April 26 2013 10:06AM
God only knows where we'd be without Lou. (Photo: Harry How)
This is a regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you'd like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let's start a textual relationship (wink).
1. The question many were asking ahead of last night's otherwise meaningless tilt with the Anaheim Ducks was whether or not it would be Roberto Luongo's last home start as a Vancouver Canuck. Ed Willes wrote a good bit on Luongo's legacy for the Province:
Look around the Canucks’ dressing room and you’re struck by the number of players who’ve matured into frontline NHLers during Luongo’s time here. Burrows was just trying to survive in the NHL when Luongo arrived. Bieksa had his breakout season in Luongo’s first year. Ryan Kesler had 16 points that season. Two years later he had 26 goals and 59 points.
The Sedins, meanwhile, had taken a big step coming out of the lockout, but they also made a significant jump in Luongo’s first season here.
It could be that all of those players would have found their way eventually. But Luongo also made it easier for them. When he arrived, he immediately became the focal point of the franchise; the lightning rod in both good times and bad.
2. That is a legit point. In 2006 the West Coast Express line was dead, Trevor Linden was over the hill and the Sedins had yet to mature into superstars; it was all about Roberto Luongo. He rebuilt the team's identity. I'm not buying into the hype that last night was his last home start quite yet — I've been saying all season that the "goalie controversy" can turn on a dime. It wasn't very long ago that Cory Schneider's agent was whining to the media about his client's lack of starts.
3. Given the tone of the delivery of the news that Cory Schneider has an injury, it doesn't sound serious. Then again, it is the Canucks and it is almost playoff time. He could be dead. Can we actually confirm that the redheaded fellow who collected the award for Team MVP last night was really Cory?
4. So who are the Canucks likely to face in round one of the Stanley Cup Playoffs? @Sir_Earl has you covered. I hope you've had at least a couple strong coffees this morning, because this will require your full attention:
VAN plays STL if: STL lose to CHI in regulation AND SJ beats LA in OT/SO. #Canucks— Earl Gordon (@Sir_Earl) April 26, 2013
VAN plays MIN if: MIN beats EDM + COL AND LA beats SJ in regulation. #Canucks— Earl Gordon (@Sir_Earl) April 26, 2013
VAN plays LA if: SJ beats LA in regulation; or if SJ beats LA in OT/SO AND STL doesn't lose in regulation to CHI. #Canucks— Earl Gordon (@Sir_Earl) April 26, 2013
Most likely opponent for the #Canucks: whoever loses the LA-SJ game (same situation as last year!)— Earl Gordon (@Sir_Earl) April 26, 2013
Updated sportsclubstats #Canucks opponent probabilities: STL 4%, LA 34%, SJ 46%, MIN 16%— Earl Gordon (@Sir_Earl) April 26, 2013
5. So where do we stand with this team right now? After the Chicago win, city council was scheduling meetings to figure out the parade route, but after following that up with a lackadaisical effort against the Ducks we're back to watching the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked. So which team will we see in the playoffs, the one that crushed the league's best team or the one that phoned it in with their spot in the standings secured? Well, ask which of those games more resembled a playoff atmosphere, and I think you'll find your answer.
6. The area of concern heading into next week — assuming Kevin Bieksa is back for Game 1 and Chris Tanev not far behind — is the 3rd line centre position. Andrew Ebbett is just not going to cut it against a quality team in a best-of-seven. The smartest option I can see is to balance things out more evenly with Kesler and Roy anchoring separate lines. Keep the Higgins-Roy-Kesler trio as an option for desperate times, like in Game 7 against Chicago when Kesler and Burrows were put together to mix up the Hawks.
7. We know AV loves his duos on each line, so how about these four in the playoffs: Daniel/Henrik, Kesler/Raymond, Roy/Higgins, and Lapierre/Weise. Burrows, Kassian, and Hansen can fit with any of those top three duos, while whichever rolling storm of skates and fists AV chooses to go with (Pinizzotto or Sestito) can play with Lapierre and Weise (man, this hasn't been said enough: poor Max Lapierre).
8. Speaking of Derek Roy, the skill that that guy has with the puck is something this team has needed for a long, long time. Outside of the twins, the Canucks haven't had a real finesse player — Kesler, Burrows, Hansen and Higgins are all very effective in a rought-and-tumble sort of way, but none have Roy's magic mittens.
9. As mentioned, the Canucks handed out their team awards for the season last night. Jannik Hansen made out like Ben Affleck, somehow winning both Most Exciting Player and Unsung Hero, which is rather confusing. "Damn, that guy is exciting to watch, whoever he is!"
10. Since this is the final Quips of the regular season, I wanted to mention I've had a blast doing this every Friday for this shortened season. Big thanks to Drance for not only supporting my nonsense but encouraging it, and thanks everyone for reading and not calling me too many names. See you in the playoffs!