It’s a late edition of the roundtable this week, so there’s no sense wasting any more time. Travis Green mixed up his defense pairings last night against the Predators, which produced mixed results at best. The Edler-Myers pairing hasn’t been what it once was, so it made sense to experiment with different combinations. Unfortunately, the Preds ended up throttling the Canucks at even strength, with the Myers-Benn pairing having a particularly rough night. With that in mind, which defense pairings would you like to see Travis Green experiment with? Or should he just go back to the ones they had success with earlier in the season?
In the middle of July, I wrote an article that investigated what the most optimal pairings would be for the Canucks based on the transition abilities of each player. At that time I made the case for the pairings we saw last night and I’ll stick by that evaluation even after the horrid 5 on 5 performance because I’m not ready to say it won’t work after one game.Evidence over the last three years suggests that putting Benn with Myers and Edler with Stecher gives the Canucks the most balanced transition defense. One of the biggest strengths in Myers’ game is his ability to breakout with possession, something that Benn doesn’t excel in, so it’s nice to have someone on that pair who can do that very well. While Stecher is better than Benn at breaking out, he’s no Myers in that regard. On the flip side, I also believe that Stecher’s numbers over the last two years have shown he can handle more minutes than he was getting on the 3rd pair with Benn. These pairings should allow the coaching staff to be more confident in spreading the minutes out more evenly as Green said they wanted to and to potentially showcase Stecher if they would like to seriously explore a trade.
The core pairing has to be Chris Tanev and Quinn Hughes. They’ve meshed incredibly well and have each managed to elevate the other’s game – so there’s absolutely no reason to separate them at this juncture.
After that, you’re left with two other options:
Alex Edler with Troy Stecher and Jordie Benn with Tyler Myers
Alex Edler with Tyler Myers and Jordie Benn with Troy Stecher
Of those two options, I prefer the former. One reason is that it gives Stecher more minutes, something he definitely deserves. It also makes for a physically-imposing third pairing – which might be a little old school, but could be effective given that one of the two defenders in question is highly capable of moving the puck up ice.
In any case, the real answer here is to balance out the minutes a bit more no matter how the pairings are stacked up – because if they don’t, then Edler is going to break down in the very near future.
Like my morning routine, my clothes, and my breakfast, I don’t like change. The Canucks are a high event team and quite frankly, they just need to play better. The pairings have worked out fairly well and when you’re in a funk, you’re in a funk and nothing goes right.
They should just keep everything the same but I’m willing to take a few games to try some modified versions of opening night.
Myers hasn’t produced offensively and his d-pairing will be in flux this season I feel. Keep the Tanev/Hughes combo, Maybe Benn and Edler and Myers with Stecher (I like the height difference, it’s intriguing).
Ask me about the power play next time and I have some wacky ideas that just might work.
I would like to see Green return to what was working before. Granted Edler isn’t out for the foreseeable future, the Canucks’ defencemen would likely most comfortable with the partner they played all of October with. The Canucks have strung together two wins, and are starting to look like the team we saw in October. That being said, the gripe should be on the Canucks utilizing all three of their defence pairings, rather than playing Alex Edler for 25+ minutes every night. They have three good pairings, and it’s time they used them.
I must admit I don’t have much of an appetite to see the Benn-Myers pairing again, even in small doses. I’m curious about what Hughes and Stecher could do together, though. Stecher is much better defensively than most people give him credit for, but he’s also got the skill and hockey sense to compliment Hughes’ versatility. Despite my initial misgivings, the Edler-Myers pairing has been quite good, so I wouldn’t mind seeing them stay together. A defence corps consisting of Edler-Myers, Hughes-Stecher, and Benn-Tanev would give Travis Green some interesting matchup options, letting the Edler and Tanev pairings take the tough matchups while Hughes and Stecher feast on easier competition. I also think the team really needs to know what they have in Troy Stecher and this would give them an opportunity to assess his versatility. The team has some tough choices coming with both Stecher and Tanev’s contracts expiring at the end of the season, and pairing each of those players with different partners would give them a larger pool of information to draw from when the time comes to make those choices.