This is going to be the first of what I feel will be a long running series devoted to picking apart those pesky predictions about the Canucks.
Why bother, right? I think most level-headed folks can agree that predictions are lame and generally just filler-material, but like a proud papa bear, I get unbelievably pissed when the predictions come from people who don't know what they are talking about. If you're well-skilled in all things hockey and say the Canucks should suck for valid reasons (which, c'mon, at this rate is close to stealing Skittles from a child with no hands), then the beers are on me, no sweat. But if your supporting material is weak, then even if you're inevitably right or think they'll do wonderful, shouldn't someone get to call you out on it?
Ergo, welcome writer Brian Compton to the firing line, a NHL.com writer who has produced a preseason piece on Vancouver. It's not a bad piece, but there are some bumps in there. Right out of the gate we have:
The Vancouver Canucks finished just 10 points behind the first-place Minnesota Wild in the Northwest Division.
Unfortunately for the Canucks, that was the size of the gap in the standings.
I had to read this a few times to understand what the hell he was saying here. Either it's me or this could have been cleaned up a bit to make his point that the Canucks finished ten points back of Minnesota in the division. A more salient point could have been pointing out they went from first to last to stress what a bad season it was. Or that they missed the actual playoffs by three points. Whatever.
Compton goes on to paint a basic vanilla description of the team, using what I imagine were primarily press releases as sources. After listing players who have left (focusing mainly on Linden, Naslund and Morrison, but not Isbister, Ritchie, Miller or Weaver) he notes the offense was basically replaced by Demitra and Bernier. A footnote could have been given to the ongoing public humiliation with Sundin, the RFA offer to David Backes or getting outbid for Cammalleri at the draft. Minor points perhaps but all on the public record.
Under forwards he gives a passing wave to Wellwood and Raymond but neglects to mention the UFA signing of Ryan Johnson (one that Luongo himself just highlighted a few days earlier) or the minor signings of Jason Krog or Mark Cullen.
As for the Vancouver defense, Compton says:
This is probably where the Canucks are weakest, which means Luongo can expect to see a lot of rubber this season.
Sorry, come again? The Canucks have a weak defense?
While there are three older, capable defensemen still in the fold in Willie Mitchell, Sami Salo and Mattias Ohlund, things get a little hairy after that. The untimely passing of Bourdon certainly threw a wrench into the Canucks' plans.
So the Young All-Star Edler and Bieksa (one season past his breakout year) constitutes hairy? And old? Salo is 34 and Mitchell & Ohlund are 31; he could have made a valid comment about Salo's durability but this isn't Chelios or Schenider we're talking about here. Bourdon appeared in 27 games, mainly through November, February and March as an injury call-up.
And that's just it: injuries to the defensive core is what Compton missed (again, probably not cited in press releases). Vancouver's strength is in net and on defense period; last year when their big three went down as well as Bieksa for good measure, then the goalie should have see a lot of rubber. But even with their defense in shambles Vancouver was in the middle of the league in shots against per game, less then Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Montreal. Luongo, for the record, saw less rubber last year then he did in his previous four seasons.
Lastly, for good measure, Compton lists three things to be optimistic about in the upcoming season, one of which was:
After spending the past two seasons in Minnesota, Pavol Demitra could very well experience an offensive re-birth in Vancouver. It's more than likely that Demitra -- who was brought in to replace Markus Naslund -- will skate alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin, which should translate into a plethora of offensive chances.
Hmm, perhaps on the powerplay. But taking the pulse of Vancouver beat writers shows that Bernier is more likely filling that slot. And Demitra is replacing Naslund; hmm, source? Demitra has been rumored to come here since April back when Naslund was a Canuck. Fibally, as was evident when Naslund did play alongside the Sedins, it didn't always translate into a plethora of offensive chances. Rather, when Pyatt broke through a few years ago with the Sedins, it was because he parked himself in front of the net and picked up the rebounds. That's Bernier, not Demitra.
Note Earl's comments in this thread and maybe it's just the NHL.com writers need some QA guys before posting. Taking a look at Compton's other previews and you'll find he neglected to add that Sakic did sign six days before his Avs preview and included a reason for the Avs to be optimistic is their goalies. Yes, their goalies.
Some factual errors and basic goof-up's is something we're all guilty of (especially me, I work in a publishing environment and can barely spell Nycholat without cheating). So keep up the solid work Brian, but I trust you'll understand papa bear has to protect his own.