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09-17-2011, 12:42 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
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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.

“It’s a pretty personal situation. Obviously, he [Rypien] was close to me and it puts a hole in your heart, and I don’t know if there’s anything you can do to take that away.”
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.”

Hamhuis hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season and likely won’t see any action until near the end of the exhibition schedule.

“That’s the plan that we have kind of set out,” he said. “We had a real short summer and with my rehab focus there’s less weight training and skating for me, so we are going to try and make up for that in the next couple of weeks and make sure my body is where it needs to be to prevent further problems from happening. I hope to get into some of the later exhibition games.”
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.”
“I don’t want to get into too many details, but everything that needed to be done was done and the rest is up to me, how well do I heal,” said Malhotra, who did return to play in six playoff games in June. “Since then we did some different things to give me the best possible chance for a full recovery and we have laid out another plan to get back to where I need to be.”
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.”

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.

“We have to stay in the moment and focus on now. Focus on what needs to be done and that’s what we’re going to work on with our players.

“Obviously, last year’s experience has made us collectively stronger and individually stronger. We’re going to have a very motivated group. At the end of the day, we didn’t win. We’re in this to win and we know our process is a good process. We know there are some areas there where, like any other team, we can improve.”
“We’ve got a very professional group that understands that the points that are available in October are as important as the points available in March and April,” he said. “I’ve met each player here individually, like I always do before training camp, and I’m hearing and I’m sensing the same things I have in my five years prior. They’re very motivated.”

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.

Coach Vee:
“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 ) ) 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.”

“I think everything is a collective effort with our D,” added Bieksa. “We’re not looking for just two guys to play defence and the others to play offence. We are looking for two-way defencemen, whoever is in the lineup on any given night, the six of us are going to be doing both — jumping up in the play when it’s there and playing good defence in our end. That’s what is expected.”
“At this point in my career I am interested in winning,” he said Friday.

“That is what makes our team so good is the selflessness. I don’t think guys really care about points and ice time.

“We have one of those teams where we are so deep that players who come here aren’t going to be putting up their best numbers and playing top minutes that maybe they would on other teams. We sacrifice and we’re a lot better and stronger team because of it.”

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.

"It's a lot better, night and day really," he said. "Like I said, it's been a long few months of getting from where I was to this point now and with the possibility of it getting even better. I couldn't be happier."

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said Malhotra has been cleared for light contact.

"He's week to week, I think," Vigneault said.

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 clean
After disappointing, injury-filled season, defenceman eager to redeem himself

"Consistency is the most important thing. I think you look at every player and the good ones, one of their biggest qualities is that they're good every night. Even when they don't feel well, even when they're banged up, even when it's a long travel day or back-to-back games, they always find a way to be good. That is something as a player that I think everyone strives for.

"There was times when I felt really good on the ice and there was times when I wasn't. I don't think I was as consistent as I would have liked to have been."
Craig 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.”

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.

“I was working out like normal and this came out of the blue. It definitely hurts because I missed a couple weeks there but I’m going to deal with it now.

“It happened. It needed to get done. I’m just happy we caught it in the summer.”

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.

“Everybody knows the way I play and I'm not going to help the team if I'm not 100 per cent. My goal is to get back to 100 per cent health and be bigger and stronger than last year. By no means am I going to limp my way into the season.”

Kesler tore his hip labrum in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, then played the final two games against the Boston Bruins.

Canucks medical staff believed the injury would heal without surgery, but when Kesler began off-season workouts in July his hip got worse. He underwent surgery on July 25, nearly six weeks after Game 7.

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.

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:


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