The Canucks surrendered the Northwest Division league Sunday evening to the Minnesota Wild. The good news? There is still time to turn things around. The bad news: the Canucks are a below average team.
Disagree? A closer look at the numbers will change your mind:
- Goals for: 17th (2.7)
- Goals against: 20th (2.52)
- Shots for: 18th (28.7)
- Shots against: 21st (28.0
- Power play: 20th (15.7%)
- Penalty kill: 18th (80.7%)
The average ranking of the above six key categories: 19th (out of 30). Sub-par.
What is the reason behind the Canucks’ sub-par season? There is no one answer, but a combination of factors: injuries, questionable refereeing (if not biased), some unfortunate luck, and poor coaching.
Firstly, we miss Kesler and Bieksa – they noticeably improve the Canucks. Secondly, you need only look at the Calgary game and the bench minor assessed to Vigneault to understand the impact a ref can have on a game. Thirdly, in games the Canucks were clearly the better team and should have won, but managed to find a way to lose (Columbus, San Jose and Dallas).
Finally, coaching: look no further than special teams and the shots differential, and you get the drift. Additional clues: favourite pets getting preferential treatment: Lapierre (nearly 16 minutes last game) over Schroeder (9 minutes); Alberts over Ballard (arguably our best defensemen after the quarter-season mark, and then was benched after one bad game. If Edler was benched after each bad game, he’d be out of the line-up half the time); Raymond at center (it was bad enough that a prototypical winger, one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, was moved to center, but his dismal faceoff record completely undermines his misplacement – a disastrous 1 for 9 his first game, a pathetic 1 for 6 the next game. How did Vigneault respond? Raymond was back at center in Columbus.
Unfortunately, A.V., the team needs to come before egos. And your team, unless you make changes, is sub-par.
Toby Ward is a season ticket holder, former reporter and producer covering the Canucks turned consultant, and blogger. A lifelong Canucks fan who bleeds blue and green, Toby first saw the Canucks when they hosted Bobby Orr and the Bruins in 1974.