Canucks Army GDT #61 – Blues @ Canucks


The NHL is back, which is very cool. While the Olympics were a blast – I most certainly enjoyed watching many of the world’s best players play together, under different circumstances than we’re used to seeing here in North America, not to mention the patriotic feelings I had when Team Canada got the job done – it’s good to be back on the daily grind.

And when it comes to the Vancouver Canucks, “grind” is a pretty good operative term, because that’s exactly what this season has been thanks to all of the injuries and turmoil. Yet despite all of that, they enter this final 6 week stretch of play with the potential for something of a clean slate; they’re on the periphery of the playoffs at the moment, and plenty of the questions we have about which direction they’ll go in moving forward should be answered soon enough (particularly at/around the Trade Deadline).

Despite the fact that the Canucks haven’t played a game in over two weeks, things are status quo. It’s fitting that their first opponent back from the break is the professional hockey team from St.Louis, because a lot of people in these parts are currently singing the Bluuuuuuues. (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:30 PM PST

TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific

The Canucks

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This is a weird situation. I mean, it’s totally not weird at all that Ryan Kesler is injured because that seemed like an inevitable outcome that was just looming over everyone’s heads in Vancouver like a big rain cloud. Given the laundry list of injuries that the Canucks have dealt with this season, it’s kind of amazing that Kesler was the one guy that managed to hold up for as long as he did.

Unfortunately, his stretch of good health ran out in Sochi when he hurt his hand blocking a shot. During the semi final against Canada CBC showed Kesler arriving to the rink with a massive bandage covering it, and reportedly, he was telling people following the tournament that it was broken.

If it is in fact broken, I suspect he’d be out for somewhere in the range of 4-6 weeks which would effectively end his season. He leads the league in ice-time for forwards, and plays in every situation for this team, so suffice it to say that if he missed any period of time at all they’d be totally boned.

I’m not in the business of spreading rumours – I’ll leave that to E5 and HockeyyInsiderr – but there’s some rumblings out there that the team was awfully close to moving Kesler to Pittsburgh before the break, with Brandon Sutter and Simon Despres coming back in return. I have no idea if it’s true, and I don’t want to spend time at this exact moment breaking that situation down, but it just goes to show that the team and player are in a weird spot.

This morning Jason Botchford asked the question of whether Kesler had himself asked for a trade (which would seem like one of the only reasons the team would be willing to move a guy that is the heart and soul of this team, and an ideal fit for the coach they brought in just last summer).

Botch also went on to wonder why definitive news re: the extent of his injury has taken so long to come out. Given the technology and quick turnaround we have for these things, we should in theory know by now. My guess: they’re working the phones feverishly trying to come up with some sort of trade, and if news breaks that Kesler will be out for a while, that could change the leverage situation (and in turn, the asking price on whatever deals they’re trying to strike). But that’s just one man’s guess.

In case you missed it, Henrik had flown back to Sweden to attend some sort of personal matter. It’s impossible to know just how much good the 3 weeks off did for his injured ribs until we see him in action, but I figure he’ll look much closer to the ‘HENRIK SEDIN we’ve come to know and love’ than the ‘henrik sedin that’s in visible pain’ from the most recent time we saw him on the ice.

It’s a little bit mind-boggling that, were he to miss this game, the Canucks would trot out the murderer’s row of Jordan Schroeder, Zac Dalpe, Brad Richardson, and Kellan Lain down the middle. On the one hand I want to see Henrik Sedin play because he’s a joy and because he could potentially stop this thing from getting embarassing, but then again, I kind of want to see how this turns out..

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And that streak will continue, as Roberto Luongo finds himself riding some pine in favour of Eddie Lack tonight. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as most teams are using their back-ups in their first game back from the break as the goaltenders who were overseas try to get over the jet lag. I know that the Kings (Jonathan Quick), Bruins (Tuukka Rask), Avs (Semyon Varlamov), and Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) are all employing this strategy.

Luongo should get plenty of work down the stretch as the team only has 3 back-to-back situations down the stretch.

Let’s get to their underlying numbers:

Corsi Close % 51.7% (10th)
5v5 GF/60 2.21 (18th)
5v5 GA/60 2.19 (13th)
PDO 100.0 (15th)
5v4 GF/60 4.36 (27th)
5v4 SF/60 58.0 (4th)
4v5 GA/60 4.33 (3rd)
4v5 SA/60 40.2 (1st)

The Blues

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The St.Louis Blues are 39-12-6. While I do still continue to think that they’re overrated by many people – they’re deep, tough, gritty, and defensive-minded so in theory they’re the perfect playoff team, right? – who aren’t paying close enough attention, there’s no doubt that there’s a massive cliff standing between them and the Canucks at the moment.

But one thing I do want to point out is their possession data, which has been slipping for a while now (as shown below). Luckily for them, they continue to ride the high of the ever-so-potent PDO drug, and as a result they haven’t stopped racking up wins and points. 

They’re a very good hockey team and there’s no doubt about it, but they’re not quite *as good* as they appear to be on the surface, and I’d wager that we’ll be hearing a lot about how them sending so many players over the Sochi (8 by my count?) did them in once they slip up and lose in the playoffs. It’s going to happen, and when it does, I want you to remember that there’s a deeper, more legitimate reason to it than that.

But you keep on keeping on, Talking Head Guy.

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Anyways, here are their full season underlying numbers:

Corsi Close % 52.0% (8th)
5v5 GF/60 2.80 (3rd)
5v5 GA/60 2.02 (7th)
PDO 101.7 (5th)
5v4 GF/60 7.71 (4th)
5v4 SF/60 49.7 (18th)
4v5 GA/60 4.65 (5th)
4v5 SA/60 43.7 (3rd)

[Stats via]

  • Marsh

    While this team probably isn’t going to go 16-6 and hit 95 points, a couple of losses right out of the gate would help to ensure the Canucks don’t do anything foolish like trade Corrado and a 2nd rounder for Jokinen.

    Hopefully the Olympic break doesn’t curb the momentum…

  • Marsh

    Odd the difference between a Stanley Cup contender and a team that needs to be blown up is 0.3% Corsi close.

    Seems like special teams might make a difference in the increasingly goal challenged NHL.

  • andyg

    Wait, Kesler for Sutter and Depres? You’ve got to be kidding. Even if trading Kesler was a good idea — which I don’t think it is — even if he’s forcing a trade — which I’d be puzzled about as the losing hasn’t been that long here — why would you give him up for a third line center and a promising but pretty unproven defenseman? At the least if we’re going to gut the team we should get some high picks. This makes no sense to me.

    So Kesler played the Finland game with a broken hand? Jesus, he didn’t learn the lessons of the SCF?

  • andyg

    So Kesler is….DAY to DAY and all his Olympic teammates are surprised he was able to finish the tournament. Well I am very angry that he “rehabbed” and gutted out the rest of the tourney so he could get a medal made out of… Let’s say Jack!

    I admire Hank for realizing that going to Sochi would be the wrong decision and believe Kesler was pig headed for continuing to play for the US. Is Backes going to be easier on the Canucks tonight because Kesler was so brave? It’s a joke and I wish there was a way the club could fine him for “conduct detrimental to the team ” for at least inflaming an injury and risking greater injury while under contract with the Canucks.

    A team desperate for wins and healthy centers now has one of their best out because he was to stubborn or ignorant to pull himself out of the US line up and think about the team that is financing his life style. The no trade clause should disappear and he should be dealt. I have never been down on Kess during anytime in his Canucks career, from early injuries, signing tender from Philly or last two years of injuries, but this makes me hot!!!

    • andyg

      “I have never been down on Kess during anytime in his Canucks career, from early injuries, signing tender from Philly or last two years of injuries, but this makes me hot!!”

      I’m surprised based on the 2.5 paras above this that you are more offended by his desire to represent his country than his willingness to sign an offer sheet with 1 of the 29 “enemies”.

      Not that you should be offended by either…

      • Mantastic

        Representing your country is great, but a player has a contract with the team that pays them. My guess is a contrarian like yourself would have slammed Henrik for playing for Sweden and sitting out with the Canucks.

        Kesler is a professional hockey player in The NHL and his first responsibility is to the Canucks. Period! I guess since he has been secretly moaning about being a Canuck so now he is going to give MG a couple of teams and try and squeeze a narrow trade. If he is such an all out tough player…., wave your no trade and let Gillis get the best deal.

        Something tells me Detroit or NY…. Good to see all you”Canucks “fans defending a player that chooses to endanger his ability to show up for work. Being tough is one thing , being a Professional is another and a professional knows who is paying for his life style which Iis pretty darn good.

  • andyg

    If Kesler has indeed requested a trade, I can’t imagine we’ll get much for him. The team might finally improve when we get rid of his selfishness and vanity.

    • Mantastic

      Yeah we will totally improve by removing the teams best player, best penalty killer, best shutdown player, who plays more minutes than any other forward.

      People need to look at this for what it is. Its just a rumor. There has been nothing to show that it is anything but.

      Now would I trade Kesler? Yes, but only for a overpayment that addresses the needs of the team.

  • acg5151

    So when Tavares blows out his knee or Price hurts his groin they’re just tough Canadians but when Kesler plays hurt he’s selfish and arrogant? I don’t think he’s smart to do it for his own longevity or the team but isn’t it a bit hypocritical to laud the warrior spirit in good ol’ Canadians and hate it when it doesn’t suit us?

      • Mantastic

        Do you know the difference between what you’re writing and what it means? Price apparently did play injured in the tournament, including in the last two games (which means he still started ahead of Luongo). Kesler is supposed to have done the same thing, gotten injured early in the tournament and kept playing. Didn’t Henrik do the same for us, get injured, come back to soon and keep playing with those broken ribs?

        What I’m saying is that it’s more than a little hypocritical for us to ask/expect Canadian players to “tough it out” but think that others are traitors because they’d deign to play for their country.

        The reality is that Kesler is a competitor no matter who he plays for — blocking shots on an empty net, killing a penalty, or a yawning cage against Finland. It’s a little rich that Canucks fans should jump on him now with this rumor and possible trade out there when he’s no sign of quit when just about the rest of the team has been either injured or going through the motions. If we do trade him we need to get picks or young players, though as others have mentioned the math is hard to make work.

        • Mantastic

          you seriously think a goalie and play through a groin injury?! Babcock said he didn’t know Price was even injured. Price wasn’t injured during the olympics (2 shut outs) and he definitely didn’t play with a groin injury, which he has now…

          comparing kesler playing with an injury to tavares which got injured and stopped playing is just laughable and to price when he didn’t even get injured during the tournament!

          find your narratives somewhere else, because that’s completely BS.

          • Mantastic

            Why don’t you respond to the actual “narrative”? Which is holding Kesler to a different standard than Canadian players. Or you can continue this little rant in your own little mind, whatever floats your boat.

            So Price got injured on the plane coming home did he?

          • Mantastic

            wtf are you even talking about, my response was never about the false narrative you’re forcing that we hold kesler accountable differently than other players. my response was your ludicrous idea that you were comparing him to price and tavares, playing through injury…

            Kesler played injured through the last 2 games olympics, i don’t know anyone else who did. canuck fans are mad because that jeopardized their regular season. Paul Martin broke his hand and he stopped playing after the game, which is the sensible thing to do. in playoff scenarios, i’m sure they would be happy that he did play through the injury but not in a tournament that doesn’t help the team…

            Price got injured taking the 2 shots during practice yesterday. it was a 5 – 0 cycle drill to start practice… you can blame therrien for that mistake. so yeah keep making up false narratives to “support” your false ideas, it’ll help a lot