canucks losing

What’s Left To Criticize About The Canucks?

photo – espn.com

There isn’t much that can’t go wrong for the Canucks these days; there’s no lead that’s safe, getting a powerplay doesn’t mean you have the advantage and apparently the Leafs are a superior team. I can’t begin to understand how any of this is occurring but it is and hope seems to be hanging by a thread in the Slower Mainland (because bike lines and traffic) and it’s not even December. In a week period, the Canucks have lost to all of Eastern Canada, the Sabres and the Devils. If I stopped there, that would be enough to go on. The one goal losses keep piling up and there’s no end in sight. What’s left to criticize?

At the beginning of the year, I figured the Canucks would be able to hold their own in the new look OT format of 3 on 3 as I figured they would be there a bit. As you have seen on here from time to time, I can be wrong. Dead wrong. Vancouver has not won in OT this season and save for the only shootout they’ve been in which was a win against Anaheim; the bonus minutes are a horror show waiting to happen. Having enough line combos that should be effective in OT, Willie Desjardins shouldn’t need to think a whole lot about who to put out there. It’s been a train wreck and just when you think the Canucks bounce back? They aren’t any where to be seen when its over.

Injuries have kind of been hovering around the team a bit so far with unlikely candidate for sympathy, Luca Sbisa being shelved with the boot on his foot. His predictable unpredictableness is actually missed as is his muscle on the opposition. The Canucks are most definitely lacking in the roughness area. Chris Higgins was out for so long we kind of forgot about him but now he’s back and I’ve kind of forgot about him.

 

This start has really made me hit my head repeatedly on my table because everyone that really should be stepping up just, they just aren’t. The Sedins are still technically Sedining and they seemed to have found a new buddy in Jannik Hansen; even though he’s actually one of the best options they had before they reunited. Bo Horvat has been given more defensive responsibility which is great long term, it is, but the sell on him this year is a lot tougher after doing what he did in year one.

Going full rookie to start the year with Ben Hutton, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and now Hunter Shinkaruk has half paid off. Hutton has basically been amazing. He hasn’t been a world burner but you can tell he’s going to be a staple on Vancouver’s blue line. He’s out there in OT, he’s on the PP, he makes Sbisa look good and he’s not 19, he’s 22. Ben Hutton is a great example of what waiting and developing a prospect can be. Ben Hutton is a very bright spot in a dark beginning to the year.

Jared McCann has given the 4th line depth and it might be a bit before he gets some more naturally offensive linemates but he’s doing fine. Big Country Jake Virtanen is still looking like he might need to be sat a few games in and out coming up. He will be great one day and he deserved to make the club but hindsight might show that another junior year wouldn’t have hurt. It’s early and they’re losing so this is where I’m going with this.

Half paid off but the team owes us another half. These rookies should be out there more in late game situations. This team isn’t winning the Cup this year and yet Willie continues to pump his obvious choices when its clear they might not be the best option. Is it bad luck? Not really. They’ve blown leads galore this season and its not even December. I could mention the atrocious one goal game record but I won’t.  I’m not even including a link because it will just make you sadder.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Hey Ryan, our goaltending has been pretty dece though”. Ya, it has but as was the same story with Cloutier, Luongo, Schneider and Lack – they can’t score goals which means you can’t win 0-0 every night; especially this year, we’d still lose in OT 1-0. The big slag is losing late. The Canucks just can’t hold on and it feels like the mid 90’s again and a bit like the late 2000’s where the goals are hard to come by. This team won’t score boat loads of goals and they’re probably a few years away from that happening but if they have a lead they better be able to help the back end so a 1 goal lead will hold.

Speaking of holding on, 60 minutes seems like a Gattaca type idea to Willie D’s crew that it’s so futuristic they can’t grasp it. Not sure how a team can’t put together a 60 minute effort and its becoming increasingly obvious there aren’t many of these on the horizon. By now you are so bummed out you can’t take any more so here’s a breakdown of every loss this season, tell me this isn’t going to end:

  • Calgary 3-2 OT – Sean Monahan capitalizes on a blunder deep in the corner, then Johnny Hockey wins it in OT. It begins
  • Blues 4-3 – Down 4-1, no one was expecting a comeback.
  • Oilers 2-1 OT – Tie game after the first, boringness ensues and a “NO WAY MAN” in OT creates more shame
  • Capitals 3-2 – Once again tie game but in the third, lonnnnnnnnng pass and Ovie scores a no doubter. Bad D, game over.
  • Red Wings 3-2 OT – 3 on 3 OT burns the Canucks but with the lead in the third they couldn’t close.

There’s 2 more games still and then the current road trip so I’ll stop.

So what’s left to criticize? How bout this:

 

 

Patience has always been a virtue as a Canucks fan but jeez, this is unacceptable. There aren’t any more gimmicks that could help this team. They need a team meeting or something. Times are tough and we need something to complain about, no kidding, but what we’ve watched in the last 2 weeks has been awful. This isn’t a team I’m excited to watch right now and I really should be.

OK, cheer up and continue on your day….maybe don’t go drinking today, that might be a bad idea.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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Why Now Is A Good Time For The Canucks To Rebuild

Its been about 3 days or so since the Canucks have fired someone of importance and its only a matter of time before Fin get’s the axe and they introduce a skate-like mascot (hint hint). I have had some time to let everything sink in and evaluate what may or may not be happening to the Canucks; one thing is for certain: Trevor Linden and Jim Benning however unpopular and brash their decisions have been, are doing something that is bang on what should be happening RIGHT NOW. 

Its the best time to put this team in rebuild mode, but I ask that you read on so i can tell you why.

The future of the Canucks is coming and it is coming quicker than expected. Trevor Linden saw that his team was in danger of repeating itself and getting lost in the continuous cycle of politely tweaking a piece here and there to only keep things competitive.

The writing has been on the wall since 2012 and it has finally come to a head this year. We’ve all posed the question at one point or another “If you could have even just ONE Cup, would you take six to seven years of suffering?”

OK, im not saying things will get that bad but why not just do what we’ve told the Oilers and Flames to do: play the young guys and let them learn how to win, learn how to lose and grow together. The run Utica made this spring to the Calder Cup will help a handful of players gain the tools they need to be Vancouver Canucks on a full time basis.

Edmonton and Calgary held on way too long and in Edmonton’s case they just recently departed from the Oilers regime that has controlled the teams interests and is now finally making huge strides. I suppose having Connor McDavid helps things along.

So how do the Canucks make that transition? What’s left to throw away? Apparently the chance at decent draft picks but thats been beat to death. Do the Twins need to go now? Edler? Burrows?

Now, the Sedins haven’t been put to pasture and they are the type of players that could drop down the lineup for their final two years…maybe 2 more at a cap friendly number and help the young up and comers become pros. Linden did that to the Twins when they arrived and its coming around full circle.

We form bonds with our players and can’t justify sending them away when its obvious that’s the best decision. Trade them while their value is still good. Burrows has had some serious injuries and now would be the time to see a solid pick come back. Alex Edler can fetch a younger prospect or maybe a dman that just hasn’t fit in elsewhere.

Its possible the harsh decisions are over and TL and Benning are looking to build “their” team the way they want it. The ideology that didn’t result in a Cup is now being flushed out; The capologist was a great add at the time, as was the sleep doctor but gimmicks aren’t Trev’s thing. He’s a through and through hockey guy and he doesn’t need to push the BS.

Kicking Mike Burstein to the curb after 20 years was a shocker but as much of a shock as that was, was he still providing a valuable, reliable service? The way injuries have evolved over the last 10 years, you have to wonder if they were being read properly and given a proper diagnosis (see Cody Hodgson). Regardless, having a new voice, like any new coach can bring new life.

2011 was such a great year and its a shame that a rebuild has come so soon after it. A series of terrible decisions has brought us here and now is as good a time as any to start over…ish.

If it was a true rebuild, Ryan Miller probably wouldnt be here but riding out his talents isn’t the worst problem the Canucks have. The lack of fire and diminishing production in former core guys Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa have made it a little easier to swallow their departures.

Don’t forget: many of you wanted these guys gone. Just because you didn’t get the return you thought was fair, doesn’t mean it wasn’t what was needed. As the eventual changes keep coming there will be dips in the Canucks cap number and opportunities to maybe add a star or two.

I don’t anticipate any important players will show up this year through free agency as it sounds like Benning has been given the AMEX for next years 2 big stars: Steven Stamkos and Anze Kopitar. It’s not like they will get them, either of them, but making a trade for someone big will be a lot easier; maybe Milan Lucic will come home.

Did you see how I bolded those guys? Now you’ll be thinking, how do we get Steven Stamkos? What will it take? Remember when we all thought Marian Gaborik was going to be a Canuck? It was infatuating and you couldn’t imagine a world where he wasn’t wearing the blue and green.

We were just given the same treatment with Lucic before LA snagged him. Lost my train of thought, sorry.

The new guys will be given plenty of chances to make the big club and losing won’t be welcome but it will become a new reality as things are gradually changing. Bo Horvat made the jump and could be the anomaly but with guys like Cole Cassels, Jake Virtanen, Brock Boeser and Frankie Corrado trying to get it done, winning takes patience.

There is not one team that has its rookie crop transform their team overnight. Even Chicago and Pittsburgh had growing pains. Coach Willie Desjardins will have to give these guys chances though and swallow a bit of pride along the way.

Get ready to lose some games this year but it’ll be worth it once the key guys turn the corner. This isn’t a doom and gloom piece; it’s the new reality we as Canucks fans live in. No one saw the the Messier era getting as bad as it did but even with that tire fire, good did come.

Sure, Bure and Mogilny winning a Cup here would have been nice, but we riotted after we lost Game 7 to New York, we aren’t allowed to have nice things. 

Jimbo will be given his chance to put the ultimate stamp on the Canucks and the true judgement will be right around the corner. Let the dust settle and see where he’s going to take this thing. The optics look like we are screwed for the forseeable future and maybe we are but ripping off the band aid is the only way things can truly change.

I don’t love how things have panned out but I don’t want to keep cheering for a push over either. It’s time to accept the rebuild and everything that comes with it. If anything, my daughters will know what it’s like to be a REAL Canucks fan.

Taylorism over on the twitter wrote this a few days back and it strikes a very similar parallel to what I’m getting at here.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo cred: bcbusiness.ca

The Canucks Greatest Success Was Failure

It really doesn’t matter the year; the Canucks have only given us hope 3 times past the regular season. The first, was obviously in 1982 when they ran into the dynasty New York Islanders and it was over quicker than me and tacos. The second kick at the can was in 1994, the reason most of us became fans in the first place, the reason this blog exists. That one ended in pain and the beginning of a long hatred towards Mark Messier. The final chance at redemption was in 2011 and quite frankly it hurt the most; having the best team in the league and failing to muster any fight in the final two games just isn’t right.

After Saturdays loss to the Calgary Flames, the rational part of me says they weren’t good enough to beat the Flames. The fan in me however, was still bitter. It’s always the same result with these guys; why can’t they figure out how to get over that hump? Why can’t they just get it together. Year after year, the names may change but the story stays the same. Sometimes the names don’t even change. 

There are organizations that have seen the error of their ways and adapted, improved and won. The Canucks seem to be content with status quo or very close to. Why are they never a main player at the deadline or free agency? Why do they hold on to players long after their due date? It really is impressive. Committed to being a sheep and never taking a chance. When does it stop?

Every team has made mistakes that they regret and if they learn from them, they usually don’t happen again. Trading Cam Neely is one of those mistakes, taking the plunge on Messier after he crushed the hearts of thousands is another. The Luongo saga, Pavel Bure, Mats Sundin, Cody Hodgson, Luca Sbisa, it goes on doesn’t it?

I became a Canucks fan literally because of a Pro Set logo hockey card, 90-91 series, you know the one. My dad grew up liking Bobby Orr and I somehow identified with Cam Neely! and Ray Bourque. I thought Ninja Turtles were cooler at the time and my cousin said “you should like the Canucks, they have this guy named Pavel Bure and he’s awesome!” That was it.

  
So 25 years of the same thing year after year. Sure, there were some pretty good times in between but they never amounted to more than a second round exit or those few memorable losses in the Final. After listening to the most recent Pass it to Bulis podcast, they brought up how the pain, anger and bitterness from the likes of Tom Larscheid and Tony Gallagher are brought forward because they have seen this track on repeat way longer than we have.

You can’t really blame them. Take sports out of it for a second; imagine being amazingly let down/disappointed every year by the ones you love, oh and sprinkle in some good times just for fun. You can’t say you wouldn’t snap at some point, its human nature. Now, back to the Canucks. These guys just continue to let you down and we just take it for granted. We deserve better.

How many times did you try and beat the air ship level on Mario 3 just by keeping pace? Once you figured it out the P Wing was the answer, you dominated that one and Bowser was waiting for you. You felt pretty darn good didn’t you? Ya, you did; I did too!

Even the most realistic fan could have seen that Radim Vrbata should have been back on the Sedin line or that Bo Horvat was ready for better linemates or that Willie should NEVER have continued to put Sbisa and Bieksa together. Do kerosene and blow torches mix well? NO! So you don’t try and force it. 

Cory Schneider deserved a start against Boston in 2011, imagine that ONE…MORE…WIN! At what point does a coach see past the contracts, past the BS and just want to outright win? The teams that adjust when things just don’t look right are the ones that move past the pretenders.

There will be a day when the Canucks move past stubbing their toes on the same chair every day and move the FRICKIN CHAIR! It has to come right? When will the Canucks stop following in the footsteps of the San Jose Sharks, Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and to a degree the Calgary Flames? 

Drafting local might be a fun way to start. There are so many examples of how Vancouver could have taken a huge step forward but missed the chance because a player out east looked better. I don’t have to bring up the names because you know them too! Forget about the goalie of the future because you have a few of them, take a chance and see how they pan out.

There are players literally down the street or down the Coquihalla that can contribute at a high level, maybe watch a few extra games in Vancouver, Kelowna and Victoria. 

I don’t care who is on the Canucks when they win the Cup. I don’t care if (insert mediocre player name here) is the captain when it happens. Its the logo on the front and everything that came with it that I’m interested in. Don’t you think the LA Kings would have loved Gretzky winning the Cup there? You bet they would have, but 2 Cups in 3 years will make you forget that.

Always90four was started as an homage to the greatest Canucks team ever, but I would love it if that team could finally be put to rest because we finally can cheer for a champion, not a loss that was really close. This current Canucks team has some pretty good pieces but unless they open their eyes and start REALLY planning the future, its Groundhog Day over and over.

Im tired of Punxatawney Phil.

  
Follow me on twitter: @always90four


Main photo credit – cdn.nhl.com