Canucks Postgame: Telegram… Land Shark

On Thursday night the Canucks lost, once again, to the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks just can’t seem to get over the hump against this Sharks club, which at least to my eyes appears to be bigger, faster, and better where it counts than Vancouver is.

We’ll get into it more after the jump.

Over at, the numbers paint a bleak portrait of a game in which the Canucks got curb stomped. Curb stomped might be putting it kindly, it’s more like they were the Krusty Burglar getting pummeled repeatedly into the pavement by Homer in Krusty makeup.

The Sharks outshot the Canucks five-to-three with the score tied, while out-attempting the Canucks eleven-to-six. The Sharks outscored the Canucks three-to-zero in score close situations, while attempting 23 shots to Vancouver’s 10. Even though Vancouver spent much of the game trying to level the score, they were thoroughly out-corsi’d (not to mention out hustled and out played, which is the same thing).

If you want to take a positive out of this game, I suppose you could fantasize about a day when John Tortorella works out a game plan that frustrates the Sharks as the Canucks figure out how to occasionally mix in a 2-1 victory over a superior club. Either that or you can commend the Canucks for only giving the ever dangerous Sharks power-play three opportunities on Thursday night, an improvement over the eight opportunities they gave them in the season opener. But honestly, if you’re looking for silver linings the pickings are slim.

I guess the play of Mike Santorelli counts, but really, that was probably his last full time outing with the twins for a bit (I assume Kassian will get a shot there off the bat, and then Burrows will be healthy). The good news for Santorelli is that he certainly looks like a credible NHL player through five games and he’s obviously impressed Tortorella. As some of Vancouver’s regulars return to health, perhaps he’ll get pushed down to the fourth line where he’d represent a massive upgrade over Tom Sestito.

The Sedin twins were the only two Vancouver skaters who came out ahead on Thursday night in terms of shot attempt differential. Dan Hamhuis continued to play like someone is slowly poisoning him, as another uncharacteristic mistake from the usually steady defenseman led directly to San Jose’s third-goal.

The Jason Garrison – Hamhuis pairing, which was so, so good last season, struggled mightily in this one. It’s not weird for the Sharks to expose Vancouver’s lack of depth – that’s what happened in the season opener for example – but it’s concerning for them to lay such a beat down on the top-end of Vancouver’s roster. That’s what happened on Thursday…

Ryan Kesler, for example, was on the ice for 16 shot attempts against and only 8 for. That sort of thing used to be unheard of, but it’s become increasingly common since Kesler’s injuries became more regular and serious. Is he an elite play driving center anymore? I think that’s basically the biggest existential question facing the Canucks this season. Through five games he’s shown that sometimes he still can be – he was in the opener, and against Edmonton last Saturday. But he hasn’t been that player the past few games, and he wasn’t in limited action last season.

So, yeah, I think we’ll have to wait another 25 games to really diagnose where Kesler is at, the good news is that he’s in the black by the possession data despite facing tough matchups and difficult usage. The other good news is that though he’s failing the eye-test somewhat, he’s also been snakebit by the percentages (925 PDO so far) which might explain why his play hasn’t impressed fans and the media this season…

Needless to say the Richardson group and Dalpe’s line were pummeled on Thursday, and the Sharks put up an even-strength goal against both of those lines. When an elite team with a lot of depth like the Sharks gets a goal against your fourth and third line each, it really leaves the twins running uphill. They didn’t have enough to pull the rest of Vancouver’s forwards kicking and screaming to victory on Thursday night.

Anyway, the Canucks aren’t in bad shape long-term. The goaltending hasn’t really been there for them at even-strength yet, but it will be because Roberto Luongo is as steady as they come. Or at least that’s true once the calender flips to November. The Canucks still look like an above average even-strength club, particularly because Vancouver has some horses on the back-end and the twins are just so ridiculously good at hockey. Also Vancouver’s special teams have been impressive (and they might be silly good short-handed). 

So, yeah, these repeated losses at the hands of the Sharks are probably pretty demoralizing for Canucks fans. For the team as well, I’d imagine. But hey, I’ve seen nothing from the Canucks yet that has disabused me of the belief that they’re safely a playoff team this season, and a playoff team that can maybe make some noise with a couple of meaningful forward upgrades. Oh and another positive: the Canucks don’t play the Sharks for another 13 games.

  • Kes will be fine Torts has him playing down low –its a huge adjustment to his speed game. 26 goals -60 pts &heavy work without a Manny replacement- and 52% corsi – is a good bar Your mistaken, the key question IS can Luongo regain his elite form –The Nux have e been covering up sub par def. Play (turnovers &giving up high q chances) with unreal goaltending. IF lui regresses (as I predict) -they will be in a fight for a wild card –Phx &Ana are equals…92-94 pts without superLui.

  • The Canucks just aren’t good enough. they have not gotten more talented, or faster or more determined. And as usual, when one Sedin is going the other is invisible, or both. Then again, what does Gillis know about winning in the NHL? Gillis is the guy who said that someday the fans will all look back and see how special AV and the group of guys was. Look at Av now…not likely Gillis. the team you got now is the same as last year, and they’re special alright…specially not good enough.

  • argoleas

    Wowee. The #’s support what I was seeing, a good old fashion beat down. The Sharks feasted on the Canucks, and will continue to do so till they get a real 3C and some healthy bodies back. Of course, the Sharks were ALSO without 3 of their regulars this game but still layed a smack down in Van.

    The Kes dilemma is a bit scary, frankly. Personally, I think he got injured against while blocking a shot on the Cgy game. He hasn’t skated the same since. If he’s healthy, then he prob just needs some time to adjust to playing hockey again. Otherwise, this teams screwed.

  • Big Cap

    Back To Reality.

    Vancouver wins 3 straight against NON PLAYOFF Qualifiers including two squeaking comebacks and everyone is ready to celebrate another “Presidents Trophy Banner”.

    However, when faced against an equal or better opponent, this club is clearly out gunned and out manned.

    The window has closed for this team.

  • argoleas

    Looks like Santorelli could be our 3C. With Higgins/Hansen or Booth/Kassian as wingers, that line should be able to hold its own. We’re going to need a lot of injury luck this season if we’re going to stay competitive.

    Is it just me or has Bieksa been our best dman? And not only by virtue of the others disappointing. Hopefully he’s not injured. He’ll probably have to play through it if Edler’s suspended.

  • Origamirock

    Can somebody call Mike Gillis and tell him that in sports, you win when you are more skilled, more faster and more determined, not the opposite. This team’s window not only closed, but it’s fully shut like a tripped bear trap. They have gotten nothing but worse after the finals, and unloading key guys after that year was the last nail in the coffin. They had half the components that year, traded them away and kept the useless half…and here we are , neck deep in the abyss of mediocrity yet again. Every team in the league that wants to win is trying to build on facts while the Canucks seem to build on blind hope. Gillis is better off writing a letter to Santa for a better team, cause he sure as heck isn’t going to build one.

    This era is turning out to be another bloody waste of time. By the time the bandwagon stoners wake up and the team is gutted, it will be half a century of futility. Get ready for the big 50 people, it’s coming. Someone also needs to tell the Sedin that the C stand for Captain…not camouflage. Their defense don’t play defense, their Captain doesn’t know how to captain, their team doesn’t work as a team, they don’t draft well, they don’t trade well, they don’t develop well and up until now they never coached well.

    Ah, the Canucks, always trying to win the poker game with stinky cards. Don’t know when to hold ’em, don’t know when to fold ’em.

  • @Dan I don’t see the evidence for Luongo regressing so significantly, unless you weight his performance last season more heavily than his body of work since 10-11, which doesn’t seem particularly reasonable to me.

  • acg5151

    This Vancouver team is like those guys we all see in our sporting lives. The guys who think they’re hotshots when they play and pick on the noobs or women, but then fall apart when faced with an opponent who has the skill and will to put them in their place. The Canucks are just like those guys. They’re good against sub par teams, but none of them can cut the mustard against better teams.

    You can’t teach passion and the will to win and skill. It’s born in some athletes and the only way to acquire those players is to acquire them. And since the Canucks are god awful at drafting and developing players, and good at trading away good assets, it’s no surprise that their incompetence has caught up to them…again. The pathetic thing is that each and everytime failure stares them in the face, the Canucks seem to do what they always do, ignore, ignore and make excuses. Mike Gillis has absolutely no clue about what it takes to win in the NHL’ highest level, that is evident. Patrick Roy was out there, but I knew the Canucks would never go out and get a proven winner, they never have and never will. Instead, the organization is akin to 3 blind mice, the blind leading the blind.This team not only needs to be gutted, it needs to be relegated to the minors.

    • Big Cap

      “Patrick Roy was out there, but I knew the Canucks would never go out and get a proven winner, they never have and never will. ”

      John Tortorella has won a cup more recently than Patrick Roy.

      • Big Cap

        Roy has won it as a player. He has won 4 cups. He knows what it’s like to win as a player on the ice. Let’s call that for what it is. Torts as much as I respect him as a coach has never done it as a player with his own two hands and feet. AV is by far the worse coach, even after leaving, his stench of mediocrity still lingers. and look at how his Rangers are doing. They are playing just like he is as a coach, clueless, stubborn, and can’t see the forest through the trees.

        AV will be lucky to last the whole season there. The New York Canucks are the same ones that are here, average, unmotivated, without a winning culture. Av is gone, and now the sights are set on Gillis, and the core of guys that have been here the longest. This organization is no different than Trevor Linden and his band of country clubbers…just like many of the folks who reply on craigs-list, nothing but a bunch of TIME WASTERS.

        • acg5151

          “Roy has won it as a player. He has won 4 cups. He knows what it’s like to win as a player on the ice. Let’s call that for what it is. Torts as much as I respect him as a coach has never done it as a player with his own two hands and feet.”

          I don’t disagree with a lot of what you say (I count myself as one of the more cynical Canucks fans around here), but this is plainly ridiculous. You seem to be saying that only those people who have won the cup before are capable of winning it in the future. I’ve got to think you’re able to see the flaws in that argument.

          Roy won the cup through unbelievable goaltending the first two times, and later had Sakic/Forsberg/Bourque etc helping. What’s his advice going to be… “Just do what I did, Varlamov..” “Hey Mackinnon, be like Sakic more.”

          Gretzky won cups as a player. How well did that hire go for Phoenix?

          Coaching and playing are different things, and there isn’t much to suggest that being good at one means you’re good at another.

          None of Julien, Quennevile, Sutter, or Babcock won the cup as players, and all had lengthy coaching careers with a couple of stops before they won the cup as coaches.

          So yeah, I’d say Tortorella’s experience winning the cup as a coach in Tampa bay is more applicable to winning the cup as a coach than Roy’s experience winning it as a goalie.

          • acg5151

            Oh please, i never said that a great player can also automatically become a great coach. You found Gretzky as an example to back your case. Wow, you’re right, now it’s my turn. AV sucked as a player, never made it to the NHL. Guess what, he still sucks as a coach and botched his one and only chance as a cup. Now i guess I’m right again cause i showed you an example that proves my point.

            Also, if you go and ask Sakic about Roy, he’ll be the first to tell you that without ROY, there would be no Cup regardless of what other players were on that team. It’s no coincidence that when the Avs were the Nords, without ROY, how many cups did they win? Another point that proves my point.

            Roy was a brilliant player and a successful junior coach. It won’t be a surprise if he does win a cup as a coach…and NO, I’m not saying every great player can be a great coach, before you try to put words into my mouth again. And for that would it be uncalled for to say that fatso Gillis who’s never even made the NHL himself sucks as a GM? Look at what he’s done here. Oh wait, are you going to find an example of a player agent who’s become successful in the NHL as a GM just cause you may happen to love Gillis? LOL

  • acg5151

    What is it with the negativity around here? Just because the Canucks got outplayed in a game. When the Canucks win a game, I don’t see these posts. ‘The window has expired.’ Alright, Yoda. Since you can see the future I guess we should all just give in to typical Nucks fan futility, self loathing, and whining.

    There’s only one fanbase in the NHL more pitiful and negative than ours right now – the Oilers. We have given in to negativity about our team and it’s pathetic. You guys have actually bought into the trash that the rest of the 29 fanbases around the league have been spewing about us ever since 2010-11. I hate to say it but I’m sick of seeing self-defeatism from this fanbase continue to grow every day.

    “Blow it up!” “Fire Mike Gillis” “Blame it on Luongo!”

    I remember when this exact same team used to outplay the Sharks every game. They will get back to that. Henrik and Daniel are still great players. Luongo is still a great goalie. John Tortorella has always been a good NHL coach. The Canucks are always awful in the beginning of the NHL season. They will get back to winning soon.

    I’ve never been to a Canucks game. I don’t even live in Canada. You don’t see me crying about this team. As a matter of fact, this team is 3-2. Last I hears, that’s a winning record.

    Maybe this team doesn’t have what it takes to win a cup, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy watching the two best Canucks ever, the best Canucks goalie, the best Canucks defensive group ever. They are going to have down games. That doesn’t mean that it’s all over. As far as I’m concerned this team could very well make one last push for a cup. If the 1982 team made it to the Finals maybe this team can to.

    Last year everyone was laughing at the Sharks and saying they needed to tear it down and rebuild. All of a sudden they are a cup contender. The power of narratives.

    • Big Cap

      You’re right. We should
      ” keep the same old!” Give Gillis a 20 year contract!” ” It’s never Luongo’s fault!” ” Let’s enjoy mediocrity!”


      PS. Don’t compare the Sharks to the Canucks. They don’t have the invisible twins, sad sack Kesler, Leaky Luo, and incompetent Gillis.

      • acg5151

        This team isn’t mediocre. This core is the best core we have ever had and just because of a couple bad seasons doesn’t mean I’m about to give up on it. Henrik and Daniel are not invisible – the team wouldn’t have even made the playoffs without them. Ryan Kesler has been injured for two seasons basically. It’s not like he’s just going to suddenly just be the Selke winner (Only Selke winner in Canucks history ever) from 2011. He needs time and not being injured to get back to that form. Luongo is the greatest goalie in Canucks history and is the only reason the team got to game 7.

        There’s no reason why this team can’t compete for the division title. There are a lot of guys like David Booth and Chris Higgins who have been snakebit over the last couple of seasons.

        PS: Until last half season, the Sharks were a lot worse.

        • acg5151

          A couple? 2 for the last two years, what about the other ones where they lost to Chicago in the 2nd round? The Sedins have been here for thirteen years. Thirteen. That fluke run to the finals where they were exposed by Boston was a blip in the chart. Why does everyone compare the Canucks to the worst teams? Do you really think the Canucks look better when you compare them to equally if not worse teams? It doesn’t matter if the Sharks were history’s worse team, they are better now and the Canucks are worse and worse.

          And yes the Sedins are INVISIBLE every when the play offs arrive. Individual awards and presidents trophies are nothing to brag about. This is a team game, the only thing that matter is the cup, any player will tell you that.This team makes the playoffs because of other factors. You see the Sedin put the puck into the net but you don’t understand who got into the dirty areas to battle to get them the puck. You can’t see the things that happen before the goal is scored. Before torts came, The Sedins weren’t even allowed to kill penalties, or even try the shoot out. They were on the PP but they were god awful. And who can forget their wonderful leadership during the finals when Daniel was punching Marchand’s glove with his face. It was an insult to the city to have someone like that for a captain of the team.

          Competing for the division title? Is that all you’re looking forward to? You must be easy to please. The team won 2 Presidents Choice cups and what did that get them in return? Respect? LOL. Take your rose tinted glasses off man, unless you want to see 45 more years of mediocrity…or….do you like mediocrity?

        • Origamirock

          I agree with you, the negativity is suffocating. Having an opposing view is one thing, going out of your way to selectively and maliciously ignore history is something else. The comments here used to be a place of reasoned analytic discussion. If the rest of you hate the Canucks so much, please go and read Fear the Fin. They cover a “winning” team, whose players don’t “disappear” every year in the playoffs. I’m going to continue to enjoy the articles here, but the den of venomous negativity that is the commens section is just not worth wasting time or energy on.

          • Origamirock

            What is Negativity to you is Realism to others. Not everyone likes to think a half empty cup is “half full” Just because you believe it’s a basket of apples doesn’t mean everyone else has to believe that as well. That’s why they call it “opinions”

            As for disappearing and winning and losing, it’s pretty much black and white. It’s all there in history. a win is a win, a loss is a loss. A duck is a duck is a duck, let’s not try to call it a pig, shall we? What has this world come to when everything is subjective? That is why the world is in an absolute mess. Everyone says everything is “great” We see it everywhere, everyday. Sorry, but if everything is great, that means nothing is bad. And if nothing is bad, than nothing can be great. This is why the world has no chance, because if there’s one thing mankind has a hard time believing, it is objectivity.

          • Origamirock

            The world is in an absolute mess because a hockey team didn’t win a game and its fans don’t care, they are happy to get on with their lives? Thankfully people such as yourself don’t have a life and are here to remind us how messy the world is.

      • Origamirock

        then it sounds like it is time for you to move on
        i have watched through the thick and thin since 1970 . all i hear is you only fall the best of the best so go find one and enjoy. because

        • acg5151

          It’s only a game? Unfortunately, that’s how your Canucks look at all the games they play. It’s only a game, it’s only a loss, it’s only a cup. Loser mentality only breeds more losing.

    • Origamirock

      “I remember when this exact same team used to outplay the Sharks every game. They will get back to that.”

      This isn’t the exact same team, though…

      The window has closed.

  • Origamirock

    “I’ve seen nothing from the Canucks yet that has disabused me of the belief that they’re safely a playoff team this season, and a playoff team that can maybe make some noise with a couple of meaningful forward upgrades.”

    The first part seems reasonable.

    But the second part, while technically fair, is pretty unrealistic.

    What kind of meaningful in-season forward upgrades can one expect?

    And does it make any sense to give up good assets for another rental?

    There still isn’t a logical reason to expect the Canucks to get out of the first round…

    • pheenster

      Actually, I’ll give you a reason.

      The Eastern Conference.

      I’m working on a new theory, one which will be proven out (or completely discredited) on the upcoming road trip. It goes like this. With a few exceptions, the Eastern Conference blows goats almost top to bottom. The Western Conference playoff seedings are in no small part going to be determined by who racks up the most points by pummeling hapless Eastern Conference opponents. If the Canucks can be better at doing that than the Sharks and the Kings, then there’s a reason to believe that they may grab home ice in the first round (not that that’s helped much the last couple of years, but you gotta start somewhere). If we can stay away from the Sharks in the first round, take out LA (who I still think are overrated) and then who knows. The playoffs are in many ways a crapshoot anyway. It’s not always about who the best team is, it’s about who’s playing the best right then.

      Flimsy? You betcha. But this is supposed to be fun, not life and death. Some of you would do well to remember that.

      Another thing you folks venerating the Sharks would do well to remember: San Jose has a more humiliating playoff record than we do. If there’s a team that can be counted on to cough up a giant hairball when it matters the most, it’s them (even more so than us).

      • pheenster

        Psychologists all over town are starting to get upset that their patients are leaving them to get their emotional needs met here instead of in their offices.

        My DSM V says the people here using definitive statements are self-aggrandizing to make up for some self-image issues.

        So, good luck with that, I guess.

        • acg5151

          Get the quips in while you can UC…

          Some people need longer to accept reality than others. That’s cool.

          The time to believe in delusions about Clarkson, Horton, Cullen, Gordon & Grabovski has passed.

          The time to believe in a meaningful reset and youth movement for 2013-2014 has passed.

          There will be no choice but to look at the org depth chart, lack of pre-UFA upside and aging core soon enough…

          If you want to hang on until the end of the season (April), go for it.

          The window has closed.

          The pretentious one has spoken…

          • acg5151

            Let me ask you this then: while a lot of us can agree this team is not going to win the Stanley Cup, is there not a reason to watch this team outside of derision?

            Santorelli has 4 goals this year already. He actually looks really good and has since the pre-season. There are guys who show little track record of success who for whatever reason bloom in to impact NHLers. I actually am starting to believe this will happen with Santorelli.

            As a Canucks fan, I have come to live with certain realities: a Stanley Cup would be a dream, but I can’t watch a season expecting it. That kind of expectation actually ruins hockey for me. Don’t get me wrong, I want the Canucks to win the Cup. But I enjoy watching the sport more than that. Thomas Hertl is fund to watch. Watching the Sharks, who are so far superior to the Canucks in every way, is actually fun to watch. I cheer for the Canucks. I don’t live through them.

          • acg5151

            To be honest, the main thing I am hoping for this season is that the Canucks do poorly enough to incite meaningful change with the organization.

            First and foremost I care about the next contending Canucks team.

            And I’d rather wait 2-4 years than 5+

          • pheenster

            Meaningful change = Gillis getting fired. Did that guy run over your dog or something? Your feelings towards him border on the irrational.

            Early days yet but so far, his bargain basement free agent signings and new coach seem to be doing OK. I will cheer for Gillis’s continued employment just because it bothers you so much.

          • pheenster

            You have weird fixations…

            Meaningful change wouldn’t end with the front office.

            It may very well be letting the Sedins walk, trading/buying out Luongo and embracing a rebuild…

          • pheenster

            For a guy who constantly complains about the management of assets, letting the Sedins walk seems remarkably shortsighted. Letting them know that they’re not part of the future, getting them to waive their NTCs and trading them at the deadline? That would be a viable course of action (not one that I necessarily agree with, but at least viable). Letting the team’s two best players take a powder with nothing in return? Seems irresponsible to me. Same with spending a whole lot of Aquilini’s money to make Lu go away without a viable plan to replace him.

          • pheenster

            You’re not following me.

            You’re saying let them walk at the end of the year (for nothing). I’m saying trade them at the deadline before the end of the year (for something).

            If the Sedins are done here, I like my plan better and I fail to see how it’s dragging anything since they’d be off the team sooner.

          • andyg

            I think a 2 to 4 year rebuild is correct. For me though it is not front office that needs any change.I think that Gillis did a great job of taking what talent was hear and coming very close to a cup in 2011 so I have no problem with thinking that this can happen again. If they had of won you would all think of him as a hockey god.(one game away)

            I think it is important though not to completely blow the team up.Having a solid core of veterans to bring youth into helps with their development.Schneider leaned on Lou and their is no reason to think Lack won’t benefit in the same way.The Sedin’s are the type of pro’s that I would want around my youth as well.For me all the rest are up for grabs.

      • pheenster

        “With a few exceptions, the Eastern Conference blows goats almost top to bottom.”

        Yeah, I don’t agree.

        Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh are all really strong teams capable of competing with anybody in the west. I think Ottawa, MTL are on the way up, with maybe Columbus and the Islanders if things break right for them. After that, I think Toronto is going to fall off but they’re still a wildcard. (In that they’re hard to predict. Washington is still around too. The only teams I think are massively overrated in the east are NYR and Philly.

        I’d put Chicago, SJ, LA, and maybe St. L on the level of the top 3 teams out east. After that?? Vancouver….. Winnipeg…. Minnesota? Edmonton?

        I’m not going to go ahead and say the east is head and shoulders better or anything, but I don’t think there’s any basis to say the East as a whole sucks.

        • pheenster

          Thanks for proving my point. Detroit, Boston, Pittsburgh and then a bunch of question marks at best, bottom feeders at worst.

          And the opinion of anyone who puts Vancouver on the same level as Winnipeg isn’t to be taken seriously.

  • pheenster

    Whew! That was close. I almost succumbed to the urge to kill myself in a black pit of despair after reading the comment section today.

    Instead I want to give props to Mr. Drance for this line:

    “Dan Hamhuis continued to play like someone is slowly poisoning him”

    I come here for smart analytics and clever prose. That was a win.