Pacific Division Preview: Can the Canucks Make Playoffs?

In the 2021 shortened season, Canucks fans walked in with confidence high, and expectations higher. A couple of months later they stumbled out of the season in last place in Canada, bitter, angry, and calling for the heads of both coaches and management. Will the team be able to bounce back, or will the downward spiral continue after just one year back in the postseason?

In the 2019-20 season that was unexpectedly shortened by the pandemic, the Vancouver Canucks eliminated the Minnesota Wild in the playoff play in round, the defending champion St. Louis Blues in round one, and (almost exclusively Thatcher Demko) took Vegas to a game seven in round two, where they ended up losing. They did not carry this momentum into 2021’s season, finishing 23-29-4, one point behind Ottawa who were considered to be the doormat of the already weak Canadian North division.

This year, things are different once again. Back to a full 82 game season and back to the Pacific division, what does this mean for Vancouver? Well, the top two teams in the division are near unanimously considered to be Vegas and Edmonton, in that order. That realistically leaves one more division spot open, and two wildcard spots to be shared with the Central Division. The remaining six Pacific teams will have a hard battle for that final spot, and maybe at most one wildcard. Left are the three California teams: San Jose, Las Angeles, and Anaheim, Calgary, the new kids on the block Seattle, and of course the Canucks.

Despite my pessimistic tone, I actually believe the Canucks have a good chance at returning to the post-season. Not necessarily because they are much better than last year, but because their division is even worse. California dominance is dead. LA might take a step forward after a couple of trades and their young core continuing to develop, but the Sharks and Ducks both have looked dead in the water for some time now. Calgary has been spinning their tires in Alberta mud for years and only seem to be sliding backwards, no matter what they do or don’t do. Seattle are the new kids on the block, and could replicate Vegas’ success: draft well, be underrated coming into the season, have brand new stars emerge on a fairly deep team with solid goaltending, lose to the Capitals in the cup final. It could happen, let me dream.

Stacked up against these opponents, the Canucks look… okay. And honestly, okay might be all you need to snag that third or fourth place spot. For now Canucks fans, find peace in this clip.

Blue Jays’ Season all Comes Down to Final Weekend

159 games down, three to go. The fate of the Blue Jays’ year is still up in the air as four teams compete for two wildcard positions in the final weekend of the MLB’s regular season.

The Toronto Blue Jays have had a season of ups and downs, highs and lows. Based on their ratio of runs scored to runs allowed, they should be in contention for a top spot in the conference. Inconsistent pitching, injuries, and untimely weak defense throughout the season have them instead clinging to life in the final days of the season. In the final month of the season the Jays have made an impressive push for a wildcard position, they now have hope that their efforts bear fruit this weekend as they play their final season set against the last place Baltimore Orioles.

With three games remaining Toronto find themselves the fourth of four teams still competing for the two wildcard spots: one game behind both Seattle and Boston, and three games behind the Yankees, who they just lost 2/3 games to this week.

This weekend, the 1st – 3rd, all four of these competing teams have three game sets. The Yankees face off against the first place Tampa Bay Rays. Three losses for New York and three wins for Toronto would leave them tied at the end of the season. Boston will play the 65-94 record Washington Nationals, and Seattle plays the 75-84 record L.A. Angels.

First and foremost, Toronto needs to beet Baltimore. The Orioles took 2/3 games off Boston this week in a huge upset, doing the Jays a massive favor and keeping them in the running. Now, they need to capitalize on the same team that just beat one of their closest opponents. Secondly, either Seattle or Boston need to drop at least one of their games this weekend to leave the door open for Toronto. It is all coming down to the wire, MLB fans are in for a chaotic weekend.

The WHL’s Opening Night: BC Division Preview

The Western Hockey League is preparing to officially kick off their 2021-22 season.

Last year’s season was only a little over 20 games (less for some teams) and saw teams play only within their own divisions. The BC division title was captured by the Kamloops Blazers without much of a fight. Kelowna finished second place, Vancouver third, Prince George fourth and Victoria in last place. How do these teams stack up after a lengthy offseason?

Victoria Royals

The Victoria Royals are finally bottoming out in their cycle. The team has never missed playoffs since relocating from Chilliwack in 2013, barring an act of God this will be the first. Victoria finished last season 3-17-1-1. The only team they beat the entire campaign was the fourth place Cougars, twice in overtime. It is not expected for the Royals to make much of a step forward. Fifth place.

Kelowna Rockets

The Kelowna Rockets have had a large turnover in their roster since placing second last season. Their current roster is riddled with rookies, and their older names were depth players in years prior with a chance to step up now. Their bright spot comes in net with two very capable goaltenders in Cole Schwebius and Roman Basran. I have Kelowna fourth, but far ahead of Victoria and very close to the rest of the pack. Fourth place.

Vancouver Giants

Vancouver finished third last season and will have some serious holes to fill that their over-agers will leave. Trent Miner did a lot to carry that team from the net, especially in the first half of the season when he broke the franchise’s longest shutout streak. Tristen Nielson and Eric Florchuk drove the bus offensively for the team, both gone as well. Having said that, the Giants showed depth last season and will still have players capable of producing. Third place.

Prince George Cougars

Call me crazy. Call me stupid. Call me a homer. Whatever, maybe you are right but hear me out. The Prince George Cougars have had 0 expectations since they won the BC division and then were upset in round 1 by Portland in 2016. Now, years of bottom feeding has paid off in the form of many high draft picks and a fresh faced team of high potential rookies and 17-year-olds. The team was expected to do nothing in the hub last season, yet they finished a game under .500 at 9-10-2-1 with ten rookies on their roster. It turns out these kids can play. Three of their young studs were invited to Canada’s U-18 development camp in the summer, the most of any team in the WHL tied with Regina. This team will surprise people this year. The Cougars also have what could be argued as the best goalie in the entire WHL in Taylor Gauthier, and undisputedly the best goaltending tandem with Tyler Brennan backing him up, both national caliber goalies. There are a lot of variables and factors with this team, but they will only get better as they get more experienced, and will soon be the team to beat. Second place, but 2-4 will all be close.

Kamloops Blazers

The reigning division champs back to back, looking to make it three before the window starts to close. It is easy to be sympathetic towards Blazers fans, they have won everything they possibly can in the last two years and have nothing to show for it because of the pandemic. Because of how fast turnover in the league is, Kamloops’ time in the sun could be coming to a close after this season. The Blazers will take a bit of a hit this year too, mainly in the form of losing Connor Zary to the NHL. The headlining talent will be Logan Stankoven, who will have a massive year with the club after sliding down to the second round in the NHL draft. Backed up by NHL drafted goalie Dylan Garand, it will take a lot to top the depth and talent of the Kamloops Blazers. First place.

 

Musical things to do This Weekend

It is finally Friday, for most of us the work/school week is coming to an end. If you do not have any weekend plans yet, it is not too late to go and see some excellent live music, in some cases for free.

Mariana’s Trench Live in Stanley Park

Popular Vancouver Pop / Rock band Mariana’s Trench is live at the Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park tomorrow night, the 18th, at 7:00. The band has only played one show since January 2020 and will be excited to get back on stage, especially following the news of their 2015 album Astoria hitting platinum status during the week. You can find our more about this show and the band here.

 

An Orchestral Tribute to Daft Punk

Concept Eventz and Alternative Symphony have teamed up to bring Daft Punk to life on stage once again. After the duo announced they were finished together six months ago, this is the content fans have been craving. A live orchestra, including everything from violins to DJs and singers, will perform a collection of Daft Punk’s greatest hits in the Imperial on Saturday night at 8:30pm. Find more information on the event here.

Fourth Annual Monstercat Comound

The fourth annual Monstercat Compound is set to take place, rain or shine, in Railtown on Saturday. The event will feature two stages, 16 different artists and groups, food trucks, beer gardens, video games and more, all for free! You only need to RSVP on the Monstercat  website to gain yourself a spot in this all day block party. For more information on the event, click here.

Sound Sculptures

Local musician Ben Brown has made it his goal in the last year to learn how to play Vancouver as his instrument, and his work is coming to a head in a series of free live performances. For four weeks, Ben will drum on four different sculptures, statues and landmarks around the city, accompanied by live dancers. Last week was show #1, this Sunday afternoon will be show #2 at The Gate to the Northwest Passage at 3:00. For more information on Ben and his show, click here.

Mariana’s Trench Concert Tomorrow: Tickets Still Available!

Mariana’s Trench is live in Stanley Park tomorrow night, you haven’t missed out yet, tickets are still available!

Mariana’s Trench is a Vancouver based Pop Rock band who have found international stardom in the past 20 years. The band has not played a concert together since October 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and related restrictions. The band’s last live show before October was in January 2020, also due to pandemic restrictions. After almost a full year away from the stage, the band and their fans are excited to see them back in action, starting in their home town Vancouver.

This concert is coming just two days after their 2015 album ‘Astoria’ officially went platinum, having sold one million copies. Likely to be in high spirits because of this news and being back on stage, this could be a concert to remember. Ticketmaster still has tickets available for the Malkin bowl show Saturday night, the band has suggested “bringing a trench coat, just in case” the weather is not ideal but the show must go on, rain or shine.

The band has not announced any other plans to play in Vancouver, the lower mainland, or BC in the near future as they begin to schedule shows again. While it looks as though Alberta is off the table, the rest of the world is itching for live entertainment, and it may be some time before they loop back home.

Bublé’s ‘Christmas’ Album to get 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

Michael Bublé is one of Canada’s most famous musicians, and one of Vancouver’s most famous people. He has had multiple albums chart #1 in Canada and around the world since his debut album in 2003. One of those albums was ‘Christmas’ which will be celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This is his most successful album to date, selling over 15-million copies.

‘Christmas’ was announced yesterday to have a deluxe edition coming out in November. The album will release on its own as well as alongside a “Super Deluxe” limited edition box set on both vinyl and CD, as well as digitally on all major streaming platforms. There will be an additional seven track CD included in the deluxe edition with three newly released songs: “The Christmas Sweater,” “Let It Snow,” and “Winter Wonderland” which is a duet with Rod Stewart.

The box set also includes a 48 page hardcover book said to contain “a personal letter from Michael, a numbered lithograph; behind-the-scenes ‘The Making of Christmas’ DVD; an exclusive Christmas Ornament, and Christmas Wrap and Cards set,” according to Michael’s official website.

The collection is set to release on November 12th in Canada and the United States, and November 19th everywhere else in the world. You can find more information on the album and preorder

Fourth Annual Monstercat Compound this Weekend – For FREE!

The sun is setting earlier, the nights are getting cooler, summer is in our rearview mirror. The days of outdoor concerts and festivals are coming to a close for the season, it is time to get your last kicks in now or forever (a couple months) hold your peace.

On Saturday, September 18th the fourth annual Monstercat Compound is set to take place. Live music, food trucks, beer gardens, and other activities are going to turn Railtown into a day long block party.

With two stages to choose from, the artist lineup is as follows: on the Monstercat stage: The Funk Hunters, Tony Romera, Sabai, Eminence, OBLVYN, Rylan Taggart, and Sam Steele. On the Westwood Recordings stage: Defunk, Jessu and Pyka, Kotek, Case of the Mondays, Shylow, Sivz, and SoSus.

On top of the huge selection of music over the seven hour festival, there will also be an assortment of places to eat and drink, carnival games, and The Gaming Stadium will be providing a gaming zone, including Rocket League, Just Shapes and Beats, Street Fighter, and Mortal Combat.

If you are interested in more than just the party and the festivities, but the artists and their processes, there will be two live panels to attend before the festival put on by all local artists and those in the industry. The first at 11:30am: Follow Your Career Compass – Path to Professionalism in the Music Industry, with panelists Ariel Swan (of Slow Jam Sundays), OBLYVN, Jon Winter, and SoSus. The second at 12:30pm, NFTs x Music: Leveraging New Media, with panelists Fvckrender, Baeige, Nick Middleton (of Midnight Agency and Westwood Recordings), smeccea and Victor Mosquera.

Once again, all of this is absolutely free to attend. All you have to do is RSVP for free online, which you can do here. You can also find out more information on the festival on their main website here.

 

Dua Lipa is Vancouver Bound!

Announced yesterday over an Instagram post, pop sensation Dua Lipa is headed to Vancouver as the final show of her North American Future Nostalgia spring tour!

Future Nostalgia, Lipa’s second album, found incredible success over the last couple years. The album’s first single “Don’t Start Now” peaked at number two on the billboard hot 100 chart, only behind “Dance Monkey” by Tones and I. The album was the top of the charts in fifteen countries, was top ten in sixteen more, and was the most streamed album on Spotify in the year 2020. She also won the 2021 Brit Award for British Album of the Year.

In a press release to her fans regarding the tour, Lipa says: “When I was writing Future Nostalgia, I imagined the songs being played in clubs on nights out with your mates. I’m so excited that this fantasy is finally coming true. I can’t wait to experience these songs with you together live!”
Vancouver is the final stop on the 28-city tour, and only one of three Canadian cities on the list. She will be here on April first, tickets go on sale this Friday, September 17th. You can find your tickets to the show right here when they become available.
The tour will also feature Megan Thee Stallion, Caroline Polachek, and Lolo Zouaï.

Next Week: VSO presents Back to the Future Live!

Back in the early days theatre, when films were silent and Charlie Chaplin was king, going to the movies was a much different experience. Patrons would dress to the nines, tickets were expensive, and an orchestra would play the track of the film live below the screen. Next week, from September 23-25, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is taking us BACK (heh) to those days with Back to the Future in Concert!

Fire up your DeLorean and take it back to 1985 in a brand new way. Attendees will watch the movie on the big screen in the iconic Orpheum as the orchestra plays Alan Silverstri’s masterpiece soundtrack in time with the film!

The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is entering its 103rd season this fall after surviving 20 months without a single show due the covid-19 pandemic and lockdown restrictions. The Back to the Future show will be their second show back following a gala performance on September 18th. You can find tickets to either or both of these events here, prices range from 35-110 dollars.

This is a great opportunity to get dressed up and get out of the house with friends or a date, opportunities that we have largely been denied over the last year and a half. This is an excellent way to revisit a timeless classic with a great soundtrack, or, if you have been living in a hole, an incredible way to experience the movie for the very first time.

The September 23rd and 24th shows, Thursday and Friday, both kick off at 7:00pm. The Saturday show on the 25th is a matinee, starting at 2:00pm. This is a one time event, so don’t miss out!

Mariachi band to tour Vancouver on Mexican Independence Day

Canadian / Mexican Mariachi band Mariachi Las Dorados is set to tour downtown Vancouver on Wednesday, September 15, Mexican Independence Day. The tour includes five venues between 7:00 and 11:30:

7:00pm Tequila cocina Granville st
8:30pm Mezcaleria commercial dr
10:00pm Lucha libre 722 Nelson st
11:00pm Mangos Restaurant Howe st
11:30pm Level night club 560 Seymour st
Mariachi Las Dorados last played in Calgary last weekend:

The band has been together and touring since 2003 and is recognized as Canada’s premiere mariachi band. They had a featured performance in the Vancouver Olympic games, as well as two of Calgary Stampede events.

The band has three albums out now, “Guadalajara,” “Si Tu Te Vas”  “Los Dorados.” The third album is a smaller compilation featuring ten tracks. On their website they are teasing a fourth album, perhaps a sneak peak could be coming on Wednesday?

Also on the website, no upcoming events. This could mean this week could be the last chance for a while to see the group perform live.