The Canucks Week in Quips for May 3

Alain Vigneault lost the battle behind the benches in Game 1. (USA TODAY SPORTS)

It’s the playoffs, and my regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks lives on! 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. Well, the Vancouver Canucks got off on the wrong foot in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff tournament. Will they bounce back? Should we cry for them, or are they already dead? We’ve seen this movie before, and even though it has heart, it’s beginning to feel more like a football in the groin.

2. On the topic of groins, it’s beginning to appear like that is what’s ailing Cory Schneider, who wasn’t on the ice at all yesterday after three straight days of practice and apparent progress. After declaring himself fit to play to the media on Tuesday, we can only assume that whatever was ailing him tightened up after practice or was worse when he woke up.

3. This would be a bigger issue if Roberto Luongo hadn’t been sparkling in Game 1. He kept the team in it while the Sharks were circling in the first period especially. After the year he’s had, it’s exciting to watch Luongo get this opportunity in the playoffs. Unfortunately, there’s only so much he can do without goal support, and that’s becoming a very troubling trend.

4. Dating back to the 2011 Finals, the Canucks have scored 17 goals in their last 13 playoff games. They’ve become a team that’s easy to contain; if the Sedins and Kesler aren’t winning their match-ups there’s nothing to fall back on. If David Booth were healthy things might be a little bit different, though counting on Booth for offense is like relying the Blue Jays to win games, and I suspect this group just doesn’t have the depth at forward that it thinks it does.

5. To be fair, the Canucks actually had a dominant game on Wednesday night as far as the even strength shot battle went. That’s great, except for the fact they couldn’t generate as many quality chances as the Sharks, and the only line that was in the negative shot-wise was the one they needed the most. The Sedins were nullified by Marc-Edouard Vlasic on home ice where they should have the advantage. This series hinges on the twins for Vancouver, so that can’t become a trend. The good news is Daniel and Henrik have made a habit of silencing their critics after an outting like their last one.

6. The failure to get the proper match-ups on home ice falls on Alain Vigneault. To me, he looks completely flustered with his lines. He’s always been a notorious line juggler, but this feels different — rather than tactical decisions, it feels like he’s frantically searching for a lifeline. Why not match Henrik head-to-head with Joe Thornton? That’s what he did during the regular season…

7. That would free up Ryan Kesler to go up against Logan Couture, who is so obviously the Sharks’ marquee player now. The common sense move after a game like Wednesday’s would be to recognize that and adjust accordingly by putting your best defensive centre against him. We might see that tonight, but alas, this is Alain Vigneault.

8. The latest line shuffling has the Higgins-Roy-Kesler trio reunited. That’s all well and good, except that it necessitates a Weise-Ebbett-Kassian 4th line. I’m starting to rock back and forth just thinking about the "potential" of that line.

9. Earlier in the season, in this space, I wondered whether or not AV would trust Jordan Schroeder with a roster spot in the post-season, even with his relatively strong play. Well the answer appears to be no. Andrew Ebbett continually gets manhandled against whomever he’s matched up against and has no chemistry with anyone in the lineup, yet he continues to get the nod over Schroeder. Schroeder’s former line with Raymond and Hansen actually carried the Canucks for a couple weeks this season. Again, that pesky common sense…

10. It has just occured to me how negative most of this sounds, but I think it’s justified. I’m an optimistic realist: I’m always positive about my team’s ability to succeed, but I can’t ignore simple truths. Of course, everything could turn on a dime tonight. That’s the beautiful thing about the playoffs. 

  • Mantastic

    Is it absurd to hope that Ebbett leads directly to a terrible goal against tonight? And then we get Schroeder into the lineup?

    I am expecting we will see a big bounce back game for the twins. I do feel that we saw probably close to the best the Sharks have to offer in Game 1. Provided we can put together the best we have to offer tonight, I’m thinking will be headed to SJ tied 1-1.

  • billm

    JOrdon, I think you are just echoing the majority of the fan base. Why the hell is Ebbett getting ice time and Schroeder isn’t?

    I could see it if Ebbett was playing a decent defensive game and winning faceoffs, but he isn’t even doing that. Ebbett at center on the 4th line is a liability even if only deployed against the Sharks 4th line. If they get caught out there on an icing against the Couture line…..

    AV is more risk adverse than a middle aged insurance adjuster. For some reason Ebbett to him is the less “risky” choice than Schroeder. The problem of course being the Canucks have scored 1.3gf per game dating back to the Cup final and this is directly a result of the players Av puts on the ice. Schroeder may be a bit more risky defensively (but IDk the stats really reflect that) but his offensive upside is miles beyond Ebbett.

  • BrudnySeaby

    I think the biggest problem for the Canucks right now is that AV doesn’t have guts; at all. Essentially he is a very conservative coach. Almost a coward. He is so afraid of loosing that he is adverse to any risk taking, even the slightest.

    I cannot remember exactly which one it was, but on an article that Thomas wrote before the play-offs started, I commented that AV would never put Schroeder in the line-up. That is until he grows a pair or they go down 2-0, whichever comes first. Well, I guess we’ll find out (after) tonight.

    It’s unbelievable how AV failed to play the line matching game. Shouldn’t it be the coaches responsibility to grasp every little advantage you can get over your opponent?

    This is just a situational criticism of AV in relation to the last game. But the criticism to him should be both wider in scope and focussed on more details. Especially in the mainstream media.

    Knowing that scoring goals is a problem for the Canucks, AV chooses to play more defensively and prevent goals. But the team is not built for that. Why not play an up-tempo game and try to outscore the opponent instead of trying to grind out results? (Personally, I rather see the Canucks loose a 4-3 game with fun, open and attacking hockey, than them grinding out a 2-1 loss.)

    Also, his line combinations. Leading up to the play-offs he starts once again his favourite game of line juggling instead of making his choice and sticking with it. That way some chemistry could develop between players who haven’t really had much chance to play with certain line mates and in certain positions all year due to a bunch of injuries. No, AV chooses to turn on the blender. Worst of all, it doesn’t result in anything, except for more blending once they loose the first game.

    Powerplay. How is it possible that Jason Garrison is not on the first unit breaking ankles of the opposing players? Why are there not 2 defence men at the point? Why is Kesler not in front of the goal screening the goalie and battling it out? Or Kassian in Keslers place with Kesler, Roy, Raymond and 2D’s maing up the second unit?

    There are so many questions surrounding this team, mostly due to coaching choices it seems (and some GM choices). And I do agree with you Jordan that their scoring depth is, well just that, not deep enough. Higgins is really a great and hardworking player but he should be on our 3rd line, not on the 2nd line if counted upon for scoring.

    I’m a Canucks fan and will root for them, but it’s just hard to watch a team squander an opportunity like this, in part by being unprepared by their coach. The other part would be that the players have to work harder on the ice.