It’s time for another edition of the Nucks Misconduct Roundtable. Each week we get our writers together and ask them a number of questions about the state of this team we’ve been cursed to follow. Sometimes they play it straight, sometimes it’s Westy and Jimmi, but you’ll always get the unvarnished opinions on the Canucks here. It should be noted that these answers came before the last two games against Montreal.
1- The Canucks already find themselves near the bottom Scotia North Division. Yes, it’s early still but with the short and compressed schedule, should we be sounding the alarm?
Beggsy - Sippin’ on a 40 host Kyle Bhawan said it best...f*ck the panic button.
Westy - I expected this. The Canucks don’t match up well against any of these Canadian teams. They should have moved the team to Oregon and played in the west.
Strang - Too early to sound the alarm. Let's see home these games against Montreal and Ottawa go and then re-evaluate.
Kent- Maybe it’s a little early for panic, but if they don’t blow the damn doors off Montreal in the first home game after that god-awful road swing, I will defy the esteemed Mr. Bhawan and flip the cover on the panic button open. There are only (as of this writing) 52 more games to unscrew what is looking like a bad start. The pressure is on, and they don’t have the luxury of a 6 month regular season to sort shit out, nor do they have a play in round to bail them out for being close. They best get it in gear now, or we’re gonna have to start looking into lottery picks.
jimmi - If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the grim passage of Nucks history is... it’s never too early to panic. Better late than never doesn’t work either. Panic early and often is key in a compressed season. At least all these issues can easily be fixed. Ask me how.
2- It’s starting to look like some of the same issues, identified year after year are still a problem for this team. Let’s start with team defence. Why is it so hard for these guys to limit opposition shots?
Beggsy - We were told by management coming into the season that this defence was better. Well, it’s a new team, but the same old defence.
A small part of me wants to give them the benefit of the doubt after no preseason, but we will soon have to debate whether their defensive deficiencies come from the personnel, the coaching staff, or both. Quinn Hughes has played well on the back-end, but Edler and Hamonic — two guys who are supposed to be defensive stalwarts, have looked rusty to start the season, Myers and Juolevi have been on the ice for too many shots against as well.
Westy - As I mention below, the system Travis Green has his defensemen playing is the issue. They are happy to collapse and keep the puck carrier to the outside without forcing them to make a play. It gives the other time to set up 5 on 5. The Canucks are letting teams set up and then have to chase them around the zone. Defense needs to step up early and force the other team to make a play.
Strang - I’m not sure what the change needs to be in the defensive system but it’s clear that something is not working and needs to be tweaked. I agree with Westy that the Canucks are too passive and give the opposing team too much time and space.
How that’s going to change I'm not sure and it’s up to Travis Green to decide if it’s a system issue or a personnel issue.
jimmi - I know we’re here to analyze all the little details that a team of professional hockey coaches have obviously missed, but I’m done giving out free advice to this team. Coaches and players are paid millions. Figure it out! (Ok... small hint: Hockey is a team game - try playing as a team)
Kent- As a former Kamloops resident, it pains me to say this but I think it might be time to look at getting a different mind running the defence than Nolan Baumgartner. Super nice guy, well-liked by the players, and a good soldier for the organization. That should not cloud the fact this team gets dummied every damn game, and with them struggling to score and not having the goalie who routinely stole wins for them, something has to change.
3- Again, still early but given the way the Canucks have played against the Flames over the past couple of seasons, is letting Jacob Markstrom go to the Flames going to come back to haunt the Canucks?
Beggsy - It very well could this season. However, in the long run, I have no doubt that the Canucks made the right call by not signing him to that six-year, $36 million dollar contract.
Believe in Demko.
Westy - No. I just don’t understand why the Canucks just didn’t shoot at his glove hand. Everything was along the ice and Markstrom covers that. Markstroms contract sucks and the Canucks defense is bad, so why spend the money on a goalie when the defensemen are the issue.
Strang - It’s going to suck for this year at least but the reality is that it wasn’t smart of the Canucks to sign him for six-years. The Canucks are going to have to figure out how to solve good goalies as there are quite a few in the Canadian division.
jimmi - With how this team, our team, our once beloved Canucks has shown how not to be a hockey team, not even Marky could saved those games for us. It’s annoying the Nucks didn’t make Marky look like the 5’2” goalie we know he really is. Also... we already know how 6-year $36M contracts turn out.
Kent- This year and maybe for two more, it’s gonna suck. The best thing will be going back to a normal schedule so we don’t end up with 10 games against the Flames every year. He’ll fade as he gets older, but for now they have a distinct advantage. Demko and Holtby are going to have to give them what Markstrom did or this team is so screwed.
4- Is it time for Travis Green to bring out the blender and get some different looks going to try and get the offence kickstarted?
Beggsy - I’d stay patient for now.
In fairness, Green had the blender out while Jake Virtanen was floundering on the top line. Also, the Canucks are currently fourth in the league with 14 even-strength goals...they just decided to inflate that total with five on opening night.
Westy - I would suggest it’s almost time to put Travis in the blender. If changing lines creates more scoring from one line but nothing else, it’s time to look at the overall system the team is running. Green just might not be able to adjust to the team he has and the belief he can make this team a contender is unfounded.
Strang - Sure. If things keep going this way let’s get creative and try Gaudette on the wing or a few other ideas that Green hasn’t really used yet but only if things continue trending downwards.
jimmi - Looks? Offence started? Really? We have to coach the coaches AND the players. They don’t pay us enough for that. The issues are simple and basic. However, the Nucks and their fans do not do simple well. We’re far too clever for that. Oh well... making the playoffs 2 seasons in a row would be a bad precedent.
Kent- I think the bottom six needs a MAJOR shakeup. Sit Jay Beagle and Brandon Sutter. Throw in some of the kids and give them a sniff, anything that is going to disrupt the consistent mediocrity of the Canucks bottom six.
5- In an attempt to try and find anything positive: Your thoughts on Nils Hoglander and Olli Juolevi’s play so far?
Beggsy - Aside from Hughes, I think Hoglander has caught my eye more than any other Canuck. He certainly has had moments where he’s turned the puck over trying to be too cute, but I think he needs to keep trying to be a playmaker, especially while playing on a line with two shooters in Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson.
Juolevi has been solid so far. I like the way he reads the ice. That being said, he’s been incredibly sheltered. I’d like to see what he does with increased responsibility.
Westy - Unlike Pollyanna above, I think both of these guys have been pushed around a little too easy. Hoglander better learn to take hits or his body is going to crumble...fast. Juolevi is going to need a little more in the way of a mean streak in front of the net. These two should get lots of ice time this year to see if they can become everyday players.
Strang - Höglander was very impressive early on but has faded a bit over the past couple games, though granted the entire team has. I think both players have played well considering it’s their first NHL experience and the weird offseason leading up to it.
They both have many things they could improve on and I would like to see Juolevi take on some tougher competition, but overall an encouraging start.
Kent- I disagree with Westy (mostly because a) it’s fun and b) it’s a safe bet). I think Hoglander’s doing alright in learning some of the nature of the physicality of the NHL, and unless Elias Pettersson in his rookie season, Nils is a stocky son of gun. Juolevi is doing alright so far, his minutes are sheltered, but this is fairly normal as far as development goes. No complaints about either of these kids so far, and probably the last thing we should be worrying about.
jimmi - I disagree with everything. Probably everyone. I have no positive thoughts. And no positive covid test. So far.
The Nucks issues run so deep that to single out a couple players for praise or blame misses the bigger picture; the universe hates the Canucks. And probably their fans. Or mainly their fans.
If only we humans had evolved on Venus (460 degrees celsius avg - day or night), ice hockey would never have been invented. And after a few more consecutive losses the heat on the Nucks will have them wishing for the cool relief of a flesh-melting Venusian evening in the sun.
Fortunately, the Nucks saved themselves the media flamethrower treatment with their track meet win. Unfortunately, with their no-team-D game they will now burn in fan hell without the soothing effect of Westy’s rum balm treatment.