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.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
[Lineup combos are via Daily Faceoff]:
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”.
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.
|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]
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.