Canucks Army GDT #67 – Islanders @ Canucks

wang_snow (1)
Things are bad in Vancouver, but at least these guys don’t have the keys to the car.

There are lots of questions in Vancouver right now, as you’d expect from a situation that has gone south in a hurry. People are wondering which players will be back for the 2014-15 season. Even more rampantly, though, people are beginning to question whether we’re in the final stretch of the Mike Gillis Era in Vancouver (and as an extension of that, if John Tortorella’s days are numbered as well). 

Most of that stems from the rumours of the ownership’s meddling in the Ryan Kesler negotiations at the trade deadline. It’s difficult to decipher what’s true and what isn’t, but the general rule in these cases is that where there’s smoke, there often tends to be fire.

The team the Canucks face on Monday night in Vancouver, the New York Islanders, know a thing or two about meddling ownership and front office incompetence. Heck, Garth Snow and Charles Wang can’t even complete a routine fist bump. So how are they supposed to run an NHL team properly?

Sure, it’s apples to oranges, but remember: it can always be worse. We don’t have to look too far for a great example of that tonight.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST

TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific

The Canucks

[Lineup combos are via Daily Faceoff]:

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The lineup for tonight’s game will basically be the same one we saw on Saturday night against the Flames, which isn’t necessarily meant to sound as a good thing. After all, we’re talking about a cast of characters that managed to get 14 pucks on net over the course of 60 minutes against a team that’s 25th in the league in fenwick against/60 at 5v5. The Islanders are 24th in that category, and maybe the Canucks will be able to hit the 20-mark if they try hard enough. 

I said “basically” the same one because, while there’s no players going into or out of the lineup, there is a slight adjustment in the top-6 with Nicklas Jensen moving to a line with Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows instead of Kesler/Higgins (with whom he started out and spent the majority of time with in his season debut). For whatever it’s worth (which admittedly is not much at all), Jensen and Sedin had a 60 corsi for % in the 4:54 of 5v5 time they spent together the other night. 

One final note: both goals on Saturday were generated by the bottom-6, and the impromptu unit of Booth-Matthias-Sestito was easily the team’s most effective line (which, um, probably says something about the direction this season has gone in). There’s not much else to add other than that I have a thirst, and more Top Sixtito is the only way to quench it. 

Ryan Stanton and Brad Richardson are both still out, and both are considered “day-to-day”. 

The Islanders

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I could sum up the 2013-14 season for the New York Islanders in one word: “negligence”. Well, I guess you could argue “cheap”, too. Not exactly the ideal combination you’d like to hear when describing how a professional sports franchise is being run.

But how else do you describe evaluating the landscape at the end of last season (when they may’ve actually upset the Penguins in the 1st round had they had anything remotely resembling an NHL goaltender in net), seeing how things shook out this summer, and then settling for the Evgeni Nabokov, Kevin Poulin, Anders Nilsson poo-poo platter between the pipes?

Negligent, and cheap. What it has netted Charles Wang, Garth Snow, and the Islanders is the 29th ranked even-strength save percentage (.909, just 0.001 ahead of the Calgary Flames). In all situations their goaltenders are stopping 89.0% of pucks they face, which is the worst in the entire league, and their 3.33 goals-against-average is also the worst. 

And this is coming from someone who wholeheartedly and vehemently opposes giving out lifetime contracts to goaltenders, because of the volatility of their position. Completely foregoing it on the other extreme, is just as inexplicable though. Particularly when legitimately solid ‘tenders like Ben Scrivens, and Anton Khudobin were readily available in the summer.

Which is a total shame, because the rest of their roster – obviously before John Tavares got injured, and Thomas Vanek was sold off for spare parts – isn’t all that bad. Particularly in the Eastern Conference, which is totally wide open in the middle tier. There’s no reason they shouldn’t have been in the playoffs again this season, except for the negligence and cheapness of their decision-makers.

The Numbers

Canucks Islanders
5v5 Corsi Close % 51.8 (10th) 48.8 (22nd)
5v5 GF/60 2.09 (20th) 2.21 (18th)
5v5 GA/60 2.15 (12th) 2.74 (30th)
5v5 PDO 99.6 (19th) 98.4 (28th)
5v4 GF/60 4.39 (28th) 4.94 (25th)
5v4 SF/60 57.6 (4th) 49.4 (18th)
4v5 GA/60 4.53 (4th) 8.32 (29th)
4v5 SA/60 39.6 (1st) 47.9 (8th)

[Data via Extra Skater]

Gameday Reading

Before we wrap this bad boy up, I’d like to quickly pass along a good read by Tyler Dellow on why things aren’t nearly as bleak as they look for the Canucks these days. This season is basically a lost one at this point, but as he astutely points out, there’s full-on panic and hysteria moving forward may not be necessary.

“This doesn’t necessarily spell the end though. The Sedins still look dominant at 5-on-5, and the Canucks have their top four defencemen under contract for 2014-15. If they can fix their power play and their second line, it’s pretty easy to see them rejoining the NHL’s elite.
While it’s getting late in Vancouver, the window probably hasn’t completely closed and, given the parlous state of Canada’s other NHL teams, they’re probably still the most likely team to return the Cup to Canada in next year or so.” 

Just something to keep in the back of your mind when the Canucks are struggling through their next 2-1 loss, I guess.

  • JCDavies

    Unless you’re expecting Wang to run the Islanders at a loss (or have access to their books), I’m not sure from where all this “cheap” talk comes.

    “The Sedins still look dominant at 5-on-5”

    I assume Dellow means from the comfort of his basement looking at the corsis and completely ignoring goals altogether.

    Sedin, Sedin, Burrows & Booth at over $22 million next year…

    Hopefully Grabner nets a hat trick tonight as the Canucks can’t seem to even tank properly…

    • Peachy

      Did you even read Dellow’s post?

      His argument is built around goals for % at 5v5.

      The point he makes with respect to Kesler is interesting though, and may point out the reason that the Canucks are attempting to trade him.

      • Peachy

        Yeah but the timing of those 5 on 5 goals hasn’t exactly been there over the last couple of years. Sure the goals are there, but when? It’s even worse now that it’s spread to the powerplay. That’s your top guys at an advantage, and when their best should come forward from time to time. This team is almost killing itself trying to score according to Fenwick and Corsi stats. Eventually you have to blame the shooters.

        Kesler is the obvious choice to build an argument around because he’s the easiest to move. Plus there was rumoured trade request. Which was probably smoke and mirrors while the Lu trade was being ironed out. It’s pretty obvious he didn’t want to leave.

      • andyg

        Did you read the article?

        For starters, the Sedins 5v5 GF% is down as is the GF% for the rest of the team (sans Hank & Kes) for the last 3 years (relative to peak Canuck years).

        Not to mention that he writes an entire article without mentioning the fact that Kesler may be on the way out.

        You’re stretching if you think Nux management wants to trade Kesler just because he’s declining.

        Their job securities are very much tied to how this team performs in the near term and trading Kes will not improve that.

        Though I don’t dispute that Kes probably is in decline…

  • Peachy

    The Sedins are (were re: D. Sedin) playing great possession hockey (by the way, a good thing). They don’t seem to be doing the one thing they are asked to do above all else, though: put points on the board.

    I can’t even begin to understand why that is such a monumental task for them to do. I know they are on the decline, but 0 goals in how many games for Daniel? Zero goals for Alex Burrows? Even for declining players this makes no sdense. I can only look at what happened to Brad Richards in New York and conclude that Torts’ system is depriving the team of offence.

    Either that or Louisiana voodoo magic. Why does New Orleans hate us so?

  • andyg

    I don’t know that that’s a good read by Dellow. It’s fine to say that the Canucks’ top two lines were dominant 2008-2013 but aren’t we talking about this season? Either most of our top six forwards are not playing anywhere near what their ice time and salaries suggest or they are being very poorly coached and utilized (and it’s likely a combination of both). The defense has looked somewhere between adequate, sub-par and shaky. Yes injuries (and age) have played a role in all of this, as has likely a very poor match between the new coach and the existing players. But how is this current scenario a positive one in having all these players locked up for the foreseeable future if they aren’t actually producing?

    It’s easy to say Canucks fans are overreacting or jumping off the bandwagon. I know that I kept hope alive for at least half of this season. But I don’t think it’s a knee-jerk reaction based on what the management team has actually done. It would be one thing if it was just one of mediocre drafting, poor building of a farm system, miscalculations on trades, locking up diminishing assets, or hiring the wrong coach for the team. But all of those combined make for a pretty damning indictment.

    Charles Wang may be an idiot and Garth Snow’s made some questionable moves but these kinds of comparisons (at least we’re not the Isles or the Oil) seem pretty lame to me. Of the bad year we’re seeing from the Canucks and Islanders, which team seems better positioned to move out of it? Would you rather have Tavares or Henrik as your 1C for the next three years?

    • andyg

      “Charles Wang may be an idiot and Garth Snow’s made some questionable moves but these kinds of comparisons (at least we’re not the Isles or the Oil) seem pretty lame to me.”

      That’s my biggest issue with these comparisons.

      We cheer for a team in a big hockey market with the revenues to support a perennial cap team.

      Might as well say “it could be worse at least the team is not located in Glendale”…

  • andyg

    The Canucks have not really been the team they were since the Stanley CUp final where Boston literally beat them up like rag dolls while the officiating crew looked on from the sidelines.

    THat was the first cup final for the star players on that Canuck team and it left its mark. Neither Sedin has produced since then. Kesler hasnt produced. Burrows has been absent since.. and so on.

    I think they are just smart millionaires who realize that it isnt in their best long term interest to get into the brutal playoffs where their mind and body are at very serious risk.

    They’ve never forgotten and it has affected their play.