January 21 2013 11:16AM
Because of the result of one game it's now clear that the Canucks "championship window" has closed. The ascendant Oilers, who have improved enough as a team to play a good club, still finding their sea-legs and missing their two best forwards at five-on-five to a functional draw, are obviously the new heavyweights in the Northwest division.
It's going to be an adjustment period for Canucks fans now, and we would be well served to start focussing and taking pride on pettier things than, say, "winning games" or "making the playoffs" and turn our attention instead to "team toughness" and "prospect wealth" like the fans of crappy teams do.
Unfortunately "Canucks" and "prospect wealth" have an oxymoronic relationship, so "team toughnesss" is going to have to do. On that front 21-year old power-forward Zack Kassian, one of only seven Canucks roster players who have played regular competitive games over the past four lockedout months, answered the bell in a big way for the Canucks during Sunday night's shootout loss to the Edmonton Oilers.
So let's take a minute to revel in that shining moment, and conveniently ignore Edler's defensive struggles on the right-side and the team's inability to control proceedings at even-strength. Luckily for us, official Canucks photographer Jeff Vinnick took some fantastic shots of the fight (via NHL.com). Click past the jump for more.
January 21 2013 12:09AM
Pick a bigger worry: fitness or depth? Both are question marks coming out of Sunday night's 3-2 OT loss to the resurgent Oil.
Coming off a horrendous 7-3 loss on Saturday night, everyone figured the Canucks would find tonight an emotional bounce-back game. They're too experienced and still too good not to know how to re-find their form; we knew that, but the Ducks debacle elicited doubts in the faithful.
But a strong opening period for the Canucks saw them ahead 1-0 and everyone was probably feeling better. Even with the Oilers buzzing in the second, Zack Kassian's 2-0 goal, a feat of magic, conjured in colaboration with Daniel Sedin, was another soothing pill. Maybe this painful, overlapping preseason/regular season wouldn't be so bad after all.
But then two things happened. The Oilers remembered that Alex Edler really isn't so great on the right side and that most of their young stars are in mid-season form; maybe they could skate the by-comparison-geriatric Canucks off the ice.
A late-second period goal by Jordan Eberle, and a latter-half-of-the-3rd-period goal from Ales Hemsky flipped our understanding of this game's meaning on its head. The next stretch is not going to be about the Canucks perservering in the face of being less-than-game-ready; it's going to be about dodging as many bullets as possible.
That's a lot of hyphenated compound adjectives.
For some game notes and some data, click on past the jump.
January 20 2013 02:30PM
Photo uncredited via NHL.
It's been nearly ten hours since the Vancouver Canucks were lit-up by noted sniper Daniel Winnik and young gun Teemu Selanne in their home debut against the Anaheim Ducks. On a quick turnaround, the Canucks will face-off against a veteran Edmonton Oilers squad, one that has finished 30th, 30th and 29th in the league in the past three seasons, poised to take the next step.
Okay, well none of the modifying words in the above paragraph were true. The Oilers do play the Canucks tonight, though, and the Oilers have finished out of the playoffs every season since their Cup Finals run in 2006, they've gone through one rebuild already, but their group this time around looks much better than the last one. They're led by the excellent young players Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, while top prospects Nail Yakupov and Justin Schultz get their first taste of NHL action at the Rog.
January 20 2013 09:36AM
It’s been a crazy week here at the Nations. With the end to the lockout, every team around the league scrambled to get their clubs ready to go in just a week; we saw some trades, some buyouts and a whole mess of low-end free agent signings. Today, we recap the week that was.
January 20 2013 12:02AM
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images
After a four month lockout nullified the 2012 portion of the "2012-13 NHL season," tonight's Canucks home and season opener against the Anaheim "don't call us Mighty" Ducks was eagerly anticipated. While there was no pre-game ceremony or banner raising to celebrate the team's second straight President's Trophy; team President and General Manager Mike Gillis and captain Henrik Sedin did address the faithful. Gillis and Henrik Sedin thanked the fans for their patience and loyalty. It was the right tone to strike - personal, apologetic and direct, as opposed to celebratory - but it was just about the only thing Vancouver got right on this evening.
The Canucks were up momentarily in the first period, but Cory Schneider was ventilated and pulled within the first seven minutes of the second period with the Canucks down 5-2. The crowd cheered and Luuuu'd as Roberto Luongo, the center of never ending trade rumours all summer long, entered the game and made a few routine saves.
It was frankly, an embarrassing performance. But it did set up a fun day of endless speculation for tomorrow. Who will get the nod against Edmonton? Will the Canucks go back to Cory Schneider, or will they stick with the plan to play Luongo against the Oilers young guns (and in doing so set off the hockey media's shrill catcalls of "goalie controversy" continent wide)? Whatever happens, you can rest assured that it will be all fucked up.
Read past the jump.