Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
As if the battle for the Norris Trophy needed any more viable candidates, here is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Viktor Hedman, off to an exceptional start and proving once again that even the most likely regarded, massively talented defensive behemoths need time to find their NHL sea legs.
Hedman is now in his sixth season and starts a trip Saturday with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will see them visit all four Canadian-based Western Conference teams in the next six days. Vancouver is a unique and special first stop because he gets to play against the Sedin twins for a rare time. Hedman is from the same northern Swedish town as the Sedins – Ornskoldsvik – and played his developmental years for the same club team Modo before going second overall to Tampa in the 2009 NHL entry draft.
from Kevin Woodley at NHL.com,
"I do start in the crease a lot more than I think people give me credit for," Miller said. "I have been a pretty aggressive skating goaltender, but over the years I think it has quieted down. I am just trying to change with the times and build a game that is going to work for the current NHL, so I know that I have to be available to make some saves in back-side situations. I understand that."
An ability to get across the ice on back-door chances, rebounds and loose pucks is only one part of the trend toward deeper positioning that is creeping into the NHL. The other benefits include shorter, therefore quicker, movements from one save position to the next, reducing the holes goalies open as they move laterally.
It has become a game of efficiency and percentages. Miller believes to be at his best, there needs to be more.
It's becoming a bit of a lost art, but Miller wants to dictate to opposing shooters, maybe even bait them a bit. He prefers to play with some personality.
"I don't think I am the kind of guy who can sit back. I still need to be myself," the 34-year-old said. "When I am flowing with the game and making guys change their mind on a play rather than waiting on it, I feel like I am at a high point of my game."
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
The team looks more skilled, though it does appears to be lacking speed and size. No one will have any grasp on what that equation really means until the Canucks return from their three-game road trip which ends in Denver next week.
You see, it’s been 10 years since back-to-back Ws against Alberta teams meant, well, anything and that hasn’t changed.
What has changed in Vancouver, however, is the feeling the Canucks get when the team gets a game to a shootout. That awful, sinking feeling. Henrik Sedin called it “dread” and it’s been around for a couple of years, exacerbated last season by a coach who was convinced you couldn’t train for a skills competition. Imagine that.
“That’s the way it was sometimes, dread,” Henrik said.
“I think a lot of that goes into how you’re playing the game. If you don’t have confidence during the game, you won’t have any in the shootout.
“So much of it is mental.”
from Kerry Fraser of TSN,
The distinct and deliberate action demonstrated by Alexandre Burrows to play the puck with his hand constitutes a violation of rule 79.1 (Hand Pass). Play should have been immediately stopped once Dan Hamhuis gained puck possession following the redirect off the glove of Burrows. No goal should have resulted on this play.
continued and watch the play below... (Vancouver did win the game in a SO)
from David Ebner of the Globe and Mail,
The team is, two games in, revived, and the score sheet on Saturday complimented new general manager Jim Benning’s off-season. Three of the four scorers are new players, just as Linden had hoped new faces would drum up fun. Then there’s the Sedins. They had their worst season in a decade under Tortorella and now have eight points between them, four points apiece.
What’s particularly interesting about the early offensive burst from the Sedins is they’re doing it without the favourable deployment they enjoyed under Alain Vigneault, and also Tortorella. The Sedins are taking more defensive zone faceoffs than offensive, a major change compared with the past five seasons, and also are putting in penalty-kill minutes.
The Sedins had a strong October last year, but this feels different. For now, it looks like the Sedins are back.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
... it can reasonably be said the Canucks have changed the atmosphere around the team and improved the bottom half of their lineup. As for their frontliners, it just doesn’t seem possible that Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be as unproductive as they were last season, just as it seems possible that one of Nick Bonino, Zack Kassian or Linden Vey will enjoy a breakout year.
So the Canucks will be better than they were last season. But so will every team that finished ahead of them in the West with the possible exception of San Jose, and the Sharks were pretty damn good to begin with.
That’s the real challenge facing the Orcans this season. Anaheim, which finished first in the West last season, added Kesler. Colorado has a stacked young team and now has Jarome Iginla. St. Louis made the biggest splash in the off-season, signing Paul Stastny. The Blackhawks and Kings have been the two best teams in the NHL for the last four seasons. Minnesota, who was on the uptick anyway, added Thomas Vanek. Dallas you ask? They added Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky.
And those, with the exception of the Sharks, are just the teams that made the playoffs in the West last season. The Canucks also have to climb over Phoenix, Nashville and Winnipeg before they can think about a post-season berth.
from Nancy MacDonald of MACLEANS,
Miller, in some ways, is an anti-athlete: complex, loquacious, cerebral. He’s an amateur photographer. He reads. He loves playing the guitar. He drives a hybrid. But he also makes pains to establish that he’s no hermit, conscious, perhaps, of his position’s stereotypes: “I’m trying to be a little more social, to be around friends and not be the weird goalie who sits in his house all day and wears the cushions out on his couch,” he’s said.
His loyalties lie with his family, his “pit crew” of core pals, and his wife, television actress Noureen DeWulf.
He spent the summer training and clearing his head. Conscious of the strain that travel exacts on players in the Western Conference, Miller put together an off-season regimen carefully designed to ramp up as the season approached. “Every year, you have to prove yourself,” he says. “You’re not handed a job.”
Although a popular narrative says Miller is fading with age, his numbers tell a different story. He hasn’t posted a save percentage under .915 in six seasons, while topping the league in shots against for the past two. He’s done this almost exclusively while propping up a basement dweller. The truth is, Miller is a difference-maker. And he’s hungrier than ever.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
So that’s it, then.
It appears, with goalie Jacob Markstrom going on waivers today, that there will indeed be no big upside for the Vancouver Canucks from trading Roberto Luongo, once the team’s captain and franchise goalie, to the Florida Panthers last March.
It was one of Mike Gillis’s last acts as Canucks GM, and it’s probably good for him that he’s no longer around to answer questions on this particular subject.
Like, how’d you get it so bloody wrong, Mike?
The Vancouver Canucks have placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom on waivers.
The 24-year-old netminder was acquired from the Florida in March as part of the trade that sent Roberto Luongo back to the Panthers.
Markstrom appeared in four games with the Canucks last season, posting a 1-2-0 record with a 3.00 goals-against average and a .868 save percentage.
Originally selected in the second round (31st overall) by the Panthers, Markstrom has appeared in 47 career NHL games, posting a 12-27-0-5 record with an .896 save percentage and a 3.19 goals-against.
The Swedish netminder has one year remaining on his current contract worth an average annual value of $1.2 million. he is slated to become a restricted free agent at season's end.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Trevor Linden and his crew made a lot of interesting moves in the off-season in hopes of helping the Vancouver Canucks’ fortunes, but one of the best — which may have slipped under the radar — was bringing in physiotherapist Rick Celebrini as a consultant.
Celebrini is tremendously well known already in this city for his work with Steve Nash for many years and more recently with Kevin Bieksa, and of course as a consultant to the Vancouver Whitecaps as well as co-founding Fortius Sports, and his best work often comes without anyone really knowing it’s happening.
While everyone knows that he works with individuals after they’ve been injured or are looking to better overcome an injury, one of the mainstays of his work with the Canucks is expected to be injury prevention, something he feels can be tackled with some success.
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.
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