The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Welcome to the main forum of our site. Anything and everything to do with the Vancouver Canucks is dicussed and debated here.

Moderator: Referees

User avatar
Meds
CC Legend
Posts: 8157
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:50 pm

The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Meds »

With the trade deadline fast approaching and the team now into the last 30 games of this season, I got to thinking about where they stand and how they shape up as we hurtle towards the playoffs.

There are many things being kicked around in the media, trade ideas, what the team needs, etc. Most people point to a need for an upgrade and depth on the blueline as well as some added toughness among the forwards. The trade talk has been done to death, and Gillis had alot of good things to say about Schneider that went beyond just his on-ice performance, so I really don't think we are going to see a change in the crease. As for the toughness, well I think Bitz is answering that bell for us right now, and if Weise can step up even a little that department might have more to it than most people think. The blueline does need depth. Rome and Alberts are simply not going to get it done in the #6 spot. Rome is too inept and Alberts isn't mobile enough against quick attackers. So that's the player situation. I'm more interested in the "team" than the individuals on it in this thread.....

The Canucks currently have the second best road record in the league, their home record isn't stellar right now, but they've pretty much been kings of the rink at Rogers arena for the last few seasons, and last year they finally put it together on the road. In the playoffs last year the team struggled away from Rogers, particularly against Chicago and Boston, and while this year is unlikely to see a regular season like last year, the team is making their mark on the road at this point rather than at home. There are 2 games left on this road trip, then a 3 game home stand followed by 6 on the road. That seems pretty exhausting, until you look at March and April. The Canucks play 13 of their last 18 games at Rogers Arena and all of them are again Western Conference teams keeping them in the Pacific or Mtn timezone for all but 3 games in a row against teams on central time. That should really help the team recharge their batteries and get setup for an opening round that, barring the unthinkable and unlikely, would see Vancouver own home-ice advantage until at least the Conference Finals. If Vancouver can continue to gain confidence and momentum on the road this month, it will bode well going for the team's confidence going up against an opening round opponent who has had to scrap their way into the final spot, paving the way for a better chance of playing game 5 at home up 3-1. This season is ending on a note that really sets the Canucks up to take a healthy and "rested" run at the post-season.

Behind the bench the team faces the same challenges they have for the last few years, though it appears that Gillis is forcing his coaching staff to evolve somewhat and get out of their box. Vigneault hasn't been allowed to play favorites with Luongo this year and coddle his starting goaltender. He has played the hot hand, and you know that Gillis said something to him about that. The PP units have evened out a bit as we saw when the first unit started struggling and suddenly "Cody's" unit got more ice-time as they were producing results. The two areas where I think there is still need for improvement are the breakout under pressure and the blueline. AV still seems to think Rome is going to pan out and is worth more TOI than Ballard. The blueline needs restructuring and if a trade can't happen that sees Rome supplanted by someone else, then Rome needs to sit and Tanev needs to come up after the deadline to get more experience and be usable in the playoffs. Ballard and Tanev played well together last year when they were paired up, and Tanev was very good at making the smart play with the puck with a simple pass in his own end, often hitting Ballard in a good spot where he could skate it out or make an easier pass to a rushing forward. Rome has been incapable of doing this, and there has been no chemistry between him and Ballard.

I think that even without a trade, the pieces are here to contend for, and even win, the Cup. But it will require a couple of internal changes.
ESQ
MVP
MVP
Posts: 3219
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:34 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by ESQ »

Meds wrote:As for the toughness, well I think Bitz is answering that bell for us right now, and if Weise can step up even a little that department might have more to it than most people think.
The fourth line has been great this year, no other team in the league has a player of Manny's calibre on their 4th line, and I'm wondering if the increased icetime on the 4th line is contributing to fewer injuries throughout the lineup this year. When you remove the injuries still recovering from last year, its been a remarkably healthy year.
Meds wrote:The Canucks currently have the second best road record in the league
If I'm not mistaken, the Canucks have also played the most road games by far in the NHL. Some site (maybe prohockeytalk?) had some sort of formula for the most difficult post-All Star Break schedules by quality of teams and road games, and the Canucks have the third-easiest schedule. Chicago as I recall had one of the most difficult, and they're definitely struggling. I said at the start of the season I thought they'd miss the playoffs, and i can still see that happening.
Meds wrote: Vigneault hasn't been allowed to play favorites with Luongo this year and coddle his starting goaltender. He has played the hot hand, and you know that Gillis said something to him about that.
I don't know what you're basing that on. Prior to last year, Luongo never had a solid backup, plus we were in a situation where losing an extra 5 points could make the difference between making the playoffs or not, or at least could make us lose the division. Last season, with Schneider as his back-up and getting sheltered-starts, Schneider got 22 starts, and might get 25+ this year (currently at 17).

Luongo's only bad stretch was in October into early-November, and unfortunately Schneider wasn't playing lights out at that time. At that time the entire team was playing like crap, and neither goalie was able to rise above. In the current stretch of sub-standard hockey, both goalies are carrying their team and getting the wins. If Luongo wasn't hot right now, I would expect to see Schneider get more games in the past couple months.

But thanks to Luongo and Schneider, the Canucks currently have the best past 10 games record in the NHL - isn't that freakin' bizarre?

Thanks to the schedule I think the Canucks are sitting really pretty for another run at the President's Trophy. I think this year having home ice in the first 3 rounds is less important than last year, but far more important in the Finals. It looks likely that there will be at least one all-Central division matchup in the first round, and very possibly two, and there will be an upset of a top seed. However, the East is looking a lot more intimidating this year than last.

GMMG was very wise to make his move for Booth early, as judging from Stan Bowman's comments there are almost no deals to be made this year. I was scared to see how much cap space Boston, Detroit, and Chicago are sitting on, but there's no one available to fill it up. We are in great shape compared to other teams, Tanev will be our deadline acquisition and will likely be the #6 throughout the playoffs.
User avatar
rockjetty
CC Rookie
Posts: 39
Joined: Mon Oct 22, 2007 7:43 am
Location: YVR -> BRU -> PDX -> SEA -> PHL

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by rockjetty »

I was going to post this in the Preds game thread, but here is just as good as well. The last few games, the Canucks have not been having calls go their way, creating a huge disparity in PK/PP time.

The simplest explanation -- referee bias and/or not wanting to decide the game by giving the #1 PP in the league a chance to ice the game -- might hold a little water, but there are other possibilities that might also factor in.

I have noticed a lot less embellishment by the Canucks since the AllStar break -- on high sticks where there is no call or Lou gets bowled over, and the refs aren't calling it, it is because the Canucks aren't selling it. So the refs have to call the game fair, but they are conditioned to the embellishment, so when it isn't embellished, they aren't calling it as much.

I suspect & hope that this is actually part of a GMMG/AV plan for the playoffs. Taking the embellishment out of their game, the Canucks will give other teams and the media less fodder to create distractions during the playoff run. The refs will become accustomed to the fact that the Canucks play a clean game, and will be more likely to call diving against opponents. The refs may put away their whistles in the playoffs anyways, so the Canucks can't rely on their #1 PP to take care of wins in the post-season, so the Canucks have to find ways to win 5 on 5.

I like this strategy -- it is, quite simply, adjusting their game for the playoffs.

The side effect though, as a fan, is frustration with the refs for the non-calls, and also I am seeing more embellishment from other teams (last night the first tripping penalty, Hodgson on Spaling, I thought was a dive, and the Booth tripping call later in the first was either a phantom call or a dive).
User avatar
Meds
CC Legend
Posts: 8157
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Meds »

ESQ wrote: The fourth line has been great this year, no other team in the league has a player of Manny's calibre on their 4th line, and I'm wondering if the increased icetime on the 4th line is contributing to fewer injuries throughout the lineup this year. When you remove the injuries still recovering from last year, its been a remarkably healthy year.
Malhotra has been crap and everyone knows it. He's not a 4th line player and it's showing. He's a better player than any 4th line player in the league, but right now he's out of his element and not getting anything done outside of the faceoff circle.
If I'm not mistaken, the Canucks have also played the most road games by far in the NHL. Some site (maybe prohockeytalk?) had some sort of formula for the most difficult post-All Star Break schedules by quality of teams and road games, and the Canucks have the third-easiest schedule. Chicago as I recall had one of the most difficult, and they're definitely struggling. I said at the start of the season I thought they'd miss the playoffs, and i can still see that happening.
We are up there for sure, tied with Philly I think. And I did go on to say that our schedul in March and April is quite good.
I don't know what you're basing that on. Prior to last year, Luongo never had a solid backup, plus we were in a situation where losing an extra 5 points could make the difference between making the playoffs or not, or at least could make us lose the division. Last season, with Schneider as his back-up and getting sheltered-starts, Schneider got 22 starts, and might get 25+ this year (currently at 17).
I base this on several years of Vigneault leaving Luongo in a game "on a hunch" after Lou has given up 3 or 4+ early softies. Luongo has had a capable backup nearly every year. Raycroft was more than adequate as a backup, as was Sanford. Neither of them were going to challenge for the starting job, but they were up to the task of stepping in on ocassion. This is just the first time we've seen him play in front of a backup that could possibly push him for a starting job.
But thanks to Luongo and Schneider, the Canucks currently have the best past 10 games record in the NHL - isn't that freakin' bizarre?
Not bizarre at all. Both of our goaltenders have played (since November) like they would start on any team other than Nashville, Boston, and NYR.
User avatar
The Brown Wizard
MVP
MVP
Posts: 13285
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:19 pm
Location: in the shed with a fresh packed bowl

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by The Brown Wizard »

Odd little curiosity I heard tonight...
Boston Bruins leading up to the January game against VCR- 20+ games over .500
Including that game until now- 1 game over .500...soon to be .500 even...if they lose tonight against Buffalo(down 4-0 after 2 periods)

Watching them tonight the Sabres are matching all the physical BS and punching in greasy goals.

So did the Nucks bring them back down to earth?
Witchcraft... Oh, but it IS. A dark and terrible magic...
BladesofSteel
CC Hall of Fan Member
Posts: 1548
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:29 pm
Location: Lower left-hand corner

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by BladesofSteel »

Boston can't continue to bully through teams and expect to enter the playoffs healthy and energized to go deep in the playoffs. That style works great for the short term, but it wears down over time, and they don't seem to be pacing themselves.

The more stupid bull-shit they pull, the more they will parade themselves to the box, get behind the eight ball and have to battle back. Its an exhausting way to perform on a nightly basis.

As for Vancouver, they've been going through their own slump since the Boston game, and are managing to not only keep their heads above water, but hold their spot among the elite in the standings. The only issue the Canucks must overcome are their own injury concerns.

Fingers crossed Hanks CT comes up negative.
User avatar
rats19
Moderator & MVP
Moderator & MVP
Posts: 11221
Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 7:21 am
Location: over here.....

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by rats19 »

Chara -3
Marchand 22pims

6-zip erhoff et al
Getting old is not for the young...
dbr
CC Legend
Posts: 3059
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2011 5:37 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by dbr »

BladesofSteel wrote:Fingers crossed Hanks CT comes up negative.
Boy wouldn't it be interesting (in the "may you live in interesting times" sense of the word) if it did not.

If Hank has suffered an injury that is going to require some time on the sidelines, Potatoe will get his wish (the Canucks will have to get used to going without the Sedins paired on the top line), Cody Hodgson will get an extended look with top six wingers, the Canucks will have all sorts of LTIR exemption available to them..

Anyway. None of that would make up for losing one of the best players in the league - but it would be interesting.
ESQ
MVP
MVP
Posts: 3219
Joined: Wed Jul 13, 2011 6:34 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by ESQ »

Meds wrote:I base this on several years of Vigneault leaving Luongo in a game "on a hunch" after Lou has given up 3 or 4+ early softies
So that's your idea of "coddling his starting goaltender"? Leaving him in games that he's getting shelled in?

I don't believe that pulling a goalie has much of an impact. You rarely see a goalie coming off the bench and getting a win, because 9 times out of 10 the goalie is getting shelled because his team is playing like crap. This year Luongo's been pulled twice, plus the injury in the Colorado shutout. Last year he was pulled twice, plus the one "pull" to get Schneider's name on the Jennings. I don't think Schneider got a win in any of the games he's come off the bench.

I think the smart use of a backup is putting him in situations where he can get you points, which is usually giving him well-placed starts. Schneider ran with the ball and went 16-4-2 in 22 starts against easier opponents. Raycroft went 9-5-1 in 09/10 with a 3.80 GAA, and none of the 3 backups when Luongo went down in 08/09 were above .500. I think its fair to say Raycroft was incredibly lucky to be over 500 with a 3.80 GAA, let alone 9-5-1.
Meds wrote:Malhotra has been crap and everyone knows it.
Disagree with you there - I didn't know he's been crap :lol: He's getting the tough faceoffs, winning them, and getting the puck deep. He's been even +/- since Nov. 3 and is giving respectable 4th line point production. You're definitely not seeing the aggressive forechecker from last year, but his offensive role has diminished enormously - no PP time, half the offensive zone starts, better linemates.
User avatar
Meds
CC Legend
Posts: 8157
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Meds »

ESQ wrote:So that's your idea of "coddling his starting goaltender"? Leaving him in games that he's getting shelled in?
When Luongo (or any goaltender for that matter) gives up 3 or 4 goals early SOFT goals he is hardly getting shelled. We've seen many times where has let in some early shots that he should have had, many other times where the team has been down by a goal or two after one period and Luongo has let in the first or second shot to open the middle frame and followed it up with another weak goal a few minutes later. Generally he has not been "shelled" in those games. In fact, Luongo's record when being shelled (40ish shots) is actually quite good.
I don't believe that pulling a goalie has much of an impact. You rarely see a goalie coming off the bench and getting a win, because 9 times out of 10 the goalie is getting shelled because his team is playing like crap. This year Luongo's been pulled twice, plus the injury in the Colorado shutout. Last year he was pulled twice, plus the one "pull" to get Schneider's name on the Jennings. I don't think Schneider got a win in any of the games he's come off the bench.
What's all this "shelled" talk? I said "early softies", not a goal or three after facing 20 shots in a single period.....
Disagree with you there - I didn't know he's been crap :lol: He's getting the tough faceoffs, winning them, and getting the puck deep. He's been even +/- since Nov. 3 and is giving respectable 4th line point production. You're definitely not seeing the aggressive forechecker from last year, but his offensive role has diminished enormously - no PP time, half the offensive zone starts, better linemates.
But he's been a minus player since Christmas. It would have been a real chore for anyone on this team to have been a minus player in November and early December.

So we aren't seeing the aggressive forechecker from last year. His offensive contributions and role have diminished enormously (note not just a bit but enormously. He isn't being used to win draws on the PP or in the offensive zone. And he has better linemates? Uhh....

Ok, so the ONLY thing he is doing that he was doing last year is winning faceoffs.....and he's not even being utilized in that role as much. On the 4th line we should be seeing a guy that is forechecking hard, which you have just said he is not doing. I think you made the case for his being junk lately.
BladesofSteel
CC Hall of Fan Member
Posts: 1548
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2011 6:29 pm
Location: Lower left-hand corner

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by BladesofSteel »

Meds wrote: Ok, so the ONLY thing he is doing that he was doing last year is winning faceoffs.....and he's not even being utilized in that role as much. On the 4th line we should be seeing a guy that is forechecking hard, which you have just said he is not doing. I think you made the case for his being junk lately.
He's still a very effective penalty killer, usually on the #1 PK unit.

Look, there's no question his limited offensive contributions have become even moreso, if not non-existent. But let's not forgot the main reason for his acquisition in the first place, to relieve Kesler some of the checking/defensive responsibilities and penalty killing minutes in order to allow RK to be placed in more offensive situations.

AFAICS, this is still taking place, it's just that Manny is now on pace for a 20 point season rather than 30. Come playoffs, both he and Lapierre will prove their value to the team.

Must look at the big picture.
User avatar
The Brown Wizard
MVP
MVP
Posts: 13285
Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:19 pm
Location: in the shed with a fresh packed bowl

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by The Brown Wizard »

Manny isn't a Canuck to rack up points, he's there to bring a defensive element to the bottom six and win key face offs. We sit in 3rd overall with 30ish games to go. Why are we ripping into a guy who is such a valuable leader on and off the ice? His injury last year was horrific and an inspiration to his team mates and fans. Hes not hurting his team and will likely be resigned for pennies.
Replacing him with someone else will not benefit the team on or off the ice and messing with team chemistry mid season can only hurt what we have going on.
Witchcraft... Oh, but it IS. A dark and terrible magic...
User avatar
Meds
CC Legend
Posts: 8157
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2011 8:50 pm

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Meds »

BladesofSteel wrote:
Meds wrote: Ok, so the ONLY thing he is doing that he was doing last year is winning faceoffs.....and he's not even being utilized in that role as much. On the 4th line we should be seeing a guy that is forechecking hard, which you have just said he is not doing. I think you made the case for his being junk lately.
He's still a very effective penalty killer, usually on the #1 PK unit.
#1 PK unit tends to be Burrows and Kesler.
Uncle dans leg wrote: Manny isn't a Canuck to rack up points, he's there to bring a defensive element to the bottom six and win key face offs. We sit in 3rd overall with 30ish games to go. Why are we ripping into a guy who is such a valuable leader on and off the ice?
Can't speak for some others, but I for one am not ripping on him so much as I am pointing out the areas where he has been useless this year and then defending my opinions to others. I do think he's a good leader in the locker room. I don't see him as a leader on the ice. I've watched him hurt his team several times with poor play in the defensive end by not getting the puck out, being out battled on the boards, being out hustled to the puck, passing it to nobody.....
User avatar
Tciso
CC Hall of Fan Member
Posts: 2169
Joined: Thu Sep 25, 2008 9:44 am

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Tciso »

ESQ wrote:
Meds wrote:Malhotra has been crap and everyone knows it.
Disagree with you there - I didn't know he's been crap :lol: He's getting the tough faceoffs, winning them, and getting the puck deep. He's been even +/- since Nov. 3 and is giving respectable 4th line point production. You're definitely not seeing the aggressive forechecker from last year, but his offensive role has diminished enormously - no PP time, half the offensive zone starts, better linemates.
I am with you on Malholtra. He has improved a lot since October. And that is to be expected. He had a horrendous injury, and was obviously going to take time to fully recover to his "new" healthy level. I think he's getting close, and he's doing pretty good where he is. I'd trade him in a heart beat for the right price, but, as a guy coming off injury, he's really what I expected. He has probably had to re-learn a ton of the game since the eye injury. Does anyone really know how much he can see from that eye? Remember Ohlund took a full season to adjust too.
The Cup is soooooo ours!!!!!!!
User avatar
Tiger
CC Hall of Fan Member
Posts: 1742
Joined: Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:09 pm
Contact:

Re: The Home Stretch & Gearing Up For the Playoffs

Post by Tiger »

Meds said:
The Canucks currently have the second best road record in the league, their home record isn't stellar right now, but they've pretty much been kings of the rink at Rogers arena for the last few seasons, and last year they finally put it together on the road. In the playoffs last year the team struggled away from Rogers, particularly against Chicago and Boston, and while this year is unlikely to see a regular season like last year, the team is making their mark on the road at this point rather than at home. There are 2 games left on this road trip, then a 3 game home stand followed by 6 on the road. That seems pretty exhausting, until you look at March and April. The Canucks play 13 of their last 18 games at Rogers Arena and all of them are again Western Conference teams keeping them in the Pacific or Mtn timezone for all but 3 games in a row against teams on central time. That should really help the team recharge their batteries and get setup for an opening round that, barring the unthinkable and unlikely, would see Vancouver own home-ice advantage until at least the Conference Finals. If Vancouver can continue to gain confidence and momentum on the road this month, it will bode well going for the team's confidence going up against an opening round opponent who has had to scrap their way into the final spot, paving the way for a better chance of playing game 5 at home up 3-1. This season is ending on a note that really sets the Canucks up to take a healthy and "rested" run at the post-season.
Thanks for the great start for this topic.. and a fair analysis.. though if last years regular season is any indication there does not seem to be much advantage to the Canucks having "home" advantage at least in the regular season.. they won 27 on the road and 27 at home..points total was 59 at home 58 on the road..

The team might consider bringing in a couple of old players as rentals , though MG seems to be against rental players. I was thinking about adding Aucoin on D and if the Ducks are really in "rebuild"mode Teemu Selanne .. wouldn't cost much and might be enough to put us over the top..
" If you cant beat them in the alley - you can't beat them on the ice
Post Reply