To the casual fan who frequents this website, you might think that the Vancouver Canucks win every single night (we always win something in the recap). This may not actually be the case, westy99, Kent Basky and jimmi.cynic take a few minutes out of their day to delve into five questions that keep me up at night with regards to the 2017-18 season at the mid-point.
If you look back at your team predictions at the beginning of the season, how well/poorly has the team fared in comparison to your expectations?
westy99: This team has exceeded expectations by leaps and bounds.....and yet they probably have the record they should have. The Canucks are an average team on the best of nights and so, when they win against some good teams, some fans think this team is a playoff contender. They’re not. Accept it and move on.
jimmi.cynic: Had no expectations. Until Westy filled our fake dreams with a Cup of false hope. After the above average play in the happy part of the season, admit I secretly expected we’d be in the solid upper teens - not a wildcard spot, but a respectable 18th or 19th was possible.
Then our first line, shutdown line and D were found passed out with a box of unlucky charms at the infirmary of lost destiny. Last season’s fatal fling with the faeries wasn’t the end of a bad trend, it was a prequel.
Kent Basky: Well, everything seems to be rolling along exactly as I envisioned it: A hellish existence of perpetual injuries, losses piling up and Erik Gudbranson. And yet, there has been the revelation that is Brock Boeser. We knew from what we’d seen of him in the NCAA that he could be good. And then we saw him last year and could tell he’d probably be a pretty good player for the Canucks. But anyone who says they predicted this is a damn dirty liar. That being said, Boeser is the air we breathe, and with Elias Pettersson soon to join him, it must be said: Be patient. Endure this garbage for a little while longer, and I promise it will be worth the wait.
Do we like what first year Coach Travis Green has done with this team to date? His intensity in practice has been fairly well documented. Is this what the team needs right now, or will he become another tuned out Coach that we need to replace within the next 24 months?
Westy99: I was not a fan of Green’s hiring. I understood the logic of it, but not a fan. I think opening night changed my mind to some degree. He has some of the same tendencies of any head coach (playing vets in certain situations, shortening the bench in close games). He has done a good job under the typical Canuck conditions (injuries galore). He should be given the same amount of rope that Willie got. I await to see next year’s team and how he coaches the team without the Sedins.
jimmi.cynic: Have to agree with Westy - how sick is that? However, Green’s first presser made the change worth freeing Willie and losing the shaky metaphors.
The most important battles were being won after game - the battle with the Vancouver sports media. Green’s coaching style led to some very entertaining games. His unflappable presser performances have made the free fall for Xmas an entertaining descent. It’s not if you win or lose. It’s not how you play the game. It’s how you explain that losses afterwards that separates the great coaches from the real good ones.
Green doesn’t need any rope. Just a long mic cable.
Kent Basky: I think Green’s done well considering all that’s been thrown at him. It’s a team that at it’s best should just barely miss a wild card spot, and given the injuries they’ve had to endure, that’s all but a dream now. I will say I do appreciate Green’s candor, and he is fast becoming one of the more entertaining coaches to watch during a game (his facial expressions are amazing). But as Travis Green acclimatizes himself to coaching in the NHL, the Canucks are evolving, a new core taking shape. If the club gives him the chance to grow with this group, we could witness a Canucks team playing a pretty damn good brand of hockey, as the one thing he deserves credit for already is that for as shitty as the Canucks are, they’re certainly a thousand times more entertaining than they were during the last 4 seasons.
Do the Canucks have the right pieces in net to make positive strides? Should the team be looking to shake up the goaltending dynamic?
Westy99: This trade deadline is make or break for Benning. The Canucks should be able to trade Guds and Vanek for picks. The cupboard is no longer bare for assets and another top ten pick should help this team in the next 3-5 years. I’m excited about the future. The goaltending is still a huge question mark. The only benefit of the doubt I give the two Swedes is that the defensemen on the Canucks are average. (Tanev a little higher) Demko might be in by next year, but even he is an unknown factor at an NHL level. Maybe Edler can finally make the change to goalie since his ass is always in the way.
jimmi.cynic: The only pieces missing in net can be found at your local hardware store. A sheet of 3/4” ply, some padding and discrete logo placement and our two backups can save 92.3% of the shots. Just like they did at the beginning of the season.
Don’t see the point of shaking any dynamics or sticks at this point in the extended IR zone staycation. Just cover the net with the plywood sheet and the ‘See You Net Year’ stickers.
Kent Basky: It’s funny, after the quarter mark, one of the things that didn’t seem to be too concerning was the goaltending. The Canucks had gotten off to a decent start, and were getting pretty solid performances from both goalies. Now it seems like they’re battling to see who doesn’t have to start. What’s pretty clear is that neither of these guys, likable as they are, are not #1 goalies. So that means suffering through them, and figuring out which one remains as Thatcher Demko comes to claim his birthright next season.
Can we talk about Brock Boeser for a moment? Is this the franchise player we’ve been looking for, or are we seeing a perfect world situation for a very good young player?
Westy99: Boeser is great....amazing. But let’s not slap franchise player on him. In fact, let’s get rid of the term right now. No one player (Ovechkin) can carry a team to the Cup. There needs to be at least two forwards and a defensemen to build around. Bo/Brock/Elias would be a great start. Now, about a defenseman.....
jimmi.cynic: Can we stop talking about Brock? No. No, we can’t. He’s our best rookie sniper in a generation. Or two. He has made the long dark night of the Injury Faeries brighter. And even fended off a faerie attack of his own.
His skill and poise can contribute to many heroic victories for us in the future. Note: I didn’t use the other F-word.
We wanted a generational talent - we got one. Enjoy!
Kent Basky: Unlike some of you whippersnappers, I was actually around for the emergence of Pavel Bure. While Brock Boeser doesn’t have the wheels Bure did (good lord, to watch him skate was just breathtaking), he may well be a more pure goal scorer than Bure, and I don’t say this lightly. Boeser makes the puck do things you don’t really think it should do, and he makes goalies, good goalies, look utterly foolish (Hey, Matt Murray!). And for him to be producing despite losing two pretty good linemates, essentially the Canucks first line, and just continue producing points no matter who he’s paired with is a sign that for the first time since Bure, we have a true superstar sniper on the Canucks, and one that will allow them to hang with the McDavids and Matthews’ of the world. So long as they fix the gawd-awful defence, that is.
Prediction time: How does the rest of the season play out? Feel free to make wild stabs at trades, injuries, or whatever you think is likely to happen between now and mid-April.
Westy99: I think Guds and Vanek are gone by the deadline. I have a chicken foot and pray for Edler’s departure as well. The Canucks will continue to drop in the standings until Sven, Bo and Tanev are all back. The Canucks will be 2nd or 3rd to last in the conference. Unfortunately there are more bad teams in the east so 1st pick overall is out. Fortunately we have 5th pick in the bag.
jimmi.cynic: TDL tl;tr - All Your Picks Belong To Us. Except the ones ones the Yotes, Boofooloo and other eastern b-feeders pick up.
I still want to believe that until the ping pong ball of fickle fates drops into its predestined league selected slot, we could pick first. And JB will pick the newest Tkachuk to silence the critics of the past and create more mouth-foaming poison tweets than ever before. Or we pick 4th and still get the newest Tkachuk.
Until June, I’m going to
believe pretend all our Dahlins and Dahlens will be ours forever. It’s our new Westy Destiny. Sort of.
Kent Basky: It can’t rain all the time, even in Vancouver. The Canucks will finally get that coveted first overall pick, select Rasmus Dahlin and begin the ascent. Or maybe they’ll just pick 5th again. Either way, no playoffs this year. Be patient. It’s going to get better, and if you’d stop worrying about the damn playoffs you could enjoy Brock Boeser pressure free.