travis green

Forget the Maturation Process, the Canucks Need Goals

Travis Green needs a wake-up call. He lost his top center, one of his top wingers, he’s been without his third line center for some time and the rest of the Canucks are struggling to score. Putting in 4th line grinders in place of budding scorers is not a smart way to keep the team competitive. Once again, Henrik Sedin will be asked to shoulder the load on a team that has no clear sign of keeping up. It’s kind of getting heavy.

Save Brock Boeser (seriously, save him), there aren’t many other options to score right now. Loui Eriksson has receded into a winter slumber after going on a mini point streak, Thomas Vanek has 2G in his last 16 games, and the rest of the goals are on IR. Daniel Sedin isn’t the goal threat he once was and Jake Virtanen is only getting opportunities when the lines seem to cross over.

Couldn’t agree more, Blake.

The Canucks have called up Nikolay Goldobin because he is a…scoring…winger. He’s not going to learn much sitting in the press box in favor of Nic Dowd. This is Jayson Megna/Michael Chaput syndrome all over again. Green has made many of us believers with his slightly different style of coaching and it has paid dividends early. He can’t regress now.

He’s hit a rut, a pretty significant rut and the goals aren’t going to magically appear. Even with stellar goaltending, which the Canucks currently are not getting, they can only afford to allow 1-2 goals per game. Not a recipe for winning. Green is quite clearly playing the media he greets every day at practice, pre-game and post-game pressers, so he isn’t about to show his hand.

What many of us would like to know is: are the Canucks a playoff team or a development team? It can’t be both and properly grow; the Oilers may be a good example of this.

Goldobin isn’t the answer by any means for Vancouver but leaving out a goal scorer like they did with Boeser to start the season doesn’t build any trust. This team isn’t matured yet and players need to learn lessons but sometimes the best possible player available needs to play. That may translate to Reid Boucher getting a call-up as well, who knows?

I try to be a good parent. I discipline when necessary and I don’t give in because one of my kids wants a cookie, or both usually.  But you know what, SOMETIMES I give in and give them a freaking cookie or buy them the smoothie at the mall.

You know why?

Because it’s for the greater good of the parents, ME and my WIFE. We get peace and quiet, they behave and there’s no yelling. That’s a parenting win from time to time. Doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do or that it will happen over and over but in a pinch, it’s a win. They don’t mature any quicker but it buys us time.

Travis Green has a problem that for the immediate future needs addressing. Goldobin is the best player not playing every night. There may even be another trade on the horizon which could involve Alex Burmistrov and maybe more.

For now though, kick the maturing to the curb, coach. This team needs wins in a bad way and if they don’t start building a .500 record at the very least, Bo Horvat and Brandon Sutter returning will be all for not.

Throw em a bone, Travis!

 

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

photo – nhl.com

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The CAPITALization of the Canucks Rebuild

The affirmation that the worst is over for the Canucks culminated in a 60-minute display against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night. All the talk about a rebuild, whether it be capital ‘R’ or lowercase ‘r’ may have just come to rest after the final buzzer at Rogers Arena. This “rebuild” or “restructure” or whatever the heck you want to call it took a monster leap forward when 2015 first round pick Brock Boeser had the game of his life versus the Penguins and assured management, fans, and the media that the Canucks might indeed be ready to rise again.

Canucks management never wanted to admit their team had hit rock bottom and needed to be rebuilt from the ground up. They made numerous decisions to try and mask the obvious problem that was in front of them. They threw money at the wrong players, offered lengthy contracts to aging veterans and drafted project players when NHL-ready talent was available.

The official rebuild wasn’t even a thing until just under a year ago. Even with Bo Horvat climbing the ranks to become the team’s eventual top center and Captain, there were other issues the Canucks weren’t addressing.

One of them was former coach Willie Desjardins.

It was pretty evident Willie had checked in the final year of his deal but if he was anticipating signing on somewhere else would he have not wanted to show he can lead a team forward? Desjardins went away from structure, line-matching, and youth when he let the Canucks unravel. Willie continued to use the Sedins as top line players when it was clear they were getting beat on the ice night in and night out.

The power play failed because the coach failed to see what options he actually had. Running an aging Ryan Miller into the ground when fresh, young, talent like Jacob Markstrom was waiting to be tested was just another example of how this team needed to address change immediately.

And it finally did.

Desjardins was let go, Travis Green was brought on and one of the most important parts of the rebuild had been fixed: a coach that knew how to deploy an effective lineup.

The next three things will define this team going forward:

Brock Boeser – He leads the Canucks with 13 points, he’s tied for 41st in league scoring, needing only 3 points to be tied for 11th overall in the league. To add to his impressive rookie campaign, he’s done all this playing two fewer games than his teammates after sitting out the season opener and the next game in the press box. The accolades seem endless having the 9th highest P/GM rank in the league with 1.30, and 2 GWG which has him in a tie for 8th overall.

That’s not taking into account his rookie status compared to his peers vying for the Calder. Boeser is in the top 3 in most of the rookie categories and November just started.

Brock has given the Canucks a weapon they have not possessed in many years: a true sniper. If you asked Markus Naslund who had a deadlier shot between the two of them, he might have a tough time picking himself. Boeser’s shot is accurate, it’s fast, and boy is it heavy! He’s felled a few players this season with just a wrister, something Sami Salo needed a full slap shot to achieve.

In the latest Provies written by Jason Botchford of The Province, we found out just how complex Boeser’s game really is in relation to pushing and pulling shots through traffic and using his linemates to the best of his ability. He’s a star and it’s not even close. Combine that with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi making up the NEW Canucks top line and this team looks like it’s in good hands.

The second thing that will define this team is the commitment to having the right players on the ice in all situations. Willie Desjardins subscribed to essentially rolling four lines and it didn’t work out well for him. Coach Green has seen that matching Brandon Sutter and Derek Dorsett, two players many thought shouldn’t even be on this team, against opposing team’s top lines has proved effective.

Green has preached a team defense for this year’s Canucks and the proof is in the pudding… err stats. Vancouver currently is tied with San Jose for allowing the least amount of goals in the league with 30. A year ago, somehow Vancouver allowed 27 but they only scored 16 compared to this season’s 35.

Defensive scoring is still a problem but that could get ironed out if the forwards allow the defense to take more chances without paying for it in their own net.

The power play has seen a revamp and still, isn’t perfect but having Brock at the shooter position will get results sooner than later. Last season, there was no visible evidence the team could produce a power play that kept opponents honest. This year, despite the 5th worst PP% in the NHL, the results are starting to build. Again, Boeser is a key cog in this machine and the better he does, so will his team.

Making sure players like Michael Chaput and Jayson Megna aren’t the first callups is a good way to ensure this team progresses.

Finally, the Canucks’ stable of young prospects and early year players will define where this team goes. Rushing Jake Virtanen and Jared McCann into the lineup early on proved to be a bad idea and because of that, McCann was sent packing. Virtanen was given a year to figure out his game and grow in the AHL and he has impressed many so far.

This wasn’t a play he would have been confident making a year ago. Jake has progressed and can be groomed to become an effective power forward. Prospect Kole Lind of the Kelowna Rockets is having a season to remember in junior. Lind is averaging 1.64 points per game this year and is getting it done in all situations. He’ll be a name to watch next season and might just get a chance to make it to the big club.

2017 first rounder Elias Pettersson is doing his own damage in the SHL across the Atlantic. With 17 points through 15 games, he too will have a legit shot at making the Canucks next year and many believe he could be the best player from his draft class, bold statement. Ryan Biech from Canucks Army posted this tweet based on Jeremy Davis’ pGPS map and looking at the players being compared, his career might be bright.

I could go on about Thatcher Demko, Jonathan Dahlin, and even Nikolay Goldobin and I know I’m leaving out a few, but there are players that are going to replace the Sam Gagner/Loui Eriksson/Brandon Sutter group. The Sedins might just be on the way out at the end of the year and Green can truly put his stamp on what this team will achieve.

The rebuild, as far as I’m concerned, is complete. The pieces are in the system so the true definition of what the Canucks are is up for interpretation. Breaking apart the entire organization get to this point was definitely close but some of the unforeseen success has fast-tracked the Canucks to become competitive again.

Apparently, compete IS in their nature.

Follow me @always90four

 

Photo – Nucks Misconduct

 

Travis Green And The Flow Five

It’s been almost two months since we first saw Travis Green on the ice as a coach for the Vancouver Canucks.  Over the past month, his style of coaching has seemed to put the Canucks in a position to succeed. Maybe it’s the systems that are being followed, line combinations that are working better than what former coach Willie Desjardins put together or is it possible it’s something else entirely?

What if Brock Boeser wasn’t the reason, Jake Virtanen or even early season MVP Derek Dorsett? What if this ran deeper? What if it was Travis Green’s luxurious locks, the flow as it’s been called. No, not Brock Boeser’s flow.

Green has had some pretty amazing hairstyles from his playing days in the NHL up to today as a head coach. There is no proof his luscious, long lengths are the actual reason for the team’s early success but it’s pretty tough to prove otherwise.

I bring you… the Flow Five.

 

1 – The Cullet

The Cullet is half coach, half mullet. Simple name at its roots (no pun intended). The Cullet is arguably the most important of all five flows. This is the driving force behind the Canucks recent success. It’s put Jake Virtanen on the Sedin line, it’s had the confidence to give Derek Dorsett big minutes as a shutdown winger against a handful of the NHL’s elite and it has no time challenging offsides on disallowed goals.

No one would dare grow the Cullet on the Canucks because A) it looks awful, B) you never want to look like your coach and C) he’s willing to put the Sedins on a bus to Utica for any audible comments about his hairstyle. For the foreseeable future, this style will rule Vancouver. Maybe Jason Botchford can slip in a question about it one day.

2 – The Toyota Corolla

The Corolla is the everyman’s flow. The Corolla is one of Toyota’s award-winning vehicles that holds its value and any father would love to pick their kids up with. It’s sporty, it’s functional and as the picture states, the labeled flow is no different. It can be styled with a simple dollop of Dippity-Do or air-dried after taking a shower to wash off a successful practice. The Corolla has depth and like any cool dad, this style won’t embarrass his kids. As you can see, Green has a full body head of hair and he has it kept in check. The man knows what he’s doing and it shows.

This look breathes confidence and his players can tell. Bo Horvat gets taken off the power play? Crazy right? Nope. Green struts that Corolla flow and they know he has a plan. How could they not? Bench Virtanen for multiple 3rd periods, c’mon give the kid a chance. Green knew. The Corolla is what the Vancouver sports landscape has waited for and it comes standard or automatic. No joking around here.

3 – The Poker Face

It’s no secret Travis Green was pretty good at the poker tables. He made more money at the table than I’ve made in the last six years in a normal job.  The Poker Face is just that, you don’t know what’s coming. There are some similar parallels from the Poker Face to the Corolla but they indeed are different. Going back to some of his bold decisions in distributing ice time to unlikely players keeps his team guessing a bit. Is he going to bench me? Am I getting the start tonight? Why is Sam Gagner still on the power play?

Green doesn’t have a tell with this style and it keeps the ball in his court. One could assume Jim Benning has been trying to grow the Poker Face look but he’s failed multiple times. Regardless, we’re still left guessing a lot of the time. That flow is a bit all over the place but for hockey hair, that look is almost a right of passage. When you have that look it’s all bar down clappers, cellys, and wheelhouse snipes. The Poker Face is basically the “Welcome to the NHL hairstyle.”

4 – The Are You Kidding Me Botch/JPat?

Following the The Patcast (yes THE THE) and the Provies is a must as a Canucks fan. There are laughs, valuable tidbits of information, and hooks that will keep you in stitches or craving more of what’s going on inside the Canucks dressing room. If you’ve been following along this season, Jason Botchford and Jeff Paterson have been a dynamic duo in the pre and post-game scrums and have taken a likening to the Canucks new coach.

Tough to say if Travis Green feels the same way. He giggles a lot when they prep their questions and he already knows at least one or two questions will be regarding young stars Brock Boeser and Jake Virtanen. Not really anything out of the ordinary but he knows they’re coming. The AYKMBJP flow is deceiving because it looks like it’s all business but it does have a little release like an ill-fitting Brian Burke tie.

If you see Greener rocking that flow, odds are the morning skate had some questions that Green just wanted to shrug off because well, they’ll get answered in the game. You can just see him saying in his head “Are you kidding me guys?” This is the flow of a man who takes his job seriously.

5 – The Bar Down Bro

Finally, it all goes back to the beginning. The Bar Down Bro is an original flow from Green when life was a little looser. This look was all about scoring goals and rolling down the (where do people drive in Spokane or Long Island?)  If this look resurfaced on the Canucks bench then the season would most likely be a write-off.

The BDB is careless and fancy-free, it can’t be contained. Green wouldn’t be taken seriously anymore, it’s likely the Canucks would have Brandon Sutter headlining a power play or something crazy like that. This look must never surface in his tenure in Vancouver. He’s better than that now so there shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

IF and it’s a big if, the BDB resurfaces, Green will have a stable of Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, and a weathered Virtanen rocking it with him and then watch out, the NHL will be on alert.

So there you have it, the Flow Five described. What flow look will we see to end this season, wait and see?

 

cover photo credit – TSN.ca

An All-Millenial Canucks Power Play… And Why It Will Succeed

Millenials.

They’re self-entitled, smartphone emojying, video game playing, mid 20 – 30 something freeloaders. OK, maybe that was all a bit much but the knock on them is that they aren’t willing to work for what they want and just expect the rewards to be given to them and that by succumbing to their demands, they, in turn, will produce results.

Now that Newell Brown is the back in the fold as the Canucks assistant coach, he can revive the dreaded 13% power play unit(s), and it would be a novel concept to give in to the millennial demand and stock up the man-advantage with an all-millennial unit. Of course, if you look into the term “millennial” it basically designates humans being born between the early 80’s and late 90’s to early 2000’s.

So going by this logic, the only players that don’t qualify for the first unit anyway are Henrik and Daniel Sedin. A case could be made for Loui Eriksson as well as he’s a mid 80’s baby. I personally don’t want to see the Sedins on the top unit for awhile because they’re so gosh darn predictable. A healthy Eriksson might be able to Radim Vrbata his way back into relevance with Bo Horvat and maybe Brock Boeser up front.

The feel with this specific demographic in a global sense is that they don’t want to communicate in person but rather on their phones which don’t translate well on the ice, well, unless you’re Alex Edler; he could pull that off no problem. He could text in plays on the bench, ditch the phone and unleash a clapper to the back of the net.

Nikolay Goldobin would be a prime fit up front after being inserted into the lineup without actually earning a roster spot. He’s young, he’s good-looking and he Instagram’s like a pro. Newell Brown was brought in to change the look and maybe Goldy could put a new filter on the power play, maybe sepia, and they’ll get better opportunities as the power play begins?

The Canucks PP couldn’t get any worse so adding a coach that does anything beyond drawing straws at practice is an upgrade. When people reference the millennial person it’s usually the late 20/early 30 people that don’t want their feelings hurt and need to be reassured they’re doing ok and blah, blah, blah.

Funnily enough, it’s the older players that have acted like they are the deserving ones. Rightfully so, in fact, as they’ve played the game longer and more than deserve to be where they are. Thing is, sports tend to a be a “what have you done for me lately?” kind of business and the Canucks power play has not done anything lately, you know, since 2011.

Conveniently, that’s when Mr. Brown was last in the mix. NO WAY!

On defense, there’s a chance things get better with Olli Juolevi getting a shot at the team this year and Troy Stecher could be deployed in more favorable situations. Uber-millennial Erik Gudbranson needs to stay the ^&$# away from the PP unit while loveable millennial Ben Hutton may just revive his scoring touch and we’ll all be smiling as the power play climbs to 20 or even 22% effectiveness.

Travis Green needs to give in to this wave of kids and give them p what they want because there’s a good chance that they deliver and one day those same kids will be the grizzled vets on the team like Chris Tanev is. Edmonton and Toronto benefited from the young’uns and it’s only a matter of time before some kind of success comes from the youth movement.

To recap Brock Boeser – millennial, Bo Horvat – millennial, Nikolay Goldobin – also a millennial as are Troy Stecher and Ben Hutton. They ALL would be great choices to revive a tragically dormant Canucks power play.

photo – theprovince.com