Lots of things went wrong for the Vancouver Canucks this post season. Daniel Sedin was out. Henrik Sedin was almost knocked out. Ryan Kesler pouted so much he played like he was out. Coldplay completely stole their momentum after game 4. Guts McTavish’s Twitter ball avatar simply would.. not.. change. Still, you can’t dwell on the negative. Instead, let’s take a leaf out of the Zombieland Rulebook and enjoy the little things about the 2011-2012 edition of the Vancouver Canucks.
- Jannik Hansen had a career year offensively. He finished the season with 16-23-39 and a +18. That’s 7 goals and 10 points higher than last season’s totals. Plus he earned himself a new nickname:
- Maxim Lapierre still has a face every opponent of the Canucks wants to punch but he backed up his extra curricula activities with strong play between the whistles this season. He led the team in hits with 244 in the regular season (good for 11th in the NHL) and did something many people never thought he would – fight. Max dropped the gloves 7 times this season, including once at center ice at TD Garden against Gregory Campbell. He played at center and wing in the bottom 6 and when called upon to fill in on the 1st and 2nd lines he never looked out of place. Plus, he’s responsible for this:
- David Booth was traded for in October, got hurt, then came back to be voted the Most Exciting Canucks Player by the fans. Not sure I agree with that one, but he had his moments. Strangely enough, for me it wasn’t his goal scoring that was the highlight, it was his fight with Mark Olver. Booth is very Christian, so you wouldn’t expect him to lay the smack down like this:
- Manny Malhotra may not quite be the same player he was before his horrific eye injury last year but the simple fact that he is out there is truly incredible.
- Cody Hodgson made the pipes sing on 2 of the most memorable goals of the Canucks season:
Such sweet music. I’m concentrating on the positive so I’m not even going to mention “the trade” here. Oh wait, I just did. Damnit.
- But it was Aaron Rome who kicked off the impressions this season, doing his best Ray Bourque as he scored 3 goals in 4 games back in November. Rome finished the season with a career high 4-6-10 but was a career low -4. (Sorry, I’m trying to be positive!)
- January 7th 2012. Rematch day against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. In many ways this was the semicolon that punctuated the sentence that was the Canucks’ season. After this game things changed – nothing was quite the same. The Canucks won in Boston, which is something many thought they could never do. They won it on the back of special teams, which was something they could not do in the Stanley Cup Finals. Cory Schneider was in goal – the first true sign that the Canucks may go to him in vital games. It was a memorable win, one that partially soothed the wounds left behind from last season.
- Finally, the Vancouver Canucks won a 2nd straight Presidents’ Trophy. Despite what everyone says this is a great achievement and one the Canucks should be proud of.
It’s a long wait until next season and there will be lots of head scratching and cynicism to deal with during that wait. I’ll do my best to remember the good times (I’ll probably read this post 20 times) and remain excited and hopeful for the next NHL season.
Hockey Night in Canada on CBC
Mark Lee, Kevin Weekes
Without a doubt Kevin Weekes’ suit. I don’t know what the hell that was but on After Hours Scott Oake called him Steve Urkel and it suited (pun not intended!).
I also got a chuckle out of Mark Lee accidentally calling Ville Leino “Ville Lamo” during the call and not correcting himself. Yes Mark, I heard you.
Now Onto The Game:
Eric Furlatt, Kyle Rehman
Not great. After Brad Boyes potted his goal play went on for almost 2 minutes before they decided to review it. It was so obviously a goal they should have blown the whistle and just pointed to the spot. There was a bad miscall on a Pahlsson almost breakaway and I think Rome’s penalty for his shoulder to shoulder/head hit on Ennis was iffy at best.
Sabres 5 Canucks 3
Booth 2 (13)
Leino 2 (6 of the most expensive goals in the NHL)
Ennis EN (7)
2 weeks ago this game looked like a fairly innocuous regular season game between 2 expansion siblings, with the highlight possibly being the Canucks fans booing Ehrhoff on his first return to Vancouver, or Luongo and Miller battling again in Rogers Arena for the first time since the 2010 Olympic gold medal game. How that dastardly trade deadline changed things. All of a sudden it was the big highlight game in the aftermath of “that trade”, the one where Cody Hodgson (and Alexander Sulzer, ahem) played his (their) first game against his (their) old team. The one where Zack Kassian gets his chance to destroy his old, and reportedly small, team mates. The one where Marc-Andre Gragnani gets to show Lindy Ruff just how useful he can be. Suddenly there was more than enough incentive to watch this game.
This was almost the complete opposite to the St. Louis Blues game. Lots of fast and frenetic action and attacking play from the Canucks, especially in the 2nd, as they tried to climb their way out of a very big hole that Luongo dug for them.
Luongo, after being stellar against the Blues and excellent since the New Year, let in 3 goals on 7 shots and was pulled after just 5:10 in the 1st period. The first Leino goal was particularly weak, letting a long wrister go 5-hole. Leino’s 2nd goal came after Luongo lost his stick and tried to swat the puck away with his blocker. He swatted it straight onto Leino’s stick, who must have thought it was Christmas with a gift like that for him.
Was Luongo caught day dreaming about his Olympic gold medal? Or was he suffering a little after catching a Mason Raymond shot up high in the neck area in the pre-game warmup? The only thing besides glass that Raymond has hit with his wrist shot in weeks and it’s Luongo’s head. Typical. Raymond’s night didn’t get any better. He waffled around the ice at high speed, as usual, and eventually played his way to the 4th line.
This allowed Zack Kassian to play on the 2nd line with Kesler and Booth and he picked up a goal and an assist against his old club. To me Kassian looks good on that line. Physical, energetic and at least good enough to feed off his linemate’s good play. Unlike Raymond.
Sabres started the game with Hodgson and in the first shift Sami Salo gently ran him into the boards behind the net. I thought it was a loving gesture from the gentle Finn. Ryan Kesler obviously prefers a hard style of love because he tried to beat the bejesus out of Hodgson the rest of the game.
Vancouver really needs the Sedins to find their scoring touch again. The twins had one great shift in the offensive zone but didn’t produce anything. They looked average on the PP too. If the Canucks want to go deep in the playoffs again and maybe, just possibly, go one win better, they are going to need the Sedins to get their asses into gear again.