Will he do it? I don’t know, I ain’t got no crystal ball.
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. The Canucks went 3-1-0 this week, and a 3-2-0 overall record so far is certainly not a bad start under a new coaching regime. But as fun as it was to witness an ol’ fashioned Sedin-fueled blowout of the Oilers followed by two gutsy comebacks, judgement was being reserved until after the team’s matchup against San Jose last night. It’s still very early and I expect the Canucks to get better, but this past week may end up being a microcosm of the season to come: regularly owning the Oilers and Flames of the league while struggling against the San Joses, Chicagos and LAs.
2. Given the way the team is built with a mishmash of aging stars, free agent acquisitions, waiver wire fodder and only one or two real prospects, can we expect much more? Mike Santorelli has been terrific, but I’ve seen too many Jason Kings, Jeff Cowans and Jeff Tambellinis to expect his current 66-goal pace to continue. Still, with the amount of flack Mike Gillis has gotten for his pick-ups over the past couple of years, he deserves credit for evidently finding worthwhile players in Santorelli, Brad Richardson and Ryan Stanton.
3. I poked fun at Stanton in this space last week, partly out of ignorance and mostly because that’s just what I do, but he has looked quite good so far on the 3rd pairing with Chris Tanev. "Stanev" seems like a natural bottom pairing given the salaries and skill sets of the other four, and the fact that Tanev has appeared to be a bit over his head at times playing in the top four. Tortorella even seems to like the Bieksa-Edler pairing that was such a monstrous tire fire last season.
4. It looks like we’ll be seeing some Andrew Alberts this week given the Alex Edler suspension. If that’s a suspendable hit, I don’t even know what we’re doing anymore. It’s so easy to say "just don’t hit the guy in the head", but all of the responsibility can’t be on the guy throwing the hit in a game this fast. To say that Edler "threw a hit" wouldn’t even be accurate in this instance; he barely moves his body at all. If Hertl isn’t reaching for the puck in the middle of the ice this is likely a harmless collision.
5. An area where the Canucks are sure to improve in the very near future is in net. Outside of Eddie Lack’s terrific performance in Calgary and Luongo’s strong showing against the Devils, it’s been rather ordinary. A look at the on-ice save percentage of the Canucks skaters shows a lot of numbers in the 80s, and even poor Dan Hamhuis sitting at 0.765.
6. Abysmal goaltending while he’s on the ice is part of it, and that bounce off the referee’s skate against the Devils didn’t help things either, but something appears to be not quite right with Hamhuis thus far. Since we have several years of evidence to suggest the Community Man is as solid as they come and an elite possession player, we can probably chalk this up to adjusting to the system and move on. Much like the goaltending, this will work itself out.
7. Speaking of elite possession players, the Sedins have just been stellar so far in every respect. The way they spurred the comeback against Calgary on separate lines was great to see, and their performance last Saturday against Edmonton was vintage Sedinery. Everyone points to Ryan Kesler as the team’s most important player if they’re going to be a contender, but as far as the team actually producing offense on a nightly basis? Everything revolves around Daniel and Henrik.
8. I am pretty satisfied with what we’ve seen out of David Booth thus far. You can tell he’s getting back into game shape, but his possession numbers are good and he actually hasn’t been on the ice for a goal against yet. With the state that the forward depth is in, he’s a very important player for the Canucks this year.
9. In the post-lockout euphoria that was last year’s 48-game schedule, I had forgotten how much I enjoy seeing East/West match-ups. Seeing the Habs on the schedule for a Saturday night game just feels right. The upcoming 7 game roadie should be interesting, since the team hasn’t travelled to places like Philly, Buffalo and Pittsburgh in a couple years. That’s felt like a lifetime with this group.
10. I can’t let this week pass by without mentioning how Alain Vigneault’s New York Rangers were outscored 15-2 over 5 periods in California. Yeeeeesh. So much talk about how the Canucks would adjust to Torts, and it appears everyone was worried about the wrong guy. The thing is, even after 7 years I don’t know what Vigneault’s identity is as a coach. His teams just won a lot of games.