Author: always90four

Canucks Are Due For Lottery Luck

The Canucks have a history more unfortunate than anything Lemony Snicket has ever created and yet we follow their every move and complain when things don’t go their way like it’s a foregone conclusion the NHL and, life really, have it out for them. I just finished “100 Things Canucks Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die” and it’s not a big surprise but the Canucks have had a pretty tough go well before they even entered the NHL. A great book, you can be sure, it dictates every travesty Canucks Nation has ever endured. (Still read the book, don’t be a cheapskate!)

Over and over, Vancouver misses the boat by what seems like inches and end up becoming miles. Gilbert Perreault going first overall in the 1970 Entry Draft to the expansion Buffalo Sabres and not the Vancouver Canucks after a Steve Harvey-like mishap from then league president Clarence Campbell.

Wikipedia

There was theatrics from day one which is a microcosm of the Canucks history, really. When it came to the standings, the Canucks were never bad enough to be last and secure the top pick and spoiler alert: they’ve never been good enough to win the Stanley Cup either. So why does this year feel like the year Vancouver finally breaks their pattern of luck and wins the first overall pick to select Rasmus Dahlin, an absolute stud of a Swedish defenseman?

Throwing the Canucks a bone is one reason. Everyone will remember after the lockout when Sidney Crosby was the prize for the draft lottery. The odds from the season prior to the lockout were set and the teams were counted down. The Canucks were still in it with 10 picks to go and after the commercial break wouldn’t you know it, the Canucks were awarded pick number 10.

Because, of course.

After all, isn’t it flat out luck that the lottery balls fall in their favour on decision day? It sure is. Playing the Draft simulator is nothing that hasn’t been done by pretty much every Canucks fan at one time or another in the last few years, hey, even Jim Benning (former Canuck player) got in on the action. Once a Canuck, always a Canuck I guess. The misery follows us all and even former players know what’s up. The NHL Draft Lottery Simulator has received heavy media attention over the years and despite its ability to show which teams could potentially win the first overall pick, the actual draft lottery has had other ideas.

Take last year for example:

The Canucks had a 12.124% chance of selecting first but based on how the lottery works, there are multiple draws, and wouldn’t you know it the Canucks ended up with the fifth pick for the second year in a row even though they finished with the second-worst record in the NHL last year. What was even crazier was that the New Jersey Devils had an 8.5% chance and the Philadelphia Flyers had a 2.20% of netting the first pick and they proved that just missing out on the playoffs was better than “tanking” and the Devils took Nico Hischier first overall and the Flyers selected Nolan Patrick with the second pick.

It’s as random as Tide Pods being a food craze in 2018 (this year is going to be so messed up) which is one reason the Canucks will win out this year. “Even a broken clock is correct twice a day” is said from time to time and even the Canucks are due for some good luck every now and then. Brock Boeser is a great example of that as is Elias Petterson. Two players that had zero business being available when they were and yet look how far each dropped.

Don’t let that little bit of good luck change you though, there were prizes available both years that could have set the Canucks up to succeed sooner than later but history reminded the club that wouldn’t happen. Luck has punched Canucks fans in the face over and over from the Cam Neely trade, to the Wayne Gretzky signing that never happened, Todd Bertuzzi trolling the Minnesota Wild fans in 2003, the Nick Lidstrom goal, the Martin Gelinas goal, Cory Schneider getting dehydrated and even Cody Hodgson’s back.

OK, the Gretzky thing wasn’t really luck, that was just plain stubbornness. So what about that Dahlin kid?

The 2017/18 World Junior Championships were a perfect showcase to display Rasmus Dahlin’s talents with Sweden and the fit he had with Petterson just felt right. If Dahlin were to become a Canuck, one final season from the Sedins and 82 games being mentored from, believe it or not, Alex Edler could pay enormous dividends. Here’s just a sample of what Dahlin is accomplishing this year:

Absolutely disgusting.

Chris Tanev, among other players, could be dealt this season and that hole could instantly be filled by a playmaking, sniper on the backend. Sometimes the cards just feel like they were meant to fall in your favour. Of course, I say that every week when I purchase lotto tickets for my office.

Vancouver has lucked out numerous times when it comes to injuries, cap space, and eventual opportunities for many of its stars and the ultimate horseshoe would be at the Lottery. Going back to 2011 is a great example of how simple luck on the injury front and a bit of hard work with understanding the salary cap put the Canucks within a win of the Cup.

That season could have gone very differently if everyone was healthy. So what does this wheel do besides give hope?

Heading over to NHL Lottery Simulator, it took 12 tries in my latest voyage to get the Canucks the first overall pick. It doesn’t mean anything and is in no way affiliated with the NHL. It wastes some time in your day and gives you the hope that the Canucks might just get their lucky number. There have been so many instances where Vancouver has been given a raw deal and it just feels like it’s time that changed, if only for a day.

All it is is luck. The Canucks are due for some good news and once, just once, it would be nice to have the shiniest toy on the playground.

 

Photo – Vancouver Sun

Advertisements

The Final Option: Put Eriksson With Boeser

Loui Eriksson is lost.  He has 13 points this season and pretty much all of them came within a two-week period. He’s barely noticeable on the ice and he is the latest Canuck to have a contract that “sucks”. Somehow, the Canucks must continue on with the Swedish Anchor for four more years. Watching the losses mount is one thing but seeing a $6 million player float in and out of existence on the ice is a tough pill to swallow. A buyout is not an option so what should the team do?

The last possible option without scratching him: Put him on Brock Boeser’s line.

Boeser has made pretty much everyone better around him. Of his 22 goals and 18 assists, here’s the breakdown of how Boeser’s stick has influenced his teammates:

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

If you noticed there are only a few players not involved here that actually have a point: Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson are most notable. Jake doesn’t really need Brock’s assistance but that would sure be a fun line to see go for a night or more; they could call it “Flash and Bang”. OK, that’s more of an NFL running back tandem name but still, it’s good, admit it. The Boeser Effect has made the Canucks tolerable this season and with losses in tow, every game is a chance to see what else the rookie can do. Eriksson might be his biggest challenge yet.

In contrast, here is Eriksson’s rainbow of coverage:

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

It’s bleak.

His report card would read “does not play well”. The second page of it would eventually say “with others”. Horvat is out so let’s eliminate those numbers, for now, Baertschi just came back so it could take some time to see that whole two assists increase, Vanek for now is with The Flow and the defense is a wash because they come and go.

Much like the movement to get Erik Gudbranson traded away, Loui Eriksson will need to move mountains before he’s even considered tradeable. It feels like Extreme Makeover: Eriksson Edition. Brock has two weeks to develop line chemistry with Loui and most likely Sam Gagner and show not only Travis Green but the rest of the NHL that Eriksson is indeed still capable of scoring goals or at the very least being a regular contributor.

To be fair, Boeser has only had two sets of linemates this year and really, the only change would be Thomas Vanek being subbed out for Loui. The speed difference would be most obvious change and maybe a power-play to start would be the best way to go, not sure. They both are shooting forwards so the idea of having them on opposite sides creates a problem.

Having LE as the setup guy at the top would get the ball rolling. The left-handed Eriksson feeding the right-handed Boeser flows (no pun intended) nicely and I can see a rush co-existing with these two. It intrigues the mind if only for a minute… hopefully, longer if you’re still reading that Loui has only been with the Sedins at 5v5 for any significant amount of regular time.

Small fact: Boeser and Eriksson have skated on the ice along with Gagner for just over 18 minutes of 5v5 and the small sample size isn’t amazing. It’s not a mind-blowing look and I can’t even remember which game it was exactly but it wouldn’t hurt to go back to that considering Boeser doesn’t even have a point with Eriksson at all.

Their time together wasn’t a Corsi dream, far from, but it’s not even about possession right now: it’s about production, something the Vancouver Canucks lack in almost every way imaginable.

At this point in the season, with all the losing and the injuries maiming the Canucks, why not experiment with possible options? Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter will be returning sooner than later and this may all be a moot point by then but why not give it a try? The race to the trade deadline is approaching and the idea of Eriksson being snagged is a pipe dream at best.

It’s not that people hate Loui Eriksson but for the amount of money he’s linked to regardless of the bad decision made by Benning to sign him, he’s here as a Canuck and one more productive player is all anyone really wants. there was a time where he did produce and his career should be far from over but then again, stranger things have happened.

I honestly think Loui just needs some kind of reboot and riding shotgun with one of the hottest players in the league right now would definitely be that shot he needs.

Photo: Van Courier

For Boeser or For Worse

It’s been said time and time again, “This is why we can’t have nice things”. Brock Boeser was the culmination of a month of these comments. Twenty seconds into the middle frame of the Canucks/Flames matchup on Sunday night, Boeser was felled by a Mark Giordano shot that simultaneously felled Canucks Nation.

You could have heard a pin drop. WARNING: Graphic potential season-ending content

We all felt it, immediately. This was a whole separate Provies in itself, this was a feature-length Pat-Cast, this was a 30 for 30. This may have been the end. Of course, at the time of writing this, no one but the Canucks knows the status of Boeser’s ankle/foot. Thankfully, that’s something we won’t have to dwell on until at least Monday morning.

Where was Nikita Tryamkin to give him a push to the bench, WHERE WERE YOU NIKITA?!?!

“This is why we can’t have nice things”, tanking has proven this a few times, at least for the Canucks. Injuries have leveled this team in a way that is just bizarre. How it is even possible that Vancouver has lost its top center, his wingman, and now the team’s best player who just so happens to be dominating the NHL Calder race and is ranked in the top-5 in goal scoring race?

It’s beyond crazy. From there, the injuries to Brandon Sutter, Derek Dorsett, Erik Gudbranson, and Chris Tanev are just white noise, really. Everyone hoped this day wouldn’t happen and Boeser has only been on the team for less than half a season and he’s become the most polarizing figure in Vancouver sports.

The Sedins never reached the popularity of this magnitude.

This was ONE day ago! Less than 24 hours later, here’s what is being read online:

Maybe it’s over, maybe it’s not. Henrik and Daniel Sedin have been getting back to their old ways but even then, they had Boeser to take the load off so they could sneak in and do some damage.

This isn’t even a question of adversity or how the Canucks will deal with all the injuries, it’s past that point. Until February rolls around, there is realistically no chance the Canucks win more than three games until then. The sky has fallen, it’s over, the Canucks are doomed. Any other ones I missed? Team Tank will surround this like vultures by the morning. Just wait.

The World Junior tournament is just over a week away and then the focus can transition to Elias Pettersson’s dominance of a child’s league compared to the heights he has risen since his draft day. Anything to take our minds off of this doomsday situation.

 

Oh, and there’s no more milk in the fridge. Great.

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – Nucks Misconduct via Mike Ehrmann

Forget the Maturation Process, the Canucks Need Goals

Travis Green needs a wake-up call. He lost his top center, one of his top wingers, he’s been without his third line center for some time and the rest of the Canucks are struggling to score. Putting in 4th line grinders in place of budding scorers is not a smart way to keep the team competitive. Once again, Henrik Sedin will be asked to shoulder the load on a team that has no clear sign of keeping up. It’s kind of getting heavy.

Save Brock Boeser (seriously, save him), there aren’t many other options to score right now. Loui Eriksson has receded into a winter slumber after going on a mini point streak, Thomas Vanek has 2G in his last 16 games, and the rest of the goals are on IR. Daniel Sedin isn’t the goal threat he once was and Jake Virtanen is only getting opportunities when the lines seem to cross over.

Couldn’t agree more, Blake.

The Canucks have called up Nikolay Goldobin because he is a…scoring…winger. He’s not going to learn much sitting in the press box in favor of Nic Dowd. This is Jayson Megna/Michael Chaput syndrome all over again. Green has made many of us believers with his slightly different style of coaching and it has paid dividends early. He can’t regress now.

He’s hit a rut, a pretty significant rut and the goals aren’t going to magically appear. Even with stellar goaltending, which the Canucks currently are not getting, they can only afford to allow 1-2 goals per game. Not a recipe for winning. Green is quite clearly playing the media he greets every day at practice, pre-game and post-game pressers, so he isn’t about to show his hand.

What many of us would like to know is: are the Canucks a playoff team or a development team? It can’t be both and properly grow; the Oilers may be a good example of this.

Goldobin isn’t the answer by any means for Vancouver but leaving out a goal scorer like they did with Boeser to start the season doesn’t build any trust. This team isn’t matured yet and players need to learn lessons but sometimes the best possible player available needs to play. That may translate to Reid Boucher getting a call-up as well, who knows?

I try to be a good parent. I discipline when necessary and I don’t give in because one of my kids wants a cookie, or both usually.  But you know what, SOMETIMES I give in and give them a freaking cookie or buy them the smoothie at the mall.

You know why?

Because it’s for the greater good of the parents, ME and my WIFE. We get peace and quiet, they behave and there’s no yelling. That’s a parenting win from time to time. Doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do or that it will happen over and over but in a pinch, it’s a win. They don’t mature any quicker but it buys us time.

Travis Green has a problem that for the immediate future needs addressing. Goldobin is the best player not playing every night. There may even be another trade on the horizon which could involve Alex Burmistrov and maybe more.

For now though, kick the maturing to the curb, coach. This team needs wins in a bad way and if they don’t start building a .500 record at the very least, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter returning will be all for not.

Throw em a bone, Travis!

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – nhl.com

Thomas Vanek Is ‘Meh’zmerizing

Thomas Vanek doesn’t exactly scream excitement. He keeps it pretty low-key, his interviews are straight-forward and when he celebrates a goal it’s just above bland. Vanek is pretty “meh”. His play, however, is the opposite of his persona. He is quietly having a great season in Canucks blue and green and his following on social media begs for more of his meh-zmerizing play.

On the surface, Vanek looked like he was brought in to add some scoring depth to the bottom-six and give a veteran presence in the dressing room. What coaching and management knew was that he was a playmaking winger that could bring a lot more than just goals.

That may cost GM Jim Benning next summer when he’s a UFA once again. Vanek is already up to 17 points on the year which puts him on pace to score 51 by season’s end, good enough for exactly his career average as of this post.

“Tommy Gun” as Jason Botchford has referred to him, has proven he’s definitely more of a playmaker than a scorer and on a Canucks team that needs distributors just as much as it needs finishers, he’s been a great fit. Of course, he does score as well.

Vanek will be 34 years old in January and if he’s still producing the way he is, which there are no signs he won’t, the Canucks will either command a hefty price at the deadline or at the very least he’ll ask for a few more million dollars on July 1. With the Canucks potentially losing Henrik and Daniel Sedin after this season to retirement, they’ll have two spots and maybe more to fill and Vanek wouldn’t be a terrible player to bring back.

Obviously, there are a handful of prospects trying to earn their spot on the team next season but a player of Vanek’s ilk has a proven scoring ability that those young players wouldn’t have developed at the pro level yet.

He’s a valuable piece on the power play and I wouldn’t be surprised if the coaches let him run things on the man-advantage from time to time, he’s second on the team with 9 PP points. The accolades don’t stop there as he’s tied for third in team scoring and third in assists. His expected production is right on schedule and there would have been no chance these kinds of numbers would have been possible last year under former coach Willie Desjardins (had to get that dig in).

If TV believes this team is headed in the right direction, the Canucks might get lucky and ink him in the neighborhood of $3-4M for another season or two. Nobody wants to be on a one-year deal and he has more than proven himself to have earned his current contract.

As the season continues, Vanek will hopefully boost more than just the power play and get players like Markus Granlund and Loui Eriksson on the score sheet more often. He’s been involved more often than not with the helpers so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. It’s not the Buffalo Sabres Thomas Vanek that is currently producing for Vancouver but considering he’s producing just under some of his best seasons there, he’s a steal at $2M.

He truly is meh-zmerizing and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Follow me on twitter @always90four

Photo – TSN 1040

Rookie Elite: From Bure To Boeser

The day has come.

There is a Canuck rookie as electrifying as Pavel Bure once was. This both saddens and excites me as Pavel Bure is the reason I became a Canucks fan and felt no player could ever hold a candle to his ability on the ice in a Canucks uniform. As Brock Boeser has emerged he has brought with him hope and the beginning of what could be an amazing era in Canucks history.

It doesn’t take long to see why Boeser has become the heir-apparent as the best player on the team, he does everything so well. His shot is lethal. It’s broken ankles, goalies, and even his own coach’s predictions of how good this young star could be.

The hype surrounding Brock before he even played his first game was quite similar to Pavel’s debut. Everyone knew what to expect, the pins and needles mounted as the day came near and when North Dakota was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs we all knew it was time. It’s tough to say if anyone believed he’d be playing for the Canucks the very next day but hey, that’s sports!

BB scored in his first game against his hometown Minnesota Wild, honestly what could be better than that? Pavel never scored in his first game but he rivaled Brock with the excitement of what was about to come.

The hype begins:

The OG hype machine:

That same tingly feeling is there when Bure took to the ice and now as Boeser steps over the boards for a shift. Something magical feels like it’s about to happen and every time the puck is on his stick you think you’re about to see the biggest goal of his career… it’s been almost predictable.

Bure never scored until his 4th game when he potted two against the LA Kings and didn’t really pile on the goals until later in the season. His play spoke for itself though, and his first game was almost a microcosm of what we were going to see throughout his career. Everything Pavel did was magic and it didn’t take long before he was the talk of the league.

Brock Boeser is reaching that status. He isn’t as fast as Bure was and doesn’t have the same hands as him but Boeser has a release that is otherworldly. The way he is able to bend his shots may be his eventual calling card. Boeser definitely has more of a Markus Naslund type shot but with the velocity of an Alex Ovechkin blast.

Media and fans alike are building a case for Boeser’s Calder consideration after he took the NHL by storm this week after scoring 6 goals in his last 5 games with 2 of those coming on the power play. He’s heavily involved as the final shot in the Canucks set pieces and the offense is quickly funneling down to him.

Don’t forget, he’s 20 years old.

This shot is attached to a 20-year-old, OUR 20-year-old.

Harbouring a star of Boeser’s caliber has been tough to accept as a Canucks fan because we’ve been burned so many times with almost and never was. Pavel Bure had it all and got the team so close to its first Cup, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi could never get over the hump of the second round and eventually fizzled out. The Sedins, Ryan Kesler, and Roberto Luongo just couldn’t figure it out and had front row seats in Game 7 against the Bruins as Boston cheered its first Cup in decades.

Bo Horvat had his doubters as well so you can see why it’s tough. Brock is a special talent that on the Canucks, is not matched. He will continue to get the media coverage that comes with being an overnight star and from the looks of it, it’s about as exciting to him as clipping toenails.

Getting jacked on a Calder candidate in November is dangerous but considering Boeser has played three fewer games than his teammates (two of them were healthy scratches to start the year) as well as being on pace to play more games than Pavel Bure did in his rookie campaign, it’s entirely possible.

He currently leads the Canucks in goals and points and as the stats mount up for Brock, the records will start to fall in the Canucks annuls. There hasn’t been a player like him in a long time and it feels good to be envied again after seeing players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews fall to teams because they won* a lottery. Boeser was scouted and Jim Benning delivered in spades.

One can only imagine what Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen will do once they arrive.

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo – Dobber Hockey

Canucks Power Play: Insert Coin To Continue

Oh great, another Canucks power play article, super!

Things have unraveled so quickly on the man-advantage that coach Travis Green has regressed to running three units with the Sedins still being trotted out on the regular. The obvious answer early on was to get Brock Boeser the puck in a shooting position. Green has committed to putting Bo Horvat, Boeser and Sven Baertschi on his top line but it doesn’t carry over to the power play.

Like a classic game of NHL Open ice, the Canucks are going to need to put a few more tokens in the machine to continue this game.

 

Obviously, the Canucks don’t have snipers like Pavel Bure and Alex Mogilny but at least back then the coaches knew what do with them. Across the league, the top teams on the PP have dedicated gunners from “the spot” as Jeff Paterson labeled it a week or so ago. The Canucks have seen a few of these teams set up the guy on the spot, namely the Dallas Stars and Tyler Seguin.

The top powerplay producers in the league have players put in a position to score. Dallas, Tampa, New York, Pittsburgh, and Winnipeg are all in the top-five for power play percentages. Their stars Steven Stamkos, Alex Ovechkin, Patrik Laine, and the aforementioned Seguin all have schemes set up to get them the puck. How Green hasn’t figured out he already has a guy, actually a few if you include Thomas Vanek and probably Bo Horvat as well.

It’s not for a lack of opportunity either; the Canucks are three chances back of Chicago for most powerplay opportunities in the league, a dramatic improvement from a year ago where they had 25 fewer chances at this same point in the season. What seems to be hampering their chances is their inability to keep the puck in the offensive zone for longer than the initial zone entry and even then half the time it looks like a dump and chase.

Back in the day, the Sedins would cross the blue line, make their quick drop pass to the other twin and begin their cycle until the puck found its way to the back of the net. When the West Coast Express was rolling over opponents, Brendan Morrison would setup Markus Naslund at the face-off dot and pull the trigger which either went in the net directly or Todd Bertuzzi would clean up the garbage.

This new Canucks team has a few weapons that have proven to be deadly when configured properly. At the beginning of the season, it was all about quick passes and keeping the puck moving. When defenders get enough time to set up their blocks they have a better chance of… well, blocking the shot or worse, clearing it down the ice.

What the Canucks need to do is have a triangle offense where Boeser and Vanek are the face-off dot shooters, a middleman, say Horvat and a guy who can hold the line on defense which would probably be Alex Edler? Have as much potential firepower as possible on that first unit and build a complementary transition group that can maintain that speed.

Unless Green catches lightning in a bottle with Loui Eriksson or Sam Gagner, they should be nowhere near that powerplay. Gagner is too predictable, much like the Sedins are now, so having a possession-based second unit with Brandon Sutter, Michael Del Zotto and Ben Hutton as the set pieces at least until Troy Stecher returns. Markus Granlund could probably be used in there as well as Sven Baertschi and use the Sedins as a last ditch effort if things aren’t going well at all.

Seeing the Canucks’ powerplay opportunities grow is all the more reason to input the young players instead of watching a two-minute snoozer with the old guard.

Video games have a pause and a reset button, arcades make you put in more coins when you’re losing; the Canucks need to pause and reset their approach if they want to have any kind of success when they draw a penalty.

Sadly, there are no cheat codes in real life.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

The CAPITALization of the Canucks Rebuild

The affirmation that the worst is over for the Canucks culminated in a 60-minute display against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. All the talk about a rebuild, whether it be capital ‘R’ or lowercase ‘r’ may have just come to rest after the final buzzer at Rogers Arena. This “rebuild” or “restructure” or whatever the heck you want to call it took a monster leap forward when 2015 first round pick Brock Boeser had the game of his life versus the Penguins and assured management, fans, and the media that the Canucks might indeed be ready to rise again.

Canucks management never wanted to admit their team had hit rock bottom and needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. They made numerous decisions to try and mask the obvious problem that was in front of them. They threw money at the wrong players, offered lengthy contracts to aging veterans and drafted project players when NHL-ready talent was available.

The official rebuild wasn’t even a thing until just under a year ago. Even with Bo Horvat climbing the ranks to become the team’s eventual top center and Captain, there were other issues the Canucks weren’t addressing.

One of them was former coach Willie Desjardins.

It was pretty evident Willie had checked in the final year of his deal but if he was anticipating signing on somewhere else would he have not wanted to show he can lead a team forward? Desjardins went away from structure, line-matching, and youth when he let the Canucks unravel. Willie continued to use the Sedins as top line players when it was clear they were getting beat on the ice night in and night out.

The power play failed because the coach failed to see what options he actually had. Running an aging Ryan Miller into the ground when fresh, young, talent like Jacob Markstrom was waiting to be tested was just another example of how this team needed to address change immediately.

And it finally did.

Desjardins was let go, Travis Green was brought on and one of the most important parts of the rebuild had been fixed: a coach that knew how to deploy an effective lineup.

The next three things will define this team going forward:

Brock Boeser – He leads the Canucks with 13 points, he’s tied for 41st in league scoring, needing only 3 points to be tied for 11th overall in the league. To add to his impressive rookie campaign, he’s done all this playing two fewer games than his teammates after sitting out the season opener and the next game in the press box. The accolades seem endless having the 9th highest P/GM rank in the league with 1.30, and 2 GWG which has him in a tie for 8th overall.

That’s not taking into account his rookie status compared to his peers vying for the Calder. Boeser is in the top 3 in most of the rookie categories and November just started.

Brock has given the Canucks a weapon they have not possessed in many years: a true sniper. If you asked Markus Naslund who had a deadlier shot between the two of them, he might have a tough time picking himself. Boeser’s shot is accurate, it’s fast, and boy is it heavy! He’s felled a few players this season with just a wrister, something Sami Salo needed a full slap shot to achieve.

In the latest Provies written by Jason Botchford of The Province, we found out just how complex Boeser’s game really is in relation to pushing and pulling shots through traffic and using his linemates to the best of his ability. He’s a star and it’s not even close. Combine that with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi making up the NEW Canucks top line and this team looks like it’s in good hands.

The second thing that will define this team is the commitment to having the right players on the ice in all situations. Willie Desjardins subscribed to essentially rolling four lines and it didn’t work out well for him. Coach Green has seen that matching Brandon Sutter and Derek Dorsett, two players many thought shouldn’t even be on this team, against opposing team’s top lines has proved effective.

Green has preached a team defense for this year’s Canucks and the proof is in the pudding… err stats. Vancouver currently is tied with San Jose for allowing the least amount of goals in the league with 30. A year ago, somehow Vancouver allowed 27 but they only scored 16 compared to this season’s 35.

Defensive scoring is still a problem but that could get ironed out if the forwards allow the defense to take more chances without paying for it in their own net.

The power play has seen a revamp and still, isn’t perfect but having Brock at the shooter position will get results sooner than later. Last season, there was no visible evidence the team could produce a power play that kept opponents honest. This year, despite the 5th worst PP% in the NHL, the results are starting to build. Again, Boeser is a key cog in this machine and the better he does, so will his team.

Making sure players like Michael Chaput and Jayson Megna aren’t the first callups is a good way to ensure this team progresses.

Finally, the Canucks’ stable of young prospects and early year players will define where this team goes. Rushing Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann into the lineup early on proved to be a bad idea and because of that, McCann was sent packing. Virtanen was given a year to figure out his game and grow in the AHL and he has impressed many so far.

This wasn’t a play he would have been confident making a year ago. Jake has progressed and can be groomed to become an effective power forward. Prospect Kole Lind of the Kelowna Rockets is having a season to remember in junior. Lind is averaging 1.64 points per game this year and is getting it done in all situations. He’ll be a name to watch next season and might just get a chance to make it to the big club.

2017 first rounder Elias Pettersson is doing his own damage in the SHL across the Atlantic. With 17 points through 15 games, he too will have a legit shot at making the Canucks next year and many believe he could be the best player from his draft class, bold statement. Ryan Biech from Canucks Army posted this tweet based on Jeremy Davis’ pGPS map and looking at the players being compared, his career might be bright.

I could go on about Thatcher Demko, Jonathan Dahlin, and even Nikolay Goldobin and I know I’m leaving out a few, but there are players that are going to replace the Sam Gagner/Loui Eriksson/Brandon Sutter group. The Sedins might just be on the way out at the end of the year and Green can truly put his stamp on what this team will achieve.

The rebuild, as far as I’m concerned, is complete. The pieces are in the system so the true definition of what the Canucks are is up for interpretation. Breaking apart the entire organization get to this point was definitely close but some of the unforeseen success has fast-tracked the Canucks to become competitive again.

Apparently, compete IS in their nature.

Follow me @always90four

 

Photo – Nucks Misconduct

 

Alex Biega Is Early Favorite For Best Alex On Canucks

He hits, he shoots, and his sticks don’t break. Alex Biega has already shown he is an important piece to the Canucks gameplan right now. Injuries to both Alex Edler and Troy Stecher have created an opening for Biega, one that he has earned. His intensity is contagious and after an otherwise boring game against the Devils on Wednesday night, Biega kept challenging for the tying goal. Looking at the season thus far, it’s safe to say Alex Biega is the best Alex on the team right now. Of course, just saying that doesn’t automatically hand him the title.

Even though Biega has only played in five games this season, he’s already 4th on the Canucks in hits with 14, one ahead of Jake Virtanen who has played 11 games. It’s a bit of a reach as well with such a small sample size but his CF% at fives is 64.15, good for tops on the team. Biega has coach Green’s attention and to a greater degree, the fan’s as well.

‘Bulldog’ as he’s known to teammates and fans is a workhorse. He’s not a top four pairing guy but he’s versatile enough to be one when he’s asked. He seems to know when to pinch in the offensive zone and he’s creating chances.

Whatever is happening is making people take notice of the Bulldog and if he continues his pressing pace, it might be tough to pull him out of the lineup when the injuries are all healed.

How does Biega stack up against his competition? Let’s take a look:

Alex Burmistrov – He had a good game with Brock Boeser awhile back but has gone back into oblivion. Nothing really stands out in Burmy’s game in a good way, same can be said for the bad stuff. He has 10 shots on the season which is essentially last on the Canucks. Edler has four shots and is still averaging more per game. Not the best Alex, not by a mile.

Alex Edler – The Eagle is noticeable when he’s gone but he hasn’t exactly been a threat when he’s in the lineup. His sticks break more than those flat toothpicks you get a restaurant you know is about to go out of business. The hits aren’t there and neither are the goals. With Alex Burrows gone, Edler isn’t even the best Alex.

Alex Mogilny – If he was available for even one shift, he’d be the best Alex. He’s retired so this is not possible. Still, could be in the running.

Alex Biega – This guy doesn’t quit. He’s the defensive version of Jannik Hansen minus the breakaways failed breakaways “best practice player” moniker. If the Devils game was any indication, Biega will be involved in the Canucks offense a lot more than the rest of the defense seems to be. Everyone has said if the Canucks put in the effort and make it exciting but still lose, it’s ok. Alex is doing all of those things and it’s safe to say Canucks nation is alright with this.

Winner by default, basically, is Alex Biega.

 

But seriously, how great would Mogilny be?

 

Photo – Hockeysfuture

Travis Green And The Flow Five

It’s been almost two months since we first saw Travis Green on the ice as a coach for the Vancouver Canucks.  Over the past month, his style of coaching has seemed to put the Canucks in a position to succeed. Maybe it’s the systems that are being followed, line combinations that are working better than what former coach Willie Desjardins put together or is it possible it’s something else entirely?

What if Brock Boeser wasn’t the reason, Jake Virtanen or even early season MVP Derek Dorsett? What if this ran deeper? What if it was Travis Green’s luxurious locks, the flow as it’s been called. No, not Brock Boeser’s flow.

Green has had some pretty amazing hairstyles from his playing days in the NHL up to today as a head coach. There is no proof his luscious, long lengths are the actual reason for the team’s early success but it’s pretty tough to prove otherwise.

I bring you… the Flow Five.

 

1 – The Cullet

The Cullet is half coach, half mullet. Simple name at its roots (no pun intended). The Cullet is arguably the most important of all five flows. This is the driving force behind the Canucks recent success. It’s put Jake Virtanen on the Sedin line, it’s had the confidence to give Derek Dorsett big minutes as a shutdown winger against a handful of the NHL’s elite and it has no time challenging offsides on disallowed goals.

No one would dare grow the Cullet on the Canucks because A) it looks awful, B) you never want to look like your coach and C) he’s willing to put the Sedins on a bus to Utica for any audible comments about his hairstyle. For the foreseeable future, this style will rule Vancouver. Maybe Jason Botchford can slip in a question about it one day.

2 – The Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is the everyman’s flow. The Corolla is one of Toyota’s award-winning vehicles that holds its value and any father would love to pick their kids up with. It’s sporty, it’s functional and as the picture states, the labeled flow is no different. It can be styled with a simple dollop of Dippity-Do or air-dried after taking a shower to wash off a successful practice. The Corolla has depth and like any cool dad, this style won’t embarrass his kids. As you can see, Green has a full body head of hair and he has it kept in check. The man knows what he’s doing and it shows.

This look breathes confidence and his players can tell. Bo Horvat gets taken off the power play? Crazy right? Nope. Green struts that Corolla flow and they know he has a plan. How could they not? Bench Virtanen for multiple 3rd periods, c’mon give the kid a chance. Green knew. The Corolla is what the Vancouver sports landscape has waited for and it comes standard or automatic. No joking around here.

3 – The Poker Face

It’s no secret Travis Green was pretty good at the poker tables. He made more money at the table than I’ve made in the last six years in a normal job.  The Poker Face is just that, you don’t know what’s coming. There are some similar parallels from the Poker Face to the Corolla but they indeed are different. Going back to some of his bold decisions in distributing ice time to unlikely players keeps his team guessing a bit. Is he going to bench me? Am I getting the start tonight? Why is Sam Gagner still on the power play?

Green doesn’t have a tell with this style and it keeps the ball in his court. One could assume Jim Benning has been trying to grow the Poker Face look but he’s failed multiple times. Regardless, we’re still left guessing a lot of the time. That flow is a bit all over the place but for hockey hair, that look is almost a right of passage. When you have that look it’s all bar down clappers, cellys, and wheelhouse snipes. The Poker Face is basically the “Welcome to the NHL hairstyle.”

4 – The Are You Kidding Me Botch/JPat?

Following the The Patcast (yes THE THE) and the Provies is a must as a Canucks fan. There are laughs, valuable tidbits of information, and hooks that will keep you in stitches or craving more of what’s going on inside the Canucks dressing room. If you’ve been following along this season, Jason Botchford and Jeff Paterson have been a dynamic duo in the pre and post-game scrums and have taken a likening to the Canucks new coach.

Tough to say if Travis Green feels the same way. He giggles a lot when they prep their questions and he already knows at least one or two questions will be regarding young stars Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen. Not really anything out of the ordinary but he knows they’re coming. The AYKMBJP flow is deceiving because it looks like it’s all business but it does have a little release like an ill-fitting Brian Burke tie.

If you see Greener rocking that flow, odds are the morning skate had some questions that Green just wanted to shrug off because well, they’ll get answered in the game. You can just see him saying in his head “Are you kidding me guys?” This is the flow of a man who takes his job seriously.

5 – The Bar Down Bro

Finally, it all goes back to the beginning. The Bar Down Bro is an original flow from Green when life was a little looser. This look was all about scoring goals and rolling down the (where do people drive in Spokane or Long Island?)  If this look resurfaced on the Canucks bench then the season would most likely be a write-off.

The BDB is careless and fancy-free, it can’t be contained. Green wouldn’t be taken seriously anymore, it’s likely the Canucks would have Brandon Sutter headlining a power play or something crazy like that. This look must never surface in his tenure in Vancouver. He’s better than that now so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

IF and it’s a big if, the BDB resurfaces, Green will have a stable of Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, and a weathered Virtanen rocking it with him and then watch out, the NHL will be on alert.

So there you have it, the Flow Five described. What flow look will we see to end this season, wait and see?

 

cover photo credit – TSN.ca