Canucks Taking Advantage Of Weak Division

Pretty much stating the obvious here but for the time being the Canucks would be wise to fool whoever they can while the getting is good. As of right now, the Canucks sit a point back of 8th and four back of 5th place in the West. This is the same Canucks team that earlier this year went winless in 9 games. There are a lot of teams that are worse than they should be and a handful that are playing above their means.

The Canucks are the latter.

I probably should have titled this “You Can’t Spell Canucks Without PDO.” I spent an hour deciding that, believe it or not. This time last year, the Canucks were also a point out of a playoff spot and were stringing together a few wins as well. Is this the point in the season where the good teams get lazy and the bad teams make the headlines?

When the NHL gets back to normal, which I believe they are going through some kind of parallel universe, the way the Canucks and teams like them are playing won’t scratch the surface on getting into the playoff picture.

As Willie Desjardins continually ices a team with line combinations only The Riddler would understand, we all ask ourselves how the heck this team has stayed competitive? They lack depth in the goal scoring department, the defense looks good but in reality, isn’t exactly lighting up the score sheet and as far as goaltending goes the Russian Roulette of starts is pretty confusing.

Goaltending has been a strong suit this season and without Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom holding down the fort, Nolan Patrick or at least his value in a tradeable draft pick would be very possible. It’s relieving to know they can bring Thatcher Demko along more gradually.

What the current Pacific division and to a lesser extent, the Western Conference, is showing us is that speed seems to reward teams. The Canucks are not a speedy team in theory, and their luck will catch up with them eventually and sink them back to the bottom of the standings.

Watching Henrik and Daniel on any given night is frustrating because they have been asked to be the number one line and they really shouldn’t be anymore. If this team was ready to embrace the change on the fly or rebuild or whatever, the Horvat line and the Sutter line would be taking over at this point. There is way more speed on the 2nd and 3rd lines and by giving the Sedins prime ice time, it’s strangling any chance for hope this team might have.

Every team that has a share of a playoff spot has some speed and the Canucks do not. The Sedin hooking penalty will go down in Canucks history but they’ve never been fast enough to out skate the league’s speedsters. Not to knock the Twins but if that is all the Canucks are hanging their hats on, they need to make sure they can stay in every game or get get caught watching the puck go the other way.

Bringing up PDO for a second, the Canucks currently sit 24th in the “luck” category and as they play closer to their actual selves if that’s even possible, they could jump into the top 10 within a week or two. The Pacific division hasn’t made many adjustments to stay competitive so that actually speaks well for the Canucks.

The Kings lost Jonathan Quick in October and haven’t bothered to address their goaltending situation. They aren’t that far ahead of the Canucks on the season, both teams have similar records and not like it would come down to it but I’d actually give the Canucks a fighting chance against LA in a playoff series this year.

Sneaking in this year would mean Vancouver would probably get Chicago and it would be a blood bath. There is nothing wrong with the Blackhawks and they may very well make a deep run this spring. They are exempt from this discussion as everything the Hawks do seems to work out.

Five wins in a row are pretty impressive and for a team that couldn’t string together two wins in a row most of the season, this is quite the run. It’s an outlying performance but we should definitely enjoy it while it lasts.

When you look at what the Blue Jackets are doing you get excited but like all Cinderella stories, the clock will strike 12 and you’ll be stuck with a pumpkin again.

Vancouver can still keep this going and build some faith with the fan base but they have to stop jerking everyone around and start making decisions that are logical. It’s not just management that has made fumbles and it’s not just the head coach; this whole organization has to be on the same page and buy in together to make a difference.

Jim Benning and Willie Desjardins need to stop nickel and diming this team and decide on guys like Anton Rodin, Brendan Gaunce and whatever it is they thought they were going to do with Loui Eriksson and move forward.

Having a perennial 25-30 goal scorer begging to be on the top line after he has shown time and time again he is producing with less than ideal linemates. Eriksson needs to be given the keys to the offense and if it’s not with the Sedins it should be with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi as a top line.

Life is good right now for Canucks fans but don’t hold your breath, the conference will right itself and the Canucks will be the team we thought they’d be.

Thankfully, 65 points now seems like a distant memory now.

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photo – yahoo.com

Canucks Are Statistically Awkward

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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