Canucks Army GDT #59 – Canucks @ Canadiens

Weise-y, baby! [Image via Dave Stubbs]

The Vancouver Canucks are currently dealing with a lot of injuries, and as a result, they’ve had all sorts of difficulties trying to stay competitive over the past handful of weeks. There’s some good news coming out of the doctor’s office, but there’s also some news which, will not surprising, still stings. The Olympic break can’t come soon enough.

The Montreal Canadiens aren’t really dealing with very many injuries, but they’ve still managed to struggle lately because a Bond villain has taken over their team and is slowly but surely running them into the ground. At least they’ve got PK Subban, who’s infinitely more exciting to watch out on the ice than anyone the other team currently has. Then again, they’re signing cheques in Douglas Murray’s name, so that may very well negate all of the aforementioned fun.

This is truly shaping up to be a barn-burner between the 23rd and 24th ranked offenses in the NHL. Read on past the jump to pump yourself up! Weise-y, baby!

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 4:30 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

The Canucks Injuries

After my lengthy rant about how disturbed I was to see him look like a shell of himself while clearly labouring a in a bad way, you can probably guess how I feel about this news. Henrik Sedin should not be playing hockey right now, and his taking some time to rest and recover is in no way an indication that he’s not *tough*. I know there’s someone out there that thinks that, but that person probably isn’t reading this blog because.. well, he/she probably doesn’t know how to read in the first place.

As for just how much time he’ll get to lick his wounds, we don’t know yet. After this morning’s skate said "he’d prefer Henrik didn’t go to Sochi but it’s a delicate situation and when it comes to representing his country the player will decide". It’d be nice for him to take those couple of weeks to prepare himself for the stretch run – especially since the team that’s paying him $6.1 millon this year desperately needs his services – but he know how much playing in the Olympics means to these guys, and as Thomas Drance pointed out, Henrik probably knows this is his only chance to win anything this year. Can’t blame a guy for trying. 

We still don’t quite know what Dan Hamhuis is out with, but a follower pointed something interesting out to me yesterday. If you look at the 4:15 mark of the video attached below, you’ll see Hamhuis take a skate to the head from Alex Burrows while he’s in a prone position on the ice. If he was dealing with some concussion-like symptomps, I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It would explain how sudden his scratch the other night was, and why we don’t have any definitive word on his timetable yet.

It’s nice that Higgins and Richardson will be back in action tonight, particularly since the penalty kill really didn’t look like itself in Boston the other night. They’ll most certainly help out on that front. Also, it appears that Ryan Kesler has avoided sustaining any sort of noteworthy injury following his "heroic" attempt to block slapshots standings in front of an empty net with the clock winding down.

Let’s get to their underlying numbers:

Corsi Close % 51.7% (10th)
5v5 GF/60 2.27 (16th)
5v5 GA/60 2.16 (11th)
PDO 100.4 (10th)
5v4 GF/60 4.12 (29th)
5v4 SF/60 57.9 (4th)
4v5 GA/60 4.22 (4th)
4v5 SA/60 40.0 (1st)

The Canadiens

As a fan of hockey, what Marc Bergevin and his staff have done to the Montreal Canadiens really genuinely pisses me off. Last season, they were one of the biggest surprises in all of the league, as they went from a young team that wasn’t expected to do anything of note to a team that put forth a thoroughly successful regular season, making the playoffs.

They got bounced in the 1st round by the Ottawa Senators, and while they were beaten by a superior team, the way they lost made it seem as if it had happened because they were not physical or gritty enough to succeed in the postseason.

It’s because of that, that the narrative shifted for them. They went from a young, exciting team playing with house money, to a one that wasn’t able to put its place in the league into perspective. Instead of realizing that they had stumbled into something with all of these undersized guys who were genuinely legitimately hockey players, they got swept up by this mythical depiction of what a "playoff team" should look like. So they started adding bigger players, hoping to beef their game up. All they wound up achieving, though, was constructing a team that got markedly worse at playing hockey:



Ouuuuuuuuuch. A popular phrase on this platform has become "low point of the season", and I think it’s safe to say that the Montreal Canadiens reached theirs back on January 25th, when the Washington Capitals had more goals scored than they had shots on goal well into the 2nd period. Anyways, here are their full season underlying numbers:

Corsi Close % 46.9% (26th)
5v5 GF/60 1.77 (29th)
5v5 GA/60 2.15 (10th)
PDO 99.3 (22nd)
5v4 GF/60 6.17 (15th)
5v4 SF/60 51.7 (14th)
4v5 GA/60 4.18 (3rd)
4v5 SA/60 46.4 (6th)

[Stats via]

Gameday Reading

Words truly cannot express how bad I think that Douglas Murray is at hockey. I distinctly remember there being a report that the Canucks were "kicking the tires" on him back in the summer, and I vehemently pleaded with the team to pull the proverbial gun away from their head. Because signing Murray to a contract basically would’ve been the hockey equivalent to that. 

Yet somehow, he has been even worse this year than even I thought he was capable of being. He plays the softest minutes imaginable, and gets absolutely eviscerated in them. I would assume that the opposition licks their lips every time they see him hop over the boards and onto the ice. And for some reason, the Montreal Canadiens continue to play him as if he’s in possession of some incriminating Marc Bergevin photos. 

It’s either that, or it’s a case of the Habs buying into an NHL myth. That’s a really strong piece of work that I’ve linked there, and here’s the money quote:

"As the data gets better, we slowly inch toward a paradigm shift in hockey. Eventually, we will define a defenceman who lacks the passing and skating skills to begin transition as a poor defenceman, not a stay-at-home defenceman. Until then though, players like Murray will continue to get a regular shift and players like Diaz will be labeled soft and defensive liabilities."

    • argoleas

      Still say it is better to get into the playoffs than not, especially if the younger guys get to play any time, for experience. Otherwise, not sure that just missing the playoffs is worth the incrementally better draft position. But then, an almost quick exit would still net a mid teen draft spot.

      Then again, they may get hot just in time, go deeper, play the veterans 40 min/game….

      • Marsh

        There are potential benefits to missing the playoffs aside from a higher draft position.

        For example, perhaps an actual organizational reset would occur.

        If Aquillini was displeased with the limited playoff revenue of the last two years, imagine his displeasure if that stream was cut off altogether.

        In all likelihood, this team is more than one move away from getting back to the top of the mountain.

        Missing the playoffs may cajole the organization to be more aggressive with its offseason makeover.

        By the same token, there are potential detriments to making the playoffs unless the Canucks happen to get lucky 4 times.

        What if this team wins a round against a superior opponent?

        Do we really want this organization to use that as proof that the first year of the reset was successful…even though it’s quite clear this team has declined every year since the SCF…

        • Brent

          Unless things markedly change — and there’s been little evidence that they will — and all the injuries are recovered from and the team somehow recovers past form, I’d rather get a higher draft pick (and in each round) than get bounced in demoralizing fashion through the playoffs. It might be that everything gets turned around and we go into a roll in the playoffs. But to limp in as we are now, no, I don’t think that’s helping anything.

        • Marsh

          “There are potential benefits to missing the playoffs aside from a higher draft position.

          For example, perhaps an actual organizational reset would occur.” NM00

          Hey, we agree on something.

          IIRC Gillis has 3 1/2 years left on , I imagine, an expensive contract. Torts is Gillis’ man and he has 4 1/2 years left on his contract. How willing is Aquilini going to be to get rid of the$e guy$?

          Here’s the top rated asst GMs:

          Jim Benning, asst GM, Boston, player evaluation, trades and free agent signings, played for the Canucks for 4 years (is this bad or good?)

          Jason Botterill, asst GM, Pittsburgh, Mr Everything to Ray Shero, capologist, pro-scout, player evaluation, hockey trades

          Paul Fenton, asst Nashville, former pro scout Kings, instrumental in bringing in many of Nashville’s core players, primarily through the draft, but also through trades and free agent signings. 22 of 34 players used by the Predators in each of the last two seasons have been “homegrown.”

          Ron Hextall, seems to be a reserve if Holmgren gets gassed but had a good record drafting as asst GM in LA.
          …these guys have extensive experience at both the AHL and NHL level.

          Lesser candidates are:
          Claude Loiselle -apparently smart but does one want a Leaf anything?
          Dave Poulin, ditto
          Pierre McGuire -bwa ha -I kill myself sometimes!


  • Dimitri Filipovic

    I would rather have Sauve than Murray. My goodness is he bad.

    The Canucks should just not play Daniel tonight, as he has shown he is rather useless without his brother. Get both of them rest while you can.

  • Brent

    After reading the Murray article you linked to I am even happier about the trade. Weise wasn’t happy here and given his corsi and the fact we need support on defence, even if only for the short term due to injuries, I think a puck moving defenceman is a good thing. And there will likely be 1-2 defensemen traded over the summer, so he may be here longer term.

    Not sure what to think of tonights game. Be good to win, we are in danger of not being Canada’s best team, so wins in the next 2 games would be good.

    I suspect Henrik will play in the olympics, but just not as much as he would normally. Hard to tell him he isn’t allowed to, Swedes are a very nationalistic bunch.