Ok ok before you freak out after reading the headline and trash me in the comments section, let me explain. Michael Grabner is not the second coming of Brett Hull. Far from it. So why bring it up? Let me explain… In case you haven’t noticed, former Canucks 1st round draft pick Michael Grabner is on quite a tear right now. After a slow start to the season, Grabner has 15 goals and 6 assists in his last 15 games. That’s brought his goal total up to 24 this year while playing on the Islanders third line. And that’s what makes this all the more impressive for Grabner. He hasn’t been given prime time minutes. He has received minimal power play time and is averaging only 14 minutes a game. Yesterday he netted a hat trick in only 15:06 of playing time. ‘Grabby’ is now on pace for 35 goals this year, imagine what that would look like playing 17-18 minutes a night? Imagine what he could do after he matures a little more. Somewhere Dave Nonis is saying “I told you so”.
The biggest deal on draft day in 2010 once again involves the Vancouver Canucks. The same team that brought you Alex Mogilny (1995 draft), the Sedin twins (1999 draft) and Roberto Luongo (2006 draft) did it again. While not as big as the aforementioned trades, the acquisition of Keith Ballard is significant. The Canucks acquired Keith Ballard and prospect Victor Oreskovich in exchange for their first round draft pick, Michael Grabner and Steve Bernier.
Skate and go to the net, presumably that’s the message from Coach V to his troops tonight. Alain Vigneault has a few lineup shuffles in mind for tonight’s contest. Pavol Demitra and Rick Rypien will sit out tonight’s contest in favour of Michael Grabner and Tanner Glass. Here’s what the Canucks lines are expected to look like:
After calling the Canucks “Cup pretenders” last Friday, I must admit that I was starting to believe they were contenders with one of the most impressive outings of the season against the Senators on Saturday followed up by a 1st period knockout of the Calgary Flames the next day. But then came the Islanders game on Tuesday night. Now I’m not suggesting that Canucks fans should begin panicking about this team because of it, but it certainly didn’t help. Another thing that didn’t help was losing first star of the week, Mikael Samuelsson. He’ll be gone 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury or so we’re told (and we’ve been lied to before, see Dan Cloutier). With that said, here are a few random thoughts going through my head as the playoffs loom:
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.
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).
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.
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.
This year has been the most competitive Canucks camp in recent memory, with so many players with a realistic chance to make the team. Head coach Alain Vigneault has a lot of tough decisions ahead of him, particularly concerning players on the bubble. Numerous young and old guys are fighting for spots at forward, defense and in goal.
I woke up this morning and read a couple of troubling stories about some Canuck prospects. Arguably the Canucks best player of the preseason, Sergei “the Pocket Russian Rocket” Shirokov, suffered a mild first degree sprain on his knee in the Canucks 3-1 win over Edmonton last night. They are hoping to have him back for next weekend, which leaves him little time to impress the coaches enough to crack the opening day lineup.
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