Posts Tagged 'John Garrett'

The secret to success

Fifteen games into this young season and the secret to the Canucks’ success, evidently, is to play against Northwest division rivals.

After deservedly defeating the Calgary Flames 3-2 last night at the Saddledome, the Canucks stand at an impressive 5-0 versus Northwest division opponents. (Conversely, the Canucks are a pathetic 2-8 in games outside of the division.) Considering the fact each team plays 32 games within the division, this certainly bodes well. Picking up a significant number of points in these games, thereby taking them away from your divisional rivals, stands a team in good stead for the playoff chase.

Another notable statistic is that the Canucks are now a remarkable 6-2 on the road after last night. Less remarkable, disconcerting even, is that the Canucks are 1-6 at GM Place. If the Canucks can start playing the simple game they seem to have mastered on the road (e.g., sound defensive play, tenacious checking, capitalizing on other teams’ mistakes to pace the offence, and solid, reliable goaltending), then they will quickly look a lot more like the team they were the second half of last season, when they ran away with the Northwest division title.

All that aside, last night provided a certain kind of enjoyment that I look forward to every season: beating the Flames; and beating the Flames at the Library, otherwise known as the venue that erupts in bedlum, inspired by that rage-inducing horn, only when the Flames score a goal.

What would John Garrett say?

Salo, Bieksa and Krajicek out? No problem. Not when you can call upon Alex Edler, Luc Bourdon, and Mike Weaver. Whammo! (Yeah, that’s right, I am expropriating the Pierre McGuire hyperbole. What of it? Does he have a moustache? No, he doesn’t. ‘Nuff said.)


A welcome reminder

Not to put too much stock in one game, but last night’s 4-3 victory over Colorado was a welcome reminder of how successful the Canucks can be when they stick to the game plan instituted last season by Alain Vigneault.

(Sound defensive positioning, intense pursuit of loose pucks, excellent goaltending, and offence generated mainly by exploiting mistakes made by the other team was a hallmark of last year’s team. More to the point, it is a formula tailor-made for a team that is blessed with one of the best goalies in the world and a reasonably responsible defence corps but, admittedly, little offensive talent to speak of.)

For the first time since they racked off three victories in a week against Calgary and Edmonton at the beginning of the season, the Canucks looked difficult to beat against the Avalanche. They made plays, won a lot of battles for the puck, moved the puck well, and made few errors in play without the puck. That, and Roberto Luongo was back to his stellar self.

Hopefully, a step in the right direction.

What would John Garrett say?

Don’t look now, but the Canucks are now 4-0 against Northwest division rivals. Considering the fact they will play 32 games against teams in their own division, this bodes well for the Canucks’ hopes of retaining the division title. I think 32-0 is an attainable expectation. Oh, and what do you know? Next up for the Canucks, Calgary. Hello, two game winning streak!

Stepping up or stepping out?

Just when Canucks fans might have thought it couldn’t get much worse, it has.

As a result of two unlucky accidents last night (Canucks defencemen Kevin Bieksa and Sami Salo getting a deep leg muscle cut and a puck in the face, respectively) the team must prepare to spend the majority, if not the entirety, of the season without two of its top four defenceman.

Bieksa suffered a deep cut to his right calf late in the second period while battling on the end boards with Nashville centre Vernon Fiddler. Late in the third period, Salo took a puck in the face off the stick of teammate Alex Edler. Vigneault said it appeared Salo suffered a broken orbital bone.

“It’s easy to say both those guys are going to be out for a while now,” said Vigneault, who added that the team will have to call up at least one defenceman from Manitoba.

Brad Ziemer, Vancouver Sun

Bieksa is likely gone for the year. Some reports suggest his achilles tendon has been cut, which means he will be out of the line-up for at least five months but more likely the entire season.

Salo could return earlier but, if Steve Yzerman’s orbital bone injury suffered in the playoffs against Calgary in 2004 is anything to go by, he is likely gone for three to four months.

To be sure, it’s not as if the Canucks ‘D’ were playing well. But subtracting your bonafide top 1-2 offensive punch on the backend, not to mention Bieksa’s physical presence, is not exactly a recipe for improvement in that regard.

For what looks like the rest of the season, the Canucks are going to need to rely on Luc Bourdon stepping up to prove his worth as the #10 overall pick in 2005 and either Mike Weaver or another defenceman from the Manitoba Moose (likely Nathan MacIver) to pick up the slack.

If the replacements don’t step up and provide the cover needed, the Canucks will surely be stepping out of the playoff picture a lot sooner than anyone could have anticipated.

Even John Garrett couldn’t put a positive spin on this.

When is the bleeding going to stop?

The Canucks managed to lose yet another game last night, this time to the lowly Nashville Predators, 3-0. (Yes, that is correct, the same Nashville Predators who had lost five games in a row on the road. Hey, welcome to GM Place boys!)
As much as I have been trying to maintain a positive outlook in the early stages of this season, I must admit that last night’s game has given me some cause for serious concern.
Rather than expound upon my thoughts with a reflective, meandering essay (as I am wont to do), I am going to give it to you much like Alex Edler gave it to Sami Salo last night (pictured) when he shot the puck at his team mate’s face trying to clear the defensive zone: quick and painful.
1 – The Canucks are unable to pass the puck to a team mate, nor to receive said passes to save their lives. I have neither the patience nor the counting skills to add up the number of passes last night that ended up in skates, off asses, off shin pads, bouncing off sticks, or simply missed the man altogether. The so-called power play was particularly dreadful in this regard.
2 – Robert Luongo looks disgusted with the quality of play he is seeing in front of him. That is good; he is a leader and should be holding his team mate’s to account. Unfortunately, the result seems to be Luongo dialing down his own effort. This might, at least, help explain the backbreaking goal he surrendered last night to put the Canucks down a hole on Nashville’s first shot of the game.
3 – When the Canucks need a goal, I can’t say I am brimming with confidence that we have a guy who is able to step up, take charge and impose himself on the opposition. The Sedin’s are offensivley talented, but their refusal to engage in any way that does not involve cycling the puck for eight minutes until a seam opens up is more suited to building upon a pre-existing lead. Also, we are four years removed from the last time Markus Naslund ever looked like he could beat a goalie on purpose, so he’s out. What’s Tony Tanti’s number again?
4 – Our much-vaunted defence has been, quite simply, awful thus far. Keystone cops does not even begin to evoke any sense of how terrible the play is in the back-end. The only defenceman who looks even remotely sound is Lukas Krajicek and he, of course, is injured. On a related note, jesus christ is Mattias Ohlund ever atrocious these days.
5 – Although one can give GM Dave Nonis a lot of credit for bringing Luongo and Krajicek to Vancouver for what effectively amounted to Bryan Allen, his unwillingness or inability (take your pick) to address the team’s glaring weaknesses (read: offensive talent such as passing, shooting, and skating with an aim to score on the opposition goal) is exceedingly frustrating. Dave, put down the triple-triple, admit the error of your ways, and redress the issue. Fast.
I am going to stop there, as I could foreseeably carry on all morning. But, I have work to do.
What would John Garrett say?
Sure, the Canucks are seemingly unable to score. Sure, Luongo is looking human–on a team where looking human virtually guarantees a loss. Sure, Naslund is garbage these days. Sure, the defence is horrible. Still, things can’t get any worse, right? It’s not like the team has to rely on the likes of Barry Pederson anymore.

Thanks, Roberto

A late flurry of pressure from the Capitals was not enough last night, as the Canucks held on to defeat Washington 3-2 to finish the road trip 2-2.

The main reason for the victory, like so many since last year: Roberto Luongo.

The storyline has become the familiar refrain for an effective performance by the Canucks: generate enough offensive opportunities to score around three goals (at least one of which will come on the power play) and ride the defence, particularly Luongo, to a closely-fought victory.

This season, to a large extent, the Canucks have done neither of these things, hence the 5-6 record.

Last night, however, the Canucks illustrated perfectly what type of team they need to be if they are going to be successful. It is a simple formula, really.

Let us hope they adhere to it with more consistency over the next few weeks and establish themselves where they belong: among the upper tier of teams in the Western Conference.

What would John Garrett say?

Roberto Luongo displayed, once again, why he is my ‘lock of the year’ for the Vezina trophy. If there is anyone better at tightening the screws late in the game, holding on to an imminent victory with a vise-like grip, I would certainly like to meet him.

What would John Garrett say?

Every blog, I think, needs a recurring theme or format to attract and capture a consistent audience.

To wit, I am pleased to introduce what I intend to be a regular feature of this particular blog. It is called, ‘What would John Garrett say?’

For those of you who have not had the pleasure of (a) living in Vancouver, (b) watching the Canucks in the early 1980s, and/or (c) watching Canucks broadcasts, this is John Garrett:

John, as this nifty pictoral arrangement should illustrate, is a current commentator on the NHL on Sportsnet (focusing his attention on the Vancouver Canucks) and a former NHL goaltender, who played for the Canucks during the early 1980s.He is also well known (and, much loved) for being a blatant, shameless, sometimes obsequious Canucks homer.
A case in point: each year, Sportsnet gathers its hockey pundits for some thoughts and predictions about the upcoming NHL season; for the last, oh five years or so, trusty old JG has picked the Canucks to win the Stanely Cup every single year.(In fact, and I stand to be corrected, I think JG even picked the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup during the lockout year.)

So, henceforward, when discussing issues related to the team or providing pre-game or post-game analysis, I will channel the wisdom of Garrett as part of my commentary. Consider it part of my ongoing effort to encourage a more positive view on the world of the Vancouver Canucks. Stay tuned.