Best of the Nation – 1.20.13

Jonathan Willis
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.

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Gong Show

Thomas Drance
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.

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Preview: Game #1 Ducks @ Canucks

Thomas Drance
January 19 2013 11:34AM

Photo uncredited via

It has been nearly ten months since Jarrett Stoll stripped a falling Dan Hamhuis of the puck and wired a money wrister past Cory Schneider to eliminate the Canucks in the 2012 postseason. Ten months since Canucks fans bought beer, gathered around the tube with friends and got all histrionic regarding the performance of Vancouver's consistently top-shelf hockey team.

That changes tonight, as the Canucks will face the Anaheim "don't call us Mighty" Ducks at 7 PM PST on Hockey Night in Canada. Say it with me, now: fuck yeah.

The Ducks were a woeful club by the underlying metrics in the 2010-11 season but snuck into the playoffs on the strength of a hot run from Corey Perry (that season's Hart Trophy winner) late in the season. Unsurprisingly they came hurtling back to Earth in 2011-12, at least during the first half of the season, which led to the firing of Randy Carlyle and the hiring of Bruce Boudreau. Bruce Boudreau promptly helped the club make a u-turn toward respectability. With Boudreau in tow for the full 48 games this year and continued development from the likes of Cam Fowler, the Ducks could well be a significantly better club this season.

Speaking of Boudreau, I might add that it amuses to no end that the club that once employed goaltender Martin Gerber, now employs as their headcoach the adult human who most closely resembles the Gerber Baby.

Read on past the jump for the game preview.

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Alex Edler Signs 6 Year Extension

Thomas Drance
January 18 2013 10:42PM

Probably the defining characteristic of the Mike Gillis regime has been the consistent strength of his contract work. Alex Edler's new six year thirty-million dollar contract extension which, was first announced Friday night through Mike Gillis' rarely used Twitter account, is just the latest example. Obviously the deal comes with a moderate degree of risk, but there's no questioning that this is very good deal for a very useful player. 

Read on past the jump.

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Friday Afternoon Headshots January 18th

Thomas Drance
January 18 2013 03:39PM

Ryan Kesler bags groceries at save-on on Thursday in Vancouver.
Image via /R/Canucks Redditer: Saki604.

The Canucks made their final cuts today to get their roster under the 23-man limit in advance of Saturday's season opener at home against Anaheim. They re-assigned nine players to the Chicago Wolves in all including Jordan Schroeder, Bill Sweatt, promising banger Darren Archibald, Anton Rodin, Andrew Gordon, Peter Andersson, Derek Joslin, Kevin Connauton and Joe Cannata.

Kevin Connauton, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was born and raised in Edmonton, responded to his demotion with a pretty funny riot joke on Twitter:

Mike Gillis spoke with David Ebner of the Globe and Mail about the scientific, objective work the Canucks do with #fancystats and their "human performance plan." If you're a regular Canucks Army reader you'll likely be familiar with many of the concepts discussed (obviously it's extremely hard to get new information out of the team on this subject, and they're right to guard proprietary information like hawks) but this is a fantastic round up and an absolute must read take.

Speaking of Mike Gillis, he appeared on the Team 1040 and was a bit of a grumpy gus all things considered. For example he bit Scott Rintoul's head off while calling out the toady's in the Toronto media. It's concerning that Mike Gillis sounded as agitated and frustrated as he did, I suppose, but still the entire thing is pretty awesome.

Read past the jump for more Canucks news and sardonic quips.

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