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Canucks post-mortem week: the defencemen

Nolan Kelly
May 9th, 2012

Can Alex Edler step up and become an elite NHL defenceman?

Forget firing the coach. Forget fixing the power play. Forget trading one of the goalies for a top six winger. Forget trading away players in the top six to find chemistry. Forget adding defensive depth. The Canucks have one need this offseason: an elite NHL defenseman.

The Canucks have a great, what should be, second pairing with Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa and a solid third pairing with Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev. Throw in Sami Salo, if he re-signs, and you’re looking pretty good. But without a true shutdown, take over the game defenseman to put out there at crunch time, the Canucks defensive corps cannot be considered elite.

While writing this article, I stumbled on a stat that I’ve never heard reported for -- a stat that illustrates the importance of the franchise defenseman:

Of the last 35 Stanley Cup champions, only three teams – the 1990 Oilers, the 1993 Montreal Canadiens and the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes – did not have an elite defenseman.

Canucks post-mortem week: The forwards

Calyn Shaw
May 5th, 2012

Will the Canucks will look to add a playmaker to the top six this offseason?

The Canucks need some changes up front. Nothing drastic, but it was clear watching them struggle for offense for much of this season, and more importantly during the playoffs, that they didn’t have quite the right mix. Changes need to start with the addition of a skilled forward to play with Ryan Kesler and David Booth.

I think there were four problems with the forwards this season. One, the second line was missing a playmaker; two, Kesler clearly struggled with his hip injury for most of the season; three, Manny Malhotra is not the same player he was before the devastating eye injury leaving a hole on the third line; and four, they were missing a sparkplug somewhere in the lineup – a guy like Raffi Torres who gets up and down the ice, bangs, crashes, changes momentum, and scores 15 to 20 (Mason Raymond is not that guy).

Coach Vigneault: to fire or not to fire

Calyn Shaw
May 2nd, 2012

After Roberto Luongo, the next biggest decision facing the Canucks this offseason is what to do with head coach Alain Vigneault. The man is the franchise’s winningest coach, a Jack Adams award winner; he led the team to back-to-back President’s Trophies and brought them within one win of the Stanley Cup. But coaches are hired to be fired and they ALL have a shelf life, so is it time to part ways with Vigneault?

There are people looking for a scapegoat after the Canucks’ got the boot from the playoffs after only five games, and of course a natural direction to point that finger, is at the coach. But Vigneault’s head shouldn’t be on the chopping block. It shouldn’t even be close to it.

At his year end press conference, Mike Gillis was supportive of his coach, and it doesn’t sounds like Vigneault is going anywhere.

Roberto Luongo: to deal or not to deal

Nolan Kelly
May 1st, 2012

Roberto Luongo, in likely his last game for the Canucks', making one of 22 saves against the LA Kings during Game 2 of the Playoffs.

I recently broke up with my girlfriend. And we’re not getting back together. It’s not that we don’t love each other, or wouldn’t like to get back together, it’s that there is too much water under the bridge. And Vancouver’s relationship with Roberto Luongo is much the same. There are too many bad memories, too many episodes of booing, too many soft goals and slumps. So many bad times, that they tend to gloss over the good times. Like the 2007 playoffs where Luongo put together, probably the greatest two-series goaltending performance in NHL history, or the run to the finals.

Canucks post-mortem week

Calyn ShawNolan Kelly
Apr 30th, 2012

Mike Gillis faces his most difficult offseason yet, as GM of the Vancouver Canucks.

All season the Vancouver Canucks preached sticking with the process to prepare themselves for the playoffs. After coming up a game short last year, all that mattered to the team and fans was another long run this spring. After just five games the Canucks found themselves as spectators for the rest of the playoffs, ingloriously ousted by the 8th-seeded Los Angeles Kings. So what the heck went wrong and where do the Canucks go from here?

Yes, the Canucks again won the President’s Trophy, and yes, they were picked by many to make the Stanley Cup final, but as I wrote a couple weeks ago, this year’s team hadn’t shown the same dominance.

Whitecaps FC weekly: Caps take down Dallas, ready to face Columbus

Calyn Shaw
Apr 28th, 2012

Whitecaps FC went into their match against FC Dallas last Saturday looking to find some offense while rediscovering their early-season defensive form. The Caps’ defense, led by goalkeeper Joe Cannon, started the season with a string of shutouts, but conceded six in the last two games – three against the San Jose Earthquakes in a 3-1 loss, and three more in another 3-1 loss to Sporting Kansas City last Wednesday.

Heading into the match the ‘Caps had only scored five goals and sat in seventh in the Western Conference. The midfield had struggled through large stretches of games to control the ball and provide the necessary service to create scoring chances. 

Ryan Kesler's diving all over the ice a bad sign for Canucks

Calyn Shaw
Apr 12th, 2012

Canucks fans should step back from the ledge after dropping Game 1 to the LA Kings Wednesday night. It’s never good to lose the first game in a series, and it is especially not good when your leading goal scorer is on the sideline and doesn’t look likely to return anytime soon. But the Canucks should have enough skill, determination and experience to get passed the Kings.

Shea Weber gets slap on wrist from Brendan Shanahan

Nolan Kelly
Apr 12th, 2012

Another day, another suspension controversy for the NHL. In case you missed it, during the third period of last night’s Nashville, Detroit game, 6’4, 230-pound Nashville defenseman Shea Weber grabbed Detroit forward Henrik Zetterberg’s head and smashed it into the end boards with extreme force.

Weber’s punishment? A $2,500 fine.

Relative to the average North American salary, the cost to Weber was 14 dollars.

If the NHL is actually serious about curbing concussions, why such a minimal response to a vicious play?

How can anyone continue to respect Brendan Shanahan and the NHL Disciplinary Committee after that decision?

NHL playoff preview

Calyn ShawNolan Kelly
Apr 11th, 2012

We’ve all been waiting 10 months for the NHL playoffs. The real season begins tonight. Without further adieu, our first round playoff predictions. Nolan takes the Western Conference, Calyn takes the East.

Western Conference Playoff Preview

Parity. It’s what the NHL playoffs are all about. Unlike, say, basketball, where everyone in the universe knows the Heat or Bulls will face the Thunder or Spurs in the finals, parity is stronger than ever in the NHL. And the West is proof of that.

It’s easy to imagine any one of the eight Western Conference playoff teams in the finals this season. Even Phoenix, the consensus long shot, has a goalie capable of stealing multiple series.

(1) Vancouver Canucks vs. (8) LA Kings

Hate to say it Canucks fans, but this one is a tossup. You never want to be a President’s trophy winner in a tossup first round series, but such is the Western Conference this season.

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