Archive for category Canucks’ Radio

Canucks Give Themselves Blackeye In Fight With Hodgson

About a month ago when Canucks headcoach Alain Vigneaut was asked about Cody Hodgson’s limited icetime he said he wasn’t going to reduce Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin’s icetime for Hodgson. One was a Selke winner and one was a Lindsay Award winner, regardless of the fact that these awards are awards based on last year’s play and have nothing to do with what is happening on the ice this season.  Also of note, neither Kesler nor Henrik have consistently played up to the standard to be considered finalist for either of these awards this year. This comment was accepted by the media without much concern. But it should be concerning, not only for Hodgson, but also for Canuck fans and management. What if Hodgson was outplaying either of these two? Which can be argued he was for the month of January. Vigneault is sending a message that playing his best players isn’t important, hence giving your team the best shot at winning isn’t the most important thing on a nightly basis, instead appeasing his award winners is. So when Hodgson’s agent says his client and the Canuck’s goals didn’t mesh, I’d have to agree. Hodgson has every reason to be concerned at not having a chance to earn a greater role with the club, specifically when his play warrants it.  He should be concerned about being viewed prejudicially by a guy (AV) who has already attacked his character through allegations that he used an injury as an excuse for poor performance, an injury that was later discovered to be career threatening and misdiagnosed by the team’s medical staff. In spite of this mistreatment, Hodgson has never publicly spoken ill of the Canucks or AV. He has repeatedly taken the highroad. And in not going public, he has left himself open to be the target to cheapshots about his character, about being a diva, about being a me first guy. We all understand team concept, but being the repeated target of this type of mistreatment begins to wear thin on anyone including a team first guy. Canucks have a blackeye on this one and it’ll take a long time for this bruise to heal.
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Canucks Down Avs

The Vancouver Canucks survived an ugly fist period and turned what was supposed to be Hodgson vs Duchene round 2 into the JanHan/Daniel Show.The Canucks were badly out played and out shot in the first period but a Daniel Sedin wrap around bounced in off Avs goaltender Varlomov and Luongo was flawless giving the Canucks a 1-0 lead heading into the 2nd period.

Booth collided with Avs defenceman Kevin Porter half way through the first and went down violently. He had to be helped off the ice and did not return. He is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow.  

Early in the second period Luongo took a puck off the throat and went down causing a smile on Cory Schneider’s face. Luongo would miss the rest of the game but did sit on the bench for the third period. The injury is reported to be minor and he is expected to start versus Montreal in the Canucks next game.

Schneider made a couple big saves early, allowing the Canucks to maintain their lead. JanHan and Bieksa executed a give and go to perfection in the slot with JanHan driving home his 8th goal of the season giving the Canucks a 2 goal lead.

It was all Canucks in the third as Daniel scored 2 more to complete the hattrick and JanHan tied his career season high with his 9th goal of the year. Schneider completed the shutout as the Canucks cruised to a 6-0 win in Rogers Arena.

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Evaluating Cody Hodgson’s Rookie Campaign

Vancouver Canucks rookie Cody Hodgson has been labeled everything from the heir apparent to Trevor Linden to a total bust. But so far, 24 games into his rookie campaign, he has settled nicely under a more realistic label, a promising young NHLer.
 
When he was first drafted there were immediate comparisons to the Canuck great #16 Trevor Linden. Having never played an NHL game this was optimistic but also unfair.  But as I watch Hodgson play, I don’t see another Linden in the making, I give that distinction to Ryan Kesler, instead I’m reminded of a young Henrik Sedin.  
 
Hodgson is still young and has some deficiencies to improve upon such as body checking, it’s one comparison with a Sedin I wouldn’t want to covet. He’s not the strongest player, but he’s still growing into a man’s body. He at times makes rookie mistakes in his positioning, and he’s just adequate in the faceoff circle.
 
But there are also some efficiencies, a package of skills that Canuck fans are excited about.  Efficiencies that have Canucks fans asking how good can Hodgson get? He has incredible hands, a great shot, his skating has improved dramatically, he has amazing vision and can thread a needle with his pass, much like Henrik. 
 
To date he has 12 points through 26 games, while being shuffled around various lines, regularly getting the lowest minutes of ice time of all the top 9 skaters. These 12 points project to about a 40 point season. A very good total for a rookie. When I compare those numbers to the Canucks current 3 stars when they were 21, it is very encouraging.  
 
As 21 year olds Henrik had 36 points, Daniel had 32 points, and Kesler had 23 points. So far, Hodgson’s in good company.  But I’m not too concerned with points at this stage in his career. I’m more interested in how he thinks the game, adjusts to the game, with how he physically holds up. And it’s these areas where I find great optimism.
 

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Luongo Has Success In Return, But Won’t Find Redemption Until Playoffs

It’s December 4th, 2011.  The Canucks are playing the hated rival Calgary Flames at Rogers Arena.  Roberto Luongo skates onto the ice with his team taking laps before the singing of the Canadian National anthem.  It is his first star since the middle of November.  What had started out as time away from the ice due to an injury has turned into a goalie controversy that has seen Luongo as a patient and supportive teammate to friend and backup Cory Schneider. 

Schneider played with the skill of the all-star he is and not the backup he’s labelled as, making it near impossible for Coach Vigneault to sit him out.  Luongo understood, finding more frustration in his talks with the media about the situation than about the situation itself.  Now, after Schneider faltered on Friday night, Luongo finally gets a start in net.  And performed well only allowing one goal while making 21 saves, with the crowd chanting “Luuuuu” for each and every one of the 21 saves. 

Sure the one goal he let in was a weak one, but he made up for it with some solid saves allowing his team to get going.  The Canucks finally got their legs going and ended the night with a 5-1 win.  Another beating of the hapless and floundering Calgary Flames.  What once was a heated rivalry has become a one-sided affair. 

The win was good for the club, for Luongo who showed no rust.  But this win won’t mean anything, not to Luongo, not to the team, not to the fans, not concerning Luongo’s legacy.  What Luongo needs is to have a strong playoffs to cement that. 

Over the past three years the Canucks have been obliterated in elimination games in the playoffs with Luongo being the chief culprit among a group of poorly performing teammates.  Weak goals have seemed to deflate the Canucks with leadership nowhere to seen.  This isn’t Luongo’s fault alone, but he seems to be the gravitational force receiving most the criticism.  The problem being that he is the goalie, he is the focal point of the team’s poor performances. 

Sure Luongo was excellent in the Canucks three wins versus Boston in the Stanley Cup Finals last June, probably the Canucks best player, but he was also arguable their worst player in their four losses.  A contrast that makes stability for a team near impossible.  As I’ve stated before, this probably is just as much Vigneault’s fault for mismanaging Luongo as it is Luongo’s fault.  But overall he needs to be more consistent, especially when it matters most.  He needs to be better in the playoffs, he knows he needs to be better in the playoffs, and his legacy as a great Canuck will only be established when that happens.

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Luongo Back Between The Pipes — Update

In my previous post I said with the Canucks being down a goal to Nashville, that it was a no lose scenario putting Luongo in net after a shaky start by Schneider.  I was wrong. 

With the Canucks scoring four goals in a row and taking a 5-3 lead, Lu got hit by the worst case scenario.  He didn’t look sharp and once again the wining goal is scored with him laying on his stomach.  I don’t know why he doesn’t try a standing slide. He practices it in the warmup for every game.  The panic bellyflop never works. 

It’s going to be interesting to see who the Canucks put in goal vs Calgary. I’d go with Schneider and then put Lu in vs his hometown team the Montreal Canadiens.

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Luongo Back Between The Pipes

I’m one of AV’s biggest critics, but I must admit he’s handled the goalie situation in Vancouver really well over the past two weeks.  Putting Lu back in net after a shaky first period performance by Schneider was perfect timing. 

AV sends a message to his team to play better, he gives Schneider a break after seven consecutive starts, and he gets Lu some much needed playing time leading up the Canucks weekend games vs Calgary and Montreal.  It was really a no lose situation for AV to give Lu these minutes.  The team was down by two goals, making it nearly impossible for Lu to lose the game for them.  Especially without the threat of Joel Ward scoring from behind the net.

The Canucks responded by scoring 5 goals in the second period, making for an unusually entertaining game vs the Preds.  With the Canucks putting themselves back in the game, Lu now has an opportunity to win the game for them.

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Mayray’s Long and Winding Road

Mason Raymond suffered from one of the most horrific injuries I’ve seen as a fan of the NHL.  He was skated into the boards ass first and bent over.  It was the definition of a player in a vulnerable position.  The fact the Boychuk was not suspended for the incident still bothers me. 

But Raymond has battled back hard to get into hockey shape and more importantly into a state where he has a decent quality of life.  He has now been cleared to play and will suit up for the Canucks this weekend.  Unfortunately he’s been quoted as saying he’ll never be 100% again, but he’s still just 26years old and a year removed from a 25 goal season.  The question now becomes where does he fit into the Canucks organization? 

He’s been skating with Cody Hodgson and Jannik Hansen, but this seems like a soft 3rd line.  This line has players who are good enough to be considered more of a 2nd line-B instread of a 3rd line.  I would actually like to see him play with Kesler and Higgins and have Booth play with Hodgson and Hansen.  It gives that 3rd line more size while giving Kesler a winger he’s comfortable with and has had success with in Raymond. 

I’m not sure if Raymond is in the Canucks long-term plans, especially with the addition Booth to the team, but the Canucks need to give him a chance to get back into peak form.  They need to do it as a matter of principle in giving a player who sacrified his body in the most literal sence for the team and organization, but they also need to do it to see where he can get to as a player. 

If he can regain his 2010 form, he could have good trade value.  If he can’t get into form, they have at least showed him the respect and opportunity he deserves.  It is Gillis’s mantra to provide the utmost support for his players and he has done this through actions and words.  It is one of the great attributes that Gillis has brought to the Canucks organization. 

I look forward to seeing Mayray back playing with Coho and Janhan this weekend and seeing him return to form.

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