April 20 2016 11:00AM
With some time now to digest the 2015-16 Vancouver Canucks season, it’s impossible to suggest there was a single turning point that led to the team’s dismal 31 win performance. Sure, February 9th in Denver – the night both Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter suffered season-ending injuries – was likely the night reality hit home that this year’s Canucks wouldn’t make the playoffs. Perhaps, that was already evident three weeks earlier when captain Henrik Sedin needed help off the ice in Brooklyn after getting steamrolled by Mikhail Grabovski in front of the Canucks bench.
The bottom line is this year’s edition of the Canucks wasn’t good enough – or deep enough – to be any kind of factor in the National Hockey League’s Western Conference. Although the notion of a playoff berth still existed at January’s All-Star break, so many warning signs about the team’s ultimate demise were evident from the first few weeks of the season.
Looking back, here are five losses that should never have happened. This isn’t to suggest that with a different result in these games, the Canucks playoff fortunes would have been different. This is simply a list of five of the team’s most disappointing and most telling losses among the 51 setbacks (38 in regulation & another 13 in overtime/shootout) the Canucks suffered this past season.
For the purposes of this list, the losses selected occurred while the Canucks were still chasing a playoff spot. What happened after the trade deadline – the nine-game losing streak (including three straight shutout losses) and the forgettable back to back no-shows in Alberta in the final week of the season – did not factor into the decision-making.
April 20 2016 09:00AM
Though Luca Sbisa's injuries limited his efficacy and ability to showcase improvement with any degree of consistency, this season represents a massive step in the right direction.
That doesn't necessarily mean that Sbisa has rewarded the Canucks for their unconditional faith, so much as it means he might be a bona fide NHL defenceman. Viewed outside the lens of Sbisa's hefty, if disproportionate contract, there appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.
Improvement is a relative term, though. We're still talking about the 33rd worst defender by Corsi against per sixty, 2nd worst by scoring chances against per sixty, 13th worst by high-danger scoring chances against per sixty and 14th worst by Fenwick against per sixty. This season's done wonders to convince me Sbisa might be an NHL defenceman, but mostly it's reinforced the notion that he's not a particularly good one.
If one can imagine some net positive contributions that Sbisa does offer the Canucks lineup, though, we'll find them on the other side of the jump as we review the best of his first two seasons in Vancouver.
April 19 2016 11:28AM
Well, it's now been a week since the Canucks' season finally, mercifully came to a conclusion. But while their last game was a week ago, the season was really over a few weeks earlier as they careened wildly down the NHL standings during a nine game losing streak to close out March. And despite the dead cat bounce that was the three wins against the playoff-bound California teams, the Canucks finally came a complete stop with the third-worst record in the NHL this season.
I would say they hit rock bottom, but not quite. They landed on the Leafs and Oilers.
April 19 2016 09:00AM
At the center of the Vancouver Canucks season was Dan Hamhuis. Their season fell to pieces when they temporarily lost him to injury and went to ashes when they failed to deal him at the trade deadline. Damned with him and damned without.
To the credit of Hamhuis, he took it all in stride. From having his jaw dismantled by a Dan Girardi slap shot to having to address the media circus that followed the Canucks - but mostly Hamhuis - in and around the trade deadline - Hamhuis embodied the cool, collected veteran posture that one might hope will rub off onto the younger members of the Canucks roster.
It's those qualities, among others, that make Hamhuis valued beyond his on-ice contributions. Which says nothing of the on-ice product, which is still at a top four level. Next for the Hamhuis and Vancouver will be trying to negotiate a deal that accurately reflects these contributions, while meeting the long-term aims of the Canucks somewhere in the middle.
No telling if the two sides will come to terms. That's another topic for another day, though. In the meantime, let's get to reminiscing on what might very well have been his last season with his hometown club.
April 19 2016 07:00AM
Spring is here. The playoffs are in full effect, and for those of us that cheer for Canadian teams that means we have A LOT of free time at the moment. Rather than spend our time dwelling on the failures of our respective teams we figured we'd use this opportunity to remember days gone by. A time when men grew killer moustaches, smoked in-between periods and tried to murder each other with their fists.