daniel and henrik sedin

Canucks Are Statistically Awkward

Statistics don’t tell the whole story in sports; they tell most of it but there is always that unpredictability that makes them great. The Canucks statistically aren’t very good and yet something is keeping them from the basement.

Vancouve is 4 points out of a playoff spot after the All Star break and that’s only possible because as we’ve all stated before, the Pacific division is an atrocity. The personal statistics of many Canucks players aren’t mind blowing either and for some of their top players, their advanced stats were just posted on milk boxes across B.C.

Yet, despite their best efforts…or our perceived view of their efforts, this Canucks team hasn’t thrown in the towel from management all the way down to Brandon Prust. The sell job has been tactical and their Kool-Aid isn’t half bad!

 

I mention Prust because he made one last stand to hang around on this team knowing full well his time may have been up. He was a consistent liability on the ice despite only being -3 on the season. We can look at Derek Dorsett, Matt Bartkowski and I really don’t want to find out if Alex Edler’s season has been a toilet.

For the record, Edler is performing pretty much exactly how he should be with a PDO of 100. #keepit100

But we look at our future captain Bo Horvat and I just want to————

Seriously, for all this guy does, the cut throat breakaways, the drive every game, his faceoffs and general likeability, the stats…they do not like him.

Bo’s 5v5 CF% is 44.2, his PDO has settled down to 96.4 (but I don’t see that staying for too long), trailing by 1 is basically the same stat line and for kicks you could look at his GF% which is a low, low 36.2.

Yet, Horvat has managed to be an integral cog in the Canucks machine for the last month or so and has helped keep them in the mix. His 6G and 5A in his last 10 games has been more than welcome and his 455 face off wins have him sitting 15th in the league. It’s his second season.

Goaltending is a sore spot in Canucksland; watching BOTH Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider excel in a jersey that isn’t the Canucks still stings and watching them have so much fun at the All Star game just plain hurts.

That mess is still being mopped up 2 years later and yet Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom have played so well that this low scoring Canucks roster is still eligible for a W every night. It just doesn’t make sense.

And finally the Sedins. Henrik and Daniel are straight up gangsters this year. They aren’t caving in to the mentality that 35 years old means you can’t do what you did at 34 or even 33. Daniel is 3 points out of the top 10 in scoring while Henrik’s injury keeps him a few points back of Daniel. They’re 35 people!!

Statistically, bizarre would be the word we’d start with here but having seen the Sedins play the way they do for as long as they have, it’s not overly surprising. Keeping the Canucks in every game has made these future Hall of Famers MVP worthy this season. Again, it feels dirty that the Canucks are even relevant this far into the season.

Thankfully, the rest of Canada is going through the same issues unless Connor McDavid puts up numbers that EA Sports would blush about.

The #tank is long gone and there will be no magical Cup run this season, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make the playoffs. The Canucks are defying their own path and creating a slightly more awkward new one which may just have them playing past game 82. Statistics be damned, hockey is keeping the Canucks around for some reason and it’s brutally frustrating.

Going forward it won’t get any prettier but for the masochist Canucks fan (whoa, it got weird) we love seeing this team suffer for some reason. It’s strangely gratifying but it wouldn’t hurt to see them turn it around and give us back the winning team we have become accustomed to for so many years.

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Canucks Need Recharge On Powerplay

Much like the two men in this photo, the Canucks powerplay was once very productive. Gone are the days of the booming shot from the point by Sami Salo, a monolith in front of the net in the form of Todd Bertuzzi, the snipe from the top of the face off circles by Markus Naslund or heck, Henrik and Daniel Sedin just cycling their way to an easy goal. What started fairly hot this season with Hank, Danny and the VRB; has turned into nothing more than a fun exercise in passing. The Canucks PP is in serious need of a recharge.

As of Wednesday Dec 10, Vancouver was ranked 16th on the PP at a 18.3% clip. With 3 PP markers in the first two games, the tease of something finally working again was easy to buy into. Radim Vrbata fit in quite nicely as the final play when the Sedin’s were done goofin around with the puck and adding ex Los Angeles Kings AHL star Linden Vey to the first unit had an immediate impact. Had we figured it out, was the farce over? No it wasn’t actually; but the positive start gave us something to work back to.

Amazing how these two are related isn’t it? You can sense the bitterness built up from years of failure, false hope and pure unadulterated anger. Considering games are won and lost in the playoffs on special teams, you’d figure that would be a key focus point. We remember the good days of being spoiled with Nazzy, Bert, Morrison and Salo. They just made it look so flipping easy.

When you look at the Capitals power play, they have it figured out; they have Alex Ovechkin at the blue line and everyone’s job is to essentially get him the puck so he can blast it into the net. It’s worked pretty well too! They’re 2nd in the league with a 28.8% success rate. Not bad. Ovie has 6 goals thus far with the extra man and my guess is that climbs higher.

In 2010/2011, Vrbata had 10 power play goals, he’s at 5 already this year. Maybe they need to tweek how they setup and have him at the blue line. His shot is so hard and when it’s up close it takes more work for him to get that final pass. Set him up like Ovechkin and let it rip. Get Linden Vey down low with the Twins or at least work him into a position where Vrbata can set up at the back.

They aren’t reinventing the wheel here folks, there have been proven ways to make the power play work. It usually starts with the faceoff, so maybe throw in Bo Horvat as an experiment, his focus at the dots is amazing and who knows, maybe he can turn it up. But that just gets the first unit going.

When the A team doesn’t get it done, there isn’t an answer behind door #2. Sure, its a bit of a case of yips but there needs to be the same hustle and dedication as the first group. Nick Bonino, Alex Burrows and Chris Higgins have been criticized lately for their lack of well, anything. Clearly everyone can see that Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen and Shawn Matthias are blowing up on the radar so give them their due and blend them in.

Burrows may have hit his production wall and could easily be on the decline so if it IS broke, fix it. Have Bonino, Richardson and Higgins as a unit. Chris Tanev can help but maybe its the whole setup that’s wrong. There is a fix here and all the armchair coaches have their opinions. Go back to the strengths and just exploit them. This Canucks team has a lot to offer still, they just need to find their way….maybe tomorrow would be nice.

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