It’s Pareezy, baby.
This is a new Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you’d like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let’s start a textual relationship (wink).
1. Quick note on the game last night, other than the dumb reality that we now have to pronounce it Zach "Pareezy": would the result have been any different had Luongo started? Aside from a flurry in the 2nd period, the Wild barely threatened. The Canucks still would have won, but because Schneider played, the dumb "Luongo can’t play in Minneosta" narrative lives on.
2. I feel like I have to start with Christopher Tanev’s first NHL goal, which for me has been by far the most fun part of this young season. Through 9 games, the Canucks had been collecting points in a rather unremarkable fashion, lacking any real emotional victories. The Chicago game was supposed to bring that, but rang hollow. Seeing Tanev score his first goal, get mauled by teammates, and then realize he has no idea how to give a proper interview just felt like one of those moments that only happens a few times a season. The goal and the reaction on Twitter pretty much epitomized why it’s awesome to be a hockey fan. Somehow I imagine Tanev celebrating with an extra large bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and his favourite slurpee from 7-11, because he has the demeanor of a 16-year-old stoner.
3. In this week’s chapter of the goaltending controversy, Cory Schneider’s agent Mike Liut caused a minor stir in an interview with the Vancouver Sun’s Brad Ziemer. I generally agree with Thom’s take on this one. To me it sounds less like whining about ice-time and more like someone who understands the situation and is just looking out for their client. At the same time, I wouldn’t tread too lightly on this evolving story. Last year most of us were certain that Cody Hodgson’s complaints about ice-time were overblown ("How can having more quality centres be a bad thing?" Sound familiar?) pretty much right up to the moment he was traded. The only way the "two great goaltenders" situation can become a negative is if Cory Schneider starts becoming vocally unhappy.
4. And you know what, I wouldn’t even blame Schneider if he did. At 26 (he turns twenty seven next month), he’s paid his dues and then some. He’s deserved to be an NHL starter for the past two seasons. He’s right on the precipice of transitioning from a young player to one in his prime years. As an athlete, those are the years where you build your legacy. Will he be given the opportunity to do that with the Canucks? Those doubts must be starting to creep in. Of course, he was fantastic against Minnesota last night and no one would be surprised if he started against Calgary on Saturday, but it will be impossible for him to get 75% of the starts while Luongo is here.
5. If you listen to Ryan Kesler talk, it sounds like he’s still 2-3 weeks away from game action. If you listen to Alain Vigneault talk, it sounds like he could be back this weekend. This is just the way coaches are: they tend to get a little ahead of themselves when they see one of their top players back on the ice. A scene from last year’s HBO 24/7 comes to mind, where in Claude Giroux’s first practice back after suffering a concussion, Peter Laviolette tells him he looks like a "million bucks". I think the truth is probably somewhere in the middle, and we’ll see Kesler back within 1-2 weeks.
6. As per this stat from Jeff Paterson, the Canucks are rolling defensively, allowing very few goals over their last handful of games. This is mostly due to elite goaltending, but the defense has also gotten their shit together after a scrambly start. They’ve managed to win close games without Ryan Kesler, which is about all we can ask for. And unlike the second half of last season where they were getting dominated in possession and winning on the strength of goaltending alone, the Canucks have been a positive possession team thus far.
7. So far I’m finding few things more entertaining than looking up anomalous stats 10 games into a shortened NHL season. Here are a couple for the Canucks from Behind the Net: the strength of the goaltending is evident as most skaters are sporting an on-ice sv% around 0.95, with two polar exceptions: Manny Malhotra is somehow at a brutal 0.86, while Jordan Schroeder is a perfect 1.00, having not been on the ice for a goal against yet in 8 games. I don’t know what that says about Malhotra, but that Schroeder stat is likely a big reason why AV has taken a shining to him. As Paterson notes above, it helps when the team as a whole allows so few goals.
8. There seems to be a movement afoot to have Schroeder centre the 2nd line and move Kesler to the wing upon his return. I first read the suggestion in this excellent piece by Jeff Angus. It’s a very interesting idea, given Kesler’s effectiveness on the wing in the brief Mats Sundin era and Schroeder’s excellent playmaking ability. Fans have called for a playmaker to play with Kesler and Booth since that pair was put together last season.
9. The fine people over at NucksMisconduct (don’t tell Drance, but I write there sometimes too) have begun a campaign to donate money to a Vancouver non-profit dental clinic every time Zack Kassian gets on the scoresheet this season. It’s a great idea, and it would be great to garner a bit of press for this, especially from the big guy himself.
10. For the umpteenth time, the Canucks organization deserves massive props for Mindcheck.ca., and now also Hockey Talks, the month-long initiative with other Canadian teams to create a conversation around mental health. Canucks players and personnel have been sporting the t-shirts all week. These things are way bigger than hockey.