Thursday, April 30, 2009

Roller Coaster Victory For Canucks In Game 1 vs Hawks

By no means was it a conventional way to win an opening game of the playoff series for the Canucks. However, they’ll take what they got Thursday night as Vancouver opened up their Western Conference semi final series with a 5-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Despite not having played for nine days, the Canucks were well-deserving to have the lead heading into the first intermission break. While on a power play, Kyle Wellwood was able to get the puck to the left corner for Mats Sundin. He wasted no time feathering a great pass across the crease to Pavol Demitra on the opposite side of the net. Demitra managed to scoop a shot past Nikolai Khabibulin for his first goal of the post-season. Demitra’s first goal in eight straight games came at 15:22.

Early on in the 2nd period, Vancouver built on their lead. Daniel Sedin took a pass behind the Hawks net from Steve Bernier and immediately dished the puck in front for his brother. Henrik Sedin’s close range chance found its way through the pads of the Chicago netminder. For Henrik, it was his 2nd of the playoffs put the home team up by a pair at 5:13.

On the next shift, a scary incident occurred when Ben Eager hit Rick Rypien at the Hawks blue line in the head well away from the puck. Rypien was alright and Eager only received two minutes for roughing. However, the NHL head office will likely review the tape of the incident as it was definitely a hit that border-lined on an offense that warrants a suspension.

Before the before was over, the Canucks made it a 3-0 contest on a goal similar to the one Sedin scored. This time it was Wellwood behind the goal finding Ryan Kesler at the top of the crease. The recent nominee for the Frank J. Selke Trophy buried his first ever NHL playoff goal, with Alexander Edler notching the other assist at 15:23.

The Canucks looked to have things in total control heading into the third period. They had not allowed a goal against in the final frame of regulation so far in the playoffs, but that all changed 61 seconds into the frame. Patrick Kane was able to roof a snap shot from the left face off circle over the shoulder of Roberto Luongo. Duncan Keith and Martin Havlat help Kane net his third goal of the playoffs for the visitors.

Darcy Hordichuk found himself in the penalty box at the midway point of the period on a roughing call and the Hawks made him pay. Brent Seabrook’s shot would be denied by Luongo, but the rebound would be gobbled up by Kane and stuffed home. Kris Versteeg hits the score sheet on Kane’s second of the period and it came at 10:11.

In their opening round series against the Calgary Flames, the Hawks were able to erase a three-goal deficit on the road in Game 4. They did it again at GM Place on this night as Dave Bolland deposited a rebound chance for his first ever NHL playoff goal. Keith and Eager collect the assists on the Hawks equalizer at 14:31.

Just when it looked like the game was destined for overtime, the Canucks found a way to get the lead back and it came in a very unusual manner. A turnover occurred inside the Vancouver line and the Canucks were able to break up the ice in a 4-on-1 rush. Mason Raymond carried the puck up the left wing and fed a great pass across the slot to Bernier. His one-timer was denied on a great save by Khabibulin, but the rebound would be shoveled in by Sami Salo. For Salo, who had the game winner in the series opener against the St. Louis Blues, he winds up doing the same against Chicago. His 2nd of the playoffs also proved to be his first even-strength goal of the year at 18:47.

The Hawks were able to get their net empty and have the extra attacker on the ice for the final few shifts of the game. However, the Canucks got free out of their own end with the puck and Alex Burrows gave the puck to a wide open Ryan Johnson, who had little trouble netting the insurance goal the Canucks needed to seal the win. Johnson’s first ever playoff goal came with 16 seconds left on the clock.

Final shots on net favoured Chicago 31-27 in a game which saw the home team have a total of 32 shots that were credited as shots that were either blocked or missed the net. The Canucks capped off the night going 1-for-7 on the power play while the Blackhawks went 1-for-3. Vancouver was very strong in the face off circle, winning 63% of the draws in the game.

Having gone undefeated in their first five playoff games, the Canucks extend their winning streak to eight straight overall. Wellwood, who was named the game’s 2nd star, extended his point scoring streak to three straight games (1g,3a).

Game 2 of this series will take place Saturday night at GM Place. Face off will be 6:00pm PST.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Canucks/Hawks Game Day #1

The Canucks and Blackhawks get set to open up Round 2 at General Motors Place tonight. Four points separated the two teams during the regular season in a year where both clubs had the same number of home ice wins (24) and victories when scoring first (33).

The Canucks have not played since April 21 when they finished off their sweep of the St. Louis Blues. Including the end of the regular season, Vancouver enters this series riding a seven-game winning streak. Roberto Luongo enters the 2nd round of the playoffs leading the NHL in goals against average (1.15) and save percentage (96.2%).

The Hawks enter the Conference semi finals leading the NHL in playoff scoring (21 goals for). 15 Chicago players have collected at least a point while 10 players have registered 10 or more shots on goal. Chicago is also looking to cap off what's been a fantastic month of April. Including the regular season, the Hawks are 10-2-1 heading into tonight's game.

Nikolai Khabibulin is one of three players on the Hawks line-up that has a Stanley Cup ring (Tampa Bay 2004). Despite performing well in the opening round against Calgary, he has struggled against Vancouver. In his two losses this year against Vancouver, he had a 4.87 GAA and a save percentage of 80.0%. In fact he is 0-9-1 in his last ten appearances against the Canucks, with his last win coming in 1998 as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes!

Here are the expected line-ups for Game 1 this evening:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Ladd - Dave Bolland - Martin Havlat
Kris Versteeg - Sammy Pahlsson - Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Eager - Adam Burish - Troy Brouwer

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Brian Campbell
Cam Barker - Matt Walker

Nikolai Khabibulin
Christobal Huet

And for what it's worth, today marks the 15th anniversary of Pavel Bure's double overtime heroics in Game 7 of Vancouver's first round playoff victory over the Flames in Calgary.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Canucks Get Chicago In Round 2

Following Monday night's Western Conference playoff action, the Canucks now know they'll face the Chicago Blackhawks in the Round 2.

The Canucks and Hawks split their four meetings during the regular season, with Vancouver out-scoring the opposition 11-3 in their last two match-ups.

Here is the head-to-head breakdown of how the Canucks and Blackhawks performed against each other in their season series.

March 29----4-0 W @ CHICAGO

D. Sedin (2g,1a), Burrows (1g,2a), H. Sedin (3a), Kesler (1g), Sundin (1a), Salo (1a)
Luongo 26svs (7th SO of season)
(PP 1/7) (PK 3-of-3)
*(Canucks 2nd road shut-out of season)*

Andrew Ladd -3, Martin Havlat -2, Duncan Keith -2, Jonathan Toews -1, Patrick Kane -1, Brian Campbell -1, Patrik Sharp missed penalty shot
Nikolai Khabibulin 19 svs
*(Hawks 2nd shut-out loss at home)*

February 7----7-3 W @ VANCOUVER

Edler (1g,3a), Kesler (2g,1a), Sundin (1g,2a), D.Sedin (1g,1a), Demitra (2a), H. Sedin (1g), Bernier (1g), Raymond (1a), Ohlund (1a), Davison (1a)
Luongo 26 svs
(PP-4/8) (PK 4-of-5)
*(Canucks build up 6-0 lead)*

Kris Versteeg (1g,1a), Cam Barker (2a), Havlat (1g), Adam Burish (1g), Campbell (1a), Ben Eager (1a), Matt Walker (1a), Brent Seabrook -3, Keith -2, Dustin Byfuglien -2, Kane -1, Toews -1
Khabibulin 3GA on 13 svs, Christobal Huet 3GA on 6svs
*(Hawks last game in six game road trip, had won four of previous five)*

December 20----1-3 L @ VANCOUVER

D. Sedin (1g), H.Sedin (1a), Hansen (1a), Mitchell (-2)
Sanford 31svs
(PP-0/6) (PK 4-of-4)
*(Canucks 31 shots with 20 more that missed the net)*

Toews (1g,1a), Kane (1g), Sharp (1g), Ladd (1a), Barker (1a), Versteeg (1a), Craig Adams (1a), Campbell (+2)
Huet 30svs
*(Hawks 7th straight win)*

October 19----2-4 L @ CHICAGO

Demitra (1g), H. Sedin (1g), Kesler (1a), Bernier (1a), Raymond (1a), Hansen (-2)
Luongo 22 svs
(PP 0-for-4) (PK 3-of-5)
*(Injuries occur to Demitra (ribs), Salo (groin), Hordichuk (knee)*

Sharp (2g,1a), Kane (1g,2a), Seabrook (1g), Versteeg (2a), Toews (1a), Byfuglien (1a)
Huet 28 svs
*(1st win for Joel Quenneville as Hawks coach)*

Monday, April 27, 2009

Canucks Practice Mondayu

The Canucks had a nearly full roster on the ice at GM Place for practice this morning. Willie Mitchell was the only player who didn't take part. He is expected to skate tomorrow.

Sami Salo returned to the ice for the first time since missing Game 4 of the St. Louis series with a lower body injury. He says he's healthy enough to open up Round 2.

Alain Vigneault indicated that Mats Sundin is healthy enough now that he'll be ready to open up the Western Conference Semi Final on the weekend after missing the last two games against the Blues.

Roberto Luongo did not take any offense to not being named as a finalist for the Vezina trophy today. He said there's really only one trophy right now that he's interested in winning. Although he hasn't been on the ice with the Canucks starter, goalie coach Ian Clark is planning to be in Vancouver in the next few days to work with Luongo in preparation for the next series.

The overall compete level and intensity picked up a bit today at practice. Although tempers didn't boil over, there was a pretty noticeable physical and verbal exchange in one of the drills between Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa. Nothing more than two team-mates who would prefer to be in game mode sooner rather than later.

Taylor Pyatt took part in his first full practice with his team-mates today. No word on if he'll be good to go in starting the next series for Vancouver.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Canucks Sweep Blues With OT Thriller

The Canucks are the first team in the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs to have progressed on to the 2nd round. For the first time in franchise history, the Canucks sweep an opponent in a seven game series after pulling out a 3-2 win in overtime against the St. Louis Blues Tuesday night.

Vancouver opened the scoring after a careless turnover inside the Blues line. Carlo Colaiacovo's up-ice pass was picked off by Kyle Wellwood, who made no mistake on his breakaway deek move to beat goalie Chris Mason. Wellwood's first in his playoff career came unassisted at 5:20.

The Blues were inches away from tying the contest up with about six minutes remaining in the period. B.J. Crombeen's shot from the right face off circle had Roberto Luongo beat along the ice, but the puck wound up going off the skate of Alexander Edler at the middle of the goal line and wide to the corner boards.

Both teams had decent chances in the early stages of the 2nd period. Mason came up with a big stop off of Henrik Sedin in the opening minute while Luongo robbed Keith Tkachuk on a solid pad save following a bullet of a slap shot from high in the slot.

The Canucks made it a 2-0 game just prior to the midway point of regulation time. Willie Mitchell fed a pass across the line for Shane O'Brien who stepped into a slap shot. His drive wound up deflected out of mid-air by Alex Burrows and into the Blues net. Burrows 2nd of the series came at 9:23 and put Vancouver in the driver's seat.

The crowd at the Scottrade Center were able to get out of their seats a few shifts later as Brad Boyes beat Luongo on his own rebound opportunity. Barret Jackman chips in the lone assist as Boyes nets his 2nd of the series at 13:30.

The Blues used that goal as motivation and were full value to tie things up as David Perron beat Luongo on the short side. David Backes and Andy McDonald hit the score sheet as Perron gets his first ever playoff goal at 16:54.

Just over a minute later, the Blues looked like they pulled into the lead as the puck got across the goal line in a wild goal-mouth scramble. However, Luongo had been knocked into his net at the time and the referees determined the whistle had been blown before the puck entered the net. It was a huge bullet dodged by the Canucks who escaped the period on level terms.

The final frame brought with it chances at both ends, but Luongo and Mason stood tall, combining for 21 saves and forcing the game to overtime.

The Blues had the better of the chances in the extra session, thanks in part to getting to go to work on three power plays. Daniel Sedin took a tripping penalty at 6:22 but the Cnaucks did a good job killing it off. They were put to a bigger test soon after though as Ryan Kesler was assessed a double minor for high sticking. Luongo and the penalty killers in front of him stood tall and eventually forced the game back to even strength hockey.

Just when it looked like the game would have to go to a fifth period, the Canucks had other ideas. Mitchell got a pass up the right wing for Burrows who got a step on Jackman. He released a snap shot that fooled Mason which found its way through the pads of the netminder. Burrows, who scored one overtime marker during the regular season, sealed the series for Vancouver with his third of the series at 19:41.

For the third time in four games, Luongo was named 1st star. There was no argument on his selection in the series finale, as the Blues out-shot the Canucks 49-36. The Canucks went 0-for-3 on the power in Game 4 and finished the series 4-for-18. Even more impressive was the Canucks effort on the penalty kill, going 7-for-7 on the night and a whopping 23-for-24 in the four games.

Now with a lengthy break ahead of them, the Canucks won't be back on the ice for practice until Friday. They'll do plenty of scoreboard watching over the next few days in preparation for whoever they'll face in the Western Conference Semi Finals.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sundin & Salo Out for Game 4

The Canucks will be without Mats Sundin and Sami Salo for tonight's game. Both are sidelined with lower body injuries. Ossi Vaananen will take the spot of Salo on the blue line and be paired up with Shane O'Brien.

The Blues are bringing Dan Hinote back into the line-up and sitting Cam Janssen.

Canucks & Blues Game Day #4

The Canucks are in prime position to eliminate the Blues from the post season tonight as they prepare for Game 4 at the Scottrade Center. The Canucks have never swept an opponent in a seven game series while the Blues have gone four-and-out six times in club history.

Mats Sundin took part in morning skate today and didn't look like he was labouring during the drills. However Alain Vigneault indicated this morning that Sundin will be a game time decision. The only Canucks that didn't skate this morning were Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo.

Discipline will definitely be a key for both teams tonight. The Canucks and Blues have combined for 32 power plays in three games. Only the Philadelphia/Pittsburgh series has had more (34).

The Blues have not lost three straight games since Dec. 28 - Jan. 2. The two highest scoring Blues in head-to-head meetings this season with the Canucks have been very quiet this series. Patrik Berlund and T.J. Oshie combined for three goals and eight assists in four games against the Canucks. So far, neither player has hit the scoresheet.

Paul Kariya is not likely to dress tonight for the Blues, despite having skated the past three days. St. Louis may put Dan Hinote back in the line-up in place of Cam Janssen.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams heading into Game 4:

D.Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler (Hansen if Sundin out)
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Andy McDonald - David Backes - Brad Boyes
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Brad Winchester - Keith Tkachuk - Dan Hinote
Alex Steen - Jay McClement - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Jeff Woywitka - Carlo Colaiacovo
Mike Weaver - Jay McKee

Chris Mason
Ben Bishop

Monday, April 20, 2009

Canucks & Blues Practice Monday

The Canucks and Blues had different looking practices today at Scottrade Center following last night's 3-2 Vancouver victory in Game 3.

The Canucks had a number of players take the day off from the ice, which included:

Roberto Luongo
Daniel Sedin
Henrik Sedin
Sami Salo
Willie Mitchell
Ryan Kesler
Pavol Demitra
Kyle Wellwood
Mats Sundin

For the first time ever in a seven-game series, the Canucks are up 3-0. They are obviously leading the special teams battle to this point, having gone 4-for-15 on the power play and 16-for-17 on the penalty kill. They are also getting production from the blue-line, which was a major advantage on paper the Canucks had heading into the series. So far the Canucks have two goals and six assists from d-men while the Blues have nothing.

Sundin spoke with the media for the first time since being injured in Game 2. He didn't reveal what his injury is or when it exactly occured. However he's hopeful that if he feels better tomorrow, he'll be able to draw back into the line-up.

The Blues were on the ice for about an hour and Keith Tkachuk was the lone no-show. Paul Kariya and Yan Stastny both skated but its not clear yet if either will play in Game 4 tomorrow. Andy Murray said after practice that if Kariya tells him he's healthy to play tomorrow, then he'll play.

Special Teams Shuts Down Blues In Game 3

If there was one edge the Blues may have had on the Canucks going into their first round playoff series, it would have been possessing a stronger power play and penalty kill. The exact opposite occured Sunday night in St. Louis as Vancouver scored all of their goals with the man advantage and shut out the home team on numerous power play chances en route to a 3-2 win in Game 3 at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues were full value to open the scoring for the first time in the series. Andy McDonald cycled the puck behind the net of Roberto Luongo for Brad Boyes. He wasted no time dishing a pass in front for David Backes who burried a shot past the Canucks captain. It was the first playoff goal for Backes and it came at 3:11.

The Canucks got into serious penalty trouble for the remainder of the period and were on their heels. With Daniel Sedin in the penalty box at the midway point of the frame, Willie Mitchell soon joined him after taking a roughing minor and a four-minute high-sticking infraction. However, the Canucks penalty killers came up big and didn't allow the Blues much in the way of good quality scoring chances.

The Blues held the lead into the first intermission and out-hit the visitors 16-5. However they may have used up too much energy as the Canucks were able to turn the tides in the 2nd period when going to work on the man advantage. Kyle Wellwood had a nifty back handed pass out of the left corner to the point for Alexander Edler. He fed the puck across the line for Mattias Ohlund, who took a slap shot that found its way through the pads of Chris Mason. Ohlund's first of the playoffs came at 7:57.

A few shifts later, the Canucks found themselves on a 5-on-3 power play and were able jump into the lead. Sami Salo's point shot wound up beind knocked down in front where Daniel Sedin was able to poke it underneath Mason. Kevin Bieksa chipped in the other helper on Daniel's 2nd of the series at 10:18.

The Blues got the equalizeer they were hoping for heading into the intermission break. McDonald was left alone at the top of the crease and had little trouble beating Luongo after taking a pass out of the corner from David Perron. Backes collected his second point of the game on McDonald's 1st of the post-season at 16:13.

During the regular season, the Canucks went 10-6-5 when tied after fourty minutes whereas the Blues record stood at 9-7-4. On this night, it would be Vancouver getting the victory under these circumstances. Starting the final frame on the power play, Salo had a point shot sail wide of the net. Henrik Sedin gobbled up the loose puck off the end boards and fed it out in front for Steve Bernier. He was able to jab it underneath the netminder and give the Canucks the eventual game-winner. Bernier, who hadn't scored in his previous 17 games, tallied his first ever post-season goal at 1:41.

The Blues had a golden opportunity to tie the game up later in the period with another 5-on-3 power play. However, Luongo stood tall and kept the door shut to help preserve the pivotal Game 3 victory.

Final shots on net in Game 3 were even at 26 apiece. The Canucks finished the night going 3-for-5 on the power play and a perfect 6-for-6 short-handed.

Mats Sundin didn't take part in Game 3 as he sat out with a lower body injury suffered in Game 2. Jannik Hansen came in and took his spot working on a line with Ryan Kesler and Pavol Demitra.

The Sedin twins have combined for nine points in their first three games. The Canucks defence has also played a strong role in Vancouver's success so far in this series, contributing two goals and six assists.

The two teams practice Monday at Scottrade Center in preparation for Game 4 on Tuesday night. Face off will be 5:00pm PST.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sundin to Miss Game 3

Just prior to the Canucks taking to the ice for their pre-game warm-up, the Canucks announced Mats Sundin will not play in Game 3 against the Blues. He is out with a lower body injury. Jannik Hansen is taking the pre-game skate and likely will draw into the line-up on the line with Pavol Demitra and Ryan Kesler.

Hansen appeared in ten playoff games in 2007 with the Canucks, his first ten in the NHL.

Canucks Blues Game Day #3

The Canucks are in St. Louis getting set to play Game 3 of their opening round playoff series against the Blues. The Canucks had Willie Mitchell and the healthy scratches and both goalies skate this morning while the Blues had a full team skate.

The big news out of morning skate came with Paul Kariya skating for the first time since November. No word yet on whether or not he'll dress tonight, but it is doubtful as he was the last skater on the ice, well after everyone had left.

Vancouver is coming off their 6th career post season shut-out. Kirk McLean rattled off four shut-outs in 1994, the last coming May 22 in a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Richard Brodeur posted the first ever shut-out playoff win by a Canucks goalie, which was a 8-0 win over the Calgary Flames April 7, 1984. In his last five straight starts this month, Roberto Luongo has collected three shut-outs and has stopped 144 of 146 shots, good for a save percentage of 98.6%.

The Canucks went 21-15-3 on the road this season, which was the 5th best of any team in the Western Conference. However in their last ten road games of the year, they went 5-4-1, with two of their wins coming in overtime.

As for the Blues, they went 23-13-5 at the Scottrade Center this season. In their last ten games on home ice, the Blues went 8-2-0, with the only losses coming to the Detroit Red Wings. They have won seven straight Game 3's in playoff series.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams entering tonight's action:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Bieksa
Edler - O'Brien



Andy McDonald - David Backes - Brad Boyes
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Brad Winchester - Keith Tkachuk - Dan Hinote
Alex Steen - Jay McClement - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Jeff Woywitka - Carlo Colaiacovo
Mike Weaver - Jay McKee

Chris Mason
Ben Bishop

Friday, April 17, 2009

Luongo Shuts Door In Game 2

The St. Louis Blues have not been able to find a way to beat Roberto Luongo, despite numerous scoring chances. In a hi-lite reel performance Friday night, the Canucks captain turned aside all 30 shots he faced for his first career playoff shut-out, lifting Vancouver to a 3-0 win. The victory puts the Northwest Division champs into a 2-0 lead in their first round playoff series.

There were no goals scored in the opening period of action, one that may have been the most entertaining opening 20 minutes the Canucks have been involved in all year! Both teams went back and forth up and down the ice with very few whsitles to hault play. At the same time, there were some great body checks thrown by both squads, getting the sell-out crowd at GM Place fired up even more. Both Luongo and Blues netminder Chris Mason did there part in keeping things scoreless as the teams were credited more with hits than shots on net!

Luongo and Mason continued their solid play prior to the midway point of the middle frame when the two sides exchanged chances on the power play. David Backes was robbed from close quarters on an unreal toe save made by Luongo. Then a short time later with Backes in the box, Pavol Demitra had Mason beat, but his re-direct on a slick pass from Ryan Kesler just rolled wide of the post.

Alex Burrows was the first Canucks player to get a puck past Mason and into the net. However the goal was clearly waved off as Burrows was guilty of puching the puck with his hand.

Andy McDonald looked like he might be able to open the scoring for the visitors, but his close range chance with a little more than three mintues remaining rattled off the cross bar.

Just when it looked like the two teams would head to the intermission break still looking for a goal, the Canucks were able to get the crowd on their feet. Kesler was able to get the puck up the left wing for Demitra. Once he got into the Blues territory, he fed a high pass towards the net. Driving the goal and batting it out of mid-air was Mats Sundin, who's re-direct found a way to squeek through the pads of Mason. Sundin, who hadn't scored a goal in his previous 14 for the Canucks, netted what proved to be the game winner at 18:04.

The Canucks had a couple of great chances to start the third period to build on the lead as Daniel Sedin five seconds in and Mason Raymond a few minutes later were foiled on good stops made by Mason.

The Blues were given a great chance to get the equalizer with Burrows in the box on a tripping penalty. However, Luongo turned out to be the best Canucks penalty killer, denying McDonald on a huge sprawling save in the crease before making a big glove arm stop from long range courtesy of T.J. Oshie.

Shortly after Burrows got back on to the ice, he gave the Canucks the important insurance goal they were hoping for. Good work from Daniel and Henrik Sedin down low behind the net allowed Burrows a chance to come out in front and bank it off Mason and in. Burrows tallied his first ever playoff goal at 9:46.

McDonald and Carlo Colaiacovo had the final two best chances to beat Luongo in the final , but they were either denied by the netminder or the cross bar behind him. Eventually with Mason pulled to the bench for the extra attacker, the Blues attempted to pull out all the stops to get on the scoreboard. However they wound up giving up one more goal against as Henrik found the pack of the net. Daniel and Sami Salo chip in the assists on Henrik's first of the series at 18:36.

At the end of the game, tempers flared up as a dust-up insued in the Canucks corner. Kevin Bieksa and B.J. Crombeen got involved first and then things escalated from there. Steve Bernier and Barret Jackman were each assessed fighting majors while Rick Rypien was dinged with a ten minute misconduct. Eventually the teams left the ice and prepared for a Game 3 rematch at the Scott Trade Center on Sunday night.

Final shots on net favoured the Blues 30-27 in a game which saw both teams go 0-for-4 on the power play.

Luongo has turned aside 55 shots in the opening two games of the series. In his last four straight starts, he has allowed one goal against and collected three shut-outs along the way! The last time the Canucks shut-out an opponent in the playoffs, you have to go all the way back to May of 1994 when the Canucks blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Campbell Conference finals.

The two teams will travel to St. Louis Saturday in preparation for Game 3. Face off is 4:00pm PST.

Canucks/Blues Game Day #2

Nothing new to report from either team as the Canucks and Blues prepare for Game 2 tonight at GM Place. Both teams are expected to ice the same line-ups as they did in Vancouver's 2-1 win on Wedensday night.

Many of the players were asked about the "trash talking element" of Game 1 and how much a factor that could be moving forward in the series. All really much-ado-about-nothing in the heat of playoff hockey. Both teams are preaching better execution 5-on-5 and more shots on target when working on the power play.

Tonight's is the 300th career playoff game in St. Louis Blues history. They haven't lost back-to-back games in regulation since Jan. 13.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Andy McDonald - David Backes - Brad Boyes
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Brad Winchester - Keith Tkachuk - Dan Hinote
Alex Steen - Jay McClement - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Jeff Woywitka - Jay McKee
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mike Weaver

Chris Mason
Ben Bishop

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Canucks Take Game One Against Blues

In a fiesty and penalty-filled match-up at GM Place Wednesday night, the Canucks picked up a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues in their opening game of the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The two teams combined for fifteen minor penalties and two misconducts on a night which saw Vancouver control most of the play when it was even strength.

The Canucks got off to a great start and spent much of the first half in the Blues end. Eventually they were rewarded for their efforts just as a penalty was about to be called against the visitors. Alexander Edler got the puck to the right boards for Pavol Demitra, who wasted no time firing a slap pass to the slot for Daniel Sedin. With his stick on the ice, Sedin was able to re-direct the puck through the pads of Chris Mason. Daniel's first goal of the post season came at 10:03.

A few shifts later, the Canucks got into penalty trouble with Mattias Ohlund and Willie Mitchell in the box together for just under two mintues. While working the 5-on-3 power play, Andy McDonald was set up all alone with a back-door pass. However his one-timer was denied on a fantastic pad save by Roberto Luongo, keeping the Canucks in the lead heading to the intermission break.

The go-ahead goal Vancouver hoped they would get came in early in the 2nd period on a power play. Henrik Sedin, who had seen his stick break in his hands while he had the puck on the end boards, did well to kick it up the boards to his brother. Daniel was able to slide the puck across the zone for Sami Salo. He stepped into a slap shot that looked to have taken a deflection past Mason. Salo, who had gone the last 20 games of the season without scoring, netted what proved to be the game-winning goal at 5:11.

Vancouver found itself in more penalty trouble in the middle frame as the Blues went to work on four power plays. On their last man advantage, they were able to capitalize. Alex Steen's shot from the right point was kicked away by Luongo, but the rebound was drilled home by Brad Boyes. McDonald gets the other assist as Boyes, who scored 16 power play goals during the season, netted his first of the series at 18:16.

The Canucks were extremely sound defenisvely in the final period of regulation as they didn't allow the Blues much in the way of puck possession between the blue lines. St. Louis did get the opportunity to get Mason to the bench for the extra attacker late in the frame, but couldn't find the equalizer to force overtime.

Final shots on net favoured the Canucks 31-26. Vancouver wrapped up the night going 1-for-6 on the power play while the Blues went 1-for-7.

The two teams will skate tomorrow in preparation for Game 2 of their series Friday night. Game time at GM Place will be 7:00pm PST.

Canucks & Blues Playoff Game Day

Last game day skate for both teams this morning as they prepare to open up Round 1 of the NHL Playoffs tonight. No major changes are expected to either squad in preparation for opening up their series in Vancouver.

In my opinion, there will be a couple of key areas to watch out for as this series progresses that could likely determine which team moves on to the Western Conference Semi Finals:

1. Special teams. The Canucks finished 17th ovearll in the NHL on the power play while going 16th on the penalty kill. The Blues were 8th in the league on the man advantage and 3rd in the league short-handed. Ryan Kesler and Kyle Wellwood each scored ten power play goals for the Canucks while Brad Boyes (16) and Keith Tkachuk (14) led the Blues. Vancouver scored seven short-handed goals this year, four coming from Alex Burrows. Meantime St. Louis scored ten times when they were down a skater, with Jay McClement leading the way with three.

2. Goaltending. It would be interesting to see what Roberto Luongo's stats would have looked like if he didn't miss a few months due to injury. The same could also be said if Chris Mason had been the Blues starting goalie from the beginning of the season. In 54 games, Luongo went 33-13-7, had a 2.34 goals against average, a 0.920 save percentage, and collected nine shut-outs. Mason appeared in 57 games, going 27-21-7. Not far off Luongo's numbers, Mason had a 2.94 GAA, a 0.916Sv%, and six shut-outs. It's no surprise that the performance of these two goalies was instrumental in the way their teams finished down the stretch drive. For what it's worth, there isn't a huge separation gap either in playoff experience either. Luongo has appeared in 12 post-season games while Mason has dressed in five.

3. Offense from the Defense. The Canucks blue-line combined for 36 goals and 176 points this season whereas the Blues d-men racked up 15 goals and 113 points.

Here's how the line-ups should look when the teams take to the ice at GM Place this evening:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Andy McDonald - David Backes - Brad Boyes
T.J. Oshie - Patrik Berglund - David Perron
Brad Winchester - Keith Tkachuk - Dan Hinote
Alex Steen - Jay McClemment - B.J. Crombeen

Barret Jackman - Roman Polak
Jeff Woywitka - Jay McKee
Carlo Colaiacovo - Mike Weaver

Chris Mason
Ben Bishop

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Canucks/Blues Practice Tuesday

The Canucks had everyone in attendance at today's practice at GM Place this morning while the Blues decided to have their first full practice heading into the series out at UBC's Thunderbird Arena.

Here's how the Canucks and Blues broke down their four-game series during the regular season:

at Vancouver:
Jan. 9 STL 6 VAN 4
Mar. 19 VAN 3 STL 0

at St. Louis
Feb. 10. VAN 6 STL 4
Mar. 26 STL 4 VAN 2

Notable stats in the four meetings:


H. Sedin: 1g,4a
D. Sedin: 1g,4a
Mitchell: 2g,2a
Burrows: 3g
Demitra: 1g,2a
Kesler: 1g,2a
Sundin: 2g
Hansen: 2g
Raymond: -3
Bernier: -3
Luongo: 3GP/2-1-0/8GA/2.67GAA/91.1Sv%
PP: 3/14=21.4%


Patrik Berglund: 1g,5a
T.J. Oshie: 2g,3a
Keith Tkachuk: 1g,3a
Carlo Colaiacovo: 4a
David Backes: 2g,1a
Brad Boyes: 2g,1a.-4
Andy McDonald: 2g,1a. -4
David Perron: 1g,2a
Barret Jackman: -5
Chris Mason: 3GP/1-2-0/10GA/3.44GAA/86.3Sv%
PP: 5/19=26.3%

Of note, eight of the top ten scorers on the Blues line-up from the regular season have never played a NHL playoff game.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Canucks & Blues Practice Monday

The Canucks were back on the ice at GM Place today for their first practice in preparing for their opening round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues. All Canucks were present and accounted for, except for Willie Mitchell, who the coaches let stay off the ice for a maintenance day.

Nothing earth-shattering took place at practice. The team is scheduled to skate again at 11:00am tomorrow morning. The Canucks finished off the regular season at 45-27-10=100pts, compared to last season's record of 39-33-10=88pts. Vancouver finished off this year with 246 goals for and 220 goals against. Last year, the Canucks had 213GF and 215GA.

The Blues arrived in Vancouver last night after finishing off the season with a 1-0 win in Denver yesterday against the Colorado Avalanche. Only a handful of players skated at GM Place this afternoon, but their full line-up is expected to skate tomorrow.

The Blues, who finished 6th in the Western Conference at 41-31-10=92pts had a dramatic turnaround from last season, one that saw them finish 14th in the West at 33-36-13=79pts. Only Boston and Chicago had bigger point increases from last season to this season. The Blues had the same amount of goals for as they did goals against this season (233). Last season, the Blues had 205GF and 237GA.

Blues Head Coach Andy Murray indicated today that there is no update on the status of Paul Kariya and whether or not he'll be healthy enough to appear in this series for St. Louis.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Canucks Wrap Season With OT Shut Out

It wasn't a pretty way to finish off the regular season Saturday afternoon in the Mile High City. However, it was enough to clinch another Northwest Division title and earn home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. The Canucks posted a 1-0 shut out win in overtime against the Colorado Avalanche, giving Vancouver 100 points to conclude the 82-game campaign.

The Canucks came out firing on all cylinders to start the game, generating eight shots inside the first two minutes of action. However they weren't able to beat goalie Peter Budaj, who had a record of 3-0-0 against the Canucks this season.

Vancouver went to the intermission with 19 shots for their efforts, but they weren't able to keep momentum on their side in the middle frame as they were only able to muster up four shots on goal. At the other end of the rink, Roberto Luongo was solid, as he turned aside anything the struggling Avs were able to put together in the way of good offensive chances.

In the third period, the Canucks were able to pick up the pace, but still had their difficulties beating Budaj. At the same time, they played a strong defensive period, not allowing Colorado much in the way of opportunities. As the game wound down and regulation time ended, the Canucks earned the single point they needed to clinch a Northwest Division banner.

The last time the Canucks were in overtime, Henrik Sedin netted the winner in a 2-1 decision against the Minnesota Wild on March 31. On this afternoon, Henrik proved to be the OT hero again. On the opening shift of overtime, Willie Mitchell was able to get the puck into the Avs right corner for Daniel Sedin. He cycled the puck to his brother who proceeded to make his way around the net. As he came around the net, Henrik attempted to get the puck back to Daniel across the face of the goal. However, his pass wound up deflecting off the skate of Scott Hannan and underneath Budaj. Henrik's 22nd goal of the season and Daniel's 51st assist of the season each gave the Sedin's 82 points to finish off the year tied for the Canucks scoring lead.

The winning goal, which came 40 seconds into overtime, also gave the Canucks 100 points, a milestone reached by the club for just the fifth time in franchise history. The victory also gave Luongo his 9th shut-out of the season. It moves him into a tie with Kirk McLean for most shut-outs by a Canucks goalie (20).

Vancouver finished the game out-shooting Colorado 33-22. Both teams wound up going 0-for-3 on the power play.

The Canucks conclude the regular season with an overall record of 45-27-10. They were one of the best teams in the entire league when it came to their play down the stretch drive. Since the beginning of February, the Canucks posted a record of 23-7-2.

The Canucks will know by the end of Easter Sunday who their opponent will be in the opening round of the playoffs. The best bet is likely the St. Louis Blues, who with a victory over the Avalanche in Denver Sunday night, will finish the season in 6th place in the Western Conference. If the Blues don't earn a maximum two points, then the Canucks will face the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has qualified for the post-season for the first time in franchise history.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Canucks Wrap Home Sked With Shut Out

In one of their more defensive-minded efforts in a long time, the Vancouver Canucks needed just one goal from their MVP and a 20-save performance from their captain as they edged out the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 at GM Place Thursday night.

Ryan Kesler, named prior to the game as the Canucks 2008-09 Most Valuable Player, scored the lone goal of the game while on a 2nd period power play. Mats Sundin's shot from the right face off circle would be denied by Kings rookie puckstopper Jonathan Quick. However, Kesler was able to snap home the rebound for his 26th of the season. Alexander Edler gets the other helper at 5:49.

Roberto Luongo wasn't nearly as busy as his 46-save effort last Tuesday against the Calgary Flames, but he was sharp. His best saves came in the middle frame when he denied Anze Kopitar from the slot with a good stop by the right pad, as well as in the third period when he made an alert high arm stop off a bullet of a chance from Alexander Frolov.

With Luongo's performance, the Canucks saw a couple of club shut-out records broken. Luongo, now has eight shut-outs on the season, surpassing Dan Cloutier's record set back in the 2001-02 season. A new club record for shut-outs in a season was also set as Luongo's eight, combined with Curtis Sanford's 3-0 win over the Ottawa Senators last December breaks a record held in three previous season. In the 2003-04 season, Cloutier and Johan Hedberg combined for eight. Cloutier teamed up Peter Skudra in 2001-02 for that same total. The first time that number was reached by the franchise came in the 1974-75 season, when the goalies were Gary Smith (6) and Ken Lockett (2).

The Canucks improve their overall record to 44-27-10, and in the processed collected their 30th win of the season when leading after two periods of action. Vancouver's home ice record finishes off at 24-12-5, improving upon last season's total of 21-15-5.

With 98 points, the Canucks enter Good Friday currently in top spot in the Northwest Division and in third place in the Western Conference. They'll conclude the regular season Saturday afternoon in Denver for a meeting with the Colorado Avalanche. Game time for the matinee at the Pepsi Center will be 12:00pm PST.

Canucks Year End Award

The Canucks year end awards have been presented at General Motors Place prior to the start of tonight's game:

Here are the winners:

Unsung Hero: Steve Bernier
Most Exciting Player: Alex Burrows
Top Defenceman: Willie Mitchell
Most Valuable Player: Ryan Kesler

Canucks/Kings Game Day

The Canucks (43-27-10) play their final home game of the regular season tonight against the Los Angeles Kings (33-36-11). The Canucks are 2-1-0 in their three previous meetings with the Kings. Henrik Sedin (2g,3a), Daniel Sedin (1g,3a), Taylor Pyatt (2g,1a), and Sami Salo (3a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Jarret Stoll (2g,1a), Alexander Frolov (1g,1a), Anze Kopitar (1g,1a), and Teddy Purcell (2a) lead the Kings.

With two games remaining, the Canucks enter the night tied with the Calgary Flames (96 pts.). Roberto Luongo's 46-save performance in Tuesday's 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames was not his highest single game save total as a Canuck. That occured last season when he stopped 49 of 51 shots in a 3-2 shoot-out win over the Nashville Predators.

Mattias Ohlund's two-goal effort against the Flames snapped a 25-game personal goal-scoring drought. Other Canucks d-men who have gone lengthy stretches without scoring include Kevin Bieksa (16), Sami Salo (18), Willie Mitchell (37), and Shane O'Brien (136).

Prior to the start of tonight's game, the Canucks year-end awards will be presented. Hardware will be handed out for Team MVP, Top Defenceman, Most Exciting Player, and Unsung Hero.

Despite being a non-playoff team for the sixth straight season, the Kings are winding down one which has been one of their best in recent years. Tonight is their final road game and they are 8-8-3 against Northwest Division opponents this season. Rookie d-man Drew Doughty is likely to be a Calder Trophy candiate, leading all Kings and NHL rookies in average ice time (23:53). He also leads all NHL rookie defencemen in scoring (6g,21a).

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams heading into tonight's game:


D.Sedin - H.Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Alexander Frolov - Anze Kopitar - Justin WIlliams
Dustin Brown - Michal Handzus - Wayne Simmonds
Kyle Calder - Brian Boyle - Teddy Purcell
Raitis Ivanans - Peter Harrold - John Zeiler

Davis Drewskie - Drew Doughty
Sean O'Donnell - Jack Johnson
Denis Gauthier - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Erik Ersberg

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Luongo Huge In Win Over Flames

The Canucks captain stole the show Tuesday night at General Motors Place. Roberto Luongo snapped a three-game losing streak with a stellar 46-save performance to lead Vancouver to a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames, keeping the Canucks hopes alive for home ice advantage in the playoffs.

Luongo was extremely busy in the first period, stopping all 21 shots Calgary fired his way. His best stop may have come on the first shot he faced, as he stoned Mike Cammalleri 39 seconds into the action on a chance from the top of the crease.

Against the run of the play, Vancouver was able to score the only goal of the period and it came courtesy of their fourth line. Ryan Johnson was able to get the puck up the ice for Rick Rypien. His initial shooting attempt from the left face off circle was foiled when his stick was lifted. However he was able to get a second opportunity which he snapped high over the shoulder of Mikka Kiprusoff. Alexander Edler gets the other assist on Rypien's third of the season at 17:21.

The Canucks got into some penalty trouble in the second period, but Luongo and the penalty killers in front of him did a solid job of limiting the Flames opportunities. Calgary did eventually get the equalizer they were hoping for and they looked to their leading scorer to get the job done. Olli Jokinen's shot from close range missed the target, but Jarome Iginla was able to gather the loose puck and stuff in on the short side of Luongo. Cammalleri picks up the other helper on Iginla's 35th of the campaign at 14:44.

The game didn't stay tied for long as on the next shift, the home team got the lead back. Ryan Kesler was able to wheel around the Flames zone before dishing a pass off to Mattias Ohlund in the left face off circle. He stepped into a slap shot that deflected off the stick of Dion Phaneuf and behind Kiprusoff. Ohlund, who had gone 25 games without a goal, netted his 5th of the season and first game-winner tally of the season at 15:06.

Luongo was fantastic in the opening half of the third period, especially with the Canucks having to kill off a lengthy Calgary 5-on-3 power play. Iginla had numerous chances to capitalize, but whether it came on a 2-on-1 rush with Cammalleri or on a clear-cut breakaway, Luongo was able to keep the door closed. Jokinen also had a golden opportunity to score on the man advantage with Luongo out of position, but his shot from five feet out hit the post.

With a little more than five minutes to go in the game, Vancouver got that all-important insurance goal they were hoping for and it came on the power play. Edler got the puck into the right corner for Mats Sundin, who snapped a nice cross-zone pass to the opposite point for Ohlund. With traffic in front, Ohlund's low shot found its way to the back of the net, giving him his second of the night at 14:51.

Henrik Sedin rounded out the scoring for Vancouver as after taking a drop pass inside the Flames line from Daniel Sedin, he ripped a snap shot past Kiprusoff. Alex Burrows chips in the other assist on Henrik's 21st of the year at 17:28.

Final shots on net did favour the Flames 47-25. The Canucks went 1-for-5 on the power play and a perfect 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.

Now with an overall record of 43-27-10, the Canucks are now tied with the Flames with 96 points. Vancouver will play the final home game of the regular season Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings. Game time is 7:00pm PST.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I'm Back/Canucks & Flames Game Day

After being laptop-less for the past week-and-a-half, I'm lucky to be back on-line and prepare for the stretch drive into the NHL playoffs. Luckily I return as the Canucks enter the final week of the regular season with their chances still alive for home ice advantage in the first round.

The Canucks (42-27-10) need a victory to keep their hopes of a Northwest Division title alive as well as they entertain the Calgary Flames (45-28-6). The Canucks are 3-2-0 against the Flames in their head-to-head meetings this season, which includes overtime and shoot-out victories in Calgary. Daniel Sedin (3g,4a), Ryan Kesler (3g,2a), Henrik Sedin (1g,4a), and Alex Burrows (2g,2a) lead the Canucks in head-to-head scoring while Mike Cammalleri (4g,1a), Daymond Langkow (2g,3a), Jarome Iginla (1g,4a), and Rene Bourque (2g,2a) lead the Flames. Roberto Luongo has appeared in three of the five games, posting a 2.22 GAA and 92.6 Sv% while Mikka Kiprusoff has allowed 18 goals against (3.50GAA) and a 87.8Sv%.

The Canucks start the night with 94 points and an out-right loss to the Flames tonight would give Calgary the division title. The Canucks are winless in their last three and have been out-scored 15-9 in that stretch. Pavol Demitra has points in four straight games (2g,2a) and it's still up in the air on whether or not he'll be re-united on a line tonight with Kesler and Mats Sundin. Darcy Hordichuk will be back in the line-up tonight though in place of Jannik Hansen.

The Flames are coming off a 4-1 win at home last night against the Los Angeles Kings, but they've given up points in eight of their last nine road games. Due to injury troubles, they'll be short one forward tonight. Iginla has goals in three of his last four games, but they are having their fair share of troubles getting offense from some of their other top end forwards. Cammalleri has gone seven in a row without a goal while Olli Jokinen has gone 10 straight without scoring.

Here are the expected line-ups for both teams heading into tonight's game:


D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Burrows
Demitra - Sundin - Kesler
Raymond - Wellwood - Bernier
Hordichuk - Johnson - Rypien

Mitchell - Salo
Ohlund - Edler
Bieksa - O'Brien



Mike Cammalleri - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Todd Bertuzzi - Daymond Langkow - Jamie Lundmark
Curtis Glencross - Craig Conroy - David Moss
Warren Peters - Eric Nystrom

Jordan Leopold - Dion Phaneuf
Adam Pardy - Adrian Aucoin
Jim Vandermeer - Matt Pelech

Mikka Kiprusoff
Curtis McElhinney