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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Gillis: Alex Edler out indefinitely

Cam Charron
December 05 2013 04:28PM

Small (big?) bit of news today, but obviously worth discussing. Thomas Drance may work over at The Score now, but he also transcribes useful bits of information for us worthless bloggers:

"Alex is out indefinitely. He suffered a knee injury that occurred in the game in Nashville.

We're not sure what the time frame is going to resemble at this point in time, and we'll see over the next week exactly what it may be. But at this point we can't really predict that."

It's not news that Edler was going to be out, but with what, and for how long, is up for debate. Wax all you want about whether Edler creates too many turnovers, but for a second, this has to be recognized as a huge hole in the Canucks lineup. Edler was leading the team in minutes, played on both the powerplay and penalty kill, and is third among Canuck defenceman according to ExtraSkater's quality of competition metric, which measures the percentage of time on ice played by forward competition.

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Canucks Weekly Prospect Report - December 5th, 2013

Josh W
December 05 2013 10:26AM

Welcome back to the Weekly Prospect Report. This past weekend was a big one for the Utica Comets, who went to Abbotsford and came up victorious twice (in front of a largely pro-Comets crowd). Meanwhile, the OHL and WHL prepare for the World Juniors. In the NCAA McNally, Hutton and Labate are all continuing their strong play, and with Rodin's almost at a point-per-game in the SHL, there's some good stuff to talk about.

As always, follow me @nuckprospects on Twitter for the latest in prospect news and feel free to send me feedback on anything prospect-related you wish me to cover.

Without further ado..

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The Vancouver Canucks Through 30 Games

Dimitri Filipovic
December 04 2013 01:53PM

Image via Matthew Henderson

Man, where does the time go? It seems like it was just a few days ago that we were patiently drudging through the preseason, eagerly awaiting the return of meaningful hockey. Remember when Hunter Shinkaruk was scoring sweet goals, and Yannick Weber was looking like a competent NHLer? That was nearly 3 months ago now, crazily enough.

We're now over 1/3 of the way (36.6%, to be exact) through the 2013-14 regular season, as the Canucks played their 30th game of the season on Tuesday night against the Nashville Predators. As you'd expect, there have been some notable peaks (see: 5-1-1 Eastern Conference road trip), and some ugly valleys (1-4-3 stretch, with just 15 goals over that span). Overall I think they've have performed roughly around the expectations I had for them, but I feel like this opening part of the season has served as somewhat of a wake-up call for those of you out there expecting the Canucks of old. Things have changed, and expectations need to be tempered.

We'll get into this in rather excruciating detail just past the jump, but it has become abundantly clear that the team we're watching these days doesn't quite have that other gear that it once did. Their margin for error has shrunk, and as a result we've seen them take some difficult losses due to mistakes they used to be able to get away with. That's not to say "they suck!" or "their window has closed!!", because I actually still think they're a pretty competitive team. There are certainly reasons for optimism and room for improvement.

I'd recommend you pour yourself a big cup of coffee, settle in, and get nice and cozy for this one.

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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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