Canucks look to rebound against Blues
The Sports Network said tonight’s clash between the Canucks and the St. Louis Blues will provide an end to a multiple-game losing steak for one of the competing teams.
“Both the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks will be trying to stop season-long losing streaks tonight when they battle at General Motors Place,” said the Sports Network.
“The Blues have lost their last five games, getting outscored 27-13 in that span. St. Louis was routed in its last two games, a home-and-home set with Nashville.”
“Manny Legace allowed five goals on 26 shots in defeat and has struggled as of late. The All-Star is 0-2-1 with a 4.02 goals-against average over his last four starts in a stretch that includes him leaving one game early due to a right arm injury.”
“Legace is 6-4-1 with a tie in 13 games (12 starts) lifetime versus Vancouver.”
“Like Legace, Canucks netminder Roberto Luongo
has been less than stellar over his last four starts. He is 0-3-1 with a 3.00 GAA in that span, as Vancouver's current four-game losing streak has featured three loses by one goal, including a shootout setback,” said the Sports Network.
“The Canucks netminder was also named to the All-Star squad, but will not play in the game, opting instead to spend time with his pregnant wife during the break. He will also miss Vancouver's first game after the All-Star festivities as well.”
“The Canucks are trying to avoid their first five-game slide since March 5-14, 2006.”
“Vancouver's last two setbacks have come on a four-game homestand that wraps up after the All-Star break on Tuesday against Dallas. The Canucks are 13-9-2 as the home club this year.”
“These two clubs have met twice so far this year, splitting a pair of games in St. Louis. “
“While the Canucks have won four of the last six in the series, the Blues have posted a victory in six of the last 10,” said the Sports Network.
“However, St. Louis has lost two straight in Vancouver and is 2-7 with two ties in its last 11 trips there.”
“Luongo is 6-6-0 with a 2.28 GAA in 12 career games against the Blues.”
Jaffray bounces Beech off the roster
Brad Ziemer said Jason Jaffray reclaimed his roster spot from Kris Beech in the latest Canuck transaction.
“Centre Kris Beech cost Jason Jaffray his roster spot with the Vancouver Canucks two weeks ago. Today, Jaffray gets it back,” said Ziemer.
“The Canucks waived Beech on Tuesday and called up Jaffray, who will play tonight against the St. Louis Blues.”
“Beech played in four games with the Canucks. The Sicamous native had a goal and an assist after being claimed on waivers from the Columbus Blue Jackets, but his lack of foot speed was deemed a liability by Canuck coach Alain Vigneault,” said Ziemer.
"When we picked up Kris it was for depth at centre and I think he's come in and done a good job for us when we have used him," Vigneault said.
"But he's got areas he needs to improve and if he clears waivers he'll go work on those in Manitoba. But we felt that we had a little more offensive torque, or punch, or whatever when Jaffray was here."
“Vigneault said he hadn't decided exactly where Jaffray would play tonight, but he could replace Trevor Linden on a line with Markus Naslund and rookie Mason Raymond
,” said Ziemer.
“Jaffray had five goals in 13 games in his first stint as a Canuck. He has 12 goals and 25 points in 24 games with the Manitoba Moose this season.”
“Beech, 26, was selected seventh overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1999 draft and has recorded 25 goals in 193 NHL games. He was a healthy scratch in Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild and before that game Vigneault had expressed concern about his skating,” said Ziemer.
"I see skill there, but skating for me is a bit of an issue, those first couple of steps," Vigneault said. "I'm not quite sure how much more you can improve at this stage of your career."
Nonis's hands are tied by supply and demand: GM wants offensive help but so do 25 of the league's other teams
Ed Willes said the slowness of the NHL trade market will cause problems for Vancouver who looks to improve weaknesses.
“This may come as a newsflash to those Vancouver Canucks fans clamoring for change, but Dave Nonis is aware his team is suffering from certain deficiencies,” said Willes.
“More to the point, Nonis knows his team has goal-scoring challenges. Still more to the point, he's aware there are nights when they couldn't put a ball bearing past Hardy Astrom.”
“The Canucks GM, moreover, has been trying to address this issue since the start of the season, but there's a slight problem. There are about 25 other teams looking for the same thing as Nonis which, if you're familiar with the laws of supply and demand, means the trade market is currently stopped up like a constipated cow.”
“That also means, in order to address their crying lack of scoring, the Canucks reached into Manitoba on Tuesday and recalled Jason Jaffray, who isn't exactly the answer to their prayers but given the circumstances is their best option,” said Willes.
"There are no deals out there," Nonis said. "I think everyone is somewhat frustrated."
"I thought there'd be more opportunity. I think everyone thought there'd be more opportunity. I mean, it's almost February and there hasn't been a major deal. When was the last time that happened? Probably never."
“But it's happened this year and while it comes as little consolation to Nonis, he's hardly alone in this matter,” said Willes.
“The NHL is now roughly a month away from its Feb. 26 trade deadline and judging from commentary provided by GMs around the league, the market is currently deader than Arsenio Hall's career.”
“That's bad enough. What's worse is it's not likely to spring to life any time soon.”
“The problem, of course, is the Los Angeles Kings are the only one of the NHL's 30 teams which has played itself out of postseason contention. That's also created a market overloaded with buyers in search of the same thing -- offence -- and that commodity has become as precious as gasoline in the Mad Max movies. But there are other issues in play here,” said Willes.
“There is also the nightmarish reminder of last year's big deadline deals fresh in the minds of GMs. To recap: Peter Forsberg, Ryan Smyth and Keith Tkachuk all went to playoff teams at the deadline for the equivalent of three first-round draft picks apiece.”
“The teams which made the moves -- Nashville, the Islanders and Atlanta, respectively -- were all knocked out in the first round.”
“Suffice to say, those results haven't encouraged similar deals.”
“So, for a number of reasons, this year's market isn't offering much. Tampa Bay could change that if it decides to move one of its big three -- Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards or Vinny Lecavalier. Mats Sundin would add some zip, but he has to waive his no-trade. Marian Hossa could shake free,” said Willes.
“The most attractive player, in fact, might be Peter Forsberg simply because he's currently unrestricted and will only cost money to sign. Beyond that, there are some pseudo-rumours involving your Alex Tanguays, Michael Ryders and Patrick Marleaus, but there isn't much to sink your teeth into.”
“Nonis, for his part, has both cap room and young assets as bargaining chips. He's also been trying to make a conventional hockey trade for months involving one of the organization's young players for a young forward and it hasn't happened.”