Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Canucks monthly recap [Top 5 Plays of October]

Back in 2013, this blog ran a series of filler monthly Canucks recaps complete with 'top five' videos. And much like the Sedins so far this season, that monthly feature is being officially resurrected. Unfortunately, much like Luca Sbisa on any given shift, the timing is also already just a little bit off. So let's forget that the Canucks are already three games into November and take a look back at the team's best during the first calendar month of the season.

Not a bad start for the new regime. Some quick thoughts:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Luongo's 67th shutout and the generational disparity with Patrick Roy

With his 67th career shutout, Luongo has bested Roy all-time.

After three straight wins and a shutout two nights ago, it is officially Miller Time in Vancouver. But hockey fans around here have obvious reason to follow the goaltending in Florida these days. And for that reason, it should be noted that Friday's showdown between the Panthers and Sabres had notable implications beyond Connor McDavid. 

Stopping all 18 shots against CoHo and company, Roberto Luongo recorded his 67th career shutout last night. In the process, he surpassed Patrick Roy for 13th overall on the all-time shutouts list.

Granted, that's not quite as shocking as other recent hockey news out of Florida. (If Lu had waited two more games to pitch the shutout against St. Patrick's Colorado Avalanche himself -- well, there's a legitimate story.) Nonetheless, passing one of the top three goalies of all-time and father of the butterfly in any major stat is a significant achievement. But there's a legitimate counter-argument worth exploring.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Radim Vrbata: The Canucks' shiniest new toy and his top ten career goals

This guy. And everything he means to the Sedins
this season. Thank goodness. (Flickr: Bridget Samuels)
It's hard to decide which of the Canucks' shiniest new toys -- Radim Vrbata or Ryan Miller -- could end up being more impactful this season. On paper, Miller's Vezina and $6 million salary indicate that the key cog to Vancouver's "New Game" will be in net. But if the season-opener is any indication, Vrbata on the right side of the Sedins is going to give Miller a very healthy run for best off-season signing.

It's not that Vrbata is going to be more valuable than Miller in and of himself. But what Vrbata brings to the Sedins is something that they have so sorely missed in the past few seasons of their gradual statistical decline -- legitimate finish. Last season was many things, but it was not a disaster in net with Lack. The possibility of Vrbata reigniting the Sedins' point-per-game form will ultimately help this team more than the difference between Miller and Lack.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Five points out of the playoffs, but hey look! Nicklas Jensen!

Jensen led all SEL rookies with 17 goals in 50 games last year. After a slow start
with Utica, he's living up to the hype on the Canucks' top line. (Flickr: anders-h-foto)

Back in early-February, I wrote an article lauding Eddie Lack and how his play was one of the Canucks' few redeeming stories this year. It was a post grasping for any kind of positivity in the face of a precariously-held playoff spot. Oh, that playoff spot. It was a whole fifteen games ago now that the Canucks were still ahead of both Dallas and Phoenix -- if just barely.

Although Lack's baptism-by-fire, post-Luongo, has loosened his play, he remains one of the few Canucks playing beyond pre-season expectations. And for the past couple of weeks, he's been joined by another pleasantly surprising rookie in Nicklas Jensen.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Nagano to Sochi: Canada's all-time Olympic numbers in the NHL era

Photo from
Salt Lake City, Vancouver and now Sochi. In the five Winter Olympics since NHL players were allowed to compete, Canada has won gold in three of them. And while more zealous fans will tell you that we should have had all five, the best team on paper never wins a hundred percent of the time.

It can take a very under-appreciated resiliency to be the best and live up to it. To stick to sound and systematic play -- especially when it only gets you a 2-1 win against an Arturs Irbe-less Latvian team. Or just two measly assists through five games from the best player in the world.

But here we are, just barely recovered from a deprived sleep schedule and with ultimate bragging rights for at least four more years. And thank Price, because we all know how much longer four years can feel after having left Gretzky on the bench in Nagano.

Since 1998, Team Canada has played a total of 31 games. That is nearly half a regular season's worth of the most scrutinized hockey known to man. Makes for a pretty decent sample size. Which makes you wonder where Sidney Crosby's pair of Olympic performances might stack up against, say...Joe Sakic's. Or Steve Yzerman's. Or where Shea Weber and Drew Doughty rank among the Scott Niedermayers and Chris Prongers of yesteryear.

One can only Google so hard until they take matters into their own hands. If there's already an all-time list out there, well, it's not in the first 10 pages of a standard Google search. So go, go gadget Excel spreadsheet. The career rankings of Team Canada players since 1998:

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Finland: The little hockey engine that very consistently could

How many times can a team succeed before you stop calling them underdogs?

Nevermind that they have the world's most likable player in captain Teemu Selanne. (And around these parts, the most likable ex-Canuck in Sami Salo.) Or that they just won their third consecutive Olympic medal by toppling the generally-hated Team USA. In international competition, Finland has been as endearing to the hockey world as they are efficient and successful.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Eddie Lack: All-Rookie Team front-runner?

File:Eddie Lack Canucks.jpg
Lack is exceeding all expectations this year. And maintaining his entire
team's fading dignity in the process.

His numbers are among the league's elite. With a 2.22 GAA and .922 save percentage, Eddie Lack is tied for eighth and ninth in the NHL, respectively. Yet with a 8-8-3 record, he is one of only two goalies with a .500-or-worse record among the league's top 15 in GAA. The other goalie? Cory Schneider.

That speaks volumes. Because unlike the dispatched ginger in his tenure here, Lack has accomplished his top-level stats on what is now a truly mediocre team. The next-highest ranking goalie without a winning record is Justin Peters at 7-9-4 with Carolina.