brandon prust

Canucks Supporting Actors Foolishly Get Starring Roles

Part of the reason the Canucks may be working the #tank option this year is how they deploy their players in key situations. Willie Desjardins hasn’t exactly hidden his choices in close games with minutes to go; he openly doubles down on some horrendous decisions. WD has been putting players like Derek Dorsett, Matt Bartkowski, Linden Vey and Alex Biega in starring roles when the game is on the line. 

He’s doing the equivalent of putting Zach Galifianakis or Melissa McCarthy as the headliner in a major movie. The reason those actors are good is because they aren’t relied upon to carry the whole movie – support actors shouldn’t get lead billing. Neither should Dorsett or Bartkowski.

The Canucks aren’t losing every game, they’re actually winning the odd one and lately, they’ve won the last two! However, when you make decisions like putting out less than capable players to close out a lead at the end of a game, you tend to be on the losing side more often than not.

That or start the game with those same players in a role they have no business assuming. I thought DD was a joke on the Sedin line, but it actually happened in real life. Real life….a game was played where Dorsett was a winger with Henrik and Daniel Sedin. Simply stunning.

So why would you put those players in such prominent positions? You shouldn’t. You know why Zach Galifianakis was hilarious in all 3 Hangover movies? He wasn’t the star; he had a supporting role. Melissa McCarthy was a riot in Bridesmaids but if you google her like I did, you’ll find that the movies she headlined…not so good.

We tend to see many actors hit it big on one role and it leads to a year of leading roles they have ZERO business acting in. Money is a big reason and Hollywood is hungry for anything they can get their hands on; Bradley Cooper is a good example.

As we watch this season continue and debate the merit of the #tank or the rebuild or WHATEVER, letting Willie D have full control over lines like the following will lead to disaster:

I could think of literally so many other options that would make more sense than that configuration. Put out five d-men, or how about Horvat/McCann/Burrows??? I don’t even coach and that sounds better. You don’t even need Corsi or Fenwick or PDO or any of that…well actually if the stats showed that was the best option then I’d be ok with that but I’m not going to bother because I know it doesn’t.

Already, we’re seeing some lines develop like the Horvat/Bae line and McCann with pretty much anyone seems like a good idea, sadly the fourthies (Prust/Dorsett) usually accompany him. In 2011, you could have the bottom six out there with minutes or even seconds to go in the defensive zone because they were proven to be reliable.

There is no reliability right now and throwing darts at a board isn’t a great strategy.

So Willie, the next time you see John C. Reilly, Vin Diesel, Seth Rogen or even Steve Carrell in a movie…just because they followed that supporting role with a lead one, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Canucks Getting MUST From Dorsett And Prust

I’m not saying that’s a great line, I’m just saying. It took a lot for the Canucks to get to a point where Willie Desjardins stated the game against the Bruins was a “Must”. That was never really clarified exactly what that meant but you don’t have to be a hockey analytic expert to know that he needed his team do whatever it takes to win. Boston still won 4-0 (remember that score Canucks fans?) but its the push back at the end that brought the MUST to a head.

Who would have thought spearing Brad Marchand in the junk would have given the Canucks the #mustfactor ? That Bruins game was beyond brutal and it’s a shame the Canucks wasted an opportunity to stick it to them. As fans, we get ONE home game to stew in our hate towards the 2011 Cup Champs and one more game away from the Rog; we were robbed of our right.

Loss after loss, wasted effort after wasted effort and for what? The Canucks started the season and surprisingly they were mimicking their 2014/15 start and almost overnight the bottom seemed to have fallen out from under them. The desire to win looked gone and the competitive level of the team was downright dead.

So what brought the “must” to a head? No goals from basically anyone not named Sedin or Hansen, shameless giveaways in the defensive zone and zero confidence against, really any team they played. The Canucks were becoming predictable and teams were reading them like a book. No fight back, no aggression, minimal hitting and forechecking were all starting to show up on milk cartons all around the lower mainland.

Two players specifically, Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust, were nowhere to be found. Before and including the Boston game, Dorsett and Prust were on the ice for a combined 8 goals  for and 11 against, courtesy of puckalytics.com; which is actually surprising for a 4th line but they weren’t brought in to necessarily put the puck in the net. They possess a certain set of skills that are supposed to keep teams honest and aware of what they will have to deal with if they cross the line.

We’ve all seen the same games and I don’t think anyone feels threatened by these two; at least not until the late stages of Saturday’s game vs. the Bruins.

 

Was that all it took? It was a cheap shot on a cheap player but Brandon Prust did what many players probably wished they could have done to Marchand and I’d say it helped ease a bit of Vancouver’s pain from the endless garbage Marchand has produced. Apparently $5000 isn’t a terrible amount of money to spend for something like that. Good to know.

And really, he wears a cup.

Even with the same 4-0 result as the 2011 Cup Final, the Canucks couldn’t put together 60 minutes. For a “Must” game, they sure didn’t show it. But that seemed to change when the Sabres rolled into town. Maybe the team got the game wrong, maybe they thought that “Must” game was on Monday.

Easy mistake.

Dorsett and Prust were alive against the Sabres, throwing hits, forechecking and wouldn’t you know it, a goal and an assist for Brandon Prust. The confidence the Canucks showed against the Sabres showed they could actually still play and that this season might not be a complete loss just yet. It sure helped spark Radim Vrbata with a hat trick and the Canucks power play looked like it did many moons ago.

Vancouver’s effort was just as impressive against the Rangers, well, for the last half game or so. That being said, the 4th line of Prust/Cracknell/Dorsett was buzzing. They didn’t score but they had some grade A scoring chances and they kept the intensity alive and moreso in the Canucks favor.

If you mosey on over to War on ice, you’ll see that Prust and Dorsett combined for 3 high danger scoring chances against Henrik Lundqvist and maybe they were due to show their old team mate that they weren’t just filler. There was push back and there was confidence, right through the lineup actually and it wasn’t just a #moralvictory , it was a real victory.

The energy guys are the ones that will keep the top lines productive. Henrik and Daniel won’t be here forever and the new guys need to know that they’ll be taken care of if anyone tries to mess with them. The Canucks used to be one of the most feared teams in the league; not because of size or strength, but because if you decided to take a penalty, they burned you over and over.

They may get out muscled more nights than not until they can get some size in the lineup but I don’t want to see them get outworked. Must is a lifestyle, its a thing to behold. Must wins games and HOLY CRAP THERE’S A NEW POINT BREAK MOVIE COMING OUT???

Sorry.

Willie wanted to see “must” out of his guys and even though it came a game late, its still early enough to “Must” to save the season. People talk about battle level, compete and truculence, but in Vancouver the new hardworking term is “Must” and we have a whole lot of that are just realizing this is quite important.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Sometimes A Slump Is Just A Slump

It’s been a really tough couple of weeks and there has been a lot of theories, suggestions and discontent in Canucks land but when you are in a hockey mad market, it goes with the territory. Whether the Canucks truly are going through a rebuild or just struggling to find out what their identity is, one thing is for sure: if you aren’t trying and driving to win, you won’t. Success breeds success and at some point, a slump is just a slump.

 

Vancouver is no stranger to the aforementioned slump; we’ve seen a few of them and some are more memorable than others. This current funk the boys seem to be going through has a new “sky is falling” type of feel. Now, I don’t know if THEY believe the sky is falling but if you were to judge by the on ice product, I’d say they probably bought a few shares in it.

Fingers have been pointed, trades drawn up at the water cooler, fans have demanded change but what if this is just a slump? Is that out of line to think that? We’ve seen what this current roster is capable of both good and bad and when they are putting the effort and grinding away for a full 60 minutes, they’re pretty decent. The Canucks are by no means a Stanley Cup favorite, let alone contender but this group is capable of much more than they have shown lately.

NEWS FLASH: I’m not a woman. BIG SHOCKER! But we joke and I’d love to hear what women have to say on this theory; a guy texts you and says “we need to talk”. Right away, you jump to conclusions – he’s cheating, he’s moving, he doesn’t like/love you anymore, he’s dating your best friend, he’s dying. You freak out, you burn all of his clothes, you drive to his house which may or may not be an hour away, you light his car on fire, throw rocks through his windows, spread venomous hate online and if you’re crazy enough, maybe wait in his closet all day long with an axe.

OK, a little unrealisticbut you get my hyperbole. Sorry ladies. I actually don’t know anyone like this but TV has taught me enough to have a good unrealistic idea. So all of this goes through your mind and at the end of the day he just wants to talk about going to Maui instead of Honolulu because its more private.

Sometimes….a slump is just a slump.

The Canucks put together a pretty impressive slump back in the 2008-09 season. Losing eight straight games, Alex Burrows played hero as he often does when he scored a shorthanded breakaway against Carolina in Feb 2009 to bump the never ending slump which then turned into a 16-3-1 record, ultimately putting together a string of wins that basically needed them to run the table from Jan 1 to make the playoffs; and they did.

Vancouver’s had a handful of rookies make the lineup this year, a rash of injuries that have really tested their depth, goaltending that definitely could be better and mix in some questionable coaching decisions and at some point for THIS team anyways, a slump was easily possible. We all bought in early this season that maybe the Canucks were better than we thought, we’ll they aren’t exactly.

They still aren’t a powerhouse. This team lacks size, speed and after line numero uno, finishing skill. The win against Buffalo will feel good and there were a lot of positives to take from that but they didn’t exactly beat Dallas. Vancouver has been streaky and will put a few wins together, even a few players will bump some slumps personally but one win doesn’t make a season.

So now I’m Confucius?

What many of us fail to realize is that the Canucks aren’t the only team these slumps happen to, big shocker I know. The trouble is, the Canucks always seem to find their way out of a hole when things get really bad but the types of mistakes that have been made lately aren’t things you can just push under the proverbial rug.

Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler are very much not the players they once were. I’ve seen some pretty awful giveaways as a Canucks fan (Luongo, Schneider, Bure, Corrado, Etc) but what those two defensemen have accomplished blown lately really calls into question where their talents lie. Hammer is older than Edler but when you get “sports old” it doesn’t really matter how old you are. We’re seeing it right now with Kobe Bryant in the NBA; at some point you can’t do the things you used to be able to do.

Luca Sbisa is a different story but in all fairness, he’s getting better.

The on ice product the Canucks have displayed in the last month does not look like they even know how the next shift will go. They look lost, confused and definitely not fearless. You don’t have to be the best team on the ice but if you project that you are and follow through on what your role is, even that goes a long way.

For the people that know me personally, I’m not the greatest person to preach this sort of pep talk; I’m lazy in a game of pickup, I get tired easily in an organized game of road hockey because I go hard for maybe 10 minutes and I’m gasping for breath the rest of the game. At the same time, I’m not a professional, I don’t play sports for a living; these guys know what it takes.

If the team, I mean the actual players, know what they need, then why don’t they speak up as well? This carries over to the coach too! Willie can only ice the team he’s given and Alain Vigneault had the same issues. Thankfully, when AV was given a defensive team he had an all world goaltender that could keep games close when the guys in front of him weren’t scoring many goals.

Are the Canucks in a true rebuild? So far, the signs point to yes. Its pretty tough to be exciting and rebuild on the fly at the same time. What happens is you end up staying right in the middle, ask Calgary and Edmonton. OK not Edmonton but you get what I mean. Vancouver has been a middle to high tier team for so long that most fans don’t remember the late 90’s and how bad this team really was.

Seeing the Canucks play a full 60 feels pretty good and the manner in which they did it against the Sabres was redeeming. They were hard hitting, they finished their checks, kept the pace moving, made some big saves and spread the scoring out. For all intensive purposes (intensive? intents and purposes? Maybe the team needs some intensive purposes) they proved they can hang with another NHL team.

It’s a start. Put together a few wins, say against the Rangers and AV; and even continue this playing a full game thing and maybe just maybe they can turn this slump into a positive motivator. Radim Vrbata had a hat trick and Brandon Prust scored a goal. This team might have something there still.

Let’s not jump to extreme conclusions just yet; they haven’t won any trophies and they aren’t proud to select Auston Matthews.

Again sometimes….a slump…is a slump.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

 

cover photo – vancouversun.com

Maybe I’m Crazy But Let’s Trade For Dustin Byfuglien!

Let that sink in for a second. Think rationally about it and then think about what he would bring to the Canucks. Although Canucks fans have come to dislike the water buffalo, we’ve done the same to the likes of Raffi Torres, Shane O’Brien and um a way back throwback Esa Tikkanen. Other teams have welcomed players they have despised many a time as the Ducks recently have done with Kesler and Bieksa. So is it really that crazy to consider Buff as a Canuck? I do not think so sir.

 

This whole idea kind of spawned from a recent Pucks on Net podcast where they discussed the Jets building around/trading Byfuglien and it got me thinking that Buff is a pretty big dude, he’s generally well liked and he is good at hockey at an NHL level. I do remember that we weren’t a fan of his ways back in his Chi-town days but that was so long ago. Do we still hate Brad Marchand. OK bad question.

Seriously though, apparently Buff is on the trade block or so they say and a play for Travis Hamonic of the Islanders is out there. Not sure that deal gets made and to be frank, or Ryan (because that’s me) there’s a good chance the Canucks and/or the Jets do not make a trade involving Dustin Byfuglien.

Why friends would I bring up Byfuglien as a trade prospect of your Vancouver Canucks? For starters, as I already stated….he’s big. He’s 6’5″ and 260 lbs according to NHL.com and we probably have no single line that equals that. The Canucks don’t have really any physical presence and even though Brandon Prust and Derek Dorsett are employed by the team, they so aren’t doing what they’ve been asked to do.

The Canucks aren’t scary and no one is worried about going into puck battles with them. No one seems to be worried about getting hit by them and if teams are THAT confident they won’t be hurt, that’s when liberties begin to be taken and at some point the Canucks are just bystanders. Dustin Byfuglien brings a bit of a mean streak to him, which is sadly missed now that Bieksa is gone and his penalties can be obvious at times but would you not rather have a guy that’s capable of enforcing himself on opponents?

I know I would.

His offensive upside is there as well. Sure, Buff’s 30 now and his primo years might be behind him but in the mean time, he can still produce on a level that a good portion of the Canucks cannot. Byfuglien has 2G and 3A in his last 5GP, good ol’ NHL last 5 games stat; and he’s already put up 15 points and 2 game winners. Have we even WON 2 games?

Quick stat: there are only 2 Canucks (guess who?) that have more points than Buff. He….could….help.

He’s a fan fav in the ‘Peg, sells jerseys and he’s a Cup winner. The Canucks had no answer for him and that was no secret but what if he played here, would he bring anything new? Could he even whole heartedly produce for this team? Something that would need to be asked.

Byfuglien DOES have a LNTC (limited no trade clause) and I think we’d be kidding ourselves to think Vancouver isn’t on his 5 team list of where he wouldn’t play. The Canucks did that to themselves though. But this is hypothetical and you’re still reading so keep up!

Who do the Canucks give up then? In that same boat, Vancouver has guys that are still valuable and are also not young; Alex Edler, Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata are all guys that would be a decent trade offering going to Winnipeg and that would free up a spot up front for one of the super rookies like Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce or Alex Grenier. Not to mention keeping a current rookie in the everyday lineup like Jake Virtanen.

I did forget we still have Sven Baertschi and if Canucks management can get over the fact they botched a few trades for 2nd rounders and just eat their mistakes, we can all move on from the second best Sven to ever play on the Canucks. If they wanted some grit, Ronalds Kenins are both available and they aren’t the Leafs so it would be safe to assume they wouldn’t bring him on to just have him sit up in the press box.

Maybe our time to move some long time pieces is once again at a head; Alex Edler is not the 2009-2011 Edler he once was. Alex Burrows is still valuable and can be a healthy addition to many teams. He scores, he’s a valuable PK piece and he grinds out hard minutes. Radim Vrbata will not equate to anything in the playoffs and it took one round to find that out….against Calgary.

This isn’t a what can we get for these guys article but if you were to put something together to get Byfuglien, these are decent players. I don’t know if the Jets would require a hot, young player like Shinkaruk or Virtanen and if so, forget the trade altogether. What I’m suggesting is that Byfuglien can bring something to the Canucks we clearly don’t have.

Getting back to the bully factor and not being a bully, the Canucks just don’t hold their own in games anymore and they need a physical, dominant presence that won’t take crap from opposing teams. How Benning hasn’t figured out yet that his current roster is not the answer is beyond me. There are players out there that will grind, like Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre once did (remember 2011?) and now they just eat up minutes, the final buzzer goes and usually we lose by a goal.

At the very least, the Canucks should consider trading for Dustin Byfuglien. He actually could help the Canucks and he isn’t Marchand. Take out the personal feelings you have towards him and realistically see what he could bring.

So in short: Byfuglien to Canucks, 30 years old, big dude, won a Cup, intimidating, weighs many pounds, everyday we’re byfuglien.

Follow me on twitter and I will change your world: @always90four