I was going to do up a devil's advocate post to Tengeresz's positive post and be Mr. Negative but I just couldn't do it. Last season was such a gong show from out of the blue, yet the Canucks still missed the playoffs by 8 points, or, 4 wins. Wins that could have been achieved in shootouts and successful power plays which the team completely sucked at. The Canucks won 5 and lost 7 in shootouts. They scored 8 times and missed 50 times in shootouts last season! That lousy shooting percentage (16%) ranked them 29th in the NHL. The 15.2% power play efficiency number ranked them 26th in the NHL. They were even lower than that but started clicking towards the end of the season to rise up the standings a tad. To me those 2 are the biggies. We can talk about blown leads and fragility but I just want to point out the drop in production from the individual core players in 2013-14. Ready?
THE DECLINE OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION
Henrik Sedin: .714 points per game last season / .938 ppg in 2012-13 / .987 ppg in 2011-12.
Daniel Sedin: .644 ppg last season / .851 ppg in 2012-13 / .930 ppg in 2011-12
Ryan Kesler: .558 ppg last season / .765 ppg in 2012-13 / .636 ppg in 2011-12.
Alexandre Burrows: .306 ppg last season / .511 ppg in 2012-13 / .650 ppg in 2011-12
Chris Higgins: .500 ppg last season / .366 ppg in 2012-13 / .606 ppg in 2011-12.
Jannik Hansen: .282 ppg last season / .574 ppg in 2012-13 / .476 ppg in 2011-12
David Booth: .288 ppg last season / screw 2012-13 he was injured (3 points in 12 games) / .518 ppg in 2011-12
Alexander Edler: .349 ppg last season / .489 ppg in 2012-13 / .597 ppg in 2011-12
Kevin Bieksa: .316 ppg last season / .333 ppg in 2012-13 / .564 ppg in 2011-12
Dan Hamhuis: .278 ppg last season / .510 ppg in 2012-13 / .451 ppg in 2011-12
Jason Garrison: .407 ppg last season / .340 ppg in 2012-13 / .415 ppg with Florida in 2011-12
That is / was the "core" of the Canucks team. Notice how everybody except Higgins, Bieksa and Garrison all monumentally dropped in output last season? Garrison is no longer with us so....with the addition of Luca Sbisa on defence....well....some guys need to make up for those 33 points from the blue line that he put up last season for starters. This is why it is so crucial that Edler rises from the ashes.
The Sedins will be better I have no doubt about that. Just give them pp and 5 on 5 time and no PK time and they will be fine. Hamhuis and Bieksa can improve their numbers too. It's not out of their realm. The same can be said about Hansen and Burrows ( I hope!).
THE LOSS OF KESLER
Some say that the additions of Nick Bonnino, Radim Vrbata will make up for the loss of Kesler. From a 2-way forward perspective? No. He is in a league of his own and his Selke Trophy and play overall will prove that. But don't let that shiny silver Selke trophy taint your vision. The Canucks have plenty of guys that can play 2-way games and kill penalties (Richardson, Burrows, Vey, Bonino, etc). A popular misconception on top of that is that it's not just Kesler that they are replacing. It's also Booth. And Mike Santorelli. Screw Booth, but Santorelli's .571 points per game was 3rd behind the Sedins. Yea he was excellent. So how much better is this Canucks team really (on paper anyways?) Answer: see below.
IT'S THE NEW STYLE
Willie Desjardins preaches a more up-tempo style of play and it will pay dividends on a Canucks squad that must just want to put 2013-14 behind them. As long as "more up-tempo" doesn't mean more odd-man rushes against. Hang in there, Ryan Miller, and please for god's sakes SAVE US.
It is pretty obvious that what Desjardins will bring will be so much different than John Tortorella brought. That is a good thing.
Zack Kassian is giving us delusions of grandeur of a return of Todd Bertuzzi in is prime. Fair enough. Much also hinges in the continued progress or Linden Vey and Niklas Jensen. In other words, we have no f***ing clue.
THAT DAMNED WESTERN CONFERENCE / CONCLUSION
It wasn't just a coaching / personnel change that happened last season. The division alignment also changed. So, more games against the bulging Californian teams who used us to wipe their asses. That factor remains (except you, San Jose!). So does the fact that the teams we used to make our bitches have gotten a lot better over the past few years still play a roll? Well, besides shitty Albertan teams..YES. Dallas, Colorado, St. Louis, Minnesota....they have all gotten better, and not just on paper. It's the ebb and flow of he NHL's cap world, right? The Canucks dominated the West for several years but the picnic is over. The sucky teams that we used to kill are far better now, so it's going to be a difficult ride. A playoff spot is hardly a guarantee in 2015.
Despite the folly of the 2013-14 season, the Canucks are in tough in this damned Conference. Are the additions of Miller, Bonino, Vey, Vrbata, Sbisa enough to get the Canucks back into a playoff spot? Ryan Kesler didn't think so and left but f*** him. What do YOU think? Personally, I am on the fence. I am cautiously optimistic. I like the new guys that Jim Benning brought in and I do chalk up last season as a gong show that will be remedied. But given how the West teams have improved I say it's a crapshoot. What say you?
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