Luca Sbisa Turning the Corner; Embracing a Mentor's Role

J.D. Burke
December 03 2016 09:00AM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

The romanticism of playing in a Canadian market certainly has its allure. It isn't without its pratfalls either, and one needn't look any further than the Canucks' Luca Sbisa to see those very real implications.

Fairly or otherwise, Sbisa's spent the entirety of his time in the Canucks organization at the butt end of many a fan and analyst's jokes. His combined penchant for giveaways, Italian heritage and a perhaps a hint of assonance meant he wasn't turning pucks over -- he was delivering pizzas. Or rather, he was delivering Spizzas.

That hasn't been the case this season. Sbisa's playing the best hockey of his career, every bit invigorated by the offensive freedoms of a newly minted system and supported by the defensive patience their coaches preach.

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Canucks Army Post-Game: I Watched the Ducks Beat the Canucks So You Didn't Have to!

J.D. Burke
December 02 2016 12:03AM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

That was hockey at its absolute worst. Whether you paid for a premium sports pack with access to Sportsnet 360 or suffered the pilgrimage to Rogers Arena, there's no refund adequate to recompense your lost time and money. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Lifeless doesn't serve this performance justice. I've watched Westworld -- the hosts are lifeless, but I'll be damned if they aren't entertaining.

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Canucks Army Post-Game: Minnesota Nice!

J.D. Burke
November 29 2016 11:47PM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

If the Canucks are going to make something of this season, they're going to have to string together consecutive wins at some point. Going into tonight, the Canucks hadn't accomplished that feat since their season opening 4-0 run.

Playing the Minnesota Wild, with their backup in net, provides a better chance than they'll get on most nights in the Western Conference. And to the Canucks credit, they took full advantage. They didn't make it look easy. Vancouver trailed courtesy a pair of Jason Pominville goals for the Wild, then clawed back with four of their own. That lead didn't last. The Wild drew even barely more than ten minutes after the Canucks fourth goal.

The Canucks didn't waste time getting their lead back, though. Bo Horvat redirected a Troy Stecher point shot for the 5-4 lead and eventual victory. Ryan Miller stopped 37 of 41 shots for his fourth win of the season. Darcy Kuemper stopped 30 of 35 shots.

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I Was Wrong, And How: Adam Gaudette

J.D. Burke
November 24 2016 04:14PM

To say the Canucks selection of Adam Gaudette in the fifth-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft wasn't well received in this space would be an understatement.

Gaudette's statistical profile suggested he was a reach, even as late as 149th. In the context of draft rankings, it wasn't an especially curious move, but given his slight stature and tame counting numbers, it didn't satisfy our qualitative proprieties anywhere near as much as we'd hoped from a player in that range.

Here we are two full seasons later, and Gaudette looks like an absolute steal. He's contributing over a point per game for Northeastern in the NCAA and has the fourth highest shot rate among college skaters. This by no means guarantees Gaudette's future as an NHL player, but it certainly vindicates Canucks General Manager Jim Benning's investment.

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Which Canucks Are Due to Break Out?

J.D. Burke
November 23 2016 09:00AM

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin - USA TODAY Sports

No matter how the losses mount, the Canucks remain upbeat. You hear game after lost game about how well they felt they played. That they just couldn't get a bounce, and so on.

That commentary often falls on deaf ears, but I've always felt there was some semblance of merit therein. It's hard to get too invested in their lofty shot totals since they're trailing in perpetuity, but they've had their nights all the same. And their league-worst 960 PDO indicates that they truly have been among the least lucky teams this season.

Considering the extent to which this team's struggled to score goals though that shouldn't be overly surprising. I want to peel another layer off the onion and see which players are suffering this misfortune on a personal level.

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