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!
Has the Canucks 4-0 start changed anything about your outlook for the season?
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.
“But why are you skeptical that the Canucks can keep this pace up?” pic.twitter.com/K77A7rpABp
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) October 21, 2016
The Kings have started 1-3-0. Curb your enthusiasm, sheeples. (Just kidding, Canucks are gonna win the Stanley Cup)
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.
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.
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.
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.