What In The Hell Is Wrong With The…Vancouver Canucks!

Posted: April 18, 2012 in ALL II
Tags: , ,

In some ways the Vancouver Canucks are the luckiest team in the league given the spotlight on fighting and the Penguins imminent collapse.  Lucky may not be the word to describe a team plagued by underachieving to a level worse than this year’s Pens and comparable to the infamous stretch of the 2005-2007 Dallas Mavericks.  The Canucks made the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, losing in game seven and leading to rioting of epic proportion.  This year the team won the President’s Trophy (most points before you ask) and returned a strong team built with all the tools needed to win a title: Strong goalie play by Robert Luongo in year two of a twelve year deal for $64Mil, top six positions in goals against, goals per game, power play percentage, and penalty kill.  Plus they were playing the LA Kings, a team that did its best to storm into the playoffs with the least amount of momentum possible.

Quietly kept, the Canucks are down 3-0 also looking to avoid the sweep.  Many people rightly point to the absence of Daniel Sedin out since late March as a huge handicap for team.  D. Sedin led the Canucks in scoring this season and won the Hart Trophy last year as the league’s leading scorer; his absence is sorely missed particularly on the power play side as the Canucks are  0 for 14 on power play chances this series.  His absence, however, does not account for giving up two short-handed goals and a general absence of scoring by the Canucks overall.  Kings’ winger Dustin Brown has the same amount of goals this series as the ENTIRE Canucks roster (4).  Not good enough at all.

All the blame cannot be put on Sedin’s absence alone – who is practicing but is a game time decision.  Top line players Ryan Kesler and brother Henrik Sedin accounted for one goal in the last twenty games leading into the playoffs.  This also excuses David Booth who is being moved against Alexandre Burrows to give the second line more offensive power.  Similar to Dan Bylsma, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault cannot seem to find an answer for the poor offensive display from a team that put the puck in the net all year long; it’s the Canucks’ third line “adjustment” in three games.  Not good.

Dustin Brown and Kings’ goalie Jonathan Quick (.965 save percentage) have elevated their game by applying pressure on the power play and really phasing out Pahlsson and strategically neutralizing the aforementioned powerful offense.  On the other side, the Canucks cannot figure out what to do in goal between hot shot Luongo (who did not start in game three) and Cory Schneider (who played well in the 1-0 loss).  Luongo has been the burden of many Canucks fans for his shoddy play early in the playoffs last year and in the Stanley Cup Finals.  This year, however, Luongo has played well evidenced by his .951 save percentage at even strength.  Short hand goals and the frequency of an ineffective penalty kill are infinitely worse than Luongo and his very good play these playoffs.

Vancouver will also lose but will avoid the embarrassment if they lose on the same day as the Pens.  The team is relatively stable in terms of contracts and we know what they can do when healthy.  Alas the bug of the Stanley Cup playoffs (and concussions) has consumed another great team of epic proportions.  Maybe this time the people won’t riot…too hard.

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