Given that most of Canucks nation is in a state of panic, uncertainty, doom, or even numb, I think now is as good of a time as any to bitch, whine or even rosterbate. Let your voice be heard! What do you want done with this team that:
-is 3-5-2 in the month of January.
-is 7th in the West, tied in points with 8th place Minnesota, and 4 points up on their next opponent: Phoenix.
-cannot score enough goals. They have only scored 8 goals in regulation in their last 7 games, yet still have a 3-4-0 record in that span (thank you stellar goaltending!)
-are an embarrassment on the power play, and have struggled with it all season long. How can a team with this much talent on the top unit fail with the man advantage so many times? It's mental now. Nothing comes naturally when you struggle this long with something.
THE VANCOUVER RANGERS?
The flavor of the week is that John Tortorella is turning the Canucks into last year's New York Rangers. The similarities are eerie, right? Those Rangers failed to score goals as well but had King Henrik Lundqvist in net to save their butts. Wait a minute. The Rangers this season are scoring at the same pace as the Canucks (Rangers are 24th in goals per game average and the Canucks are 23rd). Last season, the Rangers were 15th overall and the Canucks were 19th in goals per game average. What? Kill that narrative right now!
Let's kill it even further. Last season the Canucks and Rangers' power plays ranked 22nd and 23rd respectively. This season the Canucks are 26th overall and the Rangers 7th. So Alain Vigneault and crew are doing something right there. Maybe I should talk to some Rangers fans and get back to you on that one.
NEVER GONNA SCORE
The point is, the Canucks can't score goals, and couldn't even before John Tortorella got here. Well, they could score, just not enough. At least Torts is trying to preach better defence. People hate that though. It's an unentertaining brand of hockey to watch. But the Canucks, even now, need to be better defensively. January would be even more miserable if we didn't have Roberto Luongo in goal. And how miserable is it, really? Like I said above, even though though they've only scored 8 goals in 7 games, they are still 3-4-0 in those games. Am I the only one that sees a silver lining here?
Oh wait. This is the easy stretch of the schedule against lousy teams, and they still can't get their power play going, win enough, or bury these lousy teams like Calgary and Edmonton and Nashville. Goodbye silver lining!
It's that 1-7-3 record against the Californian teams. Darkness...imprisoning me!
The bottom line is goals scored. I do like what John Garrett said about scoring on the power play: basically that it gives you a boost and momentum when you do score with the man advantage. In close games, like the Canucks play a lot of, it can be the difference between winning and losing. It can be the difference betwen nursing a 2 goal lead instead of a 1-goal lead. Daniel Sedin and other players recently have said that the Canucks are going to have to win a lot of 2-1 games. Really? I mean, I get that you need to win a lot of those games over the course of a season but jeeziz, you'll win by a greater margin if you score power play goals. Why label the team like that? This from Daniel, who has NO GOALS and 5 assists in 11 games in January. That is the Canucks' supposed top goal scorer who just isn't producing at the rate he is paid to. Do we go back to blaming Torts for Daniel's decline because of the increased defensive / PK responsibilities / fatigue factor? At this point....
Possibly! I have not figured that one out yet.
There are too many superstar Canucks players who are in decline right now (except you, Chris Higgins! Love you man!) Too many top-paid star players have their scoring dry up for lengthy periods of time. The Canucks do well when they have 2 lines that dominate and are clicking (ie: Sedins-Hansen / Santorelli-Kesler-Higgins) but that was so last month. Santorelli had already dried up before he blew out his shoulder. Jannik Hansen is obsolete now. Alexandre Burrows is so snake bitten that I feel bad for him. Jason Garrison was going to be the PP savior but only has 3 power play goals this season, and has not been used enough. Dan Hamhuis is now the laughing stock because of his repeated failed attempts to score on the PP last game and beyond. Torts loves Hammer on the power play because he has that calming effect. However....Dan has no power play goals this season and 5 power play assists. Enough is enough! Get out the guns!
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
Mike Gillis has shown us his hand, in a sense with the Vinnie Prospal ordeal. He's been pretty quiet this season hasn't he? That's because Torts takes the spotlight. But in trying to sign Prospal Gillis made a few things quite clear:
-he realizes the Canucks need more depth up front, due to injury and the seemingly obvious.
-Prospal, had he impressed in Utica and was signed by the team, would have come cheap. The Canucks do not have a lot of cap space to take on a free agent or player via trade that can be a top 6 / bottom 6 player (versatility). Fack, Prospal would have been sweet I don't care what anyone says. Gillis is bargain-hunting..why?
-he signed the Canucks' top players to sweet deals that include no-trade, no movement, limited movement contracts and intends to honor those deals. See Cap Geek for the players aforementioned. These deals are now in question because they are top players that are not performing to the required standard.
WHICH FINALLY LEADS ME TO MY (ALMOST) FINAL POINT
The Olympic Break runs from February 9-25. The trade deadline is March 5. That is still a long way away. If you find yourself almost jumping off a cliff you need to back off. I can assure you Mike Gillis and staff are being patient with this current group, regardless of repeated fails. He is restricted by his own accord to move a top $$$ defenceman because of their contract status and is tight against the cap.
Hell, in hindsight, management should have bought out David Booth's contract last summer. Sober edit: But couldn't because he was injured. If there is a team out there that is willing to take on David Booth's contract in a trade I would be surprised. Garth Snow....step up!
If you think Gillis is going to ask a player that has signed to a NTC in his contract to waive it I think you are mistaken. A player would have to express interest in leaving town, which is unlikely, unless he suddenly hates it here. You hate it here, Edler.
WHAT DO I WANT?
I want a shake up. I don't trust the core leadership of this team to snap out of the PP / scoring woes. They have failed me as a fan for long enough since game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. Both Vigneault and Tortorella cannot seem to shake the recurring fails of this team as an identity. I want Gillis to prod Alex Edler into waiving his no-trade clause and trading him away to a team that needs a top 2 defenceman, where Edler will thrive. In return I want a top-6 forward, which I have wanted for a long time.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
And with that, let me provide you with a quote from ESPN's Pierre LeBrun:
There are several teams we’ve spoken to over the past week that are eagerly anticipating Colorado’s decision on (Ryan) O’Reilly. Does the team move him or keep him?
He’s a restricted free agent July 1 whose qualifying offer costs $6.5 million. No small potatoes. Of course the Avalanche can also sign him to an extension for less money if O'Reilly is up for that.
If Colorado wants to seriously upgrade its defense corps, it likely needs to make a quality top-six forward available. Is that O’Reilly, pending UFA Paul Stastny or is there another way to get that defenseman?
If the Avs do put O’Reilly on the trade market (and again, we don't know if they ever will), there would be at least a dozen teams interested. One of them would likely be the Vancouver Canucks, who are said to covet O’Reilly and have depth at defense, which is what the Avs would be looking for. Food for thought …
Lyle Richardson of Spector's Hockey suggests:
The Canucks might have better luck prying pending free-agent Paul Stastny out of Colorado. The Avalanche won't trade the versatile O'Reilly.
Of course, what LeBrun fails to mention is the Canucks' cap space, and the reality that Gillis has to ask one of his top 4 d-men to waive their no-trade clause, etc. to provide the cap space to acquire Stastny or O'Reilly. Both are currently in the $5-6 million range. I guess there is always the question of whether or not Gillis trades within the Conferenceas well. The Canucks have reportedly been interested in Mike Cammalleri, but the same conditions apply.
How is that for a ramble? Now, I want to hear YOUR opinions / ideas for this squad and what you want done. Let's hear it!
-stand pat? Pray that Booth goes on the LTIR?
-trade a defenceman for a forward NOW!
-trade a forward like the struggling Burrows for another forward to change things up
Here is what the Sportsnet panel said about the Canucks' situation today (and Kypreos does make a damned good point: