roberto luongo

8 Stats The 2011 Canucks Playoff Run Showed Us

The horse for all intents and purposes is dead. We’ve all beat it senseless and yet there always seems to be one or two people who never had a chance to join in. A morbid intro to remembering the 2011 Canucks playoff run? Safe to say that’s a yes. There have been a few reminders lately about how good that 2011 team was and unfortunately how great that Tim Thomas character was as well.

Not one to be left out, I scoured the WWW. to find a handful of stats that either no one bothered to dig up, care about or had deemed beyond useless. If you know me by now, you have a good idea where this could be headed. I will state one thing:

The Canucks still lose the Cup Final so don’t come looking for anything different. This isn’t actually one of the stats.

Raffi Torres Was a Sniper… of sorts

He played in all but two games in the playoffs (suspension or something) and had an astounding 15% SH%. Amazing right? It’s not actually and he only had 20 registered shots on net but he scored on three of them and whoa nelly! were they memorable. He led all Canucks that postseason and everyone remembers they weren’t exactly high scoring affairs. To recap, a 15% shooting percentage led the Canucks. Maybe the rebuild should have started in say, October 2011.

Alex Edler Had Bruised Skin

Edler was a crucial part of the run and his defensive awareness wasn’t overlooked, no sir/mam. Edler blocked 60 shots and the next closest was Dan Hamhuis, with 38, who got injured after Game 1 of the SCF. I can’t imagine that was fun to do and when everyone gets bent out of shape and wants Edler to waive his NTC, based on this statistic, he probably was willing to give his life on the ice for the Canucks. Maybe slow your roll, people.

The Canucks Won Game 5 Anyway

They did.

Tim Thomas Was Frustratingly Good

Something you probably didn’t want to hear again because he won the Cup. Thomas had a crazy good save percentage sporting a .940 and a 1.98 GAA. Power plays, 5v5, it didn’t seem to matter. Tim Thomas was freaking otherworldly. It still hurts so I’ll move on.

Roberto Luongo Wasn’t A Baseball Fan

As you can see in the diagram below, Bobby Lu was pretty susceptible to goals in the dirty/home plate zone. That’s where most playoff goals seem to come from but imagine even a handful of those are just shots… we’d be talking about how Dan Hamhuis sacrificed himself for the greater good. Still too soon?

courtesy of corsica.hockey

Canucks Plus/Minus Sucked, It Sucked Bad

Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, and Dan Hamhuis were the only three Canucks in the Top 50 for plus/minus in the playoffs. Hansen with 7, Bieksa 6, and Hamhuis 5; 13 of the top 16 were Bruins, just saying. Digging deeper shows the grinders were the only guys staying above the line with a few exceptions. I suppose the top players are just as likely to be scored on as they are to score.

Powerplays Didn’t Have To Be The Story

It all fell apart at the end and Boston took it to Vancouver pretty hard. The talk of the powerplay being non-existent was true but it’s not like the Bruins were scoring a ton with the man-advantage either. Daniel and Kesler led the playoffs with 5 and 4 goals respectively and Mark Recchi was the first Bruin to have his name on the list with 2. There were plenty of opportunities, but as the series wore down the Canucks it didn’t really matter who had the chances.

The Stanchion Goal Was Coming

Kevin Bieksa may only be remembered for two things league-wide when he retires: Bieksa-face and the stanchion goal against the Sharks in the WCF. Everyone was amazed as it played out and I think there is some guy on twitter that legally changed his name to it after said goal (just kidding). Anyway, if you look at the data below, it was only a matter of time before Juice hit his shot. Yes, he’s a defenseman and that’s where most of his shots come from but let me have this, it’s the last stat.

courtesy of corsica.hockey

photo – vancitybuzz.com

Advertisements

Bo Horvat: The Anti-Cody Hodgson

2013 was a pretty rough ride for Canucks fans: Roberto Luongo had a sucky contract, former head coach Alain Vigneault was fired, Derek Roy became a Canuck for a bit and Cory Schneider became the Canucks undisputed #1 goalie. But then he was traded at the Draft and Bo Horvat became a Vancouver Canuck.

It was a lot to take in in a short amount of time, with the lockout and all, and it was tough to tell if trading one of the top goalies in the league for a power forward who would still be in Major Junior when the season started was a good idea. How the heck do you part ways with the younger, cheaper option in net when a less than glamorous trade for Roberto Luongo would have made so much more sense?

Drafting Horvat was a great choice but the Canucks had gone down this road before and not too far back either. Cody Hodgson looked like he was going to be Vancouver’s future captain and had dominated the OHL prior to making the pros. A handful of injuries with questionable diagnoses, explanations and of course, Hodgson’s dad and agent, created distrust on both sides which no doubt affected Cody’s play.

Hodgson would eventually be traded for another work in progress, Zack Kassian and now, he is basically retired. A weird ride indeed.

Enter Bo Horvat – a beast for the London Knights and when it was time, a no brainer to make the Canucks after his 9 game stint in 2014. Bo wasn’t exactly used in the best situations aside from faceoff duty but you can blame a good chunk of that on new head coach Willie Desjardins. He wasn’t exactly keen on letting a rookie be a difference maker, even though he was making a difference.

Mr. Horvat finished his first year, sorry, BO (Mr. Horvat is his dad) with 13 goals and 12 assists, good for 10th on the team in scoring. Even though the Canucks were dominated by the Sharks that year in the first round, Bo had a goal and 3 assists in 6 games, not bad for a tucked away rookie! Willie Desjardins knew he had more than just a young kid who worked hard, he had a future star.

SPOILER: Willie does use Horvat more the following season.

I’m not going to include his fancy stats, his amazing faceoff % or what his secret goal song is but just know Bo Horvat is a gift from the future and we should cherish him.

His game escalated last year after he was taken away from the defensive center role with Derek Dorsett on his line and rewarded with Sven Baertschi. It took a bit but when the spark ignited, the Canucks changed. It looked like the two synced immediately after that first goal together and the good times kept on rolling.

This season, Alex Burrows has filled out wing with Baertschi and it’s a line that has impressed night after night. There’s speed, there’s scoring and there’s 3 B’s.

Trading away Cory Schneider seemed like a bogus move and that it was the first piece of many to put the Canucks in what we all thought at the time was a rebuild. They were simpler times back then. We also thought Roberto Luongo was hanging around but former head coach John Tortorella clearly botched even the simplest decision when he started twitter savvy Eddie Lack in the Heritage Classic indoor/outdoor game.

Luongo was traded shortly after.

The big question is always “Who won the trade?” Well, it’s still quite early to decide that but if you’re the Canucks, you have to think you have won. The Canucks have never sat on #1 goalie for too long and even though Luongo was here for 8 years, it felt like he could have been here for so much longer… maybe even his whole sucky contract?

It’s anyone’s guess about how the Canucks have seemed to transition rather smoothly from goalie to goalie in the last 12 years but there has always been an answer. There were some iffy choices in that time but looking back, Roberto Luongo carried things for so long and when it all came to a head, Cory Schneider was more than ready to be a #1, which followed with Eddie Lack becoming a #1, Jacob Markstrom holding the mantle potentially and Ryan Miller filling a gap until super goalie Thatcher Demko was ready.

As crazy as well all though the Canucks were, that position was never truly in jeopardy and trading up to get Bo Horvat was kinda genius. When Bo becomes Captain in the next few years it won’t be a surprise to anyone; his natural progression will have earned the right. Henrik Sedin will eventually become the #2 center and then probably retire and Bo will hopefully have Sven Baertschi by his side when that happens.

There hasn’t been any kind of drama from the Horvat camp aside from the fans and media alike proclaiming him the 2C/3C all of last season, OK and his rookie season too! When Cody Hodgson was here, it wasn’t just about his play but how his whole camp (dad/agent, etc.) questioning the Canucks’ handling of him.

The trade was a bit out of left field when we all thought trade deadline day was over, but to be honest, I never was really a fan of Cody… as a Canuck anyway. The “feeling” was never there. I feel the same way about Jake Virtanen to a lesser degree as I think his drama will play himself out of town and quite frankly sometimes the GM is just wrong on a guy.

So, as we see Horvat climb up the scoring charts and most likely become the team’s top scorer by season’s end, think about what the Canucks would look like without him. Secondly, think about Brock Boeser not having a solid center to get him the puck when he wins Rookie of the Year.

Bo Horvat is the anti-Cody Hodgson and we couldn’t be more happy.

OK, having a competitive team would be a good time but I’ll settle for this.

 

photo – thehockeywriters.com

It Will Be Interesting To See: Canucks And Goalies

Canucks training camp started on Thursday and apparently it was already decided that Ryan Miller is the #1 goaltender this season for Vancouver because it says here, here and here. The last one was kind of overkill but you get the point. Jim Benning has declared the 36 year old veteran will lead the Canucks on the ice and defend the pipes as its top tender. In the next edition of IWBITS, I dive into the goalie issue and declare it will be interesting to see how this season pans out…heck how the first month goes.

When Ryan Miller signed with the Canucks back in 2014 it was tough to say if he was a consolation prize or if he really would help the Canucks while everything else was sorted out. There was the Eddie Lack saga, the Jacob Markstrom run and with Thatcher Demko signing his pro deal the clock will indeed be ticking until the heir apparent (Demko) takes the throne.

The funny thing is, Miller has actually been the least of the team’s worries since he signed. Sure, he’s had injury issues but what veteran goalie hasn’t? His actual stats aren’t very becoming but when you’re injured, splitting starts every second game and being relied on as the backbone of a team that scores less than the USA World Cup hockey team, you get a bit of a pass.

Millers GAA was a voluptuous 2.70 last year good for 34th overall, his SA% was 28th at .916 and because the offense and well the defense as well wasn’t all that effective, Miller finished 15th overall in saves with 1634. He was a workhorse and there were 31 games he didn’t even play.

It’s not a bad thing that Jacob Markstrom is the backup, in Vancouver you always seem to get your chance. We all LOVED Roberto Luongo and then Cory Schneider went and did his winning thing so then we were torn. We had Eddie Lack backing up Miller and we all thought THAT was the answer when he turned it on, but alas.

I say let’s enjoy Ryan Miller’s swan song, he’s pretty much done everything that has been asked of him and many of the games last season that were won with him between the pipes, were HIS wins. He definitely stole a few and our frustration was being pointed in many, many other directions.

How this all plays out this season will be interesting because Miller could easily get banged up and Markstrom would take the reigns. So being that Demko isn’t getting called up right away, Richard Bachman is basically the glorified door opener unless things get really dicey. The Nucks signed BTO this past offseason and he’ll be go figure, the door opener for Demko down in Utica.

All of this puts Jacob Markstrom in a position to prove his worth either as the tandem mate of Demko when Miller leaves after the season or trade bait if Thatcher is the Auston Matthews/Connor McDavid equivalent in net. We used to get bent out of shape when things got iffy in net, but now there’s a clear answer and losing our favourite son Roberto Luongo will hopefully be a fond memory and only that.

Don’t expect the Canucks to surprise anyone this year challenge for a top playoff spot, they aren’t built that way yet. What they do have is a team of veterans and guys willing to learn from them. This team is on the verge of very good things and goaltending is included, unless of course Jim Benning decides to trade away Demko (but I just don’t want to think he’s that bat ish crazy).

It will once again be a roller coaster season and if Willie/Jim/Trevor know what’s best for this team, we’ll see a healthy dose of Miller/Markstrom every 2nd or 3rd game. It keeps it “interesting”, it keeps each goalie fresh and maybe they can pinpoint matchups, hey strategy!

Watching the fall last year was tough and seeing the result of a 5th pick instead of the 3rd still stings but knowing there’s a elite prospect between the pipes getting ready for his takeover is exciting. With Twitter handing us info by the second, Demko’s progression will be all too documented and if things go as well as everyone thinks, it will be tough not hand him the keys to the car.

On the off chance something amazing DOES happen on the big club, the Canucks may push their relevance back into the NHL I don’t see that happening but there’s a lot I’m wrong on.

The Canucks are tied for 1st overall right now…it will be interesting to see for how long.

Check me out on twitter: @always90four

cover photo: thecanuckway.com

 

Canucks Leaky Tire Goaltending About To Be Fixed

By now you’ve figured out I love comparisons! Most of them fall by the wayside and a handful of people get them but are half impressed to say the least. However, with the recent contract extension of Jacob Markstrom it’s safe to say I have a gooder here. Ever since the dual departures, nay, triple departures of Cory Schneider, Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, the Canucks have been searching for a fix to their goaltending problem. Some may say it’s been a slowly leaking tire.

I too am experiencing a leaky tire situation and until its ultimately fixed/replaced, it will nag away on the message center of my vehicle. I can go to the gas station and fill it up back to normal pressure, I can buy the spray in repair kit but unless its truly fixed, the problem will remain. When Vancouver re-signed Markstrom to a new 3 year deal, they took their leaky tire and replaced it with a name brand snow tire that can handle the challenges of winter.

Ryan Miller has one more season left on his own 3 year deal and as the team came down the stretch both he and Markstrom split the duties almost 50/50. It was evident the Canucks played well for both tenders and with a cheaper, younger option in place until soon to be superstar Thatcher Demko completes his training in Utica, Markstrom can start the 2016/17 season with aspirations of being the #1.

Knowing that the Canucks will soon have a high performance all weather tire in Demko makes the next few seasons quite bearable. It should be known that Ryan Miller on many nights last year was a big reason the Canucks even hung around; I guess we could blame him for not dropping another two standings spots.

A far from stellar statistical year for Marky, sporting a 2.73 GAA and .915 SA%, his starts increased confidence in the Canucks fan base knowing we had a solution on the back end. It may only be July but once training camp begins, Miller, Markstrom and Demko will all have played and grown with the developing defensive corps sprouting on the blue line.

Alex Edler is now the wise teacher with Dan Hamhuis’ departure, so guiding Ben Hutton, Erik Gudbranson, Chris Tanev, Nikita Tryamkin, Luca Sbisa and 2016 first round pick Olli Juolevi may be a challenge for the goaltending standing tall. It’s expected M&M (see how I did that?) will have to shoulder a fair amount of defensive blunders but thankfully without Matt Bartkowski, they’ll just be Sbizzas.

When Schneider and Luongo were sent to far away lands there wasn’t much air left in the goaltending tires and just when we all thought Eddie Lack had repaired the problem, the Nucks sent him away too!

We all saw this roulette wheel of goaltenders before Luongo came to town and we knew until it was ultimately solved the fixes were all temporary. The vehicle is almost fixed in Vancouver, we’re so close to having those high performance treads installed. Jacob Markstrom gives the Canucks time to let Demko mature at the pro level with more games than a college season delivers and the pro game will help him adjust and prepare for his eventual succession.

Maybe it’s the Swedish connection that keeps us calm? The Sedins made us believe too; I guess there’s something to be said for the Tre Kronor? Jim Benning did a smart thing, yes Pet Bugs, a smart thing by signing Markstrom and if the tandem of Marky and Demks can be better than Lu and Schneids, we’re in for some good times once more.

And that’s just the back end.

Once a goalie graveyard, Vancouver is again becoming the place to be for the masked man. The tires are taken care of and I can’t wait for that new engine to be ready. The Canucks will be ready for Race Wars sooner than we think.

Steven Stamkos Can Erase Years Of Canucks Mistakes

As Dan Hamhuis and Chris Higgins bid farewell to the Canucks, there will be a few extra bucks hanging around the Rog on July 1. Jim Benning has drafted the future but his inability to sign true talent has been his undoing. Its pretty early to talk legacy but in Vancouver you don’t get a whole lot of time to make one. As Steven Stamkos enters free agency, Benning can offer the world and in turn would erase years of pain, mistakes and filler.

Stammer might not be a generational talent in the sense he isn’t Sidney Crosby or what we all believe Connor McDavid is but his ability to elevate a team is obvious.

The Canucks have seen their fair share of injuries and mishaps that only could happen to this team or maybe the Leafs but I assure you, a blood clot will not turn them away. What Stamkos has the chance to do is to be THE star, the magnet and the face of hockey in Vancouver. Roberto Luongo held that mantle for what seemed like forever, Trevor Linden has that spot in many fans hearts but on the ice, on the ice shift after shift Steven Stamkos can bring the fans back and a ton of goals too!

Will he cost a lot? Oh he’ll cost a lot and Don Meehan (his agent) will be able to buy a nice new boat when the cheque clears. There won’t be any room left to sign anyone else which in turn means there will be some trades coming. Alex Edler and Jannik Hansen might need to head to the airport to make this happen.

No one can forget what players like Pavel Bure, Alex Mogilny, heck our current heroes Henrik and Daniel Sedin have done for the Canucks on the ice. Bure electrified with the flip of a switch and forced fans to tape the game at home so they could see his moves in a slightly slower frame rate. Alex Mogilny was brought in to flank Bure’s other wing and sadly injuries among other things couldn’t get this team past the hump. With the Sedins, they have dazzled night after night in typical Sedin fashion.

Possession is 9/10 of the law, the other 1/10 is being a Sedin. People always talk about coming to the games to see the opponents play, well when you came to see the Canucks in 2010-2012 it was the Twins that got top billing. They did it all and still do. With Stamkos, they’ll prolong their careers potentially 2 more years than what they would have achieved if no one else could match their skill level.

His numbers speak for themselves; he’s just a hair under a point per game player in his career, in the last three years 61 of his 104 goals were on the power play and gosh he’s fancy too since then! Puckalytics has the goods for his 5v5 statisticals from Oct 2013-Apr 2016:

GF% – 55.4

PDO – 101.6

CF% – 52.5

Yes, he’s a star player and opportunity is in his his blood….hmmmm that actually solves some things. He still needs a Cup and Vancouver won’t get him one this year and maybe not the year after but as this team matures there will be a handful of players that can grow with him and what he does on the ice, what he puts in the back of the net should be motivation enough.

Luongo finally got the support he deserved and when it all came together he didn’t need to be the one they relied on every night, he was a complimentary piece to the flood of goals that went in the other net and the defense in front of him was so reliable it made him that much better.

If this actually did happen, the top line of Stamkos and the Sedins would be a treat and quite frankly it gives Brandon Sutter and Bo Horvat along with their wingers a whole lot more time to create chances. Shutting down an all star line takes way too much effort and at some point the levy breaks. Sure, Luca Sbisa is still there but maybe he won’t be if they need a few extra bucks to sign the jolted bolt.

Killer rhyming I know.

This city needs a hero again and it needs something to believe in. Steven Stamkos is that guy, we can believe in his ability.

I’m a dreamer and the likelihood of him coming to dismal, rainy, riotty Vancouver is slimmer than Kyle Wellwood’s diet books but just imagine for a second that the Canucks changed for the better. I can’t accept that this team will be bad forever, it just isn’t feasible. The Cubs and all their fans will stick it in my face but its doable….right?

Or they could sign Lucic and some other guys I guess.

 

photo – nhl.com

DAN, DEMKO! Back At It Again With The Van Goalies

When you think Dan Cloutier, most think of this:

But after his tenure with the Canucks, ok and a few close calls…not quite like his days with NYR, Clouts established himself for a time as one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. He’s hung up his everyday skates and has moved back in with the Vancouver Canucks. Rollie Melanson has relocated east to be with his ailing motherand has vacated his spot so the Canucks checked in to the Cloutier Hotel. The present gets a fresh face and Thatcher Demko gets a Canucks alum as a mentor.

This is a good thing.

Even though Rollie is out, he’s not gone completely. Melanson is still accessible but will be focusing more on helping goalies on the other side of the continent. As we all know, Dan Cloutier is no stranger to the Canucks and was a win away from the Conference Finals. He had injury problems but I still feel he was given an unfair shake as he was let go.

Cloutier’s aggresive, sometimes unpredictable style combined with his flare for the dramatic (where have we seen that before) made him a fan favourite and helped steal his fair share of games back in the day for the Canucks. Now, he’s the mentor to a current aging goaltender in Ryan Miller who could use some pointers on staying fresh as his career winds down. In Jacob Markstrom, Cloutier will be able to take what works with Marky and I believe, get him to be more of the aggressor towards his shooter.

Melanson got his goalies to play deeper and that gives the goalie the ability to play his posts tighter but doesn’t necessarily cut down the angle as much. I can’t see a dramatic culture change or anything but if he brings any of his game to his current students, at the very least, these guys will steal a few that they may have just lost last season.

The bonus of having a reliable goaltender is that with a growing team like the Canucks, mistakes are going to be made more often than not and the last line of defense will have to be on point. In Cloutier’s prime, he was a gamer in every sense of the word; he didn’t like to lose and he knew when he had to be the star that night.

Clouts also had Salo, Jovanovski, Ohlund and a few other notable d-men that he could rely on but having Hutton, Tanev, Tryamkin and I believe Dan Hamhuis, his work will show early on.

Not lost in all this is what Thatcher Demko will get out of all of this. Melanson will most definitely be working with Demko on a periodical basis and what that spells is ALL STAR. Rollie took a very capable Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider, tweaked some of their tendencies and turned them into Jennings trophy winners, All Stars and shut out beasts.

Demko has already proven he can be all of those things and getting valuable lessons and ice time with the former Canucks tendy talker will reap all the benefits, like all of them.

Back to Cloutier though; he knows the juggernaut that is the Vancouver hockey market and having lived through just as many bad times as the next Canucks tender, he knows what it will take to get past the hump. From travel to taking chances, Dan Cloutier is a fantastic pickup for Vancouver. Aside from a handful of goalies (Hedberg, Noronen, Auld, Flaherty) the Canucks have done pretty well in net.

The “Goalie Graveyard” has buried many names but the talent managed to keep coming somehow. As this wave of new talent is ushered in between the pipes, Dan Cloutier has a chance to reinvent himself and become the textbook for the future in Vancouver’s nets.

No more beach balls, no more lottery balls; basically no more balls.

At the very least, the Canucks will have a 1.000 SA% vs. centre ice shots. We can be sure of that.

 

Canucks Need Bill Pickle (That’s Willie Mitchell)

Willie Mitchell is 38 years old and might not be the ideal candidate to be traded to the Canucks. He has a modified NTC so he basically would still have to agree to be moved. Florida is a pretty nice place this time of year all the time and he wears the “C”. There is really no reason whatsoever for him to want to come back and play for the team he grew up cheering for and for a time dominated the blue line on. So why bother make a play for an old defender who probably, maybe even definitively could retire after this year? Experience, 2 Cups and one more challenge.

Willie Mitchell, I want you back in Vancouver.

When Willie was hit by Evgeni Malkin in 2010, the Canucks were ultimately robbed of the true potential of Mitchell. He didn’t skate until August of that year and was eventually signed by the LA Kings and went on to win not one but two Stanley Cups with them. He became a PP demon and showcased a shot most of Vancouver never knew he possessed. There was a good chance he would have returned had he been healthy.

Late in his career, Mitchell has seemed to settle down and enjoy the sunshine that is Florida. He’s the Captain, Luongo is there too and honestly he should stay there.

But this is sports and sports players don’t always stay in one place. He’s been to the top of the mountain and will play out what might be his final contract but who knows; a player of Mitchell’s ilk has so much to offer to players like Ben Hutton, Chris Tanev, Luca Sbisa and yes even a jilted Alex Edler. That…and we are getting pillaged by injuries and brain farts on the back end.

Bill Pickle’s cap hit is 4.25M this season but if something is going the other way, say Vrbata, Ballard and a 3rd (just kidding!)…Seriously, the Canucks have a player like Vrbata at a juicy cap hit and Florida can’t expect a huge return for a guy on his way out.

Getting into the important stuff, this season WM has a PDO value of 103.2 (war-on-ice.com) which is pretty respectable. Not over achieving but still bringing value to the team. He’s known for his defensive defensiveness but is he still useful? Defensive defensemen usually mean they aren’t good but considering his shutdownness, I’m willing to see past that term.

His Corsi % is beyond disgusting but the Nucks wouldn’t be getting him for that. You don’t date a super model because she’s smart.

If the Canucks are going to stick with Miller and Markstrom until Thatcher Demko is ready, they are going to need some competent defensemen for the next couple of years and even ONE season of Willie Mitchell hockey would be enough to help groom guys like Ben Hutton and Chris Tanev to become top pairing guys; not just because they’re on the Canucks but because that’s where they should be.

Willie has proven he can hang with the best in the world and he was an absolute pillar when he patrolled the Canucks blue line. Those were better times. He already has 44 blocked shots this season, 39 hits and he’s averaging just under 20 min/ game of ice time. He’s a RD and those are pretty valuable. Considering the Canucks seem to have many a faceoff in their own zone, Willie’s ZSO%Rel is -21.8%, meaning that he isn’t having to start in his own zone a whole lot. Not really a surprise but with a stick like he has, he isn’t a liability.

To add to this his GF% is 46.9 so if he’s on the ice, its not overly common a goal will be scored against him.

THE STATS DON’T LIE BENNING!!!!

Would you honestly NOT want to see him back? It kills me he left and if there was one last legitimate hurrah, I think the fans would be accommodating.  The Canucks blue line is becoming a bit more porous than they had hoped I think and bringing back Mitchell into a teaching role would be beneficial IMO.

The key for a rebuilding team would be to get younger and not WAY more experienced but having a few older guys for LA seemed to have worked out. And quite frankly, Roberto Luongo would be just fine without him.

Just make the move JB, things aren’t getting any better and he won’t make it worse.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Jannik HanSedin (A Statistical Argument For Their Existance)

Wanting the best for Jannik Hansen seems to be a recurring theme for Canucks fans. He works hard, he’s the best player in practice almost always and the imitations of him from players across the league, ok just Cory Schneider are just so super. It might be just one game and maybe he gets buried on the 3rd line by the end of the week but Jannik Hansen might have a chance to revive his career.

The Canucks have jokingly labeled Hansen as the team’s best practice player but the 25-year-old winger showed on Wednesday he can be perform on the big stage as well setting up a charging Raffi Torres for game one’s only goal that secured Vancouver 1-0 series lead.

Jannik Hansen after Game 1 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final – Globe and Mail

Does this mean the Canucks have once again found a proper linemate for Henrik and Daniel Sedin? After one game that may be a stretch but Alex Burrows did a lot with his tenure on the top line. Top line minutes are hard to come by for any player but Jannik Hansen has been there before and he’s produced. According to Puckalytics.com which is a mind bendingly awesome site, even for a fancy stat noob like myself, the line consisting of Daniel, Henrik and Hansen have accounted for 27 goals since 2009. That isn’t exactly a “wake your parents up the house is on fire” number but considering who has been the third member of that line, its pretty decent.

What the site also tells you is that these SweDanish linemates (new word I made up) has a career PDO together of 103.7. If you type  that number in google you most likely will get Top 100 pop, retro pop and country music in Maine. I suggest using PDO hockey to get a better result. A final number you could gather from Puckalytics would be the Corsis!!!! Love that one. At 60.5% according to my buds at Canucks Army, this is basically ridiculous. So I ask you, why hasn’t this line been given a chance to blossom?

Look at this goal against Columbus, Hansen just sweats out awesome here:

 

Can you figure out a reason that Hansen shouldn’t be the new third wheel on the Sedin Tricyc…..no that might be taken the wrong way. Can anyone give me a big package of stats that would make Hansen a terrible idea on that line? I don’t think you can but I’m sure someone will try. We’ve all seen what the Jan man can do and he does have some pretty impressive skills. He’s a bit of a banger, his speed surprises you on occasion and despite his closing rate on breakaways, he gets a sick ton of breakaways.

I am definitely not a guy who will toot the advanced stats mega horn because I just don’t know enough about it yet but seriously, if these three have produced at a clip of 3.62 goals per game, why the heck are you holding back current head coach Willie Desjardins? Why I ask. The Canucks have finally gone younger and in a few years, younger than that and if this team is to stay relevant not only in their division but in the league as well, decisions will have to made to keep the Canucks competitive.

We all know the Sedins are on the back nine of their illustrious careers maybe even the Amen Corner if you will, and if Willie D is their coach until they retire, he needs to maximize their productivity. Radim Vrbata was a great addition for them when he was signed at Free Agency in 2014 but since then has gone from hero to um, not great? This line is the litmus test of how the Canucks will hold up to other teams and if the top guys aren’t producing, don’t expect the rest of the team to bail them out on every occasion.

Roberto Luongo was forced to be Vancouver’s everything until the scoring arrived and more importantly the Sedins; so if the Sedins are being relied upon to be the Canucks everything until the next wave is ready to be on its own, don’t you think a guy like Hansen makes sense then?

Jannik Hansen may have received his best criticism from former coach John Tortorella as he was chewed out for his mistakes but maybe we can thank Torts for pushing Hansen to be a better all around player? Ya, I’m saying it. Look for the silver lining on this one and it’s not entirely foreign that Hansen will work with the Twins. Scandinavia has longed for a SweDanish hockey threat and this is their chance to see it materialize.

Sure, some of this is fluff and as I said before, this might fade out after a game or so but let’s give it a chance. It’s still early enough in the season to experiment with lines and with Hunter Shinkaruk forcing the Canucks to call him up, freeing Vrbata up to play with Horvat or Sutter gives this team the D word: Depth.

Thursday’s game against the Senators is a prime opportunity to explore the HanSedin line and see how well it fits. The Senators are having a decent season but they give up their fair share of goals. The Sedins like scoring goals and they like to share so its basically a match made in Sweden/Denmark.

Just appease us Willie D, we don’t ask a lot…not entirrrely true, but we deserve to see what our team is capable of. Run with these guys until next week and you might be a happy man. It’s either that or the face you made when Vancouver almost blew the game against Jackets on Tuesday. Sadly I don’t have that photo but he mouthed a few words I’m not allowed to say.

Jannik Hansen might sound like Kermit from time to time, or all the time, but when he’s with the Sedins….he’s an Animal. Get em on that top line and those breakaways will have to convert sooner or later. Breakaways.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

feature photo – thehockeynews.com

Ryan Miller And Chill

I’m not gonna lie to you guys, I still don’t know what that means. I don’t even have Netflix so the reference is lost on me. That being said I DO know one thing for sure: I may be wrong about Ryan Miller and its safe to say most of you are too! After 3 games this year he has posted an impressive 3-0-1 and 1 shutout (LA) along with a chipper 1.21 GAA and .955 SA%

This just in: Ryan Miller is very good at the puck stopping.

Miller seemed like a decent signing a year ago as the Canucks were looking for a new #1 goalie to mentor Eddie Lack and win the big games. Well, last season didn’t exactly go Miller’s way and late in the season it was questioned if he should even BE a Canuck. Pretty harsh criticism but quite typical in a market that can turn on their goalies after a bad pumpkin spice latte.

When Miller was bowled over by Jannik Hansen in a game against the Islanders last year, it gave then back up Eddie Lack the keys to a very touchy sports car which he did not want to relinquish after a phenomenal spring. As Ryan Miller neared return, the question was does he deserve the net back?

All in all, he came back but the Canucks were far from ready for anyone to be the goalie as they couldn’t even hold their own up front with the Calgary Flames completely outplaying the Canucks in round 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So what is so different from last year’s start that gives us hope this season? As of now, not a whole lot. Miller posted a solid 16-4 record to start his season, with 3 shutouts and 3 one goal games. It seems that even in Canuck nation if we aren’t awarded a Stanley Cup (which they’ve never won) after every win, the team fell short.

Kinda ridiculous but that’s how we roll.

In comparison, Roberto Luongo’s first season in Vancouver wasn’t exactly the best season ever in his first 20. OK, we all know he played lights out almost the whole season, finished a win shy of the NHL record and was robbed of both a Vezina and a Hart trophy, but I digress.
Luongo posted a 10-9-1 record in the 2006/07 season after his first 20 games but considering the team had to be almost all defense, his performances took on a life of its own.

Like Luongo, Miller came from the Eastern Conference and had to learn a whole new travel system, a whole new coaching system and a conference that is Fast and Furious 8, seven days a week. Miller did have a stop over in St. Louis for 19 games and then was easily knocked out of the playoffs in 6. He, like Justin Trudeau “just wasn’t ready” for the West quite yet. But he figured it out.

Ryan Miller isn’t exactly that type of cat though; he’s very chill, possibly even….Miller Chill? I would guess lime because its the best of the chill drinks one would assume. He is a gamer like any other top goalie, he puts his jock strap on one loop at a time and after playing in Buffalo for so long, a bit of angst is allowed. He’s played in some pretty big games, most notably in 2010 in the Gold Medal Game at the Vancouver Olympics in which he gave up the winning goal to Sidney Crosby on Canadian ice. He continued to impress that same year taking home the Vezina as the top goaltender in the NHL.

But back to him being awesome in Vancouver.

Miller time has once again made an appearance and this time around, Canucks fans seem to be warming up to the guy. He isn’t any more approachable, he still clings to the “team game” mentality when conducting interviews and even WITH the injury to Jacob Markstrom and having Richard Bachman as his backup, he still plays like it’s his job to lose.

Good on you Miller!

Millsy as his team mates probably call him is building confidence with a very fragile fan base and the defenders in front of him are making his job quite easy. But in case they do screw up, he’s been every bit an all star as rookie dman Ben Hutton. Roberto did it with more swagger but maybe we need a guy that just plays net for a living? I’m not sure if that actually was a question but imma roll with it.

Miller Chill is just that; he doesn’t seem to panic when the puck frenzy is in front of him. He just goes about his business and he focuses on just stopping the puck. Seems like an obvious deal there but making the save that stops the play is just as important as keeping the first few out of the net. Its rebound control 101.

It is kinda weird that even with Eddie Lack, Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider all gone from Vancouver, we actually are at the point of embracing a goalie because he just plays for his team and goes home. Better late than never to have a revived career and it looks like he might even get better, wouldn’t that be nice?

We welcome your chillness Ryan Miller, we welcome it with two arms and an approval looking nod. You signed on for 3 years in a city that you knew could possibly hate you after 1 month, but there was enough money on the table that you figured “Hey, hate doesn’t hurt if I don’t acknowledge it”. Bad theory to go on but he has stepped his game up and the team in front of him seems to have done the same thing.

Miller doesn’t need fancy stats, zone entry data, corsis or even tacos to be successful. For that you should go on over to Canucks Army.  Come to think of it, I don’t either but here I am writing about these things (actually I’m only writing about the words fancy stats, zone entry data and corsis) and I don’t need to be flashy or swaggered out.

After only 3 games, a handful of media and fans have anointed Ryan Miller the MVP of the season and what could be better? The answer is the Stanley Cup but maybe lets not jump the shark quite yet. I can’t believe I’m saying this but even Luca Sbisa is playing better this year and that can only mean great things for Ryan Miller…and rookie sensation Ben Hutton. But this isn’t about them, its about the guy with the bulldog on the back of his mask.

So lets all Miller Chill with Ryan Miller and let him do his thing. Let’s let this season materialize organically and see how everything pans out. What do we have to lose? Not much. What I know is all this guy wants is for Miller to stay chill and maybe a tweet back:

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Follow me and my hilarious taeks (sp?) on twitter: @always90four

When Are We Done With These Goalie Controversies?

I’ll admit, I like drama. No, not the Entourage character; he’s alright but I wouldn’t say I like him. I enjoy talking, debating, even yelling to people that are flat out wrong about the Canucks goaltending situation. The thing is, do they really have to keep up this charade EVERY year? When are we done with these goalie controversies?

Eddie Lack, Jacob Markstrom and Ryan Miller have all found themselves in the latest controversy in the Canucks net. There are plenty of ways this could go but the fact that Vancouver runs into this problem so frequently is a cause for concern. 

There really wasn’t a thing when Cloutier and Auld were in the mix, it was just “when are we going to get a better goalie that doesn’t let in beach balls?” That was fun. Those were simpler times. We just accepted that we had to wait.

Hey and then we drafted Cory Schneider. It was finally going to happen, our FRAN-CHISE goalie was here! College would be over in a few years and our knight in shining armour would arrive. The plan was set.

Oh right, then Dave Nonis went and pulled the ol’ We got a Todd Bertuzzi and he just totally tanked any stock he had when he punched Steve Moore so LETS TRADE HIM TO FLORIDA move. God bless the Panthers. Apparently, two problems create an answer.

Bertuzzi had seen his time pass in Vancouver and disgruntled superstar goalie Roberto Luongo wasn’t happy with his treatment in Florida so the trade was put in motion. Vancouver had its hero.

There’s no way anyone could have seen it end the way it did.

For the first few years it was ALL Roberto all the time and it didn’t seem to matter. Finishing one win off the NHL record in his first season, being nominated for everything under the sun and bringing the Canucks back into the conversation; Luongo hit the reset button hard and cemented himself as the Canucks best goaltender ever…and for a time, it’s best player.

It wasn’t all birthday cakes and unicorns though; Luongo had his critics and because he couldn’t do it all himself, he saw the storm coming and it was going to get messy. By the time Cory Schneider was ready, Luongo had hit the big time and an uber athlete like Roberto wasn’t giving that net up.

Schneider and Lu went neck and neck from the 2010-2012 seasons. Luongo starting as the alpha and finishing as the beta. Trainwrecks are better looking. The rumours of trades for both Cory and Roberto loomed large for such a long time and it became its own beast.

Even the hardcore Canucks fan was getting a little annoyed about how everything was playing out. Whatever you are going to do, DO IT!! We just all want to move on already. The rumours of where Cory could be dealt were intriguing and a player like Jordan Eberle coming back for Schneider would have been ok by me.

Playing a team six games a season isn’t that big of a deal. It may become that way now, but it surely wouldn’t have been back then and having a goalie as the guy you play against isn’t the worst, well unless he has a wrist shot.

So Schneider gets dealt to New Jersey for what would become Bo Horvat and that was it. We aren’t talking about it anymore, we moved on right?

WRONG.

All seemed right as Roberto Luongo was given back his team and new coach John Tortorella was going to push him to be his old self. He pushed him alright, right out of Vancouver. Luongo’s mismanagement was basically what sent him to the Canucks in the first place and now it had him going back to Florida for the same reasons minus the contract.

Lost in all of this was Eddie Lack. He never asked to be a part of the mess that is Vancouver’s goalie graveyard but here he is. Luongo was now gone and everything pointed to Lack and Jacob Markstrom (the goalie that came back in the Lu trade) as the new tandem. New GM Jim Benning had other plans it seemed.

Was Lack ready to handle the load? It didn’t exactly seem like it after Luongo was let go but how many backups really take a stranglehold on the starter job in a hockey nuts market? Im guessing not too many. Benning went out at free agency and threw 18 mil/3 years at aging tender Ryan Miller and he got his man.

Here we go again.

It turned out that yes indeed, we were right back in the muck. Ryan Miller would suffer an injury that forced Eddie Lack back into the spotlight and this time, he didn’t disappoint. This never ending roulette wheel kept spinning. Markstrom’s AHL fame gave him a chance to make his mark and with one loss, it all went away.

Markstrom’s run in the Calder Cup playoffs has given him another shot at the bigs and even if the Utica Comets, Vancouver’s AHL affiliate, loses the Final, there will be heavy chatter at the NHL Draft in Florida (go figure) about what the Canucks are going to do in net.

There is another college kid who should be ready around 2018 or so and by then if Lack and Markstrom are still here, we will have all found a way to hate one of them. Staying the course is the hardest thing to do with goaltending but with no real threat up front, the Canucks would be wise to let this all play out.

That or get back some picks, a player in return and even some hope that GM Jim Benning knows what to do with those things. At some point this nonsense has to end.

The Minnesota Wild made Devan Dubnyk a star, it doesn’t have to be this hard.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

Cover photo – theprovince.com