Monday, February 28, 2011

Canucks add Higgins/Lapierre at NHL Trade Deadline

The Vancouver Canucks have stocked up on forwards in advance of the NHL PLayoffs.  With this afternoon's NHL Trade Deadline having come and gone, Vancouver made two acquisitions to improve its forward ranks without losing anyone from their current roster.

The first deal by GM Mike Gills breaks down as follows:

To Anaheim: Joel Perrault, 3rd Round Draft Pick in 2011

The second deal breaks down as follows:

To Florida: Evan Oberg, 3rd Round Draft Pick in 2011
To Vancouver: Chris Higgins

Thursday, February 24, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline showcases copycat GMs

The NHL trade deadline is a very interesting time of year.  Players are being shipped to contenders, dropped from pretenders, waived, called up, you name it.  At this point in the season we've seen a lot more trades leading up to the trading deadline which has some in the media perplexed as to whether all the action is taking place before the actual deadline on February 28th, or if it's just a sample of what's to come on the actual day.

Consider that most NHL General Managers are copy cats.  When Anaheim won the Stanley Cup in 2007, GMs around the league followed Brian Burke's approach of building a tough team that could intimidate opponents.  In 2008 when Detroit won the Stanley Cup based on skill and patience rather than toughness and retaliation, teams adjusted their blueprints to puck possession and power play proficiency.  For evidence of this, look no further than Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis.  Even back in 2008, it was suggested in the media that Gillis follow this.

Monday, February 14, 2011

NHL Trade Deadline: Canucks to add toughness?

GM Mike Gillis to weigh his options at NHL trade deadline
The Vancouver Canucks presently lead the NHL, slightly ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings atop the league standings.  Despite a recent rash of injuries to their blueline, they forge on having won seven of their last eight games at the time of this article.  A recent loss to the Ducks, and questions about success versus teams like the San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks has given rise to questions about the Canucks team toughness.

You see, two years ago in the NHL playoffs, the Canucks were put off their game by an aggressive and phsyical Chicago Blackhawks squad.  The following year, the Canucks vowed to not be distracted.  They would not reply physically and take their share of penalties.  Instead that would remain focused.  However, we all know that they were once again put off their game, and when the calls did not come from the referees that were expected, the team grew frustrated and did not receive the power play opportunities they felt they were owed.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Matt Cooke's Dirty 'Greatest Hits'

Matt Cooke's "Greatest Hits" would go double platinum.  The Pittsburgh Penguins winger has been in the news the past couple of years ever since his hit on Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard that essentially necessitated a rule on headshots.  Cooke has been at it again with a hit on Alexander Ovechkin, but the Savard incident was certainly not the first he's had.

In fact, Cooke was a long time Vancouver Canuck as most will remember.  During his time in Vancouver he was a fan favourite for some time and even scored some very memorable goals for the team (including two memorable playoff goals in the dying seconds against Minnesota and Calgary), but towards the end of his stay, Canucks fans and the team became tired of defending his questionable hits and constant turtle routine.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Ehrhoff's Offside Goal Kickstarts Canucks

Blackhawks fans are crying foul, but they won't have any sympathy from Canucks fans. After a frustrating pair of playoff losses to Chicago, Vancouver fans were tired of seeing Roberto Luongo run over, interfered with, and spears, blindside hits, slashes and trips uncalled while Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews lit up the Canucks on the power play.  Well turnabout is fair play as they say.

In a frustrating night for the Hawks, the Canucks pulled out a 4-3 win in a statement game for both teams.  The Blackhawks came out strong but had a goal disallowed when it was ruled that Troy Brouwer interfered with Roberto Luongo's ability to stop the puck.  The call on the ice was technically a crease violation, but on review you can see Brouwer's skate clipping Luongo's blocker right where the puck zoomed past moments later.

A few minutes after that, Christian Ehrhoff stepped into a Marty Turco rebound at the point and hammered a shot past the Chicago netminder.  The goal stood without any question, but a closer look reveals that the puck actually left the zone for a split second and should have been ruled offside.

The Blackhawks tied the game at one and took a 2-1 lead early in the second period only to have the suddenly hot Mikael Samuelsson tie the game at two on the powerplay late in the second period.

The game featured some great hits and goals and changes in momentum.  The largest momentum swing may have been the Dave Bolland goal that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead in the third period.  On the play, Canucks' Defenseman Chris Tanev grabbed the puck and accidentally deflected it into his own net.

The Canucks rallied however and clearly won the special teams battle on the night. After killing a Chicago 5-3 powerplay for 44 seconds, the Canucks converted on their second powerplay goal of the night, a beauty that tied the game at three.  With four minutes left in the game, Daniel and Henrik Sedin had a nice give and go play that resulted in the fourth Vancouver goal - the game winner.

Roberto Luongo was phenomenal, stopping 42 of 45 shots, including 18 of 19 in the third period.  His counterpart Marty Turco was solid but failed to make many big saves, especially when needed.  Turco did make the highlights for his cheapshot on Canucks forward Ryan Kesler however.

Blackhawk may cry foul about the officiating, but it seemed pretty poor both ways, since the Turco jab went uncalled.  The Canucks definitely had good luck with the referees on goals tonight, but the Blackhawks had the puck luck, with two goals bouncing off Blackhawks or Canucks into Vancouver's net.