January 21 2013 12:09AM
Pick a bigger worry: fitness or depth? Both are question marks coming out of Sunday night's 3-2 OT loss to the resurgent Oil.
Coming off a horrendous 7-3 loss on Saturday night, everyone figured the Canucks would find tonight an emotional bounce-back game. They're too experienced and still too good not to know how to re-find their form; we knew that, but the Ducks debacle elicited doubts in the faithful.
But a strong opening period for the Canucks saw them ahead 1-0 and everyone was probably feeling better. Even with the Oilers buzzing in the second, Zack Kassian's 2-0 goal, a feat of magic, conjured in colaboration with Daniel Sedin, was another soothing pill. Maybe this painful, overlapping preseason/regular season wouldn't be so bad after all.
But then two things happened. The Oilers remembered that Alex Edler really isn't so great on the right side and that most of their young stars are in mid-season form; maybe they could skate the by-comparison-geriatric Canucks off the ice.
A late-second period goal by Jordan Eberle, and a latter-half-of-the-3rd-period goal from Ales Hemsky flipped our understanding of this game's meaning on its head. The next stretch is not going to be about the Canucks perservering in the face of being less-than-game-ready; it's going to be about dodging as many bullets as possible.
That's a lot of hyphenated compound adjectives.
For some game notes and some data, click on past the jump.
January 18 2013 08:40AM
We're all thinking it. The kid's time is now.
While there's been a lot of obfuscation on this one, Ryan Kesler appears to be ahead of schedule. The first ten games of the season features seven games against teams that should finish behind the Canucks.
The table is set to run out the young guy and see if he's got the stuff as an NHL player. This needs to be qualified by all of the tabel salt, but he certainly appeared to in Thursday night's scrimmage.
For most prognosticators, Andrew Ebbett's maturity and actual NHL experience has kept him a the presumptive fronter to be the short term number two centre to begin the season. But that's the risk-averse pick, and I hate risk-averse decisions. The best picks are the educated risks and Jordan Schroeder would be an educated risk.
January 17 2013 02:35PM
You may have heard: the Canucks played something akin to hockey Wednesday night. They are doing similar Thursday night. Here's a rundown of what it's like to see 'hockey' at the biggest barn in town.
The lockout took hockey away for longer than anyone wanted. Being offered up a free dose wasn't so bad, really, but an early preseason training match, even one featuring high-end NHL talent like this one, is always going to have warts. Finding a hot dog? That's supposed to be easy.
Yours truly trekked down to Rogers Arena on Wednesday night, carting along my new roommate, newly-arrived from the UK. He's been a gamer, trying to enjoy the weekly dose of NFL football at our place but he admitted he was seriously hoping to find more energy in hockey. A chance to watch a "game" for free? Done and done.
What follows is mostly about efforts to engage with fans as well as the actual on-ice product and a little bit about a new fan.
January 13 2013 02:41PM
Billy Sweatt: ready for take-off? (Photos: Jason Kurylo/Pucked in the Head)
Timing is everything. To get to play in front of the brass and a stack of home-town fans; what else could aspiring Canucks prospects ask for? Not much really.
Those Canucks farmhands who have been biding their time in the AHL during the lockout got one last chance to show off their talent before next week's abbreviated NHL training camp. Alain Vigneault announced on Friday that a number of other Wolves would be brought to that camp. Of course, the team's brass will clearly know who they want to bring in, but the narrrative of players hustling to make a final cut is still a pleasant one, isn't it?
What we saw on Friday and Saturday in Abbotsford were some useful hockey players, both veteran and prospects. For the Wolves to skate out 3-1 winners on Friday and 1-0 winners on Saturday took an impressive performance from a trio of veterans one night and excellent goaltending from Matt Climie both nights.
There were also notable contributions from the prospects on display; guys like Billy Sweatt, Darren Archibald and Peter Andersson are all well positioned ahead of this week's accelerated training camp.
For scoring chance data and other observations, click past the jump!
January 11 2013 03:17PM
Every player skating at UBC this week has a spring in their step and a visible relief that hockey is back etched on their faces. It's training camp all over again, that burst of excitement that everyone feels - fan, player and writer alike - (usually in the later Summer) about new beginnings and a chance to do something special. Just ask Jordan Schroeder and Andrew Ebbett.
The news has come down: Alain Vigneault said in his Friday morning press conference that those two will be going head-to-head for the second line centre job.
For Schroeder, with Ryan Kesler still out and timetable-less for a return, the young Minnesotan's time is clearly now. Only Andrew Ebbett stands between him and starting the season in Vancouver's top-six. Despite concerns about his size, Schroeder has always been known as a two-way player, with strong puck sense and powerful skating.
Ebbet spent a lot of time last year out injured. But when he was in the lineup, he was a positive possession player and could be a serious darkhorse contributor in this lockout-shortened season.
Click past the jump for a Q&A with Schroeder and Ebbett on their own seasons so far, what they've been working on and their paths forward.