Canucks Army Post-Game: Down With the Sickness

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Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin – USA TODAY Sports

Tonight wasn’t looking good for the Vancouver Canucks from the start. They’d lost a half of their team to the mumps over the bye week, faced a Western Conference powerhouse in the San Jose Sharks and, well, they were coming off the bye week. That’s a new kind of scheduled loss.

And I don’t think anyone — perhaps even the Canucks — saw this game going any differently. Given the effort they showcased tonight, that’s okay though. Expectations were at an all-time low. All the Canucks had to do was put up something of a fight, and one could count tonight among the multitude moral victories Vancouver’s hung their hat on in these last two seasons.

The 4-1 score in San Jose’s favour might not tell the story of a handful of plucky underdogs banding together, but for most of the night, it was a relatively close game. Hell, the Canucks outshot the Sharks handily, and whether one can attribute most of that score effects or otherwise, it’s worth noting all the same.

With three call-ups in their lineup and one defenceman playing in his first NHL hockey game in Evan McEneny, the Canucks fared admirably, I thought.

Daniel Sedin scored the Canucks’ lone goal and Ryan Miller stopped 22 of 26 shots. Martin Jones stopped 35 of the Canucks 36 shots and Mikkel Boedker led the way offensively for the Sharks with one goal and five shots.

Stats

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Quick Hits

  • Was speaking with a scout tonight about the sparse attendance, and he raised a point about this city and the mixed messages they sometimes send management. This city says they want a rebuild. Well, tonight they had McEneny playing in his first game, along with youngsters Joseph LaBate and Alex Grenier. Of course, they all rank on the lower end of the prospect scale, and that was my retort, but maybe there’s something to what he’s saying. Then again, it’s not just that these are low-end prospects. I don’t know what my ultimate point here is, but it’s certainly food for thought.
  • Speaking of the youngsters, I thought they mostly acquitted themselves well enough; I liked Grenier and LaBate’s game. They kept it simple and flashed what could be two-thirds of a modernized fourth line, should the Canucks ever have to go that route. LaBate is going to get the majority of the credit tonight, and rightfully so. He delivered a devastating hit to San Jose’s Melker Karlsson and answered the bell when Brenden Dillon came to his teammate’s defence later in the game. And what a show they put on. It was the Canucks first fight in 31 games, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a good one — if you’re into that kind of thing, which I’m admittedly not. 
  • I’m having a hard time counting McEneny’s game among the better ones from the Canucks’ youngsters tonight. And I say that knowing full-well that this is a situation that McEneny shouldn’t be tasked with playing in. He just seemed nervous. Which is more than fair enough for a guy playing in his first NHL game a year after taking most of his shifts in the ECHL. It’s a big jump. 
  • I thought Philip Larsen acquitted himself well in his return to the Canucks lineup. Larsen was sound in transition without giving up too much defensively. That’s about all you can ask for, really. He also led the Canucks blue line with a +14 in Corsi For playing in close to 20 minutes. That’s what I’d call an adequate night.
  • Luca Sbisa left tonight’s game with the flu. Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins was adamant after the game that it wasn’t mumps related, but one could hardly blame Canucks fans for jumping to that conclusion. Sbisa didn’t look great when he was in the lineup, so maybe that goes a little way towards explaining that. Maybe?
  • Desjardins said after the game that Chris Tanev and Troy Stecher have left quarantine and should be ready for the Canucks going forward. I would expect that means they’ll be joining the Canucks in time for tomorrow’s game. That’s a boon for a right side that’s looking awfully short on talent in their absence.
  • Brandon Sutter takes a lot of heat in this space, but for a guy playing on a bum wrist, he seemed surprisingly effective on the power play tonight. Had a few really deft tips in the slot that were just inches off from being goals. Credit where due.


  • Braindead Benning

    Can’t complain of the compete level of the Canucks, at least they made an admirable effort in front of their fans, if they are going to “Tank” at least provide entertainment such as tonight’s game.

  • Bud Poile

    With Edler and Hutton the only two Canucks regular d men playing plus a team that is out of the playoffs and half the team is sick….

    “Was speaking with a scout tonight about the sparse attendance, and he raised a point about this city and the mixed messages they sometimes send management. This city says they want a rebuild. Well, tonight they had McEneny playing in his first game, along with youngsters Joseph LaBate and Alex Grenier. Of course, they all rank on the lower end of the prospect scale, and that was my retort, but maybe there’s something to what he’s saying. Then again, it’s not just that these are low-end prospects. I don’t know what my ultimate point here is, but it’s certainly food for thought.”

    This franchise was in danger of folding because the team was not competitive.

    The point is you have to remain competitive AND rebuild or this franchise is in peril.

    Do you think just maybe that is why management has had that stated goal all along?

    • Freud

      The team is not competitive and has missed countless opportunities to rebuild. They just had an epidemic and their 5th overall draft pick was not called up.

      Benning is going to be the reason we lose our franchise?

      • Bud Poile

        “The team is not competitive and has missed countless opportunities to rebuild. They just had an epidemic and their 5th overall draft pick was not called up.” Braindead Freud

        This team is and has been highly competitive and is now 1.75 years into a rebuild.

        Might want to wait a year or two before you start freaking out.Then again, you were freaking out last year.

        The Canucks 5th overall draft pick is still in the CHL. He can’t be ” called up”.

        • Braindead Benning

          Bud,

          I am a bit confused at your statement about 1.75 years…

          Wasn’t it you who indicated to me on a reply that it’s 2.5 into the rebuild when I said 3?

          I am niot saying who is right or wrong on the EXACT time frame in which Dim Jim has chosen this so call “re-build” on the fly.

          I am more or less just curious on what you consider is “his” rebuild … does it change accordingly ??

          • andyg

            If you were realistic at all you would see that the first year they added a couple of players and landed 101 points.
            They didn’t start to turn over the roster until last year.

        • Dirk22

          1.75 years? Hmmmm. What ‘rebuilding’ moves has this franchise taken In the last 1.75 years?

          Do you mean making draft picks like the 29 other franchises? Trading a 5th for Larsen? Trading for Prust? Trading for Gudbranson? Sutter? Etem? And why only 1.75 years? You think Benning changed directions after they lost to the Flames in the playoffs? Any proof of that or is this another Budism?

          As for the attendance – this is the ‘competitive’ team you’ve been saying will stave off the decline of the franchise. Weird how no one wants to watch it? Last nights poor attendance has nothing to do with the mumps – it’s the product of a 5 year decline of a team that has yet to fully accept the need to rebuild. Maybe we’ll finally see some proactive moves in the next week.

          Highly competitive = 28th place two years running.

  • TD

    The attendance on Sportsnet said 18,129. Their must have been a lot of season ticket holders skipping the game.

    JD, San Jose had the same 5 days off the Canucks had. How can that be a scheduled loss? Is that for the Canucks or the Sharks?

    Get used to this line-up. If JB makes a bunch of trades this week, we have no one better to call up.

  • wojohowitz

    Given a choice between what we have seen so far this season with the veterans who may win a game here and there or the young guys with a future I prefer the young guys. Keep McEneny and Labate for the rest of the season and in seven months from now they might be regulars. When was the last time a Canuck threw a hit that really pessed off the other team?

    I was really hoping to see Subban play.

    Let`s get younger in a hurry and let`s get a coach that doesn`t think Megna is the future.

  • nomadenhaft

    Was speaking with a scout tonight about the sparse attendance, and he raised a point about this city and the mixed messages they sometimes send management. This city says they want a rebuild.

    For that scout to point the finger at the fans in this situation is insulting. Attendance is “sparse” because there are enough Canucks fans intelligent enough to recognize the awful job being done by management.

    It’s goddamn ridiculous to suggest that fans are sending mixed messages because they didn’t fill the arena with walk-ups on a February evening of a lost season in which circumstances forced the coach to play a handful of C-level prospects.

  • DJ_44

    Apparently theCanucks are getting calls for Hutton. Take them….a mid- range prospect or a third round pick…done. How anyone can advocate for Hutton over a Larsen is beyond me. He is brutal.

    Other then that…the Canucks dominated the game and deserved a better fate…but it happens.

    The second pp should get first crack…Larsen and Boucher were peppering the net..and for all the crap he takes…Megna does his job…plays with speed and retrieves pucks.

    • The_Blueline

      I can’t believe that you and apparently many others want to get rid of Hutton so badly, for a mid-round pick!?

      He is only in his second season and is already a solid NHL defender. Do you think they grow on trees? He has had his problems this season but he has enough time to improve.

      Be patient, man

      • Vanoxy

        Agreed.
        People who just want him jettisoned are missing the boat.

        I am in the camp that is open to trading him, but only because right now his value is at an all-time high due to him being exempt from the Vegas draft, cap friendly and the lack of other defensemen on the trade market.

        He’s one of the most marketable players in the league, right now.
        If he’s traded, he needs to bring a windfall return, otherwise he should stay and be a part of this squad for years to come. We haven’t seen his best yet.

        • andyg

          Hutton can be moved after this year. Maybe at the draft.
          There is a chance that they will use their defensive depth to add an asset up front. It would be nice to see a little more of McEneny at this level. He may add to the log jam.

        • I am Ted

          Honestly, Benning really needs to move out a D man. It is too crowded back there and we may lose some of these guys on waivers at the start of next season. Canucks can’t play them all and can’t keep all of them in the system without risking a waiver loss.

          Next season projects as (?):

          Edler Gudbranson

          Hutton Tanev

          Tryamkin Stecher

          We would risk losing Pedan, Subban and others. I’m assuming Larsen, Biega and Sbisa aren’t back although Sbisa may not be exposed/taken via expansion.

          So, it makes sense Benning is looking to deal one or more at this deadline. A Hutton will bring back far more than a 3rd (whoever posted that is a complete moron). Tanev would bring back something high end as well.

          I did like seeing the youth last night. I am hoping they get to stay after the deadline so we can see if they’ve progressed since last season and if they’re actual NHL players. This means Benning needs to be dealing a lot of guys before the end of TDD!

          • DJ_44

            He is how I see the d. Next season

            Left side

            Edler
            Tryamkin
            Joulevi
            McEneny/Pedan

            Right side
            Tanev
            Stecher
            Gudbranson
            Larsen

            I like Sbisa’s play this season…but I think he ill go to expansion.

            Trade Hutton. I would also try to trade Edler but the NTC is troublesome.

            Subban and McEneny or waiver exempt next season.

          • defenceman factory

            You seem to have a fairly high opinion of McEnemy. He is an unproven asset. I watched the game last night and I didn’t see anything but a need to get this kid back to Utica asap.

            Obviously one game right off a long trip isn’t a fair showing but neither is stringing together a couple dozen good AHL games. Why have you concluded he is even close to being NHL ready?

            It may be more difficult but wouldn’t you want to exhaust every opportunity to trade Sbisa, even for just a mid round draft pick, before you trade Hutton? The Canucks could retain some salary or take back a bad contract to sweeten a Sbisa trade.

          • DJ_44

            I do not think McEneny is NHL ready. Nor did I think he looked lost or out of place. He is developing. Nice taste of the show and an eye-opener for him. Back to Utica and continue to grow.

            Regarding Sbisa, he has value. More so than Hutton. He will be taken in expansion…over a Baertschi for sure.

            What has been lost in all this ‘lose them for nothing’ garbage (regarding expansion) is that a team does not want to trade assets below market so as not to expose them. A commenter referenced game theory in a different thread….and that is very appropriate.

            In my opinion…often expressed in frustration…is that Hutton is not that good…and does not have some unexplored ceiling. He is at the zenith of his value……and unlike others, I try not to overvalue players because they play for the Canucks.

            Look at it the other way….would you be in favour of Benning shipping anything more than a third for a Hutton type? Not me.

          • defenceman factory

            Hutton certainly has not had a good year. Last year most didn’t see anything positive ever from Sbisa. I believe Hutton can be better than he has shown this year. We can agree to disagree on whether the only direction for Hutton’s value is down.

            I do agree Hutton is expendable but unless the offer is great I would delay a decision to trade him. He doesn’t factor into expansion and could be an important trade piece at the draft. Without Hutton and Sbisa, as you suggest, you better be certain your left side prospects are ready.

        • DJ_44

          Hutton’s value is he does not require protection.

          No team will be trading for Hutton at the TDL to shore up their blueline; they would move an asset that they cannot protect in expansion for an asset they can.

          McEneny offers as much as Hutton does (if not more).

          I agree a trade can happen anytime prior to the expansion draft, and he should be packaged for a solid forward.

          And for the “moron” comment about a third round pick: what exact value would you ascribe to a #6 third pair (at best) or replacement level defender who you cannot play in the last five minutes if your team is even or leading?

      • DJ_44

        Perhaps your definition of a “solid NHL defender” differs from mine.

        Defenders with the skill set of Hutton are not rare; in fact they are overly common. Exactly what skill does he excel at?

        Defensive zone? Below replacement level; the worse defender on the Canucks this season (by far);

        First pass/lead the rush. Nope. Always been a half second behind the play.

        Skating (speed is average, mobility is slightly below average).

        Offensive blueline? Average to slightly above average (this includes the PP ONCE IN THE ZONE WITH POSSESSION). God help us if he is “leading the rush”.

        Hockey IQ? Average to slightly below average….too slow at reading the play.

        So, I ask again: what constitutes a “solid NHL defender”?

        • Hutton’s strength and uniqueness stems from the fact that he’s a converted winger. He sees the ice differently and gives the Canucks a Brian Leetch-like threat. Check out some of his goals from the NCAA, some are scored from below the slot. It’s only his second year, he’ll get better over time.

  • Braindead Benning

    JD, love the title “down with the sickness” should have included some footage of David Draiman performing at the croation cultural centre during their first tour in vancouver.. lol

    I remember because I was attending during the AV”s and Canucks playoff series…

    Great concert and a total AV”s dominated series

    Cheers

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Go on the radio before the game and announce Subban is playing. That’ll help with those ticket sales. For God’s sake play the man, I want to see what he can do.

    • Braindead Benning

      I agree,

      even with comments outside the Canucks management that he is a bit defensibly challenged and can’t handle larger AHL forwards at least put the guy in a few NHL games…

      Given that season is a wash at this point take a chance and give him an opportunity to show whether he is capable or not Capable at this level.

      I am almost starting to think that besides Horvat, JB has an agenda to eliminate any prospects from the past…

      Anyway, that just my opinion

  • Fred-65

    Let’s be honest the Canucks are predictable. From the 1st to the fourth line you get clones of a standard model. LaBate changed that last night. Being unpredictable ( a fact that doesn’t come into Willys thinking) can have a positive effect on an opponents pre game planning. With Vcr opposition rarely need a pre game review …basically “Well guys it’s more of what we did last week…month…year ” They ask about the crowds diminishing well a lot of what has an effect is the same. Same old same old, if the team wins it’s considered acceptable but if they’re loosing …hey you’re seeing the same again and again plus you’re loosing !! who wants to walk out of Rogers after loosing after a entertainment free expensive night and try and smile. There has to be a change in philosophy in Vcr as much as a change in coaches. Alain Vigneault started this trend.

    Automated hockey.

    People are fed up with it and don’t want to pour money into a constant repetitive illness that’s been inflicted on the fans. It’s one thing to loose constantly but it’s altogether unacceptable to keep repeating the same crap !