Daniel Bonino, Henrik Dorsett and Radim Richardson? Wait….What?

(First Star) So I begin this week’s blog with a comment on the fantastic goal from Daniel Bonino and Henrik Dorsett. No, this is not a spelling error they truly looked like the Twins coming down 2 on 1 in the Canucks OT win over the Habs Thursday night. I have to say if you could not see their faces or jersey numbers it would be an honest mistake thinking it was the Twins. Gorgeous goal and I hope we get to see more of them from Bonino. Dorsett sure laid that pass over nice didn’t he? He has been solid shuffling between the third and fourth lines while looking comfortable in either role and he can pass the puck while possessing ability to hit the night. Good score Mr. Benning.

Daniel and Henrik? Nope, Bonino and Dorsett… Time for glasses

(Second Star) There is the issue of head shots that is now running rampant all over the Vancouver media. Was Burrows hit a head shot, why was there no penalty but a suspension and what will happen to Ference with his hit on Kassian Saturday night as for discipline? As Burrows does not have a history of suspensions I am sure most of us would believe no suspension or 1 game at most with a fine would have sufficed. I know if Ference does not get 3 games for his hit that was very similar to Burrow’s there will be hell to pay. They both left their feet and they both moved in an upward motion to contact the head.  In my opinion it, at very least, will expose the dysfunction of the NHL’s ability to enforce their hazy rule book. We also have to remember what we, as Canuck fans, would have said about the hit if Subban was Burrows and Emelin was Daniel or Henrik. We would see a totally different reaction and opinion. All bias aside, sorry Burrows, you did the crime and you got your time.

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, in determining whether such a hit should have been permitted, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit or the head contact on an otherwise legal body check was avoidable, can be considered.

48.2 Minor Penalty – For violation of this rule, a minor penalty shall be assessed.

48.3 Major Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

48.4 Game Misconduct Penalty – There is no provision for a major penalty for this rule.

How many 5 minute majors and game misconducts have been handed out in the past? But as we see there is no provision for these in the NHL rule book. Does that mean referee’s discretion? Does the difference between a major and a minor penalty depend on the mood of the referee on any given night? Team’s fates should never be in the hands of referees but from what I have seen in the past few years it seems every team’s fate is in the hands of the officials. What can be done about this without seriously slowing down the pace of individual games? I know a review process during games will eliminate double headers.

(Third Star) Well it does seem that I am eating some of my words in regards to Ryan Miller being capable as he has proven to be eveything I said he wouldn’t be. After 9 games played he appears more than capable and really you can’t argue with an 8 – 1 – 0 record after 9 games. 16 out of 18 possible point in games they need to win is truly a ‘pot of gold’. Honestly I don’t believe our dear Eddie Lack would have gotten all 16 of those points. I’m not going to elaborate on Sir Lack’s record other than the Canucks are 8 -3 – 0 in 11 games. So you all understand why I, being an Eddie supporter, won’t go further at this point right? 16 out 18 points means no really cares about Miller’s numbers right? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway just so I can have a second helping of my words. in 9 games Miller’s save % is .918, he has a 2.24 GAA, 1 shutout and 19 goals against. 16 out of 18 points, you tell me what matters. Miller has to share the spot in the third star limelight with Radim Richardson and this again is not a misprint. That laser he put by Price was extremely Vrbata like. 3 goals in 2 games, yeah I know it’s only 2 games, not bad for a fourth liner. I find he really gives his all when battling for the puck. Can’t help but like him.

In conclusion to this weeks rumblings I have to give honorable mention to every single new comer from Trevor Linden and Jim Benning’s off season shuck and jive has contributed in pretty much every aspect of play. The Canucks have genuine weapons that don’t give up. They have all had a point, with the exception of Miller (who has 16 points) and they all are noticeable when they are on the ice. You have to tip your hat to management, they have given us every reason to continue to believe they can can win. Change has come and I think we all like it. Thanks guys

One more thing just on an “in case you might care basis.” Barry Trotz, when coaching the Predators made speeches in the Nashville locker room and at the end of these speeches he would insert a saying. New Preds coach Peter Laviolette does not do anything like that so at the end of the new coach’s speeches the players would insert their own sayings. This lasted 2 or 3 games and stopped. Way to take control of the locker room Lav.

 

 

 

 

 

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CANUCKS ROLLER COASTER RIDE GOING UP?

So far the Vancouver Canucks have shown us what they can and can’t do on any given night. The first week was an extremely positive sign although I keep getting reminded that we had only played Alberta teams. (If you’ve read current sports pages you’ll notice the Oilers have won 3 straight). the biggest positive I have noticed is that the Twins and Vrbata have definitely proven they mean business. The chemistry between these three players is natural and not forced and you can see they are very comfortable together. The trouble I have is what follows the first line? If the trend continues then all teams are going to focus on shutting down the Twins, Vrbata line and that’ll be it. But will that be it? No team has successfully shut down the 1st line yet and the team is scoring at a 3.3 goals per game pace which truly should be enough to get some much needed points in the kryptonite Western Conference. So a huge problem from last year has been addressed and there has been improvement. It seems that a new problem has surfaced and that being the Canucks are also giving up 3.3 goals per game. Last season they were actually quite good defensively but they didn’t get much scoring where as they are getting scoring this season but the defense and goal tending are struggling mightily to keep up with the speed of the NHL. 23 goals for and 23 goals against in 7 games played and they have  3 – 3 – 1 – 0 record. I am okay with this as mediocre Octobers have proven to be the most beneficial to the Vancouver Canucks success over the regular season

My next question (of which I can provide no clear answer) is where is our second line and who is it exactly that is on this fictitious second line? So far I’ve seen little flashes of them here and there and I have to assume this second line consists of Nick Bonino, Alex Burrow and Chris Higgins. I do have to ask the question can the second line keep up? The Canucks have still not faced any of the true power teams in the Western conference and the second line has been some what invisible versus the middle of the standings teams. Dallas whitewashed the Canucks 6 – 3 and Colorado did similar damage with a 7 – 3 blasting. The second line not being there is a partial guilty party. What can they do to improve this within the line up? It must be addressed or it will get worse. If there is no solution in the line up who can they trade and who might they want? I do believe this is the only forward line that needs to be addressed as they have shown we will not go far in the playoff (or even make the playoffs) with things the way they are. Kesler leaving definitely left a hole at center and despite the changes the hole is still there.

Second line celebration

The second half of the guilty party is the Canucks blue line. I have to say that it has been brutally inconsistent. There has been at least one D-man playing awful. A good thing is the are not all awful at once which has pulled a few wins out for the Canucks. Edler seems to have settled a bit but he is still guilty of a couple bad shifts a game (that is consistent), Bieksa seems to be all over the place chasing a tail that isn’t there and Tanev has yet to show any of the reasons why the Canucks consider him a top four D-man. Did last season cause irreparable damage to their confidence? I know Mike Keenan definitely ruined some players confidence permanently so it is possible Tortorella has done so too. What is the solution to this if it is a problem? Willie Desjardins has a lot of work to do with our blue line corps and I don’t envy the position he is in although I do have confidence in him. Will Buffalo part with Myers, would he fit here and what would it take to get him? What other defensemen may be available? I hate to say it but I am starting to believe trade is the only route and honestly I don’t thing GM Jim Benning will wait to long to address it. Not many chances left for our guys, you can almost feel that. How long would you give it?

Bieksa peace sign   Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks - Game Two   Tanev 1

Goal-tending issues? I don’t know if I would call them issues as both Lack and Miller have shown both signs of brilliance and signs of being flops. An interesting stat I heard last week about Markstrom and that is 0.83 GAA .979 SV% and 2 shutouts in three games. Now is everyone thankful that no team claimed him on waivers? My only question is how do we use him in the NHL? He would have to clear waivers again and with those kind of numbers, if they continue, you can almost guarantee he will be claimed. Are there ways around it? This I am not sure but we could use him right now. The two goalies we have are more than capable though so I think it is still a matter of settling in. Was signing Miller a mistake? It may be but I’ll say it is only October and not mid season so maybe ask me again then. I do still have mixed emotions on this as you can plainly see. I hope it all works out as both Lack and Miller have been great and they have been gruesome though in their defense the D corps has not helped at all I guess time will tell.

Carolina Hurricanes v Vancouver Canucks            Ryan Miller 1

I did have this blog together before the Capitals game on Sunday so I just want to add all the problems that I have highlighted in this post seemed non existent, The second line was all over the ice and looked fantastic. The blue line looked relaxed and at ease with and without the puck and Ryan Miller made a few stellar saves to help his team finish with the win. Now I think, despite the few mistakes, that I would love to watch them play like that all season. The most positive sign in all games this season so far is that no matter what the score the team plays with the same level of intensity. This was missing last year. It seemed when they got down a couple of goals they would sag and lag and look very uninterested and get blown out. When they got up a few goals they would sit back and try to protect their lead. They are not built to defend, they are built to attack and as long as they stay on the attack they will be a successful team. Thanks for reading everyone and if a Hammering Hamhuis hip check comes you’re way… Just go with it, you probably needed the rest anyway.

 

 

THE CANUCKS BANDWAGON IS LEAVING THE STATION….

After watching two preseason games I have a positive vibe coming from our city’s team. One message I get loud and clear was that our much-loved and missed Twin brothers are back. They have been the most noticeable players on the ice for both teams in both games. Of course I say noticed in a positive way. Daniel and Henrik got a new playmate this summer and they seem determined to prove Vrbata is the fit as well as proving they are the first line. They moved the puck around so well that it showed us why they are elite players. 2012/13 was a lockout year that really stole the focus from the players. in that shortened season it was noticeable on many teams other than just the Canucks so I don’t truly evaluate that as a season. Last season (2013/14) was a gong show from the point of hiring John Tortorella as head coach right up until the last and embarrassing loss of the season. I don’t believe Gillis wanted to hire him so tension was set in place from the start and every Canuck fan that hung around long enough saw the inevitable story unfold before our eyes. It was not a pleasant read for it seemed The Twins lacked any sort of interest for the game at all. By the time the season was over I got the feeling that they were going to lay an ultimatum down. The management and coach or the Twins. Not a hard decision to make. I would not be surprised if the Twins had something to do with the departure of Ryan Kesler. I am not saying this is so I am just saying don’t be surprised if it is. Franchise players looking like franchise players which in itself gives the Canucks hope and a chance. Other players feed off of the Twins magic when the Twins light up the ice everyone else on the team benefits from this. Honestly, have you ever seen the team play bad when the Twins play well? Good question isn’t it? I also noticed Nick Bonino all over the puck in the third period as well as OT and Linden Vey is a speedy player that seems to understand the way the Twins play. It is only two games into the season and so far the Canucks have only played division bottom feeders from last year but there is an energy there that you can’t deny. I am very much looking forward to their first match-up with one of the power teams of the Western Conference for truly it will be their first test.

                                                NHL: Preseason-Arizona Coyotes at Vancouver Canucks

I have much concern for the Canucks blue line as I have seen many mistakes made by the Edler/Tanev pairing. Both guys have struggled and seemed very lost while Tanev in particular is not showing us what got him his job in the first place. The calm and poise that had been present from the time of his first NHL shift seems to have vanished completely. This surprises me because the type of play he was showing us up until now  is not the kind of play that can be taught. It’s the kind of talent natural stars possess. He has brains and he has the talent all I wonder is what kind of damage did Tortorella do that may have to do with the creation of this “new look Tanev”? I pray it’s not permanent. Edler has not helped in the task of settling things down in the Canucks end. I will say towards the end of the Canucks Saturday night tilt vs the Oilers he was throwing his body around quite a bit but earlier on he looked awful. He looked really bad vs the Flames on Wednesday and I find myself praying that this is a temporary thing for him , alas, I prayed last year as well to no avail. I have been a very big supporter of Edler but I am getting the feeling I may need to prepare myself mentally for his possible departure because GM Jim Benning will not hesitate to move him if his play stays this way. I did not notice Luca Sbisa much which is a good thing for a defense-man. He did make a few good passes out of the zone and he threw a couple of nice hits so it would appear that he is beginning to settle in. Stanton looked solid and I believe he is probably the most valuable waiver pick up the Canucks have ever acquired so there are some good things going on with the back-end but they do have two problems to fix. Any success they have will taper off if said problems go unattended. The question is how much time do you give the ship to right itself?

My last opinionated topic involves a questionable signing which hasn’t made me feel very confident about our goaltending. I felt more confident seeing Eddie Lack in net playing for a crappy team last year than I do watching Miller play behind a greatly improved team. I don’t know what it is but I am not confident he can “hold the fort”. It’s almost like the feeling I got when I knew it wasn’t going to be a good night for Luongo. Every time the opposition came down on the attack my shoulders tightened and I cringed until the puck turned back the other way. Those were very stressful games to watch and I get the same feeling with Miller. Potvin, Irbe and Dan Cloutier had a way of making feel like that too. Sixth sense? I don’t know but I do know that particular feeling is rarely wrong. On the bright side Miller did make a couple of timely saves on Saturday night and if the win is on the board I guess it doesn’t matter how many goals go in against. Again I have to ask the question, how long do you give him? This is something only Benning and Linden can answer and I have something that was absent around this time last year…. Faith in my hockey team’s management. Until next time readers and fans, may visions of cycling Sedins with a shot of Vrbata fill your dreams.

                                                                                  canuck pic - I BELIEVE

CAN THE CANUCKS TAKE POSSESSION OF A PLAYOFF SPOT?

So we look at our preseason and we all think the same thing. Can you feel anything, did you see anything, anything at all the might give us any sort of hope the Canucks will do any damage at all in the Pacific Division? Is there any sign that our new acquisitions will be noticeable? It looks like there are definitely more questions than answers at this point but let us talk about what some of those answers may be. The first topic I will touch on is the one that cost the most money this preseason. Ryan Miller signed with the Canucks for six million dollars a season and has stirred many mixed emotions with our dear fans. The love affair our fans have with Roberto Luongo is still far from over which leads me to believe that the strength of the microscope Miller will be under will probably show us DNA samples. Every mistake he makes will be played through out the province on a very loud P.A. system. I have to wonder what he’s feeling inside right now for this city has never been friendly with their goaltenders and I do believe we can all see where this one is headed. The next most expensive move in the way of money is Vrbata whom I believe is the winger the Twins have been looking for. If you remember back when Burrows was first placed on top line duties it took him awhile to figure out where to be on the ice. I mean let’s face it Daniel and Henrik can’t be easy to play with. It means the guy they have playing with them has to have some sense in knowing where to be. I will never put down Burrows play with the Twins, as far as I am concerned he has been the best winger they have had period, but I do believe the new number 17 will give them something they need to enhance their play. He is a definite trigger man, he can play the boards Twins style and he can pass the puck as well. I am having a hard time finding where he doesn’t fit. In the preseason Vrbata helped the power play look good in a way that you know it will continue into regular season. Placing Vey on the point gives them three genuine scoring threats on one unit meaning they will be tough to defend against. If Edler (I know more questions) can bounce back and give them a little more now you see me rather than now you don’t they will be mighty hard to stop. At least with the three previously mentioned weapons we may have an

Vrbata with twins pic              Linden Vey

answer to that famous power play question. Do we have a number two unit? Unfortunately that is another question in which I have no definite answer and I think only time will tell us. The Kesler to Anaheim trade is the biggest investment as far as bodies go. The question is was it a good trade? Bonino, and Dorsett look good as for Sbisa I think the jury will be out for a bit on this one. He hasn’t played particularly well as far as preseason goes, in fact pretty terrible. He constantly looks lost, makes forced decisions and doesn’t really give himself any room to move. He misses checks often and all around I can’t say he’ll stay here if it continues. I mean really, we could put AHLberts (not a typo) back in his spot and it doesn’t look much different other than size and meanness. That decision goes to AHLberts unfortunately.The Canucks need toughness on the blue line, a need for a few years now, to compete in the division they are in. Sbisa is not that toughness they need. Bonino has to know that he is not guaranteed the second line center job, right? I am not saying he has played bad but I do hope he brings a little more to the main table than he did to the appetizer table. I am still real hungry and I truly hope he is too because the Canucks as well as Bonino’s job are in trouble if he isn’t. Every single team in California has size, grit and skill which is why they stand in the top three in the Pacific Division. The addition of Dorsett will add that element to the fourth line replacing some of what Kesler took with him to Anaheim. He does have speed and likes to hit and he has not looked out of place at all. Now we get to Linden Vey who has looked good so far, he has the speed to compete at this level and is a fantastic third line addition. I hope Vey replacing Garrison on the power play point is not an experiment but a long term fixture. The Canucks power play was a key to their past success where Vey will contribute. He can play center or wing although I have a feeling the wing is where he’ll end up playing with Horvat. This was a good acquisition for what they gave up to get him. One question that I believe has been answered is “are the ‘Kids’ good enough to make it this year?” It appears Horvat is and one out of three ain’t bad, eh? Horvat’s situation is a little trickier being too young to play in the AHL. One thing I do know is we sure got a pleasant peek at a future Canucks first or second line and that future is not too far away. Overall I think the Canucks players need to embrace a possess the puck style to progress to the next level. They lack in size but have an edge in speed that they could use to win some games. The new guys they acquired all seem capable of this style. Are they soft? Maybe a bit but if they can use that speed they have to avoid some checks that size may not matter. If they stick to the puck possession style that seems logical for way the team is constructed they should compete. Have we heard this before? Of course you all realize I am talking about the regular season right?

Canucks taking different defensive approach

Canucks definitely are not a dump and chase club. There are and were no pieces in the Canucks roster that support this style of Hockey. Possession is key

ProHockeyTalk

With a new head coach in Willie Desjardins, the Vancouver Canucks are taking a different approach in the defensive zone than they did under the last guy (who shall remain nameless because I always get in trouble from the commenters whenever I bring him up).

Flash back to last year and here’s Canucks d-man Kevin Bieksa, per The Province, explaining the zone system the last guy employed, in comparison to the system the guy before the last guy, Alain Vigneault, had Vancouver playing:

“We’re used to going at a guy hard in the corner and then the forward would come in and the other D would come in hard. But more or less we’re in a zone coverage now. So it’s being patient and taking care of your responsibilities.”

Now fast forward to the present and here’s Bieksa, per The Province, talking about the new (old?) way of…

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SO LONG JIMMY

This is a poem about someone (I think you can guess who) that I wanted to share with people. I wrote it a few months ago after I completed reading a book on his life starting at a very young age (and I have read many). I have not written any poetry since I quit drinking 15 years ago. So I was surprised at how easily this flowed out of my pen. I entered a contest and it has made it to the semi final as well as being published in a book of poetry. so without further ado here it is.

SO LONG JIMMY…..

It seems to me Jimmy was lost from the point of contact with Indian death,

“Scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding”

His soul belonged then to the infamous Lizard King, he was no longer Jim.

Packed in wandering liquor peyote dazes drafted by light

avoiding human contact as much as possible by relying on wayward visions

he “broke on thru to the other side” at death.

Fly Jimmy fly, the world was yours but you blinked

And lost it’s essence……

Too bad my friend

We miss – ed

You

the_spirit_of_jim_morrison_by_ivankorsario-d2yydgp

Markstrom clears waivers, Canucks cut 11

SO THIS MEANS WE KNOW WHO OUR TWO GOALIES ARE TO START THE SEASON..

ProHockeyTalk

Goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who was a part of the Roberto Luongo trade, cleared waivers Saturday.

Markstrom, 24, who appeared in four games for the Canucks last season following the trade, will now likely report to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

Four teams were reportedly interested in the Swede’s services, but he was not claimed prior to the noon eastern time deadline.

Following the Canucks 3-0 victory over the Calgary Flames Friday night, general manager Jim Benning announced the team had reduced its’ roster by 11.

First rounders Brendan Gaunce (2012) has been assigned to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets while Jake Virtanen (2014) was returned to the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League.

Vancouver also sent defenesmen Henrik Tommernes, Kent Huskins, John Negrin and Kane Lafranchise to Utica. Additionally, forwards Ronalds Kenins, Alex Friesen and goaltender…

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TIME FOR CHANGE? TWO YEARS OVERDUE….

After Trevor Linden was appointed as President of the Vancouver Canucks he wasted very little time figuring out who he wanted to manage his club. Much of the hockey public has embraced Linden’s decision but the question of Linden’s experience with a CEO role in the NHL has come up more than once. My response to this is great players, coaches, managers and head office people have started somewhere. I ask, what better place for Linden to start than the place that gave him his start in the NHL, period? Linden has proven to me and every other fan of the Canucks that he is willing to give his all. I would say this applies to all avenues of his life so why would being President of the Vancouver Canucks be any different? Jim Benning is the perfect artist to begin painting the Canucks future although the canvas he has been given to work on is far from flawless. Benning and Linden are familiar with each other as former teammates of the very club that they have been given the reigns to. They begin with a level of familiarity that would normally take some time to develop in a Gm and President that do not know each other. Given this fact they started work repairing the canvas immediately and it truly did not take long to see the first stroke of the brush. At the draft the media made it clear that Benning was interested in moving up in the draft in hopes of selecting Sam Reinhart. This did not happen but he moved Kesler in a flash. The jury will be out, as it is with most trades, as to who the winner of this swap will be for awhile. Honestly I do not see any problems with the action. Former GM Mike Gillis would have sat on a fence and watched this become a lethal issue and then done something in a panic. Benning addressing the issue before it was even truly an issue gets him full marks from me for the move. The only regret I may have with this is that we will have to see Kesler a lot more in Anaheim than we would in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia but only Linden and Benning know what their options were. So far the two players he received in return have looked decent. Bonino had 2 assists in Thursday’s preseason tilt with the Flames and I don’t think he looked out of place at all. Sbisa was defensively sound in his own end and I believe he has some offence to give. They also got a first round pick and a third round pick (the third round pick turned into fourth liner Derek Dorsett). That’s three immediately potential roster players and s first round pick (Jared McCann) for Kesler so I have trouble seeing a down side there. Another one of Benning’s several moves was turning Jason Garrison into Tampa Bay’s second round pick while immediately transforming that second round pick into Prospect Linden Vey from the L.A. Kings. I like this move a lot Vey’s only trouble in L.A. was a seriously deep forward roster that was nearly impossible to break into and I feel Vey suits Vancouver’s roster more so than L.A.’s in his style of play. In preseason Vey has shown a presence on the power play, he has speed and he hasn’t been getting pushed around on the ice. I have trouble seeing the downside to this deal as well. All these young players that will be getting slowly inserted into the line up means the decision to hire the AHL’s Texas

 

All the Canucks men  (New GM Jim Benning, coach Willie Desjardins and President Trevor Linden.)

Stars former head coach Willie Desjardins was made with a young player’s ring to it. You have to think they plan a slow re-build with this move by the two new Canuck kingpins. Desjardins has no prior NHL coaching experience although he has been successful in all levels of hockey that he has coached . A few players in the line up and even our team’s President know Desjardins from his Medicine Hat coaching days so again there is a familiarity already in place that would normally take President, GM, coach and players at least half a season to develop. I think this in itself is a valuable asset. Among all this work Benning still managed to sign two UFA’s to contracts. Goalie Ryan Miller (the jury is still out on this one) and right wing Radim Vrbata who is still an experiment with the Twins but has been noticeable in all the preseason games he’s played. In fact all of the new acquisitions have been noticeable in the preseason and I realize no season is completely judged by the few games that precede it but there has been an excitement in the air that has been missing for two years which nobody can deny. If this carries on we have hope my fellow Canuck fans, we have have much hope indeed. They promise change and with new faces above, behind and on the bench we can see they are trying hard to keep this promise. Now can they turn this change into a competitive hockey team? That story has 82 pages yet to be read with one promise I can make. I will read them all and I hope you will too.

A DEFENSE-MAN NAMED SBISA

The Vancouver Canucks made a trade in the off season acquiring center Nick Bonino, 1 first round, 1 third round pick and a defense-man named Luca Sbisa. To add these pieces to the Canucks franchise puzzle they gave up one of the best second line centers to play in the NHL Ryan Kesler. It is still not one hundred percent clear why Kesler wanted to be traded or if he even wanted to be traded. One thing that is abundantly clear is that Pres. Trevor Linden and GM Jim Benning had no hesitation in moving him. Over time the true details of the story will find their way out of the secret closet and we will know the truth but for now I would like to focus our attention on the defense-man named Sbisa.

After being taken 68th in the CHL’s import draft in 2007 by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Sbisa played major junior hockey with the Hurricanes until he was selected 19th overall in 2008 NHL entry draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He played 39 games for them in 2008/09 season recording 0 goals and 7 assists and played 2 games for the Flyer’s AHL affiliate the Philadelphia Phantoms before ending off the year in Lethbridge. At the 2009 NHL entry draft Sbisa was traded to the Anaheim Ducks with Joffrey Lupul and 2 first round picks (which were John Moore, 21st overall in 2009 and Emerson Etem 28th overall 2010) in return for valued asset Chris Pronger and forward Ryan Dingle. There was also an option for a third round pick headed to the Ducks but was not exercised as the Flyers did not win The Stanley Cup. In Anaheim, Sbisa did not play a full season until 2010/11. He played 68 games where he got 2 goals and 9 assists for 11 points. He also played 8 games in Syracuse with Anaheim’s AHL affiliate Crunch and had nearly as many points getting 2 goals and 7 assists. Sbisa’s best season with Anaheim was 2011/12 recording 5 goals and 19 assists in 80 games. Of course the following lockout year took forward progress away from a lot of NHL players and teams including our Canucks. Sbisa’s numbers dropped but he only played 71 of 130 regular season games over the next 2 seasons. Truth be told he has not been nearly as highly regarded prospect as he was when drafted by the Flyers in 2008.

When it comes to injuries with Sbisa the 2013/14 was not nice to him. He played 30 games with Anaheim due to injuries and conditioning stints. In the preseason of last season he sprained his ankle in a game versus the, then Phoenix and now Arizona, Coyotes. He missed 12 regular season games. Sbisa returned November 4th played 9 games and tore tendons in his right hand in a fight with Tampa Bay Lightning defense-man Radko Gudas. This injury kept him out until Late January. In March he injured his knee which cost him another week’s worth of play. All in all Sbisa missed 52 games. Mark Fistric appeared to have worked his way into his spot which resulted in some press box time for Sbisa. Fortunately for Sbisa further injuries to Anaheim’s defensive corps allowed him to get back into the line-up. I am sure if you asked Sbisa he would say he’d love to have a reset button for last year.
There is speculation that Sbisa has upside. He has good mobility, can move the puck. The downside is that he lacks greatly on the physical side of the game but from what I have seen he likes to hit and has had only one bad season of injuries. Mobility is definitely an asset if Vancouver sticks to the puck possession style they are preaching right now. He can log minutes and play on the power play. He has offensive ability to be tapped into and at 6 foot 2, 198 pounds he is not a small man by any means. Will he make an honest contribution is yet to be seen. He is 24 years of age so being young the opportunity is there. Another player feeling like they need to prove themselves. I say again this often provides enough motivation. I ask though, does he have what the Canucks need? We will soon see. It would be nice for Sbisa and the Canucks if he picked this year to break out. We will accept with open arms.

THREE GOALIES AND A D-MAN NAMED SBISA

I have to admit when GM Jim Benning signed Ryan Miller to a contract this past off season I was scratching my head a bit. I was thinking why would the Canucks spend six million dollars on a goalie that hasn’t really made any sort of real statement in the NHL? His save percentage (SV%) has been over .900 in all of his twelve seasons but his goals against average (GAA) has been a mediocre 2.59 goals per game. This tells us that the team he plays goal for needs more than 2.5 goals per game to stay competitive consistently. One problem our Canucks have had is scoring goals. So I ask, does this makes sense? He does have very good regular season stats in the win/loss column having 294 wins, 194 losses and 29 shutouts in his career but his last season, split between Buffalo and St. Louis, wasn’t very good. He had 15 wins, 42 losses in 47 games as a Sabre with a .923 SV% and a 2.72 GAA. In St. Louis he had 10 wins, 9 losses with a .903 SV% and a 2.47 GAA. St. Louis picked him up at the trade deadline last year to be their saviour and it didn’t work. Not to put all the blame on Miller’s shoulders but he had a paltry 2 wins and 4 losses with a .895 SV% and a 2.70 GAA so he certainly did not shine. I will need more time to observe this project but at this point I see it being the only questionable move the Canucks made this summer.

Another move made by the previous reign of power (if you can call it power?) was the trade sending Roberto Luongo to Florida in return the Canucks got Jacob Markstrom and Shawn Matthias. Markstrom in an unproven goalie in the NHL. Drafted 31st overall in the 2008 entry draft by the Florida Panthers he has not been very successful in all levels of his career. Something I have noticed in my studies is that he has a 3.00 GAA and a .868 SV% in 4 of 5 seasons played in NHL. He has been the back up in Florida and was acquired to back up Eddie Lack here in Vancouver. Keep in mind the current regime did not make this trade and the fact that they wasted no time signing Miller tells us all they have little or no faith in Markstrom. He has played a total of 45 games with Florida as well as 4 games here after the trade that brought him to Vancouver. He recorded 12 wins, 32 losses in those 45 games with a .868 SV% and 3.00 GAA. I personally do not see any improvement, on a statistics level, to the goaltending position. I will say that Trevor Linden and GM Jim Benning did not create the mess but they are showing a bit of an odd way of cleaning it up.

The third factor to the ‘question of the crease’ is the one who has been here through it all, Eddie Lack. The Canucks have been grooming him for a couple of years now and there was a clear and present plan for him to back up Cory Schneider in the eventual departure of Luongo. We all know how that panned out so I won’t rehash it. Lack played in Sweden for much of his junior career. He stole Ed Belfour’s job playing for Leksands IF’s pro team in 2008/2009 and finally made it to Sweden’s premier league Elitserien October 17, 2009. He went on to back up the recently acquired Jacob Markstrom and played 14 games that season. Lack was ranked 9th among European goalies in the 2009 draft but went unselected. Canucks scout Lars Lindgren saw something he liked and the Canucks signed him on April 6, 2010 as a free agent. His years spent with WHL Chicago Wolves were not spectacular but he does show that he has talent and at 6 foot 4 inches, 197 pounds he covers a lot of the net. His performance last season in Vancouver was also not spectacular. Playing in 41 games he had 16 wins 17 losses and 5 OT/SO losses with a .912 SV% and a 2.41 GAA. It wasn’t terrible either in light of how he got the job as starter. I think with a little more time The Stork will emerge as the Canucks number one goalie.

The defenseman named Sbisa will be the second part of this instalment coming very soon. We all need teasers right? I know our Canucks keeping teasing us. Until next time, may the Canucks be with you….