With an impressive 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night, the Canucks clinched first place in the entire National Hockey League. In case you’re counting at home, that’s the first time in 40 years that we can say the Vancouver Canucks are President’s Trophy winners. It’s a nice feather in their cap, and nice to have won it for the first time. Enjoy it Canucks fans… for now.
The Chicago Blackhawks are back in town! Slated to play the Canucks on Friday, Jonathan Toews and company are currently 8th in the conference, which of course means “if the regular season ended today” the Canucks and Blackhawks would meet in the 1st round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs! So what do you think of that Canucks fans? Does that worry you? I have to admit, it worries me a little.
Let me immediately state that this is not a trade rumour. Nobody has suggested that the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames are talking trade or that Mike Gillis is shopping Mason Raymond, Keith Ballard or Cory Schneider. Even new Flames general manager Jay Feaster has said that he is not interested in trading the face of the franchise, Jarome Iginla. While we can choose to believe or not believe Jay Feaster, it’s still unlikely that he would trade Iginla to Vancouver given that they are a division rival. The point of asking this question centres around a bigger question. When (if ever) is the time to load up, trade for a player to put your team over the hump, while sacrificing some of your future? I think this year might be the year and a Raymond/Ballard/Schneider for Iginla deal is at least worth a thought.
Last night’s shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks brings the Canucks record to 0-2 in shootouts this year, which begs the question: do the Canucks miss Kyle Wellwood? Now, I’m not suggesting that replacing Wellwood with Malhotra this year on the third line was a poor decision, but they sure do miss his shootout prowess. Remarkably, Canucks shooters haven’t been the main problem, that distinction goes to Roberto Luongo and his .000 SV% in shootouts this year. Luongo has a decent save percentage all-time, so he should get over his early season shootout troubles.
What an eventful first game of the season. In the first game of their 40th anniversary season, the Canucks brought back all living members of their inaugural team. Pat Quinn received the biggest ovation, a classy gesture by the fans at Rogers Arena. From there, Henrik Sedin was officially named captain by receiving the C from the first captain in Canucks history, Orland Kurtenbach. I thought it was a nice ceremony that was done with a lot of class.
The Canucks announced yesterday that former Canuck Brendan Morrison will be trying out for the team in training camp (related: Peter Schaefer is also on a tryout). This is interesting on a number of fronts. To start, Morrison will play in the preseason in a Canucks jersey and could make the team, be cut or sign with any other team before the start of the regular season. So quite clearly, nothing is guaranteed.
The so-called “parity” of the salary cap era is on display, as the three top seeds are now eliminated in the East. But what about the parity between the West and the East? It seems as though the only strong team remaining in the East is the Pittsburgh Penguins and compared to their counterparts in the West; San Jose, Chicago, Detroit and Vancouver, they look overmatched.
Team 1040 is reporting that Pavol Demitra will likely make his season debut Saturday versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. Great news, now all they have to decide is where to put him. Has the second line of Samuelsson, Kesler, and Raymond shown enough to not get broken up? I’m not sure it has. It appears Alain Vigneault isn’t ready to shake up his top two lines. Here’s what the lines looked like at practice today:
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