Before we look to pick up the pieces to another disappointing exit in the post season for the Canucks. I must Congratulate the Chicago Black Hawks for a another 3rd round appearance. They showed the Canucks what it takes to win and do it with a bit of swagger. Although I have a great dislike for Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane they showed us that when it counts they were there to put it away. The star players for Chicago showed up when it counted.
I also must congratulate Henrik Sedin for the Art Ross performance and his possible Hart trophy season. When it comes down to it I really believe that his team needed him most. Maybe it sounds so bias to come from a die hard like me. But I really feel that when Daniel went down and Hank started to pick up the slack the team rallied around him and found they all found their offensive touch.
Although I've read around the internet that AV should be fired and he was out coached and made some questionable comments to challenge his star players. I feel that AV did a great job adjusting from a more defensive minded team to a offensive style. Although the one thing I must say, we sacrificed Lui in the process and in the end we couldn't turn back into that shut down style team when it was needed. AV just needs to find the balance and MG needs to get Lui a better D core that is playoff ready. Iain MacIntyre writes a great article here:
More after the jump
Edler and Ehrhoff are back for the longer haul. Those guys are the future of this D core. Edler shows that he can put up numbers and he can lay it out when he wants. But he can't always sacrifice the body cause we need that guy to eat up some valuable minutes. Ehrhoff is great with the puck on the PP and is a dependable D man. He has creativity and the ability to be a cannon on the point. These guys are keepers.
It is too bad that Willie Mitchell was and is still injured from his concussion. Luongo probably missed him the most. But I was probably a close second and then the rest of Canuck Nation. I'd like to see Willie back but not be such a huge hit to the cap. If the guy can rehab and be healthy for all of next year including playoffs I'd welcome No. 8 back. Sami Salo is a guy who is followed by bad injuries. Last year it was a pulled muscle in his ass and now this year a ruptured testicle. It took BALLS (ball) to come back and play, to me that shows that he cares for his team. Some will criticize AV for making him a defensive liability. Hey I'm not going to question a guy who wants to play for this team and will give up his left arm for a win or a left nut in Salo's case. Here's a guy who knows he doesn't have many chances left and he came out and did his best. Shane O'Brien deserves another chance. This year and during the year I had written this guy off. But he showed to me that he deserves to mature and become a solid rough tough kind of D man. He showed more heart and more tenacity to be in the play and be part of the rally cry for this team. SOB deserves to be back, regardless of what AV thinks of him. Great coaches find ways to inspire the uninspired. As for Kevin Bieska (Juice) He was suppose to be, what SOB was. Juice laid back and allowed for guys like Kane to dance and jingle their junk. Juice had this pre-disposition that he as known for being the guy you don't want to fight. But more often I saw him stare guys down and do nothing about it. Yes, "What if Kevin didn't stay home?" made the history NHL promo this year. But who the hell cares when you don't bring the toughness every night like your paid to. Juice is trade bait. As for Alberts, Rome, Baumer, Nycolat and the rest of the unproven D-men MG has signed. I'll leave it up to them to prove it to the rest of Canuck Nation they belong.
Where to begin? MG find a mobile D-man to back the PP and some rough 'n tough playoff ready exp D-men. Use Bieska as trade bait if you need to.
3rd & 4th Line
I am publicly asking for Kyle Wellwood forgiveness. All year I would call him pudge and be critical for his soft play. He proved me wrong in the playoffs. I said going into the playoffs we needed to upgrade our center slot. Welly proved me wrong. He showed grit, tenacity and some nights made Kesler an after thought. I've said it once and I've said it again. Welly hockey smarts are bar none. AV needs to find a winger or two that gets Welly. Welly has the smarts on the ice that some guys would kill to have. Steve Bernier is streaky and when he is using his body and going to the net the guy can be a force. But on most nights he is ineffective. Jannick Hansen is a keeper and needs to be on this team. He is the beginning of a great 3rd line winger. Speed and grit is a great combination for playoff hockey. The guy just needs to do a major overhaul on his offense. So many scoring chances and he didn't bury them. I bet you he would of made some "History will be made" promo if he had. Ryan Johnson is also a keeper because broken foot and all he bring veteran leadership and respect for sacrifice. Guys rally behind a guy like that.
Darcy Hordichuck, Tanner Glass can say good bye. You need to show more than physicality nowadays and guys like Hansen are going to take the enforcer roles out of Vancouver. A combo of Speed, Big Bodies and Grit is the key for a successful 3rd & 4th Line.
1st & 2nd line
Hank and Dank with Burrows
Kesler, Raymond and Samuelson
If MG can find another Top 6 forward Samuelson or Burrows can easily jump down to the third line. Regardless I have complete faith that these guys are the guys for the next couple of years. Waiting in the wings are guys like Micheal Grabner, Cody Hodgson, Jordan Schroeder and Prab Rai. I never been this excited for our future. My buddy and I feel that Grabner was the Mason Raymond of last season. Didn't know what to do with the puck on the boards and always held the puck for too long. Raymond showed grit and better hockey sense. On the upside with Grabner he knows how to utilize his speed a year earlier than Raymond. Scoring won't be a problem next year. A year older, a year with more maturity.
Roberto Luongo (Razor should stay, enough said bout him)
I agree with everyone who has ever said that Roberto must give up his captaincy. Just read what Ian MacIntyre had to say. Goalies are weird people. They need their space, time and sanity. Roberto has to inject some ice in his veins (take a page out of Kirk Mclean book or currently Halak bedtime story book) and worry less of the media and what guys like Patrick Kane say. He needs to quietly fade out of the media spotlight and play big while silencing everyone in the 4x6 net.
Overall the Canucks aren't in a bad spot. Media makes it worst than it is and yes it is disappointing. But when I look back and look to next season. The Canucks show a team that can compete and will compete again. We have all the right tools and all the right players. Some additions and subtractions will need to take place. But it takes a bit of luck and timing to make it all the way to the cup final. My hope is the players learn this lesson and look at teams that are winning in the playoffs and what they need to do to be better.
Till next year GO CANUCKS GO! Reppin the Blue and Green Machine in Cowtown.