it three. There is no excuse for losing to St Louis or Minny. The game in Dallas should have been the trips’ feature game against a top notch conference rival. Unfortunately most nights the team didn’t bother to show up and the results were indicative.

After Saturdays tilt with Calgary the headline should have read a single “Finally!” Yes finally the team is no longer “Oh” for Alberta. They gutted out a decent game to get two points even if Calgary also got one point. The best news was Toronto, due in here on Tuesday, beat Edmonton the same night so some ground was gained in the fiercely competitive Northwest Division.

The Canucks generally out worked, out hit and out played the Flames. A string of timely calls in the Canucks favour did not hurt too. There were some nice signs of life in the team. They out shot the Flames 36 – 30. They held the Flames to 30 shots – something they didn’t do even in the Chicago win. Ohlund upped his game, or perhaps brought it back to the A level. He had a number of god hits and except for a messy screw up with Nassy at their own Blue line, which was in no way his fault, Ohlund held Iggy in check most of the night.

Sami Salo had a brilliant game. He had the canon dialled in and beat Kiprusoff far more times than his two official score sheet goals with one called back and a several posts. Sami sealed the deal on putting the game into extra time on a chance created by Baumgartner with only thirty seconds remaining in regulation. Then 2:53 into the extra frame with a Flame still in the sin bin, Salo unleashed another blast from the point with B Mo (Morrison) left to sweep in the garbage for the bonus point as the league is calling it.

So now where does this leave us? Well of course, on a two game winning streak with the Leafs due in town Tuesday. When the Nuck’s beat Nashville a week or two back that was also a good game against a good team in the midst of some poor Nuck’s performances. They followed that momentum builder up with a road loss to Edmonton. So for me the real test of how good was Saturdays OT win over Calgary will be just how well the boys answer the bell for Toronto on Tuesday. If the emotion, effort and hits of Saturday show up on Tuesday, I’ll tend to be convinced that we are headed back into positive territory. Back into a battle for first in the Northwest and not just a struggle to be better than seventh in the conference. The headline for Saturday’s win over divisional leaders Calgary does read “Finally” but now boys you have to back it up with a solid outing against the Leafs.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Hockey January 5th

There were two hockey games last night that that were of interest to West Vancouverites. These were:

Canada 5 Russia 0 - World Juniors at GM Place
Canucks 3 at Chicago 2 – NHL

The two games overlapped so I can not profess to have watched every minute of both games. To be honest the euphoria of the Team Canada game overshadowed a somewhat lack lustre event by the two struggling teams playing in Chicago’s half empty United Center. While official attendance in Chicago was 17,227 the local TV coverage guys said it looked to be more like in the range of 11,000. GM Place was a sell out with suggestions that tickets were going for $800 each, pre-game, outside the rink.

Canada 5 Russia 0

I think that the interesting story in this game is that the Canadian boys played as men and the Russian boys played as, well, boys. Certainly Canada’s goalie Poggie keep us in the game early. Russia’s disallowed goal that would have made the game 2-1 also played a role in the eventual outcome. Overall Team Canada played their roles. They played disciplined and patient game. They didn’t disappear when they were clearly out played by the larger, more talent laden, more experienced Russian team. Team Canada had a bigger will to win. Consider had that disallowed goal gone the other way or had Canada had an early goal nullified would the eventual outcome been different? I suggest not. Men will always prevail over boys.

Luc Bourdon a 6’2” 199lb defence man who was drafted by the Canuck’s in the first round of 2005 entry draft played a fine tournament for Team Canada and endeared himself to the Vancouver fans. I look forward to watching Bourdon with the ‘Nucks when he graduates to the NHL.

Canada’s coach Brent Sutter did a good job with the resources at hand. He crafted twenty two young men into a team able to beat the world’s best 19 year old hockey players as of January 5, 2006. I ponder what Brent Sutter’s future will bring? Is he able to coach at the NHL level? Does he want to? His brother is Head Coach and GM of the Calgary Flames. It would be fun to see these two of the Sutter brothers duke it out from behind the players bench. Which leads us to…..

Canucks 3 Black Hawks 2

The other game last night was ‘Nucks vs. the Hawks. A contest of two teams struggling with their games. The difference being, I suspect, the ‘Nucks are excepted to win whereas the pundits have sparse expectations for the Hawks. The Canucks have been on a slide recently having only won one of their last eight or nine games. They did pick up a few points for Overtime and Shoot Out losses over that stretch but yuck those are worse than the old “kissing your sister” ties.

Points of interest from last nights game. The Ruutu brothers played against each other. Both scored with Vancouver’s Jarko’s goal being a pretty undressing of goalie Andersen on a penalty shot in the third period. This turned out to be the game wining goal. Tuomo was the game’s second star and Jarko was the third star.

The ‘Brotha Line’ (Carter, Sedin, Sedin) out played the ‘West Coast Express’ (Naslund, Morrison, Bert) again. Bieksa and Burrows played noticeable games. Both are call ups from the AHL Moose and both play like they want to stick with the big club. Auld played an OK game. Had he stopped the last goal by Lapointe, I’d have likely said he played a good game. One left the game with the distinct impression that Auld had contributed to the win rather than Auld had contributed to the loss as was the case the nights prior in Dallas and St Louis.

Matt Cooke played a good game. He is one of the few Canucks that seems to show up night after night. As happy as I am about this I wish he would tone down his energizer bunny routine while he is wearing that fish bowl to protect his recovering broken jaw. Smashing and crashing and being a needleler from inside a mask just seems off to me. Sure Matt, get out there and lay on the hugest hits you can! Then get up and skate way. When you’re back to the visor go ahead and do your chirpy, all elbows and face washing thing.

Which brings me in closing to the Canucks showing up. We’re grateful for Chicago and the two points. In the standings in April no one remembers if the wins were ugly or pretty. On the other hand the work effort given on this road trip was that which would have beaten a .500 team on 50% of the nights. It showed in the results. We have Calgary (Saturday HNC) and Toronto (Jan 10 PPV) up in the next two games. If there are any expectations of success in those games a much better performance is still required. Let’s face it Marc ‘Crow’ Crawford is not motivating these guys to want to win. I guess the counter argument is that professionals do not need artificial motivators. As professionals, unlike the junior Team Canada, they know the job to be done. Which brings me around to Brent Sutter again. Isn’t he exactly what the ‘Nucks need? A new voice of motivation. A new message. A strong disciplinarian. If the ‘Nucks were to start playing more like Team Canada did: within their roles, with patience, as a team then I suggest the positive results will follow. Crawford is an excellent coach. But coaches have a shelf life. I hope Marc’s doesn’t read 15-Dec-2005 or if it does then Nonis/Tambellini need realize this now before the playoffs are missed or we lament another early round exit.


Thursday, January 05, 2006


This an introduction post to my Blog. I live in West Vancouver and have a range of interests in many topics. Included in these, of course, are work, sustenance and entertainment. I have no set ideas on what I might include in this Blog but the above topics come to mind.

Work - I've been in the Information Technology Field for twenty plus years. I currently have a couple gigs going on that brings my work interest into the areas of automation, asset management and business intelligence. Certainly I expect to be blogging about my work at times.

Sustenance - Food and Wine! Yes I love both! I love to cook and have a capable knowledge of wine. I do not expect to be blogging a lot about food and wine but something tells me that maybe the topics might make an appearance from time to time. Maybe even some commentary on the restaurants in and about West Vancouver could be considered.

Entertainment - My passions in traditional entertainment are movies and sports. I sail and golf. Neither as often as I'd like. I played some hockey when I was young. I'm a passionate Canucks fan. Or I try to be given the team's ability to keep tossing even the most diehard fan off their band wagon. I expect to make a few Canuck's commentaries here.

For non traditional entertainment, I often find politics and the news media mildly entertaining. I have more of a global view of these as frankly Canadian politics and media are so irrelevant. West Vancouver is quaint and we do certainly get some interesting local views from time to time.

I also watch a lot of movies. I think one of my alter ego's would like to be a critic - world politics, movies, food & wine are all areas where we all have opinions that we often like to share. I like to write. So I'll give the role of critic a try from time to time.

Welcome to my blog. Nice to have you visit.