2011-12 Season Amalagamation Thread
At this time of year there are a lot of articles with with forecasts and predictions as well as analysis and information about what this season may hold for the Canucks as a team and for specific players.
Some comes from hockey writers and pundits and some comes from the players, coaching staff and management.
I thought this might be a good place for such articles and analysis as it does not really apply strictly to training camp/exhibition season per se although there may be some overlap.
For Kevin Bieksa it was tough summer, losing his close friend Rick Rypien.
“It has been a tough summer,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have had a few losses in the organization the last three years. I don’t know if it’s like this in every other organization, but we have had some bad luck.Alain Vigneault echoes that sentiment and was shocked as he thought Rypien was on his way back:
“It was tragic,” Vigneault said. “Everybody in the organization who was aware of the situation all thought that he was on the right path, he was getting the best help that family, friends, teammates could give him, and he was getting the best help that money can buy, and for him to get to that point obviously it was very challenging for our team.”Dan Hamhuis is still rehabbing and hopes to get in some exhibition games and be ready on opening day.
“I’m feeling pretty good, working hard on rehabbing all summer,’ he said. “A few weeks ago it turned pain-free and now it’s just a matter of working hard and getting the strength and confidence back in that leg.”Manny Malhotra has had some further surgical procedures on his eye in the off-season but is only cleared for partial contact at this point. he is hoping to be ready for the season opener.
“That’s the plan right now,” Malhotra said. “I don’t see any reason why I wouldn’t.”And Alain Vigneault has admitted it took some time to reacquire his "bubbly sense of humour after the Game 7 loss to Boston and coming up one game short.
“I’d lie if I’d say by the next weekend I had turned the page,” Vigneault said. “It took me quite a bit of time to be able to clear my head and to get back to my bubbly sense of humour. I would say somewhere in mid-July I went with seven of my buddies on a golfing trip to Toronto and that’s sort of where I turned the page. After that, I was fine.”http://www.vancouversun.com/health/C...#ixzz1YB7lOAeX
Here is an in-depth article on AV and what he sees for the upcoming season from Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun. Last year was spectacular but it is time to put it aside and concentrate on this season says the coach. It will be tough to match last year's regular season record let alone improve upon it as it was one of the most dominant performances by a team in the regular season in decades. He does not foresee a hangover from last year's success and then deflating loss as the team he feels are mature professionals who know what needs to be done to get back to the post-season.
“Kidding aside, we have to turn the page on last year,” Vigneault said.http://www.vancouversun.com/health/V...#ixzz1YB8UhXcP
With Christian Ehrhoff shuffling off to Buffalo along with his 50+ points, his PP prowess and 200+ shots, what happens with the D from an offensive standpoint. It sounds lie offence from the back end by committee.
“Obviously we are going to need to replace Christian’s production and we’ll see throughout the performances in training camp what our guys can do,”
Captain Henrik thinks the team has players able to step up to replace Ehrhoff such as Alex Edler and Sami Salo is healthy (but for how long :naughty:) ) and he was impressed with Chris tanev who looks to have an offensive upside not mention both Bieksa and hamhuis who can bring more to the table offensively if need be.
Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa both think a collective effort will be required to completely make up for Ehrhoff’s absence and there are forwards as well who can play the point on the PP. As Bieksa says it is about guys sacrificing for the good of the team.
“The defencemen who are coming back are going to need to step up,” Hamhuis said. “Christian put up a lot of points for us back there that we are going to have to make up. But we have got forwards who can play the point on the power play and a lot of D who are capable of doing that as well. All the guys coming back to camp here look really good and fresh and ready to take on a big role.”http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/C...#ixzz1YBBPXL4m
Here is a feature article on Manny Malhotra and of course the obligatory Dr. Vigneault prognosis:
Malhotra said his sight has improved since June when he played in six of the seven games against the Bruins.http://www.theprovince.com/sports/ho...827/story.html
And what about the $4.2 million forgotten Dman - Keith Ballard? Brad Zeimer of the Vancouver Sun has some thoughts... like maybe wipe last year from everyone's memory??? For ballard the key for this season is something completely missing from last season - consistency. The Keith Ballard pre-2010-11 would be a great help.
Healthy Ballard wipes slate cleanCraig MacTavish was impressed with Kevin Connauton and thinks he could stick with the Canucks or at least make the decision tough to send him down.
“You have a kid with that skill set, a highly intelligent kid, a highly determined kid,” MacTavish said. “I’d bet on that, that he’s in on the discussion at the end among the Canucks coaches and managers whether he’s going to stay or not.”http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/09...-on-connauton/
The latest on Kesler... it could be as late as November before he is back. Then factor in about 10 games or more to get his timing and game shape and he may not be ready to really roll until the New Year. Kesler says he did not expect to need surgery and it became apparent later in the summer.
“I started working out mid summer again and I wasn’t feeling right,” he said. “I thought I’d get it checked out again. It turned out I needed surgery. By no means did I think I needed surgery at the end of the season.http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/09...opening-night/
And as Kesler says he is not going to push his rehab. Was this another screw-up by the Canucks medical staff?:
“My original goal was obviously the beginning of the season, but I'm not going to set a time frame,” Kesler told reporters as training camp began with fitness testing at Rogers Arena. “My main goal is to get back to 100 per cent health, however long that takes.http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/C...979/story.html
Jason Botchford's take on the 2011-12 version of the Canucks. The power play that led the league needs to be re-tooled with Ehrhoff gone and Kesler on sidelines and they need another effective net presence even when Kesler is back. The second line? No Kelser , no Raymond so CH gets a chance to excel maybe with Marco Sturm slotting in if his knees hold up. Gillis is pushing for Ballard to make a big turnaround and Botch says he needs to be given big minutes in the pre-season to see if he can get his confidence back. And look for a fourth line free for all with the vets - Todd Fedoruk, Steve Begin and Owen Nolan - battling with the young guys - Victor Oreskovich, Steve Pinizzotto, Mike Duco, Byron Bitz, and Aaron Volpatti.
Matt Sekeres wonders if the Canucks are going to have problems with a Cup hangover. I wonder if Sekeres will ever be able to write anything beyond pedestrian prose. He makes the bold prediction that the Canucks will be slow out of the gate.:p:
Tony Gallagher on the battle for the West Division from earlier. He thinks Phoenix (no Ilya Bryzgalov), Nashville (cleared out a lot of bodies to make room for Weber, Rinne and Suter re-signings and the RFA QO blunder) and Dallas may slip. The Kings look to be improved with Mike Richards in the line-up (MY NOTE assuming he does not party himself to oblivion in Tinseltown). The Sharks are vastly improved defensively with Brent Burns. And the Wings will be right there if they can stay healthy despite some of the aging vets.
Dave Gross of Post Media News picks the Canucks to repeat as North West Division Champions but will be in tussle to win the Division again with Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, LA and Anaheim looking to knock off the Canucks. He has thumbnail assessments of each team in the West.
And Dave Gross' review of the East teams - contenders but no clear favourites:
Good read. Thanks, Wet!
Your on CDC, right Wetcoaster? If you don't know what I'm talking about, then you're probably not
The Canucks used 13 players on their fourth line last season and little more stability would be nice.
Here is an article about what to expect from the fourth line this year... if Coach Vee can figure out what he wants. Maxim Lapierre looks to be the fourth line centre IF Malhotra is good to go centring the third line.
With Raffi Torres and Tanner Glass gone the "grit" component looks to be need to be enhanced. There are lot of candidates in the mix... Mike Duco, Steve Pinizzotto, Mark Mancari, Aaron Volpatti and Victor Oreskovich and some NHL veterans like Steve Begin, Owen Nolan or Todd Fedoruk.
"If we could find an identity for that fourth line that would help us win games we would definitely go in that direction," Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault said Saturday after Day 1 of his club’s camp.http://www.theprovince.com/Fourth+li...#ixzz1YHPNphaQ
And with both Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond on the shelf, the second line looks to be a work in progress with Chris Higgins initially pencilled in as the second line centre. Is this the year that Gillis' first ever draft pick steps up and shakes off the injury bug? Cody something or other I believe his name is. But has his skating improved? Even Vigneault seems optimistic.
“I feel great,” Hodgson said after the first practice of the Canucks' season this morning. “The best since I can remember, to tell you the truth. I feel solid on the ice, lighter, faster. It's a great feeling. You can always get better and there's always stuff to improve on. But that's what I can focus on now. It's not about health, it's about what I can do on the ice.http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/H...#ixzz1YHSUHVoG
According to Jason Botchford, Keith Ballard is looking for bounce back season as he was able to train properly this off-season unlike last year when he spent two months on crutches and his conditioning never caught up to him. The prior to 2010-11 season version of Keith Ballard would be a great help to the Canucks D corps. The best thing? It surely could not get any worse than last season. And Ballard has never wavered in his team first attitude even when things were not going well last season. No Shane O'Brien or Mathieu Schneider attitude from Ballard - what ever the team needs he will do his best to supply it.
"I had a healthy summer where I was training not doing rehab," Ballard said. "My motivation all summer was to do everything I possibly could to put myself in a position to succeed this year.http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Bu...#ixzz1YHVCq8di
So as Botchford writes the frantic fans polled by TEAM 1040 are worried most about Roberto Luongo (62%), replacing Christian Ehrhoff (32%) and just 6% are worried about a second line with Kesler and Raymond on the shelf indefinitely.:amazed: As Botch notes - If the team's biggest issue right now is a goalie who was a Vezina finalist last year, it should qualify under "rich people's problems."
Adam Polasek's KO that broke the nose of Colton Teubert got him noticed but it has left the Oiler's prospect dazed and confused and watching from the stands as Oilers training camp has opened. Concussion-like symptoms is the word from Steve Tambellini.
So Coach Vee how went Day One of Training Camp??? Well vets Nolan and Fedoruk will get a fair shot.
And off in a corner of the dressing room sits Roberto Luongo doing his Rodney Dangerfiled shtick about not getting any respect.
"I don't think I need to re-establish myself," said Luongo, who twice has been nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender. "I had a great season last year.And hey GM MG, can you keep both Luongo and Schneider happy? And he gave a definitive lawyer's response... We'll see.
Over to you Cory... some people say you are good enough now to start for an NHL team.
"I never assume that," he said. "I'd like maybe an opportunity.Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/stor...#ixzz1YHbI68B5
We all know Rome was not built in a day but Aaron is already looking for a rebuild when his statements in the media scrum did not come out the way he intended. He knew what he wanted to say he just did not say it correctly.
You know, the part where he said "I just want to go back to the player I've always been.":laugh::laugh::laugh:
As Tony Gallagher muses on the Rome "fox pass":
Will he just go back to being the sluggo everyday Aaron Rome, the fill-in, Alain Vigneault's pet? Or will he pick up at that pinnacle moment of his career, where he would have made one of the great hits in Canucks history had Horton not hit his head on the ice or had he been watching? Will he go on from that Scott Stevens moment where he had built his game up to the point where he was playing with Kevin Bieksa in Dan Hamhuis's absence and rocking it, or will indeed he just go back to being the player he's always been?http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Aa...#ixzz1YHd8piQ9
And Jannik Hansen has become a role model and mentor for Canucks draft, fellow Dane, Nicklas Jensen (like his role model the "J" of his name is pronounced as if it is a "Y") taken 29th overall this year.
“It helps a lot to have a countryman on my side,” Jensen said. “He knows how things are away from home. We can talk about what’s going on in Denmark. We have a lot of the same interests.http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/09...sh-connection/
Tanev put on 10 pounds of muscle and now weighs in at 190 pounds while working on his strength and gaining flexibility.
“Everyone knows I had to get stronger and my shot has got to get better,” Tanev said Sunday. “I tried to work on those things. I think I definitely took it to the next step. I’m still not crazy strong, but I am stronger than I was in June. That’s definitely a good sign.”http://www.canada.com/Back+spasms+sl...#ixzz1YMn6CbiR
An article on Chris Tanev from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province. He spent the off-season training with Gary Roberts and has changed his diet to fit in with the Roberts regime. Vigneault sees a continuing upside because of his decision-making and hockey smarts. Tanev has been working with Keith Ballard so far in training camp and Ballard notices his improved strength. And the cap friendly $900,000 contract does not hurt either.
“He took strides all last year and I don’t see why this won’t be different,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “Every time he’s been challenged or put to the test, he’s responded well because of his hockey smarts and his poise. I don’t think we can put limitations on him. We’ve just got to keep working with him and making him better.”http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/09...l-roster-shot/
And with the goalie tandem of Luongo and Schneider being important to help the Canucks get off to a fast start (that would be novel) how does Coach Vee plan to use the goalies in rotation? - "Trust me that I'll use them the right way." He certainly did last season when the two won the Jennings and Luongo was up for the Vezina. But how does Schneider see things going this season with injuries to some key players?
"Early on, it's going to be huge," admitted Schneider. "Any time you get off to a hot start, that can carry you the rest of the year and Lou and I understand that we're going to be counted on early. We're going to have a big target on our backs this year. We're not going to sneak up on anybody and teams are going to be gunning for us early to make a statement and prove they belong with the best and that's going to make it even harder.http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Ca...#ixzz1YMf5CxGC
According to Matt Sekeres do not expect Cody Hodgson nor Jordan Schroeder to be major contributors to the Canucks this season as in his opinion "Hodgson’s and Schroeder’s time isn’t now." This training camp he says they should be concentrating on getting their pro careers back on track although Hodgson may get a chance to audition for a spot on the second line while Kesler and Raymond are rehabbing. Bear in mind this is Matt Sekeres after all so anything he says should be viewed carefully:
And what about the dreaded Stanley Cup Hangover from the loss that was feared to lead to a lack of commitment when the players returned? According to Coach Vee the Canucks vets reported to training camp in better shape than last season led by the superbly conditioned Sedins. He could not resist an "I told you so" to the media types who had been predicting a fall-off in conditioning and commitment due to the Game 7 disappointment. It seems that simply added to the motivation to come back in better shape.
“So there goes that theory about the short summer,” Vigneault crowed Saturday after getting test results from Canucks conditioning guru Roger Takahashi.Philosopher king Kevin Bieksa's take:
“It’s part of the challenge, to get yourself ready again mentally,” defenceman Kevin Bieksa said. “You can look at it one way and say there’s a big letdown from going from Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final to playing a pre-season game. Or you can look at it like we’ve been as far as we can go and our confidence is as high at it has ever been. Maybe initially, it will be a challenge. But five or 10 games into the season, that will be over. Most of us have put last season behind us and that’s the way it should be.Mikael Samuelsson drawing on his past experiences says:
“If you stand there in the season-opener and think ‘OK, I’ve got 82 more games before the playoffs,’ that’s just wrong,” he said. “You get yourself in trouble. It’s like even when you’re on the bike, you’ve got to think about the next minute. You’ve got to stay in the moment and enjoy it.”Fitness champ Daniel Sedin and Dan Hamhuis agree with Samuelsson:
“I don’t think motivation is going to be a problem because in a city like this and a market like this, you’ve always got that pressure to perform,” Daniel Sedin said. “It was the same thing last year, too: We were picked as winners before the season started and we nearly did it. Game 7 is always going to be there. But it’s a new season and you have to let it go and start playing for the new season.”http://www.vancouversun.com/Canucks+...#ixzz1YMjC4OEt
And what about the top free agent signing in the off-season Marco Sturm? After his two knee surgeries, Gillis is rolling the dice that Sturm can get back to his previous level of performance. And Sturm thinks he can. His value is versatility as he can play all three forward positions and the PP and PK. With Raymond and Kesler on shelf for an indefinite period, Sturm is in a good position to make a case for himself. Sturm spoke to both Ehrhoff and ex-Bruins teammate Andrew Alberts about the Canucks and like what he heard.
But for me, I’m just happy to get better again (after last year's miseries). Honestly, I couldn’t wait for summer because it was huge. I could do my regular routine and I had to pretty much start at zero because my strength and fitness weren’t there last year. I did a lot of weights and lot of outside running to get my conditioning right.http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/09...-canucks-dice/
While Manny Legace and Todd Fedoruk admit they are not only trying to make the Canucks they are also showcasing their talents for other teams. Owen Nolan says he is focused on playing in Vancouver this season. Nolan would bring leadership, grit and experience and he still plays with a bit of nasty edge - all qualities that would fit in well with the Canucks looking to get back to the Stanley Cup Finals. He might even provide that net presence that was missing on the seconf PP unit while acting as a fill-in for Ryan Kesler on the first unit to start the season.
"This is the team I want to play for," said the native of Belfast, Northern Ireland, who still looks as fit as many of the 20-year-olds he's competing against for a job. "My main focus is to stay here."http://www.cbc.ca/sports/hockey/stor...#ixzz1YMrBvRNp
And Chris Higgins is not all that happy with the training camp experiment having him at centre as he would rather play wing but he understands the injury situation is driving the position change experiment.
With Ryan Kesler likely to miss the start of the regular season and Manny Malhotra still something of a question mark, the Canucks could need a couple of fill-in centres when the real games begin Oct. 6.http://www.canada.com/Back+spasms+sl...#ixzz1YMo1Gkfg
Thanks for the good reads!
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