Canucks Army GDT #74 – Canucks @ Wild


Dany Heatley is coming for you.

I’ll let you guys pick your adventure today in preparation of this one:

Positive spin: The Vancouver Canucks come into Wednesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild on a 2-game losing streak, looking for their first 3-game winning streak since that torrid stretch in December (20th-29th, beating the Blackhawks, Jets, and Flames). 

With the news that Mike Smith’s injury could potentially keep him out for some time, the window appears to have been cracked ever so lightly and a light breeze is coming in (.. but is hardly enough to cool off these red hot Vancouver Canucks!). And that was before the news that Alex Burrows would come back far sooner than expected!

Negative Realistic spin: The Vancouver Canucks haven’t managed to win 3 games in nearly three months, and have a 1.9% chance at the playoffs entering today. Their best player will be out tonight. The last time these two teams played, the result was anything but “Wild”..

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 4:30 PM PST

TV: Sportsnet Pacific

The Canucks

[via Daily Faceoff]

.. except not this time. If you go on their site and look for the lineup the Canucks are expected to ice, it’s a little off. They have Nicklas Jensen on the 4th line playing next to Zac Dalpe and Tom Sestito (i.e. “The Black Hole Line”). This, of course, is likely stemming from the news that Alex Burrows would make his return to the lineup – and slot right back into his customary RW position in the top line – after missing just the one game. A couple of thoughts on this:

·At first glance this struck me as a pretty surprising piece of news, considering how bleak the news sounded just a few days ago (to go along with what looked like a pretty savage Shea Weber-induced injury). Dan Murphy, who’s pretty in the loop, was kind of surprised himself.

·So I went ahead and DM’d Murph (yeah, yeah, humblebrag) about whether Jensen would indeed be on the 4th line and he had the following to say: “No one has any idea. No skate. Torts was coy. Can’t see 46 (Jensen) on L4 though. Maybe Daniel-Kesler-Jensen, Higgins-Matthias-Burrows, Kassian-Richardson-Hansen? All a guess right now.”

I found this interesting. Basically all we *do know* is that Matthias will be starting down the middle rather than on the wing (where he spent some time the other night, successfully), and that Jordan Schroeder as a result is the odd man out. 

Meanwhile, in a year where there’s so much lineup uncertainty with injuries and juggling, the one constant continues we’ve come to rely upon continues: Top Sixtito’s spot in the lineup will forever be engraved in stone. 

Since I was asked about this the other day, I should note that the 3 pairings on defense will remain the same – Bieksa/Edler, Hamhuis/Garrison, Stanton/Weber. Once John Tortorella wakes up from his extended slumber and realizes that he should split the first two guys up, we’ll finally have something to talk about in terms of back-end deployment.

And finally: Eddie Lack starts for the 14th straight time. Alex Auld here we come!

The Wild

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The Minnesota Wild, ironically enough, interest me. But not for the reasons that you’d expect or that they’d probably hope for: 

·They’re sitting reasonably comfortably in a playoff spot right now, and should stamp their ticket to the postseason for the second straight year. 

·They’re going to finish ahead of the Vancouver Canucks (who people in Minnesota legitimately view as one of, if not *the* biggest rival they’ve got) for just the second time ever (as CDC notes, ’07-’08 was the only other time). 

·They were buyers at trade deadline time again landing Matt Moulson, and have quickly become something of a free agent hotspot; basically everyone and their grandmother has already come to the conclusion that Thomas Vanek will be joining Parise, Suter, and the others in Minnesota this summer.

.. and still, even with all of that in mind, they are almost unwatchable. They’re 26th in shots for/game, and give up the 5th fewest. They’re also 26th in goals/game, and give up the 5th fewest. Despite this influx of talent and early season preaching of how important puck possession is, every time I’ve watched them they’ve been perfectly content to keep anything and everything within the neutral zone. Forget the Wild, because the Minnesota Neutral Zoners is a far more apt name for them.

At least they’ve got some very intriguing young players that should continue to develop and get better in the coming years. Things look much less bleak for them than they have in previous years. If I were the Canucks I’d swap positions with them in a heart beat.. If you’re going to be set on being boring you should at least try to be successful while doing so.

The Numbers

[via Extra Skater]

Canucks Wild
5v5 Corsi Close % 52.1 (8th) 48.4 (24th)
5v5 GF/60 2.15 (19th) 1.99 (26th)
5v5 GA/60 2.15 (T-11th) 1.78 (3rd)
5v5 PDO 99.8 (T-16th) 101.0 (6th)
5v4 GF/60 4.80 (26th) 6.43 (12th)
5v4 SF/60 58.7 (4th) 49.6 (19th)
4v5 GA/60 4.98 (6th) 6.70 (T-23rd)
4v5 SA/60 40.1 (1st) 51.3 (18th)

Gameday Reading

·With Henrik Sedin now out, and Daniel Sedin trying to salvage the final handful of games in the ’13-’14 after having been injured/brutally unproductive offensively, it’s as good a time as any to ask questions regarding the way John Tortorella rode them in the early part of the season and how it influenced what has become of them since. There’s a lot of stuff to chew on here, and Jason Botchford does a fine job of diving in on it

·I also had one other piece of work to share with you at this time, that you may or may not have already come across since it has been out for a few days now. But I would wholeheartedly recommend checking out Travis Yost’s bit on the direction in which teams have been trending over the past 25 games. The Canucks, as you may’ve expected, and it’s this final paragraph in particular that stings:

“The Calgary Flames, a team that has finally committed to a full rebuild focused on the draft and player development, have been very impressive over the past couple of months. You could certainly make the case they’re playing better than their hated rival in Vancouver, which is something I’m not sure anyone would have considered a remote possibility just a few months ago.”