canucks

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

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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

Jarkko Polo – The Boes-t A Fan Can Get

Going into this week things looked pretty rosy: Connor McDavid was held without a point and the Canucks, on the surface, looked like they could be a fun team to watch. Fast forward a week later and the injury-laden club will be lucky to relevant by Christmas. OK, that might be a tad harsh but it took three games to see rookie phenom Brock Boeser in the lineup. This is a team that everyone knew would struggle to get points and the young talent has been held in the barn.

Regardless, they still played the games and we know a lot more about new coach Travis Green, his thought process, and injuries.

Let’s recap the week that was:

 

The Good

Brock Boeser debuted and notched a goal and an assist in two games played. Chris Tanev is the unlikely co-leader in the clubhouse with two goals (Bo Horvat also has the same total). The Canucks will rely heavily upon Tanev now that Alex Edler is out 4-6 weeks with an MCL sprain. Going back to Boeser, he just fits and if Green chooses to keep him out of the lineup on any given night in the near future he’ll have some explaining to do.

Boeser couldn’t quite deliver on the power play after getting multiple opportunities to trigger a shot but it’s clear he has a gift and eventually that gift will reap many, many benefits for the Canucks.

Other than that, it wasn’t a very good week in Vancouver.

 

The Bad

Jacob Markstrom started this season on a high note and looked to be one of the few reliable pieces on the Canucks roster. Things have changed slightly since that first night. There have been some goals he probably wants back, some decisions he could have done without and probably a defensive unit that can keep the puck away from him. Anders Nilsson better be getting a start soon while they’re on the road because this could be a long season of shaking our collective heads.

The Sedins ice time has dwindled down to their early years in the league and it probably won’t get any better. It looked like they were going to be asked to be role players but even then it would be assumed they’d be getting third line minutes at the bare minimum. Nope, not happening this year. If this team is to survive and the Sedins are going to be getting zero ice time, put ALL the kids in, even Nikolay Goldobin.

 

The Ugly

The powerplay is a good place to start. At 8.7% the Canucks are already 25th in the league with the man advantage. The stat that hurts, even more, is that they’ve had the MOST power play opportunities at home. Zone entries have been alright but even with the new setup, Sam Gagner seems to be getting all the looks like the new kid in high school that transferred from across town, ugh man did I hate Kevin. Gagner isn’t exactly the best choice for “power play goals and such”.

Although, it doesn’t really matter who is on the PP as no one is even getting shots. Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Oh, right; Alex Edler is out so the defense is basically doomed and Loui Eriksson will probably be out indefinitely after mangling his ankle crashing into the net against Calgary. That part isn’t as ugly for the team, more for Loui, himself.

 

With all the injuries Travis Green will be forced to play some of the younger guys and it might just attract a few more people to the games because, well, attendance is kinda low.

 

Maybe this road trip will give us some hope.

A94 Brings Back Jarkko Polo

Probably one of my favourite ideas was creating a post on the week that was for the Canucks. You can get a recap anywhere but I’ll try and keep it fun, somewhat short and memorable. If you remember Jarkko Polo it was a short review of each game played that week; the thing is I hate going into crazy detail so the new look should hopefully just cover what matters. Feedback is welcome and so are donations.

Like any kind: iTunes, Subway, Home Depot… literally anything.

OK, let’s rock and roll

 

There wasn’t much to talk about this week because the Canucks only played one game. But what a game it was! Leading up to the season opener none of us had any clue as to what the first lineup would look like but we were all 100% sure it included rookie Brock Boeser. If you saw the game last night, you’ll know that it didn’t.

It did include a renewed Jake Virtanen and a healthy Derek Dorsett. Dorsett wasn’t exactly a sexy pick to be in the lineup but many of us judged him on what he displayed on the ice while playing with a slew of injuries. He’s healthy now and after a stellar performance against the Oilers and completely shutting down Connor McDavid, he’ll be a fixture on the team in 2017/18.

The outrage on the Twitter about Boeser not playing was the equivalent of Ari Gold not being allowed to take a call during marriage counseling.

So Boeser didn’t play but you know who did, you know who absolutely did: Bo FREAKIN Horvat!

Bo finished last season with a handful of assists but one goal in his last 18. On Saturday night he potted two markers and he looked phenomenal.

One game does not a season make but a handful of those types of games from Bo is more than welcome. With one player stepping up it was two players that were kept sitting a bit longer than they were used to.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin were essentially 4th liners in the opener and even though it’s one game, new head coach Travis Green might just want this team to step into the future and slowly fade out the past.

The Sedins have delivered year in and year out and even last night for the time they were on the ice they looked pretty good. A reduced role means the younger players get to step up and in maybe the most sneaky way, we all will see the transition of the Sedins to a secondary or even tertiary role.

Troy Stecher had a big game and was so feisty he picked a fight that raised an eyebrow or two in the arena and at home. He held his own and took another step to solidifying himself as one of the Canucks top defenders.

To top everything off, Jacob Markstrom had a great night as well. Keeping Connor McDavid off the board and making some crucial stops on the PK and late in the game, Marky was dialed in for almost the entire night.

All in all, a great first week (game) but it doesn’t feel like the Canucks WANT to lose. We all begged for proper line deployment and so far we got it. We asked for younger players and so far, aside from BB, we got it. We asked for meat draw… OK, no one asked for that but the fans got one.

The feeling is good right now and had the Canucks even lost that one in OT, the feeling probably would have felt the same. This Canucks team is fun.

 

So far.

The Case For Jordan Subban As A Loss Leader

Everyone is a salesperson. From the guy on late night TV telling you why need a weight that you can shake vigorously to help you drop the pounds to the nice woman at the jewelry store that can smell your vulnerability as soon you ask why the 4-C’s are important. Agents try to sell the GM’s why their player is worth more money and ownership tries to sell the fans why rebuilding with a lowercase r is OK.

When it comes to Canucks defensive prospect Jordan Subban, selling a reason why he should be on the big club has proved to be quite difficult. It’s not that he can’t score goals or that he isn’t fast enough; he’s a star in those categories. In fact, last season in the AHL, Subban was 3rd amongst all defensemen with 16 goals. He was tied for 7th in primary points (goals and first assists) by defenders with 30 and 17th in overall points by a defenseman with 36.

No one will argue that Subban can’t produce. However, the knock on PK’s younger brother is that defensively, he stinks. The 2017 preseason has been fairly evident of this as he’s been the visible one getting burned for a handful of goals. The blame isn’t always pegged on the last guy but his defensive efforts aren’t exactly NHL caliber.

You know who else was atrociously awful as a defenseman? If you guessed Luca Sbisa then you would win a prize. There are no prizes to give out but if there were, you’d have one today. Somehow, Sbisa was trotted out on a nightly basis when there were plenty of other players clearly more deserving than him to be in the lineup.

As the saying goes, let’s look at the stats:

Luca Sbisa (VAN) 2016/17 – Goals: 2 Assists: 11 GF: 46, GA: 72   TOI/60: 18:58 (7th on team)

Jordan Subban (UTI) 2016/17 – Goals: 16 Assists: 20 GFoI: 42 GAoI:  45  (AHL doesn’t track TOI, but looking at the stats, he would have been playing big minutes).

OK, so based on some similar metrics, Subban was on the ice for a lot more action on either side of the ice than Sbisa. Knowing that, would it not be more beneficial to go with the loss leader in this case? A loss leader in sales is something sold at a loss to attract customers. It has been done in the housing market to get the ball rolling on a development and for the Canucks, having an exciting player on the ice, regardless of the final score, gets people back in the rink.

Even though Sbisa is gone, players like Erik Gudbranson and Thomas Vanek are still on the team. At some point, an injury will rear its head and someone will need to be called up. If having Jordan Subban on the ice means goals are going both ways, the surrounding players and goalie should be able to weather the storm. How bad could Subban really be?

For what it’s worth, Gudbranson had a GF 16 and GA of 38. Subban doesn’t look so bad now, does he?

There isn’t necessarily a spot for Jordan right now but looking back at last season, the Canucks would have most likely benefited more from having Subban on the team. If there is going to be red lights lit at both ends of the ice, why not put in a guy that can actually contribute to them instead of being both an offensive AND defensive hinderance? What about another route, though?

It has been suggested by various people that he switch positions to accommodate to his talents, to say, the wing. It’s unlikely he cracks the Canucks lineup anytime soon due to a logjam of “talent” ahead of him. Smaller forwards have risen to the spotlight in the NHL in the last few seasons so it would be a great time to experiment with Subban up front.

Of course, with two preseason games left to play, it’s a little late for that.

When the time does come to call a forward up, Subban would be an interesting choice. Heck, Andrey Pedan played up front! Goals may come at a premium this season and Jordan has a decent release. Worth a try. It’s worth a try for many of the young stars trying to make the Canucks. If the goals are coming, the losing doesn’t hurt as much.

Comparing Sbisa to Subban is kind of a moot point as Sbisa has moved on to play for Vegas and any stats above were from last year. However, there are still a handful of players that need to be kept honest because there are guys that can rock the boat and get the fire into the lineup. Taking a hit by allowing more opportunities to score goals is well worth the chance to score more.

Limit his ice time as a bottom pairing defenceman and anchor him with a responsible partner OR put him on the wing. Jordan Subban deserves his shot.

The Canucks won’t challenge for a playoff spot this season but having increased goal production combined with excitement (hey, what’s that?) will get the needle moving in the right direction.

photo – Today’s Slapshot

Taste Of NHL Pays Dividends For Canucks Pick Kole Lind

As bad as the preseason has been for the Canucks, it seems to have paid off in spades for multiple prospects still on the roster and players that have been sent back to junior/AHL. Case in point Kole Lind, 2017 2nd round Canucks pick (like you didn’t know).  Lind was sent back just in time to join his Kelowna Rockets teammates before the first game of the WHL season.

He didn’t need much time to adjust. Whatever the Canucks coaches taught him, he put into use right away.

In the Rockets’ home opener on Friday, Lind made quick work of the Kamloops Blazers defense and eventually their goaltender, fellow 2017 draftee Dylan Ferguson.

Here’s an assist a bit later in the game; the patience he shows is scary impressive:

Torching the Kamloops Blazers doesn’t put Lind in MVP consideration quite yet but he was far and away the Rockets best player and after collecting 8 points through 2 games this weekend, he’ll be hungry each and every night.

What Lind will eventually bring to the Canucks is the ability to score goals with a release similar to current Canuck hopeful Brock Boeser and retired great Markus Naslund. He is well used on the penalty kill and has gone end to end untouched while his team is down a man. That won’t be a regular occurrence in the NHL

The Rockets are a very different looking team this season with Nick Merkley,  Lucas Johansen and Calvin Thurkauf moving on, as well as the unknown fate of Dillon Dube at Flames camp. Kole Lind will be targeted as one of the top producers on his team this year but much like last season when he led the Rockets with 87 points, he’ll challenge for top spot again.

Vancouver will be keeping a close eye on Lind this year with the current youth movement afoot, a monster season in Kelowna could push his stock way up to a potential roster spot next year on the Canucks. It will be interesting to compare gameplay with Boeser and Lind this year to see how they matchup in relation to their competition.

Coach Jason Smith of the Rockets has Lind available in almost every game situation and that speaks well of his talents. When he does eventually turn pro, Kole will have a solid arsenal of weapons every time he steps on the ice and Travis Green will trust him with more than just 5v5 ice time.

Jim Benning hit a home run with the 2017 2nd rounder and if Lind can hold up his end of the bargain there may be more future picks out of the Okanagan. We all know it’s been invisible until this past year.

Follow me on Twitter @always90four

 

photo – The Hockey News

Why I’m Joining The Atheltic Kelowna

I kept reading all of the announcements wondering when I’d receive an invite to the prestigious Athletic and then it happened: I stopped waiting. With zero journalism degrees to my name, no official representation in the real world and being turned down a number of times for a local WHL franchise media pass, I took matters into my own hands and did what many could only dream of…

I created the Athletic Kelowna (which is in no way shape or form related to The Athletic).

As you probably can tell, I spelled the headline wrong and because I am a parent of two young children I don’t have any time for your criticism on a simple spelling error. Maybe that’s why the REAL Athletic wasn’t looking for local representation outside of credentialled writers. It makes sense.

Growing up in the Okanagan, I used to read the Daily Courier (local paper), The Province and even the Vancouver Sun on the weekend. I tracked box scores, signed up for hockey pools and clipped out the Family Circus in the funnies (Love that Jeffy and Billy). Those were simpler times. When the Internet was introduced those papers were still around but the years went on and the online offering for news grew more and more.

The introduction of Facebook and eventually Twitter gave so many ACTUAL writers a wider reach to readers like myself and instant access to archives that only the public library would have. I don’t even have a library card. Come to think of it, I’ve only really ever parked there. I have some soul searching to do apparently.

OK, back to my decision. Lebron got one and I hold myself to at least 1/100th of his talent but as a blogger. No one is broadcasting this, it’s on me. Starting on my own and being invited to write for the prestigious Canucks Army has been a wild ride and what better way to step it up a notch than to join a fictional, parody pay to read subscription based website?

Coming up with a platform was tough. What would The Athletic Kelowna be about? Well, the real one is about real sports, real sports stories and the athletes they cover. This was going to be about how I hate bike lanes, how people don’t respect Nickelback and how blogging has evolved to the living room that only gets used for special occasions now that most moms rent out their basements now or even AirBnB. What a concept THAT is!

There was also a few other names I spitballed: The Dad Bod Kelowna (somewhat similar to athletic), The AK (too gun-like), The White Sunglasses Roidrage Review, and The Ogopolo. The last one confused me too much and I’m not much for croquet on a horse or horses for that matter in general.

Sports are my life and unfortunately, I couldn’t make this all work while I lived in the Lower Mainland as I’m sure things potentially could have gone differently. This new venture will elevate local blogger(s) to the secondary news level which is just below real news but not quite unpaid guest work for sites you can create on your lunch break.

But I’m in Kelowna again, putting my spin on the Kelowna Rockets, writing about the Canucks from just up the Coquihalla and enjoying raising my girls in Canada’s best playground: the Okanagan.

The Athletic Kelowna never really was created; I barely get 100 views per article when I DO write, the site would shut down in a week.

I will say that I am disappointed The Athletic doesn’t see me as the future of sports media but my demands are pretty high and I doubt they have a budget for Frappuccinos and Baconators.

For now, just read Always90four and Canucks Army.

Canucks Dealing With Bo Money, Bo Bridges

The summer is in full swing and there is still no Bo Horvat deal. Everything that has been said so far is that a deal will get done, we should be patient and to just let it be. Jim Benning has already locked up Erik Gudbranson and Anton Rodin to deals, spent some cash on July 1 to acquire Michael Del Zotto, Anders Nilsson, and Sam Gagner West. There is just under $9 million left for the Canucks to spend this year and one would think Horvat would have been the first deal made.

Seems logical, no?

He was arguably the team’s best player last season and with the new additions to the club as well as a new coaching staff, Horvat should see yet another improved season. The talk has also been out there that he would become the heir apparent to the Captaincy after Henrik Sedin retires. Does it not seem a bit ridiculous then that he hasn’t been signed yet?

A deal will get done sooner than later and this will all be put to rest. With that Bo money will most likely be a Bo bridge. No, not the famous actor Beau Bridges best known for his supporting role in the 1989 blockbuster “The Wizard” also starring Fred Savage. Bo’s bridge could be a simple 2-4 year deal with a take home salary of approximately $4 million. Knowing the Canucks, however, they’ll follow suit with the rest of the NHL and offer a ridiculous contract in the six-year range at around $5-6 million per.

So like little Jimmy Woods from The Wizard lets go on a quest and look at 5 memorable bridge deals the Canucks ponied up for:

  1. Pavel Bure – this guy did OK in the money category. After a decent start to his NHL career, Bure’s rookie contract expired and he got his first taste of NHL money. Signing a 5 year/$24.5 million deal with the Canucks in the off season after losing in the Stanley Cup Final would be Pavel’s big break into superstardom. After getting traded to the Panthers in 1999, Bure would eventually sign another monster contract for 5 years/$47.5 million. He clearly is the exception to the rule in Vancouver because most Canucks don’t make it past a bridge deal for one reason or another. Maybe there’s something to that?
  2. Henrik and Daniel Sedin – hard to believe these two guys played for next to nothing for so long. It’s also hard to believe they signed TWO one-year deals prior to their true bridge contract. Could Horvat sign a one-year deal like the Sedins and blow it all up? Henrik and Daniel cashed in after their three years and inked identical (obviously) 5 year/$30.5 million deals. Currently going into the last year of their current four-year contract the sun will soon set on the Sedins but they will have proven to everyone that every single penny was earned.
  3. Cory Schneider – how they ever let this guy go is still confusing. Schneider owned the NCAA before coming to Manitoba and eventually the Canucks to show his worth. As the backup to Roberto Luongo, he still earned quality starts and for a season or two was part of the best goalie tandem in the game. Of course, that all went to crap and here we are. After his entry deal, Schneider signed a two-year contract before the 2010-11 season and he became a household name outside of British Columbia. That earned him a 3 year/$12 million deal and from there he was dealt to the New Jersey Devils and is now banking a combined $42 million for seven years which started in 2015. That one worked out well.
  4. Kevin Bieksa – a relative unknown, Bieksa created a name for himself as a gritty defenseman who could make a pretty play or two. From “Bieksa-face” to the infamous “stanchion goal” that took the Canucks to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1994, Bieksa was a fan and media favourite and after his first two-year contract with the Canucks for a measly $1.05 million combined, he stepped up and earned a 3 year/$11.25 million deal. Not bad for a guy drafted in the 5th round! He upped that deal in 2011 signing a 5 year/$23 million contract. Bieksa has always played for true value IMO and has never been over/under paid. He’s a guy the NHL should take note of and maybe settle down with the ridiculous contracts.
  5. Ryan Kesler – hard work pays off and Kesler is a great example. To the people who knew him the closest, he was willing to give a literal finger to keep playing. After Kesler’s entry deal, he was offer-sheeted to a 1 year/$1.9 million deal by the Philadelphia Flyers which the Canucks matched. He earned it before getting injured around playoff time. His bridge contract took him to the next level before inking a 6 year/$30 million which turned him into a star during, go figure, the 2011 Cup run. “Beast mode” was born and the expectations grew. It seemed both the Canucks and Kesler were souring on each other and he was eventually traded to “Californiaaaaa” and is now in the second year of a 6 year/$41.25 million contract with the Ducks.

These are all great examples of what Bo Horvat could fetch before ultimately inking his career-defining deal. What will the Canucks offer Bo, what will Horvat request? Like Kesler and a few others, Bo’ money may lead to Bo’ problems. Time will tell but for now, Jim, please pay the man.

photo – bcmag.ca

Follow me on twitter: @always90four