1.- Pretty decent return from the road trip, especially the response to the loss to Edmonton Sunday night. With some rest and the eventual return of a handful of players, do you think we might see the Canucks of October in December?
westy99 - The October Canucks are long gone. Even if the roster of October comes back, the Canucks need to keep evolving. They need to be able to play all types of teams, not just the run and gun variety. They still have trouble against heavy hitting teams.
Markus - That’s a ‘no’ from me. I think they could be substantially better than November, but statistical models were showing the October Canucks to be a Stanley Cup caliber team. Simply put, they’re not that. There were just too many players hot in October to think recreating that is realistic. That said, I expect them to be better, and to hopefully build even a small cushion on a playoff spot.
Tengeresz - Hell Yes BABY! Almost by definition if it’s the same players then it’s the Canucks of October. There’s also a much easier schedule, sort of like October. I think the depth guys did a reasonable job, especially with the toughest roadie of the season. It only gets better from here. (Warning: I’m pretty happy today. Alcohol may have been involved).
jimmi - October is soooo last month or the one before. When the faeries are finished with Beags/Sutz and not planning Xmas dinner, this new edition Nucks will make October look like November. Until they slip on the retro jerseys. Then we’ll wish it was November.
Beggsy - Is “October Canucks” the new version of “Tuesday Jim?”
Look, there was probably too much hype about the Canucks 8-3-1 October record since four of those eight wins came against Los Angeles and Detroit. They weren’t playing that differently in November when they lost two of their nine games.
Do I think the Canucks could return to their October form? Absolutely. Will that same level of play result in another 8-3-1 month? Probably not, but they should be aiming for eight wins during this home-heavy schedule.
Kent- Ask me in January. Hah, I keed. Seriously, it’s hard to get a read on them still. My gut tells me they’re not quite there yet (I mean, if your team falls to pieces because Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter are out of the lineup, you’re not as good as you think). They’ve shown signs of being able to go toe to toe with the best (see the Washington game on the road trip), but have had some frighteningly bad moments (see the Washington game at home). With the team getting healthy, maybe they can keep pace for the wild card, but I still stand by what I have said all along: so much has to go right just for them to be in the running for a playoff spot.
2.- The penalty kill is leaking slowly, letting in at least one goal every game over the last few weeks. Is this a coaching thing or a reflection of the injuries to key players on the kill?
westy99 - injuries are an issue, but also other teams adjusting to the Canucks system. Coaches get paid to find flaws in the system and some teams have. Math would suggest that a 80% PK and 20% PP are average...the Canucks are above.
Markus - I mean maybe it’s partially a coaching issue, but I am quite sympathetic to the idea that the team is missing Brandon Sutter and Jay Beagle on that file. Is it good that losing those two drastically affects the team? No, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Tengeresz - Almost entirely personnel. Roussel, Motte, Sutter, Beagle, even Ferland are what this team needs more of to excel on the PK. When the injury faeries give up on them, things should get better. Putting Horvat and Pearson on the PK is bad for everything.
jimmi - Oh man... my faery dust was stolen by Ten. And that un-magic dust ruined the PK and so much more.
Beggsy - Judging by scoring chances against, the Canucks three best penalty killers at forward are Tim Schaller, Jay Beagle and Tyler Motte. Bo Horvat is the on the other end of the spectrum. I would say the answer to this question is in part Beagle (not Sutter) and in part Westy’s comment about team’s adjusting to the Canucks PK.
Kent- I think the return of the guys that are injured will help, and getting back to the things that were working so well in October.
3.- Has Loui Eriksson really earned a spot back in the lineup? Really?
westy99 - No.
Markus - No.
Tengeresz - He doesn’t really EARN a spot, so much as default into a spot when others are not able to step up. Despite his lacklustre performance and albatross of a contract, he’s still a legit NHL player who can (say it with me) do the “Little things” that coaches need every night from their players. Just because he is not scoring the way he is paid, doesn't mean he’s not better than an AHL scrub.
jimmi - does 6.6 million shades of black count? Or back... that’s different.
First... his LittleThings never last. One good game and that’s his quota for the month. He’s the last of the great overpaid slacker players. And I appreciate the slacker ethos more than I have the desire to explain. On a positive note, just 2 short years or 700+ more angsty nights until he’s off the cap hit.
Beggsy - We’re asking this again? I thought Loui already lost his spot to Zack MacEwen after the Ottawa game?
Kent- I watched the Comets/Marlies game a few nights ago, and I have to say, Loui Eriksson could have been a difference maker in that game.
4.- The Canucks are (as of the start of this discussion) currently in a playoff spot. It’s the first week of December. Will they be there in January?
westy99 - No, but they will be close to the last wild card
Markus - I’ll say yes, but barely. It’ll be a grind for them to get that last wildcard spot. At the very least, January should be interesting, which is something we haven’t been able to say for a while.
Tengeresz - Hell Yes BABY! Last time we answered this question I said the hot early start would not wear off until December. I was right then. Now I say that just surviving November was enough. An easier December and some good home cookin’ will push the team up the standings a bit. And the Rooster is back, we didn’t have him in October, so that’s a big bonus. The almost home-and-home with Vegas will be big standings swing games.
jimmi - Let me check the crystal... nope... still fogged up. If I had to guess and I do, it’s a definite maybe. While some easy(ish) home games will help, there’s still some uncertainty in my ambivalence. I’ll give my definitive answer on New Year’s.
Beggsy - Man, the Western Conference standings are a mess, and I really don’t expect that to sort itself out anytime soon.
I’m going to say yes because of the heavy-home schedule. If they are out of the playoffs in January, it won’t be by much. Congratulation Canucks, you are no longer a bottom-feeder, but a proud member of the mediocrity club.
Kent- See above and/or ask me on New Years Eve.
5.- If the playoffs started today they would have to face St Louis. Predictions on how that might go?
westy99 - Unfortunately I don’t think this team, even if all are healthy, is built for playoff success. The rules change in the playoffs and the refs put their whistles away. The Canucks haven’t handle hard-hitting teams very well. St Louis is a hard-hitting team....that won a cup.
Markus - I can’t see that going particularly well for this team. Probably Blues in like 5. I don’t think they match up particularly well against St. Louis — hard team to play against that can step up come playoff time.
Tengeresz - And the optimism comes crashing down..... That does not mean there’s no hope for the Canucks: there’s plenty of season left to get hot, learn to be consistent, and load up with the injured guys off the IR. But if the playoffs started today then the Canucks would be hosed. The Orca-boys might win a game (or even two) running on adrenaline and Alien moxy, In the playoffs though it will be team defence that wins and ours has not proven reliable yet.
jimmi - Unlike my unbelieving brethren, I believe the Nucks could upset the Blues, because some team will, why not ours? We beat them convincingly in their own building. With a small tweak to playoff rules, Nucks can win at least 4 games. In the shootout.
Beggsy - I think that series would still go the Blues way, which is good news for any Canucks fan that listened to my playoff predictions on Silky N’ Filthy last spring...I do think this would be a closer series than most might imagine. Fairly balanced scoring, good goaltending for both teams, but the deciding factor is the defence. The Blues are stacked and the Canucks, well, they have Quinn Hughes?
Kent- Great answers, guys. Really. But it’s not gonna happen, unless it does. If it should, ask me then. I will probably say something like Blues in 5, and they can go to hell.