2012 Post-Mortem thoughts

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2012 Post-Mortem thoughts

Postby Puck » Mon Apr 23, 2012 11:08 am

On April the 11th, I posted this:

"Don't be too complacent and forget to watch some games. Who here would be surprised by any of these 16 teams winning in the first round? This year's playoffs look about as tightly contested as we've ever seen. Bad bounces are going to happen and if Vancouver get nothing but perimeter shots into a wall of shot-blocking Kings, they'll find themselves in the upset column."

It's not that I had a bad feeling about this team, but I felt like nothing would surprise me - out in round one, or back in the finals both seemed possible. It really seems that the one thing you can take from the playoffs thus far is the confirmation that it's ridiculously difficult to win the Cup and further to that, you'd better win it if you get the chance: ask Buffalo, Calgary, Edmonton, Florida, Ottawa, and Vancouver. Each of these teams has had appearances in the finals, lost and then not been anywhere close in the subsequent years.

So what can we say about the 2011-2012 Canucks?

    Capable, but ultimately, not that hungry. Maybe knowing what a long road it is to get to the finals actually hurt them. They said the right things during the season, but they never ramped up the intensity needed to win in the post-season. The Kings, on the other hand, were peaking and full of confidence heading in. Which leads to...

    I'm in agreement with Henrik that they simply could not afford to go down 2-0 in games. The confidence that the Kings came in with was inflated further by winning the first two games on the road. It made Vancouver's path to winning the series that much tougher. Had they won last night, they might have started to get the Kings feeling a little vulnerable, but as it was LA didn't play nervous the entire series. You could go as far as saying the series was lost in game 1.

    Kesler: I know he sometimes has shut-down reponsibilities that stifle his offensive contributuions, but you would think that wouldn't be the case against LA. Maybe everyone is now seeing that LA has good forward depth, ideally suited to the playoffs... but without Mr. Kesler providing some offense, this team can't score enough goals. This is most likely the biggest difference between this year and last - Kesler simply didn't score enough. I don't think you can totally blame Gillis for moving forward with the assumption that Kesler could be counted on for a high level of offense, but in hindsight, they needed more scoring help and Booth was obviously not the answer.

    Sedins: I find it unfortunate that we didn't get to see them play more games because I think we were seeing them have a little more post-season success this year. Both ended up at 1 point-per-game in a low-scoring series and particularly Henrik played with more passion than ever. Playing 2 games without Daniel might easily have been the key factor in the series. Thanks for that, Dunc.

    Coaching: I don't think AV has lost the room, but I've never been so sure about his ability to adjust to different opponents. It could be that a new approach from the coaching staff, but as others have mentioned, I would NOT pull the trigger before being confident in a replacement.

    Goaltending: aside from the who to start stories, kind of a non-issue. It was plenty good enough to win.

    Defense: there sure was a loss of composure at times and it cost them some very untimely goals against. Can we close the book on Edler and say he's not a great playoff performer? I don't know that we can afford his salary if he's going to have to play less minutes. Bieksa seemed a bit invisible. Sami unfortunately may have turned the corner as he seems to have lost his knack for the game-saving/winning play. No shame there, but he may be done.

There's lots more to be said. Have at it.
Last edited by Puck on Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby ESQ » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:22 pm

Nice summary.

I was considering starting a thread before the series started polling people's reasonable expectations for this year's playoffs. I ultimately didn't (didn't want to jinx them...clearly didn't work), but I thought going in they'd be out in the second round.

Down the stretch, it became apparent that there was nothing left in the tank. The pivotal moment for me was the trade deadline - not because of the "trade for the future" that landed a raw Kassian, but seeing the Canucks players out of their equipment saying their goodbyes to Hodgson. I couldn't believe how scrawny they looked, especially Burrows. If I had to guess I'd say he was around 165-170.

When you consider the sheer volume of off-season surgeries to top 6 forwards and top-4 D (Daniel, Raymond, Kesler, Hamhuis, Bieksa I think?), the wear and tear of a rough Boston series, and an 8 week off-season, a short playoff run isn't a big surprise. The Kassian trade put an exclamation point on this theory, because it was a pure hockey trade, made on deadline day.

Looking back on past Pacific Coast teams to make the Finals, only one has made it out of the first round the year following, and that was the '95 Canucks in a lockout-shortened year. In this Kings series, I'd say the Canucks were extremely close to winning two of the games, and just came up a tiny bit short. In my opinion, games that close come down to finding that extra gear, and the Canucks just didn't have it.

As sad as it makes me, I think Luongo is moved this off-season, at his request. Other than that, I don't think there will be any major moves. I hope Raymond is kept around, because with an actual training period he could still be a 50+ point 2nd liner, or 35+ point third liner. He'd probably come at a discount, and would be well worth it.

I think the Sedins, Kesler and Burrows will have bounce-back years. The most important is Kesler - what became extremely obvious throughout the second line's struggles was that Kesler is the straw that stirs that drink. If he's not playing to his potential, the effectiveness of the second line drops, and so do the production of the second line wingers.

Overall, I'm happy with the season considering my expectations going in. The President's Trophy is a major accomplishment, and they did it in extremely difficult circumstances and without a single career year from any of their players (except Edler). I'm not foreseeing major changes, but hey, I've been wrong before.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby ukcanuck » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:28 pm

ESQ wrote:Nice summary.

I was considering starting a thread before the series started polling people's reasonable expectations for this year's playoffs. I ultimately didn't (didn't want to jinx them...clearly didn't work), but I thought going in they'd be out in the second round.

Down the stretch, it became apparent that there was nothing left in the tank. The pivotal moment for me was the trade deadline - not because of the "trade for the future" that landed a raw Kassian, but seeing the Canucks players out of their equipment saying their goodbyes to Hodgson. I couldn't believe how scrawny they looked, especially Burrows. If I had to guess I'd say he was around 165-170.

When you consider the sheer volume of off-season surgeries to top 6 forwards and top-4 D (Daniel, Raymond, Kesler, Hamhuis, Bieksa I think?), the wear and tear of a rough Boston series, and an 8 week off-season, a short playoff run isn't a big surprise. The Kassian trade put an exclamation point on this theory, because it was a pure hockey trade, made on deadline day.

Looking back on past Pacific Coast teams to make the Finals, only one has made it out of the first round the year following, and that was the '95 Canucks in a lockout-shortened year. In this Kings series, I'd say the Canucks were extremely close to winning two of the games, and just came up a tiny bit short. In my opinion, games that close come down to finding that extra gear, and the Canucks just didn't have it.

As sad as it makes me, I think Luongo is moved this off-season, at his request. Other than that, I don't think there will be any major moves. I hope Raymond is kept around, because with an actual training period he could still be a 50+ point 2nd liner, or 35+ point third liner. He'd probably come at a discount, and would be well worth it.

I think the Sedins, Kesler and Burrows will have bounce-back years. The most important is Kesler - what became extremely obvious throughout the second line's struggles was that Kesler is the straw that stirs that drink. If he's not playing to his potential, the effectiveness of the second line drops, and so do the production of the second line wingers.

Overall, I'm happy with the season considering my expectations going in. The President's Trophy is a major accomplishment, and they did it in extremely difficult circumstances and without a single career year from any of their players (except Edler). I'm not foreseeing major changes, but hey, I've been wrong before.



I like the reasoned approach and the love for the presidents trophy, its worth buying some brasso for. A full off season and no surgeries should be the tonic for some and a tweak here and there will make a world of difference next year.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby Jovocop » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:41 pm

ESQ wrote:As sad as it makes me, I think Luongo is moved this off-season, at his request. Other than that, I don't think there will be any major moves. I hope Raymond is kept around, because with an actual training period he could still be a 50+ point 2nd liner, or 35+ point third liner. He'd probably come at a discount, and would be well worth it.


I seriously do not want to have Raymond as a Canuck next season. With proper training, he might regain his form but this team needs to be tougher up front, especially top-six.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby ESQ » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:46 pm

Jovocop wrote:I seriously do not want to have Raymond as a Canuck next season. With proper training, he might regain his form but this team needs to be tougher up front, especially top-six.

As I see the top 9 next year, there's Burrows, Kesler, Higgins, Lapierre, and Kassian, who I would consider "tough" players - guys that will hit to gain the puck, backcheck hard, etc. Of that group, Lapierre and Kassian are the only ones who might fight on a regular basis, but I don't want a top 6 (or top 9 for that matter) forward fighting. If you think your team needs a fighter, throw them on the fourth line, otherwise you're wasting your talented forwards by having them sit in the box.

The only team with a "tough" top 6 is Anaheim, and they are the exception, not the rule. Even Boston doesn't have a tough top 6, they leave that to the defense and the bottom 6. I didn't see a lack of toughness being a factor this year, it really came down to a lack of offense in the playoffs.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby Boston Canucker » Mon Apr 23, 2012 1:56 pm

I think one psychological factor that hopefully a long spring/summer off will wipe away is the persistent need to prove they weren't the team that collapsed against the Bruins. It seemed like after Jan 7 they'd got it out of their systems but game 1 of the playoffs they were not focussed on the team in front of them. It was like they were trying to replay game 7 by killing imaginary Bruins on the ice. This is one area where I think the coaching did matter. AV was not able to get them to focus in on the one game at a time approach. I really do believe that last year's final still sticks in the players' craws in a way that cost them focus. Maybe a first round loss will be the colonic needed to clean that shit out...
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby Orcasfan » Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:10 pm

Yeah, I agree with you guys. With the vantage point of hind-sight, it seems as if last season's trials and tribulations just wore them out. And without a proper summer break for recovery (both physically and mentally), by the trade deadline, they were essentially running on empty! :( I tip my hat to the guys, despite a disappointing result. And, I do think we will see better results from those players who were recovering from injuries/surgeries, next season. I think Ferraro mentioned a couple of months ago that it usually takes a full year to recover from the injury/surgery that Kesler experienced.

Still not sure about Raymond's future. I could see GMMG keeping him just as likely as trading him (see above for injury-recovery). I think Salo will hang them up (or be slotted as 3rd pairing guy). I think he simply wore down over the long season, playing important minutes. I still think he would be valuable on the 3rd pair and as point on the PP. But he might not be willing to grind it out again. I think Gillis might look at targeting a top D during the off-season - either trade or UFA. Once again, the lack of a real top D hurt us. No doubt Hamhuis was our best. Even acquiring someone his equal would be gratifying. Bieksa won't cut it; and probably not Ballard either. Of course, it all depends on Edler. Does he improve or have we seen his peak? One good development has been the play of Ballard. His return to the D, and the quality of his play was sorely needed! :)

Training camp will be very interesting - the 3rd C is up for grabs, together with one of the top 9 forward slots. And who knows who will win a spot on the D corps? Should be interesting...One last thought - I actually feel better about the team losing earlier in the run, than later, say in the next round. If they had gone another round, the chances for injuries would have sky-rocketed (Daniel!), and, still, for nothing substantial. This way, they, at least, get to maximize the (desperately needed) recovery time!
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby dbr » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:05 pm

This offseason will be a real crossroads for Mike Gillis.

There's a lot of reason to believe that many players on this team can offer more than they did this season, and much reason to believe many of them will. Do you give them another shot, or do you take advantage of an opportunity to cut some of the dead weight - even if you are moving the team further away from the group that achieved what the 2011 squad did?

There are also philosophical questions about the make-up of the team. To me the most important one is, do you want to build this team to lean heavily on three or four forwards to generate offense or do you want to build it to spread scoring around the lineup? If it's the former do the Sedins and Ryan Kesler need another top level scorer, and if it's the latter are two checking lines really going to help these efforts?

On defense I don't think there is the same kind of dilemma - you want the group to get better and younger (where possible) and maybe that means moving on from a player or two, but ultimately it's hard to say that the makeup of the group is what cost this team. Nobody is going to turn down a "legitimate number one defenseman" but given the handful playing are all likely to remain locked up - and given this is an NHL team that's not going to sit and wait for one to become available - you pretty much just have to make piecemeal improvements where you can.

In net.. well, we've been over it time and time again.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby Jovocop » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:10 pm

ESQ wrote:
Jovocop wrote:I seriously do not want to have Raymond as a Canuck next season. With proper training, he might regain his form but this team needs to be tougher up front, especially top-six.

As I see the top 9 next year, there's Burrows, Kesler, Higgins, Lapierre, and Kassian, who I would consider "tough" players - guys that will hit to gain the puck, backcheck hard, etc. Of that group, Lapierre and Kassian are the only ones who might fight on a regular basis, but I don't want a top 6 (or top 9 for that matter) forward fighting. If you think your team needs a fighter, throw them on the fourth line, otherwise you're wasting your talented forwards by having them sit in the box.

The only team with a "tough" top 6 is Anaheim, and they are the exception, not the rule. Even Boston doesn't have a tough top 6, they leave that to the defense and the bottom 6. I didn't see a lack of toughness being a factor this year, it really came down to a lack of offense in the playoffs.


I am not thinking about a top-six who can fight. Malone will be the type of top six that the Canucks need. A guy who is tough enough and has the hands to stand in front of the net on the powerplay.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby FAN » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:42 pm

There are obviously issues Gillis needs to address going forward. I think it's time that Gillis looks at his defense once again. With Salo aging, the team needs to look at their top 4. Does Ballard fit in somewhere? Do you keep the Ballard and Tanev pairing as the team's bottom 2? If Hamhuis and Bieksa are going to remain a pairing, who is going to play with Edler? What is Tanev's upside? If Tanev isn't going to develop into a top 4 Dman it might be a good idea to move him to a team that sees potential in him.

Up front, the Canucks can definitely use another star forward. I think Gillis had the right idea in trying to build a team better capable of playing 5 on 5 hockey. Big, fast, two-way forwards are nice to have but the team needs a playmaker on Kesler's wing if you can't run the offense through Kesler reliably. Is Kassian the answer? Booth, Higgins, Hansen, Kesler, Burrows etc. are more or less north south players. They look great in the playoffs with their forechecking and board work, but without a guy creating plays and feeding guys pucks Kesler's line can easily be shut down.

Goaltending. Due to Luongo's contract, I hope Gillis finds a way to deal him and keep Schneider long turn. Getting assets back for one of those two guys is going to be the key to Gillis' offseason and the Canucks' future.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby Hockey Widow » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:52 pm

Salo has already said he wants to play next year but its too early to tell if the Canucks want him back. If he offers to come back for 2 million or less one more year you have to take him back.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby donlever » Mon Apr 23, 2012 3:55 pm

Hockey Widow wrote:Salo has already said he wants to play next year but its too early to tell if the Canucks want him back. If he offers to come back for 2 million or less one more year you have to take him back.


Ahhh, not so quick.

You have to "think" about it.

Salos play took a real downturn as the season went on. I don't know that its a given that the team would take him back at the 2 million number.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby mathonwy » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:06 pm

I like the tone of this thread.

It doesn't have the stench of ZOMG TRADE AND FIRE EVERYONE!!!11

Yes to the everyone looks gaunt theory. In fact, I was going to post this earlier in the season and was trying to find before and after pictures of our players and compare. The human body can operate at an extreme level for only so long until it starts breaking down. Physically and mentally. Your Canucks have been playing a fuck load of hockey for the last couple years and it caught up to them.

As a fan, I am willing to give this group another chance. I don't really want to see anyone gone except Mason Raymond and even that is with a caveat. MayRay had ZERO chance to train last summer due to his injury. If he spends the next 4 months intensively training for the next season, we could see some massive improvements in his game. Unless there's a fantastic trade out there, I wouldn't make any decision about MayRay until preseason.

I remember when Kes and Burr were outskating, outhitting and outhustling everyone on the ice. I remember when Burr first broke out with the Sedins and got that hat trick mainly because he was hungrier than everyone else. I remember good and dominating Canuck hockey and I hold to the belief that that fire we all saw is still there and after a nice relaxing summer, ready to be unleashed again. If you disagree, I counter with "how can it NOT be there??" Seriously. If we as fans feel this shitty, imagine how the players feel. Getting so close to the cup and then fizzling out this season.I would say, they desperately want redemption.

The only thing that really needs to be figured out this summer is, is it going to be Luo or is it going to be Schneid. Other than that, I am ok with the group going forward.

Just for the record, I am of the opinion that Hank is one of the best captains we've ever had. The guy really showed his character in the playoffs. Yes we lost the series badly, however, this series is proof that the Sedins (at least Hank) are able to elevate their game when it matters.

Support the team. Support our boys. So they went out in the first round. Oh well. That's hockey. In the Sedin era, the positives outweigh the negatives by a FUCK LOAD and I can't wait to see them on the ice again working their magic for us fans.

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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby FAN » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:13 pm

donlever wrote:
Hockey Widow wrote:Salo has already said he wants to play next year but its too early to tell if the Canucks want him back. If he offers to come back for 2 million or less one more year you have to take him back.


Ahhh, not so quick.

You have to "think" about it.

Salos play took a real downturn as the season went on. I don't know that its a given that the team would take him back at the 2 million number.

I think the team would take Salo back if the price is right. The team knows what they are getting out of Salo. Salo is slowing down but the Canucks have not been shy about resting Salo. Unfortunately, Salo was the best option to play with Edler for the Canucks and over 20 minutes of ice time over 69 games is probably too much for Salo at this age. If Salo is re-signed it should be with the intention that he will play 16-18 minutes with no back to back games and keep him fresh for the playoffs.

It's a tough call. If the plan is to move Ballard or Tanev up to the top 4 I can see Salo back. If the plan is to add a top 4 Dman to the mix and keep the Ballard and Tanev pairing, I can see Gillis going in another direction.
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Re: 2012 Post-Mortem thughts

Postby ESQ » Mon Apr 23, 2012 4:52 pm

mathonwy wrote:The only thing that really needs to be figured out this summer is, is it going to be Luo or is it going to be Schneid. Other than that, I am ok with the group going forward.

You know, I thought this too, and I saw Boston Canuck post something similar in another thread. That's particularly interesting from BC, because we have almost the identical goalie make-up to the Bruins, even down to the cap hits, and it worked out alright.

Under the rising cap, Schneider at $2 million as back-up/tandem is actually quite manageable. With less workload you might see less pressure on Luongo as well if he does say.

Not saying its a sure thing, but if there isn't a good return on the trade market I wouldn't be surprised to see both stay.
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