Canucks share memories from 14-game trip

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Before the season started, I expected the Flames to take the Northwest division because of Vancouver’s absurd 14-game road streak (lets not even linger upon how wrong I was about Colorado). Even though the giant trip was broken up by the Olympic break, my guess was that would be little solace to Olympians like Roberto Luongo, the Sedin twins and Ryan Kesler.

Clearly, I was dead wrong. The Canucks managed an impressive 8-5-1 record during the road trip and remain atop the Northwest. NHL.com has some really fantastic stuff on the Canucks’ epic road swing. I’ll pick out some of my favorite excerpts to save your delicate, perhaps Constanza-sque hands the beating of all that clicking and scrolling.

One of the better articles I’ve read in quite some time features the reflections of various Canucks players regarding the trip.

BEST CANUCKS SUPPORT

Tanner Glass — “Phoenix is incredible. We would score and it felt like we were at a home game, it was awesome. Lots of kids asking for autographs standing outside in the sun there, it’s nice, people get down there for a vacation and they take in a Canucks game.”

If this article is any indication, Tanner Glass and Darcy Hordichuk are the best quotes on their team. Hordichuk, in particular, sounds like quite the character.

BEST SLEEP

Darcy Hordichuk — “I’m fortunate enough to be a pretty good sleeper, but in Colorado it was the best. You open the windows and get some of that fresh air and you get a view of the mountains and it’s just such peaceful scenery. That’s a city anyone can have a good night’s sleep in.”

BEST MEMORY

Tanner Glass — “It was long, there was a lot of plane rides, a lot of busing and a lot of wake-up calls. That’s probably going to be my biggest memory actually, waking up to Hordi’s chanting every morning, that will stick with me for a while, as much as I’d like to get rid of it. I don’t even know what he is chanting, I don’t think it’s in English, he just wakes up and opens the blinds and lets the sunlight come in and then he yells something in Yiddish or something. That’s my memory.”

Jump for some fascinating stats (and joke stats) from the Canucks’ historic road trip.


Finally, here are some of my favorite factoids from Derek Jory’s “by the numbers” take on the Canucks’ road trip. Again, great job by NHL.com to go beyond the obvious and come up with some really colorful takes on this unusual situation.

  • 42 – Days away from General Motors Place
  • 13 – North American cities visited (Columbus twice)
  • 3 – Time zones visited (9 East, 3 Central, 2 Mountain)
  • -15.8 – Coldest city (in degrees Celsius) visited (Ottawa)
  • +15.5 – Warmest city (in degrees Celsius) visited (Phoenix)
  • 20,737 – Total kilometers traveled (11,608 first half, 9,129 second half)
  • 30 hours, 17 minutes – Total flight time (16:35 first half, 13:42 second half)
  • 7 – Times Darcy Hordichuk sang, “This is the trip that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends…”
  • 28 – Points up for grabs
  • 17 – Points earned
  • 6 – Comeback wins
  • 22,235 – Highest attendance (Chicago)
  • 12,861 – Lowest attendance (Colorado)
  • 0 – Times Daniel Sedin pretended to be twin brother Henrik or vice versa
  • 2,520 – Facebook status updates, in millions, by users since the Canucks left

(H/T to Alix Wright from Canucks Hockey Blog)

Flames get Johnny Gaudreau back way ahead of schedule

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 5: Johnny Gaudreau #13 of the Calgary Flames in action against the Los Angeles Kings during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on April 5, 2016 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
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Some good news if you’re a fan of the Calgary Flames.

Johnny Gaudreau, who missed 10 games with a finger injury, will be back in their lineup for Sunday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Flames forward was injured in a game against Minnesota on Nov. 15 (he was slashed by Eric Staal), and after he underwent surgery, the team announced that he’d be out six weeks.

In the end, he missed less than three weeks of action.

“I’m ready to play,” Gaudreau said, per NHL.com. “I think the finger’s healed up pretty well there. I’m just excited to get things going here.

“I think they did a great job with my finger and we did a great job rehabbing it. They keep tell me it’s going to be harder to break the nine other fingers than to re-hurt this one. It feels good. It feels good when I shoot. I’m excited to finally get out of there.”

He’ll be playing with some added protection, as Calgary’s equipment manager made this glove for him:

Before Gaudreau got hurt, the Flames had a 6-10-1 record. But thanks to improved team play and some strong performances from goalie Chad Johnson, they managed to go 6-3-1 in, while Gaudreau was out.

The 23-year-old has five goals and six assists in 17 games, but he had scored three goals in three games before getting hurt.

Related:

Gaudreau injury a reminder as to how star players are treated

Boudreau: Flames made “mountain out of a molehill” over Gaudreau slash

Garret Sparks plays for first time since being suspended by Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 30:  Garret Sparks #31 of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets set to face the Edmonton Oilers in an NHL game at Air Canada Centre on November 30, 2015 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Oilers 3-0. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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Garret Sparks made waves for all the wrong reasons last week, as he was suspended by the Maple Leafs for remarks he made on social media.

Sparks officially made his return on Saturday night in the Marlies’ 3-2 loss to the Hartford Wolf Pack. He stopped 27 of 30 shots.

“It’s been a lot to deal with. I understand what I did,” Sparks said, per TSN.ca. “[The incident] wasn’t me. That’s not who I want to be known as, it’s not the image I want my reputation to have.

“I should know the difference between what I can and can’t say. It’s just holding myself to a higher standard of professionalism.”

The 23-year-old actually returned to the team on Tuesday, but didn’t play until yesterday.

With Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen dealing with an illness, the Leafs recalled Antoine Bibeau, which opened the door for Sparks to make his return.

Sparks has been limited to just five AHL games this year, but he was between the pipes for 17 NHL games in 2015-16.

‘We were awful’: Duchene calls out Avs after latest shutout loss

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 19:  Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche awaits a face off against the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center on December 19, 2015 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Oilers 5-1.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The Colorado Avalanche are one of those teams that’s hard to figure out.

They have plenty of offensive talent on their roster, and going from Patrick Roy to Jared Bednar was supposed to help get the most out of their star players.

But through 23 games, that hasn’t been the case.

Going into Sunday’s action, they find themselves in the basement of the Western Conference with a 9-13-1 record.

It doesn’t help that they’ve had to deal with a number of injuries. They were dealt an even bigger blow on Saturday, when they announced that Erik Johnson (leg) would be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Gabriel Landeskog and Fedor Tyutin are also dealing with lower-body injuries.

“Injuries are no excuse, but it helps to have some of those guys in the lineup,” Bednar said, per the Denver Post. “You’re missing a pair on ‘D.’ I still can’t help but feel we have more to give. .. You still have to stick with it and work through it. That’s the only way you get out of it is to work out of it.”

Colorado had an opportunity to get things on track, but they finished their latest homestand with an 0-4-1 record. Yikes!

One of the biggest problems with this team is that they can’t seem to find the back of the net with any regularity.

No team has scored less times than the Avalanche, who are tied for last with a league-worst 49 goals for. They’ve also been shut out five times already in 2016-17.

Their power play was so bad against Dallas that Bednar decided to start the man-advantage with John Mitchell and Blake Comeau at one point.

“We were awful. I totally get why he did what he did,” forward Matt Duchene said after Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Dallas. “It’s frustrating. We’re just not executing right now. I think we’re overthinking things because we haven’t been winning.

“We’re not playing good hockey right now.”

With Corey Crawford out, ‘Hawks recall goalie Lars Johansson from AHL

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 17: Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks follows the action against the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on January 17, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks were dealt a blow yesterday, when they announced that starting goalie Corey Crawford would miss two-to-three weeks after undergoing an appendectomy on Saturday.

With Crawford unavailable yesterday, Chicago was forced to look for an emergency backup in the Philly area. Ultimately, they settled on former temple goalie Eric Semborski.

On Sunday, they got their goaltending situation in order, as they recalled Lars Johansson from the AHL.

Johansson, 29, is in his first season in North America. He played the previous 10 years over in Sweden with Mora IK, Vasteras IK and Frolunda HC.

In the AHL, he’s posted a 6-7-1 record with a 2.63 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in 2016-17.

His numbers in the minors might not look good, but Johansson had the best goals-against-average (1.74) in the top league in Sweden last year.

The Blackhawks also sent forward Nick Schmaltz to the minors.

Schmaltz, who was Chicago’s first-round pick in 2014, made the team out of training camp, but has played limited minutes.

The 20-year-old has just one goal and three assists, while averaging 11:46 of ice time in 2016-17.

Playing a larger role with AHL Rockford should be good for his confidence.