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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. James Develin Jersey . Doug Fister allowed two runs over seven innings and Washington hit three solo homers in a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night. Patrick Chung Jersey . The game had many controversial incidents that, upon closer inspection, were not as controversial as many believed. The Formations Toronto FC lined up in its usual 4-4-2 formation, with Nick Hagglund slotting in at right fullback and Bradley Orr at centreback in place of the injured Mark Bloom and Steven Caldwell, respectively. http://www.patriotsjerseysauthentic.com ... wl-Jersey/. 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"We were a little bit slow starting last year and we know we need to start well on Feb. 1," Gatland said on Tuesday. "Weve picked a pretty experienced squad and kept it fairly tight at this stage." Centre Jonathan Davies was included, even though he will miss the first three rounds with a chest injury sustained during the November test series. Sam Warburton also hasnt played since the autumn internationals because of a shoulder injury but is named as captain. Gethin Jenkins is one of the props, although there are concerns over the state of his knee after he was injured in Cardiffs loss to Toulon in the Heineken Cup at the weekend. Thhe Welsh are aiming to become the first team to win three straight Six Nations.dddddddddddd "We have got an opportunity to create history and that is something we will focus on and something that will give us extra motivation," said Gatland, who handed over the reins to assistant Rob Howley for the 2013 tournament while he concentrated on his role as British Lions coach. "We have got the three games at home and two tough away games but when we won the Grand Slam in 2008 and 2012 we had these fixtures so we know it can be done." Wales away games are against Ireland and England. ------ Wales: Forwards: Paul James, Gethin Jenkins, Ryan Bevington, Richard Hibbard, Ken Owens, Emyr Phillips, Adam Jones, Samson Lee, Rhodri Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Luke Charteris, Ian Evans, Andrew Coombs, Ryan Jones, Justin Tipuric, Sam Warburton (captain), Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate, Aaron Shingler. 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