shawn matthias

Debunking Your Canucks Arguments Because You’re Wrong

Since moving away from the lower mainland a few years ago, my intake of radio armchair GM’s has dropped dramatically. Thankfully I have been able to take a more thought out approach to my opinions without being influenced by the wacky ideas and comments that flood Vancouver sports radio on a day to day basis. Don’t get me wrong, if it wasn’t for the “intelligent” minds there really is only talking heads, that participation is crucial.

That being said, there are a few arguments out there that seem to gain steam, some that are downright ridiculous and believe it or not, a few good ones. WIth all the opinions out there, there’s bound to be a few that actually make sense. However, the wrong ones are the ones we debate the most and I am going to rip through all of those zany ideas and show you why you’re wrong. 

(Now go to your kitchen cupboards and grab a grain of salt.)

THE ARGUMENT: The Sedins are second liners now; they don’t have what it takes to be a top line anymore.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: This one got me thinking after listening to the latest Pass it to Bulis podcast. You’d be hardpressed to find more than maybe eight teams that they wouldn’t be top line players. As far as the Canucks are concerned, they are still the number one line. They still  get the top matchups every night and lead the team by 11 points at 60 with Radim Vrbata next at 49. The drop off is huge after that. Nick Bonino, Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen all have 30 and down it goes after that.

Second line players don’t lead your team in points, well this team anyways. Until the Sedins show a dramatic drop off or they retire, odds are they are going to be the top line in Vancouver. They aren’t 100 point players anymore and maybe the 80’s are as high as they get now but by the looks of this season, 60 points this late is really good. John Tavares of the Islanders has 72 points for the league lead. Enough said. 

So if you have some crazy notion that Nick Bonino, Radim Vrbata and Shawn Matthias are your top line, or that Sidney Crosby is done too, you are very wrong.



 

THE ARGUMENT: The Canucks aren’t a very good team.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG…..TO A DEGREE: The Canucks are definitely not the king of the castle anymore, but they are way better than a season ago and really, better than they were in 2012. As soon as they lost the Cup in 2011 everything changed. Countless identity changes later, Vancouver finally is following a path that seems to be paying off. Credit WIllie Desjardins, Trevor Linden and Jim Benning for changing it to its current state.

The power play this season is atrocious I’ll give you that and sure, they don’t score a ton of goals and yes I’ll agree they seem to enjoy being down two and three goals before they get their game going; but if you take away the fancy stats and some of the basic ones, they’re second in the Pacific. Albeit, a weak division that had their way with the Canucks last year, aside from a large collapse the Canucks are playing for the Stanley Cup this year.

Losing to the awful teams sure doesn’t help my case here but the overall game they have played this season has been fairly entertaining and has every line involved…every…single…game. The injuries definitely took their toll on the lineup but it forced half of the Utica Comets to show what they could do. It wasn’t that bad. In fact, it was great. You now love Ronalds Kenins.

If the Canucks weren’t a very good team we wouldn’t be talking about the potential for upsets in the playoffs or how well our three second/third lines are. A bit more grey area here but they dont’ suck. Agree to disagre on this?

THE ARGUMENT: Ryan Miller is washed up, he looks like he voluntarily gives up soft goals and he is passed his prime.

WHY YOU’RE WRONG: Actually, I agree with most of that. Even though Miller did post 28 wins, 6 shutouts a perfect shootout record going 2 for 2; game in and game out he struggled to make the easy saves and as a fan, didn’t look like he gave his team a chance to win EVERY game. Every goalie goes through struggles and the ones learning a new team, a new system and a goalie coach, they have it worse. With Eddie Lack gaining confidence and believing this is HIS team, Miller at the end of the day ends up being an expensive bridge to the future.

Ryan Miller may not play another game this season for multiple reasons, the main one being that even if he’s healthy; it will be the heart of the playoffs and there is no team that starts a cold goalie when you only get 4 losses in a series. Even the expensive mistakes have silver linings. 

So on this one YOU’RE RIGHT!

WILLIE’S ARGUMENT: Ronalds Kenins is the odd man out until someone plays bad enough or Kenins pots a goal every game.

WHY HE’S WRONG: Now that the Canucks are basically healthy (just Miller really), every game Willie D has quite a task of deciding who should sit. I called out Chris Higgins because I felt he hadn’t held his own as much as he should have this year, I did that twice. Both times, he scored and we won. So anyone can be wrong. What WD is doing is so wrong though. He has put Kenins in the linup and he has outperformed what most of us, if not all of us thought he would do originally. Once the injured players started coming back, Kenins looked to be the odd man out.

Thankfully, through some divine intervention a new injury reared its head and WHAMMY! Ronny gets put back in. His line with Bo Horvat and Jannik Hansen has been electric for some time now and their chemistry shows. Kenins has 11 pts in 19 GP and if Bo Horvat is considered the teams fourth line pivot, thats pretty good output for a fourth line player that was riding the bus to start the year.

There are a few options of who should be coming out now: Linden Vey and ocassionally Nick Bonino. Yes, both are centres but its not a stretch to move Shawn Matthias up to the middle. At some point its the guys that are getting it done that you want in.

So Willie, put Ronny in FULL TIME, because YOU’RE WRONG!

This doesn’t cover all those wacky theories that are out there but debunking a few of them will help you get through your day. I know i’ll sleep better tonight. Just remember, when you go to bash your Canucks think about how much worse you could have it. Check the standings, see where the Twins are in the scoring race and maybe chill out a bit.

The Canucks are winning the Cup this year because they are a elite team. They have everyt….I can’t go on anymore. Just settle down and realise you have it pretty good here. Really good.

I take back the Cup comment until further notice.

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Shawn Matthias Is The New Higgins, Time To Go Higgy

Chris Higgins was a great deadline deal for the Canucks and former GM Mike Gillis. His soldier like effort game in and game out made him a fan favorite and a great match for his coaches. He could be put anywhere in the lineup and produce. Well even though he has signed that nice little deal, there are cheaper options already making their mark and it looks like his time could be up. 

Shawn Matthias has a lot of those same characteristics, 4 years younger and producing at a higher clip. Matthias I believe, has also been very impactful to Zack Kassian. While Kass was busy being healthy scratched, he had time to see how the power forward position is played. Driving to the net, playing along the boards and the sweet finishing touch has given Jim Benning an upgrade at the 7th forward. Jannik Hansen has seen plenty of time at that spot and the natural progression is taking place.

Because Kassian is so young, emulating that type of player can only benefit his game and might be the stepping stone he needs to get to the next level of his career. Matthias is a UFA this summer and Benning would be smart to keep him around. Every team needs its stars but they also need a solid bottom six and having Matthias heading up that area is good for business. 

In 2011, when it all seemed to come together, Higgins and Maxim Lapierre were brought in at the deadline. Having those two experienced playoff performers put the Canucks over the top, well until Game 3 anyways. We uh, we lost the Cup after that. With Matthias here, he seems to be filling that role now.

With every game  Bo Horvat plays he climbs up the depth chart;  the emergence of Ronalds Kenins, as well as Kassian’s improvement, Higgins is being out youthed and simply outplayed. His ice time unfortunately doesn’t neccesarily dictate that but having to be paired with Radim Vrbata keeps him safe. 

Eventually Brad Richardson comes back and Linden Vey and Derek Dorsett will flank his wings; Chris Higgins will really need to prove he still holds value in a Canucks jersey. 

The Canucks didn’t need to make any moves this year and the term “stand pat” was used a bunch and if it’s one thing I love, it’s a good catch phrase. It sure says a lot about the future of the team when we still have Virtanen, McCann, Jensen and a good stable of picks. Benning wants to see this team through and didn’t want to jeopardize the future for a quick fix.

Higgins isn’t the only guy that most likely will be moved after this season and if for whatever reason the Nucks miss the spring dance, there is a boatload of talent in the top 15. Don’t be surprised if Bieksa and/or Hansen is moved as well, might be worth a hefty ransom.

Chris Higgins is still a very good player but at 31, and thats not old, his job can be done by a 25 year old. I’ll save the Ryan Miller debate for another day.

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Photo credit – metronews.ca

Jarkko POLO: Lack Is Back, Losing Sucks and BOOM!

Remember last year when Luongo was traded and Eddie Lack was given the keys? A year later it’s the same thing but now he has some backup. It’s amazing how the story has kind of been the same but the results are different this time. After watching all the NHL.com recaps, it’s a shame Eddie Lack can’t just face warmup shots; he does really well against those. Maybe just have the players yell “WARM UP” when they are in the Canucks zone.

It was interesting week to say the least. Vancouver continues to lead the Stanley Cup Final of 2011, 7 games to 5. The Bruins put up a fight but Lack shut the door at the end. On to Buffalo where lead changes were as regular as costume changes for the host of the Oscars and then finally a last shot wins game against the Blues.

Bruno Mars said uptown fun gonna give it to ya’, so here’s the uptown funk:

 

The Games We Watched:

@ Boston Bruins  – WIN 2-1

RECAP:  Two early goals and a tight fought game, the new hero Zack Kassian nets the winner and of course we all loved that. We beat Boston AGAIN and Zack is back! Eddie came up big on a big test. NUCKS WHAAAAT?

@ Buffalo Sabres – Loss 6-3 (Price is right losing sound)

RECAP: Down 2, tie game, Up 1, tie game, 3 goals against and everyone sits in amazement as the worst team in the league beat a team they had no business losing to. Did I mention Buffalo was without Ennis, the guy that starts with Z AND Dominik Hasek? Still lost, not good.

Vs. St. Louis Blues – WIN 6-5 in a SHOOTOUT

RECAP: Early on this one seemed like last shot wins, it basically was. Ronny Kenins quietly got 2 helpers, LOVE THAT GUY, Zack Kassian carried on maybe one of the longest conversations in the penalty box with Ryan Reaves and despite giving up a 3 goal lead, yep, the Nucks pulled ahead in the shootout and man they made it fun.

 

This last week had trade deadline implications as well. Would they trade Kassian, how bout the goalies, is Shawn Matthias going? We all asked this and wondered out loud I’m sure “Does Jim Benning Trade Like A Boss?” We would all find out on Monday.

I do believe we need to start questioning the readiness of Eddie for the true starter’s role. He has let in more stinkers than Ryan Miller this year and hasn’t quite been lights out. However, he still has managed wins and really, that’s all it’s about.

There was also a moment during the Blues game that should never be forgotten, but don’t you worry, Twitter was all up in that bizniss.

3 Things From Twitter:  1) When Shawn Matthias scored, something happened that was the new cool, too bad there wasn’t a Vine.

2) This Matthew Henderson guy is wicked awesome. Every game with these amazing recaps! I hope to one day work with this chap.

3) I mean we like Kassian right? He just is easy to root for. And when he scores, he screams.

 

The Canucks are still in the thick of it but seriously, they gots ta win the easy ones. The reverse California Road Trip is coming to Vancouver so the test is coming. I hear the troops are getting healthy too! We might be ok. Until next time….

Jarkko…..POLO!!!!

 

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Canucks Are Past The Future, It’s Here

Going into the trade deadline as well as the final push to finish the season in the top 16 is an exciting time. Is making a trade going to help the Canucks go deep into the playoffs or is it false hope and a meaningless dump of talent yet again? Jim Benning has played his cards pretty cool this year and even though Ryan Miller hasn’t been entirely as advertised, or really as we fantasized; its been a very productive year.

Thankfully the rest of the NHL is making moves right now that don’t really involve the Canucks and some of them are trading for LTIR spots (while still paying said players). That’s just fine by me. In past years, former GM’s have traded for Keith Carney, Eric Weinrich, Sami Pahlsson (post mono), Derek Roy, Chris Higgins and Max Lapierre. Oh I forgot, one of those GM’s dealt Luongo too!

The actual market that exists still isnt exactly enticing this spring and the best thing Vancouver’s Jim Benning can do is take a nap; well unless Ryan Miller can be moved. It’s not that Miller hasn’t been a good goalie, its that its ALL he’s been. It doesn’t really make sense why they went after him in the first place but I can buy the theory that they wanted to groom the kids under his tutelage. 

Did that happen sooner than management thought? It looks that way. It was a pricey teaching assignment but who really cares, its not my money. So now what does Benning do in net? The cheap option and quite frankly the best option IMO is to move Miller as the Leafs did David Clarkson (Ok ok ok, not the same but it sorta is) to a team that can take the hit OR decide who gets you the most between the IKEA boys and milk it for all its worth as the market is paying great this season. Keeping Eddie Lack and/or Jacob Markstrom keeps the seat warm for Thatcher Demko in about 5 years or less.

What does the rest of the team hold though? Up on line numero uno, the Sedins are still proving their worth but the time is coming soon where they start sliding back down the rankings. Everything else has options; Alex Burrows despite his injuries has had a nice bounce back season. Moving him isn’t neccesarily a smart move. A finisher and clutch playoff performer, he may not put up big regular season numbers anymore but I like Burr when it counts.

Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and Chris Higgins all strike me as trade bait this year. Bonino and Sbisa just aren’t Canucks. Sounds stupid to say what a Canuck is but there isn’t a “fit” there. Higgins is halfway through his 4 year deal but his role as the worker bee seems to be done. On the flip sided, Ronny Kenins, Shawn Matthias and upon his safe return, Brad Richardson, have fulfilled that role in spades and they all seem to be producing on top of many other talents.

Move a piece, get a younger piece.

Bo Horvat was the piece we didn’t reallllly know we needed until he got healthy and started being all faceoff winny and goal scorey. I thought Hunter Shinkaruk would have come up at the same time but that hasn’t panned out yet. Horvat took a shortcut and could really make a difference sooner than later; he’s not going anywhere.

This season was billed as a retool and as they played we would see what the team needed to do. Well, if any of us thought they would do this well, Benning and Trevor Linden probably would have made a few moves sooner. We all talk about the future and when prospects turn into valuable roster players and the results were different than we thought and actually better. 

Kenins has been a find and a half, Matthias has basically been the Tiger Woods 2015 putt preview for Zack Kassian this year and the diamonds in the rough keep coming. The answers always seem to come when the right questions are asked. Kevin Bieksa, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev and newbie Frankie Corrado all signed up for injury camp and a few new guys stepped up. Enter Adam Clendening and Alex Biega

A Chicago cast off and a timely call up have turned the sting into a boost. This Canucks team should not be doing as well as they have been and they are far from the team that started in October. Clendening and Biega aren’t stealing anyones jobs right now but the ridiculous depth they have given the Canucks is stunning. They are a few key forwards and maybe a dman short of a poor mans 2011.

AGAIN, the cavalry isn’t here but the services of Kevin Bieksa start to become expendable. Just another salary cut the Canucks can afford to move. The injuries don’t help right now but hey Evander Kane got traded and he’s a mess. Every move towards the future seems to have taken a big step forward. Speaking of forwards…

Then there’s the young amazing young winger version of the career killer Bryan Allen: Jake Virtanen. He might get a shot as soon as next season; I bet Horvat is ok with that.

The future of the Canucks is basically here. So Jimbo, sell the old parts for picks or heck troll the Kelowna Rockets and make a move for Flyers prospect Tyrell Goulbourne, Caps future star blueliner Madison Bowey or somehow parlay the first pick you make this year into a better one for stud forward Nick Merkley. Now about those NTCs.

You are shooting out the lights Benning and the cresendo is about to be occur.

Playoffs or not this year, the Canucks are on the verge and you should be happy.

PS: This is not a public service announcement for the Rockets, but it isn’t hard to do.

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JARKKO POLO: Canucks Week of Jan 12/15

Amazing the difference a week makes. Going in, it was a nice roadie to start out in Smashville with the Preds on top of the pops. Two weak teams later on should have topped up the points category and hopefully all would be right again. Well, Nashville didn’t treat the Canucks very nicely but Ryan Miller’s “sickness” motivated the team after that. Here is, the week that was Jan 12.

Coming off losses to Roberto Luongo’s Panthers as well as the Calgary Flames; the Canucks seemed a bit deflated in the obvious area of, wait for it: SCORING! Yes, it’s been an up and down battle this year putting pucks in the net. Lately, it’s been feast or famine so no one really knows how to gauge what’s happening. One minute its Linden Vey with the breaking and the awaying, Radim Vrbata with the goal/stare tactics, the next moment Vancouver is being outshot one Vegas bachelor party to DD’ing on the long weekend.

Would a road trip fix the Canucks woes? The red hot Predators hosted Vancouver and early on, it wasn’t close. Pucks just went in. Going down 2-0 early hurts. Things haven’t gone well lately and digging a hole like that is counter productive. Alex Edler is looking great this year and put his name on the score sheet, but that is as much as they’d get. The Canucks lost 5-1 but they left Nashville doing some damage to the Preds; Pekke Rinne was injured by Chris Higgins in the crease in the 3rd and will be out for a bit. If you don’t let us score, we’re gonna make you pay.


credit – nhl.com

Ok so things are bad mmmmkay? On to Philly! Well, the sick Ryan Miller was ready to test his health and baaaaasically put on a clinic. Before we get started, just wanna say God bless Shawn Matthias. This guy is doing everything right this year and is giving the Canucks life when they may not have it. The Luongo deal is slowly panning out, same can’t be said for the Kassian/Hodgson cluster. Ok, so Vancouver pressed early and it all got started with, how shall I put this, the dirty Bonino spinoramawesome goal. I don’t know if that was supposed to happen or whatever but I can watch it over and over again.

Hank the tank was feeling a little “tipsy” and potted goal numero deux of the night and it seemed like things were happening, they were. Radim “the dream” Vrbata scored from his office in the 2nd followed by Jannik Hansen’s breakaway goal. Its weird to keep saying that. Addition to Vrby, he scores from that spot, keep getting him the puck, its not a coincidence. Miller was amazing and really earned the shutout. People like him now.


credit – nhl.com

Finally, the boys in blue made their way to Carolina. Vancouver likes Carolina. This one had a rough start, but thanks to Ryan Miller, Riley Nash and a bit of luck, the Canucks took a poorly outplayed first and parlayed it into an onslaught on the second. Always the goal scorer, Derek Dorsett had a beautiful break and put home goal number one in the second period. These outlet feed passes are becoming a thing for some reason and all 3 Canucks goals actually came off them. Did I mention Shawn Matthias was amazing?

He had his standard drive the net, don’t let Zack Kassian see, move and put it behind Cam Ward. He is so much fun to watch and I think if the naysayers get their way and the Kass man is shipped out, Shawn Matthias might get a bump up in the lineup. Maybe we aren’t pumping his tires enough, Roberto?

Alex Burrows got the final tally on a slapperoo and that was it. Ryan Miller recorded back to back ROAD shutouts on back to back nights for the first time in Canucks history.


credit – canucks.com

A good week all in all and how better to start the following week but a date with our ex, Roberto Luongo with his new suitor. Canucks are coming on just in time for All Star weekend and the slump buster may have sparked the fire they needed. Now go beat the Panthers, the tears are over!

Jarkko………..POLO!!

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Canucks Make Mission Statement

A night after I said the Canucks hadn’t won anything, they won something big. From what I can remember, this was not only the first time they shut out the Penguins in Pittsburgh but it was the first time the Canucks beat the Pens in regulation with a healthy Penguins lineup that included Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Correct me if I’m wrong….seriously do that if I’m wrong, im tired.

There was definitely a mission statement in Pittsburgh; as I stated they needed some “test” wins and tonight was a test…..and they passed (something foreign to Ryan Kesler). It wasn’t the Sedins who had the “A” game, it wasn’t even the 2nd line, cue Shawn Matthias and Brad Richardson. Ya, thats right, those guys. It is absolutely amazing how these depth guys are contributing in such a big way.

It won’t always be that way this year but when the stars aren’t clicking every night, the supporting cast needs to step up. This was also a night for backup Eddie Lack to prove his worth with Jacob Markstrom pushing from the Utica Comets for his next shot. Lack not only got the win, but he played spec-LACK-ular. He shutout the Pens, Crosby and even that fuzzy penguin on twitter:

And of course Twitter doesn’t disappoint:

The Canucks are playing the rest of the league right now like it doesn’t matter who’s on their teams and to quote Kanye West it looks like “they got too many Urkels on their team, that’s why they winslow”. With an important statement game under their belts and really a road trip that has served them well thus far, Vancity gets the Leafs on Saturday and it might be the best present any Canucks fan could get….well a win against the Kings would be nice.

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Cover photo courtesy of canada.com