Welcome to a new feature here on Canucks Army and all sites on the Nation Network: What Would You Do Wednesday, where we put you, yes YOU, in charge of your own imaginary Vancouver Canucks. We’ll present you with a different scenario each week, and you tell us how you’d solve it in the comments section below. Give props to the answers you do like and trash the ones you don’t. Easy! So let’s get started:
First off, our winner from last week’s WWYDW: reader JDM with an 80% approval rate –
The other question is as to what the matchups look like. Too early to tell after one home game.
But yeah, I’m not a fan of the defensive usage. Same with PK time. Give the twins a ~70% o-zone start rate. Use Brad Richardson or Bo Horvat (during his 9 games, at least) as your defensive faceoff guy.
I will note that Willie had Matthias and company out against the Oilers’ top line a number of times on Saturday. I like that strategy – create a checking line, whose job is to not let the other team’s best players score. Likely, this will be Matthias / Richardson / Dorsett. Use Burrows / Bonino / Higgins to supplement that. Have the Vey line and the Sedin line eat up the sheltered minutes.
Now, on to this week’s topic: the first unit powerplay.
The Canucks man advantage unit started off the season very well, firing at a 30% clip in two games against Calgary and Edmonton, before going 1/13 in the last three. Part of this is regression, but part of this is also that the man advantage doesn’t quite look as dangerous as it did through the preseason.
Of course, this mini slump also coincides with Vancouver’s coaching staff attempting to load up the first unit powerplay with right-handed shots. In a way, this move should make sense. The Canucks’ best puck mover and PP quarterback is Henrik Sedin, who operates from the half-wall on his off side, with Daniel not too far away hovering around the net and behind the goal line. Playing a type of 1-3-1 setup, three right handed shooters give the Sedins more options for quick one-timer options.
The problem with this theory is that Vancouver’s best powerplay defenseman is Alex Edler, who shoots left. Edler also had his best success on Vancouver’s powerplay when he wasn’t playing as the high man in a 1-3-1, but rather as the weak side D who would sneak in for back door plays, while Christian Ehrhoff manned the top position. Radim Vrbata is currently playing that position though, and with 4 goals and 25 shots through 5 games, he’s not going anywhere.
So what should the Canucks do? Should they keep trying for a right handed shooter on the first powerplay unit? If so, who? Kevin Bieksa has the longest track record of scoring among Canucks right-handed D, but what’s the purpose of Yannick Weber if not to be a PP specialist? Chris Tanev has also looked like he’s capable of reading the Sedins cycling game, and is a reliable puck mover, so should he be given the opportunity to play on the first powerplay? Or are the Canucks just overthinking things by not having their best offensive defenseman on the ice with the Sedins? Let us know what you think below!
Also, a reminder to send your questions our way for the Sunday Morning Mailbag. You can tweet your questions to myself (@Thats_Offside) or the official @CanucksArmy account with the hashtag #CAmailbag, or email them to me at thats.offside.hockey(at)gmail.com. We’re looking forward to hearing from all of you!