The Canucks need another Scoring Winger, maybe Ryan Kesler is that guy

Thomas Drance
April 15 2013 11:38AM

Kesler played some good hockey on Mats Sundin's wing a few years back.
Dave Sandford/Getty Images North America

Shortly after the Canucks traded for Derek Roy, Laurence Gilman went on the Team 1040, and said that in his opinion Ryan Kesler had played some of his best hockey during his time in Vancouver while skating on Mats Sundin's right-wing. It was the second time in the span of a year that Vancouver's Assistant General Manager had broached this particular hobby horse, and Gilman's boss echoed the sentiment in a media availability later that day. Why would the Canucks consider moving their Selke winning two-way ace centreman to the wing exactly? Offense, according to Mike Gillis:

"To generate more offense. When Ryan is out of the lineup teams can really focus on Daniel and Henrik. To get their focus away from them - we need more offense. Derek's a really skilled playmaking centre and in different situations I can can [Kesler] moving up and down the lineup."

Lo and behold, at Canucks practice on Sunday morning, the Canucks were taking line rushes with a second line that included Ryan Kesler on Derek Roy's right-wing. Also, Alex Burrows which is a whole other story. So if we look at the data, does Vigneault's latest lineup purée appear justified? Or should the Canucks stop messing around in advance of the postseason?

Read on past the jump.

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Flat Canucks Blow Late Lead Against Bottom Feeder

Thomas Drance
April 13 2013 05:36PM

Photograph by: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Canucks played with fire throughout Saturday afternoon's game against the Avalanche, and ultimately they got burned. From the team's inability to control play against one of the league's worst teams, to the fact that they had more turnovers than a restless sleeper - this wasn't a game that Vancouver deserved to win.

More analysis and also scoring chance data after the jump.

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Game #41 Preview: Canucks @ Avalanche

Thomas Drance
April 13 2013 10:48AM

Photo Credit: Rich Lam/Getty Images

Among the four Northwest Division also rans, the Avalanche were my preseason pick to overachieve expectations. Instead they've put in a thoroughly miserable season culminating in the team getting called out vociferously by veteran netminder J.S. GIguere. 

The Avalanche are in full on "not winning for MacKinnon" mode at this point and probably won't pose much of a stiff test for the Canucks, who haven't lost to the Avalanche since January of 2011 (and that was in OT). Going back three seasons the Canucks have put up a hilarious 14-0-1 record against Colorado's club and will look to win a fifteenth against their divisional rival this afternoon in Denver. Frankly I'd expect to see the Avalanche show some pride and give the Canucks a game on Saturday afternoon, with Cory Schneider being up to the task and the Canucks winning anyway as is their usual wont...

Read on past the jump.

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Evening Headshots April 11th

Thomas Drance
April 11 2013 08:10PM

Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick/Behind the Lens.

Today Canucks Army, the Canucks blog that steadfastly refuses to watch the games, we recapped Wednesday night's 4-1 Canucks victory over the Calgary Flames, we marvelled at Chris Higgin's penalty-killing prowess, pointed out why some fans and media are making too much of Mason Raymond's offensive struggles in the postseason and gave Alexandre Burrows some credit for his best defensive season as a professional hockey player.

Read past the jump for more dry wit, Canucks links and stuff about Zack Kassian.

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Alex Burrows is Crushing it Defensively this Season

Thomas Drance
April 11 2013 02:57PM

There's another side to Alex Burrows beyond the plethora of even-strength goals: his stellar defense.
Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick via NHLI

The Frank J. Selke Trophy - awarded to the NHL's best defensive forward every season, as you probably know - is kind of like a Gold Glove in baseball: it tells us more about a player's reputation that it does about their real defensive utility.

Consider the example of Ryan Kesler, unquestionably one of the league's best two-way players over the past five seasons. For years Ryan Kesler was Vancouver's primary defensive ace, and a deserving Selke nominee (even winner). That was true up until 2010-11 when Kesler was deployed in a calibrated offensive role by Vancouver's coaching staff. With Manny Malhotra soaking up the toughest matchups, the most short-handed ice-time among all Canucks forwards, and the bulk of defensive zone draws - Kesler took advantage and scored forty goals on his way to winning, ironically, the Selke.

It's telling that Ryan Kesler, a defence-first forward for the majority of his career, finally won the award for "best defensive forward" in the NHL during the one season in his career that he had the least defensive responsibility. Anyway, one guy who won't be considered for the Selke this season, and who probably shouldn't be despite being an absurdly effective defensive presence all year, is Alex Burrows. We'll elaborate on the other side of the jump.

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