Canucks Army GDT #49 - Canucks @ Coyotes

Dimitri Filipovic
January 16 2014 04:07PM

I'm going to refrain for starting this post off with the "things can only get better, right?" lede, because as we learned last night, that's not necessarily a given. I plugged yesterday's game against Anaheim like that, thinking that the Ducks couldn't possibly hand the Canucks a more one-sided butt whooping than the one they did back on January 5th..

.. but then they did. To the tune of an embarrassing 9-1 defeat. So I guess that was a lesson that you should never take your current situation for granted because it can always get worse. With all of that being said, there's some reason for optimism tonight. Olympic Diver Mike Smith has had a .900 save % performance just once in his last 7 starts, and the Coyotes as a team have reallly been sputtering as a result.

Just like the Canucks, they have only 1 win in the month of January. SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE! THE CANUCKS.. THE COYOTES.. A PACIFIC DIVISION RIVALRY GAME! GET. PUMPED.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 6:00 PM PST

TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific 

The Canucks 

I've attached a really interesting graphic provided to us by Gus Katsaros below. Just to clear things up, a "tired" game is one in which you're playing a 2nd leg of a back-to-back. On the other end of the spectrum a "rested" team is one that was off the night before while their opponent played. As you can see below the Canucks were dealt a pretty crappy hand in this regard, with their 15th tired games being tied for the 2nd most in the league (with most teams having significantly fewer such situations). Fortunately for them they've done really well so far, going 6-2-2..

Perhaps the biggest nuisance accompanying the 2nd leg of a back-to-back is the fact that we really have no definitive news regarding the lineup all the way up until warm-ups. There's a good chance that Kellan Lain could make his NHL debut, but in place of who? David Booth and Dale Weise would've been the most likely candidates as recently as this time yesterday, but they were 2 of the better players out there for the Canucks v. Anaheim, so it's hard to envision them being punished.

Whatever happens, I selfishly hope Lain gets a look if only so that we get to see him go up against Marty Hanzal in the faceoff circle. Both guys are listed at 6'6'', and that could prove to be quite the spectacle. Getting excited about these sorts of things is what it has come to.

As for the goaltender, Roberto Luongo is officially listed as a "game-time decision", though it sounds like he probably won't be back until Saturday v. Calgary. Lack was pulled early in the 2nd period last night so fatigue shouldn't necessarily be an issue for him, but at the same time I could envision a scenario in which Tortorella gives Eriksson the shot as something of a reward for biting the bullet and taking the beating last night. I'd actually like to see that, personally, but at this point the Canucks don't really have time for sentimentality.

Let's get to the underlying numbers:

Canucks:  
Corsi Close % 51.5% (10th)
5v5 GF/60 2.32 (14th)
5v5 GA/60 2.14 (10th)
PDO 100.4 (11th)
5v4 GF/60 4.72 (24th)
5v4 SF/60 60.6 (3rd)
4v5 GA/60 3.73 (2nd)
4v5 SA/60 40.6 (2nd)

The Yotes

The thing about the recent struggles for the Phoenix Coyotes is that they were completely predictable. Look back at Cam Charron's preview for the last time these two teams faced each other back on December 6th, which kind of coincides with the onset of their downward spiral. They were 16-8-4 coming into that night, but they were 25th in Corsi Close %, and Charron openly proclaimed that they were due for some regression.

Well.. they're 5-8-5 since then, and have clearly been unable to hold that very regression off even though they've actually upped their possession rate by nearly 2% since the last time we saw them. Most of that likely has to do with Mike Smith, who I;d imagine is devoting most of his $34 million to building a time machine that can take him back to 2011.

Coyotes:  
Corsi Close % 49.3% (19th)
5v5 GF/60 2.44 (7th)
5v5 GA/60 2.30 (18th)
PDO 100.3 (12th)
5v4 GF/60 7.09 (8th)
5v4 SF/60 53.7 (12th)
4v5 GA/60 7.52 (26th)
4v5 SA/60 61.2 (26th)

[Stats via extraskater.com] 

Gameday Link

So maybe you missed the news earlier today, but this morning we announced a viewing party that we'll be hosting for Canucks/Blackhawks on the 29th. It's at The Pint, it's good a good cause, and there's all sorts of goodies that you'll receive with a ticket purchase. All of the details are here. I know that I speak for everyone affiliated with this blog when I say that I hope I see you there!

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Dimitri Filipovic writes about hockey on the internet, and is the Managing Editor of Canucks Army. You can follow him on Twitter @DimFilipovic, and email him at dimitri.filipovic@gmail.com.
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#1 The Voice In The Dark
January 16 2014, 04:35PM
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I'm not sure if I can watch this tonight. After the emotional high of the first two periods vs. LAK, followed by the leveling out in the 3rd, followed by the lowest of low against ANA last night, I think I need a break.

On the other hand, the rest of the season for the Canucks is relatively easy beginning tonight, so it might be worth watching the beginning of what I hope will be an extended winning streak :)

It'll be interesting to see if Lain dresses for the nux and if so, possibly even more interesting to see who he replaces in the lineup. After last night's embarrassment, the only players who SHOULDN'T be scratched are Weise and Booth - who saw that coming?

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#2 argoleas
January 16 2014, 06:18PM
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Not a good half of the month. But looking at the remainder of the schedule, Van is almost done playing the Big 3 from the Golden State (no away games left). In fact, we we look at the big five in the West (LA Ana SJ StL Chi) Anaheim has the worst schedule and Van the easiest, and LA's is not that better. Anaheim has 4 games vs LA, and two of each against SJ, Chi, and StL. Van has one of each against LA Ana Stl and Chi, and all are home games. Assuming the trend where they beat the teams below them and compete well with those four (they have a winning record vs StL and good one vs Chi). They will make the playoffs, most likely as a wildcard, and could start the playoffs vs a Central team and avoid that traffic jam on the coast. In fact, were the playoffs to start today, Van would play Chicago, and the winner of that would play the StL Colorado winner. A much better fate (although still difficult) than the monster class on the Pacific where SJ would fight LA, then face the winner of Ana and Minny. Ugh.

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#3 NM00
January 16 2014, 06:29PM
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@argoleas

It would be better that this team miss the playoffs altogether.

Even though they'll probably make it.

Because, really, what does a probable first round exit actually accomplish?

Then perhaps an actual reset of the organization will take place...

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#4 Andy
January 16 2014, 07:36PM
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@NM00

I've a bad feeling a reset may not even come if MG loses his job.

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#5 GeezMoney
January 16 2014, 07:56PM
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@NM00

This team is going to make the playoffs. And I`m sorry, but despite last night`s debacle, this is a team that is not bad enough to pick in the top-10. If that's the case, you may as well make the playoffs and play four extra games. It's better than marginally improving your draft slot, which any cursory examination of history will show doesn't improve your chances of getting an impact player. (That history also includes the Canucks pathetic amateur scouting team, easily the worst in the NHL, not being able to pick a rose out of rose bush).

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#6 argoleas
January 16 2014, 08:12PM
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NM00 wrote:

It would be better that this team miss the playoffs altogether.

Even though they'll probably make it.

Because, really, what does a probable first round exit actually accomplish?

Then perhaps an actual reset of the organization will take place...

Not sure how missing the playoffs is better than just making it. If a reset would occur if they miss the playoffs, then it would occur if they suffer another quick playoff exit. So that woud happen anyways.

The problem for me is I still dont know what the plan is for this organization. Is there a SJS-style youth transition to occur? I dont see it. What I see is a team burning through its 'top' players to prove what I do not know. Seems to me it is obvious that players like the Sedins, Santorelli, and Hamhuis are tired, yet the coaches are more fine with that than playing other players.

If a team is on the way up, then patience is called for, but if it is on its way down, then a transition is required. A reset as you say. With so many NTCs on this team, I dont know anymore what this team will do. If the plan is to have youth take over, whose spots will they take?

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#7 NM00
January 16 2014, 08:19PM
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Andy wrote:

I've a bad feeling a reset may not even come if MG loses his job.

MG losing his job would be phase 1 of the reset.

Of course, there's little reason to think he's on the chopping block yet.

Hopefully it's getting closer, though...

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#8 NM00
January 16 2014, 08:25PM
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@GeezMoney

It's not just the better draft slot.

What if this team pulls a Phoenix and wins a round or two against a superior team?

They may very well try the same BS again and figure that "progress" was made this season.

Much like Gordon Gecko, I assume nothing ruins Aquilini's day more than losses.

Reset or not, three years with little playoff revenue surely wouldn't be met kindly by this owner.

Giving raises to the same core and trying again should not be an option in 2014-2015.

Even though it's the most realistic path at this point...

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#9 NM00
January 16 2014, 08:33PM
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@argoleas

What youth?

Realistically, which prospects are even ready to help next year?

And what reason do we believe they will be given a chance while this management team fights tooth and nail for every point in the standings?

Is there another AHL team that is as devoid of prospect talent as Utica?

And there's little reason to think 19 and 20 year olds like Horvat & Shinkaruk will be given an opportunity next year.

This management team has never, EVER, given legit chances to players that young.

From Grabner to Schneider to Hodgson to Connauton.

Even Corrado could require another year of AHL time in this management team's estimation.

After all, Tanev spent parts of 3 years in the AHL even though he was competent much earlier than that...

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#10 argoleas
January 16 2014, 08:35PM
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@NM00

You just mentioned the youth. I dont know about how bad their depth is vs other teams, but that does not mean they dont have good prospects that should be tried out.

I agree about the organization not giving them the chances yet. As stated above, this is my main concern now and going forward.

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#11 GeezMoney
January 16 2014, 08:41PM
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@NM00

Well, you're not going to have to worry about too many raises coming in the way of this roster. As you have pointed out: many of the "valuable" assets are already signed to long-term NMCs.

If this team does as expected and gets punched out of the first round, Santo probably doesn't come back, and neither does Booth (thank God!)Regardless, top-flight players won't sign here because the team is clearly on a decline. That leaves a team trying to figure out its identity again.

If they do go on a run, well that would be a nice and unexpected thing. I for one would enjoy it and not rue the day we missed drafting some pimply-faced saviour, who turns out to be more pizza-delivery driver than pizza-faced possession star.

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#12 Diehardnuck
January 16 2014, 10:13PM
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This month has sucked but it needed to happen. MG knows he better work the phones and make some REAL changes - 3rd/4th line 'upgrades' and depth isn't going to be enough. The question isn't whether moves need to be made, it's whether we should be buyers or sellers before the trade deadline.

P.S. Everyone knows that facing the facts doesn't mean you're disloyal for giving up on the team right?

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#13 NM00
January 16 2014, 10:28PM
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Diehardnuck wrote:

This month has sucked but it needed to happen. MG knows he better work the phones and make some REAL changes - 3rd/4th line 'upgrades' and depth isn't going to be enough. The question isn't whether moves need to be made, it's whether we should be buyers or sellers before the trade deadline.

P.S. Everyone knows that facing the facts doesn't mean you're disloyal for giving up on the team right?

Stajan and Grabovski are available and all it would take is Corrado and a 3rd round pick...

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#14 Ted
January 17 2014, 12:36PM
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argoleas wrote:

You just mentioned the youth. I dont know about how bad their depth is vs other teams, but that does not mean they dont have good prospects that should be tried out.

I agree about the organization not giving them the chances yet. As stated above, this is my main concern now and going forward.

There are some players that're starting to make noise in the minors. I don't think you'll find many top line guys but we'll see.

I do like how the Canucks take their time and acutally develop young players. Tanev is a top 4 guy and that is, in part, due to his development. He wasn't rushed and was properly groomed. It's the way to go with young players.

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