Evening Pre-Game Headshots: January 30th

Thomas Drance
January 30 2013 06:56PM


Kassian Smash.
Image via redditer WonderBread9000.

Have you heard, Roberto Luongo is starting tonight. It's a huge, huge deal. [The Vancouver Sun]

Justin "Oliver Stone" Bourne wonders whether or not the Canucks are giving Luongo an easy start tonight to try and boost his numbers and make him more attractive to rival General Managers (assuming those rival GMs place entirely too much stock in small samples). Hey, after the trick Mike Gillis pulled with Hodgson a year ago you do kind of have to wonder, though that said, I tend to think it's more likely that Mike Gillis is showcasing Keith Ballard in an effort perhaps to bank the club's two compliance buyouts? [Backhand Shelf]

Here's what I think is actually going on. Here's a quote Mike Gillis gave Ben Kuzma on Tuesday, in which he reacted like he was tired of answering the same old Luongo trade questions: "I don't know why people refuse to believe the fact that we're comfortable with these guys (Cory Schneider and Luongo), given the circumstances we're in." So on Tuesday Mike Gillis tells Ben Kuzma that he's confused as to why people insist on believing that Vancouver is uncomfortable with Luongo and Schneider sharing the crease and on Wednesday Alain Vigneault proves that the Canucks consider Luongo more than just a backup by giving him his second start in a row. Leverage baby! [The Province]

Good stuff from faceoff fetishist Harrison Mooney on how Jordan Schroeder's ability to win face-offs is, in part, dicatating his usage and ice-time in his rookie season. Maybe this is a crazy thing to say, but does anyone else kind of think that Jordan Schroeder has some Kyle Wellwod potential? After all, Kyle Wellwood with a commitment to fitness sounds like a guy I'd like to have on my team! [Pass it to Bulis]

Nicklas Jensen will take a short leave from his SEL team (AIK) and do his utmost to try and help Denmark qualify for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. I still really want the Canucks to go after pending UFA Peter Regin this offseason, give him a bionic shoulder transplant, and role with an all Danish line of Jensen-Regin and Jannik Hansen next season. We could call them the Something is Rotten line. [The Vancouver Sun]

More Canucks links and polemic opinion past the jump.

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The Canucks don't care who the No. 1 goalie is, and neither do I

Cam Charron
January 30 2013 01:45PM


Luongo starting for the Canucks tonight isn't a controversy.
Ryan O'Reilly not starting for the Avalanche? Now that's a controversy.

Roberto Luongo is starting for the Vancouver Canucks tonight against Colorado, for the second game in a row, the latest inexplicable move by the milt of a bench boss who seems determined to keep this goalie controversy active and festering in the minds of his players, players who are performing below their expected ability because of the mental distraction wrought on them by not knowing in the back of their minds who the clear No. 1 goaltender is for this once proud franchise.

Gee, that's a mouthful, and difficult to write without placing my tongue firmly on the part of my keyboard analogous to the cheek, and spewing nonsense out of my mouth. The words are certainly in English, but the thoughts don't make any sense.

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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.

Read Past the Jump for More.

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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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