Fun story in the New York Daily News that ran Thursday, or at least a story with a fun quote from John Tortorella:
“I know the reputation from the outside looking in, when I wasn’t coaching here, everybody outside thought Vancouver dove and did some whining,” Tortorella said, according to NHL.com. “Our team is not going to dive. Our team has already been talked to. We’re not going to dive. I don’t think there is much whining going on either.
I can’t speak to the reputation that the Vancouver Canucks have created over the last few seasons, or whether they earned it or not. Every team in the NHL dives, and some teams dive more than others, and that’s okay. It’s usually more of a reflection of the player than an organizational philosophy. What some teams do well, without diving, is draw a lot of penalties. Getting powerplays is good. No team, not even the Canucks with an awful powerplay to start the season, generates fewer goals per 60 minutes on the powerplay than while at even strength. Failing having players that can generate penalties a lot, here’s the solution: Dive More. Take the fall, act hurt, get indignant.
This penalties issue has become a Real Thing over the last couple of days. It’s been brought up often by John Shorthouse and John Garrett on the Sportsnet broadcasts, plus last night’s poll question on the late Team 1040 show:
Tonight’s poll Q: Why aren’t the Canucks drawing many penalties? a) Not earning them b) Bad reputation
— Scott Rintoul (@ScottRintoul) October 25, 2013
Closer to a), I feel. Before the season started, I noted that some recently-deposed Canucks, including Mason Raymond and Keith Ballard, were both very good at drawing penalties. Ballard, as a defenceman, drew 10 penalties, and as a Canuck, drew 35 calls and took 30, according to Behind the Net. Defencemen are rarely positive when it came to penalty differential, but Ballard, through all his warts, was. (To get raw drawn penalties number at Behind the Net, you have to visit the “old site”)
As for Raymond, one of the most obvious things about his decline post-back injury is that he was no longer drawing calls. The Canucks never really replaced Raymond and he turned into an obvious project player as he struggled down the stretch last season at both defence and offence.
Powerplay opportunities per game for the Canucks, since 2007:
The Canucks were always in the top half of the league under Alain Vigneault. Does this have more to do with an organizational shift or something that the Canucks’ front office has overlooked when acquiring players? If you scroll through a list of leaders in penalties drawn over the last several seasons, you’ll find that there are some noteworthy divers (Dustin Brown) and some goal-scorers that always have the puck (Jeff Skinner, Steven Stamkos) and the occasional enforcer. But few Canucks. David Booth is the only Canuck that cracks the Top 40 for the Canucks in penalty differential between the years 2011-2013.
Check the early 5-on-5 drawn penalty leaders on the Canucks. Daniel Sedin, who has been consistently better than Henrik over the past six seasons (and possibly before that) is one of two Canucks that have drawn more than two powerplays. The other is David Booth, and that guy has gone done and got himself bit by the injury bug again.
- The individual players on the Canucks have never drawn a lot of penalties
- The Canucks, to generate more powerplays, need to tip the scales in their favour
- The current roster, with Booth out, has just one player in Daniel Sedin that is drawing calls
- To tip the odds, the Canucks must dive
Diving does not have to be a dirty word. Maybe some embellishments. If the team is going to have a diving reputation, they may as well benefit from the extra penalty calls that come with the diving territory.