brucen

Jul 062015
 

9U_Lineup_resized

This weekend the White Rock Tadpole U9 All-Stars went undefeated on their way to the championship at the Diane Cook Tournament in Newton. These boys pitched for the first time in a game this week, and did very well for themselves, playing some great baseball.

Some of the highlights included some excellent shut-down pitching from Ben McKinnon throughout the tournament, stellar defensive plays from Vasya Seymour, and consistent hitting from Matthew Ng.

9U_Medals_NewtonTourney_resized

The tournament champions with their medals!

The final game against the Cloverdale White Spurs was a back and forth affair, with numerous lead changes in the first 4 innings. The highlight of the final game was a 2 run double to left center from Briggham Kokotailo in the bottom of the 4th, who earned Game MVP honours in the final with those clutch RBIs. White Rock shut down Cloverdale the rest of the way to earn the championship.

With offensive and defensive contributions from every single player in the lineup, it really was a great team effort. The boys played great baseball not just for their age, but any age. Moreover, they are picking each other up, and being excellent teammates. Lots more great baseball is in store for these boys of summer.

The team’s next tournament will be in Ridge Meadows, and they will finish the season with a final tournament in Cloverdale.

 Posted by at 5:45 am
Apr 262015
 

horvat

Much has been said about the Canucks bandwagon, and the legions of fans that have broken ankles jumping off and on. Let’s not forget the debacle that was last season. Remember that prior to this season, the Canucks main objective was to make it back to the playoffs. Many Canucks fans jumped off the bandwagon throughout last year. Many of us that stayed on the wagon felt that the playoffs were unlikely.

In that regard, the Canucks season was a success. They put up 101 points this season finishing 2nd in the Pacific Division, and while expectations were raised, they were not realistic.

I’ll leave the heavy duty analysis to the hockey experts that have played the game and analyzed the game at a high level.

I am merely a fan.

My love affair with this team goes back for decades. What I’ve always loved about this team through the 80s and 90s was that they always worked hard.

Linden set the standard for hard work with one shift, and I think of that shift as a mission statement for this club:

With respect to the love affair, the Canucks are like that grade school crush. That girl (or boy) that was so cute in September when you first laid eyes on her. Every day you saw her in class, and your feelings grew. You sat next to her, talked to her, and as the school year went on, your feelings grew stronger. Then, all of a sudden late in the spring, class dismissed, and your heart was broken.

As summer came and went, you went about to other things – summer camps, baseball, and days at the beach.

Then, there she was next September, and the love affair begins again.

 Posted by at 5:17 am
Jan 132015
 

canucks_jan_8_2015-0334

On January 8, 2015 the Vancouver Canucks hosted a Social Suite Night for 30 local bloggers, twitterati, social media personalities, and fans. At Canucks Corner, we ran a contest on Twitter, and drew Michelle Chopin (@michellechopin)  as our guest for the Social Suite Night. Congratulations Michelle!

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Canucks Corner contest winner Michelle Chopin enjoying the Canucks Social Suite Night

The Canucks lost to Roberto Luongo and his new/old team last Thursday. As predicted, there was a lot of love for the Canucks #1 goalie for 8 years, and a video tribute was followed by a lengthy standing ovation. Luongo looked emotional as he saluted the crowd; he then went on to shut the door on the Canucks, who ended up losing the game 3-1. The Luus turned to boos, as the Canucks were barely able to muster more than a couple shots during nearly 4 1/2 minutes of consecutive power play time.

Despite the result of the game, good times were had. The suite had a visit from Fin, and Canucks Ring of Honour inductee Kirk McLean. The Vancouver Canucks social media team is second to none in the NHL, perhaps in all of pro sports.

On behalf of Canucks Corner, I’d like to thank the Vancouver Canucks, and their partner for the night the Save On Foods Fan Zone for putting on such a great event! If you get a chance, sign up for the Fan Zone for chances to win some amazing Canucks Experiences and merchandise.

 Posted by at 7:55 am
Jan 082015
 

luongo

Will fans boo? Or will they Luuu? January 8, 2015 marks the return of Roberto Luongo to Rogers Arena, his first game back as an opponent after 8 seasons as the usual starting goaltender in a Canucks uniform. 

Usual starting goaltender.

The exceptions being when he was demoted to backup behind Cory Schneider, and when he was demoted to backup behind Eddie Lack. When you look back, it sounds ridiculous.

Luongo is now enjoying life in Florida as a member of the Panthers, as far away from the harsh and glaring spotlight of the Vancouver hockey market as you can be. He looked relaxed in the presser earlier this week, and why not? The Panthers have a good mix of youth and veteran presence, and have been winning hockey games, back stopped by Luongo who has played well statistically with a .924 save percentage and 2.28 goals against average, good enough for top 10 in both categories.

It is not without a touch of irony that Luongo is statistically better than Cory Schneider, Eddie Lack and even Ryan Miller at this point in the season.

Expectations have been lowered for this team – gone is the talk of the Stanley Cup Finals, instead replaced with the hope of just getting into the post-season.

The saying goes that familiarity breeds comtempt, and that held true for Vancouver’s love affair with Luongo – after many seasons of high expectations, Stanley Cup aspirations, and playoff disappointments, coaches and management fell out of love with Luongo, and in turn Luongo fell out of love with Vancouver.

Another adage says that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Sometimes when you see that old love, having fun in another place with other people, it makes you think of what could have been. If only we had tried harder, maybe we could have made things work.

 Posted by at 5:48 am
Nov 082014
 

bonino

The Canucks are off to one of their best starts in recent memory. After last season’s spectacular decline, this version of the team is a refreshing surprise. President Trevor Linden and General Manager Jim Benning have helped to create a team culture in their own hard working image. Head Coach Willie Desjardins has provided a calm sense of confidence, and each of the players seems to have bought in to an uptempo puck posession style that is fun to watch.

Having recently won in Colorado and in San Jose, the Canucks have surprised a few teams already with their resilience, clawing back from a 2-0 deficit against the Avalanche, and being down by a goal twice to the Sharks.

Is it over? Is the goaltending controversy really over?
Any initial reservations I had regarding Ryan Miller’s ability have been forgotten. It seems that the days of goaltending controversy are over in Vancouver, as even after Miller was lit up against Dallas, he returned to his regular self the very next game, backstopping the Canucks to a 4-1 victory in St. Louis. He has provided the team with some huge saves already this season, and preserved a number of wins, quietly and confidently. As much as this writer loved Roberto Luongo, the month of October was usually rocky. Miller has been the opposite – very consistent from game to game so far, and far fewer of those seeing-eye, hard luck, how-did-that-go-in goals.

In Edler’s Defense… Look at Sbisa
Was Alex Edler ever as bad as he looked for the last 2 seasons? Was he ever as good as he was 4 seasons ago? While the answer is probably somewhere in between, he doesn’t have to worry about being That Guy on defence any longer. Sure, Edler still breaks his stick on half of his slapshots, but Vancouver’s new scapegoat on defence is Luca Sbisa. Just like Kevin Bieksa, Keith Ballard and Edler before him, Sbisa is the guy with the black cloud over him so far this season. To be fair, he has had both good and bad moments. However, coming here in the Ryan Kesler trade, most people expected more of the big defenceman.

Forwards, March!
Goals this season have come from everywhere in the lineup. Aside from Bo Horvat and Tom Sestito, who have only played 2 games each, every single Canucks forward has scored at least one goal. When Kesler was traded to Anaheim, there were questions about who would step up into the 2C spot. Nick Bonino (who also came to Vancouver in the Kesler deal) has filled in admirably, leading the Canucks in scoring so far with 7 goals. Bonino has found great chemistry with new linemates Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins.

Last season under John Tortorella, the 4th line would be lucky to get 4 or 5 minutes TOI, and the Sedins would play well north of 24 hard minutes on many nights, reaching 25 or 26 minutes a number of times. Desjardins has been trusting in his team and rolling 4 lines every night, with guys like Derek Dorsett playing 10 minutes on average. The Sedins are rejuvenated, playing with a bona fide shooter in Radim Vrbata, while taking less ice time each night. This has the benefit of the Sedins being sharper now, and having more in the tank for later in the season.

Yes, it’s still early in the season, but in Vancouver it seems that again hope springs eternal. Let’s hope the Canucks are still playing this well in the spring.

 Posted by at 5:58 pm
Oct 112014
 

Thank you all for joining the #Canucks Twitter Fans pool in the Northwest Division.

Another fun draft! It’s a great group of people. Everyone’s Twitter details are below.

Like last year, this is a Rotisserie league. In Rotisserie pools, each team is ranked on a number of statistic categories based on how they compare with other teams. Then, your placement in those rankings are summed to determine your current score.

For example, if there are 14 managers in the pool, and you’re 1st place in goals and 2nd place in assists, you will get 14 pts for goals, 13 pts for assists. The manager with the lowest rank in each category gets 1 pt. The manager with the most points at the end of the season wins.

Clearly it makes sense to go for players that will do well in numerous stat categories.

Some of the finer details:

  • 25 Moves Maximum. This means you can drop players and pick up available players as Free Agents (FA) or off Waivers (W). The initial waiver order is reverse draft order. If two managers make a claim for a player on waivers, the manager with the lower waiver priority will get the player.
  • 2 Days Waiver time. When a manager drops a player, their status is W for waiver for 2 days, before they become FA or Free Agent.
  • 25 Trades Maximum. Trades are reviewed by the Commissioner before being approved.
  • 82 Games Maximum at each roster spot. This means 164 games for both C, both G, and 328 games among all your D, and all your Wingers.
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a mention on Twitter, or DM me, or comment on this post. Good Luck everyone!
Drafted Team 1st Round Pick Name Twitter
1 Chernobyl Worms Sidney Crosby Paul @perwin74
2 ッ @wilsons618 ッ Alex Ovechkin Wilson @wilson618
3 Get Henriked Steven Stamkos Kelly
4 Benn There Doan That Evgeni Malkin Kelly M. @glassedpickles
5 @transcendwebs John Tavares Bruce @transcendwebs
6 Tina’s Tip-Top Team Daniel Sedin Tina @tpoole00
7 Good Kid Saad City Corey Perry Lucas @LucMartin__
8 Cam’s Champion Team Tyler Seguin Cam
9 @aken37 Tuukka Rask Adrian @aken37
10 @hasanJuma Jamie Benn Hasan @hasanJuma
11 VancansOuttaDaBluers Patrick Kane Josh @vancan19
12 Swedish Puck Mafia Ryan Getzlaf Gabe @gabesoo
13 Canuckle Sandwich Claude Giroux Kyle @canucklesndwch
14 Shea Weber’s Beard Patrick Sharp Jocelyn @jocelynaspa
 Posted by at 6:48 pm
Oct 112014
 

Thank you all for joining (and re-joining) the #Canucks Twitter Fans pool in the Smythe Division.

Another fun draft! It’s a great group of people. Everyone’s Twitter details are below.

The hashtag for this pool is #CanucksFHLSmythe.

Like last year, this is a Rotisserie league. In Rotisserie pools, each team is ranked on a number of statistic categories based on how they compare with other teams. Then, your placement in those rankings are summed to determine your current score.

For example, if there are 17 managers in the pool, and you’re 1st place in goals and 2nd place in assists, you will get 17 pts for goals, 16 pts for assists. The manager with the lowest rank in each category gets 1 pt. The manager with the most points at the end of the season wins.

Clearly it makes sense to go for players that will do well in numerous stat categories.

Some of the finer details:

  • 25 Moves Maximum. This means you can drop players and pick up available players as Free Agents (FA) or off Waivers (W). The initial waiver order is reverse draft order. If two managers make a claim for a player on waivers, the manager with the lower waiver priority will get the player.
  • 2 Days Waiver time. When a manager drops a player, their status is W for waiver for 2 days, before they become FA or Free Agent.
  • 25 Trades Maximum. Trades are reviewed by the Commissioner before being approved.
  • 82 Games Maximum at each roster spot. This means 164 games for both C, both G, and 328 games among all your D, and all your Wingers.
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a mention on Twitter, or DM me, or comment on this post. Good Luck everyone!
Drafted Team 1st Round Pick Name Twitter
1 Stick Me Some Semin Sidney Crosby Byron @byronckf
2 JacksonsAllJacks Steven Stamkos Dawn @light_and_lit
3 @transcendwebs John Tavares Bruce @transcendwebs
4 Schneidz Corey Perry Marcus @schneidz
5 artisiaw P.K. Subban Ryan @artisia_wong
6 Jagr Bomb Tuukka Task Jag @BrownAristotle
7 #StillNotDecided Evgeni Malkin Brayden
8 Pyke Golden Krakens Alex Ovechkin Marcus @scronide
9 Long Dog Scorers Henrik Lundqvist Mike @MikeGT79
10 Vlasicraptors Ryan Getzlaf Ryan @ryanbiech
11 Waffles Claude Giroux Sabrina @sabrinachiu67
12 #WinDaTurd Patrick Kane Chad @C_Forrest
13 AvoidTheCheck Jonathan Quick Taryn @taryneliza_beth
14 MotherPuckers Jamie Benn Liz @ilovedeluscious
15 Twurtle’s Team Tyler Seguin Raman @_Twurtle
16 Gin & Tanev Erik Karlsson Kate @kleine_snowdrop
17 PuckMeHappy Daniel Sedin Lindsay @feedmehappy
 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Jun 252014
 

Canucks Management

The good news is the NHL playoffs were fantastic. The bad news is the Canucks didn’t make the show and if they did, they would have been eliminated in 3 games. The gap between the Canucks and the teams in the playoffs is wider. The pace of the game in the playoffs was incredible, and the style of play in each and every series was hard hitting.

When the Canucks ownership fired Mike Gillis and hired Trevor Linden as President of Hockey Operations, it seemed like the ultimate Public Relations and Marketing move. The extension of the season ticket sales period, the fact that Linden has been away from hockey for many years, it just seemed as though it could be a horrible mistake. It seemed like Trevor Linden was the ultimate distraction – away from the fact that the team was getting older, the gap between the Canucks at the Western Conference was widening, and the cupboards were bare of any prospects.

Now, just a short time later, it seems there is hope. Maybe not hope for a lengthy playoff run, but for things that have been missing for just as long: development, hard work, and an exciting brand of hockey. It happened the same way for Linden as a player. The Canucks didn’t win President’s Trophies or Stanley Cups, but the fans were proud of the team and excited about the brand of hockey the Canucks played.

Linden hasn’t been on the job for very long. In his initial press conference, although he seemed green, he was Trevor – honest and approachable. He has conducted meetings with nearly everyone on the Canucks roster and staff. Since firing John Tortorella, he has hired Jim Benning as his General Manager, and Willie Desjardins as the Canucks next head coach.

What we know about Linden’s new hires is that he has created his management team in his own image.

Their game isn’t about showboating. They’re not flashy or sexy (okay except for Trevor), but they have other qualities. They’re all sincere and thoughtful. They have the same vision for the Canucks team. They’re all known as hard working. They were in demand. And they win. Win at every level. So far so good for Trevor Linden.

Next step is the draft. Keep hope alive.

 Posted by at 5:43 am
Jan 202014
 

torts_flames

Well that was one way to relax a slumping Canucks lineup. In the 3rd game of Hockey Day in Canada, the Canucks and Flames went to the 5th round of a shootout before the Canucks prevailed. The game featured a line brawl off the opening face off.

Kellan Lain Breaks 50 Year Old NHL Record

flames_penaltysummary

Penalty summary from the first 2 seconds of the game.

24 year old Kellan Lain was playing his first NHL game on Saturday night. Most of his family flew into Vancouver and were watching, when he played for 2 seconds. He was then penalized 5 minutes for fighting, and a game misconduct as part of a massive line brawl that erupted, resulting in over 150 penalty minutes. The previous record for the fastest fight to start an NHL career was 12 seconds, set by John Ferguson, over 50 years ago. Clearly the teams didn’t read my blog post about fighting in the NHL.

There were many subtleties about the game even before the puck was dropped. In an NHL game, the road team submits their starting lineup first; the home team can then review that and submit their own starting lineup. Calgary’s starting 5 was: Kevin Westgarth, Blair Jones, Brian McGrattan, Chris Butler, and Ladislav Smid. Without their goaltender, that’s a combined weight of 1097 pounds. John Tortorella naturally responded by starting his 4th line. All hell broke loose after that. According to The Code, McGrattan had to answer the bell for injuring Andrew Alberts in the previous game between these teams. He is now square with the house as he shed enough blood that they needed to give him a new jersey and scrape the ice to clean the blood off.

And Then It Got Weird

At the start of the first intermission, Tortorella decided to go all Ghost Ops and storm the Flames dressing room. At the start of the season I was not a fan of Tortorella but I’ve become a big fan of his intensity, and how honest he is with the players and media. But this is just bush league. This happened after the 1st period, which took about one hour to play. Plenty of time to mull it over and think about things like a rational human being. The best part of this has to be that tough guy McGratton has to hold back Torts and Flames assistant coach Clint Malarchuk. Cooler heads prevailed, but Coach Tortorella will most definitely be disciplined by the league for this mess. The whole situation is an embarrassment for the NHL and hockey as a whole.

So what does it all mean? 

For all the moral victories, blocked shots, fights and bloodshed, the Canucks record in the last 10 games is 2-5-3. It’s all a wonderful distraction from the fact that the Canucks needed 5 rounds of the shootout to beat the slumping Calgary Flames. Yes – the Flames have been playing even worse than they normally play. Previous to this win, they had scored a total of 1 goal in their last 3 games.

First prize is the Stanley Cup, no one cares who comes  in 2nd place. We can only hope that the Canucks can get into the playoffs and get hot at the right time. If the team wants to go deep into the playoffs, they will have to remember the lessons they’ve learned at this point of the season.

 Posted by at 7:47 am
Jan 042014
 

tanev_higgins

After 42 games, the Canucks are 23-12-7. The team managed to string together a 7 game win streak, on their way to posting a 10-1-2 record in December, their best month of the season so far.

The team has 53 points and remains at 4th place in the Pacific Division. At the quarter pole the Canucks were at 4th in the Pacific, but had played the most games in the league. Their hot December has allowed the team to remain in the same spot while other teams have made up most of the difference in games played.

The Canucks have been bit hard by the injury bug. Defencemen Alex Edler, Ryan Stanton, and Andrew Alberts are all out of the lineup with various injuries, forcing the Canucks to call up Yannick Weber and Frank Corrado to fill in. In addition, Alex Burrows is out with a broken jaw, while Roberto Luongo was out of the lineup briefly with a groin strain. The defencemen that have remained healthy have been rock solid. The play of Chris Tanev has been lauded by Coach Tortorella throughout this season. Along with Hamhuis, Garrison and Bieksa, the top 4 defencemen have been receiving a ton of ice time.

booth

David Booth has 5 goals so far this season – one for each leaf on this “clover”.

As I predicted in a previous post, the Canucks have improved their play as the season has gone on.

The team has done this despite the top line scoring cooling off, and the power play being ice cold. Currently, the Canucks power play is ranked 26th in the NHL. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have 3 points each in the last 6 games. Secondary scoring has come from everywhere in the lineup, and the makings of a 3rd line is starting to emerge, with Brad Richardson centering Zack Kassian and David Booth. Yes, that David Booth. He has 5 goals this season and his speed and strength fit well Kassian and Richardson’s size and grit.

The Canucks schedule is tough over the next 7 games: Kings and Ducks twice each, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Phoenix. With most of these games against solid, physical teams in the West, the Canucks look to prove that they belong in the Western Conference playoff race.

 Posted by at 8:50 am