Torts' replacement should have an easier job than expected - Weekend Watchability Index

Cam Charron
April 11 2014 11:48AM

Canucks Army is preparing for the playoffs in a way only Canucks Army can: by preparing an exhaustive list of profiles of potential general manager candidates, and by preparing an exhaustive list of profiles of potential new coaching candidates, just in case.

Twas I who had the misfortune of writing the profile for John Tortorella back in June. I'm going to share a few key passages from that profile:

Torts, unfortunately, is a coach that also shares Mike Gillis' philosophy about size over talent in the Bottom Six. In the game that saw the Rangers eliminated, Brad Richards sat in favour of Derek Dorsett, Kris Newbury and Micheal Haley. He seems like a natural fit for a team that re-upped Tom Sestito for two years, presumably with the interest of having him play live hockey games with the organization.

Prophetic!

It seems like an odd match at first. Both the Canucks and Torts are drifting, with another year or two before an eventual fall from grace. Torts does share lots in common with Gillis, however. Not only are they committed to the (false) ideal that size and not skill wins hockey games, but neither Gillis nor Torts are in this business to make friends.

"Another year or two" seems generous. Should have written "Both have until January before an eventual fall from grace".

Generally, Torts knows which of his players can score and how to get them into those positions. I prefer zone matching to line matching except in rare situations, but it still takes a keen eye for the game to note when an offensive zone faceoff is coming, or how to not burn both of your scoring lines during an extended period of game time.

"Zone matching? Line matching? Just let me know when Ryan Kesler's heart rate drops below 170 and we'll send him right back out there!"

DEFENCEMEN

I think the scary thing is that I wasn't too far off from reality, although arriving at that conclusion completely by accident. The big disappointment for me is how Tortorella has used his defence. During Dan Hamhuis first two years in Vancouver, him and Kevin Bieksa had a hell of a time as the primary first pairing, racking up a 54.6% Corsi rate together while sharing top pairing duties. Given Torts' reliance on the Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi pairing that's had some success in recent years and one of the best defensive units in the NHL when considering that unit's ability to move the needle despite tough circumstances, many of us hoped that Torts' hiring meant a reunification of Bieksa-Hamhuis as the No. 1 pairing.

Not so.

Bieksa was this year, paired for the most part with Alexander Edler, who had a notable season thanks to the Canucks' 3.7% shooting percentage when he was on the ice. Consequently, Edler had the 2nd lowest PDO amongst all regular defenceman, ahead of just Seth Jones. That's a kick in the tits right there, for Edler, Edler's trade value, and Bieksa. Both defencemen have accumulated a share of the blame for things outside their control.

PERCENTAGES

A new coach is probably going to walk through that door at some point in June and is, for the most part, getting in on a pretty good situation. The Canucks still have some good defensive pieces and were one of the better puck-possession teams in the NHL all season. Some coach is going to find himself with a team that was 9th in score-close Corsi this season, 19th in PDO and, most egregiously, shot just 8.4% in 5-on-4 situations.

Here are a list of teams who have shot less than 10% in 5-on-4 situations (via HockeyAnalysis) and how they fared the next season:

Team 5v4 Sh% next 
08 NJD 9.7 9.9
09 NJD 9.9 13.5
09 CBJ 9.7 11.5
09 NYR 9.2 12.5
10 NYI 9.8 10.9
10 TOR 8.6 11.8
11 BOS 9.6 12.8
11 WSH 9.5 12.1
11 CBJ 8.0 8.8
11 NJD 8.0 12.3
11 FLA 7.5 12.8
12 MTL 9.3 13.7
12 CBJ 8.8 10.1
13 BUF 9.8 10.6
13 CAR 9.5 8.8
     
TOTAL 9.1 11.3

It's still a bit lower than the NHL average of about 12.5%, but it's also much closer to even, and the difference could be just noise considering there are so many teams (like the 2012 Montreal Canadiens, who are the 2014 Vancouver Canucks' analogue in this situation) who managed a season above average the next year. Powerplay shooting percentage, it has been found, is highly regressive, and I wouldn't spend too much time in the summer worrying about the powerplay. An extra 2% shooting gives the Canucks about 8 extra goals on the powerplay, worth 1 or maybe 2 wins. I thought the Canucks powerplay was about to pop off at any time this season and it didn't, but I'm still keeping those chips on the table for the fall when a new coach has magically fixed the Canucks powerplay.

Had the Canucks had normalized percentages this year, we're talking about a playoff team. Maybe not one that's going to win a playoff round, but probably one that hasn't just fired its general manager and about to fire everybody else.

WEEKEND WATCHABILITY INDEX

The Canucks are out of it, as are six other Canadian teams, which is going to make Hockey Night in Canada awful to watch Saturday night. Worse yet, already seven of the playoff teams cannot move up or down in their seeding, so a few star players may be resting this season. Worse yet, the Art Ross race has been won by Sidney Crosby and the Rocket Richard Race has been won by Alex Ovechkin. Even the races for individual awards are duds this week.

Still, here are four games you could watch:

Dallas vs. Phoenix - Sunday @ 6:00 p.m. Pacific

The hook: This is on the exact same time as the Canucks-Flames game. There's a small chance that the Canucks and Flames could be tanking for sixth last in the NHL and a slightly better draft choice and slightly better odds at the No. 1, but a win by Vancouver against Edmonton or any loss by Calgary to Winnipeg renders that possibility moot.

So we have Dallas and Phoenix, and unless Dallas win at home against St. Louis tonight, then this game will be for the final playoff spot in the West. Two teams with questionable goaltending in a do-or-die game is always a fun possibility, and at Canucks Army we're obviously pulling for the Stars and Jamie Benn, and also because we decided to arbitrarily hate the Coyotes a while back. Dallas, a good possession team, could also upset either Anaheim or Colorado in the first round and vindicate a stat geek or two. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

Colorado vs. Anaheim - Sunday @ 5:00 p.m. Pacific

The hook: Should Colorado pick up points against the Sharks, who are playing for nothing, tonight, then this game could determine the Presidents' Trophy race. Colorado, with their unconscious goaltending, questionable D and bevy of young forwards were a favourite of mine to watch this season and even if I don't think they're in that top tier of Western teams that should compete for the Cup, they were fun to watch and have tons of potential. Anaheim is, well, Anaheim, and I think their mission this postseason is to start John Gibson for three rounds and see if anybody notices.

Watch it on mute, however. Colorado and Anaheim may have the two worst local broadcast crews in NHL GameCentre-land.

Dallas vs. St. Louis - Friday @ 5:30 p.m. Pacific

The hook: I wanted an opportunity to point out that since 'The Trade', Ryan Miller has a .903 save percentage with the Blues, Jaroslav Halak has a .923 with the Capitals, and Sabres goalies rose up from a collective .914 to a .917.

Honestly, one of the best things about this job is pointing out where trading for goalies just wound up being disastrous for the team acquiring the "bigger name".

Also, a win by Dallas means they're in the playoffs. Tyler Seguin must score four times to hit 40 on the year, which is possible to achieve in his final two games. Should he accomplish the feat, we should all chip in for Seguin's neck tattoo commemorating his season.

San Jose vs. Phoenix - Saturday @ 6:00 p.m. Pacific

The hook: We all need something to watch Saturday night, and even though this game is rendered completely meaningless should the Stars win and take a four-point lead (the Stars also have the all-important ROW tie-breaker, so Phoenix needs to finish a point ahead of Dallas to get into the postseason) this is, unfortunately, the best game on an absolutely brutal Saturday night stretch of games.

The Yotes have, regrettably, been in a bit of a scoring funk lately, scoring four or more goals just twice since the Olympic break, so the high-wire act we saw at the start of the season has taken a turn for the worse under Dave Tippett's "lock it down" defence in front of Thomas Greiss. Nobody likes teams whose top defenceman is the leading scorer on the team, man. Nobody likes them.

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Cam Charron is a BC hockey fan that writes about hockey on many different websites including this one.
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#1 NM00
April 11 2014, 12:15PM
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"I wouldn't spend too much time in the summer worrying about the powerplay. An extra 2% shooting gives the Canucks about 8 extra goals on the powerplay, worth 1 or maybe 2 wins. I thought the Canucks powerplay was about to pop off at any time this season and it didn't, but I'm still keeping those chips on the table for the fall when a new coach has magically fixed the Canucks powerplay."

Why are you taking for granted that the Canucks will remain a top 5v4 possesion team?

The possession was terrible the previous season, Gulatzan may very well not be the PP coach next year and the players (Kesler & possibly an Edler or Garrison) may not be the same, either...

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#2 Fred-65
April 11 2014, 12:59PM
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You touch on one or two of my pet peeves for this season.

The drop off on the defence this season alone has been terrible. Players we could once rely on have become over night wrecks. Edlers has never had a +/- like he has this season, Hamhuis looks like a # 4 or 5 "D". Stanton arrived like a breath of fresh air and has since fallen off badly under Tortorellas tutalage. And Garrison while never a favourite of mine has looked woeful. Bieska given the chnace is a high risk "D"

Now combine this with a PP that looked definitely Pee Wee like with it's shoot in and handing the puck back to the opposition should have been the difference maker for making the play-offs. The combined coaching intellect ( or lack of ) could not devise a PP that worked. That alone says a lot about the coaching staff. While we're discussing the coachs any one else notice Sullivan and Torts are all but in each others arms during the game an Glen Gulutzan remains uninvolved at the other end of the bench barely referred to or engaged in the discussions, maybe that's just my read but he deffinitley seems like the third wheel. He's one guy I suspect will be glad to get out of Vcr.

Viewability scores a zero, never have i seen such boring hockey played in a Vcr uniform and I go back to the Kurtenbach era.

If I were to picks players that have improved this season I'd think it would be Tanev, Kassian and......naw that's it from a roster of 23. Most have regressed.

The two signing made prior to the season Santorelli and Richardson were both good additions but forced to play often beyond their comfort zone

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#4 Joel
April 11 2014, 01:43PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

Provided they keep Garrison, it's easy to build around a right-handed cannon for a point shot on the PP. I'd like to see GG stick around, but you're right. Who the hell knows at this point.

I suspect what the Canucks missed this year was the deflections and rebounds that led to powerplay goals, not just that the long point shots were voluminous in nature.

Why? In all seriousness Cam, what have you see from GG to warrant even a chance at returning next year?

He was the one coach/gm I thought was gone, regardless of how the Torts/Gillis/ownership tug of war worked out...

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#6 Goon
April 11 2014, 04:03PM
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"Tyler Seguin must score four times to hit 40 on the year, which is possible to achieve in his final two games"

Was there a worse off season trade last year than Eriksson for Seguin?

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#7 Les
April 11 2014, 04:16PM
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"There's a small chance that the Canucks and Flames could be tanking for sixth last in the NHL..."

Isn't it impossible for the Flames to pass the Canucks in the standings at this point? They are 4 points back and two ROW back with two games left so they could tie us in both categories. Isn't the next tiebreaker the season series between the two teams though? If so, we've definitely won that (unfortunately).

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#8 Les
April 11 2014, 04:18PM
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@Les

Err. I think I understand what you meant. We won't be competing with the Flames for 6th but the Flames and/or Canucks could be competing with Carolina for example?

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#9 Fred-65
April 11 2014, 06:24PM
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@Cam Charron

The Canucks PP ranked at 27th in the league at 14.7% that almost half the success of Pitts.

http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20142ALLSAAAll&sort=powerPlayPercentage&viewName=powerPlay

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#10 #Itstheplayersstupid
April 11 2014, 10:15PM
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And here we go again. Time to get rid of the another coach. Let's get a coach who the players love and respect and call pops.

A coach who tends to every need of the players, loves them and who never pushes them.

A coach who makes sure that the players have it easy.

A coach who doesn't ask the team to block shots or do whatever it takes to win.

A coach to be their friend, to guide them, hold their hands, love them, nourish them.

Please excuse me while I puke. If Vancouver gets rid of Torts they need to change their name to The Vancouver Kanyes.

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#11 JA
April 11 2014, 10:20PM
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Agreed about the Avs broadcast crew. I thought it was just me!

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#12 Vladimir Van
April 11 2014, 10:34PM
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Canadian hockey is so sad now thanks to Bettman.

The game is boring, the refs are unaccountable and purposely blind and the calls are laughably predictable.

The Canadian teams are all about money.

And now that sock puppet Shanahan has signed with the leafs, you can expect most calls to go their way. Maybe Bettman and his illuminati will select Toronto to be the first Canadian Cup winner in a long time, just to spike ticket sales and to declare " Hey, there was never any conspiracy against Canadian teams, see Toronto won!"

Then when Bettman hands the cup to a Leafs Captain the fans will oooh and awwww and the next 20-0 year Canadian drought will begin again.

Or...the conspiracy is within the teams. After all, why try to win when your dumb fans keep coming back for stale pasta?

The NHL is dead. It's now the NHE. National Hockey Entertainment.

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#13 Riot Sqodd
April 11 2014, 10:41PM
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@NM00

I don't even know why you try so hard to convince the homers.

It's like asking Rosanne Bar to consider a salad as a meal option.

I'm starting to think you have way too much time on your hands. Please say you're retired. Otherwise...#tears.

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#14 Kypreos
April 11 2014, 11:03PM
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Look out!

Johnny Hockey is coming to town.

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#15 Where ur twitter?
April 12 2014, 02:03AM
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Cam, we miss your hockey takes on twitter. What up man?

It's funny you somewhat predicted what was gonna happen with Torts. I did as well. Almost to a T.

I said AV's team would be a better puck possession team that Torts. I said NYR would be much more successful than Van under Torts. Also said the PK would be strong, PP would be horrible, this team won't score goals, he'd use line combos or d pairings that would defy advanced stats and at least 1 core players would want out cause of Torts. CHA CHING!!! Was I right or was I right?!? Of course, I never predicted they wouldn't make the playoffs, or that Torts would most likely be gone after a yr. I thought it would take them at least 2 yrs to realize they made a HUGE mistake in hiring him.

But seriously, it was all to predictable. The writing was on the wall, Aquilini is just to involved to see it.

Hopsfully Linden actually has ahold of the Canucks and it's not still Aquaman from behind the curtains.

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#16 spOilers
April 12 2014, 02:06AM
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"Torts, unfortunately, is a coach that also shares Mike Gillis' philosophy about size over talent in the Bottom Six."

I'll remind you guys that when the Canucks do meet a nasty team in the playoffs because they got pushed around like they did in the SCF by Boston. Then we'll see who right and who's wrong.

But let's get it straight here. The Canucks hired a player agent with no GM experience whatsoever to be their GM. Now that they canned him, the Canucks go out and hire an ex player who has no experience in managing a sports club. And now it seems that the media and the fanboys want to fire their new coach who had to endure the POS ( team ) that was created by their then GM. Wow, that plan is sure not to back fire! People from the booney lands of Alberta. It's now your turn to laugh, Vancouver ran out and got another Kevin Lowe. What comes around, truly does go around.

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#17 beloch
April 12 2014, 03:55AM
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The Flames and Islanders are currently tied in points, but the Islanders have the tie-breaker. If the Flames get fewer points playing Vancouver than the Islanders get playing Buffalo, the Flames go into the lottery picking fourth.

Also note: Hartley started the goon squad (Westgarth, Bouma, and McGrattan) for the first puck-drop against the Jets. Nothing happened. This means that, should Hartley do the same against the Canucks on Sunday, claims that Hartley is trying to start another brawl will probably fall flat. Honestly, if Torts storms the Flames dressing room again and gets himself banned from the league for life, he'll only be doing the Canucks a favor.

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#18 Serenity
April 12 2014, 04:33AM
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If fans think that Trevor Linden will bring them to glory they will be in for a long slow burn.

Canadian teams should not be gloating over wins against other Canadian teams when Bettman's Americana teams are the real enemy.

Can you Canadian fans stop tearing at each other like a pack of miserable wolves and understand that the true enemy is Bettman's Schemes.

Canadian teams are no more than cash cows to the owners. The real glory for them is the bottom line.

The NHL is as corrupt as any other sports league. The refs don't follow the rules. The man who was in charge of Player safety had a son play in Boston. The man who gave him the job is now in Toronto. No conflict of interest there, folks.

These NHL pigs will stop at nothing so long as money flows into their pockets. Winnipeg got smart when they tuned out the old Jets. Now I'm sure they wish the Jets never came back.

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#19 Soerpyk
April 12 2014, 07:11AM
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It looks good on the Canucks to fall to a team of overpaid under achiever. They were too arrogant to see what was coming and now it is here enjoy 5 years of suck land!

Hahaha

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#20 FreeTheFans
April 12 2014, 03:23PM
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@Serenity

Well it's always been highly suspicious why since BUTTman there has been no Cup winners in Canada. Montreal by their unknowing luck was the last one before BUTTman shut the door.

I personally have not and would not spend a dime on any Canadian NHL team. If the people want change, then they need to stop walking in the arena door and handing the owners and BUTTman their money.

Sure, you can go to the restos and the bars and pubs, the trade shows in the arena but you need to have some perspective and realize that the nightmare is created by the very same fans.

The NHL is like the lower mainlands Skytrain. It's a money pit. The more money you throw at the pit, the more it eats.

It's like if Canada had 5 or 6 U.S. pro football teams but in the last 20 years all the winners of the super bowl where Canadian teams. I'm if that happened the Americans would have revolted or at least call for their commissioner's head.

But I guess that doesn't happen in Canada. We may be too nice or too stupid, seeing as how we love to be given the shaft. Heck, we have a board for everything. Cheese board, Milk board, Wheat board, Liquor board and even a board for a board. And some Canadians wonder why so many people shop across the border.

Say what you will about the Americans. At lest they don't rip their citizens as much as Canadian Czars do.

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#21 Mask of Eddie
April 12 2014, 03:28PM
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@Soerpyk

Yeah, once they get rid of Torts and let Linden run the franchise further into the ground, there will be no one in the whole league that would want to come here to help out this sad sack team and its sad sack fans. LOL

I predict they will have no choice but to hire Gillis again. Well by that time Gillis can say he has had experience as GM. LOL

Cue 60 years and no cup. LOL

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#22 PB
April 12 2014, 03:49PM
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It's kind of enjoyable to see the comments section overrun by Alberta fans and conspiracy theorists. I'm not sure who has a firmer grasp on reality but the show is entertaining.

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#23 JFR
April 12 2014, 04:27PM
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100% correct with how torts has handled the defense. It has been as pathetic a coaching job as I have seen in years. They all looked lost and confused most of the time. It was a weird combination of the forwards playing too defensive and the defense playing too offensive?? Torts even admitted in an interview that he hasn't coached up Edler enough.....I don't get it at all.

I believe John Stevens would have been and could be the right guy for this job. The Canucks have talent on the back end and a coach that can bring that out would be great. Add some youth and FAs into the forwards and this team could pull a turn around next year..

Still sucks that the playoffs are around the corner and there will be no vancouver....such an embarrassing year that I'm putting my Canucks gear away for the summer. Can't bring myself to wear it,. When torts is fired... Maybe

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#24 Common Cents
April 12 2014, 07:38PM
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@PB

How do you know that they are from Alberta?

How do we know that you're not from Alberta?

Here's a newsflash. The whole of the net is populated by trolls, criminals, psychopaths, sociopaths, shills, narcissists and pathological liars.

The fact that you would even assume something without any proof tells me you're a person who actually believes in what other people say on the net and you expect people to actually believe what you say in return...without any proof whatsoever but just by mere words.

Yes, i believe that person is from Alberta just because you SAID so. lmfao.

You speak of grasping reality but I think it's safe to say that you're the person who has problems grasping reality.

No wonder you're so delusional when it comes to the Canucks. You actually BELIEVE the things you hear and what you're told by other sources.

Well then,the future looks bright for the Canucks! We should believe the Canucks will be a winner because Trevor Linden and you SAID so.

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#25 PB
April 12 2014, 11:05PM
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@Common Cents

Excellent logic and even more excellent use of capitalization. You have convinced me, very well done.

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#26 Common Cents
April 12 2014, 11:27PM
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@PB

I believe you because you SAID so.

And it must be true because you SAID so.

Comments are closed for this article.