April 13 2013 10:48AM
Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images
Among the four Northwest Division also rans, the Avalanche were my preseason pick to overachieve expectations. Instead they've put in a thoroughly miserable season culminating in the team getting called out vociferously by veteran netminder J.S. GIguere.
The Avalanche are in full on "not winning for MacKinnon" mode at this point and probably won't pose much of a stiff test for the Canucks, who haven't lost to the Avalanche since January of 2011 (and that was in OT). Going back three seasons the Canucks have put up a hilarious 14-0-1 record against Colorado's club and will look to win a fifteenth against their divisional rival this afternoon in Denver. Frankly I'd expect to see the Avalanche show some pride and give the Canucks a game on Saturday afternoon, with Cory Schneider being up to the task and the Canucks winning anyway as is their usual wont...
Read on past the jump.
April 11 2013 08:10PM
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick/Behind the Lens.
Today Canucks Army, the Canucks blog that steadfastly refuses to watch the games, we recapped Wednesday night's 4-1 Canucks victory over the Calgary Flames, we marvelled at Chris Higgin's penalty-killing prowess, pointed out why some fans and media are making too much of Mason Raymond's offensive struggles in the postseason and gave Alexandre Burrows some credit for his best defensive season as a professional hockey player.
Read past the jump for more dry wit, Canucks links and stuff about Zack Kassian.
April 11 2013 02:57PM
There's another side to Alex Burrows beyond the plethora of even-strength goals: his stellar defense.
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick via NHLI
The Frank J. Selke Trophy - awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward every season, as you probably know - is kind of like a Gold Glove in baseball: it tells us more about a player's reputation that it does about their real defensive utility.
Consider the example of Ryan Kesler, unquestionably one of the league's best two-way players over the past five seasons. For years Ryan Kesler was Vancouver's primary defensive ace, and a deserving Selke nominee (even winner). That was true up until 2010-11 when Kesler was deployed in a calibrated offensive role by Vancouver's coaching staff. With Manny Malhotra soaking up the toughest matchups, the most short-handed ice-time among all Canucks forwards, and the bulk of defensive zone draws - Kesler took advantage and scored forty goals on his way to winning, ironically, the Selke.
It's telling that Ryan Kesler, a defence-first forward for the majority of his career, finally won the award for "best defensive forward" in the NHL during the one season in his career that he had the least defensive responsibility. Anyway, one guy who won't be considered for the Selke this season, and who probably shouldn't be despite being an absurdly effective defensive presence all year, is Alex Burrows. We'll elaborate on the other side of the jump.
April 11 2013 11:13AM
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images
For a variety of reasons, most notably his slender build and the fact that he had a tremendous run of awful puck luck in 2010-11, and followed up on it with a disappoiting season in 2011-12 coming off of a serious back injury, Mason Raymond catches a lot of flack from Canucks fans. He's a perimeter player who falls down a lot is the general critique - nevermind the solid underlying numbers - and his offense dries up in the playoffs.
But does it really when you break it down? In comparison with your average NHL player, does Mason Raymond have a unique habit of suddenly becoming an ineffective offensive player once the playoffs begin? I'll look into it on the other side of the jump.
April 10 2013 02:32PM
Photo Credit: The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck
The Canucks are currently riding high in the saddle - they've won their last three games and have looked damn good doing it - and will kick off a five game roadtrip, their longest of the season, in Calgary tonight against the directionless suckhole franchise known as the Flames.
Calgary were sellers at the trade deadline and have lost four of their last five - including a five-two loss to Vancouver this past weekend. They're in full on "hit the skids for Poppeye's kid" mode at the moment, and will be further short-handed tonight as Matt Stajan and Jiri Hudler will be out of the lineup per Brad Ziemer.
The Flames are the worst and this should be an easy win for the Canucks. That is unless they take it too lightly and Kiprusoff stands on his head, in which case it could be a potential trap game. That's probably not how this contest will unfold though. Read more on the other side of the jump!