Welcome back to WDYTT, the only hockey column on the internet that stays up late every Thursday to watch WandaVision.
Speaking of difficult-to-understand hellscapes, we present the Vancouver Canucks’ last week.
After dropping two games to the Toronto Maple Leafs in embarrassing fashion, the Canucks followed it up by losing to the Leafs in heartbreaking fashion on Monday evening, just for a change of pace.
For the fans, however, the pace may have changed, but the pain remains. And, as is often the case, that pain has led to some serious lashing out.
We’re not foolish enough to get in the way of that. Instead, we’re here to channel all that anger and frustration, because this week we’re asking you:
Who do you blame for the Canucks’ current woes?
(Feel free to spread that blame around or lump it all onto one unfortunate set of shoulders. Your call!)
Which version of the Canucks (the one we saw against Ottawa and Winnipeg, or the one we saw against Montreal) is the truer representation of the team’s ability?
Your responses were all recorded BEFORE the three consecutive losses to Toronto, but thankfully they weren’t all that optimistic anyway. They’re listed below!
The Canucks are in the same category as the Oilers, as a mediocre team, with terrible defensive systems, a predictable offence, and a bunch of no-hitters.
It is pretty simple, they need some bigger guys with skill and that play a tough game.
Guys like Gaudette are not the answer, nor is the run and gun system they are trying to play.
The Canucks are a bubble team. This is shouldn’t be a surprise. Their GM has $10M+ parked on the sidelines. Not surprising that they can’t compete with the top teams.
(Winner of the author’s occasional award for prescience)
Things could get real ugly in the next two weeks with the schedule. No more freebies from Ottawa.
When the opposition goaltender can’t stop a beach ball, we do real good.
The real Canucks are the ones we saw last night (5-3 loss to Montreal): pretty competitive, decent offence, sloppy defence, not really top shelf.
I think Jake needs to visualize his happy place a la Happy Gilmore.
Canucks are in the bubble tier with Winnipeg and maybe Edmonton. Leafs and Calgary above. Montreal at the top. Ottawa at the bottom. Last year, we got away with a tremendous top-six and QH plus Markstrom, even while the bottom-six and D were getting caved in. This year the bottom players have generally held their own, but the top players are a bad-team point-getting disaster. We’re not getting out of this year with much, but I think it should drive down the resigning of QH, EP, and Demko by a few million.
They’re the same team. They will perform well against bottom-feeders (Ottawa) and decent teams off their game (Winnipeg). Games against Edmonton, who are similar in many ways, will be a toss-up and will depend on how well they contain McDavid/Draisaitl. Games against the Habs, the Leafs, and likely the Flames will be a struggle, because the Canucks aren’t a contender yet. Hopefully, Aquilini, Benning, and company realize this.
Taking the easy way out, I believe that they are in the middle. I don’t know why the Lotto Line just looked defeated versus MTL. JT Miller especially looks out of sorts and Quinn is getting pressured with no support! This team played together versus Winnipeg and like a Junior team against MTL.
Taking a page from the late Coach Dennis Green (RIP).
“The Canucks were what we thought they were. We saw them play all last season, playing firewagon hockey. Who the h*ll thinks that they are Stanley Cup contenders playing pond hockey and wasting salary cap on players whose best days are well past? The Canucks are who we thought they were. That’s why we have been preaching against wasting assets for the past seven years.”
This not a complaint, but a fact. Vcr has played more games in the same length of time than ANY other team in the NHL. I can’t determine how much comparative travel they’ve done. I know some will bleat about no excuses, etc etc, but to me the team looks thrashed. Always second to the puck, slow on back checks, and falling into individual plays (tired mentally), all signs of exhaustion. If this is the NHL view of uplifting and best hockey league, leave me out. It’s a pale resemblance of top-grade hockey.
As a rule, first-year European players run out of steam by the end of the season.
We should keep that in mind with Hoglander. Maybe no back-to-back games.
On paper, our Canucks “should” be able to perform at a similar level to last year, even with important player changes – but the result has been almost no remaining team chemistry and some new attitudes amongst our top players that are pouty and/or selfish. Perhaps the room is tuning out the coaches – and the situation is exasperated by little change in underperforming team systems, especially defensive. And no; it’s not Jake’s fault – the several problems lie elsewhere. Things better change soon, or Francesco may decide its hammer time. Perhaps management or ownership should call the Twins, and ask them to talk to / mentor Petey and a few other underperforming Canuck stars (who have dimmed). On that theme, maybe the Sedins could hold an occasional clinic, specifically for Possession & Passing – which they are among the best at, and are certainly well respected. Go Canucks (please).
Vancouver is not competitive against the better teams, especially those with average team size being 10-20 lbs heavier than the Canucks. Stellar goaltending and some good puck-luck got Vancouver wins in the playoffs against St. Louis and Vegas. Some of those wins could have easily have been 5-1 losses.
When the Canucks outwork good teams, they can win but their lack of O-zone puck possession and passive D-zone systems will usually result in losses. The top two lines have completely failed to maintain any puck possession against the Canadiens. Pettersson bobbled or outright missed so many passes last night I lost track.
The Canucks are certainly a better team than some of their losses indicate. The team is making so many mistakes, it’s amazing they can beat anyone. Montreal’s speed and effective strategies (e.g. cutting off the blueline on Hughes) for pressuring the puck has the Canucks playing with panic.
The playoffs last year were an overstatement of where the Canucks are at. So were the wins over Ottawa. The first losses understated how good the Canucks really are because they self-destructed with unforced errors. Last night’s (Feb 2) loss is a pretty good indication of how the Canucks stack up against good teams. If they can get enough wins against less-complete teams than the Habs, they make the playoffs, but I don’t see a way for them to advance beyond the division.
Beer Can Boyd:
(Winner of the author’s weekly award for eloquence)
I don’t think there’s much doubt which is the correct answer to your question, Roget. Team Tank! Who’s in? Seriously, this team, as it is currently constructed, is going nowhere. They have five average-to-below-average d-men in their 30s, two of whom have serious term and cap hit ramifications. No depth outside the top-six up front, with only Podkolzin in the wings as a bona fide, can’t miss prospect. No serious centre prospects in the system, hence the need to move Lind over from the wing. Both our young superstars’ ELC contract years have been wasted, and are now expiring. Even bridge deals for them are going to be minimum $7 million , which the Canucks haven’t yet made room for. A backup goalie signed to a $4.25 mil per deal, when clearly his performance had been on the schneid for the last three years. If they thought Demko was the real deal (which he may well be), they could have signed any old veteran for $2 mil or less to fulfill their draft obligations. Seattle most certainly are not going to pay Holtby $5.7 million next season, so now we are stuck with his back-loaded contract for another year, which serves to A) keep DiPietro out of the big leagues, and B) add to the salary cap woes. Which includes $10 million worth of players who aren’t even on the roster! Former players are grinding salt into the wounds every time they play the Canucks, almost as if they had a vendetta going on. It’s been one disaster after another for this franchise over the last eight seasons, and three wins versus a terrible Ottawa team, and one versus a Winnipeg team taking the night off should not mask that. Blame whomever you want, ownership, management, coaches, players, the schedule, some on here might even blame the fickle fan base or the media (gasp), but it is most certainly a raging tire fire, both on and off the ice. Anybody not seeing this is in denial. The body language of the Canucks players right now is excruciating to watch. Highly-paid NHL players are making peewee mistakes every single game. Mark my words, if nothing happens to change the team’s culture this offseason, there are going to be trade requests from some of the big names. It’s the new way of the world with young athletes, witness Laine and Dubois, and the Canucks are not immune.
They will lose most of their games to Toronto, Montreal, and Calgary. If they’re lucky, they’ll win half their games against Winnipeg and Edmonton and most of their games against Ottawa. That places them ahead of Ottawa, and if they’re lucky, ahead of Winnipeg and Edmonton, but likely out of the playoffs.
Currently, the Canucks are not competitive with Montreal, and Ottawa is not competitive with anyone. Toss those games out and what you’ve got is a 2-3 team (all road games) with 13 goals for and 17 goals against. They have played the most games of any team. A lack of practice time to work on their team defense is apparent. Many of the turnovers look like a team that is mentally tired. Maybe now that the schedule gets a little lighter these problems can be fixed.
*The biggest difference with the Canucks vs last year is that their net PP% is currently 8.5%. Last season net PP% was 22.5%. I prefer net PP% to simple PP% as the shorties you give up tell the full story.
Sure hope it’s not the one that has shown up for the five games against Montreal.
It’s close to impossible to get a handle on the present situation with the Vancouver Canucks, simply because this is an absurd and abnormal scenario all clubs find themselves in. Who isn’t tired of the fire Benning, fire Green, trade anyone having a bad game, and the whining about brain dead FA signings made to not keep proven studs like Tyler Toffoli dialogues? Maybe playing the dreaded Habs as much as they have is a good thing out of the gate, because Montreal may be the class of the Burger King North Division or whatever idiotic nomenclature that has been given to it. And when they start winning, which I’m sure they will, this will all subside because in the final analysis the Canucks are a very young team trying to find their way. Far preferable to an old team trying to find their way.
Two scrimmage practices after five months off and then play 13 NHL games in 21 days.
Four consecutive weeks with B2B games.
Still, the Canucks have beat every team they faced except Calgary in spite of facing a schedule that is punishing.
Last night’s game was a one-goal game where the Canucks were competitive and the game was entertaining.
Calgary have played nine games with Marky as their netminder and they’re .500.
Give the guys a break and quit piling on.
It demonstrates a lack of awareness, maturity, and compassion.