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But there was one
« : marzo 01, 2019, 12:31:29 am »
VANCOUVER – Anyone (and, these days, everyone it seems) can come up with mid-term report cards and breakdown the hockey season with letter grades. So I’ll let everyone else go the alphabet soup route with their mid-season evaluation of the Vancouver Canucks, who reached the halfway point of their 2014-15 schedule with a 5-1 loss in Nashville on Tuesday night. Instead, I offer up my likes and dislikes from the first half of a season that started with such promise, but has hit a few potholes of late. LIKE: The fact the Canucks are on the right side of the playoff bar in the West. DISLIKE: The direction they’re trending with three straight losses and just two goals in those games. LIKE: The fact they have games in hand on the teams around them in the playoff race. DISLIKE: The lack of energy around the team lately. The hope has to be that it’s a mid-season malaise combined with a stubborn flu bug that seems to be lurking in the locker room. LIKE: The sense of calm from management and the coaching staff even as the team appears to be reaching its first crisis of the season. DISLIKE: The length of leash some of the unproductive players continue to be given, although that seems to have changed in recent games. LIKE: The way ice time is allocated throughout the lineup which should help the team have the balance necessary to remain competitive in the second half of the season. DISLIKE: In all the close games they’ve been involved in since Christmas, the fact that the Canucks have three third period goals in that eight game span. All of them came against Detroit, and two were into an empty net. The Canucks have held firm to the belief that fresher players will be better late in games. That hasn’t been the case since the holiday break when they’ve been outscored 9-3 in third periods and managed to win just three of eight games (3-4-1). LIKE: The goaltending. Even though Eddie Lack allowed a stinker that sealed the deal in Nashville, he provided enough goaltending to give the Canucks a chance to get something out of Music City, but the team in front of him had to score a second goal. Since the middle of December, Lack and Ryan Miller have been terrific and the tandem has given the team the type of netminding it’ll need to make a playoff push. DISLIKE: The discrepancy in starts between Miller and Lack. Miller has started 30 games and Lack just 11 (and that includes three of the last four). Miller has talked about the need to stay fresh in his first season on the West Coast. For the good of the team and with a busy schedule in February and March, it’s probably going to have to be closer to a 25-16 split of starts over the second half of the season. LIKE: The penalty killing almost all season long. That’s one area the Canucks have excelled, and the battle level has been high from all involved. DISLIKE: The power play at key times, particularly in recent games against Florida and Nashville. In so many tight games, a power play goal can be the difference, but the Canucks power play has suffered too many outages of late. LIKE: Radim Vrbata. It’s been a few years since the Canucks had a one-shot scorer, and with 16 goals (in 38 games), Vrbata has been dangerous and consistent and in my opinion, the team’s first half MVP. He was brought in to score goals and, at 33, leads all NHLers over 30 in goal-scoring so far this season. DISLIKE: The fact that Vrbata is the team’s only double-digit goal scorer at the midway mark, and that follows a year in which the team’s only 20-goal scorer was shipped out of town is concerning. LIKE: Bo Horvat. The best prospect the Canucks have had in years has arrived and is taking a regular shift on a nightly basis. He has pro size and hasn’t looked out of place in the NHL as a 19-year-old. He has been given key defensive assignments and has emerged as the team’s best faceoff man in the first half of the season. DISLIKE: That, as a top-10 draft pick, Horvat hasn’t had a little more impact offensively and that the club is still relying on too many older players. Five of the team’s top seven scorers are over the age of 30. Nick Bonino and Brad Richardson are the only Canucks under 30 with more than 16 points in the first 41 games. LIKE: Derek Dorsett. He’s been a solid fourth line addition to the hockey club who competes hard, plays bigger than his size, kills penalties and has been a season-long mentor to rookie Bo Horvat. DISLIKE: That Dorsett is the only forward who consistently brings a physical edge. The rest of the forward group doesn’t offer much in the way of push-back. The Canucks haven’t been pushed around on many nights, but they don’t initiate physical contact very often and don’t give the appearance of a team that would wear down an opponent in a seven game playoff series. LIKE: The pairing of Alex Edler and Chris Tanev. Together they have formed a legitimate NHL duo capable of playing in all situations and against all opponents. They’ve logged big minutes and most nights have kept the other team’s top players in check. DISLIKE: The chaos that ensues when the other defensive pairings are on the ice most nights. The loss of Dan Hamhuis in game 20 has certainly affected the stability of the defensive core of the hockey club and has left too many players playing above their rightful spots on the depth chart. LIKE: The opportunity general manager Jim Benning has between now and the March 2 trade deadline to continue to remodel the hockey club and put his stamp on it. He showed a willingness – almost an eagerness – to make deals shortly after taking the reins last spring. The time has come once again for him to continue an overhaul of an aging core that will soon be four years removed from its run to the Stanley Cup Final. DISLIKE: That organizationally, the Canucks’ biggest stockpile of assets is in goal. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, it’s just that as the team has learned in recent years, the market for goalies is a curious one that rarely yields the hoped for return. If Benning is going to make a deal to help the hockey club this season, he will likely have to package a goalie with a roster player and/or prospects to get anything of significance in return. LIKE: The passion of the Canucks fan base whether on the phone boards on TSN 1040 post-game shows or on social media. DISLIKE: There’s no real dislike here. I recognize that everyone sees things differently and has varying opinions about the state of the hockey club and the players on it. That’s what makes being part of the post-game shows on TSN 1040 so much fun. Let’s just hope the second half of the season presents as many intriguing storylines as the first 41 games have. And regardless how the season plays out, know that I’ll be on the radio and online to continue offering my thoughts about the Canucks as they push to get back in the playoffs. Nike React Outlet . Defenceman Tessa Bonhomme was among three players released from the team Tuesday morning along with defenceman Brigette Lacquette of Waterhen, Man. Nike React Discount Cheap . According to a report from the Hamilton Spectator, Infrastructure Ontario has informed the City of Hamilton and the Tiger-Cats the stadium may not be ready by the June 30 deadline. http://www.cheapnikereact.us/ . His Chicago Blackhawks teammates werent shocked when he found it. Kanes career has been defined by his brilliance in the Blackhawks biggest moments, and his tiebreaking goal with 3:45 to play in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals will rank among the best. Nike React Sale Outlet .S. Olympic hockey management team have been making what he called "ghost rosters" since August. Wholesale Nike React Online . -- The NFL cancelled its Hall of Fame game between St.BALTIMORE -- It gets even harder from here on out for California Chrome. He won easily in his home state of California, he dazzled in the Kentucky Derby and he dug deep to win the Preakness on Saturday. Now comes the toughest test of all, the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. The chestnut colt with four white feet will attempt to sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont, something that hasnt been done since Affirmed in 1978. Since then, 12 horses have won the first two legs and failed to complete the sweep in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont; the last was Ill Have Another, who was scratched on the eve of the Belmont two years ago. "You have to have a very good horse to win these three races," said Art Sherman, the winning 77-year-old trainer. "Im hoping Ive got one right now." Maybe the horse with the modest pedigree and average Joe owners is the one. California Chrome defeated Ride On Curlin by 1 1/2 lengths in the Preakness, covering 1 3/16 miles in 1:54.84 on a sunny and cool day at Pimlico. Hes now won six straight races. The streak started with four in a row in California by a combined 24 1/4 lengths. Then California Chrome coasted home in the Derby by 1 3/4 lengths after opening up a big lead in the stretch. The margin dwindled in the Preakness as he fought off multiple challengers. California Chromes co-owner Steve Coburn shed tears after his colt crossed the finish line, dabbing them away with a blue-and-white bandanna. "I dont mean to be bold or cocky or arrogant," Coburn said. "I saw this baby when he was a day old, I told my wife, Carolyn, this horse is going to do something big. I dont know what it is, but were going to stay in the game to make sure this colt gets to be the best that he can be." Quite a statement from a guy with a one-horse stable. Coburn and partner Perry Martin bred an $8,000 mare to a $2,500 stallion to produce California Chrome. Based on the colts humble breeding, he probably shouldnt be on the verge of making history. His mother, named Love the Chase, won just one race. The owners were long shots to get this far, too. Coburn and Martin named their operation DAP Racing, which stands for Dumb Ass Partners. Their silks include an image of a donkey. Coburn and Perry who live on each side of the California-Nevada border get up early for their jobs -- Coburn working as a press operator and Martin running a lab that tests high-reliability equipment. "We just hope that this horse is letting America know that the little guy can win," Coburn said. Sent off as the overwheelming 1-2 favourite by a record crowd of 123,469, California Chrome bounced out of the gate running, with jockey Victor Espinoza moving the colt into the clear.dddddddddddd Pablo Del Monte, a 34-1 shot, charged to the lead and was soon joined by filly Ria Antonia. Espinoza tucked California Chrome into third, an ideal spot behind the leaders. They stayed there until making their move approaching the final turn. "I had to move early today," Espinoza said. "I had to start moving at the half-mile pole, which is tough for a horse to start moving early and keep going all the way to the end. California Chrome proved he can move." California Chrome went for the lead, catching Pablo Del Monte while Social Inclusion joined the chase. Pablo Del Monte soon dropped back along the rail, and California Chrome sprinted away from Social Inclusion at the top of the stretch. But there was one more challenge to come. Ride On Curlin, next-to-last in the 10-horse field, ranged up and briefly appeared ready to overtake California Chrome. Once again showing his class, California Chrome denied the threat. "Its an awesome feeling," Espinoza said. "Today it was just a crazy race. I got more tired mentally than physically. I see another horse go to the front. I was going to sit second. ... I sit back, as soon as the other horse got clear of me, it worked out perfect." Social Inclusion was ridden by Luis Contreras, a jockey based at Torontos Woodbine Racetrack. California Chrome paid $3, $3 and $2.40. Ride On Curlin returned $5.60 and $3.80, while Social Inclusion was another 6 1/2 lengths back in third and paid $3.40 as the 5-1 second choice. General a Rod was fourth, followed by Ring Weekend, Pablo Del Monte, Dynamic Impact, Kid Cruz, Bayern and Ria Antonia. Dynamic Impact is trained by Mark Casse, who is also based at Woodbine. Espinoza will get another crack at trying to complete the Triple Crown, after missing with War Emblem in 2002. He finished eighth in the Belmont that year. "You have to be a super horse to win," the jockey said. "Hopefully, California Chrome comes back good, and hes the one that hopefully can do it." Bob Baffert trained War Emblem, one of his three Triple tries that ended in failure. He missed with Silver Charm in 1997 and again the following year with Real Quiet, who lost the Belmont by a nose. "California Chrome is something. Hes a cool customer," Baffert said after the race. "He does everything right. Hes fast enough to stay out of trouble." ' ' '