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November 6, 2001
Vancouver @ Columbus

Well, it has been a while. Sorry about that. I have been extremely busy lately - exams, assignments, work - ah the life of a university stooge.

Anywho, enough of that - on with the show!
The Canucks came out of the gate in Columbus looking like they were still recovering from hangovers after their embarassing loss in San Jose (I'm not going to get into it - all I can say is that Brochu ain't gonna cut it. Thank God the Canucks realized that too). They were slow, sloppy and seemed generally surprised by the early jump displayed by the BJ's.

Columbus scored early on a short-handed breakaway by Espen Knutsen - actually both goals against the Canucks came on breakaways. The second goal against the 'Nucks was scored when Naslund was tripped up at the BJ blueline and no call was made and Sean Pronger (yes, Chris's brother)flew in all alone on Dan Cloutier, who looked strong all game and was the reason the Canucks were in it at all after the first period.

During the second it seemed like the Canucks came out of their daze and were surprised to realize that they were in the middle of a hockey game. They began throwing more hits and playing more upbeat, and were finally rewarded with two goals - one by Todd Bertuzzi (he deflected a Jovanovski shot into the net) and one by Jovocop himself off a Naslund rebound.

Oh yeah, did I mention that this was Todd Bertuzzi's first game back after his ten game suspension and he had a goal and an assist. They really missed Bert out there.

In the third, Brendan Morrisons scored a goal that was the kind only superstars are supposed to be able to do.

The standout players for the Canucks were many - Jovo (1g, 1a), Bert (1g, 1a), Nazzy (2a), Mo (1g, 1a), and Clouts (26 saves). Others not involved in scoring that stood out were Jason Strudwick (yet again playing forward), Murray Baron (they REALLY missed him), and Justin Kurtz (without his good play, the game winning goal never would have happened).

The positives are beginning to outweigh the negatives and the Canucks all know and love are showing signs of returning... for now.

October 23, 2001
Vancouver vs. Nashville

Hey there. Before I get to the Nashville Game Report, I would like to apologize for not writing one up for the sixty minutes of humiliation that was the game agaisnt Anaheim. There were two reasons that I didn't get around to it. 1) I was too depressed. 2) I had the option of writing the game report and then wallowing in self pity or studying for a midterm, giving myself a chance to pass said psyc midterm and then wallow in self pity. So I do apologize.

Anywho, on to the game against Nashville. I was glad to see our boys looking better than they have lately. They were more responsible in their own end and they didn't give up nearly as many odd-man rushes. I guess they figured that they may have their goalies going on strike in the near future if they weren't given some kind of support.

The first and third periods were the most entertaining, as the second period tended to lull and consisted of penalties and a lot of neutral zone trapping. The Canucks scored first and second, and at the end of the first period they had a good 2-0 lead. The second period saw the Canucks powerplay flounder on a ninety second 5-3 that was pretty pathetic to say the least. However I think that the Canucks had better concentrate on getting their 5 on 5 game back on track before they try to improve on the special teams.

The standout players of the game were Brendan Morrison (the #1 star with two assists and a goal), Matt Cooke (hitting anything and everything that was not in a Canucks jersey), Jovo (now tied for first in goals among defencemen) and Dan Cloutier (not a spectacular night, but I would prefer that he didn't have to be spectacular to win games.)

Now I will turn everything over to a special guest columnist - my roomate who celebrated the Canuck victory with me tonight be coming out and getting totally hammered. She will here on after be known as Crazy Canuck. Keep in mind that we have been drinking, so take what she has to say with a grain of salt!

Crazy Canuck:
"I would just like to mention to those who were doubtful of the Canucks abilities (such as myself at times) that thay played very well tonight. I would especially like to mention a player that was not named one of the three stars tonight (although he should have been): Matt Cooke. He played with passion and definitly contributed physically to the play, drawing a penalty. Also, Cloutier was very good. I would like to mention that Cloutier has proved to be much better than the goaltending last year. Unlike Potvin, Cloutier is not the human sieve. Also at this time I would like to mention to all the ladies (or girls-you know who you are) that Jovo, Nazzy, Cookie and Cloutier are all foxes. Even if Canada Girl adds a disclaimer, I know from personal experience that she agrees (about the foxiness).

October 20, 2001
Phoenix 5, Vancouver 2

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Here is a game that the Canucks should have won and didn't. They almost came close after yet again taking the first period off. The second period and the first half of the third period belonged to the Canucks, but alas half a game never leads to a win. The Canucks were awful in the first period, as once again their defensive zone coverage was, as Marc Crawford put it, "pourous." Brochu was solid in the first two periods and was the reason the Canucks were still in the game. The score was 2-0 Phoenix early in the game (would have been much worse if Brochu hadn't been good), and the Canucks had tied it 2-2 midway through the third and when crunch time came, Brochu couldn't make the big save. Late in the third, Brochu let in two nearly identical goals over his shoulder after he had gone down too early.

The positives for Vancouver were that Brendan Morrison looks like he is doing better. He was involved in both Canuck goals(1g-1a) and was the reason that the Canucks were gaining some momentum in the third. However, poor coverage was once again the undoing of the Canucks. The Coyotes scored an empty netter to add salt to Vancouver's wounds.

October 18, 2001
Vancouver 5, Toronto 6

Cujo said it best at the end of this barn burner that he has decided to rename GM Place "the OK Corral" because of the shootouts that always take place when the Leafs are in town. The Leafs never gave the Canucks the chance to be in the lead, and by the end of the first period, the score was 3-1 in favour of the visitors. It wasn't like the Leafs were playing exceptionally well either, but when your defence is running around on the ice with their heads up their you-know-whats, it is bound to happen. The Leafs were given every oppourtunity to score, and they took advantage. The Canucks had no business being in this one, and they would have had no chance at all if it were not for two things. 1) Despite letting in 6 goals on 18 shots, Dan Cloutier could only be faulted for one of those goals (the first by Shayne Corson - Cloutier was off balance when he went down and couldn't make the save.) He was far from spectacular (like in Dallas and Colorado) but he was solid. 2)Markus Naslund scored a hat trick, but to no avail. Nazzy's first goal was a beauty, his second came after he was awarded a penalty shot when Cujo threw his stick to make a save, and the third came about five minutes before the end of the game. Naslund was the only player in a Canucks uniform that put any effort into the game. I have been especially disappointed of late with the all-star defencemen that Vancouver has. All summer long, everyone was harping about goaltending problems. At this rate we will never get an accurate reading of how our goaltending is doing if shooters are allowed to stand around inside the crease and take up to three shots on goal. Too many times the Canuck defence was rooting around in the corners for the puck, never realizing that Toronto had set up a beauty of a shot. Keep your eyes open next time, please.

October 16, 2001
Vancouver 2, Panthers 2

So to kick off comeback week in Vancouver, former Canuck Pavel Bure was back in town for the first time in nearly three years. I think everyone was expecting a lot of this game, and when all was said and done a lot of people were left disappointed by the lack of emotion displayed by either team. The Panthers played what could be described as their best game of the season so far. The Canucks on the other hand turned in one of their weaker games of the year with more turn overs than the infamous home opener against Chicago.

The Vancouver crowd rained a light shower of boos on Bure every time he touched the puck, but other than that the fans seemed disinterested. This was the first time this season that GM Place was not sold out, which is surprising considering the opposition. Maybe it is a sign that Vancouver has come to terms with the fact that Bure got what he wanted in Florida (more money and annonimity) and Vancouver got what it wanted in Ed Jovanovski, who I think is a much more all-around player. Pavel Bure may score 60 goals a season, but he is a liability on the ice, usually with a plus/minus that barely breaks even.

During the overtime, the two teams seemed to wake up and finally get into the game. Both teams had several good scoring chances, but good goaltending at both ends made sure that this one would end in a tie. Trevor Kidd stopped several attacks by the Sedins and Scott Lachance, while Dan Cloutier was once again the hero of the game for Vancouver. Cloutier was all alone to face the Russian Rocket on a break away late in the overtime. The Vancouver crowd was nearly silent as Bure cruised down the ice towards Cloutier, and when Bure was denied by a paddle save and a smothering of the rebound, the fans gave Danny a minute long standing ovation. Had Bure scored on that play, the Canucks would never have heard the end of it from the media or the fans, and Bure would have had his just desserts.

October 11, 2001
Vancouver 4, Dallas 1

October 13, 2001
Vancouver 4, Colorado 0

Now that is more like it. I admit that even I, a die-hard 'Nucks fan was getting worried. They can only play their butts off and still lose so many times before bad things start to happen. However, we are no longer faced with that bleak situation because our boys have started to win - and how!

Because I am so behind (sorry eh?) I am covering both the Dallas and Colorado game at the same time, which is alright because a lot of the same people were involved. So, where to begin? I guess the fact that Nazzy is showing signs of his former glorious self is a very promising thing. I was getting worried, but he seems to be doing much better. He is still not quite back to his old ways, but he is improving quickly and doesn't look so tentative on his bad leg. He even scored a goal (empty netter) in the Dallas game. Yay!

Next - who put what in Trent Klatt's water? Jeez? The guy is a scoring machine! 4 goals in 5 games? I think that was his entire scoring tally for half of last season. I hope he keeps it up, because it is a very pleasant surprise.

Who is that masked man in Vancouver's net? I thought it was Dan Cloutier, but last I heard from the Vancouver media, he couldn't stop a beach ball. Oh, right. It is him and he's making them eat their hats. Ha! I told you all! I am always right! The day of judgement is upon us! A ha ha!
Sorry. Goaltending is a very sensitive subject with me. I really want Cloutier to be IT for a long time, so please excuse me if I go on this way. Seriously though, he played so well in the last two games. He stopped 60 of 61 shots so far and in giving the team a much needed confidence boost. Yay!

For those of you who watched the game against Colorado, you may have noticed the tiniest bit of tension developing between these two teams. I mean come on, there must be a limit to how much you can hate someone. No? Alright then. Ruutu, Jovanovski and Bertuzzi were the Canucks getting in on the giant fight that was the third period. The Avalanche had some people in there too, although I just don't care about them enough to exert myself by typing their names. But I don't hold a grudge. No sir. Bertuzzi is facing up to fifteen game suspension for coming off the bench (a major no-no) to defend Jovo and Nazzy. He also maybe, possibly shoved his big old elbow in somebody's face (also a no-no). That will be decided within the next day or so, so look for that soon. Ruutu is also a maybe for a suspension for kneeing. Oops. I'll keep you posted on those developments.

Over all I think that the Canucks played very well through these two games and proved that they can compete with the elite of the league. They proved that they can, in fact, beat the crap out of the elite of the league. Way to go boys!

Previous Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down

November 6, 2001
Canucks 3, Blue Jackets 2

Well, the positives in the Canucks game are finally starting to pile up. There were so many good Vancouver players on the ice tonight. I am going to give a big thumbs up to Todd Bertuzzi. In his first game back after a ten game suspension, Bert showed no signs of rust. He was fast, effective and kept up with the pace of the game. He was involved in two of the Canuck goals and was a big asset to the team. His return frees up Trent Klatt to play once again with the Twins. They have sorely needed Klatt's presence, as experiments with different line mates have proven that only Klatt's influence is effective at motivating the Sedins.

Thumbs down goes to Drake Berehowsky, who after being a healthy scratch for the past six games takes two bad penalties and gets himself right back in Crawford's bad books.

Canucks overall play: 8

October 23, 2001
Canucks 4, Predators 2

For the first time in a few games the Canucks actually had a member of their organization among the game's three stars tonight - Ed Jovanovski and Brendan Morrison - but they were only two of the many Canucks that stepped up and realized that tonight was the night that they had to turn things around. I admit that they didn't play their best, but they played the game that made them successful last season - physical and fast. The unsung hero of the game was Matt Cooke who fearlessly pestered away at the visitors from Nashville - drawing penalties and throwing bodies left and right. Cooke was not involved in any of the Canuck goals but he did do all the work in setting the pace for the Canuck line up tonight. Way to go Cookie.

Canucks overall play: 7.5

October 20, 2001
Canucks @ Coyotes

So few people on the Canucks team of late deserve mention in the thumbs up category. However, Brendan Morrison did play very well. He had points on both Canuck goals (1g-1a) and was strong in the face off circle. Goalie Martin Brochu gets my thumbs down for the game, not because he necessarily played badly, but because he couldn't keep the Canucks in it when the game was theirs for the taking.

Canucks overall play: 6.5

October 18, 2001
Canucks vs. Leafs

The best player on the ice tonight was Markus Naslund. He was a force to be reckoned with, which is probably a good reason for him to take the Canucks 6-5 loss to the Leafs all the more hard. He scored his first hat trick of the season and beat Cujo on a penalty shot. At the other end of the spectrum was the once again "porous" Canuck defence. I'm not going to go into it again, but come on guys. Seriously. These games actually count for points.

Canucks overall play: 4
Naslunds overall play: 10

October 16, 2001
Canucks 2, Panthers 2

So many people played such mediocre games tonight that it is hard to chose the best and worst. I think that the most noticeable player was none other than Pavel Bure, but that does not necessarily mean that he was the best. I think that the two teams were relatively on par tonight, which is either a big compliment to the Panthers, or a big slap in the face of the Canucks.

I think that I can say that the Canucks were guilty of far too many turnovers, two of which resulted in goals. The first was less of a turn over than a "here, Pavel, take the puck off my stick and shove it into my net" by Brendan Morrison. The second was Trent Klatt making a blind pass intended for a team mate which was instead picked up by the Panthers Kristian Huselias who was sent on a two on one with Pavel Bure as a decoy. Huselias' goal put the Panthers ahead for the second time in the game. The Canucks played sloppy and they had to pay for it, but they did manage to salvage one point and keep the Panthers at bay during the exciting overtime. Markus Naslund is rapidly returning to form and now has a four game point streak. He was also named the first star of the game for his assist on Jovo's game tying goal. It was a tough call between Nazzy and Cloutier, who once again came up big for the boys.

Canucks overall play: 7

Canucks vs. Stars
Canucks vs. Avalanche

This update is so much more positive than the one here before. That is because the Canucks are winning again, and all is right in the world (of hockey).

So my pick for the person that made all the difference in these two games is Dan Cloutier. He was the #1 star for both games. In Dallas he stopped 38 of 39 shots, including about a billion shots on two Dallas 5 on 3 plays. Against Colorado, he stopped all 22 shots and got his first (and not the last) shut out as a Canuck. He made up for a bad decision in the playoffs last year when Drury scored on him on a breakaway by stopping Alex Tanguay in the same situation. For the first time in a long time, there was a standing O at GM place for a goalie, and the fans were cheering his name.

Canucks overall play: 10