In what has essentially been a lost season – be it self-inflicted, or by injuries, or some sort of combination of everything – the Vancouver Canucks and their increasingly disinterested fanbase now find themselves struggling to grasp at straws for some semblance of a silver lining to close out the 2013-14 campaign.
Having plummeted from the middle of the Western Conference’s pack, where the playoffs seemed in reach, to the dregs and halfway back again, the Canucks are now left in no man’s land. They find themselves with less than a 0.5% chance of making the playoffs, according to www.SportsClubStats.com.
Conversely, the Canucks sudden bout of regression and emergence from PDO-Hell have moved them further from the draft lottery than most fans would like (and have been hoping ever since the playoffs started to slip away). In short: this club is inching dangerously close to entering full-Calgary Flames territory. You never want to go full-Calgary Flames.
But as is always the case, we here at Canucks Army try our very best to avoid catering to the alarmist sensibilities of the petulant section of fans. And in doing so, today I will try to bring three ways for the Canucks to get something out of these final six games. It’s not much, but it’s something..
We Need To Have a Talk About Top Sixtito
I’m not sure this is going to be an overly popular opinion, especially since it’s being heralded on the same blog that ushered in the Top Sixtito era of Canucks hockey, but.. Sestito’s kind of bad.
He’s is a possession anchor whose presence in Vancouver’s lineup has long served as a validating force for the growing group of people who view John Tortorella’s take on the game of ice-hockey as arcane and outdated.
Yes, on the one hand, he is scoring at a better rate than
Wendel David Clarkson, but that’s damning with faint praise. His value as a hockey player is borderline non-existent. Speaking frankly, I don’t really feel it necessary to use stats as proof of this, and for once I call on you to just use the bloody “eye test” you so cherish.
The fact of the matter is that the Canucks are only controlling about 44% of shot attempts with Sixtito on the ice. There’s also this little nugget:
I was playing with this last night, the top Canuck after 30 secs of a Def Zone Draw is D. Sedin with a 45.6% Corsi
— Manual RTer (@joshweissbock) March 30, 2014
And the worst is Top Sixtito at 20.6%
— Manual RTer (@joshweissbock) March 30, 2014
It’s been nice pretending that Tom Sestito has some sort of talent, or something, but the sad reality is that hero, family man and Canucks Army visionary Dimitri Filipovic hit the nail on the head when he explored his “value” as a hockey player in late November. On Tom Sestito’s gargantuan hit totals:
“Why does Tom Sestito have so many hits? Is it because he’s a particularly good hitter? Is it because he’s all over the place, causing havoc for the opposing team? Not really, no. It’s actually mostly due to the fact that the other team has control of the puck an overwhelmingly large amount of the time that he’s on the ice.”
OK, so with this in mind, at what point does Tortorella pull the plug on his being in the lineup and lend those minutes to younger players with upside? Maybe a Nicklas Jensen-type player, like, say, Nicklas Jensen? Or hey, here’s a thought: send those goon-minutes Darren Archibald’s way.
Something tells me he’s more than capable. He’s also got that other thing going for him; you know, youth and potentially a longer-term future with the club.
I’ve been nothing short of borderline cruel in recent days with my assessment of Jordan Schroeder, but I’d even be happy if he saw a jump in ice-time at Sestito’s expense; or even Zac Dalpe, for that matter. The point is, the Canucks aren’t going to contend anytime soon and if they plan on doing so in the future, it doesn’t hurt to see what the organization’s younger pieces have to offer. Sixtito certainly isn’t the answer.
Can We Cut Lack Some Slack?
One can’t help but feel bad for the situation management has put Eddie Lack in. The circumstances surrounding his starting the Heritage Classic were borderline insane and things haven’t gotten any more lucid since.
While the playoffs were still mathematically possible, Tortorella felt the team’s only chance was with Lack in net. And so he rode him for 75,608,988 straight games. Fine, fair enough, I made those numbers up. But now, with six games left in the schedule and a 0.47% chance of making the playoffs, the time has come to give Lack a break.
I can understand and appreciate the difficulties involved with changing how one plays his position mid-season, and all the more-so when he’s doing it in a new city and with a new team. This, of course, has probably played a huge role in why we haven’t seen much of Jacob Markstrom since he came over in the Roberto Luongo trade. But at this point in the season, with no expectations or anything really at stake, what can possibly go wrong by starting Markstrom?
Will the Canucks slide down the standings, even closer to a lottery pick? All while sparing Eddie Lack’s glove hand from dissipating into a pile of dust? Oh no, we wouldn’t want *that*.
And What About Frankie?
Remember the offseason? You know, when we were spoon fed the idea that the Canucks were going to get younger? Yeah, good times.
A huge part of getting younger, I presumed, meant giving Frankie Corrado the sixth and final spot on Vancouver’s blueline. Then Ryan “soft minutes” Stanton came along and took the city by storm. This mitigated any outrage on my part because, well, Stanton was legitimately playing well and this meant that Corrado would see huge minutes with the Utica Comets. It was best for everyone.
But with injuries to Chris Tanev and more recently Kevin Bieksa, the Canucks have an opening at the back end of their blueline. The problem here, of course, is that Bieksa has no plan of sitting out the rest of this season to nurse his injury; because of that pride thing and all. Perhaps Vancouver’s brass can appeal to his more logical sensibilities however and convince him to maybe take a break and let his leg heal.
We all know Bieksa can play through the pain, but is it really best for the club and himself at this point? There’s not much of a season left to salvage and having “Juice” on one leg certainly won’t do it. Maybe it’s best Bieksa took a trip to the IR..
Drink the Pain Away With Us!
In honour of Alain Vigneault’s return to Vancouver, we at Canucks Army will be hosting a charity event type thing at The Pint. It’s going to be fun and stuff, so you should probably buy a ticket and come along. Who doesn’t like supporting a good cause?