Canucks Army Postgame: Show some mercy already for crying out loud

Is this really necessary?

I was pretty critical of the performance the Vancouver Canucks put forth against the Red Wings last night. They were shut out by a team that has been middling at best this season, which was also happened to be playing in the 2nd leg of a back-to-back. It wasn’t so much the result that irked me, but moreso the way in which the game unfolded. Generating 4 shot attempts in a 3rd period when you’re down by 1 is pretty much unforgivable at this level, no matter who you are or who you’re going up against.

As far as the scoreboard, it was much of the same on Tuesday night. The Canucks once again lost by two goals on the road, continuing their downward spiral. This time around, though, I’m fairly at peace with what I just watched on my television over the course of the past 2.5 hours.

All things considered it was a relatively respectable performance against one of the league’s very best. They clearly didn’t have any near enough fire power to actually win the game itself, but they avoided embarrassment in putting forth what I’d deem a respectable performance if nothing else. Believe me when I say that things could’ve been significantly worse.

While I have no issue with how the team itself handled their business, I do have one point of contention which we’ll get into just past the jump.

The Rundown

The pride of Vancouver, BC, Milan Lucic scored the opening goal just a handful of minutes into the contest. Initially you’d think, "well either Jason Garrison or Alex Edler are surely to blame!" when you see that they’re on the ice for a goal against. And while as fun as that normally is to do (to go along with being correct, especially in Garrison’s case), that’s not the case this time around.

Take a look at Ryan Kesler’s backcheck on the play. Milan Freakin’ Lucic beats him down the ice and finishes the play off, while he goes for a casual skate back, finally turning on the jets as he enters the frame near the end of the play to make his effort look better than it was really was. If a Russian player does that – or I guess more prevelantly for the Canucks, Zack Kassian does that – he gets absolutely skewered by everyone for it (to go along with probably getting benched). 

In the 2nd period, Daniel Sedin found himself in all alone against Tuukka Rask after two Bruins collided along their own blueline. The result was one of the most pitiful shots I’ve ever seen someone attempt in an actual in-game breakaway (yet still not remotely approaching a Sedin attempt in the shootout). He basically half-heartedly shot the puck right into Rask’s pads, and I truly believe that the team would’ve been better off if he had just lazily shot it into the crest of his jersey and made him hang onto it for a faceoff.

I say that because the Bruins went right back down and scored a power play goal (what’s that?) to make it 2-0. Considering all of the offensive struggles this team has had recently, I’d say that was a game-breaking sequence. 

Daniel, for the record, has now attempted 61 shots on goal in the past 18 games since legitimately scoring a goal. This was the last *real* goal he scored (I refuse to count the one he got credited for at the 1:40 mark here, because come on now). I’ve spent a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what on earth has happened to him, and my findings are that I have no idea. He’s basically the NBA stars in Space Jam that’ve had all of their powers sucked out of their bodies at this point. 

While Daniel Sedin can’t buy a goal to save his life, one guy that is much more fortunate is Raphael Diaz, who finished off a sweet shift in the OZ by sneaking a softie by Rask: 

Diaz had himself a really fantastic debut for the Canucks, leading the time by being on the ice for 26 corsi events for. He only saw the Bruins attempt 14 shots against him, as he and Stanton actually came out looking pretty golden while seeing equal amounts of Krejci’s line and Bergeron’s line.

I will point out that he 9 shifts in the offensive zone (to only 3 in the defensive zone), but that’s what we should expect from Diaz. If he’s used correctly – in a sheltered role – I think he’s going to come out with some very impressive numbers.

After having a goal by Brad Marchand eventually disallowed due to Torey Krug giving Luongo the ol’ Rikishi Stinkface (NSFW, and don’t open this if you’re an overly squeamish individual), the Bruins put the game away with their 3rd goal of the night. It was a Dan Paille breakaway, which happened as a result of two things: a) a horrendous decision by David Booth to force a pass at the end of a long shift instead of making the easy play and dumping it off to a fresh Zack Kassian, and b) Franklin Corrado having his soul ripped out of his body by the NHL level (more on this in a second). 

Following the game Roberto Luongo very nobly took all of the blame for the loss. While I commend him for it, I think it’s pretty silly. The goals the Bruins scored were for the most part attributable to defensive breakdowns (in some cases stemming from all of the injuries which’ve forced players that shouldn’t be playing to, well, play). He basically needed to be perfect on this night for the Canucks to have a chance at winning, and while he wasn’t, the fact of the matter is that his effort is all the way down the list of things that went wrong.

The Numbers

Image via Extra Skater

In the last paragraph on Luongo I mentioned that there’s players being forced into action that have no business being there, and when I say that I’m mostly referring to the Corrado/Sauve pairing, which was once again completely and utterly rocked by the opposition.

They were on the ice for a combined 21 shot attempts for and 39 against, which brings them to a 34% CF pairing over the past two games. Corrado was bailed out following a brutal blunder last night by Lack, and in this one he wasn’t so fortunate. I’m not completely sure what’s happening with Dan Hamhuis, but sadly I think this pairing from hell is something that we could very well see more of in the final two games leading up to the break. 

I still think the world of Corrado, but he has shown by now that he’s way out of his depth at the NHL level. He’s a 20-year old blueliner with 43 games of AHL experience under his belt, so this isn’t exactly shocking news. I still have faith moving forward, but for his and the team’s sake he’ll hopefully get some more seasoning at Utica in short order.

The Conclusion

If I have one issue with what went down in Boston, it’s the handling of Henrik Sedin. In the lead-up to the game in Detroit, I wrote a passage about how I was expecting the team to give him a few more days of rest before finally putting him back into the lineup against the Habs on Thursday. I get that there’s some urgency and desperation with this unit right now considering all of the losses that are piling up, but I was still surprised that they’d force him back into duty for a back-to-back scenario. 

While his numbers – a 63.3% CF at 5v5 – are still impressive, and he’s clearly the team’s best option at C regardless of how hampered he may be by his various ailments, it was brutally difficult to watch him out there on this night. The cameras kept panning to him on the bench after a shift, grimacing on the bench, essentially folded like a worn-out accordian. 

A professional athlete (unless he’s a rare breed like Vince Carter) will almostly certainly say he’s good to go if you ask him how he’s feeling. I do think that if you’re a coach you need to establish lines of communication with you player, and give him some say in the matter. Especially a guy like Henrik Sedin, who’s the team’s captain and has built up quite the track record.

But I don’t understand how you can, with any sort of conscience, watch him stopping short and sticking his arms out to protect his wounded ribs, and keep sending him out on the ice. At some point you need to make the executive decision to shut him down.

Here’s a cold, hard truth: 

Have at it in the comments section with the "window is closed" and "reset" chatter in the comments section. Before doing so, however, I do suggest reading The Stanchion’s post regarding trades from earlier today.

      • antro

        Not you too Pollyanna!

        I mean this as more of a general comment as opposed to a response directly to you.

        Wouldn’t it be easier to be realistic all year round as opposed to homeristic prior to the season and reactionary once the reset predictably failed?

        Good lord this place is going to be negative if/when this organization finally accepts its fate…

  • antro

    Before the “window is closed” and “everyone needs to go” comments…anyone know what the Canucks PDO is in January?

    On the bright side, the Canucks have gotten much younger with all the injuries and call-ups…the reset is on! Aren’t we having fun!

  • argoleas

    The coach doesn’t believe in the team… the players don’t believe in themselves… oh well it was a good run these past several years… now for rebuild mode.

  • antro

    @NM00: Yeah, I know that link. I just remember that the rolling 10 game PDO from last week or so showed December was a large measure of (good) luck, and I wouldn’t be surprised if January is a large measure of (bad) luck.

    The possession numbers have been cratering since the injuries started. This isn’t a bad team if everyone is healthy. The question is will the key players fully recover?

    • Mantastic

      While it’s true the possession numbers have been falling since the injuries, the Canucks’ early season possession respectability was at least somewhat built upon terrific health, riding the big guns and a disproportionate number of games against the East (relative to other Western teams).

      As well as artificially propping up the close numbers while down by a goal. And the Canucks continue to be very good at this.

      Note that the Canucks have spent A LOT of time down by a goal and are in some dubious company.

      As far as treating a regular season marathon like a sprint and the futility of Utican callups, the Canucks have nobody to blame but themselves.

      Sure, there’s been a little bit of bad luck with injuries.

      And, yes, the team is certainly good enough to make the playoffs.

      But it doesn’t change the fact that the window has closed, the reset has been predictably underwhelming and evaluating young talent is the kryptonite of the superhero general manager…

  • antro

    Despite the stretch since the end of December, this team is the same as I expected to start the season.

    They aren’t as good as December and not as bad as they are now.

    The break coming up will allow for some injuries to heal and a mini-camp to get some systems stuff straightened away.

    At the end I expect they will still be a 6-8 place western team and will be hard pressed to get out of the first round. But the same can be said for a few other very good teams.

    What continues to concern me is the team’s puzzling and continuing shift from talent to “stiffness” and all this talk about mystical “mental toughness”.

    I won’t pretend to know if a window is closed or try and convince you my prognostication skills are vastly superior to yours until I see how the off season goes.

  • antro

    With both Minnesota and Winnipeg winning tonight we are now 4 points out of 7th and just a couple up on Phoenix, Dallas, Winnipeg and Nashville. We might well go into the Olympic break 12th in the West, though to be fair LA continues to suck as well. We may have a shot at getting Bennett or Draisaitl yet…

  • antro

    “All things considered it was a relatively respectable performance against one of the league’s very best.”

    It’s a sad time in Canucks-land when we’re having to look at a 3-1 loss from the perspective of ‘this one’s not so bad’, hehe. Also kind of sobering to see how far we are from “the very best” these days.

  • pheenster

    There’s a Stephen King story called The Mist where a bunch of people get trapped in a grocery store. There’s this old lady in the grocery store who starts going on about how they’re all gonna die. At the beginning, everyone tells the old lady to get lost, shut up, etc. but as time goes by and it becomes apparent that they’re screwed she starts to gain a following. By the end of the story she’s this spiritual witch lady who wants to use a kid as a human sacrifice to appease the evil spirits.

    This place is the grocery store. NM00 is the old lady. Just don’t let him start talking about human sacrifices.

  • antro

    I think when the coaching staff mentions “mental toughness” they are basically saying this team isn’t motivated enough. If the teams down two in the third you’d expect score effects to kick in, but they can’t seem to motivate themselves to even try to tie it, and it’s really frustrating to watch.

    They need to trade Garrison ASAP

    They need to go after Ott and sign him to a three-four year deal

    They need to trade Bieksa to a contender for a right handed PMD plus prospects. Shattenkirk maybe?

    I’m not saying these deals will fix the team, but anything along the same lines will get the team set to accept the future.

    • pheenster

      Why on earth would the nucks want to trade Garrison or Bieksa?! That’s the craziest thing Ive heard. We just traded for diaz to help build our blue line when it comes to the PP, and Garrison is our “go to” guy on that back end unit. Bieksa is another canuck you simply cannot trade. That guy bleeds blue and green. He’s the longest serving canuck blueliner and he hasn’t missed a step in any of the last 5 years. If youre going to trade away a defenceman, its either edler or weber. With diaz here theres really not a lot of use for Weber other than being a replacement if there’s any injuries.

      Also, signing Ott would be rather foolish as well. We already have kassian, sestito, Lain, all in which are young guys. Vancouver is done trying to add rentals now. Or even get biggr for that matter. What we really need, is young talent, and scoring. Maybe a guy like Palat off TB? Matthias off FLD? or do I dare say it….yakupov?

      • Mantastic

        Bieksa does bleed Canuck colours, but he is 32. At 32 he is the oldest member of our D-Core, and he has 2 years left on his contract (after this one). If we hold onto the guy for another two years and he decides to leave, what then? What if we hold onto him, sign him to inflated cap numbers, and he ends up performing like the Sedins have? Wouldn’t you want to trade him while he is in his prime, and get back a few younger, cheaper, and upward trending players? He is exactly the type of piece a contender would want, and I bet they’d be willing to pay a ransom for him.

        Garrison has been having a terrible year, but dont assume I dont like his game. He is a rock back there, but with Edler, Hamhuis, and Stanton on the left, he is being forced to play on his off side. Do you want to see that continue for another 2-3 years? I just think if I had to choose between Edler, Hamhuis, and Garrison, Id choose the two olympians. The third guy would be traded for Offence.

        Now about Ott. If we are actually trying to contend over the next few years, all while retooling, I say we do add a veteran third line C. We can surround him with younger scoring talent. I like Horvat, but I doubt he will be able to play that role on a contender. Anyway, if we do add Ott, and Horvat shows he can score, maybe Torts can shift Kesler to the wing; and promote BO to 2LC?

        At the end of the day, I want this team to win the Stanley Cup. If Gillis has to trade the Sedins, Horvat, Kesler, Luongo, or whoever. I dont care. As long as it means that I get to celebrate that Stanley Cup victory with all you nuckleheads.

  • pheenster

    I don’t think anyone from the beginning of the year or the last couple years would argue that the Canucks don’t have the deepest prospect pool in the league, but the injuries this year have made that weakness important sooner rather than later.

    I would argue that the Canucks roster when healthy isn’t the problem, so much it is the quality or lack thereof available for call up from Utica.

    • pheenster

      At least they are trying to fix that by owning and operating their own minor league affiliate. It’ll take a few years for it become productive, if it does at all, but I think we will see the Canucks churning out players built for specific roles soon enough.

      What pisses me off is that the one guy that had a decent stint with this team, Archibald, hasnt been called up yet. I understand Corrado is a necessity, but Ferrerio and Lain? Those two are not better suited for this club than Archie are they?

  • andyg

    This is still a very good team when healthy. However there is no depth once injury’s started. Also the top players were over used in a season where the schedule is compressed. Most of our star players are wore out.

    The best thing to happen would be to miss the play offs and force some changes.

    • andyg

      That actually would be the most welcome news emanating from this sorry season, just as long as we don’t take the Edmonton approach to developing lottery picks…

  • pheenster

    Just sell some assets already (yeah, yeah, NTC’s, blah, blah). Just move them if you can but PLEASE, no rental players! At this point if we even make the playoffs we’re either loosing, uh, I mean playing the Blackhawks or the Ducks…

    Look ahead to the next couple years Gillis and start making those moves. As far as this year is concerned – it’s over!

  • andyg

    Acceptance is a good thing. I fast forwarded through the 3rd knowing the Canucks couldn’t score more than one goal. If anyone would have printed the line up card in not for this game, we all would have been going??? who… Who’s that, but that’s how hockey goes. Two things.

    Got to give Hank credit for toughing out the game. Shorthouse said and I agreed during second period that we won’t see the Captain anymore after he was slumped over behind the Bs net.

    Second…. Please beat Habs and Leafs! It will make the break tolerable and work much easier since I have to put up with Mon. and TO fans constantly.

  • andyg

    over used players become injured players. Lets get on with the rebuild, time to trade all and I say all our best players with something left in the tank. We need to blow it up, asp. Daniel should just retire at seasons end for the good of the team, he has nothing left, a shell of his former self. Kesler will get us the most in return still a great player but his time is running out. Surely we can deal Roberto, just get rid of the contract. MG has to be fired, no one will deal with him he’s a lame duck gm. Lets start gathering as many pics and prospects as possible and who knows maybe we can combine them and trade for a top end number one draft pick. We need that young franchise player to lead the next generation.

  • andyg

    Oh well, who can we pick at #6? Looks like right now, that pick belongs to NJ… who has to forfeit that pick… oh what? Nj has to forfeit the sixth overall pick? Why is that? Oh because their god-like GM hasn’t won a G-D thing in over a decade and stupidly contravened the salary cap rules in order to sign a guy who retired to play in Russia?

    I guess things could be worse.

    • antro

      After all of the self serving crap I read to reach this post…THANK YOU. The real homers only seem to like to mention our GM’s recent blunders. LA was in that sweepstakes too if I remember correctly, they were pretty pissed to lose it.

  • antro

    @NM00: I don’t disagree with the general tone and analysis, but I would say it in a different way (this GM is probably average at drafting, and to say that there is nobody on the Canucks right now he drafted is not evidence against, etc. etc.).

    BTW: you mentioned once Boston as a team that has drafted well, and yet I recently read a post (or tweet) by a Boston blogger that notes that, beyond the gimmes of the 1st round, since 2007, they have drafted very poorly. Yet they won a cup!

    I think talking about a complete rebuild is over-reacting, and probably won’t work without getting a Nathan MacKinnon or two. Question should be: are the Canucks going to give up on this season because of the injuries, and do a retooling? If so, should they dangle players like Burrows, Booth, maybe Kesler, or Edler to a contender with a solid young player or two (not picks), hoping that those with NTC’s might jump at the idea of moving to a contender.

    A funny thought occurred to me: maybe Kesler blocked the shot at the EN to make sure he doesn’t get traded!

    • andyg

      Chiarelli took over after the 2006 draft. He has one player in his current lineup that he drafted in 7 drafts.

      And he turned Kessel and Seguin into 3 above average players.

      But the regurgitated sound bite says you have to “draft and develop” well, whatever that means.

      In reality, drafting and developing is a coin flip. Some guys win coin flip contests, but instead of recognizing it, we call them good/bad GMs.

    • Mantastic

      there is no such thing as gimme 1st round picks. all 1st round picks have a chance to fail.

      later picks then the 1st round take a much longer time to develop. yes, some are write offs by now but you cannot truely evaluate 2010 and later picks right now because the window is too short, most are barely 20, thus only giving you a window between 2007-2009…

      boston also flips picks for much better rentals than any other team i know

    • Mantastic

      I didn’t write anything about drafting.

      I wrote “evaluating young talent”.

      Which includes the evaluations on Grabner, Hodgson/Kassian, talking about turning KConn into a forward before giving him away, his ass backwards Moneyball drafting philosophy that mirrors what JP Ricciardi was doing with the Blue Jays for 8 painful years, overdrafting overagers and making logical leaps to compare it to drafting college baseball players, continually privileging veteran bandaids to cover up organizational bulletholes, an unwillingness to live with the growing pains associated with prospects at the NHL level etc…

      • Marsh

        @ NM00

        “I didn’t write anything about drafting.”

        “overdrafting overagers and making logical leaps to compare it to drafting college baseball players”

        So which is it?

        How many times does one have to point out draft picks generally don’t play regularly until about their 4th year after being selected. That includes almost all the Gillis draftees -let’s wait. maybe you’re right -maybe not. Tanev, Lack, Erickson were “overagers” not even drafted. If Gillis has done anything, he’s been good at filling holes with low cost pickups, mainly in the bottom six. What hasn’t happened yet is the “develop” part of draft and develop.

        It’s pretty lame to blame the team’s trouble when rolling with significant injuries to important players. Vancouver is 5th in man-games lost to injuries, and 6th in games lost to key players. Chicago has the least game losses to key players, and Chicago and St Louis are in the 6 least injured teams. Contrarily, Pittsburgh has lost the most man-games to injury followed by Anaheim, perhaps reflective of their depth on the farm -or maybe the stat means nothing at all. 🙂

        What does this mean -well, I’m inclined to agree that the team is between the December machine and the January junkpile.

          • Marsh


            I’m no fan of Gillis’ top end moves but unless he is willing to give out 100million dollar deals to get guys like Parise and Suter no one else has been all that successful in the free agent market either, excepting possibly the short term. Certainly some players have contributed but not as part of an affordable rebuild. Gillis has added Hamhuis, workable Garrison, plus Tanev and Lack as dependable players.

            A few posters here have compared Nonis draft record to Gillis but that’s just not justified until Gillis picks have the same development time as Nonis’ picks. Bandied about are Grabner (took 3 years from being drafted to be a Canuck), Raymond, 2 years, Schneider 6 years, Edler, 3 years, Hanson 4 years, Kesler 2 years. Average is 3.3 years. That would mean only Gillis 2010 and previous draft should be having an impact. 2010 was the year Gillis’ first pick was in the 4th round (McNally). Previous to 2010 picks were Hodgson, Schroeder (and Sauve) and they are now playing in the NHL.

            As to whether Nonis or Gillis had/has a better farm team,:
            Here’s Nonis last AHL year:
            Here’s Gillis current AHL year:

            I don’t see that much difference. Gillis has certainly increased the scouting.

            As to whether the window has closed -yeah, so what? It’s closed for Washington, Ottawa, Carolina, Detroit, the Devils and definitely the Flyers, all of whom were in the finals in the recent past. Only Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh and Anaheim are riding the crest. Let’s get over it and realize no team perennially stays on top. If the Canucks play entertaining hockey, persistently make the playoffs at all, and eventually improve, I’ll be content. No choice is there?


  • Mantastic

    Gillis has done a great job with the team bring in players and trading for high end talent.
    The side show coach needs to address his own issues before he starts attacking other parts of the team.

  • antro

    @NM00: nice to see you’re off the “bad drafting” angle.

    To answer my original question: @Thats_Offside on twitter has a chart of Canucks’ rolling 10 average for shooting percentage. I don’t know if he’ll post it here. You won’t be surprised to hear that January has been pretty low, bad luck.