I know that the vast overanalysis and excessive reaching for comparisons between the guy who used to sit behind the bench for the Vancouver Canucks and the guy that currently does can become a bit nauseating at times. Particularly on days like today, when the former comes back to town with his new team.
But still, I’ll take that over what’s become status quo; citing the team’s dwindling playoff odds courtesy of Sports Club Stats, and discussing the injury de jour. Things have gotten pretty stale and dry around these parts, and the return of Alain Vigneault to the town where he enjoyed 7 largely successful seasons at least helps provide a little bit of a distraction, or reprieve from the sad reality the Canucks face these days. Even if it’s only for 24 hours.
So kick back, relax, have a lozenge, and get set for tonight’s game between the Rangers and Canucks.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST
I can’t really quibble too much with the way the lines are shaping up to look like for tonight’s game. Is it ridiculous that a guy like Zac Dalpe is sitting in favour of Top Sixtito? Absolutely. But I think we’ve already long since exceeded the cap of words that can be devoted to that subject on this platform.
As Rhys noted in Saturday night’s recap, the combination of David Booth and Zack Kassian has really started to catch people’s eyes over the past handful of games. In reality, though, not much has changed with their game when comparing this most recent stretch to what they were doing prior to that for large chunks of the season, other than some of those pucks finally starting to go in. Finally some “puck luck”, or positive regression, if you will.
It’ll be interesting to see how long this lasts and whether or not it’ll ultimately result in the changing of the way in which they’re thought of. There’s 6 games left, and if they continue to be far and away the most productive players on the team, maybe David Booth saves himself from being a compliance buyout casualty.
And maybe Zack Kassian stops being thought of as some sort of mythical “power forward” that’s a bust because of the supposedly large number of “mental errors” he makes. Maybe. But fans generally tend to be stubborn in their preconceived beliefs, and those can prove to be awfully difficult to shake.
It wouldn’t be a Canucks-related article if injuries weren’t at least brushed over in some form. Kevin Bieksa genuinely looked horrendous on Saturday vs. Anaheim, clearly hobbled in a bad way by the injury he suffered in Colorado. People – like you, and I, and Don Cherry – respect the heck out of him for how passionate and tough he is as a player, and it’s because of that, that it’s not the least bit surprising that he’s attempting to will himself through this while the team is still mathematically alive in the playoff hunt.
The problem with that, of course, is that Frankie Corrado spent two games sitting in the press box hanging out in his suit because of it, not getting a chance to either a) gain some more NHL experience and work out some of the very many kinks we saw in his game last time he was thrown into the fire, or b) continue logging a ton of minutes in the AHL as the Comets make a last-ditch effort at making the playoffs themselves. The Comets lost both of the games Corrado missed, including a 7-2 shellacking at the hands of the Abbotsford Heat.
Not that this is necessarily some sort of major thing that we should spend a bunch of time lamenting, but it is just another little thing that ultimately adds up to a larger problem.
There seems to be this weird misconception that this blog is filled with a bunch of Alain Vigneault apologists (or “slurpers”, being the term you may’ve stumbled upon while perusing Twitter). Even though I’m the “Tzar” of this blog, I can’t speak for everyone that contributes here. We don’t have some sort of screening process that involves a questionnaire regarding the former coach’s abilities to do his job, in an attempt to weed out the nonbelievers. I can only really speak for myself.
So with that being said, this is where I stand on the entire situation:
I was a fan of Alain Vigneault during his time as the team’s bench boss, often finding myself defending him and the job he was doing. With that being said, I found myself in a somewhat weird position at the conclusion last season; I thought he had to go, despite knowing full well that he was hardly the problem.
I hold no grudges with the team for that decision, even in hindsight, knowing what we know now. Professional sports tend to be cyclical, and aside from the rare exceptions (like a Gregg Popovich in basketball for example) there’s only so long that the players, and fans of a team can hear the same message in the same voice before things go sour. For some guys, like Marc Crawford, that process is expedited.
Vigneault was able to last 7 wildly successful years here, because he’s a good coach. He most certainly had his flaws, and he was definitely blessed with some fantastic chess pieces, but to his credit, he did a fine job of making the right moves and utilizing them correctly. You don’t win as many games as he did without that being the case.
But after the 4-game sweep at the hands of the Sharks last year, it was time for the team and coach to part ways. I was fully onboard with the move, acknowledging that it was probably for entirely different reasons than most. I think Iain McIntyre did a fine job of summing up the situation with his post on the matter today.
“It was not wrong to fire Alain Vigneault. It was wrong for anyone to believe that firing him would solve the Vancouver Canucks’ problems.
It was simplistic and wrong also to think last June that hiring John Tortorella would restore the Canucks’ status as a Stanley Cup contender, that with largely the same lineup that failed Vigneault the last two years in the playoffs, Tortorella would somehow transform the Canucks into a “stiffer,” tougher out.”
You can blame the bad luck and injuries all you want, but John Tortorella’s first (and only?) season in Vancouver has been a rocky one that was doomed to fail right from the very beginning. His predecessor’s time was up in this city, but that was more due to unrealistic expectations and the nature of the business than any inherent flaws he had as a coach.
There’s still going to be those skeptics out there, saying things like “well yeah but.. he’s doing it in the Eastern Conference. And his team is going to choke in the playoffs..” And that’s fine.
But hey — maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t nearly as bad as some of those out there would’ve led you to believe? Say what you will about him or his tactics, but his tenure is looking like a pretty decent alternative right about now.
|5v5 Corsi Close %||52.0 (T-8th)||53.1 (6th)|
|5v5 GF/60||2.17 (20th)||2.19 (19th)|
|5v5 GA/60||2.20 (T-13th)||2.04 (6th)|
|5v5 PDO||99.7 (T-18th)||99.7 (T-18th)|
|5v4 GF/60||4.93 (26th)||5.76 (17th)|
|5v4 SF/60||58.6 (4th)||54.8 (8th)|
|4v5 GA/60||4.88 (4th)||5.42 (8th)|
|4v5 SA/60||39.3 (1st)||50.5 (T-17th)|