When you have eight NHL defencemen under contract and are still set to re-sign Shane O’Brien, rumours are bound to follow. When you’re the #6 d-man on the depth chart and making $3.75 million, chances are you’ll be the guy talked about in those rumours. I’m speaking of course of Kevin Bieksa, who was rumoured to be on the trade block by yours truly after the Keith Ballard trade and is now being rumoured all over the place. Despite the fact that Mike Gillis isn’t confirming that Bieksa is being shopped, you have to believe he is.
We’re one day away from the start of NHL free agency and the rumours mill is churning. With respect to Vancouver Canucks, no name has been rumoured more than Kevin Bieksa. With the acquisition of Keith Ballard, many (including yours truly) have theorized that this makes Bieksa a little bit redundant. Personally I think it’s time to ship Bieksa out of town.
The countdown to the free agent frenzy is on. July 1st marks the first day of free agency 2010 and the Canucks are sure to be busy. The Canucks currently have five regulars scheduled to become unrestricted free agents and four regulars set to become restricted free agents. Clearly not all of them will be back and some new players will be added via free agency. There is also the potential for young players to step into the lineup and more trades to happen. So what will Mike Gillis do? Well, lets try to figure that out right now:
Well, we’ve all had a chance to take a deep breath, sit back and really think about the year that was for our beloved Vancouver Canucks. Gone is the emotion/heartbreak/disappointment/anger from their second straight second round loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. What’s left is a better chance for impartial analysis as to what they did, what they have and what they should do.
The better team won. Face it. I have heard lots of whispers from the Canucks players and from fans that somehow the Hawks aren’t the better team, which boggles my mind. They were the better team during the last two regular seasons, they were the better team the last two playoffs. Sure there were some mitigating factors. Willie Mitchell’s injury sure hurt. Playing game 6 with a less than 100% Sami Salo and losing Alex Edler made things difficult. Lots of the Canucks forwards were banged up. Injuries ARE excuses, legitimate excuses. Injuries don’t mean you automatically lose, but they make things more difficult. These injuries meant that the Canucks had to be extra good, seeing as how they were underdogs to begin with. In the next few days I’ll take a retrospective look back at the Canucks season that was, but for now, lets concentrate on what happened in the deciding game, game 6 versus Chicago.
It goes without saying that tonight’s pivotal game 6 is the biggest game of the year. If anyone knows what to expect, please let me know, because I can’t figure this team out. They’re down 3-2 in the series but both of their wins were by fairly large margins. They were great at home all year, but have dropped both home games in this series, and looked terrible while doing so. With that said, lets take a look at the ten most important questions heading in to today’s matchup:
After an impressive 4-1 win, the Canucks will live to play another game. So just how did this team, that looked so beleaguered on home ice in game 3 and 4, manage to extend the series? Remarkably, the keys to victory have become astonishingly clear (to this blogger at least).
What a debacle game 3 of the second round turned out to be. A 5-2 result in which the Canucks looked out of it past the 10 minute mark of the 1s t period. At the end of the night I felt like the Blackhawks had won, and won easily. In game 2 they had to scratch and claw their way to victory, but not in game 3.
The Canucks looked like a team still pissed off about their series loss last year, storming the Blackhawks right off the hop, while the Blackhawks looked a bit surprised by the push and never really seemed to recover. They’ve earned at least a split in Chicago, which is huge for a team like the Canucks who are so much better at home than on the road.
Game 4 had a similar feel to it to Vancouver vs Chicago in game 6 last year. The main difference, of course, is that the Canucks found a way to win this one. They did it on the backs of their top players.
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