Every Goal, 2012-13: Kevin Bieksa

The 2012-13 season was an unusual one for Kevin Bieksa. By his underlying statistics, it was Bieksa’s worst season in over five years. His usage was similar to that of 2011-12, but his Corsi went from 10.26, which led all Canucks defencemen in 2011-12, to -0.98, ahead of only Andrew Alberts.

Bieksa just wasn’t at his best this past season, but it gets a little more clear why when you look at who he played with for most of the season. Bieksa’s most common defence partner was Alex Edler, which is surprising given how little chemistry they have together. In 2011-12, Bieksa spent the entire season with Dan Hamhuis, whose steadiness is a perfect complement for Bieksa’s more freewheeling nature.

When paired with Edler, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 49.9%, meaning there was about an even split in shot attempts for and against when they were on the ice. Bieksa’s second most common partner was Jason Garrison and the two of them managed a Corsi% of 51.3% together. When paired with Hamhuis, Bieksa’s Corsi% was 50.9%. Bieksa’s worst Corsi% came when he was briefly paired with Andrew Alberts or Keith Ballard.

Long story short, Bieksa is not a player that can carry a defence pairing on his own, but works best as a complementary player with a steady defenceman like Hamhuis or Garrison at his side. If Chris Tanev is ready to step into the top-four and play with Edler at even-strength, then Bieksa should have a return to form while playing the majority of the season with Hamhuis or Garrison.

Even though it wasn’t a great season for Bieksa, he still scored six goals, just two fewer than his previous season. Given the name of this series, we have every one of them.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Mason Raymond

Consider the following: Mason Raymond finished tied for fourth in team scoring for the Canucks, just one goal back of Henrik Sedin, two back of Daniel Sedin, and three back of team leader, Alex Burrows. In other words: it was a pretty decent season for him, comparatively speaking. Yet everybody seemed to hate him, and now, in late August, Raymond still finds himself unemployed.

Granted, some of it is Raymond’s own doing. From the sounds of it, he was fairly determined to go to Calgary, and when the Flames passed, some of the other interested parties had moved. In addition, he’s a bit of a drunk ghost, falling down and disappearing fairly regularly. Teams hate that. They prefer guys that are strong on their feet, as they say, and consistent. Raymond has a lot of good qualities but neither of those can be counted as one of them.

But he’s still a pretty good hockey player, as you’ll see in these clips. He’s got great speed, an effective wristshot, and he plays a 200-foot game. After watching him score 10 times, you might even be open to the idea of him returning to Vancouver at a reduced rate. I totally would.

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Will Roberto Luongo benefit from decreased equipment sizes for goaltenders?

In an effort to increase goalscoring, the NHL has changed the rules governing pad height for goaltenders heading into the 2013-14 season. The new rule affects the amount of pad allowed above the knee, with many goaltenders losing around 2 inches. Theoretically, this should make the five-hole four inches bigger.

Not all goaltenders will be affected the same way, however, as the measurement is dependent on the length of the goaltenders legs. Also, not all goaltenders took full advantage of the previous allowance and were already wearing shorter pads.

One of the goaltenders least affected by the rule change is Roberto Luongo, who told In Goal Magazine that he will only be losing half an inch from each pad. Will this give him an advantage over some other goaltenders this season?

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Roberto Luongo speaks to James Duthie, doesn’t talk about poker

On Tuesday, the Vancouver Sun’s own Iain Macintyre theorized on Twitter that Roberto Luongo would make a statement before Team Canada’s Olympic orientation camp. Without a clear statement from Luongo that he was returning to the Canucks, the media circus surrounding Luongo would surely overshadow the camp.

Sure enough, Luongo sat down with his good friend James Duthie at TSN to bring the saga to some sort of conclusion.

Really, there was little in the way of new information. We already knew that Luongo was coming to training camp and would honour his contract, which is all that really mattered. The only difference is that we got to hear it directly from Luongo. He also gave a little bit of insight into his state of mind over the last year, from not getting traded at the deadline to hearing that Cory Schneider was traded at the draft.

Unlike his previous interviews this off-season, Luongo didn’t say a word about poker, which will surely disappoint some of his fans. Right? No?

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Spitballin’ on Alberts re-signing, snarky Whitecaps, and prospects scoring beautiful goals

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics.

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Canucks finally re-sign Chris Tanev, so everyone can just calm down

Just who is Chris Tanev? Is he a third pairing defenceman who quietly plays good defence but has little else to give? Or is he a top-four defenceman who makes everyone he partners with better? It’s hard to say and it seems like the Canucks’ management is similarly unsure. Today they re-signed Tanev to a one-year, $1.5 million contract that will give them another season to evaluate the level-headed defender.

Laurence Gilman summed up the difficulty in assessing Tanev when he spoke to Brad Ziemer: “Chris is an evolving player and from our perspective he’s come a long way since we initially signed him. However, we were not sure what he is going to become. We think that there is a lot more for him to give. Particularly, we think his offensive production could or should increase.”

In other words, what is Tanev’s ceiling? Just how good is he going to get? Until it becomes more clear what Tanev’s upside is, the Canucks clearly didn’t want to invest in a long-term contract similar to those other RFA defencemen have been receiving this summer. A one-year bridge contract that takes Tanev to the point he has arbitration rights makes sense for both sides, giving the Canucks a little more time to evaluate and gives Tanev a little more leverage when he negotiates his next contract.

So what can we expect from Tanev in the coming season?

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John Tortorella, obvious American spy, talks Luongo, nefarious plot to destroy him

Vancouver Sun colleague Brad Ziemer caught up with John Tortorella on Wednesday and, as you might expect, Ziemer was savvy enough to ask him about Roberto Luongo. (Good thinking, Ziems!)

That’s the big story coming out of this interview, as Tortorella had some encouraging things to say about Luongo. “I have talked to Roberto four times,” he said. “In fact, I just talked to him yesterday… the bottom line is he told me ‘I just want to play.’ … So I am really excited about where he is mentally.”

Now that’s all well and good, and that last line is the quote that’s spreading around the hockey world like a wildfire during a dry, dry August. But if you ask me, and by clicking this link, you technically did, far more important than Roberto Luongo’s mental state, in my opinion, is John Tortorella’s state… of residence.

Yes, I said state. The Tortorellas and their dogs, you see, AREN’T EVEN GOING TO LIVE IN CANADA.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Chris Tanev

Chris Tanev is known far more for his defensive play than his offensive production, which is the sort of thing that will happen when you pretty much never score. But in 2013, he finally got on the board, scoring his first two career NHL goals.

After watching them both, it seems pretty clear what Tanev has to do in order to produce more often for the Canucks, (should he and they ever finally agree to a new contract): get hilariously, uncommonly wide open right smack-dab in the middle of the offensive zone, with a clear lane to the goal and plenty of open net to shoot at. Easy, right? Now that he knows, Tanev should be able to do this several times a night.

Here’s every goal Tanev scored in 2013 — all two of them.

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5 centres the Canucks should consider bringing in to compete for a roster spot

The biggest question mark for the Canucks heading into the 2013-14 season is at centre, or, as Ben Kuzma is fond of saying, the Canucks have a “riddle in the middle.” Henrik Sedin is firmly entrenched as the first line centre and, in theory, Ryan Kesler will be fully healthy and ready to centre the second line.

The other two centre jobs, however, are up for grabs. The Canucks have a number of options, from veteran free agent signing Brad Richardson, to sophomore Jordan Schroeder, to 18-year-old first round pick Bo Horvat, but each one of those options is filled with uncertainty. Richardson could slot in as the third or fourth-line centre and could even move over to the wing if need be, but he was also a frequent healthy scratch with the Los Angeles Kings. Schroeder’s ability to handle larger players in the defensive zone and provide offense at the NHL-level is still in question. And Horvat is, well, 18.

It would be in the Canucks’ best interest to add a few more names to their list of centre options, but the Canucks’ funds will be limited once they re-sign Chris Tanev. As much as I might want the Canucks to acquire Mikhail Grabovski, they simply can’t afford him unless he takes an insane paycut. Instead, they’ll have to look for cheaper options, either by signing a legitimate centre to a cheap contract before training camp or by inviting some veterans with more uncertainty to camp to provide competition and potentially earn a contract.

The Canucks have brought in veterans to battle for roster spots in training camp in the past, such as Peter Schaefer, Owen Nolan, and Todd Fedoruk. That’s not he most inspiring group of players, but with the lowered salary cap, there are still some valuable free agents on the market who might be available on bargain basement prices.

Here are five free agents that the Canucks should consider bringing in as competition.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Ryan Kesler

Two seasons ago, it took us a full week to get through Ryan Kesler’s entry in the “Every Goal” series. We put it off until the end of the summer, both because it had some of the year’s most exciting goals, and because we’re chronic procrastinators and it seemed like a lot of work. At 41 tallies, it had to be split up into four posts just so it wasn’t completely overwhelming.
Not so this time around. Kesler’s goal-scoring in 2012-13 was less than one-tenth of his 2010-11 output, thanks to the lockout and a neverending stream of injuries that have conspired to make the former Selke winner a non-entity for much of the past two seasons. Kesler just couldn’t catch a break last year, save for the one his foot caught shortly after he returned from rehabbing shoulder surgery.

As a result, he played just 17 games, and he was his old self for, oh, let’s say zero of them. Still, he scored four times. Let’s take a look.

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Every goal, 2012-13: Jannik Hansen

Two years ago, Jannik Hansen won the Fred J. Hume Award as the Canucks’ unsung hero. Somehow, since then, Hansen’s praises still aren’t being sung enough, as he won the award yet again this past season. He becomes the first Canuck to win the award twice without winning it in back-to-back seasons, mainly because most players good enough to win it twice start getting the respect they deserve after a couple seasons.

Hansen has continued to progress as a two-way player and was on pace for a career-high 17 goals and 47 points in 2012-13, spending some time in the top-six and even playing alongside the Sedins on the powerplay occasionally. He’s one of the Canucks’ best penalty killers, he has underrated playmaking ability, and will even cross check a ref if he gets in his way. At some point, he’s gotta get sung, right?

Really, we’ve been singing his praises for some time now. While his early season production was driven by some favourable percentages while playing on the third line, he took advantage of when he was moved into a more offensive role and continued to produce. He’ll play an integral role next season, whether on the second line with Ryan Kesler or playing a more defensive checking role. If it’s the latter, he might not score as much, but he’ll still be important to the Canucks’ success.

Hansen scored ten goals during the 2013 season. Here are all ten:

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Guest Post: ‘We wrote you a simple song’: A critical interpretation of ‘Big Old Goal’ via its intertexts

Not long after “Big Old Goal” went live to the world, an in-depth, academic analysis of the video arrived in my inbox. It’s exactly as absurd as it sounds, but it’s also downright incredible. Like the song and video it’s deconstructing, part of its humour comes from how outwardly seriously it appears to be.

After nearly laughing myself to death, I decided it would be criminal for me to keep it to myself. Please, do yourself a favour and take a moment to read this remarkable essay.

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Canucks fans and bloggers come together to serenade Roberto Luongo back to Vancouver [VIDEO]

Roberto Luongo has put up some pretty strong emotional walls around himself, which is understandable given how his off-season went completely off the rails when Mike Gillis traded Cory Schneider at the draft. The only thing we heard from Luongo was that he “needed some time,” which is a red flag in most relationships.

Of course the relationship was strained. We had spent a year insulting him, mistreating him, and seeing a younger goaltender on the side. It was only this last season that Canucks fans seemed to realize what they were about to be missing, as his stint as Cory Schneider’s backup seemed to rekindle the love affair Vancouver had with Luongo. Suddenly, we were all filled with regret, but there seemed to be nothing we could do about it. Luongo was gone and he was never coming back.

Schneider’s trade meant that we had a chance, however, and we needed one last grand gesture to show Luongo how we really feel. Like John Cusack in Say Anything, we turned to the power of music. Unlike John Cusack, we wrote our own dang song, because really, put some effort in, Cusack.

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Thieves make off with Roberto Luongo’s tires, leave him with useless tire pump

Nothing is going Roberto Luongo’s way this off-season. Instead of finally getting traded out of Vancouver to a place with less drama — say, The CW — he took his mind off his troubles at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Unlike last year, when he finished in the money, Luongo busted out on the second day of the tournament, leaving empty-handed.

Fortunately he’s got that whole hockey thing to fall back on, except for the fact that he’s been tight-lipped about his potential return to the Canucks next season, leaving many fans nervous. Personally, I’m not too concerned, as Luongo’s had other things on his mind, like his brother’s wedding in Montreal last week.

He returned Monday to his home in Florida, likely hoping that the rest of the off-season would be quiet and uneventful.

Of course, since it’s Luongo, that’s impossible. He woke up this morning to find that thieves had stolen all four tires from his SUV. Seriously, this guy has no luck.

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Spitballin’ on who’s skating, who isn’t, who signed, who didn’t, and Sedin-inspired hot dogs

Spitballin’ (or Super Pass It To Bulis: All In, if you love adventurous acronymizing) is a feature that allows us to touch on a multitude of things really fast, because in the world of hockey, there are always lots of things to find and colour. Here are a few quick topics. *** Still no movement on Chris Tanev negotiations Last month, we [...]

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Alex Edler

Alex Edler has become a surprisingly polarizing figure in Vancouver, with seemingly as many detractors as fans. The problem, essentially, is that he’s not as good as he looks. Really, that’s not that big a problem, because he looks like a combination of Nicklas Lidstrom and Chris Pronger with his smooth skating, big body, booming slapshot, and slick passing.

Fans have been waiting years for Edler to develop into a dominant, all-around, number one defenceman and lead the Canucks to glory. His skillset and calm demeanour seem to suggest that every season could be the one where he breaks out and it all comes together, but it never quite happens. He looks like he could be one of the best defencemen in the league, but he falls just short every year.

For any other defenceman, falling just short of “best” would be good enough, but fans tend to expect a lot more out of Edler. Every giveaway is magnified, as his puck control is too good to give up the puck so easily. Every missed slapshot is a disappointment, as his shot is just too good for him to miss like that. Every defensive miscue is heightened in the eyes of Canucks fans, as the best defencemen in the league simply don’t get beat like that.

Perhaps it’s time to let go of those hopes and dreams and accept Edler for who he is. He’s not a number one defenceman in the conventional sense, like Shea Weber or Zdeno Chara. That’s something I’ve been saying for a couple years. He is, however, a very good defenceman, who is capable of putting up points, playing big minutes at even-strength and on the powerplay, and occasionally throwing a big hit or two. And that’s okay. With quality defencemen like Dan Hamhuis, Jason Garrison, and Kevin Bieksa on the team, along with quality youth like Chris Tanev and Frank Corrado, the Canucks don’t really need Edler to be a number one defenceman. They just need him to contribute as best he can.

Last season, he contributed eight goals, which isn’t too shabby. Here they are:

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Maxim Lapierre

It wasn’t the best of seasons for Maxim Lapierre. The third line centreman’s job was his to lose from the moment the club shut down Manny Malhotra, and while he never formally lost it, he did little to show the Canucks he should have it. He just seemed a little off all season, and he wound up bouncing back and forth between lines three and four without ever really cementing a role.

Still, he scored four goals. (and a half, reminds Jason Brough, since his shootout winner versus Columbus was the closest thing we got to a goal on that night.)

Lapierre may be gone, now a member of the St. Louis Blues, but he’s not forgotten. He can’t be, because we have yet to do his entry in the Every Goal series. So let’s get to that.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Zack Kassian

Zack Kassian started strong for the Canucks, scoring five goals in the month of January and looking like he might be on his way to an outright theft of Alex Burrows’ job as the third Sedin. Unfortunately, he fell out of Alain Vigneault’s favour and down the depth chart shortly thereafter, spending most of the season tarrying in the bottom six forwards while frustrated fans, thinking of his hot start, grew to see Vigneault as the reason it was no longer January. (Really, their beef was with Numa Pompilius, who added February to the Roman calendar in 713 B.C.).

But while Kassian’s season eventually turned into a disappointment, it still had its fair share of bright spots. Seven, to be exact. Let us relive them now.

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How will the 2014 Olympics affect Roberto Luongo’s performance for the Canucks?

Now that it seems safe to say that Roberto Luongo will be showing up at training camp next season — wait, it is safe to say now, right? Did I just invoke some sort of jinx that will keep this nonsense going for another few months? — we can start to look at what that season will look like.

Some suggest that the only reason Luongo will return to the Canucks next season is because he wants the starting job for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. While Luongo has the edge for the number one role after winning gold at the 2010 Olympics, his inconsistent performance during the turbulent 2013 season means his position isn’t all that secure. In order to cement his spot, he’ll need to perform well during the first couple months of the 2013-14 season and, in order to perform well, he’ll need to have a team to perform for.

All of this has Canucks fans excited about the prospect of a motivated Luongo, eager to prove he’s ready to repeat with Team Canada. It also has some other fans worried about how the extra workload will affect his performance after the Olympics. Looking back at 2010, there appears to be some cause for concern.

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Every Goal, 2012-13: Dale Weise

The third annual Every Goal series will run through the remainder of the summer, remembering every goal scored by the Canucks, player by player. Today, we take a look at Dale “The Piece” Weise.

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Ryan Kesler chosen by Buzzfeed to lead the gay revolution at the 2014 Olympics

It’s not often that the Vancouver Canucks find themselves on Buzzfeed. This is a good thing for several reasons. For one thing, it’s in everybody’s best interests that David Booth be kept as far away from all those animals as possible. For another: Buzzfeed’s writers know very little about the Vancouver Canucks.

At least that’s what I infer from a recent article titled Could This Straight Hockey Player Be The Face Of Gay Rights In The Sochi Olympics?, in which a gentleman named Logan Rhoades posits, with what appears to be complete sincerity, that Ryan Kesler, yes, Ryan Kesler could lead the gay uprising in Sochi. He could be Russia’s gay Che Guevara — “Ge Guevara”, if you will.

I’d say this is the most ridiculous and bewildering thing they’ve ever posted, but “The Story Of Egypt’s Revolution In ‘Jurassic Park’ Gifs” is a thing that exists. This one’s a close second.

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