Safe is Death has come to Vancouver

Thomas Drance
December 06 2013 11:23AM

By his own admission, and in stark contrast with his predecessor, Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella has an old school view of how to approach coaching an NHL team. The firey 'Torts' doesn't rigorously manipulate matchups, he's often been heard to lambast the common habit of "over-coaching," and he even derides the notion of playing a "system," preferring to characterize his gameplan as a "mindset". Tortorella has also talked at length about not really understanding analytics.

Yet for all of that luddite bluster I'm struck by the extent to which the Canucks have, in the first 30 games of the John Tortorella era, played a style of hockey that adheres closely to some of the conventional wisdom drawn directly from shot based metrics. 

Read past the jump for more.

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Canucks ink Cole Cassels to entry-level contract

Thomas Drance
December 04 2013 10:54AM

When the Canucks first selected Oshawa Generals forward Cole Cassels with their third pick at the 2013 NHL entry draft, the selection was a surprise to those of us who've closely observed the teams behaviour under Mike Gillis' regime at the NHL draft.

Cassels was a very young draft eligible player who had turned 18 less than two months before the draft. So he bucked the team's recent trend of drafting older, theoretically "more NHL-ready" players in the middle rounds. Cassels also isn't particularly big, where the club has made a habit of selecting mammoth wingers in the middle rounds (Alexandre Grenier, Alexandre Mallet, Joseph LaBate etc.). Moreover, Cassels - who is the son of former Canucks centre Andrew Cassels - was a third-line forward for Oshawa in his draft eligible season, and his production was pretty unremarkable in comparison with several players still on the board.

But obviously Vancouver's amateur scouts had seen something they liked in Cassels' game, and he's rewarded that confidence with his performance so far this season for the Generals. Between his stellar showing at the prospects tournament and his smooth adaption to a top-line role in Major Junior this fall, Cassels has earned himself his first NHL contract.

Read on past the jump.

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Handicapping Canucks Prospects Chances of Making Team Canada's WJC Team

Thomas Drance
November 30 2013 09:56AM


Image via Canucks.com

On Thursday night Team WHL defeated a team of Russian born junior aged players 4-2 to close out the Subway Super Series. The branded Super Series is a friendly tournament played between Russian born players and the best the CHL has to offer and is generally used by Hockey Canada executives to evaluate candidates for Team Canada's U20 roster. Those are the players, of course, who will participate in the World Junior Hockey Championships, which this December and January will be hosted in Sweden.

Three Canucks prospects (Hunter Shinkaruk, Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce) participated in the series for their respective CHL leagues. This Monday, Hockey Canada will announce the invite list for the U20 Team's selection camp and according to Hockey Canada executive Scott Salmond, only 28 players will be invited (a relatively meagre number in comparison with years past).

The Canucks haven't had a prospect on Team Canada's U20 Team since Cody Hodgson, and Team Canada hasn't medalled since their U20 entry won Bronze in 2012. So let's handicap Shinkaruk, Gaunce and Horvat's chances of breaking that streak ahead of Monday's announcement from Hockey Canada.

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On the Canucks' Reported Interest in Shawn Matthias

Thomas Drance
November 17 2013 05:05PM


Good Ontario Boy Shawn Matthias is reportedly on the market. Time for #BoldMoves?
Image via wikimedia commons.

On Sunday night when the Vancouver Canucks host the Dallas Stars, the club is expected to roll with Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler, Mike Santorelli and Brad Richardson down the middle of their four forward lines. Or at least that's how Vancouver's forward groups will deploy start the game. That group of four centremen is surely as strong as any group the Canucks have iced in at last three years, which sadly says a lot about Vancouver's persistent dearth of quality centre depth over the past few seasons.

While Santorelli has been excellent and Richardson has been servicable through the first quarter of the season, it's pretty clear that the Canucks remain thin at centre. One potential sollution that has emerged over the weekend is Florida Panthers forward Shawn Matthias, who is reportedly available on the trade market. Would he make sense for the team?

Let's take a quick and dirty look after the jump.

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The Week Straight Up: Oct 28 - Nov 3

Thomas Drance
October 28 2013 05:02PM

 

Obviously we at CanucksArmy are big supporters of sports betting, in part because we buy into the Nate Silver theory that putting your money where your prediction is will help improve the aggregate accuracy of forecasting. So this is a natural fit for us. That said, make sure to gamble for fun (or for bragging rights), not to make money. From all of us at CanucksArmy and PlayNow: a gentle reminder to use your game sense!

Read past the jump for special offers to CanucksArmy.com readers from PlayNow Sports, and a preview of this upcoming week of Canucks hockey.

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