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Predators shopping Radulov?According to Andy Strickland, the Predators are beginning to aggressively shop forward Alexander Radulov who all of the sudden wants to return to the NHL. GM David Poile has no interest in hanging on to a player that bailed out on the organization…
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Canucks ReportIt is often hard to judge a team by a short stretch of games. Whether it is a 5 game winning streak, a 4 game losing streak or a 2-0-4 stretch that the media likes to call a 6 game unbeaten streak. At the risk of saying too much too soon (one should be cautious) the Canucks have been nothing short of exceeding the expectations of everyone so far this season. The almost unbeaten pre-season was supposed to be an after-thought once the puck dropped for real. And it almost was.
The season opened with a bang as long-time rival Calgary dared to enter the not so welcoming confines of GM Place. Bear with me as I digress for a moment here. There is a long list of sporting events that I have had the pleasure of taking in over my 30+ years on this planet. Stanley Cup finals what have you but on that night, October 9th 2008 GM Place had a special feeling.
He was not around for long but the impact that Luc Bourdon had on the Vancouver Canucks and their fans was absolutely amazing. It was as if he had the entire stadium in the palm of his hand, watching over us, making sure that everything was all right. The pre-game tribute to honour his life and pay respects to his family was absolutely one of the most moving moments of my life.
Following the Canucks 6-0 spanking of the Flames it became rather evident that the game on opening night was the exception rather than the norm. The opening road trip of the season was originally viewed as a positive where the team could gel together and unfamiliar faces could get to know one another. Coming home to face the Oilers on October 25th the Canucks only had 3 wins in 7 games; had lost convincingly to Buffalo, Chicago and Columbus; were struggling to score and had several questionable outings by Captain Roberto Luongo.
As the calendar turned to November things started to turn in a little more positive direction. The Canucks finished October with a 6-3 win over the Oilers on the 25th, and 4-0 and 7-6 (SO) wins against the Kings and Ducks respectively. The only flaw in the 4 game final 4 games of the month was a 1-0 loss to Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins.
If Roberto Luongo had things his way, the NHL season would start somewhere around the second week of November. Proof to the point is following a 3-2 loss to the holier than thou Detroit Red Wings on November 2nd, Luongo shut the door for three games against the Predators, Coyotes and Wild before the Avalanche finally beat him in the early goings of the third period on November 12th. In the matter of 10 days Luongo had only given up 4 goals (+ 1 shoot out goal) and the Canucks had picked up 7 of a possible 10 points which isn’t necessarily something to write home about, however, if the tides had been reversed there would be several questions that needed some answers.
Closing out the 20 game mark of the season the Canucks ventured out on the road again for dates with the Islanders, Rangers and Wild. An unfortunate outing in Long Island deserved a better result, however, the impressive effort against the Eastern Conference best Rangers and a gritty victory against division rivals in Minnesota the Canucks find himself with a three point lead a-top the NW Division.
Highlights & LowlightsKyle Wellwood answering the question of whether or not he can be a professional hockey player by leading the Canucks with 8 goals and doing with just 15 games and only 25 shots on goal (32%).
Roberto Luongo’s shutout streak, during a time where the Canucks struggled to score Roberto became a monster allowing the rest of the team to work through the slump and gain confidence in their play.
Kevin Bieksa, if you have trouble finding him on the highlight reel it is because he has been playing that damn good. Always in position the make a smart play, if he carried the same fan fare, he may be compared to Lidstrom at times. Only negative is that he cannot play against the Nashville Predators. Twice in 2 seasons now the Canucks have lost Bieksa to injuries suffered in games against the Preds.
Kesler, Burrows and Hansen. They guys have been playing the part of pests to a tee, oppnents hate them and Canuckleheads love them. Kesler appears to have found some early season offensive touch which is something that he has been unable to do in past seasons. Alex Burrows had an offensive out-burst on opening night and his goal celebrations included a fitting tribute to Luc Bourdon.
Pavol Demitra almost made the lowlight reel for the first quarter of the season but his return from being injured early in the season has been nothing short of spectacular. Demitra rattled off 10 points in the Canucks 4 game roadie and seems to have found a home next to Daniel and Henrik.
Taylor Pyatt and Steve Bernier make the lowlights based on the fact that the two hulking wingers combined weight is over 450lbs but they are both playing like a couple of soaken wet Sedins.
Alex Edler. I will take heat for this but the boy is struggling. GM Mike Gillis inked the prospective all-star to a 4 year contract early in the season and it would appear that Edler is unable to handle the coins in his pocket. At times he as seemed like a defensive liability and has struggled to make progressive offensive plays.
No one has fallen faster down the Canucks’ depth chart this season than Mayson Raymond. His pre-season was outstanding as was his first 8-10 games and currently, he is finding it tough just to stay in the line-up and out of AV’s dog house.
Wrap AroundIt has been an impressive start to the season and while we all wait (in vain) to see this train derail, Roberto Luongo is out with a groin strain and Ryan Johnson (shot-block specialist) is out with several broken bones. And they may very well hit a dry spell over the next few weeks while these injuries take time to heal, I do not see this team falling apart the way that last season’s team did.
A wise GM once told me that the standings don’t change much after the US Thanksgiving. As you look this morning, the Canucks sit first in the NW Division and 3rd in the Conference. Minnesota does have 2 games-in-hand, however the Canucks have a 5 point lead. Upoin completion of the next 7 game road trip the Canucks will return to the confines of GM Place with the comfort of knowing that they have complete 19 of 41 road games with less than half the season completed.
Puck Will Drop Thursday in Game 1 of FinalHalifax NS. - The puck will drop at 7:30pm on Thursday April 13 for game 1 of the CEHL Alexander Cup final. The Saint John Scorpions will host the Dartmouth Destroyers at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink in Saint John NB.
The Scorpions advanced to the final with a 4-1 series win over the Summerside IceFox while the Destroyers took a 4-2 series victory over the Cape Breton Crush.
After a couple of easy victories early in their best of 7 series, the Scorpions came up against a different IceFox squad in the last 3 games. The team managed a 2-1 victory in game 3. Game 4 the IceFox shut down the Scorpions offense and managed a 3-0 win in Summerside. Game 5 could have gone either way but the Scorpions edged the IceFox 2-1 in game 5.
Matt Davis played every game in goal against the IceFox and is sporting a 4-1 win loss record, a 1.60 GAA and .951 save %. He has been a Rock all season long and will be counted on in the finals.
Adam Nelson is the top point getter for the Scorpions. The crafty forward has 3 goal and 4 assists for 7 points. Chad Murray sits next with 3 goals and 3 assists. Brad Englehart, Mario Cormier and Jordan Freeland have each collected 5 points.
Jason White has gone the distance between the pipes for the Destroyers. He is boasting a 4-2 won loss record, a 3.18 GAA and an 8.78 save %.
The Destroyers own the top 5 spots in the play-off scoring race. Graeme Power leads all scorers with 3 goals 8 assist for 11 points. He is followed by Peter Flache and Todd Norman who are tied for 2nd spot with 10 points. Scott Allison and Roddy MacCormick are next with 9 points each.
The Destroyers surged in the second half of the season and moved up the standing to finish in second place, at one point eyeing 1st place. They were the top scoring team with 166 goals for and also the top penalized team with 1363 penalty minutes.
The Scorpions were the top point getters in the league with 52 points. They surrendered the fewest amount of goals giving up only 119 and took the fewest penalty minutes at 874.
The Scorpions are expected to have some added muscle in their line-up with Josh Guimond and Fred Chamberlain expected to suit up.
Game 2 is slated for Sat. April 15 at the Dartmouth Sportsplex with a 7:30 start.
Game 3 will go Mon. April 17 at the LBR in Saint John with a 7:30 start.
Game 4 switches back to the Sportsplex in Dartmouth on Wed. April 19 with a 7:30 start.
Games 5, 6 and 7 if necessary will be Fri. April 21 in Saint John, Sat. April 22 in Dartmouth and Sun. April 23 back in Saint John. All games have a 7:30 start.