At the quarter-way mark of the 2009-10 season, the Canucks have successfully treaded water. With a record of 10-10-0, you’d think that the Canucks would be disappointed, and perhaps they are. For me, this is about what we should have expected, all things considered. If they had been 100% healthy, you’d maybe expect a record of 13-7 through 20 games. Consider that Luongo has started only 13 games, Daniel Sedin has played only four games, Sami Salo has only played 12 games and Pavol Demitra has missed the entire season, not to mention the other countless missed games here and there, a 10-10 start should be considered par for the course.
With that said, there are more than a few alarming trends through the first 20 games:
Injury or no injury, Roberto Luongo hasn’t been lights-out yet. He has a very mediocre 6-7 win/loss record, 2.74 GAA and .903 SV%. Those are not Team Canada numbers. It’s also alarming that he got injured, again. He needs to stay healthy.
Offense from the D. Alex Edler (he of the minus seven rating so far), Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo have combined for ONE, just one, goal.
Kyle Wellwood. He’s been absolutely invisible through 20 games.
Team toughness. Where is it? The Canucks were a nasty piece of business to deal with last year. Perhaps injuries have changed that a bit, but still. They’ve got to get back to that blue collar attitude.
So will the real Vancouver Canucks please stand-up? We haven’t seen them yet, and might not this season given Pavol Demitra’s status, but once they get Daniel Sedin back (and that should be soon). The excuses will be all gone. And hopefully the losing will be gone too.
It’s that time of year again folks. Yep, the time of year that Mike Gillis tries to coax an aging Swedish future hall of fame centre to not retire and come to Vancouver. Peter Forsberg played in the Karjala Cup tournament in Helsinki this week, and is apparently contemplating a return to the NHL and possibly play in the 2010 Olympics this February. And Mike Gillis is interested.
The issue with Forsberg is of course his health. If he’s healthy, he’s still a very good player, but nagging foot problems have plagued him over the last bunch of years. So where will Forsberg land? Not Philadelphia according to reports. There are also rumours that he’s considering the KHL, but I would find that hard to believe. The Canucks should have the cap space to sign him because of Demitra’s injury, but would Forsberg consider Vancouver out of loyalty to the Avalanche? In the past he has reportedly felt that way, but lots has changed since then. Both teams have completely revamped rosters (gone are the likes of Bertuzzi, Cooke, Ruutu for the Canucks and Sakic, Roy, etc for the Avs), and are no longer the bitter rivals they once were. I’d still consider the Canucks a long shot to get him, but it sure would be nice to see him in a Vancouver uniform.
Imagine what a healthy Forsberg could do for the Vancouver lineup:
Those are three pretty potent scoring lines. If he gets injured, you throw Wellwood into his spot, and you’re back to where you are now.
TEAM 1410 Sports Radio
That’s right, there’s a new all-sports radio station in Vancouver, and it can be found on 1410 AM. It appears that it will be the home for the BC Lions as well as some US syndicated shows such as the Jim Rome Show. Pretty good idea if you ask me.
The current Team 1040 lineup has a lot of the same kind of show with the same kind of guests. I love listening to it, but sometimes it’s nice to hear about, say, the World Series instead of the Calgary Flames’ H1N1 flu shots.
Schneider in Goal Tonight
No, not Mathieu Schneider (wouldn’t be too surprising considering all the positions Canucks defencemen are playing lately), but Cory Schneider will get the start in goal tonight against Dallas. A little surprising considering how well Andrew Raycroft has been in goal this year (did you know he’s first in GAA and 2nd in SV% this year?!). The move is probably a good one, considering that the last time Raycroft played in the 2nd of back-to-back games he was pulled.
How bad are the Canucks injury woes? Well, they’ve brought back a Tampa Bay Lightning cast-off! Yeeesh. Actually, I don’t mind this signing. Matt Pettinger was re-signed by Mike Gillis yesterday. With all their injuries at the moment, bringing a veteran NHL forward who can skate and kill penalties probably isn’t a bad idea. He’ll be here on a temporary basis in all likelihood though. The best they can hope for is a Trent Klatt effect. Klatt was sent down to the minors early in his Canucks tenure, and when he came back up was a changed man. His intensity was up considerably and he became an effective player. Surely, Pettinger will be a motivated player.
Speaking of Canucks injuries, this is getting ridiculous. In what seems like a daily injury update, Michael Grabner will be lost for six weeks with a fractured ankle. Amazing how you can be chased around at high speed by 220 lb defencemen for your career and it’s casually kicking a soccer ball that knocks you out.
After watching the following video I started to think that maybe Canuckz.com should consider spicing up its injury updates? Just a thought…
In a weird twist this season, the Canucks have all 8 of their defencemen healthy (defencemen usually are the most injury prone), and a whole whack of injuries to forward, and then of course there’s Roberto Luongo. The result has been a lot of dull hockey, with the team trying to play more defensive due to their lack of fire power. With that said, here’s a review of the replacements for Luongo, Daniel Sedin, Pavol Demitra and Ryan Johnson (as well as Kyle Wellwood and Rick Rypien here and there).
Chicks are digging the speedy Austrian sniper, and why not? Grabner has been impressive with the big club. He has five points in his first nine NHL games and has been generating a lot of scoring chances. Unfortunately, a replacement for this replacement will be needed. Grabner was lost to an ankle injury that he suffered during the pre-game hallway warm-up. It’s been that kind of season for the Canucks (kind of reminds me of when the Canucks lost all those defencemen in the 2007-08 season and Lukas Krajicek slipped on some ice and injured himself).
Glass has looked good thus far. Sunday’s game against Colorado was probably his best, notching a goal and hitting a crossbar. He’s been pretty reliable, finishing all of his checks and responsible in his own end.
The Canucks’ forward (forward!? Yes, forward) has been impressive since being moved from defence. Vigneault moved him from defence to forward because of all the injuries up front, and must have sure liked him there. He lead all Canucks forwards in ice time in Friday’s game versus Anaheim. That’s clearly ridiculous, but he hasn’t looked out of place at forward (unlike Mathieu Schneider who looked completely lost in his one game at forward… Vigneault clearly hasn’t heard of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks).
Bolduc, like Grabner, has also been injured since being called-up. While healthy, he played pretty much error free, but didn’t offer anything notable.
The “Pocket Russian Rocket” hasn’t been able to lift-off as of yet. In six games in the NHL, he has been unable to get a single point and is a minus four. Disappointing, sure, but even more disappointing is that he hasn’t been noticeable. He has been sent to the Moose a couple of times already, and continues to rip it up down there, but so far he hasn’t been able to translate that to the NHL level.
Raycroft has played pretty well in his limited action. I thought he was unfairly pulled in the loss to Anaheim on Friday, but responded with a shutout against his old team, the Colorado Avalanche. He wasn’t tested a lot against Colorado, but still, I have more confidence in him than any back-up goalie they’ve had since Alex Auld. He should get all of the starts until Luongo comes back.
Roberto Luongo, yet again, is injured. He’ll be out at least a week with a rib injury. Whether or not it’s only a week remains to be seen, as Canucks management has been known to downplay injuries in the past. This marks the third straight season where Luongo will miss time due to an injury. Does this mean he can’t handle the ridiculously large workload the team gives him every year? Probably not, I tend to think it’s just a matter of being in the net more often gives you more opportunities to get injured.
This means that Andrew Raycroft and possibly Cory Schneider will get an opportunity to play. Raycroft looked great in preseason and his limited game action this season, but he hasn’t played for a while and would surely be rusty. We’ll see how that goes. I think he has the ability to step his game up, but we all know what usually happens to the Canucks when they’re without Luongo, nevermind when they do it with a bunch of injuries.
Here’s the rest of the injury updates:
-Rick Rypien is ready to go
-No news for Jannik Hansen and Pavol Demitra
Tonyz Tanti and I were talking and decided that for this coming month, there’s no one on the roster more deserving of being featured on a Calendar Wallpaper than The Ripper. So we present to you the Canuckz.com November 2009 Calendar Wallpaper featuring Rick Rypien! The design idea? We’re imagining Rypien mailing home to mom after each of his battles: “Look mom! See who I beat up today!” Or something like that.
Download here (missing a weird resolution that you use that we don’t have? Post a comment to let us know and we’ll gladly add it!):
The Canucks silenced the boisterous United Centre crowd with a gritty 3-2 third period comeback victory on Wednesday. The win was big, not only because it was their first road win of the season and against a hated team, but because of how they won:
-They came back on the Hawks, a team known for coming back on other teams
-They outshot the Blackhawks, the first time that Chicago has been outshot this season
-Roberto Luongo was outstanding, especially when the score was 2-1 for Chicago. He especially came up big during the lengthy 5-on-3 man advantage in the third period
-Michael Grabner (!) scored. And he looked like a sniper while doing it.
-They hit! Willie Mitchell’s hit was the turning point of the game.
Rick Rypien has a groin injury (surprise surprise), prompting the question: who is the most injury-prone player on the Canucks? They’ve got a few candidates including Rypien, Salo, Demitra and Schneider.
Speaking of Mathieu Schneider, he appears ready to go. He has been cleared to play, so we will most likely see him on Sunday against the Oilers. He is inegligible to play Saturday because he was placed on 10 day injured reserve.
Check out this video taken from the Tampa Bay Lightning practice. The team played a game of “strip shootout”. Basically it’s like strip poker, with the shooter removing an article of clothing every time they don’t score. Martin St Louis appears to be the big loser, having to remove a whole lot of equipment. Gary Bettman, are you watching this? Sounds like a great idea for the skills competition at All Star Weekend to me!
Question: what do Mike Smith, Cristobal Huet and Vesa Toskala have in common? Answer: they’re the only NHL starting netminders with a worse save percentage than Roberto Luongo this season. That’s right, he’s 27th in save percentage among starting goalies! He’s also 26th in goals against average among starters. I know it’s early, but it’s not THAT early. We’re seven games into the season, that’s 8% for you math junkies. At what point does this become a concern? It’s freak-out time for a few message boarders, but I say give it a couple more games. But he’s got to be their best player, no excuses.
Luongo is known for slow starts, but not like this. This is the worst start to a season he’s had as a Canuck, with arguably the best team in front of him. They’ve limited the shots on goal that he’s faced, and he needs to be able to play well in games where he sees limited shots. I’m still optimistic that he’ll get out of this funk, but if the funk lasts a little too long, it may cost them a playoff spot. It may also cost him a spot on Team Canada.
An elite Roberto Luongo makes the Canucks an elite team. A sub-par Luongo makes the team a sub-par team. It’s as simple as that.
Recently called-up Michael Grabner will make his NHL debut tonight tonight when the Canucks play the Flames. The speedy winger has been thrown right into the fire, playing the club’s chief rival on the top line with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows. Grabner will never get a better opportunity to succeed than this to finally prove he’s NHL worthy and he’d better excel or there may not be many chances left for the young Austrian sniper.
Lets review. He was the Canucks’ first pick, 14th overall in the 2006 entry draft. He currently sits as the only forward taken in the first round to have yet to play an NHL game. Players picked behind him include many youngsters already making a significant impact in the NHL: Claude Giroux, Simeon Varlamov, Patrik Berglund, Nick Foligno, Milan Lucic, Steve Mason and Cal Clutterbuck. Last season, he lead the Manitoba Moose in goals, notching 30 in 66 games. He has never been able to translate that success at the NHL level, preseason included. He played in a team high seven preseason games this year, scoring zero goals and one lone assist. Just for some perspective, that put him 20th (20th!) in scoring on the team.
Grabner is now 22 years old, not as young as he used to be, and is getting a chance with a team that has Daniel Sedin, Pavol Demitra and Jannik Hansen out of the lineup for significant periods of time. If he plays anywhere half decently, he should be given a long look in a scoring role. Will he succeed? Don’t bet on it. Personally, I would have liked to see Sergei Shirokov back. Shirokov grossly outplayed Grabner in the preseason and has more points in Manitoba. If Grabner can go from brutal in the preseason last month to good in the regular season, I will be pleasantly surprised.
(A little motivation for Grabner)
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