— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) March 14, 2014
That picture was sent out by the team’s official account earlier today, and as Thomas Drance wrote, it’s the perfect allegory for their dreadful season to-date. Well, it’s not totally perfect. For that to be the case one of the players would’ve had to trip over the curb as they tried to hail and a cab, spraining their ankle in the process.
That photo was taken in Washington, DC, with the Canucks in town to take on the Washington Capitals for the second time this season (an October 28th win at home, which included this memorable Sedinery highlight). This is something of a throwaway showdown these days, but it wasn’t too long ago that these two teams meeting up would’ve been all the talk of the NHL. Oh, how the times have changed.
Read on for more about the battle of two teams that just couldn’t resist the urge to overreact to some unfortunate playoff outcomes.
Puck Drop: 4:00 PM PST
TV: Rogers Sportsnet Pacific
According to John Tortorella, Ryan Kesler – who was sent home from the roadtrip following a knee-on-knee collision against the Jets – will be out “at least a couple of weeks“. When Mike Gillis went on local sports talk radio later in the day, he said that he was hoping Kesler would be back before the season, but realistically that seems unlikely at this point.
They’ll close out their regular season schedule on April 13th, which is less than a month away now. For all intents and purposes there’s at least a decent chance we’ve seen Ryan Kesler’s last game as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. A somber realization, no doubt.
In Kesler’s stead, Jordan Schroeder will move up to the 2C spot to start. It’s a little bit of a surprising move given that Shawn Matthias had served in that role for the remainder of the game the other day, but thinking about it, it makes sense. Around these parts we’ve long been pleading for the Canucks to give David Booth and Zack Kassian (who returns from his 3-game suspensions) a higher-end center than Brad Richardson, and I think Matthias fits that bill. That line has a lot of meat – which’ll probably get both the coach and GM of the team off – but all of them can also play hockey.. so I guess there’s a little something for everyone there.
One final lineup note: Yannick Weber is in on the 4th line, but he’s mostly around to be on the 2nd unit power play next to Jason Garrison. Which I’m fine with, because he has proven that he’s a weapon in the facet of that game and it’s silly how little action he has gotten there this season..
.. but it’s hard to stay mad at that face.
Here’s the quick 4-1-1 on the Washington Capitals: you’ll be well served not to take penalties against them, because it’s basically the only facet of the game they thrive at this season. They’re a below average possession team at 5v5 (AND ARE SOMEHOW SCORING FEWER GOALS/60 THAN THE CANUCKS DESPITE HAVING ALEX OVECHKIN ON THEIR ROSTER!!!), that has horrible defensive breakdowns and coverage in their own zone (I’m honestly surprised Braden Holtby hasn’t said, “ah screw it this isn’t worth it, I’m going to film some more Twilight movies!”), and their penalty kill is abysmal.
Their 2nd ranked power play in the league is good, but it’s just one area of the game, and their inability to be even competent at anything else is why there’s a very real chance they’re going to miss out on the playoffs as a whole.
Obviously one giant x-factor is Evgeny “Hit the road, Ben, there’s a new Kuz in town!” Kuznetsov, who just came over to the NHL following the conclusion of the KHL season just a few days ago. He has been starting on the 4L in his only two games thus far, but finding ways to creep up to the top line with Ovechkin and Backstrom because, well, he’s better than Brooks Laich. It’s just a matter of time before one of the top prospects in the NHL for a while now starts lighting the world on fire, and I’m excited to see him up-close today. Even if it’s only for 10-12 minutes.
|5v5 Corsi Close %||51.7 (10th)||48.7 (23rd)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.11 (19th)||2.09 (20th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.19 (14th)||2.38 (20th)|
|5v5 PDO||99.6 (T-16th)||99.9 (T-15th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.54 (28th)||9.01 (2nd)|
|5v4 SF/60||57.5 (4th)||61.9 (2nd)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.65 (4th)||6.58 (24th)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.3 (1st)||62.9 (30th)|
In case this game bores you, maybe you’ll want to turn your GameCenter Live on, and check out Roberto Luongo v. Cory Schneider as the Devils and Panthers square off at 4:30 PM PST. That game probably won’t be any good itself, but at least there’s that one massive storyline that could lead to some intrigue.
Jason Botchford is in Florida, and had a chance to speak with Cory Schneider about everything that has happened with the Canucks in the past year or so:
“I don’t know what is going on in (Vancouver) specificialy, but it’s amazing how quickly things evolve and things change,” Schneider said. “I still have a lot of friends in that dressing room. I’m sure this hasn’t been the easiest thing for them to deal with.
It’s been disappointing to see.”