Mike Gillis’s decision to use his recently-acquired 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft on OHL center Bo Horvat was met with some disappointment among the Canucks’ fanbase. It was understandable. After all, when you have the opportunity to select “Russian phenom Valeri Nichushkin” and you look him off to grab some dude named Bo, there’s gonna be grumbling.
The decison is somewhat defensible, even if the current optics — Horvat’s still in junior, while Nichushkin is on Dallas’s lethal top line — aren’t good. In today’s NHL, your team’s overall goodness correlates rather closely with your strength down the middle. Think of the league’s best teams in recent years: Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and yes, even Vancouver. They all have one thing in common: elite centres. (Same goes for the league’s most productive wingers.)
For the Canucks to remain competitive, grabbing a centre projected to step into a top-six role down the line was more important than snatching up that year’s hot new import winger. That was the reasoning there, and it wasn’t, well, unreasonable.
Of course, the counterargument was simple: this Youtube collection of Nichushkin’s sexy highlights from Russia. Did Horvat have one of those? Didn’t think so. Way to blow it, Mike.
That’s not to say Horvat can’t contribute a Youtube-able goal, however. Why, he did so just Tuesday night. Feast your eyes on this lovely scoring play.Continue Reading —›
Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?
This week, the Oilers come to town, the Bruins visit Vancouver for the first time since it was on fire, and the Canucks travel to Minnesota.Continue Reading —›
It has been difficult to evaluate the Canucks goaltenders this season. Up until this month, Roberto Luongo had a rather mediocre save percentage, but had held opponents to two or fewer goals in 12 of his last 15 starts. Eddie Lack? Same story, keeping pace with Luongo’s save percentage and allowing more than two goals in just one start, the first of his career.
There was nothing difficult about evaluating Lack on Monday night, however. He was fantastic, making 31 saves against the Carolina Hurricanes for the first shutout of his career, in what was also the first home start of his career.
Lack’s shutout had some Canucks fans joking on Twitter about a new goaltending controversy in Vancouver. Please. We have no interest in being involved in the birth of another one of those debacles.
But seriously, Lack should get the start in the Canucks next game.Continue Reading —›
Roberto Luongo was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday, which is, of course, a nice little honour. But it could have been nicer. At the risk of sounding like a Canadian during the London Olympics, he should have done better than third.
Luongo’s numbers over the week — a 3-0-0 record, a 1.30 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage — were good enough for third place. But one wonders if a shutout would have nudged him a spot or two up the podium.Continue Reading —›