February 26 2014 01:16PM
The NHL is back, which is very cool. While the Olympics were a blast - I most certainly enjoyed watching many of the world's best players play together, under different circumstances than we're used to seeing here in North America, not to mention the patriotic feelings I had when Team Canada got the job done - it's good to be back on the daily grind.
And when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, "grind" is a pretty good operative term, because that's exactly what this season has been thanks to all of the injuries and turmoil. Yet despite all of that, they enter this final 6 week stretch of play with the potential for something of a clean slate; they're on the periphery of the playoffs at the moment, and plenty of the questions we have about which direction they'll go in moving forward should be answered soon enough (particularly at/around the Trade Deadline).
Despite the fact that the Canucks haven't played a game in over two weeks, things are status quo. It's fitting that their first opponent back from the break is the professional hockey team from St.Louis, because a lot of people in these parts are currently singing the Bluuuuuuues. (sorry, couldn't resist).
February 26 2014 09:24AM
Graphic via Matthew Henderson
It has been 17 days since we've covered a Vancouver Canucks hockey game, which as you'll recall was a largely listless performance against the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada. Since then we've spent very little time actually discussing the team this blog is named after themselves, instead using the Winter Olympics to decompress, and focus on other, less depressing things.
Like, for example, Team Canada's "Golden" pursuit, and boat loads of prospect coverage, including the Utica Comets who have been slowly but surely turning their campaign around). The break has provided a nice little reprieve from all of the cynicism and negativity accompanying the team these days, but we knew it couldn't last. With the Olympics now having concluded, we have to shift gears and bring our attention back towards the Canucks, with the NHL set to embark upon its stretch run.
We ran something very similar to this at the 30-game mark, and it proved to be both a fun and informative project. That was all the way back on December 4th, and suffice it to say that a lot has changed since then in Vancouver. The narrative, as its one to do, has shifted. Let's break it down from all angles.
February 25 2014 10:47AM
Something that you'll notice when it comes to professional sports is that there's an inverse relationship between how good the parent club is, and how much interest the fanbase has in how the up-and-coming prospects are doing.
As long as the NHL team is winning and staying relevant, most people generally speaking are indifferent to the state of the system. Just keeping winning. As soon as the cyclical nature of the sport begins to take a hold, fans start looking down to the minors in the hopes that there are some sort of reinforcements on the way. Is something on the way that'll right this ship?
It's tough to say with the Canucks. They're still not considered as having an overly deep or strong pool of young talent in the system, but things are definitely trending upwards (having two picks in the top 24 of a good draft certainly doesn't hurt in that regard). It takes time cultivating a proper system.
Just past the jump we'll take a look back at our Top-20 prospects from this past summer, and try to assess how they've done, and what they're tracking towards moving forward. Last week we ran Part 1 (focusing on the prospects we had ranked #20 to #11), and now we're going to spend some time running through the Top 10.
February 23 2014 08:39AM
There was a lot of self-inflicted angst, and consternation in Canada after the men's hockey team *only* beat the likes of Austria and Norway by a combined 8 goals. After it took an overtime to beat Finland, and a late 3rd period goal to beat Latvia, some people were misguidedly viewing the perceived lack of offense as some sort of fatal flaw that would eventually catch up to the Canadians.
All of that seems more than silly in retrospect after they went out and thoroughly dominated both the Americans and Swedes en route to repeating as Gold Medalists at the Winter Olympics. Despite the overwhelming built-in expectations that they brought with them into this tournament, they somehow managed to surprise.
It was nothing short of pure, unmitigated excellence. "It was too easy", "It wasn't nearly as exciting as it was in 2010", It was.. Gold.
February 21 2014 03:04PM
Chris Kunitz's efforts weren't enough to get Team USA over the hump.
- An in-depth review of Canada's 1-0 win over the US
- A look at what went wrong for USA, and where they go from here
- A chat about small sample sizes, and narratives
- A preview of Canada/Sweden, with predictions
Click past the jump to stream the podcast!