It appears the injury bug has bitten the Canucks early this season. It started with lingering injuries carrying over from last season for Pavol Demitra and Mathieu Schneider. Then it was Jannik Hansen, who was injured on the last game of the preseason. Now, even worse news. The Canucks will be without iron-man Daniel Sedin and (what’s the opposite of iron man?) Sami Salo.
Daniel Sedin broke his foot after being struck by an Alex Edler slap shot, he’ll be gone 4-6 weeks. This means that Daniel Sedin will miss the most games he’s ever missed in a single season, since his NHL debut in 2000. It also means that twin brother Henrik will get a long stint on a line without Daniel for the first time in his career. How will he fare? It will be interesting to find out.
Sami Salo will also be gone for 4-6 weeks with a knee sprain suffered in their last game against Dallas. For all the joking about Salo’s injury woes, he will be sorely missed. Everyone knows about his big shot, but he is most valuable to the team with his role on the shutdown pairing with Willie Mitchell. I feel bad for the guy. He’s suffered a lot of injuries, to no fault of his own. Some guys’ bodies are just more durable than others in my view. It’s not like he runs around recklessly like Rick Rypien or anything.
Speaking of Rick Rypien, how about a little time-out to watch this again!?
So where does this leave the team? Well, luckily they have depth. Losing a top 4 defenceman a few years ago would have meant power play time for Patrick Coulombe. Luckily, Salo’s ice time can be absorbed by their other regulars. Capable reserve defenceman Aaron Rome will see his first action as a Canuck and, if you read between the lines, Mathieu Schneider should be ready to go, probably as soon as his long term injury reserve time expires on October 25th.
Daniel Sedin’s’ role will be tougher to fill. Guys like Steve Bernier, Mason Raymond and Kyle Wellwood will need to step it up, but this is the time where the Canucks really need a pleasant surprise from prospects Sergei Shirokov or Michael Grabner (though I wouldn’t hold your breath).
***Update*** Looks like Grabner will get into his first NHL game.
But the number one way the Canucks can withstand all these injuries? You guessed it: Roberto Luongo. Luongo has the ability to steal games, and he may need to do a bit of stealing coming up.
Random thought of the day:
Isn’t this an Olympic year for the NHL? Isn’t the NHL supposed to be compressing their schedule to accomodate the two-week break? If so, why on earth are the Canucks on a stretch of 1 game in 8 days this early in the season? That’s a schedule that more resembles the CFL, not the NHL. I know that there are many factors that go into the schedule, including building availability, and the NHL’s desire not to go head-to-head with MLB playoffs and the NFL, but could they please give the Canucks a bit of a break?
With the horrendous road trips the Canucks have coming due to the fact that GM Place will be occupied with pre/post Olympic use, you’d think the NHL could have thrown in a couple of road games now, instead of in February and March. For those counting, the Canucks have an eight game road trip before the Olympics and a six game road trip after the Olympics.
Courtesy of Spike.com:
It’s remarkable how arrogant the fan base of a team with zero Stanley Cups, no Hall of Fame players, and two homoerotic Swedish twins that seem physically afraid of the playoffs can act. It’s literally mind-boggling! These days, when they’re not too busy demanding trades on local radio shows or reminiscing about that year they almost signed Wayne Gretzky, you can usually find Canucks fans preaching about how hosting Jarome Iginla and the Canadian Olympic team will finally establish their city as a genuine hockey town (sort of like how marrying Lamar Odom made Khloe Kardashian a real celebrity – legitimacy by association).
Next time you see a suspected pyramid schemer in the corner of a trendy wine bar sporting a $200 hair cut, $900 suit, and emanating a distinct air of scumbag from his Drakkar Noir-soaked pores – go ahead and ask him about Kevin Bieksa, because odds are he’s a Vancouver Canucks fan and doesn’t want to cry himself to sleep again before throwing out obscene predictions about the Norris Trophy.
If you’ve been reading from the start, you’ll know that I don’t disagree at all (except for the part about the Sedins whom I heart just fine)! Stop being douchebags, Canucks fans! Stop freaking out over a “poor” 3 game start to the season. NEVER EVER plan a Stanley Cup parade after the 1st round again! Etc.. Sheesh.
It’s also idiots like this that give Canucks fans a bad name. His name was Richard and he completely disowned the Canucks during their losing streak last year, saying he would never ever watch them again. He even cancelled his cable! Later, he proceeded to jump back on the bandwagon after they went on a winning streak. Here’s some of what he wrote-in to the Province:
My heart can’t take it any more. I’ve been a Canucks fan for over 30 years. Every year we are fooled into believing this will be THE year or at least this year will be a better year.
I fall for the hype every time, but after last night’s game … something died in me.
I’ve never felt that disappointed by a loss in my life. I was so upset, in fact, that it carried over to my relationship with my wife. I snapped at her over the dumbest of things. She was an innocent bystander and not a hockey fan. That anger that was wrongly aimed at my wonderful wife was an anger so powerful I couldn’t contain it. An anger expressed because of my emotional tie to a stupid sports team.
I will never let that happen again.
I proved to myself that watching, cheering and supporting the Canucks has finally come to an end. Period.
The time I wasted watching the Canucks games I will now spend with my wife and daughter.
They’re 0-3 and in less than one week have gone from cup contenders to talentless bums (according to the bandwagon douchebags anyways). Well, the fact of the matter is that this team isn’t as good as those early season predictions (loyal Canuckz.com readers already knew this after reading this post) and they’re not as bad as their 0-3 record suggests. I think what’s wrong with the Canucks is a combination of them getting cocky, believing their own preseason hype, and being out of sync. Being out of sync can be attributed to them not icing a single game in the preseason with their full line-up. I believe they kept too many prospects right to the final game of the preseason. So that’s the bad news.
The good news is, they’ve actually played pretty well in large portions of all three games. The Canucks have outplayed their opponents in about 70% of their games, but haven’t been able to score. Conversely, their opponents have capitalized on their chances, putting Luongo and company in a big hole.
More good news: Luongo won’t be this bad for long and the Canucks won’t be this snake-bit for long.
When the Canucks have played with urgency, they’ve been very good. The problem is that by the time they decided to play with urgency on Monday night, they were down by three goals. Same thing against Calgary.
The Canucks penalty kill needs to get better. Their opponents have absolutely lit them up on the man advantage: Columbus was 1-3, Colorado was 2-6, and Calgary was 2-3. You can’t expect to win with penalty killing like that.
Ryan Johnson has been on the ice for all six goals against while shorthanded! Not good for someone who is supposed to be a penalty killing specialist. Rick Rypien has been on for three of them. Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows haven’t been on for a goal against while on the penalty kill.
Five of the six power play goals against have been scored by the other team’s second unit.
Maybe they ought to keep one of Burrows or Kesler on the ice at all times while on the penalty kill.
The Sergei Shirokov experiment may be over. Alain Vigneault juggled his lines after they were down 4-1 against Columbus and Shirokov ended up on the 4th line with Ryan Johnson and Rick Rypien. Shirokov’s old linemates, Ryan Kesler and Mikael Samuelsson, were much more effective playing with Mason Raymond in the 3rd period. Look for Tanner Glass to be inserted into the lineup against Montreal.
What are the game presentation people doing at GM Place? The Canucks are now hitting the ice to some mellow song by Cold Play after a sappy intro on the big screen. Not surprisingly, this put the home crowd a bit to sleep to start the game. I know it was Columbus on a Monday night, but I have never seen a quieter home opener to start the game, and the game presentation certainly contributed to it.
Anybody notice that there were an awful lot of tickets available for the home opener? It’s become abundantly clear that the sellout streak has ended (unless you count giving away hundreds of tickets) and it’s not because of a lack of fan support. Simply put, the Aquilinis have now priced people right out of the building. Seriously, how many people can afford to spend over $200 on a mediocre corner seat in the lower bowl, for Columbus on a Monday night no less? The entire city of Vancouver is crazy about this team right now and for the Canucks to price tickets so high that they can’t sell them is just plain greedy.
And now, something to help cheer us cheer up…
From time to time, we will take you on a trip down memory lane looking at this day in Canucks history. On this day, October 5, 1989 the Vancouver Canucks played their first game of the season and lost 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers. This game was significant because it marked the first time a Russian born player played for the Canucks. Not one, but two Russians were in the lineup: Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov. Both players were great players in the Soviet Union, and looked to transfer that great skill to the NHL. The “professor”, Igor Larionov was successful, eventually winning Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and is now a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Krutov was less successful, playing only one season in the NHL and became more well known for eating hot dogs than scoring goals. He then moved on to competitive eating (we assume).
The all holier than though Brian Burke is at it again. In a video posted on the Toronto Maple Leafs official website, Burke at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft tells the camera about a rumour he heard. That rumour involved Mike Gillis offering Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa and their 1st round pick in exchange for number two overall pick Victor Hedman.
“Vancouver has made a major effort to get the second pick out of Tampa Bay,” Burke tells his scouts at a pre-draft meeting. “We heard they offered – again, this is all second-hand, so we’re not sure – [Alex] Burrows, [Kevin] Bieksa and their own pick. Those are two pretty good players.”
Isn’t this the same Brian Burke who goes ballistic every time a member of the media prints a trade rumour? If this was something was leaked out by accident, you could give Burke a pass, but this was him talking into the camera, and the video ended up on the Leafs official website! Clearly, Burke is at odds with Canucks management. He was closely linked to the Tom Gaglardi/Ryan Beedie group that tried to buy the Canucks from John McCaw. He’s also probably pissed that Gillis was critical about the team he inherited at his first press conference.
Unbelievable that the NHL isn’t going to look into this, yet another example of Brian Burke tampering. Aside from him leaving the Ducks and joining the Leafs last year in mid-season, his coach Ron Wilson was on Toronto radio telling the whole world how much he liked the Sedin twins shortly before the two were to become unrestricted free agents.
What makes all of this worse, is what a hypocrite Brian Burke is. He’s constantly up on his moral high horse, when in reality, he’s just as guilty as everyone else. Remember how mad he was at Kevin Lowe for putting an offer sheet out to Dustin Penner? Well, that’s within the rules. Leaving one GM post for another in mid-season, isn’t.
What about being completely uninterested in Dany Heatley because he demanded a trade?
“We’re not going to be in on that,” Burke stated. “He’s a good player but I have certain guidelines on how players ask for trades.”
Well, he had no troubles acquiring Chris Pronger when he was the GM in Ahaheim. Didn’t he demand a trade too?
Gillis, to his credit, has truly taken the high road. He’s voiced his displeasure, but he isn’t going overboard. In fact, he’s not even going to file a formal complaint with the league. Good on him.
Now for a real fight. Did anyone catch Gallagher vs Suitor on Team 1040 this week? Tony Gallagher criticized the CFL in one of his columns, to which Glen Suitor took great offense. Too much offense in my opinion. If someone wants to criticize the CFL, fine. Nobody has to like the CFL. There’s been all sorts of reaction to this, everything from message boards to newspaper columns.
Here’s the part of the column that Suitor was pissed at:
“After all, we are talking about the CFL, where if you somehow manage to scrape into the playoffs, you’re only three wins away from a championship, no matter how bad your record may have been over the course of a season.
And at that championship point, everyone jumps up and down and pats each other on the back and acts as though they’ve cured cancer and declare themselves winners, when in fact somebody has to come away with a trophy in a league that has just eight teams.”
And he’s right! I love the CFL, but 75% of the teams make the playoffs! That doesn’t mean it’s easy to play professional football, but your chances of winning a championship in an eight team league are pretty high! Suitor’s got to realize that the CFL is what it is. It’s a second-rate football league. It’s fun to watch, it’s of high quality, but it’s the second best football league in the world. And it only has eight teams. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
It’s finally here. Game 1 of the 2009-10 season and I’m going to say it. The Canucks are overrated. Not that I don’t think they have a good team, but this is getting ridiculous. On TSN’s preview show last night Ray Ferraro and Pierre McGwire picked them to go to the Stanley Cup Finals. TSN has ranked them as 6th best in the league. Not to be outdone, Sportsnet has them ranked 6th also. The Province is calling this edition of the Canucks the best ever. I like the moves that Gillis has made, and this is a playoff team, but what really has changed from a year ago? From my view, they’ve switched Ohlund, Vaananen, Sundin and Pyatt for Ehrhoff, Schneider, Samuelsson and Shirokov. An improvement, sure, but not drastic changes.
For me, the biggest improvement will come with a healthy full season from Luongo. Can we expect young players like Wellwood, Raymond, Bernier and Edler to improve? Sure. But can we expect the same kind of dream seasons from Kesler, Burrows and Mitchell? Who knows.
The Canucks are a very good team, but lets not get too excited here. They’ve improved slightly from last season.
So with that said, here are Canuckz.com’s official predictions for the upcoming season!
1. San Jose: Don’t believe all the negative publicity. The top regular season team from a year ago got better with the addition of Heatley.
2. Detroit: They won’t be as good losing Hossa and Hudler, but they had a great season last year despite terrible goaltending from Osgood. They’ll be a force once again.
3. Vancouver: They’ll need to fight off Calgary for top spot in the division
4. Anaheim: Lost Pronger, but they have arguably the best group of top 6 forwards in the NHL.
5. Chicago: Good young team, but Huet in goal and missing Hossa to start the season will hurt.
6. St Louis: Young team caught fire in the second half of last season, that should carry-over to this year.
7. Calgary: Coaching better with Sutter, defence better with Bouwmeester, but losing Cammalleri and an improved conference will hurt.
8. Edmonton: New coach, better goal-tending and improved young players will sneak the Oilers into the playoffs this season.
9. Columbus: Hard playing in a tough division.
10. Los Angeles: Improved sure, but still question marks on defence and in goal.
11. Dallas: Having Morrow back will help, but their defence is in shambles.
12. Minnesota: No Gaborik, no Lemaire, no playoffs.
13. Nashville: Team always defies logic and plays well… until this year.
14. Phoenix: Too many distractions, too little talent.
15. Colorado: Life after Joe will be tough.
1. Washington: A full year with Varlamov and a talented/motivated lineup.
2. Boston: Lost Kessel, but other youngsters like Lucic, Wheeler and Krejci will pick up the slack.
3. Pittsburgh: Stanley Cup hangover will get them off to a slow start until they pick it up.
4. Philadelphia: Can Emery and Boucher hold up in goal? They’ll be average but adding Pronger will help.
5. New Jersey: A healthy Brodeur and Jacques Lemaire means they’ll be competitive.
6. Carolina: Basically the same team that caught fire in the second half of last season.
7. Buffalo: A healthy Ryan Miller and a weak division will be the recipe for a return to the playoffs.
8. Ottawa: Head coach Cory Clouston will get the Sens to over-achieve.
9. Montreal: Not enough secondary scoring.
10. NY Rangers: Tough division, can Gaborik stay healthy?
11. Tampa Bay: Can’t be as bad as last season, can they?
12. Florida: No Jay-Bo, honeymoon with their coach is over too.
13. Toronto: Not enough scoring from this truculent bunch.
14. Atlanta: Still too many questions in goal.
15. NY Islanders: A glorified AHL team, who knew making your backup goalie your new GM would be a bad idea?
The Vancouver Canucks have announced that their golden boy, Cody Hodgson, will not be sticking around with the big club and instead be sent back to junior this season. I applaud the move, as he simply doesn’t belong in the NHL… yet. No need to rush him, especially with the depth they have. He’ll be extremely disappointed, but you shouldn’t make the NHL based on reputation or hype. Three years ago Dave Nonis did this with the late Luc Bourdon, keeping him for 9 games and then sent him back to junior. It was a mistake then, because Bourdon was out of his element.
Hodgson will get a chance to get healthier (it’s entirely clear his back isn’t 100%) and dominate once again in junior. He’ll also be the leading candidate to captain Canada’s world junior team. If you ask me, that’s a better way to develop than sitting in the press box or struggling on the 3rd line in the NHL.
In other news, Brad Lukowich is on waivers. This is a mistake in my opinion. They have room to keep him on their roster, and keeping an experienced, stay-at-home defenceman that owns a Stanley Cup ring can’t be a bad thing. Maybe they figure that other teams will be scared off by his contract, but nobody will if he’s on recallable waivers. The news with Lukowich means that Aaron Rome will start the year with the Canucks.
Team 1040 is reporting that Pavol Demitra is not on the long term injury list, so this helps explain why they got rid of Lukowich (make room for Demitra on the 23 man roster and make room for his $4 million salary). This suggests that Demitra won’t be gone for long.
The Canucks reduced their roster to 29 players today. Among the players sent down to Manitoba were Cory Schneider and Michael Grabner. Very disappointing for both players, considering that Schneider’s competition for the backup job was not very stiff (Andrew Raycroft) and two forward spots opened up with injuries to Pavol Demitra and Jannik Hansen. Hansen broke his hand last night in a fight with Gilbert Brule. For the first time, the word “bust” is being whispered about Grabner. Grabner is the only player taken in the top 18 of the 2006 draft that has yet to play his first NHL game. While it’s disappointing for Schneider also, it’s premature to call him a bust, as goalies typically develop slower than forwards.
So who will be on the opening night roster? Well, of the 29 players remaining, three will be on injured reserve (Demitra, Hansen and Schneider). So that leaves 26 players, meaning that three more players will have to be sent to Manitoba, or in Cody Hodgson’s case, Brampton. Michael Funk and Lawrence Nycholat are virtual guarantees to be sent to Manitoba. Top candidates to be cut include: Cody Hodgson or Tanner Glass. Glass has been a pleasant surprise in the preseason, providing a lot of grit and even the odd goal. I believe the team will want to keep Aaron Rome (at least until Mathieu Schneider returns) and Sergei Shirokov after their impressive preseasons. If they decide to keep Hodgson, it will not be because of his play in the preseason. It will be because they believe he was hampered by his injured back and will keep him with the big club to sit in the press box for the most part. I believe that would be a mistake. The kid simply isn’t ready yet. Don’t buy the argument that “there’s nothing more that he can accomplish in junior” that has been popular lately. He had an excellent season last year in junior, but it was by no means the most dominant season in OHL history, nor did his team win a Memorial Cup. Any junior-aged player that can’t play at the NHL level can still accomplish something in junior. This is not to suggest that Manitoba isn’t the best place for him. It would be nice if the NHL could have some sort of exception for players in Hodgson’s position (three years of major junior and a first round pick).
And now in case you missed how Jannik Hansen broke his hand…
The Canucks have just announced that Alain Vigneault has signed a three year contract extension. The contract takes him through the 2012-13 season. While most everyone agrees that re-signing Vigneault is a good thing (except those bandwagon douchebags, of course), what are the odds of a coach lasting seven years with one team? That’s what Vigneault will have done if he coaches to the end of this contract. Seeing as how the Aquilini family is footing the bill, so long as this contract doesn’t make Gillis more hesitant to make a decision with his coach, this will prove to be a positive move.
In other news, the Canucks trimmed their roster today, with no major surprises. Dave Scatchard was released and may have played his last NHL game. Yann Sauve is on his way back to junior while most of the others will play in Manitoba. Interestingly, Mark Parrish was not on the list of cuts (although still a long shot in my opinion).
Update: so long Mark Parrish
Will we be seeing Cody Hodgson in Canuck blue this season or will the people of Brampton be seeing him back in one of those snazzy green Brampton Battalion jerseys? That’s the decision that Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault are trying to make and fans of the Canucks are debating. Yesterday I theorized that Hodgson would be sent back to junior.
I thought that until I read this from Vigneault: “One thing I firmly believe is talent has no age,” Vigneault said. “Talent helps a player improve and improve quicker. If we start with a player that might be 10 or 15 per cent behind somebody else at this time, but because his skill set is better … he might become by Christmas a better player than what we have here, we’d have to consider that in the equation.”
To me, this is an indication that they will make excuses for Hodgson’s play. Look for them to insert Hodgson for at least the 9 games (the cut-off point for junior players able to return to junior and not count towards the cap). They will do this with the thought that as Hodgson’s back gets better and he gets more comfortable, he’ll be full marks for his NHL job. While this may be a perfectly legitimate viewpoint to have, I don’t think they should give Hodgson a job unless he really deserves 15 minutes of ice time a night. To do that, he’ll have to supplant himself into the top 9 forwards on the team. That list currently includes: both Sedins, Kesler, Burrows, Samuelsson, Wellwood, Bernier, Raymond and the injured Pavol Demitra. So then it becomes a case of who deserves the spot more, Shirokov or Hodgson. If you want to keep both (even with Demitra’s injury), then you will have to put one of your defencemen or Jannik Hansen on waivers, for which they will likely be lost. The other scenario is that Gillis pulls the trigger on a trade to open up space.
Hodgson will get a great chance to show what he’s got tonight against the Sharks when he lines up with Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler. If he doesn’t show he really belongs, then I think he should spend another year in junior.
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