Canucks Army GDT #77 – Rangers @ Canucks

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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.

Broadcast Info

Puck Drop: 7:00 PM PST


The Tortorellas

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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.

The Vigneaults

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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.

The Numbers

Canucks Rangers
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)
    • andyg

      I used to think you were the only one here who wasn’t a delusional blind homer but I’m starting to rethink that, man. You suffer from rosy memory if you think AV coming back here will do this club any good. AV had years of chances…and he failed. Ask his pet Luongo. Anybody here remember how the Nucks couldn’t even win one road game in Boston and how no one showed up for the 7th game? NO ONE. Let me stress that again…NO ONE. No one showed up, the Twins ( that means BOTH of them), the D, that means ALL of them, and Kesler and yes, the Great Luongo. This club has had more than its fill of chances. You need to remember this is supposed to be a competitive sports franchise, not charity.

      Av was good in a weak division and only in the regular season. AV new club will to get past Boston. And he will choke out in NY as well.
      It’s time for you Canucks fans to ball up and stop blaming small fry like Booth, who is the only guy that shows up. You guys couldn’t stand Luongo when he was taking the piss here, and now that he’s gone, it’s like some crying sausage fest here. Face it, your players are not good enough, period. They got here because of Burke and Nonis, they are still here because of Gillis. They will still be here because of the fans. And you guys will STILL e spinning your wheels all the way to the coveted 50th year mark. BTW, Luongo is lighting it up in Florida… literally. Haha!

  • Sir Qautorze

    Good article. Coaches are a factor but the Canucks lack of depth, which became painfully clear when all the injuries started to mount up was not the coaches fault. If Torts was going to have a successful year he would need some luck and he didn’t get any. I suspect if AV was still the coach for this team the results would have been the same and the Canucks would be missing the play-offs. If the players are no longer listening then it’s time for the coach to move on. If the players are missing wide open nets and making a bunch of mental errors then maybe it’s time for the player to move on and keep the coach.

    • andyg

      In any work place it is recognized that fatigue plays a big role in injury’s.

      Many of our top players were over used and exhausted by the 45 game point.

      That is coaching.

      • andyg

        If the players are fatigued then maybe they should smoke a few less cigarettes or deer a few less beers. If that won’t help then maybe the Canucks should stop signing and resigning so many tired old cougars. I don’t understand what you want Torts to do, baby sit the players? If you had AV, who was then babysitting this team, and if you traded Av and brought in Torts just so Torts could coach and use these pack of mules the same way, then what is the point of having a new coach? Could it be that maybe, just maybe the players you have here can’t cut the mustard? You folks are funny, you wanted AV gone, and now you’re unhappy because the new coach won’t use the players the same way the old coach did. Do you even hear what you’re saying?

        So to sum it up, you want the new coach to coach like the old coach and if he doesn’t then they should get a new coach who will coach exactly the same way the first coach did. Wow…just wow. Makes sense to me. Where is Sedin in all this? I see him hiding like a naughty schoolboy behind his desk. Guess you can’t blame him, right? He needs to be pampered…like the diva he is. What about Kesler? He’s checked out too. Maybe they’re trying to hijack this team? Bring us a coach we like or else! What a fine fine club the Canucks are!

        P.S. I was being sarcastic.

    • Sir Qautorze

      Apologies for replying to my own post, but a little light Googling tells me that I am right, Corrado was sent back down to Utica and in fact, got 2 assists for them last night.

      • Dimitri Filipovic

        Right, apologies. He had missed 2 games over the weekend – both of which they lost to Abbotsford – because of this, though. That’s what I was thinking of when I wrote that bit.

  • Sir Qautorze

    Looking at the numbers it’s interesting to see how similar the Canucks and Rangers are at 5 v 5. Canucks are just slightly worse at keeping the pucks out of their own net. Which I don’t remember being the case until their defence got ravaged by injuries.

  • Sir Qautorze

    Could we please declare a moratorium on the use of the word “regression” until you guys actually learn what it means (perhaps reading an explanation of Gambler’s Fallacy” would be a good start). It’s getting really tiresome hearing the concept being misused over and over again on this blog.

  • Dimitri Filipovic

    Can we stop bagging on Daniel Sedin so much? He is still producing S/G at the same elite rate he always has. He only have a 6.9 (eh!!) shooting%.

    His struggles are just as much attributeable to age or injury as they are to bad luck. 6.9% is well below his career shooting% of around 11% or so.

    This blog has preached over and over that players are sometimes overvalued or undervalued based on the results of a season. There’s also the fact that some of his best seasons had him ending once with a PDO of 103.1 and 102.5, compared to his 100.6 this season.

    Can we stop talking about Daniel as if he fell off a cliff and realize that he probably wasn’t as good as we all thought he was, but that he’s still a fairly good player, despite probably not being as important as his brother?

  • Cale

    So does Gillis get another kick at the can or are the Aquilinis going to eat 4 years of Torts and however long it takes Gillis to land another NHL job? (hint: not long)

  • andyg

    For anyone that wondered why Kassian hasn’t been on the top line this year?? All you had to do was see the lazy thoughtless pass in the 3rd period on a Power play that gave up the short handed 3-1 goal. Knucklehead!