The month of November’s been one the Canucks likely will not want to remember. After a pretty amazing start in October, a whole lot of things have gone wrong over the last 3 weeks, so we’ve tasked the NM staff to address some of these issues.
1.- What do you feel is the most obvious reason for the Canucks fall back to earth?
jimmi - Faerian gravitational pull combined with not getting to play most of November in SoCal.
westy - I hate to agree with jimmi, but those damn fairies did it. The team had a good line up going and then Ferland screwed things up by dropping the gloves and Sutter rips a muscle. When the lines had to shuffle, things got out of whack.
Tengeresz - Regression to the mean. After all, the Canucks are 3rd in the Pacific and tied with Dallas, and ahead of Vegas with a game in hand. If someone had offered that to any of us in the pre-season we would have been ecstatic. I feel that this is about the actual level of the team at this stage of development, and that’s OK.
KB - I think the hardest thing is trying to pick one, because it’s a fairly complex series of events. You have the defence not performing as well as they had, scoring drying up, goaltending falling to average instead of stellar, a couple key injuries combined with some coaching decisions. That, and the fact that they continue to give up the first goal of the game, and spend a lot of time in comeback mode, which is not a recipe for success. They’re still producing chances, but are going to have to tighten up defensively to give their goalies a chance to keep things closer than they have been.
Beggsy - I could list a couple reasons, but the most obvious for me is bad puck luck. At even-strength, the Canucks are still one of the best teams at generating chances, highlighted by the fact that their expected goals-for percentage is 56.7% (4th best in the league). However, their even-strength shooting percentage is 4.4%, second worst behind Calgary. Compare that to October, when the Canucks 10.3% shooting percentage was 4th in the NHL.
2.- Just how many minutes a night should Alexander Edler be playing?
jimmi - Enough to be effective and not enough to be special. 18-20 mins ought to be around that constantly moving threshold.
Tengeresz - It’s not how many minutes a night he should be playing, it’s how many nights can HCTG keep him playing. When the Eagle is on his game he’s a legit top pair guy on a decent team. Keeping him on his game and healthy for the rest of the season is partly load management, and partly motivation, and partly long therapeutic ice-baths. So 22 minutes until Hughes can step up a bit and Eddie gets less; then back to 22 minutes when Hughes gets worn out a bit. Rinse and repeat (and hope Juolevi gets healthy long before Edler gets injured).
KB - Definitely less than he is right now. He’s playing well, but starts to break down quality wise as he gets into the higher minutes. This is a better D than they’ve had in years, and it’s time to lean on everyone not named Chris Tanev and Alex Edler a little more.
Beggsy - Alexonner McEdler. Give the guy 40 minutes per night.
Jokes aside Edler minutes need to come down from the 25:00 per night he’s averaging right now. Benn could use a two minute bump from the 16:30 he’s averaging, and perhaps give Hughes another minute or two from the 20:10 he’s averaging.
In a perfect world, Edler is playing around the 18-20 Jimmi suggested, but I’m not sure that’s possible the way the Canucks are currently constructed and quite frankly, Edler is playing really well despite the heavy workload.
westy - Might as well play him as much as you can until he breaks. You can’t ask for a refund and you know he will break somewhere along the line. It’s like asking the sun not to rise.
3.- Let’s talk about Loui Eriksson. Hah, just kidding! Adam Gaudette: Here to stay or should Travis Green keep him on a short leash?
jimmi - It’s November, leashes are in short supply. Gaud knows what this kid can do. One of the few Canucks shooters not hypnotized by the glass behind the opponent’s net.
Tengeresz - Hahahaha! Oh Kent, you kidder you! I love the second part of that joke!
KB- I want to believe he’s got the green light, but the fact that Zack MacEwan is in the press box and Loui continues to play makes me believe that the first time he has a bad game it’s gonna be right back into the box for Gaudette. With the return of Antoine Roussel, and Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter, something’s gotta give. Loui, AG and Jake are all candidates for the box, and probably two of them will be there.
Beggsy - I fully believe that Adam Gaudette has the green light...to an extent. He’s clearly an NHL player and a weapon on the power play, but is he trusted enough defensively to be a full-time third-line centre?
“NM alumni” Harman Dayal had a good piece on the improvement of Gaudette defensively for The Athletic, but the fact of the matter is that Gaudette is still getting some softer matchups and he doesn’t kill penalties. By many metrics, he was awful defensively last season, so the fact that he’s improved isn’t a surprise.
I do wonder how the eventual return of Brandon Sutter will play into Green’s decision on how to deploy Gaudette.
westy - Aquilini refuses to let $6 million be spent on a Utica player. Therefore Gaudette will continue to get shipped down, unless he can score 2 goals every game.
4.- We’re at the quarter mark for the season: Let’s have your MVP, Most surprising player, and player that needs to step it up (and you can’t use Loui).
jimmi - MVP: Miller - MSP: Schaller - PtNtSIUP: Any forward who hasn’t scored 2 or more goals (or 3+ apples) or got a shutout in the last 3 games. If that includes Loui, not my problem.
Tengeresz - MVP: Markstrom - MSP: Gaudette - PtNtSIUP: Captain Bo. The only one of these that I can imagine anyone quibbling with are the Bo-Bros who will say “Burden of leadership” and “Money at the dot” and “On the same points pace as last year” but here’s the thing: I think he’s got more, and HE thinks he’s got more, and now I’m spoiled by his record of continuous improvement. Anything less than another step up from last year will be a disappointment. Horvat will continue to improve because he's not satisfied.
KB - MVP: J.T. Miller. This man may have bought Jim Benning more time should this all fall apart, he’s been that good. MSP: Tyler Myers. I’ll wait for you to stop laughing. Here’s what I see. This is a guy who seemed to get nothing but eye rolls when JB brought him in because many felt he was overpaid. He hasn’t been the best defenceman, but he’s been solid and fairly consistent. It’s a long season, but he’s been part of the improved defensive play this season. PtNtSIUP: If he was healthy, I would say Michael Ferland, but I am gonna go with Bo Horvat, though it’s a begrudging vote at best. He does so much, maybe almost too much, and needs to sharpen his focus a bit. The goals will come.
Beggsy - Alrighty then!
- MVP: Elias Pettersson. Really, who else? He’s the most dominant player on the team and it’s not close.
- MSP: J.T. Miller. I think people expected he would be good, but one of the best forwards in hockey? That has to come as a surprise.
- Player that needs to step it up: Sven Baertschi. This is more for his own good rather than the team’s good. For the most part, there hasn’t been a player, other than Loui, who has been awful. Although Baertschi has had some flashes, he looks mighty replaceable right now. With reinforcements on the way, time is running out for him to make a splash.
MVP - You mean besides Tim Schaller? Bo Horvat. This guy plays with anyone and has to play against the best lines. He’s the fucking captain.
Surprising - You mean besides Tim Schaller? Alex Edler. After so many years of “fuck Edler!”, I have seen a calmer presence on the ice and less mistakes.
Step it up - Bo Horvat. I know. Bo is getting too fancy with his shot-making. He really could have 10+ goals right now if it wasn’t for him trying to pick the top corner on every shot.
5.- Predictions for this road trip, please.
jimmi - There will be too many games in the wrong timezone - including a ridiculous morning peewee tilt. Hope the Nucks moms are at the game - for the nostalgia. Also... too many games the Nucks will lose. Including the peewee tilt.
few couple one they will win because Road Capt’n Bo is going to burst out of the g-drought with a gusher of offence. And... expect Eddie or Tanev will be on the plane home before the rest of the team.
Still time to steal a few early sad pages from the playbook of last year’s early western conference blue bottom dwellers.
The real question is whether this trip into darkness will return a 4 or 5 game losing streak. If it’s a 6 game L-streak, we’ll be satisfied in the knowledge the sad blue pages were stolen. Later, we’ll find out if they were read.
Tengeresz - I feel like the first and last games of the trip are the important ones. There’s been lots of talk from the players of using the OTL as momentum or motivation, or something. They need to believe they can get a win in Dallas, and if they do that can help them steal a game against the three tough eastern teams while spanking Nashville. If they follow my plan that’s 6 pts in 5 games before taking two days rest to start a home and home in Edmonton. The final roadie in Edmonton will hopefully come when the Oil have slipped a bit and if the Nuckleheads can gut out a win that will be huge. Just like my SPW predictions, this is less what I’m sure of and more what I wish.
KB - It really feels like 2-2-2 is a likely outcome, and the way they’ve been playing this month, that would be a small victory. They have to come out against Dallas and set the tone for the trip with a statement kind of win. If they can’t do that, this is gonna be a long trip.
Beggsy - If you couldn’t tell, I might be one of the most optimistic guys on this site (or in this market) despite the losing this month. They’ve played well all things considered, but this is a grueling road trip.
I’ll predict that they come out of this trip 3-2-1. They lose to Washington with that dreaded 9:30 am start, win one and lose one in Pensylvania, and win two of three in the games against Dallas, Nashville and Edmonton.
westy - 2-2-2 seems about right for this team right now. If Roussel can get his body going maybe things get interesting.