Posts Tagged ‘Alain Vigneault’

Vancouver took a huge step towards its’ first Stanley Cup victory on Friday, beating Boston 1-0 on the strength of a Maxim Lapierre goal.  However, for the fourth time in the series, the Sedin twins were held off the scoresheet.

Daniel totaled 41 goals and 104 points in the regular season, and carried that over to the playoffs where he’s tallied 9 goals and 18 points.  In the regular season, Henrik posted 19 goals and 94 points, and coming into the Stanley Cup Final, led in playoff points with 21 points.

In the Stanley Cup Final, the two have combined for two points (1 goal, 1 assist) through the first five games, and both were in game 2 by Daniel.  Daniel’s taken 20 shots in the series, but Henrik has only four, and didn’t register a shot until game 4.

In the Western Conference Finals against the Sharks, the duo combined for a mind boggling 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) in the five game series.  In game 4 alone, they racked up 7 points in the Canucks 4-3 win.  They tallied 12 points in the first round series against the Blackhawks.  Their second round opponent, Nashville, “slowed” them down for 7 points in 6 games.

The twins haven’t had to carry the load in the Final, which is a good thing for Vancouver.  Guys like Raffi Torres, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen and Maxim Lapierre (regular season total of 55 goals between the four players) have all scored in the series and the team is leading in the series.  But it’s also a bad thing, as the Canucks’ top scorers are not producing.  The biggest problem seems to be on the power play, where the Canucks have gone 1 for 26 in the series, after leading the league with a 24.3% power play.

Have the Bruins shutdown the twins? The Bruins seem to match Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg against the Canucks’ top line every time they touch the ice, neutralizing them.  Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault has given Boston a lot of credit, saying “We’re playing against a real strong opponent right now and we’ve got a lot of respect for how the Bruins play.”  Teammate Kevin Bieksa agreed, “They’re [the Sedins] great players. We rely on them a lot. But they are playing against two pretty good defensemen (Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg).”

If the Sedins can get on the scoreboard in tomorrow night’s game 6, it will increase Vancouver’s chances of winning their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

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Alex Burrows might have been the star of game 2, with his two goals and an assist, including the overtime winner, but for Canucks center Manny Malhotra just playing in the game is a victory.

Malhotra was enjoying a fine 2010-11 season; playing for the league’s best team, scored his 100th career goal, and posted his third straight 30-point season.  But on March 16, his world was flipped upside down.  In a game against the Colorado Avalanche, Malhotra took a puck to the eye.  He underwent surgery the next day, and was ruled out of the rest of the regular season and playoffs.  A second surgery, a week later, was performed to save his eye and vision, according to his brother-in-law, NBA star Steve Nash.  At the time, it was speculated that he might have to retire because of the injury.  It looked like a giant blow to the Canucks’ penalty kill, which was ranked first in the league after being 18th the year before signing Malhotra.

However, as the Canucks kept advancing in the playoffs, the chances Malhotra would rejoin the team increased.  In May, he started practicing, and by the end of the month, he was cleared to play in the Stanley Cup Final.  He sat out game one, but Alain Vigneault inserted him into the lineup for tonight’s game two.

The crowd chanted “Manny, Manny” pregame and gave him a standing ovation when he stepped onto the ice for his first shift, about two minutes into the game.  After the game, he admitted the ovation made him the most nervous he has ever been in his career. He played with a full face shield, despite not using one in the regular season prior to the injury.

In the regular season, Malhotra was second in the league, winning 61.7% of his faceoffs.  The team missed him in game one, where they only won 44% of draws.  Tonight, Malhotra went 6-for-7, and the Canucks as a team improved to 47 %.  He only played 7:26, mainly on the fourth line with Victor Oreskovich and Jeff Tambellini, but contributed on the penalty kill as the Canucks held the Bruins to 1 for 7 on the man advantage.

Malhotra has drawn comparisons to Ian Laperriere, who last year returned for the Stanley Cup Final after taking a puck to the face in the first round, resulting in a concussion.   Fortunately for Malhotra, he isn’t suffering from a brain injury.

With two more Canucks wins, Malhotra will get his name etched on the Stanley Cup, something well worth everything he’s been through this year.

As the NHL season comes to a close, we are going to vote on the NHL Awards, and four of us will pick one candidate each to “campaign” for.  At the bottom, you will see balloting and the final results.

Guy Boucher, Tampa Bay Lightning by Cujo

When you award the Jack Adams, there is only one guy who truly deserves it, and that is Guy Boucher. The hottest free agent head coach coming into this year for good reason, in his 2 years of head coaching (1 season in QMJHL, and 1 in AHL) he went 106-27. He came in, and took essentially the same Tampa Bay Lightning team that was out of playoff contention last year (34-36-12) and has led them to the playoffs this year (46-25-11). He has played a huge part in making Tampa a dangerous team, and it should be interesting to watch them for years to come.

Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh Penguins by Realdeal

As a Flyers fan, the last thing I want to see a Penguin win is some hardware.  But, as a hockey fan, Dan Bylsma deserves the Jack Adams.  Of course, the Penguins had high expectations coming into the season. But the Pens losing their two top players around the same time mid-season, and still staying afloat in the Eastern Conference, almost winning the Atlantic Division, says a lot about Bylsma.  HBO’s 24/7 showed how Bylsma is one of the bright, young coaches in this league, and should get some recognition for it.

Jacques Lemaire, New Jersey Devils by Gabbi

Of the four coaches we have selected, the now former New Jersey Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire is the only one to have not clinched a playoff birth. If, then, his team is not in contention for Lord Stanley’s glory, why should he be considered for the Jack Adams? After leading the Devils to the top spot in the Atlantic Division, Lemaire called it quits, saying he wanted to retire from the team he coached to a Stanley Cup in 1995. The club then brought in John MacLean; the team’s all-time leading goal scorer to coach the club. MacLean then proceeded to lead the team to a 9-22-2 record. Upon his firing midseason, Lemaire took the reins back and was given the daunting task to turn the club around. That he did. In 48 games, his neutral zone style brought the New Jersey Devils 28 wins and only 17 losses. Though his club failed to make the playoffs, they were not eliminated until they had 3 games remaining in their season. And while he may not be the team’s coach anymore, the most deserving of these men for the award is Jacques Lemaire, former coach of the New Jersey Devils.

Alain Vigneault, Vancouver Canucks by Joey

Often times the Jack Adams award has an aura more like a lifetime achievement award for the NHL’s coaching brethren. It’s with that thought in mind Alain Vigneault should win the Jack Adams award. Yes he has won once before in 2007 and has a great team at his disposal, but he also leads a team that just gets better and better year after year. That shows that he isn’t there simply for the ride with elite talents like the Sedins and Luongo in your lineup, he is a driving force behind the Canucks success.

Final Voting

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