Instant Reaction: The Seattle Kraken are what the Vancouver Canucks aspire to be
Photo credit:© Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
7 months ago
Welcome back to Instant Reaction — the series here at CanucksArmy in which we give you our instant reaction to the game and ask our readers to do the same in the comments section below! The Stanchies by Wyatt Arndt will be posted later tonight and The Statsies — CanucksArmy’s analytics-based post game report by Mike Liu — will be posted tomorrow morning.
It was fun to watch the Vancouver Canucks dominate the Chicago Blackhawks in Rick Tocchet’s debut behind the bench. But tonight was a different story, as the Canucks fell by a final score of 6-1 to their geographical rivals.
Look, the Seattle Kraken are a much, much better team than Chicago, and are — seemingly out of nowhere — a much better team than the Canucks, too.
There are a few lessons the Canucks can learn from the Kraken, and based on what we’ve heard Tocchet, Patrik Allvin, and Jim Rutherford say in the past little bit, they’ve already identified those lessons. Now they just need to execute on them.
Yes, the Seattle Kraken, in their second year in the league, are what the Canucks aspire to be.
When Tocchet arrived in Vancouver, he said he wanted to see the Canucks play more predictable. That’s a good word to describe the Kraken team we saw tonight. Everyone is where they’re supposed to be. They’re structurally sound on their zone entries, in the defensive zone, and when breaking the puck out of their own end.
Their work on the forecheck simply made the Canucks look like an Atom team going up against a BCHL team all night long, but was especially prevalent in the first period. So much so that Tocchet burned his timeout before the second TV timeout of the game had even occurred.
As we’ve said in recent days though, it seems like Tocchet’s job description is a bit different than the one Bruce Boudreau was given upon being hired. Boudreau seemed to be tasked with getting wins under any circumstances possible — and did a good job of that last season — whereas Tocchet seems to have the freedom to put it in the grunt work to help the team build good long term habits while sacrificing immediate results in the process.
And tonight, that was prevalent. That, and the fact that it’s going to be a tall task for Tocchet to get this team playing the way this management group hopes they will. The way of the Kraken, one might say.
The Canucks, regardless of the personnel they have on the roster at this point in time, seem set on rolling four lines and obviously, want to have more structure.
Seattle executes on both of these things at a very high level, and its why they’re now challenging for the first place spot in the Pacific Division.
They don’t have superstars — yet, at least — but they spent the past offseason loading up on depth that has transformed them into the in-your-face, high-effort, pedal-to-the-metal-for-60-minutes-type team we saw tonight.
And spoiler alert — they didn’t get there by overpaying for wingers. They did it by being disciplined in their decision-making and making some safe high-upside bets. One of these bets was to claim Eeli Tolvanen off of waivers in December — a move the Canucks passed up on because they have enough wingers already, we assume.
Rick Tocchet and his staff have a ton of work to do before they can be criticized for their performance as coaches. It seems like the only part of Tocchet’s plan that has been put into place are the “non-negotiables” such as backchecking (JT Miller has done this for two games in a row now) and hustling off the ice on line changes. That, and the rolling of four lines that Tocchet talked about.
He’ll need more time to implement systems and structure to this team, and when he does, it might not mean the Canucks will get more wins. Not with this roster, at least. But it might mean that the Canucks play in less lopsided games like tonight where they look outclassed in every sense of the word.
The lesson from the Kraken appears to be that depth and sharp decision-making on the managerial side can lead to success. But the Kraken obviously aren’t a perfect team by any means. In fact, with Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson, the Canucks have two pieces the Kraken can only hope to one day have their own versions of.
Could you imagine if the Canucks were able to surround their two franchise cornerstones with depth similar to what we saw in the Seattle lineup tonight?
Simply put, the Seattle Kraken are a four-line team, and the Canucks aspire to one day be that, too. For now, you get nights like tonight, where more well-balanced rosters skate laps around the Canucks like it’s nothing.
Anyway, that’s our instant reaction from tonight’s game, but we want to hear from you! That’s the whole purpose of this series, after all. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
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