Hey there folks,
The time is drawing near and all the offseason bickering is ready to become regular season bickering. At least we are consistent at NM. So I asked the partially talented crew of writers at NM to answer some questions about the upcoming season. And in a coincidence that is out of this world, they all chose to answer the same question. ( I actually think it was the easiest question I asked them and they are all lazy.) And the question was "Where will the Canucks finish in the Pacific and will they make the playoffs?"
Hear are the Kreskin like predictions:
As a betting man, my money is nowhere near a Canuck playoff team. Up against a stacked Anaheim squad, a Flames team that seems on the precipice of something special and LA and San Jose teams that are reloaded and primed for another run (remember the Kings only missed out by 1 win vs. Calgary), I don't think this year's version of your Vancouver Canucks are returning to the post-season.
I see them finishing 5th in a virtual tie with a rejuvenated Oilers team that still has some growing to do before they challenge for the Stanley Cup Tournament. My crystal ball is saying Vancouver will be a solid team that's tough to play against, but even with a strong push in November/December after a rough start they eventually lose steam and move out some veterans to make room for the now-ready-for-primetime kids.
The Canucks will finish 3rd in the Pacific, and 6-7 in the conference. They will do that the same way as last year, with a balanced four line approach, Of course, because we have so many "questions" going into the season, I'd like to know the final lineup first, before answering such questions...but with what I have now, I'll say the above.
For my money, the Canucks are the fifth best team in the Pacific division, though that sentiment is under the influence of many variables. The Ducks and Kings are the only two teams who seem to be a lock to finish above Vancouver, while the Coyotes are the one team who are a safe bet to finish behind them. The remaining teams, the Sharks, Flames and Oilers, all are much bigger question marks. San Jose’s offense is underratedly good, with Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Couture and Hertl rounding out a top-six that could be considered top five in the league. That combined with their improvement in goaltending and free agent acquisitions (Ward, Martin) will lead them to a bounce back year, finishing above Vancouver. The Flames lost no integral pieces this summer and added Hamilton and Frolik, two players who will make a significant contribution to them. That along with a healthy Mark Giordano should easily place them above the Canucks. The Oilers are the division’s biggest question mark. How big a difference will McDavid make? Will the new additions in goal and defense prove good enough to compete for a playoff spot? Will Todd McLellan and new management fix a system which clearly hasn’t been working for a long time? As good as the Oilers’ future seems to be, I don’t see them coming together this quickly and making the playoffs. I see them finishing sixth in the division, one spot behind Vancouver, where they’ll no doubt win the lottery and get the first pick in the draft again.
I see the Pacific shaking down like this:
- Los Angeles
- San Jose
Realistically, I have a tough time imagining the Canucks finishing any better than fifth in the division. Every single team in the division improved while the Canucks became appreciably worse. To me, the top four are relatively set with Anaheim in first, Calgary/LA battling for second/third and San Jose in the four spot. For me, Arizona is the worst team in the division so the question becomes does Vancouver do better than Edmonton or worse. I can make an argument for either team doing better than the other. What I do know is Vancouver will not make the playoffs and since they are stuck in the NHL's version of purgatory, should get a first round pick somewhere between 8-14. This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone as the Canucks lack defensive depth and are essentially a one and a third team on offence. In summary, the only thing the Canucks will be playing for this year is a decent draft pick and for the season to be over so Benning can overpay for Milan Lucic in free agency.
I have about the same expectations as last season: fringe. Barely making the playoffs or barely missing. So last year was a pleasant surprise obviously. Hopefully this year is the same.
My own prediction is that the Canucks will come in 5th in the division ahead of only Edmonton, who will beat us more times than we beat them this year, but lose to every one else. And the Nucks finish ahead of the Coyotes, who should be taken to the vet and euthanized. 5th place could mean playoffs!!!! But not this year.
One of the questions that the writers all dodged was, "Name the biggest weakness of the Nucks." I thought some may have taken a shot at the defense or lack of scoring. Chickens. Personally, I believe the biggest weakness of the Nucks this year will be team defense. Notice the word team. Miller and Markstrom (M&M) will take a beating in the media this year. The Nucks are bound to lose some stickers, just like they do every year (even when Lu and Cory were here) and the media will cry "trade". I really believe that Canuck goalies have always suffered because the team is not able to corral rebounds as well as other teams. I wish there was a stat to prove my wild conjecture. I will ask the twittersphere to look into it. Anyways, rebound control should be preached throughout the year, along with better zone exits by the defensemen. Up the boards is not the only option.
Well, there is only a few days until this season starts. Let the doom and gloom commence.