Only one month until the season starts and all of our guessing is proven right or wrong…or both. The Nucks are as much a mystery to us as they are to most "professional" hockey pundits. They have a chance to make the playoffs or shit the bed, which will lead to a massive exodus of veterans at the trade deadline. Last year was like this as well, and look how well it worked out….I mean until Calgary outskated, outhit and outscored us in the first round. Some of the negative Nellys would say that making the playoffs was the worst thing that could happen to the team. It has slowed down the changeover that will eventually occur. They might be right, but I’m kind of selfish and still want Vancouver to make the playoffs each year. I don’t want a firesale and then long slow rebuild. (Lookin’ at you Edmonton)
So with the goal of making the playoffs, I am here to predict….oops, I mean wild guess as to what the Nucks are going to have to do to make into the dance again this year. Vancitydan did some of the work for the preseason already so slide over there and read his article.
I am going to skip over the hoopla of the preseason and get right to the nitty gritty as it doesn’t matter who makes the team, they are going to have to meet my expectations to try and have a chance to win a cup.
Special teams will have to be special again.
I made one prediction about special teams last year and that was the Nucks had to have a PP over 19% to have shot to compete. And they did that….and I pat myself on the back every time I think about that prediction. And this year is no different, the Nucks need a PP over 19% to keep teams honest. An effective PP is far better than using Dorsett and Prust out there to send a "message" of don’t fuck with us.
I don’t know if the PK can achieve what it did last year, but being in the top 5 of penalty killing would sure help the Canucks chances of making the playoffs. Prust, Hansen, Sutter, Higgins should be the main four up front on the PK, but it would not surprise me if Horvat is given more of a role out there as well. His speed would be a useful tool.
The second line has to win some games this year.
The Canucks did well last year because there was a lot of balance to the scoring after the first line. Some would say that it would be good if that occurred again this year. I say …maybe, but I would prefer a second line that scored noticeably more than the third. And what that second line looks like……I have no fucking clue. Some want the future king, Horvat, out there, but I think the vet Sutter will probably be given every opportunity to be the guy at center. Bo had a great rookie campaign, but burnt out near the end of the year going the last 11 games with only 2 assists and he was a -8.
The bigger question is who will get time on the wings. Vrbata needs to be with the Sedins at the start of the year. So will Sven finally push Higgy to the third line? Is Burrows a second line guy? There is no right answer in Canuckland.
The defense has to score…..oh, and play defense.
I know I ask a lot from this bunch of 1a/2nd and 3rd type guys. I really hope Doug Lidster can teach better defensive positioning. But I have my doubts as Doug Lidster was never more than a 3rd pairing type guy when he played. At the very least I hope the guys get better instruction on when to pinch at the offensive blueline. Maybe they should play the Constanza rule, whatever their instincts says, do the exact opposite. That’s how I chose my fantasy football team.
And I know the Sedins make this difficult at times, but when you get a chance to shoot, just do it. Let the forwards gather some rebounds and score the old fashion way. I think Mark Giordano took more shots than the whole defensive core last year.
There will have to be a player besides a Sedin or a Vrbata that scores 50+ points.
Or….at least 4 guys who score 40+ besides the three above. Last year the second line didn’t have a 40 point guy. Vrbata doesn’t count as he played with the Sedins too much. The Canucks opposition all seems to have bulked up on scoring….so someone is going to have to have a career year. If the Sedins can both get above 80+ points then it cancels out this prediction.
The Canucks need to learn to line change properly.
The Canucks were the fifth most penalized team in the league last year. Some would blame Dorsett and his 17 majors or 35 minor penalties. But the Canucks had 16 bench penalties, the most in the NHL. How fucked up is that? Just wait until the guy gets back to the bench until you jump on the ice. Kassian’s 18 minors are now Montreal’s PK problem, which should also reduce the PK’s duty.
And this is the biggie…..one of the Sedins will get hurt this year.
The questions are……which one, and for how long. The Canucks got lucky last year that neither one of them got injured. Luck can change quickly in this league. But losing the right one may not hurt us for too long. If we lose Henrik, we’re fucked. We’ve seen it in the past. Henrik is able to play without Daniel and actually become more of a threat as he will actually shoot the puck when his brother is not around. Daniel on the other hand, is lost without his bro. WOWY stats (with or without you) prove this for not only last year, but for previous years as well.
If both go down…..well….fuck.
Vrbata will be traded.
This is almost a guarantee on my part. Not a Messier game 7 guarantee, but close. I loved his signing last year, but I would not love his extension. On a team that needs to get younger he can’t stay another year. The question becomes, if the Nucks are in the playoff race, do you keep him for the run and lose him for nothing at the end of the year? Or do you trade his ass for draft picks or a prospect, or both? (Greedy bastards) Seems like a no-brainer. Let’s all hope he has 30 goals before the deadline so we can squeeze all of his value out of him.
If Corrado is a 3rd line pairing, we’re fucked.
I am not a fan of Frankie. I really hope we he plays this year he proves me wrong and I can hear it from vancitydan.