Monday, May 31, 2010

Canucks Sign Yann Sauve, Two Other Defensemen

The Vancouver Canucks announced on Monday that they have signed defensemen Yann Sauve, Lee Sweatt, and Chris Tanev. The terms of the deals were not revealed.

Yann Sauve was the Canucks second round pick (41st overall) in the 2008 draft. The 20 year old Sauve finished the season with 7 goals, 29 assists and a + 42 in 61 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.

Lee Sweatt and Chris Tanev were both free agents. Sweatt, a 24 year old from Elburn Illinois, spent time with both Riga Dynamo of the KHL, and TPS Turku in the FNL in Finland. He recorded seven points in 37 games in Riga, and 16 points in 21 games with Turku.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tampa Bay Lightning Announce Steve Yzerman is their New GM

The Tampa Bay Lightning have announced that former Detroit Red Wings captain and executive Steve Yzerman is their new General Manager. The Lightning have been on a steady decline since winning the Stanley Cup six years ago.

The Lightning fired GM Brian Lawton and coach Rick Tocchet back on April 12. They have now filled one of the two positions.

Steve Yzerman brings a wealth of hockey experience as well as a reputation of being one of the classiest and most decent people in all of sports. Most recently Yzerman was the General Manager of team Canada's gold medal winning hockey team at the Vancouver Olympics.

This is a great move by the Lightning, which also has a bright future with rising stars like Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. With Yzerman at the helm the Lightning will certainly be a factor in the NHL in the near future.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kings Coach Mark Hardy arrested for sexual assault

Los Angeles Kings Assistant Coach Mark Hardy has been arrested for sexual abuse on a complaint from a woman in her 20's.  The Los Angeles Times is reporting

One source, TMZ.com, has reported that the woman was Hardy’s daughter. Hardy has a daughter, Jessica, who attends Georgetown University. He reportedly was taken into custody at the Mayflower Hotel.

The Los Angeles Kings are reeling with the news of this story and have offered the following thus far. 

"We are aware of the charge. Due to the legal nature of this matter, we will not have any additional comments at this time."

Hardy's daughter has allegedly claimed that her father, Mark, placed his hand down her shorts in a sexual manner.  Further details as to the location or time when these events are to have occured are not presently available.

Hardy played for the Kings from 1979-88 and again from 1992-94 and has twice served as an assistant coach.  The Los Angeles Kings were eliminated from this year's playoffs in the first round against the Vancouver Canucks.

More to follow...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Montreal Reporter's Car a Victim of Vandalism

Shortly after Game One of the Montreal - Philadelphia Conference Final serires, Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette returned to his car in the parking lot, only to find it had been seriously vandalized.
As reported by the Toronto Sun, Hickey's car had it's license plate and other objects torn from it after the Flyers' victory, only to have Hickey file a police report and be prompted to show it to authorities multiple times on his way back to Canada.

IIHF apologizes for ignorance

The IIHF President Rene Fasel apologized today for a ridiculous article posted on it's website entitled "Saying No To Your Country.  Fasel apparently called Pat Brisson, Crosby's agent, to apologize for the references in the article for his unwillingness to join Team Canada in Germany after he and his Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the NHL Playoffs.  TSN is reporting that the story, written by IIHF communications director Szymon Szemberg, said players who chose not to participate were turning "their backs not only on the team and its fans but also to the system which developed them and made them rich and famous."

Among those peeved by the article include Hockey Canada President Bob Nicholson, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and undoubtedly numerous NHL players and their fans due to the tone and intent of the article.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blackhawks eliminate Canucks yet again

It was a night full of mixed emotions at GM Place last night in Vancouver. For Canucks fans, their season came to an end yet again at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks. Unlike last year, the ending was not such a surprise as the series developed. Last season of course, the Canucks were moments away from a 3-1 series lead before collapsing in a matter of 4-5 days and losing the series.

This year, the Canucks should have been up 2-0, but failed to protect a lead and then failed to maintain their composure for games three and four at home and wound up down 3-1 against a solid Blackhawk squad. At the point, many Canucks fans had their hopes dashed as the proverbial writing was on the wall.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Canucks prepare for Game 6 vs Blackhawks

The Chicago Blackhawks team motto is ‘one goal’, and thankfully for the Vancouver Canucks, that’s all the Blackhawks got in Game Five. Game Six will have to be similar if the Vancouver Canucks are to realize their goal of forcing a decisive Game Seven back in Chicago on Thursday night.

For the Canucks, they will likely be without Sami Salo and will have to insert Laurence Nycholat into the lineup. Nycholat is a veteran but has not played much for the Canucks this year. With Salo and Mitchell out, the Canucks blue line will have to be especially sharp and need continued strong contributions from the likes of Christian Ehrhoff, Kevin Bieksa, Alexander Edler, and the bottom three, Shane O’Brien, Laurence Nycholat and Andrew Alberts.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Salo suffers Ruptured Testicle

Vancouver Canucks' D Sami Salo has suffered a ruptured testicle in Sunday's Game 5 win in Chicago.  Salo blocked a shot late in the first period from Duncan Keith that initially appeared to be a wrist or abdominal injury.  He lay prone on the ice for quite some time, writhin in pain in fact, before being escotred to the ice.  Speculation was that me may return but that was quickly put to bed as he was taken on a stretcher to a Chicago hospital for further evaluation.

TSN is now reporting, as is the TEAM 1040 radio in Vancouver that Salo suffered a ruptured testicle.  There is no further word at this time on his status.  However, according to a quick google search, a "testicular rupture [...] is a rare type of testicular trauma. This can happen when the testicle receives a forceful direct blow or when the testicle is crushed against the pubic bone (the bone that forms the front of the pelvis), causing blood to leak into the scrotum. Testicular rupture, like testicular torsion and other serious injuries to the testicles, causes extreme pain, swelling in the scrotum, nausea, and vomiting. To fix the problem, surgery is necessary to repair the ruptured testicle."

 Salo's absence for Game 6 likely means Aaron Rome will draw back into the lineup.  O'Brien will be fine from his six stitches he received and will likely play alongside Christian Ehrhoff while Alexandre Edler may be paired with either Aaron Rome or Kevin Bieksa, leaving Alberts with Bieksa or Rome on the third pairing.

NOTES: This injury would be Sami Salo's 39th in his career.  Poor Salo made it quite awhile in this post-season before suffering a set-back.  Hopefully his recovery is as speedy as his slap shot.

Canucks rally to force Game 6

The Vancouver Canucks appear to have learned their lesson - for at least one evening.  Game 5 unfolded nearly perfectly for the Vancouver squad.  They scored early and did not sit back and Roberto Luongo had a solid game en route to a 4-1 win.

So what were the keys to Vancouver's win?

Well, for starters they finally drove to the front of the net with a purpose.  Alexandre Burrows was especially prevalent.  Parked perfectly in front of Niemi for Ehrhoff's 1-0 goal and Kevin Bieksa's 3-0 goal, Burrows also added an empty netter to cinch the victory.  Burrows effort was perhaps only surpassed by Kevin Bieksa and Shane O'Brien who had memorable evenings on defense.  Canucks D Sami Salo suffered an injury early in the game and the rest of the Canucks defense was forced into increased action.  Kevin Bieksa showed his potential on this evening to be a game-breaking defenseman as he joined the rush for an important 2-0 goal and added another on his powerplay tally late in the second period to push the Canucks ahead 3-0.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Canucks' Luongo "second best goaltender on the ice"

7uongo, Reboundo Luongo, you name it, he's heard it this season.

After winning a gold medal for Team Canada, some detractors changed their minds and felt that Roberto Luongo could win 'the big game', but 10 games into another post-season, the Canucks and their netminder are floundering.

In their second round series against Chicago, the poor statistics are endless.  Head Coach Alain Vigneault called Luongo 'the second best goaltender on the ice' tonight when asked about his performance.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

NHL admits Blackhawks' goal was bad call

Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted earlier today that the fifth goal in last night's Canucks - Blackhawks game should not have counted. The NHL's supervisor of officials, Terry Gregson, conferred with the referees and in hind sight acknowledged that the goal should have been disallowed.

The reason for the 'missed call' is unknown, but Dreger and TSN speculate that the referees were distracted by looking for the puck at the goal line rather than the players and their positioning. While the referees may have missed it, it's hard to comprehend for Canucks fans who all saw it clear as day as it happened.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

NBC falls for Canucks Pizza Crawl in Chicago

As if they hadn't learned enough from Ryan Miller prank calls during the Olympics, NBC in Chicago has fallen for a prank yet again.

As reported by Deadspin.com, Canucks Shane O'Brien and Kyle Wellwood were implicated in a satirical article posted by Hockey Independent  where it is jokingly asserted that the two Canucks planned a Pizza crawl throughout Chicago and wound up punished as a result.

The website went as far as to display a fictitious facebook thread about the supposed event.


Byfuglien's Hat-Trick Propels Hawks over Canucks

One of the largest storylines heading into this Chicago - Vancouver series came to fruition tonight, as Blackhawks' forward Dustin Byfuglien registered a hat-trick en route to a 5-2 Chicago win.

The win was gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 series lead, and they played a strong game.  From a Chicago perspective, goaltender Antti Niemi weathered the Canucks early storm with some great saves, and the Blackhawks capitalized on their opportunities.

Virtually every goal the Hawks scored tonight was in a goal mouth scramble, within about 5 feet of the net.  The Blackhawks played a simple north-south game, put pucks to the net, put bodies in front and definitely had their share of bounces. 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Blackhawks Tie Series with Canucks 1-1

After being embarrassed in the opener to the series, the Blackhawks found a way on home ice to steal a victory from the Vancouver Canucks.
 Trailing 2-1 after two periods, Patrick Sharp scored a short-handed goal in the third period, and Kris Versteeg scored with 1:30 left in regulation to put the Hawks up 3-2 to level the series at one game apiece.

The game had an ominous start for Chicago, who were outshot 9-1 early and gave up two goals in the opening five minutes. Brent Seabrook scored a key goal a couple of minutes after to draw the Blackhawks within one, and after that the game leveled off and became an exciting end to end match with a lot of scoring chances.
The Blackhawks really came on strong and forced play more than they had at any time in Game One, but the Canucks held their ground and kept the shot totals even, they just failed to expand their lead despite their chances.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Canucks beat Blackhawks to take series opener

The Vancouver Canucks scored early and often en route to a 5-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in game one of their Western Conference Semi-Finals.  The much touted rivalry did not develop a great deal of physical play or scrums after the whistles.  The play was rather even for most of the match, although the Canucks capitalized on their chances and had a strong outing from Roberto Luongo, while the Blackhawks failed to capitalize on their early power plays, and goaltender Antti Niemi gave up some juicy rebounds and received little help in the defensive zone en route to a Canucks 1-0 series lead.


Canucks & Blackhawks - Anybody's Series

The Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks renew hostilities tonight as their Western Conference semi-final begins in Chicago at 5:00 p.m. For the second straight year the two teams meet in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Canucks are looking for redemption as Chicago knocked Vancouver out in six games last year.

These are the two best offensive teams in the Western Conference. Both have plenty of skill, speed, and depth up front. The Canucks led the NHL with six 25+ goal scorers, including the Art Ross trophy winner Henrik Sedin. The Hawks were not far behind, having six 20+ goal scorers, and both Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien had 17. It is very difficult to find who has the edge in the offensive department between the two rivals.

Just like offensively, the two teams match-up very well defensively as well. Vancouver is missing key defenseman Willie Mitchell to post concussion symptoms. Chicago is missing Kim Johnsson to a concussion and Brian Campbell is finally back from a broken collarbone but is not yet 100%. Both teams have also had a young swedish defenseman step up in the first round. Vancouver's Alex Edler was incredible against the Kings notching one goal and two assists and an amazing + seven. He was also a beast in the physical department as well. Chicago's Nik Hjalmarsson was just as good, also notching one goal and two assists and being + six. It could come down to both teams third pairings and overall health to find an advantage here.

This series is so tight that it could very well come down to goaltending and special teams. The edge in goaltending is easily held by the Canucks. Veteran all-star goaltender Roberto Luongo played better and better as the series went on against Los Angeles, and Luongo is as determined and focused as ever to play Chicago. Luongo can be the best goalie in the NHL when he is focused, this is a scary thought for Chicago and their long suffering fans. Luongo has had an entire calendar year to dwell on the painful loss to the Blackhawks in last years Western Conference semi-final. He is ready.

At the other end will be rookie goalie Antii Niemi, who took the number one job away from Cristobal Huet. It is always a question mark when a team is relying on a rookie goalie in the playoffs, especially when the team is a legitimate Cup contender like the Blackhawks. Despite being a rookie however, Niemi has posted impressive statistics. He was in the top five in GAA, with 2.25, and shutouts with 7, in just 35 starts. Niemi has shown the ability to bounce back after disappointing outings. But this is the playoffs, so you never know how a rookie will respond.

These teams hate each other. It does not take a genius to figure out how important discipline will be in this series. During the regular season Vancouver's power play ranked 6th with 20.9%, versus Chicago's 17.7% which ranked 16th. Chicago's penalty kill ranked 4th while Vancouver's was 17th. Again very similar since both teams power plays versus penalty kills rank about the same.

This series is too close to call. The Blackhawks are still very young so experience is on the side of the Canucks. The Hawks also should have the edge in grit, with having so many western Canadian boys on their roster who love playing in Vancouver. Should be a classic either way.