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Posts Tagged ‘edmonton’

Rollercoaster season sees Canucks fight injuries; score heavily.

The 2009/2010 regular season comes to a screeching halt after seeing the Canucks deal with all kinds of adversity and successes, expectations and disappointments, highs and lows, and one of the NHL’s highest total of mangames lost to injury.  Still, they persevered, and once the dust settled they found themselves repeating as Northwest Division Champions, 2nd in league scoring with Henrik Sedin leading the way as the Art Ross Trophy winner, a 1st round match with the young and dynamic LA Kings, and a lot of questions to be answered.

Will the team’s depleted defense keep them from reaching their potential?

Will Luongo shake off the post-olympic cobwebs and regain his masterful form in time to keep the Canucks rolling?

Will the Sedins continue rolling and light up the other team’s goaltender?

Can Kesler and Burrows continue to get under the skin of their opponents while continuing to put up points?

There’s a lot that needs to be answered going into Thursday’s playoff opener at GM Place.  It all depends on which Canucks team shows up.  The Canucks have shown that when they are interested, they can beat anyone in the league as evidenced by wins over Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, Washington and Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh.  They’ve also shown their ugly side with inexplicable losses to Columbus, Carolina, Edmonton, and the Islanders.

Their first round opponent, the LA Kings, provide the Canucks with a serious competition.  They are young, fast, and physical.  They have depth at forward as well as on defence and have been overlooked by many around the NHL as this year’s “one-hit wonder”.  In my opinion, this team is for real.  They will give the Canucks all they can handle and meet the Canucks hit for hit and shot for shot.  The Canucks will need to be disciplined and stay put of the box as much as possible and they will need to have the better goaltender.  If Luongo is Luongo, the Canucks will win this series.  If we see the same Luongo we’ve seen since after the Olympic break, things may not go as well for the Canucks.

All in all, I expect this series to be very entertaining and well-played.  I expect that the Canucks will defeat the Kings in 7 games (as long as the refs stay out of the way).

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Dany Heatley Should Count His Blessings

Dany Heatley finally spoke out yesterday from Kelowna, BC on his thinking behind demanding a trade from the nation’s capital.  On the eve of  Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp, Heatley talked to the media about the issue breaking months of silence.  We found out that he no longer wants to play for Ottawa because of his ‘diminshed role’ on the team.

The Ottawa Senators have been greatly underachieving the last couple of seasons.  Many believe with a top line consisting of Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daniel Alfredsson the team should realize more success.  Of course, this hasn’t been the case the last couple of seasons leading to some head-scratching and much to Heatley’s shagrin – line shuffling.  Clearly this has not sat well with Heatley a two time 50 goal scorer, causing him to demand a trade to a team that might appreciate his talents more and use him more effectively.

For Heatley, I have this advice.  Things aren’t so bad…count your blessings.  Earlier in your career you were on a team in a struggling hockey market where nobody cared about how crappy your team was.  Playoffs were a pipe-dream.  But things would change for you wouldn’t they?  Shorty, after the tragic car accident involving you and your teammate and friend Dan Snider you were traded to a then cup-contending team in a canadian hockey market where your past would be forgotten and you would be idolized.

Dany, when things go bad on a team, sometimes changes need to be made in the line-up wether it be line combinations or power-play units.  You should accept these things….its called being a team player.  I mean, if Team Canada doesn’t put you on the top power-play unit and give you 30 minutes of ice-time are you gonna ask to be traded to Team Russia?  So, Ottawa, contrary to what this writer would do, bent to your demands and arranged a trade to an up-coming young team in a Canadian market close to your hometown.  Still not good enough for our Dany boy though was it?

Dany, things aren’t as bad as they could be, especially considering your situation a few years ago.  After all 7.5 million dollars a year to play hockey isn’t so bad is it?  I think its time to count your blessings, Mr. Heatley and stopping being such a diva.

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One step forward, one step back for Canucks

The off-season for the Vancouver Canucks thus far has been, depending on who you ask, either highly successful or completely uneventful.  On the optimistic side of the coin, you could argue that in re-signing Henrik and Daniel Sedin at the last possible moment, that they were able to acquire not one but two top-line players who are both consistently in the top 25 in league scoring…and considerably under market value at that.  You could argue that Mathias Ohlund is long in the tooth, not as effective as he once was, and Tampa Bay’s offer was ridiculously over-priced.  The optimists will tell you that Mikael Samuelson and his Stanley Cup experience are the piece that is missing from the Canuck puzzle, and his 20 plus goal seasons of late on the third line in Detroit will translate to 30 plus goals if he gets a chance to play with the twins or gets even a bit of power-play time.

Then there is the glass half-empty set that will tell you that Mike Gillis has basically done nothing to improve this team that failed to get past the second round last year.  They will say “Congratulations on signing the twins, but didn’t we already have them before?”.  Matias Ohlund has been replaced by Aaron Rome….say what you want about Ohlund, but at least we’ve heard of him which is something we cannot say about his replacement.  Mikael Samuelson…nice pick up…but he just replaces Mats Sundin, Taylor Pyatt, Kyle Wellwood, or potentially all three…do we really have a net gain here?

It is easy to look at the glass either way with this team.  It just seems like one of those off-seasons so far where there are just as many questions in late July as there were when the season ended.  One can’t definitively say that this team is significantly better or, really, any worse.  It appears as thought the Vancouver Canucks will head into the 2009/2010 season with a team that is pretty much at the same level that last year’s edition was.  It will have a solid defense, adequate scoring and will depend on Roberto Luongo to take him as far as he is able.  One can say that not much has changed here….the problem is, much has changed around them.  The Calgary Flames, somehow, managed to stick it to the salary cap by signing all-star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, while Edmonton addressed their main weakness by putting Nikolai Khabibulin between the pipes.  The Chicago Blackhawks, the team that eliminated the Canucks, went out and added Marian Hossa.  So, maybe the status quo isn’t really the status quo.  Canucks Nation better pray that Roberto Luongo can walk on water for them.

Q & A with Wally Buono?

So, Wally…what now?  The BC Lions 40 -22 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos Thursday at Commonwealth Stadium asked as many questions as it answered.

While it showed us that the offense is in fact capable of producing over four quarters instead of two, it asked us if this is only possible with Jarius Jackson behind centre.  It answered the question of wether or not rookie kicker Sean Whyte was capable of filling in for veteran Paul McCallum, but asked if the defense played well or Edmonton’s offense stubbed their toe.

The biggest question brought about by this game…if Buck Pierce is healthy enough to play next week against Saskatchewan does he get his starting job back?  Or does Wally go with Jarius Jackson’s hot hand?  So?  Wally?  This is a question that has been asked more than a few times not only this season but every season during Buono’s tenure here in BC.  Wally Buono’s embarassment of riches at quarterback over the years are a blessing and sometimes, it would seem, also a curse.  After both losses this year Wally Buono has had to field questions over and over about wether Buck Pierce should be pulled in favour of former starter Jarius Jackson.  Every time asked, Wally would shrug off the question suggesting there is no reason to question Buck Pierce’s performance and the media is just trying to stir up a quarterback controversy where there is none.

Tonight against the Eskimos, Buono’s hand was forced.  Buck Pierce taking a shot to the head and leaving the game with what appears to be a concussion.  Jarius Jackson stepped in and propelled the Lions offense to 38 of their 40 points…and he did it in impressive fashion.  He stretched the Eskimos defense by throwing the ball downfield while sprinkling in a few good runs by Martel Mallet.

So what do we do, Wally?  If Buck is good to go do you play the stubborn cagey old coach and put him back in claiming that he doesn;t lose his job to injury?  Or do you “give him ample time to recover” and see if Jarius Jackson can keep the petal to the metal of the Lions offense?  Either way, there will be a lot of questions this week for Wally to answer.  Right after he answered a whole bunch of them this week.  It never seems to end…does it?