June 11 2013 10:27AM
Unless you're a fan of one of the two teams set to compete for the 2013 Stanley Cup, you're probably spending your time these days trying to figure out ways in which your team can improve their chances of competing for the title next season. This is probably most true for fans of the Vancouver Canucks, whose past run-ins with this year's finalists have them hoping that there's some scenario in which both teams lose and the Cup gets rolled over to next season.
At this point, most of the contrived schemes for improving the Canucks are just harmless speculation and banter, since this period serves as the calm before the storm. While there has been the odd noteworthy move here and there - i.e. Sergei Gonchar being traded to the Stars, Roman Josi receiving an extension from the Predators - things will really only begin to heat up once a champion has been crowned.
When that happens, though, expect all hell to break loose. In case you had forgotten, everything about this NHL season was thrown out of whack due to the lockout; a condensed 48-game scheduled, followed by an entry draft on June 30th (with all 7 rounds taking place during one hectic day), and a free agency period which has been pushed back to July 5th.
Beyond the draft and free-agency, one way to improve a team is on the trade market. It's easy (and quite fun) to sit at home and concoct outlandish trades that would only ever really happen in a fantasy league. But we'll leave that sort of stuff to the message boards. For a deal to actually happen, there usually needs to be at least two willing parties that benefit from said trade (if only in their minds). Sometimes it can be rather difficult to find a natural fit between two teams, but for the Canucks, there might just be a suitable trade partner in the Philadelphia Flyers.
Read on Past the Jump for More.
May 08 2013 01:12AM
The handshake line can only mean one thing - a long summer ahead for the losing team.
Image Credit to Don Smith/Getty Images.
The 2013 season ended abruptly for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, after they were swept by the San Jose Sharks. While watching the Canucks play throughout the season would have quickly clued you in on the fact that this was a flawed club which resembled a shell of the team that made the Stanley Cup Finals just two years ago, I don't think anyone expected their postseason run to be this short. They're officially the first team to get bounced from the playoffs, and the only one out of the 16 entrants to fail to win a single game.
There will surely be plenty of time in the coming months to talk about future moves, and potential solutions to fix this team. But for now, let's settle for taking a closer look at what happened in Game 4, and nailing down what exactly caused the Canucks to be sent packing.
Click Past the Jump for More In-Depth Analysis, and the Scoring Chance Totals.
May 07 2013 01:11PM
Why so serious, Alain?
In the lead-up to Game 3, I brought up the fact that the Canucks were dominating and possession, and that if they kept it up, they were a few bounces from getting right back into the series. I also mentioned that the Sedins and Ryan Kesler were trending upwards, as was the team's penalty kill. All those things made me believe that - while an 0-2 hole with 2 games to play in San Jose is definitely not an ideal situation to be in - this series was far from over.
Then Game 3 happened, as the team completely unravelled in the span of a few minutes in the final frame, as San Jose blew the doors off of this series. At this point even the most delusionally optimistic fan must see the writing on the wall. Regardless, I have a difficult time seeing this team's core group of prideful veterans letting their season end in an embarassing sweep.
When Drance asked Ray Ferraro (during his appearance on the CanucksArmy Podcast) who he'd start in net for Game 4, Ferraro, in a roundabout way, echoed those sentiments: "I would probably play Luongo. I don't know if there is a longer term vision for that, but I get to a point here where we're not trying to win 4 games, we're trying to win 1. And right now Luongo has been very good in this series."
Read Past the Jump to Get Set for Tonight's Game.
May 07 2013 10:48AM
The guys in this photo have been some of the lone bright spots for the Canucks. Well, except for Marty Erat; he has been invisible.
"When I look at this series in an overview, San Jose's top players have been much much better than Vancouver's top players. San Jose's depth players have been better than Vancouver's depth players. And in totality, the goaltending has been better for San Jose."
That was a quote from Ray Ferraro from his appearance on the CanucksArmy podcast with Thomas Drance yesterday. And while it's obviously an oversimplification, he's definitely not wrong. Not too many things have gone right for the Canucks through 3 games of their opening round series against the Sharks. I think it's fair to say that at this point things could be going better for the team.
But it hasn't been all doom and gloom; two players in particular, who fans have been overly critical of in the past, have put forth encouraging performances amidst all of the disappointment.
Read on Past the Jump for Some Reasons to Stay Upbeat.
May 06 2013 01:38AM
The cold, harsh reality is beginning to sink in.
It all feels kind of silly now, sure, but heading into Game 3 between the Sharks and Canucks there were legitimate reasons for optimism, and belief that the series wasn't lost quite yet. We expected a tight series coming into it, and that's what we were getting; the Canucks were down 0-2, but they were definitely in both games, and certainly didn't look overmatched. A few bounces here and there, and the series score easily could have been flipped.
While Game 2 had ended in a disheartening fashion, there were positives to be taken from it. It looked as if the beast inside Ryan Kesler had been awakened, the Sedins were starting to get something brewing, and the team's penalty killing unit had seemingly made an adjustment which held the opposition's man advantage in check.
But then Game 3 happened, and that optimism now seems like something from the distant past. The Canucks were soundly beaten by the Sharks on Sunday night, really getting outclassed throughout. With the 5-2 loss, the team has now been pushed to the brink and reality is beginning to sink in.
Rather than just saying they all suck, let's try to rationally make sense of the entire situation, and figure out what went wrong.