Game 7 Preview: Avs @ Canucks

Thomas Drance
January 30 2013 12:34PM


Alex Burrows get a rough ride from his old friend Shane O'Brien.

After the Canucks opened the season with an unspectacular homestand in which they went 1-1-1 over three games, they ventured to the California coast for an unspectacular roadtrip in which they posted a 1-1-1 record over three games. Big fans of symmetry, the Canucks. On Wednesday night they'll return home to face the short-handed Colorado Avalanche, who have been surprisingly bad to begin the season. 

A year ago the Avalanche looked like a rapidly improving team. They posted auspicious possession numbers while Greg Sherman went about assembling a gritty young core that seemed poised to be really tough to play against for years to come. Now they're down Gabriel Landeskog - sidelined with a probable concussion following a hit by Brad Stuart over the weekend, Ryan O'Reilly - still unsigned despite being really, really good at hockey, and Steve Downie - lost for the year with an ACL tear. All of a sudden a big physical team with enviable depth down the middle is looking like an also ran in a moribund division.

Which is good news for the similarly short-handed Vancouver Canucks, of course, as they look to get back on track in advance of Friday's blood rivalry tilt against Duncan Keith and the world beating Chicago Blackhawks. 

Read on past the jump.

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What's Ailing the Canucks? Not Enough Bread and Butter

Dimitri Filipovic
January 30 2013 11:03AM

 
At this point, the Canucks could certainly use some more bread and butter.

In case you hadn't heard, the Vancouver Canucks were fairly proficient at winning hockey games over the past two seasons. They were a combined 105-41-18, which was good for two consecutive Presidents' trophies. For a team to accomplish that in today's NHL, they need to be able to do something things pretty darn well; the particulars obviously depending on the specific construction of the team. For the Canucks, those things happened to be strong special teams play combined with devastating possession of the puck (and good goaltending, of course).

So naturally, with the Canucks having come out of the gate sluggishly this season - to the tune of a 2-2-2 record, with a few questionable blown leads mixed in - questions have surfaced about what's wrong with the team.

It's simple - they haven't been able to fall back on what was their bread and butter when the going was good.

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Jason Garrison and the Ghost of Keith Ballard

Thomas Drance
January 30 2013 09:51AM

It didn't take long for Canucks fans to begin sharpening their knives, in anticipation of carving up White Rock native and this summer's big free-agent acquisition Jason Garrison. Jason Garrison gave the perpetually dour and fatalistic faithful a reason to start too on Sunday when he fumbled a clearing attempt directly to Joe Thornton that ended up in the back of Vancouver's net, and again on Monday when he whiffed on a point shot, fell over and allowed Dustin Brown to breakout the other way (for a two-on-one that Jordan Schroeder and Alex Edler expertly foiled).

Those two sequnces when combined with the repeated sound of Garrison's zippy point blasts hitting the boards behind the net after a missed shot, have resulted in the newly minted Canucks defenseman burning through his "good local boy makes good (too bad he wasn't a Vancouver Giant)" honeymoon in record time.

Obviously judging a defenseman's performance using only your eyes and your emotional overreaction to a couple of relatively minor in-game errors is stupid as hell (no need to sugar coat it),  though I suppose on some level it's understandable especially when one considers the ghost of Keith Ballard and the mixed legacy of former Florida Panthers skaters acquired by Mike Gillis. 

Read on past the jump.

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Why do Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev look like the Canucks best pairing early on?

Cam Charron
January 29 2013 06:44PM

A hypothesis: the rumours concerning the Canucks' defensive demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Looking through my time-line on Twitter, I've read that Alex Edler isn't deserving of his contract, that Kevin Bieksa is the worst No. 1 in the league, that Dan Hamhuis looks terrible this season, and I've also read people calling for Jason Garrison's head just six games into a new contract. Rest assured, all of that is mostly over-wrought pablum.

Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev get a pass online, though, and as much as I'd like to say that Chris Tanev's minutes should be upped to include prime powerplay and penalty kill time, as well as thrust the young, undrafted defenceman into a shutdown role at even strength, now is really not the time.

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Tragically Hip: Eddie Läck Has Surgery, Will Miss the Remainder of the Season

Thomas Drance
January 29 2013 03:36PM

Brad Zeimer reported on Tuesday afternoon that highly regarded Canucks goaltending prospect and Twitter superstar Eddie Läck, inactive since November while dealing with hip flexor issues, has undergone a surgical procedure on his injured hip and will miss the rest of this season. 

The Canucks re-signed Eddie Läck this past summer, the lanky Swedish netminder was a restricted free-agent at the time, to an interesting contract. The two year pact stipulated that Läck would be on a two-way deal for this season, which his deal morphing into a one-way deal the following year. Obviously the idea was that Läck would play another full season in the AHL, following the familiar player development route taken by Cory Schneider, before being entrusted as Vancouver's backup goalie for the 2013-14 season.

Read on past the jump.

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