A big tip of the ol' hat to Yankee Canuck for his masterful piece on Monday about the state of the franchise. I can't top it but I will try to say something different about the Canucks in my own special way.
What I'm having a hard time with is the nature in which the Canucks lost their games against Chicago. In their 4 losses they were outscored 21-9. Besides Game 2, which Van lost 4-2 after Kane scored an empty net goal, Chicago won their games 5-2, 7-4 and 5-1. Meltdowns on defence abounded. Luongo wasn't always sharp. Did you know that the Hawks had 30 or more shots in every game they played in this series? Their lowest was 30 and highest was 37.
Yeah, the Hawks were the better team in this series but it didn't have to be that way, and why did the Canucks have to once again look so pathetic in a series loss? Ryan Kesler believed the Canucks could beat Chicago but what happened? There are so many answers to the question but my main generalized concerns are team chemistry and team defence and the lack of it by Vancouver. Mike Gillis believed he was adding character guys but where in the hell did all that character and leadership go against Chicago? All I heard was lip service from the team before and after each game. I saw a bunch of players that seemed to lack faith in each other and / or lose their minds when times got tough. And that includes Roberto Luongo. And I've seen that before. It happened 1 year ago against the Hawks and it happened against the Wild in round 2 in 2003 when the Canucks blew a 3-1 series lead. They could not overcome adversity as a group. Yeah, Marc Crawford's Canucks. I can't believe I'm drawing comparisons.
The best playoff performance by the Canucks in recent years was in 2007. Remember that? They lacked offence but made up for it in goaltending and defence. They beat the Stars in 7 games in round one only to lose in 5 games to the superior Ducks in round 2. Against Anaheim, they lost the first game 5-1 but rebounded in game 2 to win in double overtime. They would lose the next 3 games after that, all by 1 goal, and 2 of those 3 games went into overtime as well. The bottom line is they went down fighting to a team that went on to win the Stanley Cup.
I want to see that with this team. I want to see that structured team defence return. I know Mike Gillis wanted more of an offensive strategy out there and Alain Vigneault had to change his ways, but this is TOO WIDE OPEN. Multiple 2 on 1's against in most of your playoff games isn't going to cut it. Expecting Luongo to stop those a lot of times is not fair. So can Vigneault get these guys to play somewhere in between 2007 and 2010?
Samuelsson gets it. "We definitely have a good group. The biggest thing is even if you don't win, you've got to learn something — if you want to learn. That's experience. You just can't run around out there. The opponents are too good and you have to play smart."
There were too many dummies.
So my wishlist for the summer is:
-set aside a day of praise when Pavol Demitra is no longer a Canuck. I never liked that acquisition from the start.
-re-sign Willie Mitchell, but at a lower price.
-I'm torn on Shane O'Brien. He improved but can be a distraction. We need smart defencemen. Is he that guy? Is he consistently that guy?
-No more offensive defencemen! Just quick, big, smart, and reliable stay-at-home types.
-Release Wellwood and get a bigger 3rd line center. Canucks need more size up front.
-Re-sign Aaron Rome
-What will Mason Raymond demand? I liked his gutsy play in these playoffs.
-Jannik Hansen...I'm torn.
-Steroids for the Sedins. If they each gained 10-15 pounds they would be more effective in a playoff grind with checkers hanging off them.
-Sit Luongo down, tell him it was a mistake that he was made captain and hand the "C" to Kesler, or maybe even Samuelsson. He's always good for a great interview. Then run away quickly because you never take something away from an Italian without getting wacked.
-Fire the assistant coaches! Special teams sucked. So do Ryan Walter's positivity tapes.