December 13 2013 11:20PM
On Friday night the Vancouver Canucks spanked the Edmonton Oilers with a 4-0 victory that wasn't as closely contested as the score might indicate. It was probably Vancouver's most thoroughly dominant performance of the season.
At the end of it Zack Kassian made waves by probably mocking Sam Gagner's jaw shield (y'know, the one Gagner wears to protect his jaw after Kassian broke it with a vicious errant stick this past September). It was such a controversial move by Kassian that it soaked up all of the postgame oxygen overshadowing the fact that the Canucks have won six in a row, have given up one goal in their last three games, and that Dale Weise scored a power-play goal...
Read past the jump for more.
December 11 2013 01:20PM
The Vancouver Canucks have won six of their last seven games, they boast the league's best penalty-kill, and their controversial bench boss has been even keeled (mostly) while earning praise for his handling of the media. The John Tortorella era is off to about as good a start as anyone could've reasonably expected, well, except for the nihilist disaster fetishists waiting impatiently for Tortorella to go Vesuvius on the local press.
It has been a redemptive fall for Tortorella in some ways, especially with his old team the New York Rangers already in the "players only meeting" stage. If the Canucks as a whole are benefitting from the impact of a coaching change, and they seem to be, then we figured it might be worth our time to take a closer look at three players on Vancouver's roster who have particularly benefited from the Tortorella hire.
December 06 2013 11:23AM
By his own admission, and in stark contrast with his predecessor, Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella has an old school view of how to approach coaching an NHL team. The firey 'Torts' doesn't rigorously manipulate matchups, he's often been heard to lambast the common habit of "over-coaching," and he even derides the notion of playing a "system," preferring to characterize his gameplan as a "mindset". Tortorella has also talked at length about not really understanding analytics.
Yet for all of that luddite bluster I'm struck by the extent to which the Canucks have, in the first 30 games of the John Tortorella era, played a style of hockey that adheres closely to some of the conventional wisdom drawn directly from shot based metrics.
Read past the jump for more.
December 04 2013 10:54AM
When the Canucks first selected Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels with their third pick at the 2013 NHL entry draft, the selection was a surprise to those of us who've closely observed the teams behaviour under Mike Gillis' regime at the NHL draft.
Cassels was a very young draft eligible player who had turned 18 less than two months before the draft. So he bucked the team's recent trend of drafting older, theoretically "more NHL-ready" players in the middle rounds. Cassels also isn't particularly big, where the club has made a habit of selecting mammoth wingers in the middle rounds (Alexandre Grenier, Alexandre Mallet, Joseph LaBate etc.). Moreover, Cassels - who is the son of former Canucks centre Andrew Cassels - was a third-line forward for Oshawa in his draft eligible season, and his production was pretty unremarkable in comparison with several players still on the board.
But obviously Vancouver's amateur scouts had seen something they liked in Cassels' game, and he's rewarded that confidence with his performance so far this season for the Generals. Between his stellar showing at the prospects tournament and his smooth adaption to a top-line role in Major Junior this fall, Cassels has earned himself his first NHL contract.
Read on past the jump.
November 30 2013 09:56AM
Image via Canucks.com
On Thursday night Team WHL defeated a team of Russian born junior aged players 4-2 to close out the Subway Super Series. The branded Super Series is a friendly tournament played between Russian born players and the best the CHL has to offer and is generally used by Hockey Canada executives to evaluate candidates for Team Canada's U20 roster. Those are the players, of course, who will participate in the World Junior Hockey Championships, which this December and January will be hosted in Sweden.
Three Canucks prospects (Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce) participated in the series for their respective CHL leagues. This Monday, Hockey Canada will announce the invite list for the U20 Team's selection camp and according to Hockey Canada executive Scott Salmond, only 28 players will be invited (a relatively meagre number in comparison with years past).
The Canucks haven't had a prospect on Team Canada's U20 Team since Cody Hodgson, and Team Canada hasn't medalled since their U20 entry won Bronze in 2012. So let's handicap Shinkaruk, Gaunce and Horvat's chances of breaking that streak ahead of Monday's announcement from Hockey Canada.