Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Desperation? Please.


The headline of this Jason Botchford story states that the Canucks are “desperate for a second line”, an assertion that is clearly ridiculous. The Canucks are not desperate for anything. How many teams in the NHL would like to have Vancouver’s problems? What problems? To be fair to Botchford, he probably did not write the headline. The story itself isn’t quite as ridiculous.

When Pahlsson’s on, he doesn’t stand out, and neither do the players he’s up against. When he generated a pretty good scoring chance in the first period in Phoenix, it was a bonus. Any offence from his line will be…

This doesn’t have to have a drag on offence. The theory, and it has merit, is that a checking line, whether it’s centred by Pahlsson, Manny Malhotra or Max Lapierre, will clear up offensive zone opportunities for Ryan Kesler’s line, the Canucks’ so-called second line.

Just one problem. The Canucks don’t have one.

I do agree that Ryan Kesler will get more offensive opportunities, but that’s about all I could buy in the entire article. First, Sami Pahlsson does stand out when he is playing well. He is easy to notice. He is the guy who is around the puck all the time. If he does not stand out in this respect on the Canucks it will only be because the Canucks as a team swarm the puck.

Second, the Canucks generate offense with their speed and transition game rather than with individual creativity. (Sedinery excepted.) They get goals from all over their lineup including a large contribution from defensemen. Hansen, Higgins and Pahlsson will get scoring chances. Worrying about offense with the highest scoring team in the West?

Third, the Canucks have a quality second line no matter who plays with Kesler. Vigneault has several options – none of them bad – and there is nothing wrong with competition for ice time. That’s healthy. I also don’t think the Canucks have a checking line. They have three players who have succeeded in that role as a third line centre. Vigneault will let them decide who gets the most ice time.

What the Canucks also have is an outstanding first line and three lines that – among other things – are all excellent defensively. The Canucks score lots of goals, but there are some teams that you can’t beat with scoring. The key for the Canucks against teams like the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators is to be every bit as disciplined and every bit as good defensively. Vigneault (and Mike Gillis) thinks Sami Pahlsson gives the Canucks a better chance to win against those teams than Cody Hodgson.

I think they’re right.

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8 Responses to “Desperation? Please.”
  1. Subversive says:

    It must be so nice to have management you believe in.

    • Bryon says:

      Must be a Leaf fan.

    • Tom says:

      I think this is the most important thing for me as a fan. When Tambellini and Keenan and Messier were running the Canucks I had zero faith. I would have zero faith if I was an Oiler fan or a Hab’s fan. If the guy at the top is no good, there is no hope even in the medium term.

      This Canuck management team has earned the fan’s trust. I don’t always agree with Gillis, but he always gets the benefit of the doubt.

      • Dean says:

        What impressed me was how fast he pulled the trigger to get rid of Sturm early this season.

        He’s not afraid to realize he’s made a mistake and try to correct.

        • Tom says:

          I liked that he first kept Vigneault, then extended him, and finally that he did not fire him during that agonizing eight game losing streak. Not so much for Vigneault – although I really like AV – but for what it says about Gillis as a manager. He put Vigneault on trial, liked what he saw and stuck by him when some foul weather hit. No panic.

          I think it is also pretty obvious that the entire focus on travel – sleep doctors, nutritionists and cooks on the road – has paid off big time.

  2. Lortimer says:

    1. “…and there is nothing wrong with competition for ice time. ”

    unless your name is Cody

    2. its been shown that you need offensive through 3 lines( 10 -10 goal scorers to win the Cup)

    3. Hansen and Higgins have offensive instinct ( for the reasons you mentioned)

    Unfortunately, Paulson does not. AV himself calls it ‘a checking line’

    This represents a fundamental shift away from Gillis’s vision – ‘we want the third line to be responsible defensively but in our UP TEMPO game we expect our third line also to contribute offensively’.

    The Canucks are and will become more passive and Higgins and Hansen will be shut down themselves as Tony G points out.

    4. “…The Canucks score lots of goals, but there are some teams that you can’t beat with scoring. The key for the Canucks against teams like the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and Nashville Predators is to be every bit as disciplined and every bit as good defensively. …”

    You have good ideas on your blog Tom but this is inaccurate!

    Not true in the playoffs. Last year the Canucks score 4+ goals (a dominant performance) only 2/25. Boston did it 11 times Chicago Detroit and Pittsburgh all did it 9+.
    The Canucks have the players to win defensively they proved it last year
    beating Nashville at their game for example.I believe Torres, Hansen and Lapiere (as a line) were only on the ice for 3 even strength goals all playoffs!
    They did not need Paulson.

    They needed more offensive from the third and fourth line ( this was/is Bostons great strength )

    The moves at the deadline are not going to address this. looks like AV has won over Gillis
    as far of the style of play. it will be very costly. You cant win the cup trying by playing defensive first
    as this link clearly shows.


    • Tom says:

      1) Hodgson was competing for ice time. He couldn’t win it.

      2) This definitely hasn’t been shown. Lots of different kinds of teams have won. But the Canucks could easily end up with 10 different players getting 10 goals.

      3) Pahlsson, Hansen and Higgins will still get chances and they will still score goals, just like Lapierre, Hansen and Torres scored goals last year. The Canucks as a team can still score goals – lots of them. They will still be one of the highest scoring teams in the league. This line will not be deployed as a specific checking line. Vigneault doesn’t match lines. He will send out the players he wants to send out and the other team can do whatever they want.

      4) Of course the Canucks were a very good team defensively last year. Who ever doubted that? The Canucks offense did not dry up in the playoffs because the lineup was in some way flawed. It dried up because they didn’t have any healthy offensive players besides Burrows and Daniel by the end. Henrik, Kesler, Higgins, Raymond, Samuelsson, Ehrhoff, Hamhuis, and Edler were either out or playing with injuries that would have kept them out in the regular season. Henrik, Higgins and Kesler couldn’t skate, Ehrhoff and Edler couldn’t shoot and Raymond, Samuelsson and Hamhuis couldn’t play at all.

      They certainly didn’t lose because they didn’t get enough offense from Torres, Hansen and Lapierre. That’s a ridiculous assertion.

      5) I don’t think the piece at the link does anything more than state the obvious. If the Canucks don’t outplay their opponent in any series they are unlikely to win. If they carry most of the play they will get most of the shots, most of the chances and most of the goals. I don’t think the Hodgson trade has any real impact on the team’s ability to carry the play against any opponent.

      • Lortimer says:

        “Your defensive-zone awareness increases on the third line….”
        from province article.

        Higgins clearly sees a difference not sure what yoru seeing?

        4. you got the point muddled.
        The Canucks third line did great “defensively”, (especially considering the offensive juggernauts) they faced. Getting Paulson and giving him third line was a redundant move.
        The money would have been more of an upgrade getting a better 5th defenceman(booting out Rome) Rome is a 7th defenceman at best!

        5. Like the Canucks you are using injuries as an excuse.I feel you proved my point .. An injury is an opportunity for someone else to step up and all the more reason to have another scoring center

        The Canucks could have picked up A. Vermette for 3.75 million a year .He is basically Kesler light averages 18 goals a season great faceoff and can play tough minutes. It didn’t cost a player. They could have traded Raymond to clear out part of the salary. Then we would have three solid centers all in their prime for 13.75 million(approx) excellent value.

        My point here is the Canucks only have two centers. H.Sedin (Offensive no defense) Kesler (both) Paulson (no offense, only defense)

        Back to my point balanced scoring throughout the lineup helps to prevent against the impact of injuries.
        6. AV’s third and fourth lines have been dreadful offensively for most of his time.
        The Canucks have made up for it by activating Defense. However, smart coaches are able to get high quality chance son these moves and burn us.Thats why are 2nd period scoring ratio is so bad. So AV plays shutdown. That’s something he can do. We did it in 2007.

        Read more: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Canucks+continue+experiment+with+Kassian+second+line/6254243/story.html#ixzz1oJTUMnPD

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