The Canucks at the Half Way Mark (or Near Enough)

Thomas Drance
March 08 2013 06:14PM

Roberto Luongo: in the background but still the main focus.
That's just a description of the photo, I'm not alluding to his trade status or anything.

Over a typical hockey season any given team is going to have their ups and downs. Of course, a forty eight game season isn't a typical hockey season but even so, as the old saying goes: a team is never as bad as they might look at their worst, nor as good as they might look at their best. 

Last night the Canucks lost to Columbus and though they were marginally the better team overall, they weren't nearly good enough. As such the Vancouver market demands blood and I understand that. But I think it's worth remembering that Thursday night's loss to Columbus shouldn't change our overall assessment of the quality of this hockey team, and neither should Vancouver's recent, more extended run of mediocrity (three wins in ten games, with a 3-3-4 overall record). 

Read on past the jump.

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Canucks Take off their Pants and Blue Jacket

Thomas Drance
March 07 2013 10:52PM

This is the exact moment that Cory Schneider realizes his team has lost to the worst club in the NHL.
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Over the past week the Canucks have played four games, posting a 1-1-2 record in four games against the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings, the Calgary Flames and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Their Sybil-like inconsistency over the past week has been something of a microcosm for their season: they were excellent against Los Angeles and San Jose and pretty damn dreadful while facing AHL-quality goaltending in Calgary this past Sunday. On Thursday night they reprised the subpar form they flashed in Calgary, against the Blue Jackets in Columbus.

There were some bright-spots: Zack Kassian had jump throughout the contest and looks to have left his February doldrums in the past month. Meanwhile Jannik Hansen was involved and impressive (again), and the pairing of Jason Garrison and Dan Hamhuis put on an exhibition in steadiness. But there were more negatives, and those negatives were of the big picture variety. While Cory Schneider continued his average play, Chris Tanev looked not-quite-ready to handle tougher matchups in the top-four. Meanwhile Alex Edler - well - he had a flaming tire fire of an outing. Add it all up and the Canucks weren't good enough to beat the league's worst team.

Read on past the jump for more analysis and scoring chance data.

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Game #23 Preview: Canucks @ Blue Jackets (Also Headshots)

Thomas Drance
March 07 2013 04:18PM

Dan Hamhuis and David Booth taking a wiz (out of the play).

Today at Canucks Army we wrote a treatise on Vancouver's power-play struggles and discussed the disappointing returns the Canucks have recouped on the Booth gamble so far. We also put off writing a game preview for too long (I'll admit that I forgot that Columbus is located in the Eastern timezone) so we're going to do a "Game Preview/Headshots mashup" today!

Read on past the jump for that! 

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What has happened to the Canucks power-play?

Thomas Drance
March 07 2013 12:36PM

Daniel Sedin is at the heart of Vancouver's power-play issues.
Photo Uncredited via PITB

During the entirety of the Mike Gillis era, the Canucks have boasted a polished, effective and deadly power-play. Along with stellar goaltending the Canucks' ability to consistently "make opponent's pay" with the man-advantage has been a decisive part of the team's ability to consistently outperform their puck possession numbers. A power-play that generates shots at a top-ten rate and capitalizes frequently is an ingrained feature of this Vancouver club's DNA, and perhaps we took that for granted prior to the start of this lockout shortened season.

For whatever reason, the Canucks appear to have taken a monumental step backwards this season at five-on-four. Forget the middling conversion rate (20th in the league as of this writing) since that tells us more about the symptoms than the ailment. What's really concerning from my vantage point is the team's complete inability to generate shots on net in five-on-four situations. In fact, the underlying shot data suggests that Vancouver might have the second worst power-play in the entire league so far this season...

Why has Vancouver's power-play effectiveness atrophied so dramatically this season? Read on past the jump.

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Afternoon Headshots: March 6th

Thomas Drance
March 06 2013 05:56PM

Jeff Vinnick captures the precise moment M.E. Vlasic feels the impact of this Jannik Hansen hit.
I feel like Vlasic face could be a thing.

Today at Canucks Army we wondered whether or not the Canucks were maybe, possibly thinking about trading the wrong goaltender, scoffed at Damien Cox's latest criticism of Mike Gillis' avarice on the Luongo trade front and recapped Tuesday night's home shootout loss against the San Jose Sharks.

More links and analysis (and links to analysis) after the jump.

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