Posts Tagged ‘Ryan Kesler’

2011 Stanley Cup Final Predications

June 1st, 2011

As we get ready for the start of game one of the Stanley Cup finals, I thought it’d be wise to drop in my predictions. I know I haven’t done any predictions for the 2011 playoffs like I have for previous years, mostly because it’s been a crapshoot this year, but I’m weighing in now. Here we go.

2011 Stanley Cup Finals logoWhile these two teams are closer than a lot of people are willing to admit, I think there are two key areas (that everyone else hasn’t already mentioned) that separate the Vancouver Canucks from the Boston Bruins.

Top Lines
There’s no doubt that the Bruins have some terrific offensive depth. It’s a large reason why they are in the Stanley Cup finals. However, their top line of Lucic – Krejci – Horton isn’t quite a top line. It’s more of a strong second line and it pales in comparison to the D. Sedin – H. Sedin – Burrows line of Vancouver. It’s not even a debate. When you break down the Bruins second line of Marchand – Bergeron – Recchi, it’s solid, but no better than the Canucks second line of Raymond – Kesler – Higgins. Boston are rocking a 2a and 2b type set up for lines. Sure, it’s good enough to get you through the East, but not the Western Conference champs in Vancouver.

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The Vancouver Canucks. Wait, who???

October 4th, 2010

Recently I was asked to write an article about the Vancouver Canucks. I figured “why not,” I’m always up for a challenge. Trouble is, I really didn’t (and still don’t) know much about the Canucks, beyond the fact they are easily Canada’s best shot at a Stanley Cup.

Obviously that doesn’t say much since everyone knows Canada’s next best hockey team might not make the playoffs. Despite my embarrassingly poor knowledge of the Canucks, I’m reasonably comfortable stating the Canucks are the best team in the Western Conference with identical twins.

Image of the Vancouver Canucks

I’m a bit of an optimist (well not really, but still), so maybe this will be one of those “fun” posts where I do research and learn something new about the team. OK, I’m totally in for doing a Canucks article. I’ve convinced myself! *Begins research*

Researching and learning about Vancouver’s hockey team started out well, too. For example, I just read the team cut Brendan Morrison from his pro tryout. Instantly, I’ve learned the difference between the Canucks and the Calgary Flames. But that was the only “easy” information to learn. I started reading more about the on-ice tendencies of all Canucks players and got really confused. The article described how hockey goalies often dive and flop around on the ice. I found this weird and confusing because I didn’t think Alex Burrows was a goalie. What the hell???

Then I discovered there’s a small controversy over who the new team captain will be. I even talked to several Canucks fans about the issue. It seems the consensus choice is either Ryan Kesler or Henrik Sedin. Both seem like great choices to me, especially since neither of them will require a bilingual stepping stool in order to jump over the boards for each shift.

Throughout my research, it was clear the Vancouver Canucks are considered a top contending team for this year’s Stanley Cup. No one has declared this an “all or nothing” season (although typically that’s something you do to justify signing a checking center to a $7.5 Million contract, or something like that…), but this year probably stands as the year the Canucks Stanley Cup window begins to close. I’m told this window will shut far quicker since it doesn’t have to close over top of Shane O’Brien and Kyle Wellwood. Wellwood is apparently going to the KHL. O’Brien, well, I’m guessing he’ll just hibernate over the winter months after being placed on waviers.

Perhaps the biggest reason many see this year as Vancouver’s chance to win the Stanley Cup is because the arch-rival Chicago Blackhawks lost some of their depth and skilled players during the off-season. Of course, Dustin Byfuglien’s trade to the Eastern Conference means Roberto Luongo will only have to worry about his own teammates trying to kill him.

It also means Luongo has one less person to blame during the four or five times he fakes an injury each game…

After doing all this research, I’ve concluded this will be an interesting year for the Vancouver Canucks. The pressure is on to win, but the players and management should be used to that since Canucks fans have expected a Stanley Cup win for the better part of the last decade. Even if they don’t win, the Canucks can take comfort knowing they still have their first round pick in 2011′s Entry Draft.

Stay classy, Vancouver Canucks.

Hockey resemblances in my office

July 16th, 2010

Well readers it’s Friday, which probably means you are already at home enjoying the weekend. For the few of you still at the office, I have a treat for you (read: a 5 minute time waster). Lately I’ve noticed a ton of similarities and resemblances of hockey and hockey stories in my office. Maybe I’m sinking to new low’s in this brutally slow off-season. Or maybe it’s because the only hockey news I’m hearing about is Ilya Kovalchuk’s sight-seeing itinerary. Or – and this is a huge possibility – I’m going crazy. At any rate, here are some hockey resemblances in my office:

  • The receptionist in my office is a pest. Everything she does is annoying and she yaps way too much. Each time we speak is like a dagger through my eye. When she talks I see her lips moving but I never truly comprehend what she’s saying. And she repeats herself six or seven times per thought, at minimum. Without a doubt, this must be how Ryan Kelser feels when told his linemate for the year will be Alex Burrows.
  • My boss doesn’t do anything particularly well. In fact, he always gets in the way of projects and tasks. He’s a giant road block at life. And he’s paid quite well too. Basically, he’s Anton Volchenkov.
  • Of course offer sheets don’t exist in my office. Never would competition offer a 200% salary raise to someone for simply being employed. What does exist in my office is an immediate “You’re fired if you don’t perform well” offer. It’s valid at any time.
  • My office has a wonderful design team. They are very creative and combined with the marketing department are excellent at taking silly ideas and keeping them in the news for weeks on end. They were thrilled to hear from Dean Lombardi a few weeks ago about a “top secret July news-blitz project.”
  • A few women in my office are engaged and soon to be married. It’s a very happy time for them. They are enjoying the planning process but admit they are slight divas. They are also very competitive people. Can you imagine how much “Z-Snaping” and weird neck gestures I’m going to see after they find out Carrie Underwood had a secret wedding location located “somewhere” in North America???
  • I started working at this office just before the NHL’s regular season ended. Once the summer officially began I noticed the office hours changed dramatically. In fact, I haven’t seen many of my co-workers for months now. You are probably thinking “OK, this is going to be a Leafs joke because they always miss the playoffs.” Yup! You are correct. Leafs suck!
  • All is quiet in our “cowards who don’t back up their words” department. I guess we let those guys intern at Vogue all summer too.
  • This isn’t at all related to my job but it’s good to see Mike Komisarek in the news again. I’m impressed at how much he’s contributed to the NHLPA’s search for a new leader. I think it speaks to his work ethic. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s done more for the PA this summer than he did for the Leafs all last season.
  • My company lost a terrific salesman last summer named Marian. It’s still affecting our sales numbers for this year and the company has yet to get back on track. But we can’t afford to look at the past any longer. It was an employee we should have kept and didn’t. Instead we decided to double the salary of our next best salesman, Mikko. We figure he’ll eventually become the all time sales leader within our organization, surpassing the totals of Marian’s 7-year tenure with us, even if it takes him the rest of his career. And when that time comes – and it might not, ever – we will celebrate by calling Mikko a “franchise salesman.”

Stay classy, weird hockey office.

Canada, can we stop making excuses?

February 22nd, 2010

A friend of mine has recently started getting into hockey. She made two observations about Ryan Miller last night, prior to the big USA-Canada game starting. She said “Ryan’s a hottie and probably the best goalie in the NHL”. I can’t comment on the first observation (although I’ve always felt Miller looks like Jared Leto), however, she’s bang on with the latter part of that quote.

So even a hockey fan who’s very new to the game knows how good Ryan Miller is. Fast forward to around 10pm EST on Sunday night and Canada is collectively saying “our Olympic hockey team was beaten by Ryan Miller”. Seriously, can we stop making excuses? It’s not like Ryan Miller is the only strong goalie in this Olympic tournament.

That was a pretty gutsy game from Team USA last night. In both of their previous games, I felt Team USA had trouble playing as a team and staying in synch with each other. That was not the case against Canada. In fact, Team USA played a far better team game than the Canadians did.

Everyone is crediting the win to Miller and Miller exclusively. While he was outstanding, he wasn’t the only reason USA defeated Canada 5-3. Let’s give credit to the coaching tandem of Ron Wilson and John Tortorella for figuring out how to turn one of Martin Brodeur’s strengths into weaknesses. Let’s give some credit to the US penalty killers like Ryan Callahan and Chris Drury – both of these guys played terrific games. Also, let’s give some credit to the US center’s like Drury, Ryan Kessler and Joe Pavelski. These guys were dominant in the faceoff circle against a team who’s style of play relies on puck possession.

And one of the most critical aspects of the loss last night had little to do with the USA. As I watched last night’s game, I really felt like they needed to be leading after the second period in order to win. Canada really let up in the second period. They didn’t push as hard as they could and should have. I realize it’s easy to say this, however, if they played like they did in the final five minutes all game, they probably would have won. They did in spurts, but not often enough. Canada’s puck retrieval wasn’t terribly strong all game. Canada’s physical game disappeared in the second period and they didn’t move pucks well (everything was too slow and too predictable).

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not taking anything away from Miller’s play. However, the reality is there’s a lot of other reasons Canada lost besides running into a hot goalie. If Canada can get their game together, they can look forward to better results. Every other contending team has great goaltending too. If goaltending is going to be an excuse for last night’s loss, get ready to blame a few more goalies over the coming days. Canada is capable of beating teams with great goalies, but there’s a few things they need to do, besides worrying about who they are shooting on.

Let’s accept last night’s game for what it was – US was the better team. No more goaltending excuses (Miller, Brodeur or anyone else). If Canada wants to win, they’ll need to be better. End of story.

Stay classy, Team Canada.

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The Vancouver Canucks future looks promising

September 8th, 2009

Over the last few years, I haven’t felt the Vancouver Canucks were true Stanley Cup contenders. In fact, the last time I felt the Canucks could seriously challenge for Lord Stanley, the city of Vancouver still liked Pavel Bure and Kirk Mclean’s blocker didn’t look that retro.

In years more recent, I always felt the Canucks offense lacked a dynamic second punch. Of course Henrik and Daniel Sedin providing the only punch. And even with Roberto Luongo standing on his head (regardless of missing 5 minutes of overtime for an unexpected bathroom break), I still thought the Canucks were beatable.

Until now, sort of. I’m not saying the Vancouver Canucks are Stanley Cup shoe-ins — not at all — but, the ‘Nucks future hasn’t looked this bright in some time. With training camp set to start on Saturday and young prospects like Cody Hodgson and Jordan Schroeder waiting in the wings, I like where the Canucks are heading. Feel free to add Michael Grabner to further support my statement.

Couple these two blue-chip prospects with a solid core group that includes Luongo, the Sedins, Mikeal Samuelsson, Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler (I have no doubt Mike Gillis will lock him up long term) and you have yourself a pretty decent future.

Vancouver’s defence isn’t terrible but could be improved. No Canuck defenceman has a contract that goes beyond the 2010-2011 season, except Alex Edler.  Kevin Bieksa — who has been the subject of trade rumors for some time — Willie Mitchell and Sami Salo are due for raises when their contracts end after the 2010-2011 season. That could become a problem when the core group mentioned above take a significant cut out of the Canucks salary cap. Perhaps that’s why Mike Gillis drafted two 6 foot offensive defenceman earlier this summer (Kevin Connaughton and Jeremy Price). Nice work, Gillis.

The Vancouver Canucks future looks promising with nice up-and-comers and a good core group. And Roberto Luongo is signed long term. Let’s be honest, as good as these kids may be, he’s the cornerstone piece.

Stay classy, Vancouver Canucks.

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2010 US Olympic team predictions

May 7th, 2009

Update: Here’s the 34 man American Olympic Camp Roster:

Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas

Defensemen: Tom Gilbert, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Mike Komisarek, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Brian Rafalski, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Suter, Ryan Whitney

Forwards: David Backes, David Booth, Dustin Brown, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Mike Modano, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny

Hello classy internet,

Over the past few weeks, several Canadian hockey players have drawn attention for their strong play and have garnered Steve Yzerman’s attention for this next year’s Olympic team.
But the real story here is the 2010 American Olympic squad.  They finished 8th in Turino with a team that was in full re-build mode.  They will be ready next year and are stock-piled with young and talented players.  This team will be fast and while they may take some by surprise, I believe they will challenge for a medal.
Here are my picks for the 2010 American Olympic team (as of today):
Forwards (13):
Patrick Kane (CHI)  Zac Parise (NJ)  Peter Mueller (PHO)
Brian Gionta (NJ)  Chris Drury (NYR)  Keith Tkachuk (STL)
Brian Rolston (NJ)  Scott Gomez (NYR)  Phil Kessel (BOS)
Dustin Brown (LAK)  Jamie Langenbrunner (NJ) T.J Oshie (STL)
Ryan Kesler (VAN)
Defense (8):
Ron Hainsey (ATL)  Ryan Whitney (ANA)
Ryan Suter (NSH)  John-Michael Liles (COL)
Brian Rafalski (DET)  Keith Ballard (FLA)
Paul Martin (NJ)  Jack Johnson (LAK)
Goaltending (3):
Tim Thomas (BOS)
Ryan Miller (BUF)
Rick DiPietro (NYI)
Reserves (3):
Scott Clemmensen (NJ)
Joe Corvo (CAR)
David Backes (STL)
Players on the Bubble: Jason Blake, Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, Brandon Dubinsky, Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Tim Gleason
As you can see, I think the Americans are going to go with their youth for this tournament.  That’s why guys like Bill Guerin, Mike Modano, Doug Weight and Mathieu Schneider have been left off this team.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss my picks for the Canadian Olympic Squad.
Your Reporter in the Field,
Fantana

Hello classy internet,

Over the past few weeks, several Canadian hockey players have drawn attention for their strong play and have garnered Steve Yzerman’s attention for this next year’s Olympic team.

But the real story here is the 2010 American Olympic squad.  They finished 8th in the Turino Olympics with a team that was in full re-build mode.  They will be ready next year and are stock-piled with young and talented players.  This team will be fast and while they may take some by surprise, I believe they will challenge for a medal.

Here are my picks for the 2010 American Olympic team (as of today):
Forwards (13)

Patrick Kane (CHI)  Zac Parise (NJ)  Peter Mueller (PHO)

Brian Gionta (NJ)  Chris Drury (NYR)  Keith Tkachuk (STL)

Brian Rolston (NJ)  Scott Gomez (NYR)  Phil Kessel (BOS)

Dustin Brown (LAK)  Jamie Langenbrunner (NJ) T.J Oshie (STL)

Ryan Kesler (VAN)

Defense (8)

Ron Hainsey (ATL)  Ryan Whitney (ANA)

Ryan Suter (NSH)  John-Michael Liles (COL)

Brian Rafalski (DET)  Keith Ballard (FLA)

Paul Martin (NJ)  Jack Johnson (LAK)

Goaltending (3)

Tim Thomas (BOS)

Ryan Miller (BUF)

Rick DiPietro (NYI)

Reserves (3)

Scott Clemmensen (NJ)

Joe Corvo (CAR)

David Backes (STL)

Players on the Bubble: Jason Blake, Mike Modano, Bill Guerin, Brandon Dubinsky, Jason Pominville, Jordan Leopold and Tim Gleason.

As you can see, I think the Americans are going to go with their youth for this tournament.  That’s why guys like Bill Guerin, Mike Modano, Doug Weight and Mathieu Schneider have been left off this team.

In my next blog, I’ll discuss my picks for the Canadian Olympic Squad.

Your Reporter in the Field,

Fantana

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** Update: June 30th **

Here’s the 34 man American Olympic Camp Roster:

Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas

Defensemen: Tom Gilbert, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Mike Komisarek, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Brian Rafalski, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Suter, Ryan Whitney

Forwards: David Backes, David Booth, Dustin Brown, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Mike Modano, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny