The best of the Vancouver Canucks
1. The Emergence of Cory Schneider
By now, every Canucks’ fan knows the potential of Cory Schneider. With Roberto Luongo hurt, it gave Schneider to remind everyone that he can win us games. His road to four straight wins with back to back shut outs did not start off as smoothly as he would have liked. The team played poorly and could not beat Corey Crawford. Fans would soon find out that Schneider would be getting more playing time than expected. It was after the game in Ottawa that people really saw the greatness that young Cory Schneider has inside of him. He posted back to back shutouts against Colorado and Phoenix, and the team in front of him finally showed Cory that they were starting to play in front of him. Fans would anxiously wait until his start in San Jose. Vancouver is known to play mediocre at the HP, but Schneider took it by storm. He made incredible save, after incredible save. The best part about Schneider’s 4 game win streak? The team in front of him scored goals. Eighteen goals were scored by the Canucks in the five games straight that he started. In the four previous games that he started, the Canucks scored 6 goals and were shutout twice. All signs point to a great December for the team and both of their goalies, because in reality why complain about having two great goaltenders?
2. Canucks Get Grove Back
October, as all Canucks’ fans know, are always rough on the Vancouver Canucks. Finally, the tough month was over and it was on to November. They started the month off right with a great win over the Calgary Flames, but then lost back to back games against Minnesota and St.Louis. The Vancouver Canucks went 9 wins out of 13 in the month of November, which is a lot better than the 6 out of 11 in October. Luongo got hurt and the city got to see the emergence of Cory Schneider, which all signs point to the Vancouver Canucks having an unstoppable tandem of two great goaltenders. November is only just a marker in great months to follow this team.
3. Never Ending Seesaw Affair that is the Canucks/Hawks Rivalry
It’s hard to put into words the battle that goes on between these two clubs. Whether it’s high score affairs, or game 7’s in the first round of the playoffs. If you want to watch a hard fought, high scoring hockey game, turn your t.v.’s on when these two teams are playing. Vancouver got the first win of the season, beating the Hawks 6 to 2. The Vancouver Canucks’ Power Play was on fire that night, scoring on 5 power plays. Six different Canucks players scored in that game, which is a lot nicer to see than it always being Daniel or Henrik Sedin. So, maybe losing to the Hawks humbled the team, because they went 5 straight wins and only allowed four goals. Maybe that’s what it takes for the team to go on good win streaks, lost a game to one of their biggest rivalries to bring them back to reality.
4. Superman Returns – Kesler’s Back!
The first 6 games of Ryan Kesler, 1 goal and 3 assists, definitely something that people were not used to. It’s been said around that Kesler wasn’t ready to come back, that he should have sat out a few more games before taking his crack at the line up. November proved to start off slow, just like it had for his team. It was only until the end of November that the Canucks’s “Superman” had made his mark. On the Canucks’s 5 game win streak the Canucks’s forward had 7 points, 3 goals and 4 assists. This may prove to some small numbers compared to what Kesler had going for him last year, but everyone can see that Kesler’s game is back. He is finally skating again, and with the ‘American Express’ line out in full force, you can expect to see Kesler’s numbers climbing back to what he had been doing last year, and if the fans are lucky he will be beating his career numbers again.
5. Lighting the Lamp
Goal scoring seemed to cause the Vancouver Canucks a lot of issues in October, only four times they scored 4 or more goals. The team was shut out three times, and you could definitely see that goal scoring was a major issue for the team. With Luongo not playing the best games of his life, the team could not produce the fire power to score goals – which we all know is possible. In November, they managed to score 42 goals and only allowed 27 goals against. You can see a trend that when Vancouver is scoring goals that they have a lot better chance of coming out with the ‘W’ because a team that scores is a team that is confident. The team is getting goals from a lot of different players, and the team saw Hansen emerge when he got to play with the Sedins while Alex Burrows was out with back spasms. Now that the team has found their scoring touch, watch for the teams PP’s to explode.
The NHL’s Best of November
1. The Return of Sidney Crosby
Whether you are a fan of Sidney Crosby or not, you have to be impressed with his first game of the season. His first game on November 21st proved to everyone that Sid was not going to need any time to get back into the game. 5:24 into the first period, he scored a goal that was old Crosby fashion, he went backhand, top cheddar – even made the water bottle pop, over top of Islanders goaltender Nilsson. Crosby – First Goal of the Season. Crosby went on to score another goal and added two helpers to finish the night with 15:54 seconds of playing time and had eight shots, which was the most by a player during that game. Crosby has scored 11 points in November, 2 goals and 9 assists in five games. Crosby was only held off the score sheet for one of those games, so Phil Kessel you better watch your scoring title, Crosby is back!
2. Boston Bruins Hangover is Done
November was especially kind to one team this November, and this team is not Vancouver’s favourite – that’s for sure. The Boston Bruins posted an amazing record in November that consisted of ten straight wins and a point in ever single game they played in. They only lost once in November and it was in the shootout to the Detroit Red Wings. It’s fair to say that it’s obvious that the Bruins’ hangover no longer exists. When a team posts numbers this great, it’s fair to say they’re playing pretty amazing. They scored 59 goals while holding their opponents to only 25 goals, and also shutting out their opponents three times. Whether you love this team or you’re a Canucks fan and cannot stand them, you need to give credit where credit belongs. The Boston Bruins are back and as it looks like, they don’t plan on stopping their winning ways.
3. From Bye Boudreau to Hi Boudreau
It’s not exactly hard to think that the Capitals’ organization let go of outspoken coach Bruce Boudreau. He was a tough coach that a lot of the players looked up to, but it was his “mistake” to bench Ovechkin in the last minute of a game that caused a lot of trouble. On November 26th, Boudreau would be coaching his last game for the Washington Capitals. It was a shock for many loyal Capitals fans because they loved their coach and hey, it was honestly a surprise for most people. It did not take long for another team to scoop up Boudreau. He made his coaching debut December 2nd, for the Anaheim Ducks against the Philadelphia Flyers. In a losing effort in overtime, that started out looking great and ended up in a disappointing fashion. Will the Ducks be able to win games like Bruce had Washington in the regular season?
4. Minnesota – West’s Best?
I don’t know if anyone would have been able to guess that Minnesota would be the number one team in the Western Conference this season, but if you did congrats. Minnesota has been flying under the radar slowly winning game after game. They are a dark force in the NHL right now and basically they are not being taken seriously yet. It’s going to take a couple more months to test the will power of the Wild and see if they can fend off the Vancouver Canucks who are slowly creeping behind the Wild for top spot in the Northwest. If Minnesota can keep up their long battle to the top, well they deserve being number one in the Western Conference and headed for first place in the league.
5. Unstoppable Force of RNH
Too skinny, too young, too fragile? People have been giving excuses for the 18 year old Edmonton Oilers rookie, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. yet, he has proven everyone wrong with the way he has been playing. He gets into the dirty areas and does not shy away from physical play. He has been doing everything right for the not so struggling Oilers team. He is the leading scorer of his squad and just making his line play the best hockey of their careers too. Much can be said about the 170 pound, Burnaby native but you honestly just need to focus on what the kid is doing on the ice. He has made little mistakes and the only think that people are complaining about is the fact that his faceoff skill is not the best. In November, he was named rookie of the month for the second straight month. If I could see into the future I would say that the Oilers’ first round draft pick will be picking up the Calder Trophy in June.
*all credit to www.nhl.com & the nhl team websites