Headshots: January 24th

Thomas Drance
January 24 2013 03:18PM

Here's sparkly Maxim Lapierre because why the hell not?
Photo credit: Sealcat.tumblr.com.

Following Wednesday night's feel good shootout win over the Calgary Flames, all of our favorite Canucks blog are rolling out their post-game content staples. Now I'm sure most of you reading this only check the Canucks Army gamers (and scoring chance data) after you watch a Canucks game, and I totally understand why, but the Smylosphere is chalk full of excellent stuff. So let me recommend some post-game coverage for you from some of our (apparently not so) bitter rivals:

So there you go. Obviously The Province, The Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun do their gamers too (and those gamers are usually very interesting) but you already knew about all of that. So I figured I'd offer you a quick round up of the best postgame content that the Canucks blogosphere regularly has to offer. Get reading!

Some injury notes from today's Canucks practice, where Alain Vigneault also named his team's starter for Saturday night per Jeff Paterson:

Man, oh man. With Ryan Kesler and David Booth already out of the lineup, the Canucks really can't afford to lose a versatile player like Maxim Lapierre at this point. I wonder if Lapierre was struggling with his groin earlier in the week (and this is just the first we've heard of it), since that would in part explain Dale Weise's promotion to the top-9. 

Meanwhile Schneider, who looked shaky at times on Wednesday but did well to get the job done, will make his second straight start against the team that ventilated him in the season opener: the Anaheim "Don't call us Mighty" Ducks.

David Ebner has a lengthy profile of Zack Kassian on the powerforward's 22nd birthday. Because of his general enormousness, it's crazy to think that Zack Kassian is still so young. It's hard (but also really, really fun) to imagine what a monster he's going to be when he really grows up over the next couple of years. Frightening thought, that. [Globe and Mail]

More spitballing on shootouts, and other links to Canucks news on the other side of the jump.

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Zack Kassian goes beast mode

Patrick Johnston
January 24 2013 01:29PM

Zack Kassian's goal to open the scoring against the Calgary Flames on Wednesday evening immediately became an obsession. Some goals are just, as Thomas Drance and Cam Charron might have it, another Corsi event. But some tell a story, a tale of strength, power, speed, skill. A collapsed defence. An exciting new partnership.

Kassian's goal on Wednesday was nearly a gorgeous wraparound, but became so much more. There was an ounce of luck - but what greatness doesn't have a touch of luck?

Click past the jump for a breakdown of how it all worked.

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The Good, The Bad and the "Goaltending Controversy"

Marda Miller
January 24 2013 11:57AM

This is a weekly feature that will highlight The Good, The Bad and The *fill in the blank* exciting things that are currently happening in the NHL. Hockey is back and we’re almost at the playoffs (Good) With such a tight schedule there is an increased risk of injury (Bad) The Canucks are not the only team with goalie problems.

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What Will the Canucks Do With Keith Ballard?

Jeff Angus
January 24 2013 10:24AM

When the Canucks originally acquired Keith Ballard back at the 2010 NHL Draft, a lot of people in Vancouver were thrilled about the move (myself included).

Throughout his time with Phoenix and Florida, Ballard had proven himself to be a capable top four defenseman known for his excellent skating and ability to jump up into the rush (as well as his ability to nearly decapitate teammates, unfortunately).

Mike Gillis was looking to construct a defensive group based on sound defensive play, mobility, and offensive prowess on all three pairings. On paper, Ballard seemed like a natural fit and a suitable replacement for Willie Mitchell or Kevin Bieksa (who was involved in just about every possible trade rumour that summer) on Vancouver’s back end.

However, Ballard’s time in Vancouver has been marked by injuries, inconsistent play, and limited opportunities to do much of anything on the ice. Assuming Ballard isn’t given top four minutes this season (and unless a few injuries strike, expect him to remain on the bottom pairing), what will the Canucks do with him this coming summer? He has two years left on his current contract (a $4.2 million cap hit).

Option #1 – Keep Him

Of the three options (the other two are below), this is the least likely outcome in my estimation. At $4.2 million, Ballard is simply too expensive for a number five or six defenseman, especially in light of the recent extension given to Alex Edler ($5 million per for the next six years after this one). I could see the Canucks rolling with a top six of Edler, Bieksa, Garrison, Hamhuis, Tanev, and Kevin Connauton next season (or a similarly priced veteran defenseman in Connauton’s spot).

If Ballard has a strong season in 2013 with the Canucks, it wouldn’t be completely out of the question for him to stick around. It would be a lot of money to pay for a defenseman, but there likely wouldn’t be a ton of options available through trade or free agency that would represent a significant upgrade at a reduced cost.

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Canucks Douse the Flames, get into the win column: recap and chance data

Thomas Drance
January 24 2013 12:30AM

Zack Kassian's pumped. As well he should be.
Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images

Vancouver's three game homestand started out with a gong show performance in the season opener against Anaheim, but it ended triumphantly (I guess) with a shootout win on Wednesday night over the Calgary Flames. If we're being honest, Vancouver has lost a game and tied two others so far on the season and they've given up two goal leads in each of those ties... But whatever, the Canucks got into the win column in their third game of the season and that should help ease some of the panic in this market.

It wasn't pretty, especially in a low-event first period in which you could've heard a pin drop in the mausoleum-like confines of Rogers Arena. But two points is two points, and as the Canucks struggle to tread water in the early going this season (while they await Ryan Kesler's return to the lineup) that matters a whole lot. 

Read on past the jump for scoring chance data, and some analysis.

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