Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
The Vancouver Canucks aren’t particularly interested in revisiting their recent playoff history, and maybe that’s understandable because, since Game 5 of the 2011 Stanley Cup final, this team has been to the playoffs what Ponzi was to investment banking.
But it’s there and, like that big red zit in the middle of your forehead, it’s hard to ignore. Following their 2-1 defeat to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night, the Canucks are now 1-11 in their last 12 playoff games, including seven straight losses on home ice and, like it or not, that record has become a talking point in this series.
For Willie Desjardins’s team, the loss in Game 1 was disturbing on a number of levels, but this might have been the most disturbing development. They’ve now invited unwanted questions into the conversation about their makeup and their core group, and those questions won’t disappear because they don’t feel like answering them.
“We’re a different team,” said Henrik Sedin. “I don’t think we were as sharp and focused (in their ignominious 2012 and 2013 playoff losses to L.A. and San Jose) as we are now. We’ve got a different feeling this year. We’re fresh, we’re focused, we’re confident. It feels more like we’ve got everything to win.”
Then why did Wednesday night look so depressingly familiar?
from Eric Duhatshek of the Globe and Mail,
Calgary’s fortunes will depend heavily on how they handle the Canucks’ dynamic offensive duo of Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
“Year after year, they’re very offensively powered,” Flames forward Mason Raymond said of the Sedins, with whom he played for the first six years of his NHL career. “The power play is definitely where they do a lot of their work, but all over the ice, they can be dangerous, so you’ve got to be aware of them, and make their lives as miserable as possible.”
With team captain Mark Giordano still out indefinitely because of a biceps tendon injury, it will fall to Calgary’s shutdown defence pair of Dennis Wideman and Russell to neutralize the Sedins.
Hartley put Wideman and Russell together as a defensive pair in the third game of the regular season and they’ve been lights-out good for Calgary ever since, developing the sort of chemistry that matters as much – or more – to defence pairs as it does to forward lines.
“With us, with D pairs, you have to know what the other guy is going to do and where he’s going to be, especially if you’re under pressure with the fore-check,” said Wideman, who has previously played in 44 NHL playoff games. “A lot of times, I know where Russ is or where he’s going to be, so I can just put a puck there and have confidence that he’s going to get it out, or make a play.”
Young teams that make playoff breakthroughs often falter in the opening round. On the night the Flames eliminated Los Angeles from playoff contention, Kings captain Dustin Brown compared the Flames to last year’s Colorado Avalanche, a team that unexpectedly won the tough Central Division, but couldn’t carry regular-season success into the playoffs.
Where you won’t get great Canucks coverage? Sportsnet.
Yep the “national” sports network that has bought everything with an NHL logo on it, last night had 2 stories on the Canucks on their homepage. That’s the Canucks who, you know, are in the playoffs.
They had 12 stories on the Leafs, who aren’t in the playoffs: Kessel, Phaneuf can see writing on the wall; Shanahan Charts his own Course for Leafs; Possible Candidates for Leafs GM; Leafs hoping for Better Days After Rough Season; More Changes Coming for Maple Leafs; Shanahan, Vision Same for Leafs as it is 29 Other Teams; Toronto Wants to Give Resilient Fans What They Deserve; Gardiner Defends Phaneuf’s Captaincy; Shanahan: Sunday’s Changes Just the Beginning; Kessel: Firings Fall Back on Players and Maple Leafs Hit Reset.
-Paul Chapman of The Morning Skate at the Vancouver Province where you can read more on the Canucks.
from Ian McIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
We always believed Jim Benning when he said the Vancouver Canucks could be a playoff team this season. But we were skeptical, until now, about the addendum to the general manager’s claim: that once in the National Hockey League playoffs, the Canucks might actually win.
Six nights from the start of the Stanley Cup tournament, we can’t find a daunting potential opponent for the Canucks in the Western Conference. All are good. None are invincible.
The Canucks are 2-1 this season against the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-0 against the St. Louis Blues. They’re 2-1-2 against the Anaheim Ducks, 2-2 against the Calgary Flames. Their only wins against the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild were the most recent games against them. The Canucks’ only loss to the Winnipeg Jets was last week.
Vancouver, B.C. - Vancouver Canucks General Manager Jim Benning announced today that the Canucks have signed forward Derek Dorsett to a four-year contract and defenceman Luca Sbisa to three-year contract.
“Derek has been an incredibly valuable member of the Canucks roster, both on and off the ice this year,” said Vancouver Canucks General Manager, Jim Benning. “His willingness to chip in both offensively and defensively while standing up for his teammates at all times has been instrumental to our success all season.”
“Luca has been a big part of our backend all season, logging big minutes during key stretches and doing anything that is asked of him by our coaching staff,” continued Benning. “We are excited to have both Derek and Luca in the fold moving forward to continue our goal of winning today, while also having an eye to the future.”
Watch as Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa delivers a blow to the head of winger Viktor Stalberg from the Nashville Predators.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just when you start to believe a little more in the Vancouver Canucks after some stretches that impress you, they give you the other side of the coin and do something like lose back-to-back home games to the Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars.
Vancouver sits at 91 points and has a tenuous hold on the No. 2 spot in the Pacific Division, followed by Calgary (89 points, winners at Nashville on Sunday), and hard-charging L.A. (88 points).
Winnipeg (90 points) also figures in when it comes to the wild-card race, but we know for a fact two teams from that the Pacific trio of the Canucks, Flames and Kings will end up in the playoffs.
Here's the daunting reality for the Canucks, though: they are heading on the road for a four-game trek through St. Louis, Nashville, Chicago and Winnipeg. Now, the Canucks' 22-12-3 road record suggests they can play well away from home, but the chips are really down now. This trip will make or break their season.
read more NHL topics fromt the ESPN hockey writers...
from Tal Pinchevsky at ESPN,
Midway through a physical 4-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, Vancouver Canucks goaltender Eddie Lack was beckoned to center ice by opposing goaltender Jonathan Quick, who had just ignited a skirmish by throwing two right hands at Canucks captain Henrik Sedin. Lack made it only as far as his own red line, offering a sensible explanation after the game.
"I may have a reach [advantage on Quick]," the 6-foot-4 Lack joked. "I think he's a little meaner than me."
It was a classic moment of levity after a big win for the affable Swede. In a season that has seen Lack, 27, emerge as a force in the Vancouver crease, his teammates have used all kinds of words to describe the quirky goaltender. But "mean" definitely isn't one of them.
"He's goofy," Canucks winger Nick Bonino said in describing Lack.
"Easy going, fun loving, always happy," teammate Chris Higgins said. "Almost to a fault sometimes."
"I would say he's one of those interesting goalies," forward Radim Vrbata added.
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
The sight of Ryan Miller out early Tuesday in full equipment and working with goaltending coach Rollie Melanson was certainly encouraging — especially with the stopper going into the butterfly and pushing off to replicate reactions he would normally display in a game. However, it was just one of the obstacles Miller is facing before he’s ready to be battle tested after suffering a knee strain Feb. 22.
I asked former Canucks goaltender and current Sportsnet analyst Corey Hirsch what we should read into Miller skating and working on his movements. He suggested there is the initial testing of that inside knee ligament to see if Miller is enduring any pain and the process can also be a means to strengthen the ailment. If a defenceman or a forward suffers a similar injury, the rehab process can include wearing a brace upon returning to league play. Not goalies. The next step for Miller will be to practise with his club and that won’t occur until the second week of April because it’s doubtful he would travel on the upcoming four-game road trip with just one practice day scheduled.
Everybody has a theory about when Miller might be ready for prime time. The injury was significant because of the position he plays, putting tremendous strain on the knees through contact and groins through stretching and straining to make saves. And contact is going to be a huge issue because there’s going to be a tendency to be tentative and back up initially instead of playing aggressively.
more plus other Vancouver topics...
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Owing to an obvious flaw in their makeup and a perceived lightness in their loafers, the prevailing wisdom states the Vancouver Canucks are at their most susceptible against the NHL’s quote, heavy teams, unquote.
This was certainly the case last season when the three California teams treated the Canucks the way Mike Tyson treated Michael Spinks but this season, as you may be aware, things have changed for this team — and that’s evident in their record against the NHL’s size teams.
Tuesday night, in their fourth game in six nights, the locals spotted the husky Winnipeg Jets a 2-0 second period lead before roaring back to record a 5-2 win, further solidifying their hold on second place in the Pacific Division. But for the Canucks, that win is also part of a season-long trend in which they’ve held a decided edge over the NHL’s heavyweight division. Against Winnipeg, St. Louis, Boston, Anaheim and, just to prove we aren’t being selective, Los Angeles, their record this season is 9-4-1, including a 1-3 mark against the Kings.
If you don’t find that revealing, you should.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org