NHL

Canucks and Sedins Should Follow Toronto Model

The debate continues: will Henrik and Daniel Sedin retire after this season or will they ink an extension, whatever that might look like? The Sedins originally stated they wouldn’t decide until after the season ended which would put them in the driver’s seat for narrating the Canucks’ future to a certain degree. Only recently did they open up the door to the future a bit more.

The future Hall of Famers aren’t a fan of publicity or a “farewell tour” but it’s becoming more and more evident that the Canucks would really like a little more information into the brothers’ future plans.

Can the Sedins still play? You bet. They aren’t the league leaders they once were but there are still many nights where they have factored on the score sheet. Henrik Sedin is two points shy of 50 this year, has five points in his last five games, points in four of five and along with Daniel, still holds a share of the team lead in CF% (both above 51%).

For Henrik, only four of his seasons would be below 50 points if he hits that target this season, not including the lockout year in 2012 where he put up 45 points in 48 games. Not to be outdone by his brother, Daniel holds similar stats but has six sub-50 point seasons to Hank’s four.

So, what should the Canucks do with these two players who could still hack it on any NHL team in the league? Follow the Toronto model. No, not the Leafs… the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jose Bautista will potentially spend his first season away from baseball after the Jays opted not to re-sign the former all-star after 10 seasons in the 416. Bautista isn’t the player he once was like many former stars but he isn’t washed up completely either. He crushed 23 HR a season ago, put up 119 hits (his 6th best total ever), had 27 doubles (tied for 4th best in his career) but struck out 170 times in 157 games played which was his highest backwards-K season as a pro.

There was a lot of drama surrounding Joey Bats last year and it probably could have been handled differently by both the team and Bautista. He still played and helped Toronto make a run to the playoffs until they couldn’t anymore. The Jays also let Edwin Encarnacion walk and they may still regret that decision but they moved on and gave an opportunity to new, younger players.

The Canucks need to employ this approach. Does it feel good to say goodbye to the greatest players to ever put on a Canucks jersey? It sure doesn’t, but that band-aid has to come off at some point and owing the Sedins another year or owing the Canucks another year or whatever is not the way this should be handled.

Bautista gave the Jays many productive seasons and a few memorable, ok VERY memorable moments that will not be forgotten anytime soon. He was a terrific fielder and could be an excellent addition to a team that believes they can contend this season even if it means he plays DH most games. For the Sedins, they won’t play anywhere else and that may be the hardest part for both sides.

Vancouver knows full well Henrik and Daniel can still play and be valuable role players but that isn’t how they operate; the Sedins aren’t depth players like when they first came into the league. The flip side of the Twins decision is how do you walk away from a game you can still play quite well? Pride factors in.

But, it’s a business and the Canucks need to move on. I personally do not want to see the Sedins hang up their skates because quite frankly, they’re a blast to watch even today. Class acts to the end but the Canucks have to get the rebuild going and the Sedins hanging around doesn’t help that move forward any quicker.

This may mean an absolutely horrible season next year but it has to be done. I can’t envision a scenario where the Sedins willfully play 10 minutes per game and are healthy scratched for potentially a quarter of the season. What everyone needs to see is that a Stanley Cup will not be coming to Vancouver any time soon and at the end of the day, that’s the ultimate goal.

Like the Blue Jays, the Canucks have exciting prospects in the hopper and sooner than later those players will be in the lineup every day and this will just be a decision that was made in the process. For all we know Elias Pettersson blows up next season, Brock Boeser makes a run at the scoring title, and Thatcher Demko mimics the Vancouver version of Cory Schneider.

Anything is possible, probably not all of those things but many of them will happen at some point and the Sedins won’t be part of them on the ice.

It might as well be now.

The Jays did it and it’s barely been a talking point so far.

 

Photo – CBC

Advertisements

Not A Throw Away Season For Canucks

There were parts of the 2018 Canucks season that brought hope and there were more than enough times where the heavy reality sunk in that this team is still figuring it out. The emergence of Brock Boeser as a legitimate threat gave Canucks fans something to believe in while the rest of the (r)ebuild was going on. Jake Virtanen’s progression has been another good sign things are slowly turning around as well. There haven’t been any draft picks acquired yet but Jim Benning is trying to assemble “his” team in a roundabout way.

As bad as it’s all been, it hasn’t been a season to put in the trash.

Coach Travis Green has shown everyone that proper line deployment is, in fact, possible after the snoozefest that was Willie Desjardins tenure was put to rest. Henrik and Daniel Sedin looked like they would be phased out early in the season but are a good couple of weeks away from leading the team in points, again.

Losing Derek Dorsett to a career-ending injury was tough for everyone involved because he brought a presence that didn’t exist on the team. Push came to shove (sorry for the pun) and long-time AHLer Darren Archibald was given a contract and quite simply, a chance to prove himself and he may have earned a spot and an extension with the Canucks. Archibald’s toughness and his energy leave you with hope this team’s grit can be fixed as well.

Add to that, Jake Virtanen’s maturity as a young power forward and the Canucks are creating the building blocks for their future. Virtanen has shown he can drive the net with the puck and still maintain possession as well as a decent scoring chance where that did not exist before.

Bo Horvat has firmed up his game yet again this season which gives star forward Boeser the opportunity to make his own magic. Boeser hasn’t thrived in the dirty areas yet but he’ll most likely be asked to be more involved next season. It’s tough to do more when you don’t have anything to work with. Relying on Sven Baertschi as the team’s other top winger hasn’t been the answer and the Canucks may opt to go another direction next season.

Thomas Vanek was a nice stop-gap and the arrival of Brendan Leipsic may fill his void. Leipsic has the makings of a young Alex Burrows with more offensive potential. He was a stunner in junior and seems to have a fit with a handful of players since being traded for from Vegas.

It hasn’t been a productive season as a whole but there are small improvements that will move the needle, if only slightly, in the fall. Elias Pettersson is having a stellar season in Sweden and will most likely be a fixture up front for the Canucks next season. He has the ability to play both center and wing which may help the Canucks overload the Horvat/Boeser line in the future.

Henrik and Daniel most likely will return next season as they have shown they still matter. It doesn’t help the rebuild a whole lot but the Canucks would be a heck of a lot worse if they were already gone.

One of the more important things to take away from this regrettable year has been the resurgence of the power play and its rightful place in the top 10 again. Much of this is to do with Boeser and Travis Green will have to tweak it next season to make it dangerous again. Getting it to Boeser on every available opportunity can only work for so long; there need to be more options. Pettersson may be one of them and potentially even Virtanen.

Jim Benning will need to make some waves in the offseason to further this thing along but this stinker of a season hasn’t been all for not. It hasn’t been pretty, not even close but it hasn’t been a complete waste either.

 

 

photo – USA Today

The Final Option: Put Eriksson With Boeser

Loui Eriksson is lost.  He has 13 points this season and pretty much all of them came within a two-week period. He’s barely noticeable on the ice and he is the latest Canuck to have a contract that “sucks”. Somehow, the Canucks must continue on with the Swedish Anchor for four more years. Watching the losses mount is one thing but seeing a $6 million player float in and out of existence on the ice is a tough pill to swallow. A buyout is not an option so what should the team do?

The last possible option without scratching him: Put him on Brock Boeser’s line.

Boeser has made pretty much everyone better around him. Of his 22 goals and 18 assists, here’s the breakdown of how Boeser’s stick has influenced his teammates:

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

If you noticed there are only a few players not involved here that actually have a point: Jake Virtanen and Loui Eriksson are most notable. Jake doesn’t really need Brock’s assistance but that would sure be a fun line to see go for a night or more; they could call it “Flash and Bang”. OK, that’s more of an NFL running back tandem name but still, it’s good, admit it. The Boeser Effect has made the Canucks tolerable this season and with losses in tow, every game is a chance to see what else the rookie can do. Eriksson might be his biggest challenge yet.

In contrast, here is Eriksson’s rainbow of coverage:

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

Copied from Naturalstattrick.com

It’s bleak.

His report card would read “does not play well”. The second page of it would eventually say “with others”. Horvat is out so let’s eliminate those numbers, for now, Baertschi just came back so it could take some time to see that whole two assists increase, Vanek for now is with The Flow and the defense is a wash because they come and go.

Much like the movement to get Erik Gudbranson traded away, Loui Eriksson will need to move mountains before he’s even considered tradeable. It feels like Extreme Makeover: Eriksson Edition. Brock has two weeks to develop line chemistry with Loui and most likely Sam Gagner and show not only Travis Green but the rest of the NHL that Eriksson is indeed still capable of scoring goals or at the very least being a regular contributor.

To be fair, Boeser has only had two sets of linemates this year and really, the only change would be Thomas Vanek being subbed out for Loui. The speed difference would be most obvious change and maybe a power-play to start would be the best way to go, not sure. They both are shooting forwards so the idea of having them on opposite sides creates a problem.

Having LE as the setup guy at the top would get the ball rolling. The left-handed Eriksson feeding the right-handed Boeser flows (no pun intended) nicely and I can see a rush co-existing with these two. It intrigues the mind if only for a minute… hopefully, longer if you’re still reading that Loui has only been with the Sedins at 5v5 for any significant amount of regular time.

Small fact: Boeser and Eriksson have skated on the ice along with Gagner for just over 18 minutes of 5v5 and the small sample size isn’t amazing. It’s not a mind-blowing look and I can’t even remember which game it was exactly but it wouldn’t hurt to go back to that considering Boeser doesn’t even have a point with Eriksson at all.

Their time together wasn’t a Corsi dream, far from, but it’s not even about possession right now: it’s about production, something the Vancouver Canucks lack in almost every way imaginable.

At this point in the season, with all the losing and the injuries maiming the Canucks, why not experiment with possible options? Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter will be returning sooner than later and this may all be a moot point by then but why not give it a try? The race to the trade deadline is approaching and the idea of Eriksson being snagged is a pipe dream at best.

It’s not that people hate Loui Eriksson but for the amount of money he’s linked to regardless of the bad decision made by Benning to sign him, he’s here as a Canuck and one more productive player is all anyone really wants. there was a time where he did produce and his career should be far from over but then again, stranger things have happened.

I honestly think Loui just needs some kind of reboot and riding shotgun with one of the hottest players in the league right now would definitely be that shot he needs.

Photo: Van Courier

Rookie Elite: From Bure To Boeser

The day has come.

There is a Canuck rookie as electrifying as Pavel Bure once was. This both saddens and excites me as Pavel Bure is the reason I became a Canucks fan and felt no player could ever hold a candle to his ability on the ice in a Canucks uniform. As Brock Boeser has emerged he has brought with him hope and the beginning of what could be an amazing era in Canucks history.

It doesn’t take long to see why Boeser has become the heir-apparent as the best player on the team, he does everything so well. His shot is lethal. It’s broken ankles, goalies, and even his own coach’s predictions of how good this young star could be.

The hype surrounding Brock before he even played his first game was quite similar to Pavel’s debut. Everyone knew what to expect, the pins and needles mounted as the day came near and when North Dakota was eliminated from the NCAA playoffs we all knew it was time. It’s tough to say if anyone believed he’d be playing for the Canucks the very next day but hey, that’s sports!

BB scored in his first game against his hometown Minnesota Wild, honestly what could be better than that? Pavel never scored in his first game but he rivaled Brock with the excitement of what was about to come.

The hype begins:

The OG hype machine:

That same tingly feeling is there when Bure took to the ice and now as Boeser steps over the boards for a shift. Something magical feels like it’s about to happen and every time the puck is on his stick you think you’re about to see the biggest goal of his career… it’s been almost predictable.

Bure never scored until his 4th game when he potted two against the LA Kings and didn’t really pile on the goals until later in the season. His play spoke for itself though, and his first game was almost a microcosm of what we were going to see throughout his career. Everything Pavel did was magic and it didn’t take long before he was the talk of the league.

Brock Boeser is reaching that status. He isn’t as fast as Bure was and doesn’t have the same hands as him but Boeser has a release that is otherworldly. The way he is able to bend his shots may be his eventual calling card. Boeser definitely has more of a Markus Naslund type shot but with the velocity of an Alex Ovechkin blast.

Media and fans alike are building a case for Boeser’s Calder consideration after he took the NHL by storm this week after scoring 6 goals in his last 5 games with 2 of those coming on the power play. He’s heavily involved as the final shot in the Canucks set pieces and the offense is quickly funneling down to him.

Don’t forget, he’s 20 years old.

This shot is attached to a 20-year-old, OUR 20-year-old.

Harbouring a star of Boeser’s caliber has been tough to accept as a Canucks fan because we’ve been burned so many times with almost and never was. Pavel Bure had it all and got the team so close to its first Cup, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi could never get over the hump of the second round and eventually fizzled out. The Sedins, Ryan Kesler, and Roberto Luongo just couldn’t figure it out and had front row seats in Game 7 against the Bruins as Boston cheered its first Cup in decades.

Bo Horvat had his doubters as well so you can see why it’s tough. Brock is a special talent that on the Canucks, is not matched. He will continue to get the media coverage that comes with being an overnight star and from the looks of it, it’s about as exciting to him as clipping toenails.

Getting jacked on a Calder candidate in November is dangerous but considering Boeser has played three fewer games than his teammates (two of them were healthy scratches to start the year) as well as being on pace to play more games than Pavel Bure did in his rookie campaign, it’s entirely possible.

He currently leads the Canucks in goals and points and as the stats mount up for Brock, the records will start to fall in the Canucks annuls. There hasn’t been a player like him in a long time and it feels good to be envied again after seeing players like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews fall to teams because they won* a lottery. Boeser was scouted and Jim Benning delivered in spades.

One can only imagine what Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen will do once they arrive.

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Photo – Dobber Hockey

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 Canucks Are Catching Breaks…Somehow

I’m beginning to wonder what is going on in the NHL this season. The West seems like it’s hanging by a thread, the Pacific looks just as bad and just when everyone thought the Canucks were 65 point dogs, they set themselves up to be on pace for 85 points. I don’t get it. In a league that seemed to be repulsed by the very nature of the Canucks, it now is secretly embracing them.

Case in point – the disallowed goal.

Intent to blow the whistle? That referee was about as excited about that goal going in as I was when I found out Nickelback was going on tour again, he was pumped. When they then go to video review for approximately 5 minutes to ultimately tell everyone it’s not a goal because the ref was going to blow it off, it makes you think.

The Canucks have never, OK not never, but almost never got the call. From no goals to penalties to no goals being reversed, it’s just a way of life now as a fan. Don’t expect the call to go our way because it won’t. I can count on one hand how many times the Canucks have been spared by the NHL’s ax of judgment.

Are the powers that be in the glass tower actually pulling for a Canadian team, in this case, Vancouver, to make the playoffs? We know that if they get all the way again, machetes and uzis will be legal on the ice because skill won’t be allowed. This logic of pity on the Canucks can’t be carried too far down the line with the Leafs, Oilers or Flames but after a horrendous no show for any Canadian club last postseason, the NHL needs to remember that it too should not bite the hand that feeds.

Canada is hockey and if Canada isn’t watching, ratings plummet. Imagine If the Blue Jays played the Expos in the World Series (sorry, still too soon), it would have been a nightmare south of the border. You have to have at least one team in there to give everyone hope. The “Canada’s team” mantra is pretty flawed but the media eats it up.

So how are the Canucks managing to stay in the hunt this year? The power play in a simple sentence.

No, not their PP% but their opportunities. Vancouver ranks just outside the top 10 for total power plays with 75. Unfortunately, that doesn’t correlate to success as they employ the 3rd worst clip in the league at a barren 13.3%. But this team isn’t fast whatsoever, the Sedins are good for at least one hooking penalty per game and they don’t ruffle any feathers to bother anyone enough to hurt them.

It’s like watching the Senators, basically.

Yet, the Canucks continue to go up a man and the NHL continues to help them along. It isn’t JUST the NHL helping them out, though: Ryan Miller is having a spectacular season and since Christmas Day, he’s 3rd in GA with 13, 1st in SA% at a hulking .948 and 2nd with a GAA of 1.58. This is the kind of stuff Roberto Luongo did and is still doing over in Florida.

In Luongo’s first season with the Canucks, there were a ton of tight games because quite frankly, no one could score. It’s almost the same this year but I doubt they’ll achieve 49 wins this time around. Vancouver is slowly rebuilding its reputation as an honest team and with Ryan Kesler and Kevin Bieksa gone, I suppose Burrows is still there,  the officials are starting to give the Canucks a fair shake.

That hasn’t translated to the draft lottery yet but hopefully, Benning can just build the team without needing to go that route again. Not all the problems are fixed yet, but as the Canucks gain confidence in their abilities with the new faces in the mix and maybe a trade or two, the Canucks luck could eventually turn into talent.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – ctvnews.ca

Are the Canucks Even Marketable Anymore?

It’s 2003, the West Coast Express is riding the high after an epic season; Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi are 2nd and 4th in league scoring and the Canucks have never been hotter. The meteoric rise of popularity for the Canucks continued to reach new heights all the way to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. The Canucks were a marketer’s dream; they could do no wrong and despite soaring face value prices and aftermarket prices for tickets, the Canucks were IT.

Fast forward a few years later to present day 2015 and we aren’t in Kansas anymore. Do you even know what channel they’re on?

There has been much talk about how the Canucks TV ratings have dropped substantially and this really isn’t surprising at all.

The train has been slowly coming off the tracks for some time now when the statistics are that blunt, there needs to be some serious thought put into efforts to get the once marketing wizards of the NHL back to it’s rightful throne. The NHL and Rogers are a new superpower in Canada and that is one reason the Canucks are feeling the sting.

Gone is the regional feel to a Canucks broadcast, where intermissions are now flanked with Mark Messier commercials, Duncan Keith featurettes and the Hockey Central hub. It doesn’t feel like an organic production anymore. Watching a game isn’t personal and the online presence is also to blame. I personally don’t subscribe to hockeystreams but know things like this and NHL Game Center live are the way of the future. Its not about the 60″ big screen anymore; people just want to see the game wherever they can.

But what are the Canucks doing, or rather NOT doing that has them grasping at straws to come up with an idea, any idea that fans can relate to and spend their money. The big sell for a segment of Canucks fans is the Throwback night in February when the Canucks will face the Leafs in their retro black 1994 skate jerseys. The team store has jersey and name/number tees but when they show you can only get a handful of players you know things are bad.

Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Bo Horvat, Jake Virtanen and Brandon Sutter. WOW! Amazing! THIS is what you want to market? If this was 2010 heck even a few years ago when they FIRST started to fall, you’d have anyone with a remote fan following on those tees. I’m not even kidding. There were times when such players as Victor Oreskovich, Aaron Rome and Jeff Cowan all were in the merch business. You could sell ice to….wait I better not go there, even Edmonton is facing backlash for their football team name, who knows where I fall in.

I worked the sports retail industry for 10 years and the amount of Canucks products that was made available was sickening and coming from me, that’s saying a lot. Does anyone even care anymore about the push to have Johnny Canuck as our logo? How in demand is the skate actually? I can’t remember the last time I purchased something Canucks related. Is this really what it’s come to?

Check out this Groupon ad (click HERE) This is a LIVE OFFER!!! Living in the lower mainland for the glory years, if that’s what we want to call them because they really didn’t win anything more than their division and a few Presidents trophys (congrats I guess), getting into Rogers Arena for less than $150 a duckett was considered a steal! Even if you were to go on a bus trip through a pub or knew a ticket broker, you still paid way more than you should have.

They’re pretty much giving it away now. Their integrity is going with it. We all want so bad to back guys like Ben Hutton (#HUTTONmania), Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and ya why not, Luca Sbisa. The old regime would have been all over these players to get them into the fold as the next ONES. Maybe I’m out of touch now that I live in the Okanagan but I doubt I’m too far off from the truth.

Management brought in the Ryan Millers, Radim Vrbatas…..that’s about it. Oh man are we in trouble. The homegrown talent thankfully is marketable and they can make a difference but they have to have the light focused on them. Make them matter. It’s two seasons in and we’re all rethinking Bo Horvat. Are we crazy? Start pumping this guys tires Trev! I want to care but they make it so hard to even start that feeling.

My kids need to have every conceivable reason why they have to be Canucks fans but aside from the losses, which are fine in the grand scheme of things, what are they cheering for outside of the game? Every good parent has their kids draped in their teams wears but is this current setup worth buying into?

There isn’t anything remotely marketable about this team. We all stick to the memories we have of the better times we once had but what is there to sell RIGHT NOW? They know there’s a Star Wars movie coming out right? Have you seen how many hockey teams have had a Star Wars themed night? At least TRY to show you’re interested in your fans.

Rogers Arena is 20 years old and to celebrate this amazing feat, ownership is celebrating 20 things that happened in that time. Nothing says Canucks hockey like the Grizzlies being honored…errr one Grizzly. We loved the West Coast Express, we really did so for approximately 5 minutes maybe…we honored them and then totally didn’t care anymore. Great idea.

But if you DID want to see Nazzy, Bert and Mo and you lived on Vancouver Island and had NHL Game Center? Well you missed it. Even Geeta’s Game Center didn’t get it.

Who honestly cares about this #20in20 ? Not me. The team isn’t trying very hard to hold onto their fans. It’s a building that nobody has won jack squat in and if you are celebrating some colossal failures and incidents we try to forget, maybe you should have waited until at least 25 years. Let’s do a quick recap: Grizzlies, no Grizzlies, two lockouts, March 9, 2004, the Bruins, the Kings, ugh the Flames and high ticket prices. We did have the Olympics, those went well and obviously every time Nickelback comes to town.

Other than that, save the 20.

The momentum lights the team added on the stanchions were a nice touch but it isn’t something to write home about. To a degree, some of these complaints are directed towards the conglomerate Rogers, but when you look at what the Canucks have done to combat their TV ratings for starters, they can’t really help.

The team on the ice right now is not exciting at all. The Sedins are the only thing worth watching and they don’t play every shift, even though Willie would do it if he could. The predictable back pass was tolerable when other things were happening but now its just dump and chase for 60 minutes, and lately its just dumping. A lot…of….dumping.

Are the Canucks stuck in a marketing limbo? It seems that way and there isn’t one specific way they can get out of it. The on ice product is the first piece of the puzzle and that will have to continue to build for things to get even a little bit better. The team has to start taking some gambles in all aspects of their business and it may pay off and it may not but Canuck nation isn’t used to a loser.
Its one thing to have a team  that loses and eventually rebounds back; right now it feels like most people are indifferent about what happens to the Canucks. A Canadian hockey team should never get to that point. The Leafs are even going as far as changing their jerseys and primary logo…THE LEAFS!!

You’ve shown us that spending ridiculous amounts of cash for things we don’t need or can afford is ok, so start doing that again. Get in touch with the fan base that got you to the pinnacle and start listening to them. This team had/has so much freaking potential but if they stay on this path, it’s going to take a long, long time before we see anything close to what we loved so much, again.

I hate to be such a Debbie Downer but honestly, being sold on this team is so tough and its not just this year. I want to know the Canucks are doing everything they can to be MY team and not just one of the 30 teams playing hockey in the NHL.

I’ve asked way too many questions that probably have answered themselves and I know I’ve done some CAPITAL letters; but at the end of the day it comes down to this:

Come on Canucks, you’re better than that.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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

Bowness Coverage – Canucks Maybe Are Good

Last season ended as a somewhat predictable tire fire and the Canucks had some obvious problems to fix. Fast forward 5 months and they look surprisingly better. Benning and Co. went younger, faster and slightly more expensive but where brass has spent their money, they’ve saved in other areas. For the first time since 1999, the Canucks start the season with 3 rookies: Jared McCann, Ben Hutton and Jake Virtanen. Its not what was expected to happen but guess what, here we are!

Its a pretty different team than last year and roles have changed throughout the lineup. Bo Horvat has earned the #2C role and has a spiffy set of wingers in Sven Baertschi and Radim Vrbata. After one game, I thought they looked pretty impressive and I have a feeling they will only get better. I would have liked to see Horvat a bit more on the PP and maybe even with the Sedins on a loaded setup with Edler and Weber at some point. Its only a game in so its a bit much to ask right now.

Elliotte Friedman has his 30 thoughts but I lose focus after 10 so that’s what I offer. Without further ado, I bring you your Bowness Coverage.

  • Nothing new for the Sedins but man do they continue to impress year after year. Their uncanny ability to find each other and make plays that still make you shake your head has not diminished. This play that lead to Brandon Sutter’s bloop single to the back of the net just shows what the Sedins can make happen. Check this out:
  • You won’t find much in the way of the Corsi here, maybe I’ve listened to a bit too much Pucks on Net lately, but I would guess Alex Edler’s corsi is crazy good after one game. The man has a boomer of a shot and he got it off what looked to be a ton (3 shots actually with a +3 rating). When Edler is shooting the way he can and his sticks aren’t breaking, he has the ability to make the Canucks PP and blue line very effective. Plus I have his t-shirt.
  • Staged fighting will continue to make the NHL a bush league. Dorsett and Prust both had tilts in the first period and I do not care for them. If there is a genuine energy boost in a game and a fight organically happens, go for it. Fake emotion though? Lame. You would think the NHL would be better than this but they’re not. Probably won’t see this end anytime soon.
  • Speaking of things that need to stop, these are two prime examples of how bonehead plays can ruin players careers and for the guys committing these stupid plays, they’ll be sitting out and rightfully so. It’s pathetic when you see repeat offenders continually allowed to offend and offend again. To be fair though, the RCMP, Provincial and Federal justice systems don’t exactly set a great example. Not the same thing but you get the idea. See exhibits A and B:
  • //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  • It seems the fines/suspensions just don’t make it clear enough that its wrong. 41 games for Torres hopefully is his last chance. I love the way Torres plays and truly miss him as a Canuck but he plays on such a thin line that he can cross it quite easily.
  • A great initiative has been started over at the Nation Network which hosts Canucks Army, Flames Nation, Oilers Nation, Daily Faceoff and NHL Numbers; they are helping raise money for a foundation spearheaded by the Canucks called Mindcheck.ca Check out @CanucksMOTB and pledge some money to a great cause.
  • Tim Hortons has become the new place to get your overpriced 3 pack of Upper Deck hockey cards after McDonalds got out of the game a few years ago. I took part in a purchase agreement but where they get you is surprising: with a drink purchase you can get a pack of cards for a buck and tax. Any additional packs are 1.99 by themselves which is ludacris but if you purchase another drink, its only a buck again. Bravo Timmies! You are taking our money and any hope at a healthy nation with your calorie rich ice capps. McDonalds basically said “ya you can buy fries and then we’ll cap your card packs at ummmmm 80, is that ok?” Im here to help you save your hard earned paper route money.
  • Ben Hutton is the latest edition to the Canucks back end and he looked super swell! 8th in ice time after game one, his first NHL assist/point and 2:29 in PP time? Willie loves him some Hutton. That feeling won’t go away and after Frankie Corrado was waived and claimed by the Leafs, Vancouver better stick to their guns on this guy. Not like they have to worry though. Ben can look at Alex Edler and Chris Tanev and know that he can produce without being on the scoresheet. Amazingly enough, he does that too! His name may pop up more and more as the season goes on.
  • The Canucks new slogan for this season is #playforthis. The commercials that accompany it are about as thought out as this latest blog post. In an effort to sell tickets, which will be tough until this team proves itself, marketing is trying to relate to the Canucks everyman. If you want to relate maybe start with something like this: We’ve GOUGED you for years, but you showed up. We’ve won NOTHING but yet you cheer. We locked you out but you came back. We hired TORTS and then fired him right away. This is a new Canucks era and its ready to play…for you… We are ALL Canucks. And then throw in a hashtag and get a sponsor for Club 16 or Sushi.
  • Play for the fan in the 3 ferry lineup? You can do better than that. You had the Bauer/Nike guy and all he gave us was a really nice throw rug with a big 7 on it. Cliff Ronning thought it was amazing though.
  • Not at all Canucks related, well unless you count Roberto Luongo’s campaign but Jagr is bringing back his mullet and that is a great thing.
  • //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The NHL season is finally here and there will no doubt be many more stories and sub plots in the Canucks stratosphere. Might they make the playoffs again this year? Im saying yes.

Might they get past the first round, Im saying no.

Might Bo Horvat end up being the best bang for your buck NHLer this season, sure hope so.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Baertschi And Friends: Double Digest

Much of the talk in the last few days/few weeks has revolved around the young bucks Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann trying to crack the Canucks lineup. Add in Ben Hutton to the mix and the Canucks transform into a completely different squad. But the man Jim Benning acquired at last year’s trade deadline, Sven Baertschi, may prove to be a bigger story than the kids.

Moving draft picks in today’s NHL is risky business especially when those picks are in the first two rounds. Baertschi was traded to the Flames before the 2015 draft for the Canucks 2nd round pick where Calgary selected Swedish defensman Rasmus Andersson. Is he better than Sven, well we might be here awhile to find that out.

Vancouver hasn’t exactly been “real good” at trading picks in the last few years so it was fair to be a bit skeptical when they made this move and with Calgary to boot!

For the Canucks they may have taken a risk on a player like Sven who basically just didn’t want to play in Calgary, wonder why; and his push level could have faded long ago. Baertschi was given a new lease on life and was asked to put the puck in the net for Vancouver. A 2nd rounder may have been high but considering Kevin Bieksa was traded to the Ducks for their 2016 2nd round pick, maybe it isn’t so bad?

Enter the 2015/16 preseason and Sven Baertschi was given a gift: Bo Horvat. These two seemed to have clicked instantly this preseason and give the Canucks a legit two line threat providing Brandon Sutter works with the Twins. (Side note: I hope he doesn’t, moves to the 3rd line and they move Hansen or Burrows back) Here’s a little clip in how affective these two have already been:

The ascension up the depth chart for Bo Horvat has given Baertschi extreme relevance going into this season and teams will start targeting that line because of the speed and craftiness they bring each shift. Add to that Czech sniper Radim “the dream” Vrbata and you have the makings of a goal-a-licious line. The beauty of this is that Horvat provides more of the grit and breaking speed, while Vrbata and Baertschi compliment as dandy shooting options.

No doubt Vrbata would rather be with Henrik and Daniel and I’m guessing he’d prefer to have another vowel in his last name after the letter R, but we don’t all get what we want. Long have the Canucks lacked true secondary scoring and if this isn’t secondary scoring, I don’t know what is?

Having the first two lines set the way they are frees up Willie Desjardins to have more of shifty third line with Hansen, Burrows and McCann. As Radim Vrbata will tell you/WD, chemistry is important and sticking RV, Horvat and Sven together may produce sooner than later.

Ok, no Virtanen on line two yet but you can imagine, having Vrbata instead probably ups the ante.

As the title of this suggests, you were hoping there would be some reference to Archie Andrews, Jughead and maybe Moose; I led you on and I’m sorry. However, Archie and Baertschi are SUPER close so I figured I could get by on that, you be the judge.

With no real statistics to go off yet for this line, aside from that video you loved in the preseason; this line will be a litmus test for what the Canucks can work with on the other three lines down the road. Hopefully, WD gives these guys some time to build some chemistry and we can worry more about our zone exits, consistent goal-tending and just how “real good” the new kids are.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four