jared mccann

IWBITS: Canucks At Centre Of Attention

Staying healthy is a big key to any teams success and the Vancouver Canucks are no different. Last season, the Canucks lost Brandon Sutter for a large chunk of the 2015/16 campaign with a broken jaw (and not becauseit hit the floor from his team being astonishingly bad) as well as a sports hernia. Having your #2 pivot on the shelf definitely creates opportunity for a guy like Bo Horvat but it came at a cost.

Part two of the It’ll Be Interesting To See series focuses on the Canucks need for consistency at the centre position. Henrik Sedin will once again be the main man up front and will draw the lions share of matchups. A healthy Brandon Sutter will take pressure off of Henrik needing to be the answer every game.

When Sutter IS in the lineup he creates options for the Canucks as Bo Horvat can develop his game on the 3rd line. Having three solid options at centre makes life easier, any coach will tell you. Having them produce is an entirely different issue. Henrik Sedin, Bo Horvat and former Canuck Jared McCann combined for 36 goals last year and that…that just isn’t very good at all. The Canucks have been able to see better results when guys like Horvat and Sven Baertschi get less attention and this year Baertschi will most likely get the 2nd line duties with Sutter.

Line chemistry is a lot easier when you have a guy night in and night out that you recognize instead of going through the blender and seeing new faces all the time. Jake Virtanen will benefit from an improved Horvat and can bring some meat and potatoes to the 3rd line where it really needs to get going.

You have to believe the Canucks can still make a move before the season gets going or maybe they wait out training camp and see who impresses. Does Anton Rodin thrill and get a job? Its possible. Having him play with Horvat and Virtanen would be fun if they get going. Tuomo Ruutu has earned a PTO with Vancouver and a veteran presence might work out on either of those secondary lines.

What will be interesting to see is if the Canucks centres DO stay healthy and create chances and goals that were very much lacking a season ago. There is not Cup run with this year’s edition of the Vancouver Canucks but being able to roll four lines does increase their chances of success. I can see a hybrid approach with Horvat and Sutter interchanging on the 2nd/3rd lines but that pretty much comes down to results I think.

Sutter will be given every chance to own that 2nd line but if Horvat does what he did in his rookie year, Willie Desjardins may have an interesting problem on his hands; does that actually happen? Well this probably isn’t a team that we should expect miracles from just yet.

The wrench in all of this is if Henrik goes down with a back injury for any length of time; the Canucks just aren’t built to survive without him yet. Everyone waited in horror as he didn’t sit down for a whole game, even though it was close to Christmas, he wasn’t standing to get first crack at the presents under the tree, we all watched knowing full well something was up.

A lengthy Hank injury will most likely keep the Canucks in a 1st to 5th overall drafting position in 2017 so his health will be monitored every time he looks like he is ailing. I mean, Henrik’s an old guy in hockey terms but he’s only 36 and has kept his body in pretty amazing shape. Fluke injuries happen but he also doesn’t put himself in position to get hurt either.

I don’t want to see this team plunge again this year but there isn’t much dictating a different result. Perhaps some key goaltending and solid defense will aid the team’s chances if they do in fact get things going.

Being a centre in a Canucks uniform draws a lot of criticism but the ones that have succeeded here have seen their fair share and rose above it. The phone lines open full time in a few weeks and it will be interesting to see who they put in the cross hairs.

 

cover photo: vancouversun.com

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Canucks Civil War – Advanced Stats Vs. Everyone?

If it’s one thing all Canucks fans unite together for, its uniting to analyze every move the team makes. Whether you’re an advanced stats guy, a regular stats guy or just the eye test “great move/terrible move” guy; you all have an opinion. The thing is, we beat this to death before these guys even play a single shift. I’m just as bad as the next and potentially under-educated on some of the 2nd and 3rd tier guys but I too will throw my hat in the ring.

Lately, it seems like the advanced stats crew is taking a lot of heat, more than normal somehow, for putting the available data out there to evaluate the newest and potential newest members of the Vancouver Canucks. Do the stats tell the WHOLE story, do we still need the eye test or are both still needed together?

 

Erik Gudbranson is now a Canuck and it took all of about 10 seconds to form a final decision on the Canucks twitters.

So, is Gudbranson actually that bad? The Hockey Writers had a nice little article about how Luca Sbisa and Guuby are very much the same player….that’s not good. Luca Sbisa isn’t a terrible hockey player but he is not a very good hockey player. Gudbranson is known for his defensiveness and not so much for his scoring touch.

He hits guys with a Virtanen-like aggression and forces players to maybe choose a different side to streak down. Those are both great things for this Canucks team that totally lacks that tough mentality. But, at the end of the day, is the trade worth it?

Straight up, Jared McCann for Gudbranson is an alright trade and both teams seem to benefit. We’ll never know if McCann was on his way out anyways or what the potential market could have been, you know, if any other team knew he was available?

But lets get back to the statistics, in this Canucks Army article by J.D. Burke, he points out that when Guuby is on the ice, there’s a sick ton of shots coming the Canucks way. Will this change? Unlikely, and Willie Mitchell isn’t here to bail him out. However, younger stud d-man Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton are. Heck, Nikita Tryamkin is too!

Maybe we’re all just mad because after we’ve digested the players in the move, the draft picks are the commodities that disappear. Thankfully we can only take so much data from an unused draft pick but at what point will we argue this part to death? Is anything after a 1st round pick truly valuable? (obviously yes)

The hockey media seem to take the “ive seen this guy play” approach a lot and will spout out the stats as needed. Where the advanced stats come in and what seems to piss off the regular stat people is when there is REAL evidence that the player in question is just not very good. Is it that people don’t like too much information?

Its a bit like bullying where the bully just says stuff because they don’t understand the situation and just use hurting words to cover up for their own insecurities. OK Dr. Phil! 

I’m still building my foundation with advanced stats so I’ll keep quiet and my opinion on who’s good and who isn’t is quite often ripped apart; I’m the middle guy.

I understand that playing the games and taking the “in the know” hockey media members advice that a player is good or bad will hold a lot of weight but at the same time, if the advanced stats say this guy is going to probably suck here too…it’s tough to argue that.

There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong camp when it comes to players because they prove us right and wrong all the time; case in point, Nick Bonino. He never panned out in Vancouver and it was quite visible he wouldn’t be a Canuck very long. We hated him because we felt we were burned on the Kesler deal…twice. Kes wanted out and we basically were throttled on the return.

Bonino is now excelling in his role on the Penguins and may very well win a Stanley Cup. The thing is, he has a few players the Canucks most definitely do not: Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin among others. Whenever someone gets moved or signs somewhere else and succeeds we always look and feel like that would have happened in Vancouver.

It doesn’t.

The same is said for players on other teams that come here. I don’t think there are CF% and PDO numbers to look at in the early 90’s but I’m guessing Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi didn’t thrive in those respective areas. Stats are stats until they aren’t.

The Gudbranson trade may anger Canucks nation but now that there is so much information available to us, why not consider it?

Here’s the thing everyone: WHO HONESTLY CARES WHO’S RIGHT??? You can agree or disagree, accept stats or not; you are entitled to that. What Benning has done in his short time here is divide the fans and has them pitted against each other.  Sadly, this isn’t a movie so the happy ending might not be coming any time soon.

Its frustrating to watch JB assemble and dismantle the team all at the same time and how he keeps everyone guessing is a thing to behold.

Stop bitching and complaining about how stats guys are clogging the arteries of your media feeds; if you don’t like it, don’t read it.

I used to think the advanced stats were irrelevant until I realized they play a valuable part in understanding the true workings of the game. Captain America and The Avengers made up after their “civil war” so why can’t Canucks nation?

Let’s all agree this team is screwed and go from there.

Check The Canucks IR, You Like It So Far?

Props to every single one of you that get that reference.

This season, like so many others has been tested by injuries; but it’s how the Canucks have managed to adapt this year that brings hope for the future. Losing Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter to longer term injuries seems to be par for the course lately as the team has JUST been able to ice a healthy roster. However, the questions of how Willie Desjardins manages his young players are answering themselves through the infirmary.

The Vancouver Canucks aren’t even in the top 10 in man games lost but anyone watching on a regular basis knows its not just how many games are lost but the players that are injured. Dan Hamhuis just returned from a broken jaw after missing 21 games and Brandon Sutter’s sports hernia surgery kept him out for 33.

Not to mention Henrik Sedin’s back and Luca Sbisa’s hand, OH! and Ryan Miller; the Canucks have once again been dealt a pretty terrible hand. It might seem like all is going against the Canucks but when you look at who has been injured and I guess really, when, the guys looking to play full time have been given their chances.

When Jake Virtanen, Ben Hutton and Jared McCann made the team back in October, injuries to Chris Higgins and the timely poor play of Linden Vey and Frankie Corrado all made it possible for the guys everyone wanted to see crack the lineup. Same happened with Bo Horvat last year and now you couldn’t imagine this team without him.

Alex Biega was rewarded with a  shiny new contract after proving he is able to provide valuable services when the team is depleted. Circumstance can breed success and in the Canucks case, oddly enough its paying off. Biega has been a pretty nice depth addition to the Canucks and at some point he’ll be an every day top 6 for them. Ben Hutton pretty much took his own roster spot when September came, didn’t even ask. That’s so Hutton!

It hasn’t all been skittles and unicorns though; the injuries have really stretched this team thin and there have been moments this year where ice time has been amped up for guys that just shouldn’t be playing that much and mistakes mount. I seem to remember when Hamhuis was injured and Bieksa had to shoulder the load, that didn’t always end well.

It didn’t end well, you can cut out the maybe.

Matt Bartkowski is always in the mix for things to go wrong it seems (aside from when his mom is watching him live), and asking him to play more minutes on a defense that is adjusting on the fly can result in mistakes.

There’s a chance a trade or two happens by the deadline and injuries would continue to offer up opportunities for call ups to the likes of Andrey Pedan, Brendan Gaunce, Taylor Fedun and obviously Hunter Shinkaruk.

The Canucks are transitioning to a younger, faster, potentially Matthewsier type team and as the injuries pile up, we get more and more chances to see the eventual next wave of stars; and that’s just the guys up front.

On the back end, Jacob Markstrom is quickly becoming the next goalie the Canucks trade away for a 1st round pick. His 5-0-1 run in his last 6 games is turning heads and making Ryan Miller expendable. Ryan Miller hasn’t slouched this year but his age and cap hit aren’t very fan friendly. He can help any team making a run this year going into the deadline and would most likely bring back value.

For the second year in a row, Miller went down and this time Markstrom was the recipient of more starts. He didn’t disappoint. Eddie Lack didn’t either but that didn’t stop the Canucks from shipping him off. With Markstrom making a case to be the eventual #1, its just one more example of how injuries are secretly helping the Canucks.

It would be nice if we didn’t have to constantly see this team get decimated with hammys, hernias and hips but that’s hockey. Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins are very close to making some tough decisions based on their misfortune in the health department but every guy that has been given a chance has stepped up.

#TeamTank may still happen but the rebuild, if that’s what you want to call this, seems more like a reno. It may turn around quicker than we think.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Being Willie Desjardins Must Be Hard

I really don’t know how Willie Desjardins has a job some days and others, I applaud him for taking the crap that he does. Visually, he gives off a pretty inconsistent vibe when he’s on the bench; he’s angry at times, twitchy and that patented Willie smile just makes it all go away. Oh, I forgot about the confused face. Most of these don’t even register on the “Real Good Scale” but man, it must be hard to be Willie. Two seasons in and people are already calling for his head.

Just another Thursday I guess.

The line deployments have been beaten to death online and on TSN 1040 but it’s beyond me why guys like Derek Dorsett, Brandon Prust, Matt Bartkowski and even Luca Sbisa are out there to play down important shifts after a TV time out, the final minute or less of a game or a defensive zone face off that easily could have Jared McCann or Bo Horvat up there…or heck, why not the top center on our team, the Captain Henrik Sedin?

Is it a case of #pretank or #tankcurrentday, possibly. You would think having the best possible line out during important moments would be smart but if its a case of resting the top players, that’s just not right.

There are many things that anger us about our coach but he has seen past our comments and criticisms and has quietly developed some great players, he actually has. Sven Baertschi was on his last straw but Willie gave him another shot, but with Bo and now they are quickly becoming a line that can’t be contained.

Anyone see that coming? Were you willing to wait? I wasn’t.

It is still pretty confusing to see how he uses Vancouver’s goalies. It’s pretty clear Miller and Markstrom are dueling bandoliers lately and with the amount of shots they seem to face, it MIGHT be a smart idea to spread those starts out, just sayin.

All these decisions have brought the angry mobs out of the word work yet again and two seasons in and Willie is on the block already? What’s warranted that? He has Henrik and Daniel Sedin, some developing talent and a GM who isn’t exactly taking the world by storm.

Jim Benning is the guy that deserves a bit more of the criticism not Willie. Go up and down the roster and there isn’t anything that screams playoff contender.

When Henrik and Daniel celebrate their 37th birthday, there might not be much left that they can do and if Benning doesn’t set the Canucks up with a coachable, winnable roster, then Willie Desjardins is by far not the biggest concern.

Many of us thought goaltending was still a problem, its the D in front of them that seems to be the red light issue. If Alex Edler was still in 2010 or his sticks didn’t break for starters, that would be one less guy that we have to worry about; or how bout Matt Bartkowski, seriously why is he here? I could even make a case for why Luca Sbisa shouldn’t be here but I’m willing to wait him out a bit more.

Risky, I know.

The future does look bright though and hooray for Willie’s steady use of Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev. It would help if Benning added some more talent back there or even players that would keep the puck from going into the Canucks zone if Vancouver had possession more.

Tough to say how the season shakes out and if Willie gets kicked to the curb and maybe Travis Green gets the nod, who knows?

What we do know is that there’s no way his job can be easy and I’m willing to see how he makes this work with what he has. There was a time when all we had was Luongo….seriously.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

New Year, More Problems, Same Canucks and a Camel Story

2015 sure was a bizarre year for the Canuck faithful. It really gave us the highs and lows of a team in transition and that isn’t always fun. As the clock strikes midnight, which it definitely will ya doomsdayers,  we look back at the year that was and pout. The beginning of the year gave us some of that hope stuff people talk about and we liked Willie Desjardins and applauded his decision making, I think? We could see the potential of Eddie Lack as the true starter and Bo Horvat quickly became “the next one”. But then the playoffs.

Radim Vrbata wasn’t his normal staring self, he went invisible like a straight to dvd sequel of Serendipity starring Joan Cusack and probably Nic Cage because he’s doing stuff like that now. Luca Sbisa was internet infamous, Sbizza actually was just between us (he seriously didn’t even know) and we had no answer to NHL super enforcer Michal Ferkland (sp?) Ferglund? Ferland. There, got it.

Will anything change or will the Canucks stay the same?

After the Lameoffs all of that changed for the worse when we shipped away fan favourite Eddie Lack to Carolina, Nick Bonino to Pittsburgh for Brandon Sutter (still don’t really like that one…for either team), had the news that Ryan Miller COULD have been traded and Frankie Corrado was waived. That all sounds like doom and gloom but it isn’t entirely.

Breakout defender and twitter sensation by hashtag anyways, Ben Hutton aka #HUTTONmania, earned a spot on the big club and hasn’t given any reason to relinquish it. He’s been a welcome sight on the back end and with some patience and guidance, he could be the offensive version of Chris Tanev. We like Tanev.

Rookies Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen both made the team as well and all of Canucks land was a fluster. Could the Canucks truly be rebuilding? Is this the time we finally see the young guys work their way into stardom? Not exactly. Jared McCann is still largely between Derek Dorsett and Brandon Prust and even though its a learning curve, they’re duds.

You would never put a camel in a grizzly farm and say “hey camel, be a grizzly!” Not gonna happen. That camel can only be a camel; but if you put that camel with other camels at the camel farm, he can be a …..totally wrong analogy. I really don’t know how the camel would get better.

Basically you don’t put a budding offensive centre with 2 plugs. That’s the jist of it. Remember the camel story, that might be huge one day.

Jake Virtanen has time to learn his skill and we will continue to see his development as the year goes on. Not every player can be a Horvat and even Bo isn’t having a great sophomore year. What we have learned is that the team is committed to these guys and at some point, the veterans will start to be phased out.

The Sedins aren’t going anywhere and at 35, they still look as amazing as they did years ago. Sure, there’s a miss here and there but with 37 and 33 points, Daniel and Henrik Sedin respectively, are every bit as effective as they once were; the down side is that they’re the only ones….ok them and Jannik Hansen.

Speaking of the Great Dane, Jannik Hansen is alive once more with the sound of (whatever the heck his goal song is). Salvaging good story lines has been tough this calendar year but he of Danish origins has kept the Sedins fresh. Once on the rumoured trade block, Hansen has finally seen his game elevate and has brought worth to a team project a few years in the making. Good to see.

With all this, there are low lights like the distribution of minutes amongst players that shouldn’t even be in the lineup, the decision to keep important players out of the lineup, not keeping the goaltending tandem fresh with quality starts by each and an absolute failure to address the scoring needs this team so desperately has.

How Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce and Alex Grenier AREN’T on the club yet, I’ll never know. Chris Higgins isn’t what he used to be and is ready to maybe not be put to pasture but maybe let him outside for a run and don’t lock the gate. Dorsett and Prust are not #MUST guys and they don’t look like they will be anytime soon.

Anyone putting in a quality effort seems to suffer because the other lines are being misused. The Canucks also aren’t very big so the ability for them to be literal pushovers is alarming.

As the year turns to 2016, the Canucks haven’t really changed their direction a whole lot and maybe thats just the fan in me saying that. They definitely have made transitional moves and I guess the team is quite different from a year ago but nothing says they’re going to be better or more competitive than they have been.

In 2016 Mr. Benning, Desjardins and Linden, please know that we’re willing to wait for this ship to turn itself around, but give us a reason to be hopeful. Clearly we’ve waited THIS long so just be fair to us, that’s all we/I ask.

Happy New Year for Always90four

Also, remember the camel story.

 

Breaking Down The Canucks Season With Bullet Points

Seems like everyone is ready to fire Willie Desjardins. They’re already sick of the “rebuild” and I don’t think anyone has any idea of what happens next. The Canucks are a mess to say it nicely; a train wreck if we’re being more specific and a raging tire fire if you want to be close. The papers…err, their blogs and such have the coach being fired , well maybe not (Vancity Buzz), Canucks TV ratings down (Canucks Army) and Jake Virtanen. I have no link here. I just feel bad for the guy.

So let’s take a look at how this season has gone down in BULLET POINTS; because that’s what has been shot into this season: BULLETS! But in no particular order OK, I really don’t want to put in too much work. You’re already reading this so just sit back and enjoy!

    • Jared McCann and Jake Virtanen make the Canucks. We’re all SUPER happy for them and think “Hey, maybe the Canucks have turned a new leaf and are doing this rebuilding thing we all talked about”. I…..don’t think we knew what was going to happen. But we were happy for a bit.
    • Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom were gonna be better this year. No Eddie Lack? No problem. Except that there IS a problem: our goal tending.
    • Goal scoring slumps. If you aren’t a Sedin or a Hansen or Hunter Shinkaruk in the AHL you probably haven’t done much this season. Figure that one out. Is it even possible to not have anyone score but the first line? I think even Edmonton has more than 3 guys that score goals. EDMONTON!!!!!
    • Dan Hamhuis took a freaking slap shot to the face. He broke his jaw and it pretty much capped his first half of the season in style; his on ice play has suffered dramatically and the giveaways, oh jeeeeez the giveaways. Dan Hamhuis is a great man, a great Canuck but seriously, his time is running out/has run out. He’s in Willie Mitchell territory; but minus the Cups.
    • Alex Edler gave up a pretty bad turnover against the Kings in overtime and the Canucks lost. I think we knew at that point, we knew where things were headed. Funny story, that was about a week or so ago.
    • Ben Hutton made the team and we all thought CHRIS TANEV WITH OFFENSE!!! He liked the rest of the team has lost his mojo. Oh and when Ben got injured the hashtag #HUTTONmania broke up. It wasn’t good.
    • Vancouver has already seen what seems like half the Comets called up with a combined, what, 4 games played for the Canucks? The problems aren’t just on the ice, its between the coaches ears too!
    • Frankie Corrado got waived because obviously? There were ways to get around it with Higgins starting the season on the IR:
  • Losing streaks; we’ve had a few
  • Hunter Shinkaruk did so well that the Canucks finally called him up….then sent him down. That was depressing.
  • But then they brought him back. But then they sent him down after one game. Sensing a pattern here.
  • Canucks snapped the Canadiens winning streak at 9 games. It felt pretty good. Since then the Canucks have won 7 times and lost 16 times (OT/SO) Ugh.
  • Jake Virtanen gets sent to the Canadian World Junior team, probably to the Hitmen after that.
  • Jared McCann isn’t far behind
  • Things are so bad you’ve now read 14 bullet points about how this season has gone in the tank. I haven’t mentioned Auston Matthews yet. Let’s not go there yet.

Follow me on twitter:@always90four

Canucks All Smiles After Trading Kesler and Bieksa…Mostly

Watching the Canucks wait for the opening puck to drop after 60 minutes against the Ducks was tough to watch. Plenty of story line to go on and if Vancouver even puts in 40 minutes, they probably could have beaten the Ducks. That didn’t happen, they didn’t put in 5. Aside from that game though, things are noticeably better in Vancouver after jettisoning Kesler and Bieksa to Anaheim. They didn’t really have a choice but Vancouver’s loss is actually their own gain. Who would have thought no Kes or Juice would be a good thing? 

You can’t replace experience but the Canucks should be all smiley face emojis now that they don’t have a selfish centre and an aging, stale defensemen bogging them down. 

Only recently has Ryan Kesler started to show his worth after inking a 6 year deal worth $41M. His 3 goals are alarming but his body has been beaten to nothing over his career. Thankfully the Canucks brass saw that they had an unhappy, selfish player and granted his exit to the Ducks, apparently Chicago wasn’t lucky enough! Now, the Ducks are on the hook for a whole lot of wasted space and it only gets worse for them.

The Canucks took on up and coming defenseman Luca Sbisa and Nick Bonino as well as Anaheim’s 2014 1st round pick who now is the Canucks 2nd line/3rd line pivot Jared McCann. We all know Nick Bonino aka  too many men on the ice was moved to the Pens for Brandon Sutter and his injury is being felt up and down the middle of the lineup.

On the surface it would seem the Canucks are very happy with their return on Kes and on a scale of 1-10 smiley faces, they have to be an 8. McCann is quickly turning into a reliable two way centre and is leaned heavily upon only 26 games into his career. When Sutter returns, McCann will be able to see a bit more space and further his game even  more.

Luca Sbisa has gone from new guy to token hated new guy to apparent 2016 Cyclone Taylor Winner. Figure that out. The return for Kesler a year later is easily in favour of the Canucks and for Anaheim, they  have to start breaking down how much Kesler is going to cost them:

So far, Ryan Kesler’s “Between Two Zambonis” skits are costing the Ducks $1.25M/ per episode – might want to get syndicated Kes. Imagine if they continue to film these things? Their budget will be through the roof and for a guy that isn’t exactly friendly, they’ll be off the air in no time; but they’ll still be paying him until Ryker, his son, gets drafted.

Feeling better yet Canucks fans? We don’t have to pay for this guy anymore and look how much happier the team is. Ben Hutton can’t wipe the smile off his face but I’m beginning to think he has a medical condition because no one should smile that much. Just kidding Ben, nothing but love.

HUTTON MANIA!!!!

But who really cares about Kesler anymore? Let’s go over how disappointed the Ducks must be that they have a extremely underperforming defender in Kevin Bieksa.

I love Bieksa, I really do. His interviews are the stuff of legends and he doesn’t hold a grudge against Vancouver. You can tell when he converses with Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy. They’ll always be bros…fo sho.

Bieksa just signed a 2 year deal that will net him $4M per. We thought Luca Sbisa was overpaid? I’m so happy we’ve come around to seeing Sbizza has more to offer. Can you imagine paying Bieksa that kind of coin for 2 seasons? Oh man, that’s not even healthy. At some point Dave Nonis will be let go for suggesting the awfulness that is the old Canuck guard.

Jim Benning has quickly become a genius and even though many of us are ready to have his head on a platter, he quietly has turned the Canucks around and if we’re all patient enough we might just buy him a Christmas card next year. Not this year though, they’re awful.

It is yet to be seen what the pick for Bieksa will turn into but having moved him has given Vancouver the ability to give Frankie Corrado Ben Hutton a roster spot and if you watched the two of them on split screen in the same game, its not close. Ben Hutton can become a hybrid of Edler and Tanev and imagine if he does; ok don’t, I hate seeing those pictures all mashed together like they do on the Internet, its creepy.

At some point, everyone will stop grading this trade like so many others that have gone down and we can all focus on one of two things:

  1. How bad the Canucks are currently doing and….
  2. Is Willie Desjardins still the coach?

I feel like this is the direction we are headed and to put a final stamp on things, YES, the Canucks won those trades and they purchased the uber smiley emoji because they are set up the middle for years to come; or until they waive one of them for nothing and Toronto picks them up.

Follow me on twitter for mega hot taeks and the occasional factual tidbit: @always90four

How Are These Canucks Different From Before?

Everyone’s doing a quarter season article so I figure what the hay? The Canucks have already shown us quite the roulette wheel of games; big wins, big losses, one goal games and a shootout for profiling purposes only. What do we know about them after 23 games? For starters, the sky isn’t falling. I’ve read the tweets and seen all the possible trade locations for anyone that is over 30 and has scored in the last week; this fan base has no chill. So after everything we’ve seen thus far, how are THESE Canucks any different from last season?

 

The Canucks position in the standings is basically the same, they just have less points. If you think about it, they’re accomplishing the same with less. That’s actually better I think?

A year ago, we were all excited to see Bo Horvat in the lineup and we watched his progression from the nine game audition to what many believed to be the 2nd line centre without a doubt. Radim Vrbata was already at 10G, 7A and he has struggled to find his groove this year. We’ve called for his head and just begged for him to score so we can trade him away. Now, he’s finally producing and it looks like he’s ready to take over.

Ryan Miller surprisingly looking back was 14-3 at this point last season and I’m pretty sure we felt the same way we do this year, well, we had Eddie Lack last season; it’s possible we didn’t like Miller as much. This season, we are seeing a bit of Miller’s age but he continues to impress. If Willie D can balance the goalie starts both Miller and Jacob Markstrom could actually get on a serious roll.

Another thing the Canucks didn’t have last year was an abundance of youth. This season, Vancouver has dressed rookies Jake Virtanen, Jared McCann, Ben Hutton, Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Grenier and Brendan Gaunce and almost all at the same time. It has been a reeeeeeeally long time since there have been this many young stars playing for the Canucks.

The shift in mentality that youth works is slowly taking over. You can see the reluctance from coach Willie to entrust his rookies with the same responsibilities that the veterans are asked to shoulder and rightfully so, but Ben Hutton and Jared McCann most notably have forced WD’s hand. Ben Hutton is quite possibly the next Chris Tanev/Alex Edler hybrid and he’s 22!!! This guy looks like he’s been in the league for years and his presence on the back end is most welcome. It’s a shame he’s been injured because Hutton is already a staple on the blue line.

Jared McCann has given the Canucks depth at a position they haven’t had it for a few years. What’s better is that the pivots that occupy the middle of the ice are being molded under captain Henrik Sedin. The blend of veterans and rookies is a very happy medium in that players like Alex Burrows and Jannik Hansen, Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler can help these newbies adjust to the pro game easier and they will help shape the future of this organization.

Not to drag this on forever but what about Jannik Hansen and the Sedins? Did anyone see this coming? BESIDES THOMAS DRANCE? If you look back and check out the stats, its one of the best possible fits the team has! Aside from Burrows making his run with the Twins, Jannik Hansen is a slam dunk on the wing. Hopefully this run of theirs keeps up and we can see the other three lines develop more regularly.

The Canucks have changed a lot since last season and they will continue to change as this season plays out. The difference though: it’s about to get better and it appears the Sedins will play until they’re 50. Gordie Howe and his sons might want to lace up again just to keep those records intact.

Seriously, the Sedins are playing for keeps again, this might get dangerous.

Follow my shenanigans on twitter: @always90four

cover photo – hockeysfuture.com

The Secret Reason The Sedins Aren’t Good at 3 on 3

Admit it, you’re intrigued. Its one of life’s great mysteries that has yet to unriddle itself. Much like the age old ones that it joins (how’d they get the caramilk into the caramilk bar, why do they call it bluetooth and where on earth is Carmen Sandiego?), why do the Sedins absolutely blow at the 3 on 3 bonus round of hockey after 60 minutes? The answer might surprise you but I have nothing better to do and my hot taek theory just might be so bang on that it will make it’s way straight to the top (Willie D’s chalk talk).

 

We’ve all wondered why the Sedins just don’t click when the game hits OT and all of a sudden they’re in a 3 vs. 3 nightmare scenario every time. 5 on 5, the Sedins are arguably THE top producing pair over the last 10 years, moreso let’s look at the last 5 or so. I might look into that later on. HA, I found it! At 5th, thats arguable enough for me, but hey I’m a pushover sometimes. So when its even strength or even a normal power play, why are Henrik and Daniel SO good?

You would think with all that extra space they would be able to dominate and make lesser non twin team mates look silly; that isn’t the case. When it’s full strength, the duo have put up a combined PDO of 101.6 since 2010 and a CF% of 57.9. That’s ridiculous! Here are the full stats from Puckalytics.com:

 

Player_Name TOI GF GA GF60 GA60 GF% Sh% Sv% PDO CF CA CF60 CA60 CF%
Together 4659:17 218 136 2.81 1.75 61.6 8.54 93.10 101.6 4747 3458 61.13 44.53 57.9
HENRIK SEDIN* 792:28 40 33 3.03 2.50 54.8 10.26 92.34 102.6 702 783 53.15 59.28 47.3
DANIEL SEDIN* 609:28 21 27 2.07 2.66 43.8 7.34 91.64 99.0 546 574 53.75 56.51 48.8

OK, but I promised you that I knew the secret to their 3 on 3 woes and I’m getting there; I will say it’s based more on theory than stats but hopefully you will still be my friend after I tell you. Can we agree on that right now?

So here it is, my manifesto, my deer hunter:

Henrik and Daniel have always looked for the winger that best compliments them and can understand their thought process, their cycle game and can stick up for them when things get dicey. Add to that the two defencemen that flank the blue line to make sure the Twins can do their thing and you have a line that has so often been unstoppable. So when you take away 2 players you would think that gives Henrik and Daniel more room to work and that patented drop pass would just own.

It doesn’t.

By going to a 3 man group you have to have one dman to get them the puck and NOW they don’t have their 3rd cycle guy on the wing. To add to the obvious frustration that both you and I have, not to mention the Sedins, the 3rd guy that DOES join them is usually a defenseman and quite frankly his job is to defend and if given the opportunity maybe set up a point shot. That’s pretty rare though.

So now you’ve gotten rid of your winger that completes the cycle, you’ve eliminated your other defender and the distraction of the cycle is gone! The beauty of it and the reason its so amazingly effective is that the winger that completes it gets to be involved and the defense holds the line in case of emergency or if they need to get the puck up top and back to Henrik or Daniel to start it all over again.

The Twins aren’t the fastest skaters which is also a reason they should rename the hooking penalty “Sedining” and every team that the Canucks face have fast forwards that can adjust and race up the ice on a bad rebound which seems to be a very regular occurrence these days. If the cycle breaks down even a little bit, the Sedins are exposed pretty quickly and with only one other guy back there isn’t enough time to haul back and break up most certainly a 2, potentially 3 on 1.

I love the Twins, I really do but if just like the Canucks botched the use of Luongo in big game situations ,(see 2011 Stanley Cup Final, 2013 Heritage Classic) they continue to put Henrik and Daniel in OT, the results will eventually dwindle back to absolute zero. There isn’t a different formula that works for them together. If you are going to have either of them on the ice in OT, separate them and do it now.

The other alternative is that you put in players that are  more suited to race up and down the ice on a dime, Jannik Hansen, Bo Horvat and Ben Hutton perhaps? I’ll even include Alex Burrows, Sven Baertschi, Jared McCann and what they hey, Luca Sbisa! Look at the last points column after wins and losses, it’s OTL and you know what Canucks fans, that is going to be your most important category of all.

It will be this year’s version of the 2012 Phoenix, yes Phoenix Coyotes. The OTL will be as popular as #HUTTONmania or #weareallcanucks or even #pleaserefundmytickets.

Saying the Sedin’s shouldn’t be on the ice is criminal but if its OT, I don’t want them together and I don’t care how you do it. The proof has already presented itself and Willie’s burnt enough games now that it should be crystal clear. No more OT Sedins.

You will hear the phrase “addition by subtraction” but in the Sedins OT scenarios its subtraction by subtraction and that is the worst kind of subtraction. If there are any math gurus out there that have a worse kind of subtraction, let me know. I’ll listen.

Follow me on my twitter, im worth it: @always90four

photo courtesy of blogs.theprovince.com

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