After an interminably long summer of house cleaning, the Vancouver Canucks start the 2014-15 NHL season tonight against the woeful Abbotsford Heat Calgary Flames. While this particular foe still makes the Canucks look like world-beaters, there isn’t a pundit in the land who thinks Vancouver has a legitimate shot at winning the Pacific Division. So just how fair and middling will this year’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks be? I’m glad you asked. Here are seven questions we’re slobbering over ourselves in anticipation and excitement:
Whatever playoff aspirations still existed in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room — misguided, maybe, but they were there — must have taken a serious thumping during the third period of last night’s 7-4 loss to the lowly, John Tavares-less New York Islanders.
Up 3-0 going into the final 20 minutes of the game, the Canucks managed to give up a converted touchdown in a single period for the first time since a kid named Wayne Gretzky swaggered into Vancouver with the dynastic Edmonton Oilers. And, as Ryan Kesler said of the present-day Islanders after the game, “let’s face it, [New York] is not one of the top teams in the NHL. We had a three-nothing lead to start the third. This just can’t happen.”
Sadly, not only can it go down, Mr Kesler, but it did happen. On home ice. During the stretch run. Less than a week after the GM traded away a future Hall of Fame goaltender.
In the first two periods, the Isles had just nine shots on goal. Fast forward twenty minutes, and they had nearly that many goals.
Sure, there were positives. Henrik Sedin got a lucky bounce off an Islander defenceman — lucky bounces have been few and far between for the Canucks of late, but it marked the first goal in 23 games for the captain. Alex Burrows didn’t get off the gorilla-choking, gut-twisting schneid he’s been riding all season, but he did get awarded an apple on Ryan Kesler’s 22nd goal of the year. Replays show Burrows gave a swing and a miss when Kevin Bieksa’s shot from the slot pinged off the post, but when Kesler put it home, the scorekeepers gave Burr the phantom assist for his 300th career NHL point.
But let’s not kid anyone. There are no moral victories in a game that goes that far south that quickly. Less than five minutes of gutless, idiot play in the third period undid 40 minutes of solid two-way hockey. Dumb penalties from Jensen, Bieksa and Sestito translated into a tie game within minutes of the third period puck drop. Add a couple that Lack would like to have back, and the Isles put a pick-six on the board before the third was halfway done.
The Canucks collapse, though, wasn’t half as scary as what awaited Eddie Lack in the dressing room.
Coming into the 2013 season, Cory Schneider looked forward to his first action as an NHL starter. Halfway through his first game as the #1 guy in Vancouver — a game that was essentially a pre-season game, just with points that count in the standings — he had let in five goals on 14 shots, and the guy wearing #1 on his back was taking over the crease.
Immediately, people all over Twitter, on radio call-in shows and even in the booth on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada started talking about goaltending controversy in Vancouver. What they didn’t talk about was the invisibility of Alex Burrows, the ineffectiveness of the second and fourth lines, or the shakiness of the “deepest defensive corps in the NHL”.
But yeah, goalie controversy, right? We thought we’d look at each goal one at a time to determine just who the goat and/or goats were. Here it is, right after the jump.
There are plenty of numbers being thrown around regarding the Vancouver Canucks these days. Alain Vigneault recently became the winningest coach in team history, Henrik Sedin took the all-time assists lead in Canucks lore, and Daniel passed Stan Smyl for fourth in franchise scoring. But there are more! Today I focus on numbers – at the NHL level, in Canucks history and a set of personal numbers for good measure. Here you go, Seven Things about the NHL for December 20, 2011.