Canucks Army Presents: The Canucks Fan Roundtable for March

Thomas Drance
March 10 2013 02:13PM

 

(Editors Note: in February month we debuted the Canucks fan round-table with a "super table" featuring five questions and seven guest writers. It was a massive success and I really enjoyed putting it together and reading the post, so I figured I'd continue on with this feature going forward - but I've decided to limit myself to four guests and four questions.

Today's featured guests are "Captain Calm" Kirk Paul (@captain_kirk87), Cool lady Ellen Ransford (@_EllieNuck_), a couple of ADHD goofballs in Sam and Charles (both of whom tweet weird stuff from @Sedinitronic) and our good pal Colin (@notafullcolon). Here's the four questions I posed to our esteemed panel:

  • Have Cory Schneider's struggles to begin this season caused you to alter your opinion on his future outlook as a starting NHL goaltender? Has it changed your thinking about which goalie the Canucks should keep?
  • How far can this Canucks team go as currently composed (but assuming Kesler comes back at, say, 75% before the playoffs)? 
  • What's the team's biggest area of need less than a month out from the trade deadline? 
  • What "thing that a majority of Canucks fans think about the team or organization" do you find most annoying?

If you'd like to participate just let me know in the comments section and I'll consider you! Read on past the jump for the round table!)

Goalieville

Have Cory Schneider's struggles to begin this season caused you to alter your opinion on his future outlook as a starting NHL goaltender? Has it changed your thinking about which goalie the Canucks should keep?

Semi

I wouldn't say that his struggles have changed my outlook on him as a starter, because let's be honest, Luongo has also had periods of "less than stellar"-ness during his tenure in Vancouver. And Cory has had many solid outings this season.

That being said, my thinking hasn't changed with respect to who to keep: I have always said I think trading Luongo is a bad idea and I stick by it, especially when it comes to "winning now". Cory could get you more in return, and the transition from backup to starter can be a bit rough sometimes, and you really don't want to be dealing with that in a year you should be going for it (although pretty much everything you don't want to deal with in a year you should be going for it seems to be happening this year...)

Kirk Paul

Absolutely not. We could kill a forrest of trees (or clog digital space in this case) detailing why this season is unique, especially for Vancouver's heralded goaltending tandem. From an offseason which failed to keep the promise of seeing Luongo shipped out of town, and Cory sitting alone on the throne (no, not the one in Anaheim Roberto likes to occupy) to a shortened season where that superstar goalie you unseated is still hanging around, it's been a far from ideal scenario for the ginger-genius.

As we have come to discover over the years, goalies are a strange breed. From Patrick Roy having strategy sessions with his goalposts, to Ilya Bryzgalov giving us a lesson in astronomy, and Tim Thomas being, well Tim Thomas, we know even the slightest break in routine can throw the masked men off-kilter. Even for a guy who often appears mentally sound, and collected, it's clear that the current dynamic in goal has slowly chipped away at Schneider's mental armour.

Schneider and Luongo's number's are similar, with Cory having the edge in wins with six. I believe if Mike Gillis does what he informed Schneider he would do before inking him to his new deal, and trades Luongo, that number 35 will settle back into the groove we saw last season, and his armour will shine as brightly as ever.

EllieNuck

My thoughts on 35? Loaded question that I could probably write a book about, but I'll keep it short.

No, my opinion on 35 has not changed because of his play this season. He can be a great starting NHL goaltender in the future, despite the mess he has encountered so far this year. But for this season and next, my choice would still be Luongo as the keeper. I could go on about how 35 has a higher trade value or how & why I don't think this was the season to change things up between the pipes, but then I'd never shut up so I'll just leave it at that.

Sedinitronic

Charles: In a word, no. In a bunch more words... The Canucks struggles in terms of preventing other teams from scoring has more to do with the defensive play in front of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo than the individual play of either. Bieksa's injury, combined with a disappointing beginning to Jason Garrison's career in Vancouver has not helped either goalie. Schneider should still be the Canucks goalie going forward as he's younger, has come through with great performances in the playoffs, and is a more cost-effective choice than Roberto.

Sam: Both goalies have had their share of bad games (Game One for Schneider, that Detroit debacle for Luongo), yet very few of the games we have lost can be attributed to either of the goalies. Jason Garrison hasn't had the greatest start to the year, Kevin Bieksa has been all over the place (even on the injury list), Alex Edler infuriates me more than all my ex girlfriends put together. We have Cam Barker and Andrew Alberts on the top 6 depth charts right now for bloody sakes.

For anyone who follow our twitter account, we make fun of people who are "Team Schneider" or "Team Luongo". The notion that either goalie can change our record drastically is laughable. But for Schendier, I do worry this will be like when Corey Hirsch replaced Kirk Mclean or when Alex Auld replaced Dan Cloutier. Yeah, not so good.

Going the Distance?

How far can this Canucks team go as currently composed (but assuming Kesler comes back at, say, 75% before the playoffs)?

Sedinitronic

Sam: Which Kesler will be there? Will our defence actually be as good as they should be? Will the Sedins keep their dominance in the playoffs? Which Pacific Division opponent will we meet? How many fingers will Alex Burrows bite?There are too many questions for this team in my opinion. I don't see them making past the infamous 2nd round. But hey! If they do, it's going to be a heartbreaking game 7 loss to some team on the Atlantic coast. I'm a true Canucks fan, I don't believe in unicorns.

Charles: As currently composed, I would not put them any further in the playoffs than the second round. It depends upon the team they play in the first round. Assuming the Canucks win the Northwest again, I'd back them against whoever the sixth seed ends up being. This team's defensive limitations have been exposed along with their lack of depth in terms of scoring. After the Sedins who steps up? For me, I have not seen enough to convince me this team gets anywhere near the Stanley Cup. Which is disappointing.

EllieNuck

I'm one of those positive types that when asked this question, will always reply "all the way"! .. or at least to that Presidents Trophy threepeat lol.

This season I do have more concerns than usual tho. The goalie situation, lack of powerplay, and injuries just to name a few.

Kirk Paul

About as far as Rosie O'Ddonnell with a piano tied to her behind, and cinder blocks wrapped around her ankles. As their three wins in eleven games would indicate, the Canucks are currently mired in mediocrity. I understand that the stats indicate that The Canucks are trending in a positive direction, but their on-ice performance says otherwise. A non-existent powerplay, a lack of defined roles for players up and down the roster (I'll get to that later) I just can't fathom that this team is capable of surviving the likes of LA, Chicago or Anaheim with the roster as it's currently cobbled together.

The X-factor in all of this is of course Ryan Kesler and his health. If his luck with injuries keeps going the way of Salo, forget about it, this duck is cooked for the cast of Duck Dynasty to devour. Kesler is an integral component in every facet for this team. No Luongo, or even Schneider trade could possibly net a return that will replace what #17 does at both ends of the rink night in, night out. Furthermore, Kesler is seemingly incapable of dialling back his play in the regular season, treating even the most meaningless regular season tilt like it's game seven of the Stanley Cup final. This is why fans adore him, but also why he's been collecting dust on the shelf so often, instead of working up a sweat on the ice.

Now let me address my issue with The Canucks coaching staff and their current attempts to jam square pegs in round holes. Granted, there is a lack of depth a centre, but miscasting Schroeder up the middle on the fourth line, and moving Raymond to the same position have been obvious missteps. With Kesler out, Schroeder is the best "pure" offensive centre this team has to deploy, so stick him in the top 6 and let him play. Currently, the team has lost it's identity, like zombies stumbling in the mist. Until the Canucks define, or carve out a new identity for themselves, these zombies will wander right off the playoff cliff.

Semi

Call me a debbie downer, pessimist, what-have-you, but I just don't see this team going further than the 2nd round (or maybe even the first depending on who they match up against) in the playoffs this year unless they make some personnel changes AND get their heads back on straight when it comes to their on-ice play.

To me, the Canucks seem to playing with the same kind of lackadaisical play as they did post-Boston game last year that led to their early exit, albeit at the hands of a very, very good team. Still, they should have been able to last more than five games. Granted I haven't been able to watch nearly as many games this year as last year, but I still see massive issues with defensive zone coverage and power play futility - both of which have continued over from the second half of last year.

I was very sure that a half season's break after years of long playoff runs would be what it takes for this team to get its batteries recharged mentally and physically, but it appears I was wrong.

Trade Speculation!

What's the team's biggest area of need less than a month out from the trade deadline?

Semi

Their biggest issue, or area of need by far is Ryan Kesler, but that's both a very obvious answer and one that should work itself out when he returns (assuming his injury luck turns around and he doesn't rush back too soon). Besides that, it's the same story as the past few years for me - they need a better 3rd line centre if they are going to make any noise in the playoffs. Lapierre seems to have reverted to his old regular season consistency woes, and as much as I think Schroeder has been performing admirably in Kesler's absence, I would not feel confident at all with him doing more than a sheltered role at this point in the post season. But of course everyone could use another centre who can play tough minutes. Vancouver also could *really* use one of those "role change" cards you get in NHL13's Ultimate Hockey Team to change a left side D over to a right side D instantaneously. But I feel that might be harder to find.

Kirk Paul

If shopping for players were like heading out to pick up some grub at your local Deli, for Mike Gillis, I imagine the trip would sound something like this: "I'll take your most defensively sound third line centre, maybe one of those puck-moving defenceman with some grit sprinkled on top, and oh yeah - why not throw in a fourth line that can actually play some good minutes in the playoffs for good measure!"

All (slight) exaggeration aside, I believe Canuck management's agenda heading into the 2013 trade deadline is a binder crammed with pages full of question marks. Last season's much (and still) talked about swap of Cody Hogdson and Zack Kassian, coupled with the addition of the shadow claiming to be Sami Pahlsson, it was thought the Canucks had addressed their pressing needs of grit and a more traditional third line centre.

With the uncertainty regarding the health of major cogs like Kesler and Bieksa, the team-imposed exile (sort of) of Malholtra, and the indifferent play of Lapierre, the Canucks could still be in dire need of a second, and third line centre as the clock to the deadline ticks down. Unless you think Mason Raymond and Jordan Schroeder are suited as your second and fourth line pivots...those crickets are getting mighty loud! All this without mentioning that nagging, two-headed goaltending elephant stuck in the dressing room. I believe to acquire the assets needed to plug the holes in this leaking ship, that elephant must be dismembered (Dumbo fans just look away). Like the old lady at the Deli counter who just can't make up her mind between Honey Ham, or Black forrest, Gillis' biggest hurdle is finally making a decision either way. Sorry, Mike you can't have your cake and eat it too. Stick to tuna.

Ellie Nuck

If Mike Gillis doesn't figure out a way to bring in a '3rd line center power forward goal scoring hit laying player' come trade deadline, I am certain that Canucks Nation will fire him along side Coach V ;)

Sedinitronic

Charles: A player who actually belongs on the second line. The Canucks have gotten by with a lot of guys that are great third liners on the second line because Kesler, when healthy, has compensated with his incredible all-around game. Without Kes the Canucks have been exposed as a team which lacks real depth in scoring. I'd say that they could use another defenseman or two, but I'm assuming that Bieksa will not be out for much longer (god willing).

Sam: I read this question and immediately wanted to answer with Aaron Rome. But in reality, the Canucks need a 2nd line centre. I think Kesler will rush himself back again, and he won't be as effective as he should be. AV has shown himself to not trust Jordan Schroeder to be the 2nd line centre and any of the current replacements won't cut it in the playoffs. As for potentials, unless Gillis really guns for it, there aren't many candidates via trade. The Eastern Conference is tight, and the Western Conference is even tighter. There aren't many clear sellers and those who are clear sellers aren't exactly deep down the middle. OH HI THERE MARCEL GOC IN SOUTH BEACH.

Hell is other Canucks Fans.

What "thing that a majority of Canucks fans think about the team or organization" do you find most annoying?

Sedinitronic

Sam: "OMG, ROBERTO LUONGO IS STARTING IN PLACE OF CORY SCHNEIDER, I'M GOING TO NOT WATCH TONIGHT. HOW DARE THEY START 7UONGO, WORST THING EVER." Obviously the goalie situation is the first thing that comes to mind. But another thing that seriously irks me is how much we blame the refs. We like to think that the refs are consistently screwing the Canucks over because of an East Coast bias, Alberta bias, California bias, whatever. This is simply not true, the refs screw both teams over, I find the broadcast team for the Canucks obsessed with how many power plays one team gets in comparison to the Canucks. Bitching about the refs is just weak, get over it.

Charles: I really resent that there are "Canucks fans" who put their preference of goalie above everything else. To me it does not matter who the team's goalie is so long as he does his job well and helps the team win. But there seem to be plenty of fans who almost root against Schneider if they think Luongo should be playing, and vice versa. I get that fans are entitled to their own opinions, but to me no one player is bigger than the team, and I support the team, not individual players. I'd just like to see more solidarity behind the team rather than individuals. I'd also argue that Luongo maybe/maybe not having a twitter account has done more for his standing with the fans than any of his great performances between the pipes. And that may be the saddest thing of all.

EllieNuck

This is the hardest question out of the 4. I don't want to insult half the Canucks fanbase lol so I'm going with the easy & obvious.. It annoys me when fans think the team plays better in front of 35 and will be better without Roberto Luongo... but I should add, it's not so much the 'majority' these days as it was 10-12 months ago, kudos to @strombone1.

Kirk Paul

There is an issue that continues to grow louder in the age of social media that I believe needs to be shot-down. I've noticed during The Canucks recent struggles that there is a section of fans that believes that people inside the organization do not care. You can accuse head coach Alain Vigneault and Mike Gillis of many things (I have - check my twitter account) but you'll never convince they intentionally try to derail winning, or success.

The way some fans talk, they believe Mike Gillis calls up coach V during an in-season tuna fishing trip in Panama and they have an exchange like this: Gillis: "Alain! The tuna are really jumping out here! How's our master plan to run the team into the ground going? Schroeder on the point on the first-unit power play!? Hilarious - but that might be a bit much - fans will start to suspect something!" Coach V (sucking on lozenge) What about Mason at centre?" Gillis: "Great idea! So glad Lou didn't waive his no trade clause to bring in Kadri last summer - we might be winning more games." Cue "evil laugh that goes on and on".

Look, in any profession, team-oriented or not, every individual is ultimately looking out for number one. Wins and team success dictate whether or not you keep a roster spot, your job behind the bench, or your position managing a team. Fans may not agree with the methods of a coach or a GM, but they are always striving to prevail. Sometimes their efforts produce results, and other times they don't, and usually, changes are made (or not) accordingly. No player, coach or manager wants a blemish on their record - losing is a stench that follows you around. Unfortunately, complacency, a toxic environment, or a situation that has simply run it's course can plague an individual or a team, but these are professionals - they care, especially when their necks are on the chopping block.

Semi

While I haven't seen it very much lately, it infuriates me to no end when I see it: blaming the refs/the other team/anyone but the players for a loss. We all love this team to some degree (or else why the hell are you cheering for them?), but that doesn't mean you can't pin the blame where it belongs: the on ice play. Blaming the refs is so lazy it hurts. On that note: I also get annoyed at seeing the inevitable #gamemanagement hashtag pop up whenever the Canucks take a penalty when they have the lead, or just scored a goal. Don't see it happen much when things go in our favour.

(Editor's Note Part Deux: Big thanks again to Colin, Sam and Charles, Kirk and Ellen for participating in this month's round table!)

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#1 Dmac in TO
March 10 2013, 05:42PM
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Not worried about either goaltender, and not concerned about when Kesler comes back. There are two key things to watch: 1. Can they maintain a playoff spot until Kesler gets back, and 2. can they trade a goaltender before the trade deadline. If the answer to @1 is yes, then they can win a round or two in the playoffs. If they can get some good players back for a goaltender, particularly if one has won a cup before (*), they can compete for WC or even the Cup (assuming Kesler plays well). The goaltending situation and non-trade to this point is the albatrosse around Gilles' neck.

* It is a pre-requisite to win the cup to have at least one player in the starting line-up who has won the cup before (Calgary in 89 was the last team to win without such a player, although their coach had won with the Flyers of the 1970's). Two years ago, Canucks had Samuelson but he was injured for the final, and Rome had played a marginal role for the Duck's in 07, but then he took himself out of the finals vs Bruins in the turning point of the series.

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#2 Joel
March 10 2013, 10:26PM
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" it infuriates me to no end when I see it: blaming the refs/the other team/anyone but the players for a loss."

I agree, and I also hate the variant you didn't mention: blaming one player as a scapegoat and ignoring the other guys who contributed to the loss.

Case in point the hate for Luongo in the playoffs. Yeah, of course he had some horrible games. But it isn't like the skaters did that great either (8 freaking goals in 7 games against the Bruins? 8 goals in 5 games against the Kings?)

But because we as fans like to have a scapegoat, it all gets blamed on one player (Luongo in this case) and most fans gloss over the fact that the 20 skaters sucked too. And then they wonder why we don't score more goals when Cory goes in to replace Luo against the Kings.

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