Canucks Army Roundtable: Plan the Parade

roundtable

The Canucks are 4-0 and at the top of the NHL. We all saw this coming, right? Wait, 4-0 not 0-4? Well then. It’s very early in the season, but regardless, seeing the Canucks at the top of the standings at any point of the season is a surprise. It hasn’t been pretty, and it’s hard to say if it’s sustainable to expect the Canucks to at least keep on a winning path, but wins are wins and they go into California with a clean record. With that in mind, I asked our writers if this 4-0 start has changed anything on their perception of the Canucks. Here’s what they said!


Question:

Has the Canucks 4-0 start changed anything about your outlook for the season?

Vanessa Jang

I would say yes, but it is still very very early to judge. I honestly would have been fine with a 2-2 start, but going 4-0 is fantastic. However, I do want to stress that it is very very early. There are still 78 games left in the season, so it is probably best to calm the expectations and let the league sort itself out over the next little while. You’ll never know if a team pulls of an Anaheim and just plows through everyone in the middle of the season.
The Canucks haven’t exactly played the most competitive teams so far, but the scores have still been very close. They aren’t a high-scoring team, and we’ve all taken notice of how one goal can literally change the outcome of a game. If the overtimes had gone to the other team, the Canucks would currently be 1-0-3… not very exciting. I’m not going to lie, the Sedins and Eriksson need to get going. Yes, they’re doing good statistically, but their overall play seems to be lacking. 5-on-5, their chemistry hasn’t lived up to the hype yet. I’m sure that will come eventually, but any 1st line in the NHL needs to be a constant threat in every shift.
On a positive note, I am very excited and happy with how everything has gone so far. 4 games in, I definitely see potential in the team. The Sedins’ cycle game is hard to defend, and Loui Eriksson is willing to go to the dirty areas to create space for them. What else can you say about Granlund-Sutter-Hansen? They’ve clearly been the best line so far, which is good for the team but bad for the 1st line. At first, they seemed like an odd combination, but it works and that’s all we need to focus on. Defensively, Erik Gudbranson has been a big addition. I was a fan of the trade when it first happened, although I do think that we gave up a lot for him. I like him as a player, and I think he will only get better as the season goes on. Yes, he isn’t perfect statistically, but as long as he defends and is hard to play against, I’m okay with that! Sbisa has also been great this season, which comes to the surprise of everyone. By no means is he a top-4 defenseman, but he is playing like the big, physical, defensive defenseman that Jim Benning hoped he would be. Maybe climbing Kilimanjaro did something to him??
Overall, my outlook on the season has definitely changed. I knew the Canucks would be a better team than last year, but I also thought the other teams in the Pacific would be better too. In terms of making the playoffs, the Canucks’ chances look much better than they did before the season started. Last week, I predicted that they would come between 5th-7th in the Pacific, but I am now going to change that to 2nd-4th. I honestly thought that the Pacific was going to be more competitive this season, but basically every team has fallen short. The lack of competition leaves more room for error, which means that the playoffs might realistically be in the picture for the Canucks this season.

Petbugs13

NOlan Patrick

Jeff Veillette

Cat Silverman

The Kings have started 1-3-0. Curb your enthusiasm, sheeples. (Just kidding, Canucks are gonna win the Stanley Cup)

Taylor Perry

This is a good question. The Canucks are certainly making me eat my words early on. I predicted that 5-7 in the Pacific would be pretty close, with the Canucks finishing in seventh. What I’ve seen so far certainly has me intrigued as a fan. The renewed commitment to defence and great goaltending we have witnessed so far are encouraging signs. I have to wonder, with Calgary’s early struggles and Vancouver’s solid start, how much Glen Gulutzan was responsible for some of the systems deficiencies on the defensive side of the puck for the Canucks last season. That’s just a thought. The Canucks, should the club stay healthy, doesn’t look like a last-place team in the division. The team will play a style that keeps them competitive in the majority games, but the question still remains whether or not they have the offensive flair to mount a playoff challenge. That’s the issue with one-goal teams – the margin for error is razor-thin.

Tyler Horsfall

They’re 4 games in. The only game they led in was against a Buffalo team with two big injuries. Let’s wait and see.

Jackson McDonald

Yes and no. I’m on record saying that the Canukcs would be better this year. The caveat there was that I thought pretty much every other team in the west was too. Through 4 games, I’d say the biggest difference is that the Pacific looks weak. The Kings, Ducks, and Flames- three teams many thought would make the playoffs- all really look like they’ve taken a step back. That makes a difference.
It’s also worth noting that it appears the Canucks have made some minor coaching adjustments that appear to have paid off. I’ve been pretty critical of the Canucks managemnt, but I actually think Willie Desjardins is a decent coach. His teams play a very modern system, and now that he seems to have figured out how deployment strategy and lineup construction I have a lot more faith in the team than I did in the offseason. The Canucks are playing better through the neutral zone and they’re getting scoring from the middle of the lineup. If they can keep that up that’ll go a long way towards mitigating any worries they might have about whether this roster can withstand the 82-game grind.
That being said, last night some of my worries came to fruition. Erik Gudbranson was an absolutely atrocious 14% Corsi for, the Canucks were out-attempted, out-shot and out-chanced, and the Sedins looked tired. The cool-off is coming. It’s just a matter of figuring out how bad it’s going to be.
The thing about predicting a 30th place finish is that there’s a 29/30 chance you’ll be wrong, so it’s easy to renege on such a prediction. Have the Canucks convinced me through 4 games that there might be at least one team that will be worse than they are? Yeah, I’d say so.

Matthew Henderson

It’s early, but I expected them to get blown out at least once by now, especially playing 3 in 4 to start the season. Seeing the no-quit mentality that they have had in the first few has been promising, and that’s a good thing to have even when they start struggling to ensure further development of their young guys. It’s still too early to say for sure if this team is any better than we thought or not, I mean even the 74-75 Capitals won 8 games.

  • Killer Marmot

    The Canucks have been playing better defensive hockey, perhaps due to the new assistant coach Doug Jarvis (a former Frank J. Selke winner). That’s the sort of thing that could sustain them into the season.

  • Vanoxy

    The 4-0 start doesn’t impress me all that much, since the games could have gone either way.

    But, the way they have scrapped back, scored late and closed out games in O.T. proves that they aren’t going to be pushovers this season as many predicted.
    They’re a feisty bunch that won’t roll over when they get behind, which is a major change from last year.

    Once they correct the clearly flawed PP set up, and the Sedin/Loui line clicks, this team will give teams major headaches.

    • Killer Marmot

      Yeah, they can kiss my furry ass too.

      EA Sports predicted that the Canucks would end up with 63 points. They also predicted that the second worst team (the Avalanche) would get 74 points.

      In other words, the Canucks wouldn’t just be the worst team in the league, but far and away the worst team. Monumentally bad. Indescribably terrible. Catastrophically inept.

  • EddyC

    58 points to go. The Canucks are playing great, there are a lot of chances that could of gone in and if they did everyone would be loving the games. They will start scoring more. We have the least goals against at 6 and we kicked one in and we scored on ourselves. That is a massive change from last year. Way less shots from the sweet spot. They definitely can keep this up.

  • TD

    Last night’s game was the first time that the Canucks got out shot. It’s also the first time that the Corsica numbers were posted. Gudbranson got snagged for his poor Corsi percentage after a bad game, but to be fair, what was his corsi during the previous three games when the team played better?

  • Dirty30

    I thought that it would take a while for the team to get it together and play as a solid unit. They still seem to be working on that most nights, but manage to win while doing it.

    It’s like that line from Days of Thunder “I’m not going faster, everyone else is going slower!”

    That seems to sum up the season so far. It’s just a question of how fast the Canucks can get it together versus how fast the other teams will. And if the Canucks stay healthy and just a bit faster to figure it out, they may be a surprise finish higher than imagined.

  • chinook

    I like Vanessa’s straight-up comments – nice start but there are issues. I agree that the Sedin line is not quite up to snuff.

    Comments from the rest of CA’s bloggers range between backtracking and cautiously getting on the bandwagon. Except for Petbugs who, as per usual, in in outer space.

  • Bob Long

    Why does the media folks keep doing the math for us? Oh well there’s 78 to go… ominous clouds form….

    Sure. 77 after tomorrow.

    Jarvis has them playing way better in the neutral zone, which is fantastic given so many guys are still finding their way to start the year.

    Its also perfect timing for a road trip and see how that system works on the road.

  • Roy

    It is indeed too early to celebrate. Cautious optimism is sufficient. These games have been a good test of essentially a new team. So many new/ish pieces on the roster. So, they are working their new system fairly well so far – the true litmus test is a long road trip. Can they go .500 or better?

    Also, they looked tired against Buffalo. Weird to see sluggishness that early in the season, must be a reason for it.

  • Locust

    It is not the wins that impress me – it is the “pluckiness’ and the “come back” mentality. Both those things – over an entire season – are worth much more (entertainment wise and win’s wise) than what we saw last year.

    I am impressed with the great start but we all know that we cant start planning the parade – this isn’t Toronto…..

  • TheRealPB

    Are you going to apply some of the same (timely and well-needed) moderation from the comments section to your writers? You ask a legitimate question to your roundtable and get some really decent answers — obviously this is not an amazing team but one that is better than predicted with some players already showing their worth but some concerns already appearing. At the same time a much more structured system is clearly paying early benefits. Yet two of your writers choose to make their contributions in the form of “Nolan Patrick” and a gif of an own goal (and frankly if you wanted to show them screwing up why not Eriksson’s own goal?). I get that they want to show that they’re cool and so amusing still but I’d really advise Veillette and Petbugs to maybe look at what Vanessa, Jackson and Taylor do — actually put an effort into giving a reasoned answer. Honestly what is the point of putting up what they do? Jeff, did the goal Frederik Anderson gave up from center make you similarly ask whether you were skeptical about the magical Leafs? Or the drubbing the Oilers took two games ago have you searching for similar gifs?

    I’m not joyless, I just get irritated by the laziness of some of this. No one is saying the Canucks are incredible. To say that they aren’t the complete tire fire some expected/predicted them to be is not to be drinking kool aid.

  • Rodeobill

    Maybe with the defensive systems better they can risk bringing up Stecher or Subban to add a little enery and offense. I really like what I have seen this year with the defense jumping up on offense and when they do the forawds (usually horvat, sutter, or eriksson) cover for the defense.

    I agree that they looked tired, and they still need more offense. I am happy with the wins even if it makes the pundits eat thier words a little, but it is not sustainable forever.

    Also, remember Montreal went 10 games at the beginning of last season and still finished out of the playoffs.

    Regardless, they are not bleeding scoring chances anywhere near like they were last year, and that change DOES seem sustainable.

  • Whackanuck

    I don’t see a tired team. By that logic they should be losing late in games, not winning.

    As usual I like Vanessa’s perspective. A team with 4 wins but some problems still.

    For some of the other writers; they know the team has holes but what they can’t seem to grasp is that WE know the team has weaknesses. Does it have to be shoved down our throats?

  • DJ_44

    @jeffveillette

    we all realize that both the on-ice officals and the war room in Toronto missed the goalie interference. ….but let’s be honest. .analytics tells us it will not play a significant part in the Canucks overall season. …it .is best just to move on. …calls tend to even out in the long run