What Would You Do Wednesday: Getting Nick Bonino Going

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: 

Last WWYDW, we ask you how you would go about filling the void left by Dan Hamhuis’ injury. And, in general, the top responses were in favour of a pretty level-headed approach: stand pat and hope for the best, and don’t make any rash decisions. Char Richo had the most popular response here:

I would ride it out for awhile and see how it goes. Of course keeping eyes and ears open to a possible good trade.
But, one of your top defencemen going down just screams “hey we’re looking to make a desperation trade and get kicked in the junk while we’re at it” which is never a good position to be in.
It’s a bit of a gamble, but if the team manages to perform relatively well over the next little while, and Benning actually looks like he’s willing to just sit tight until Hamhuis comes back, then they’re in a much stronger bargaining position for a trade.
Granted, it could totally backfire since the wheels could come flying off, the team could tank harder than last year and then we become even MORE desperate for another top 4 D than we already are. But, that’s what I’d do, and hope that the worst case didn’t happen.

And AllanD shared a similar thought with this comment:

I think Trader Jim has the right idea in calling up Corrado and signing a young D-man to fill the roster spot in Utica.
With any luck Hamhuis and Bieksa’s poor performances early were due to a new system.
Sbisa has been playing well the last couple games and has been adjusting to new teammates as well as a new system. I’m not holding my breath but maybe, just maybe he will round into the 24-year-old top-4 defensemen we were told about when they traded for him.
We knew the defence corps wasn’t deep when we started the season, but maybe these young guys can prove us wrong. Stanton and Corrado both had promising rookie seasons.
No-one said a youth movement was easy.

Of course, a lot of you liked Highlander‘s idea too:

SAMI SALO

We miss you, Sami 🙁

With that out of the way, we can focus on this week’s dilemma, which is the fact that Vancouver’s second line has gone from one of the most potent scoring threats in the entire NHL to completely unable to generate offense. And the biggest reason for this is that Nick Bonino hasn’t scores a goal in over a month.

Now, some of this is variance driven and completely expected, but at the same time, successful teams need consistent contributions from their depth so Bonino’s lack of goals is a problem. We know he’s capable of finishing chances, and he’s got a few during this slump, so it seems like he just needs to bury one and get feeling good again.

So the question is what would you do to get Bonino going again? Would you, like Willie Desjardins in the third period against Montreal, play him on the 4th line with some high-energy guys like Hansen and Dorsett? Would you limit his ice time until he’s ready to break out again and play guys who are actually scoring? Would you go with the status quo and keep rolling him out with Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows? Or would you try something designed to get him scoring again, like playing him with the Sedins at 5-on-5 and on the first unit powerplay instead of Linden Vey? Let us know in the comment section below!

  • Bonino was riding an unsustainably high shooting percentage to start the year. Now he has an unsustainably low shooting percentage.

    Outside of the last couple of games where the whole team has looked bad, nothing about Bonino’s or the second line’s play has stuck out as particularly bad, they just aren’t putting the chances in the net. I’m not personally too worried about it. Bonino’s known as a streaky scorer and he’s been scoring in bunches. I wouldn’t panic or push him down to the bottom of the lineup – he’ll score a few goals again soon. That said, Bonino’s shown some good skill as a finisher – put Kassian on his wing when he’s healthy and see how the two work together, or even put Burrows back up with the Sedins and move Vrbata to the second line and see
    if that helps him find his touch again.

    Or the team could try Bonino in Vey’s slot on the power play. Might give both Bonino and the power play a bit more jump.

  • bossram

    We knew that Bonino couldn’t sustain that pace. His previous career history suggests he isn’t going to score much at even strength. I don’t think there is really any getting him “going” at even strength.

    My bigger concern is that Bonino is not a playdriver. He doesn’t push possession and needs playdrivers with him. The 2nd line has been getting stuck in its own end in recent games and that’s with Burrows on his wing. Bonino clearly has skill. Stick him with your best possession wingers and hope for the best. And those wingers probably are Higgins/Burrows. Maybe Kassian when he gets back.

  • bossram

    He could use some more skill on his line. Vey or Kassian in for Burrows. Burrows and Hansen could be the basis of an excellent shutdown line, but Willie wants balance in all his lines, so maybe Burrows with Kassian/Vey + Horvat. That leaves you with Matthias and Hansen getting all the breakaways.

  • WTF

    Bonino is slumping and he isn’t alone. His line is older and not what they used to be.

    Higgins is not a line 2 winger; he has been playing well but he doesn’t capitalize on may opportunities – he never has. He’s a very good line 3 winger. He can check and win puck battles but isn’t a sniper.

    Burrows is also a good grit player but has lost a step and the finish is not quite as good. He’s older now and all of that does not help 13.

    I think Willy will stick with the same lineup and attribute the decline to a tough road trip etc. So, I’m sure we’re in for a bit more of this unless they continue showing ineptitude in the O dept.

    I’d definitely like to shake up the lines. Line 1 and 2 are struggling. Maybe something like:

    Sedins/Bonino
    Vey/Horvat/Vrbata
    Higgins/Richards/Burr
    Dorsett/Matthias/Hansen

    It’s a drastic change but worth a look. See what Horvat does with more minutes etc. A bit of a pipe dream to say the least.

    At the end of the day, the Canucks were competitive in all but one game on the trip so no need to panic. I am thinking it’ll be status quo and Benning will jump on any opportunity. We’re not desperate but Benning should make a move before it becomes desperate so we can deal from a position of power.

  • Cale

    TBH, I’m not exactly expecting a great resurgence in production from Nick… But that’s besides the point.

    A couple of games ago I would have treated him to some softer competition to regain his confidence, and handed the tougher minuets to Mathias who was tearing it up.

    Well that’s not going to work now. So my next solution to get him more time and space would be to pair him up with someone who has a talent for drawing attention and finding the open man.

    Unfortunately, Zack Kassian is also injured so I would have just given him some higher energy guys like Hansen or Dorsett but they’re clicking like crazy.

    So the best thing we can really do is get him another more offensively geared winger like Vey who has been decently hot.

    And I guess if we are really feeling bold we could just swap Horvat with Bonino.

    Burrows/Horvat/Higgins sounds like a pree good shutdown line.

  • Cale

    I think he needs a little more creativity on his wings. I agree with the comment that Higgins belongs on the third line. I also believe that Kassian should move up. Switch Burrows to LW and put Kassian with them. Higgins on RW on third line. So lines would be Sedin/Sedin/Vrbata (do not touch); Burrows/Bonino/Kassian; Matthias/Richardson/Higgins; Dorsett/Horvat/Hansen, Vey and Jensen on bench. If Higgins can’t switch sides, move Richardson to right wing and Matthias to center, HIggins to LW. 1st PP: Sedin/Sedin/Vrbata/Edler/Bonino; 2nd PP Higgins/Horvat/Burrows/Kassian/Weber. Possibly Richardson or Matthias as center if Horvat not ready.

    I also hope everyone takes a deep breath about recent losses, 7 games in less than 2 weeks on the road. The most road games of any team in the league at 18. Toronto for example has only had 9 road games. We are going to be fine. Also refs in Ottawa and Montreal were ridiculous and biased (both Montreal refs from Quebec at Beliveau game nuf said)

  • Cale

    That line needs a confidence boost more than anything. Give them some more O-zone starts, get them out against tired opposition on an icing call, take advantage of the last change on this home stand…just a couple minor things to give them the opportunity to succeed. Once they feel everything’s going their way, then dial back on the favourable deployment and make them work for it.

  • Cale

    This was predictable. His sh% was astronomical, his advanced stats in previous years were below average. He’s been given strong 2 way advanced stats gems in Burr and sometimes Higgins. His advanced stats this yr aren’t terrible, but he’s regressing. And as I predicted this summer, but the end of the year everyones gonna see he’s not a 2C on a good team. He needs strong wingers to drive play, and without them (esp without Burr), he’s a sinking ship.

    I don’t think putting him with Dorsett and Hansen will make him go, they both can’t help him drive play. But I think letting Horvat get a chance in that role is what the best outcome would be.

    Horvat was a -7 corsi (as was his line) in the game against hans. But ten Willie put him with Burr/Higgins and ended up being on the top corsi players in that game after 60 minutes. Bonino needs those guys to help drive play as he can’t do it on this own after 3+ years in the league. Bo’s only 19, he’s gonna need that help too. So why not give him a shot with HIggy/Burr? Let Bonino flounder on a different line as we all know he’s gonna.

  • Cale

    tweaking those pp units might not hurt. the 2nd unit gets a whole lotta ice-time for doing a whole lotta nothing. how about?1) sedins, vrbata, edler, tanev. 2) bonino, vey, horvat, weber, stanton/kassian.

    whatever the configuration getting burrows and higgins off the pp would be key. it’s probably not a huge deal if 5 on 5 the burrows/higgins/bonino line doesn’t put up a ton of production as long as they neutralize opposition but bonino should really get his vaunted pp game going a bit. burrows and higgins have never got it done on the pp so it’s not fair to saddle bonino with them now and expect him to produce. vey, horvat and kassian are all much more skilled, or at least have much more potential for pp success.

  • Cale

    Instead of another puff piece asking about opinions on how to get a guy going, how about a statistical rundown of his season to date, what the percentages were when scoring and when not scoring and determining what a reasonable expectation might be for Bonino going forward?

    Gawd I miss the old days around here.

  • Cale

    This is where having two 3rd lines is going to come back and bite them in the @$$. The Canucks absolutely need to maintain their goal scoring to over come the lackluster goaltending. If one of the two middle lines can’t step up to become a legit 2nd line, this team is in trouble. Without legit 2nd line scoring this team will probably either just squeak into the playoffs or just miss.

    Bonino spent the first 15 or so games riding a real hot streak and the last 15 or so games really fighting it. We are talking about a player 30 games into the first season with a new team, new line-mates, new coach etc etc. Patience is a virtue. For better or worse I think the best approach is to let this season play out, have the chips fall where they may, and make any adjustments – if needed – over the summer.

  • Cale

    Sedin Sedin Kassian/Vey
    Matthias Bonino Vrbata
    Higgins Richardson Burrows
    Dorsett Horvat Hansen

    Spread out the skill a bit in the top 6 and create a very solid 3rd line.

  • Cale

    Bonino ahas had the chances, he just hasn’t had the breaks.

    Versus the Habs he had a point blank chance and Price made a crazy save. He didn’t miss the net or wiff, he was stoned by a very good goalie. I believe the game before in Ott he hit a post…. Ect ect

    That’s what does happen in an 82 game season. As long as the chances keep coming I won’t be that worried. As far as his line getting old? Burr has played Okay but Higgins is doing his disappearing ant, like he usually does. The reason he has never been a consistent top 6 player.