Want to know what Fin’s achilles heel is? LOVE. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
This is a regular 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. Welp, that was maybe the weirdest Canucks forward lineup I’ve ever seen on Thursday night. It’s not every day your #6/#7 whipping boy defenceman gets to take shifts on the 3rd line with a journeyman centre and the Dutch Gretzky. It looks like they were matched up against the Torres-Chipchura-Lombardi line most of the night and came out even in the Corsi battle, which is as impressive as the 2 points the Canucks managed to take out of Glendale.
2. Poor Chris Higgins. As Dimitri pointed out the other day, the guy is being matched up against the other team’s top lines, and is getting mercilessly slaughtered in possession. He misses his American friends, and it raises the question of whether or not he should be re-signed in the summer. Perhaps the injury that kept him out of last night’s game has had something to do with his defensive drop-off. At this point, putting him out against top lines is like when they put the goat in the T-Rex cage in Jurassic Park. "What’s the matter kid? Never had lamb chops?"
3. While we’re talking about possession, the only players to put up positive Corsi ratings against St. Louis were the Sedins, Burrows, Garrison and Hamhuis, probably because they are all stone cold killers (with hearts of gold). Couple a brutal first period with defending a 3-0 lead in the 3rd against a strong team like the Blues and you get an ugly night in the fancy stat department.
4. There was a lot of complaining about the Canucks defending their lead against the Blues, probably because they almost let it slip away. Truthfully, the two goals that went in were flukes. As Cam wrote about the other day, every team in the league changes their style of play when leading, and this great post by Travis Yost points out exactly by how much based on possession. The Canucks are middle of the pack when it comes to possession while leading in a game, but the shift in style feels more dramatic because while trailing they’re the best puck possession team in the league.
5. Given how dominant the team is while trailing, it’s fair to criticize AV for taking the foot off the pedal so much with a lead. But beyond that, I’m more in awe of the overall possession numbers he’s managed to squeeze out of a group that’s been missing Ryan Kesler and David Booth for the majority of the season. Who says you can’t draw blood from a stone?
6. The trade deadline is a couple of weeks away, and given the plethora of injuries both major and minor on this team right now, Mike Gillis has to be shitting bricks. Or not — I don’t know what his diet is like – but my point is this: he has a lot to think about. The numbers say this team is still a contender, and if they can get healthier, the right deal could put them in great shape.
7. I’m of the opinion the Canucks need to make a move for an impact player rather than a depth 3rd line centre type. A guy like Derek Roy would be a terrific fit. If we’re thinking big, Dan Boyle is available in San Jose. Heck, Bob McKenzie even has the Canucks in on the Jarome Iginla sweepstakes.
8. It’s been reported that the asking prices in trades is through the roof right now since nearly every team is still in the hunt. If that’s the case, with limited assets to deal and a goalie on the books that everyone knows they’re looking to move, Gillis may be hamstrung for the time being. It may just fall to the group that’s in place to try and get it done. More important than waiting for some saviour to arrive via trade is getting a 100% healthy Ryan Kesler in the lineup for the playoffs.
9. A deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs for Roberto Luongo still seems to make sense to some in the media. With the way Mikhail Grabovski is being misused by Carlyle, I’m starting to see the basis of a deal that might make sense. Grabovski is overpaid (5.5M cap hit for the next four seasons), but he’s the kind of defensively sound/offensively gifted centre the Canucks are pining for. I’m also a big fan of what Nikolai Kulemin brings to the table.
10. Finally, the Canucks power play is officially dead last in the NHL at 13.3% efficiency. There’s not much else to say about that. Is there any precedent for firing your special teams coordinator midseason? I thought I read on Twitter that changing coaches at this point in the season guarantees you a Stanley Cup?