On the eve of the Canucks starting their regular season, it is time to take one last look at the team that assembled and ask the question, “Is this team any good?”
Patrik Allvin spent the offseason trying to figure out how bad the mess was that Benning left. Allvin was able to re-sign Boeser and Miller, add Mikheyev and Kuzmenko in free agency and trade for Stillman. Unfortunately, he was unable to jettison any of Benning’s big contracts like OEL and Myers.
So, if Allvin didn’t make any big changes and the team is pretty much the same, especially the defense, then should we expect this team to be a playoff contender? There are many optimists out there that see what Boudreau did with this team when he took over and those people say, “Hell yeah!” In fact, if Petey plays healthy all year and Miller doesn’t have a big drop off, this team could fight it out with Edmonton and Calgary. I tend to think these people live in a bubble and don’t take into consideration what the other teams did in the offseason.
Edmonton added Jack Campbell in an attempt to find a goalie that can keep the team in games where the Oilers defense goes to sleep. Calgary went nuclear after losing Gaudreau. They got rid of a Tkachuk that some teammates didn’t like and brough in a great scorer and another steady defenseman….and added some more grit and scoring with Kadri.
Can the Canucks keep up with those teams? Last year’s results against those teams combined was 1-3-4, so it might be a stretch. The Canucks would definitely need to split those games to be considered a threat. And overall, against the division, the Canucks need to be better as they went 13-6-7 against Pacific teams.
Keys to getting into the playoffs:
1. Special teams anyone? The expectation is that the powerplay will work. And it will need to work at 25% to really make this team a threat. It can’t be said enough that a strong powerplay makes life easier for a team. Other teams have to play an honest game against you or else they will give up a PPG or two which is usually the difference in the game.
More importantly this year, this team has to be better on the penalty kill. 30th in the league last year…brutal. If this team can’t get the percentage to stay above 83%, playoffs will be tough to make.
2. Special teams wouldn’t be so important to this team if they just scored more 5 vs 5 goals. The Nucks were 23rd in the league when it came to 5vs5 GF. Playoff teams can create offence even strength.
3. Win some one goal games for once. The Canucks were 27th when it came to winning one goal games. Holding a lead seems to be a very tough thing for this team. They were also in the bottom half when it came to winning percentage when leading after the 1st and 2nd periods.
4. This team needs to score goals early. The Canucks only scored 58 1st period goals last year. (28th in the league) They allowed 72. Some many games started with the team playing from behind instead of scoring early and often.
5. This team just needs to score more period. The Canucks were 18th in goals for. Realistically the team needs 30 more goals to be a comfortable playoff team (unless GA goes up 30 as well). I am not sure where 30 more goals comes from….but hopefully the third line can add more scoring this year.
When I see the list above, I think this team will have a tough time getting to the promised land. I dearly want playoff hockey, but alas, this bubble team will probably make it to the 2nd to last week before getting knocked out of the race.
Please prove me wrong!