So that’s that, the shortened NHL lockout season is over and you could say the Canucks are happy it’s all done. The season featured Keith Ballard as a forward, Manny Malhotra forced to shut down for the season, Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo battling for the number one spot and everything in between. That Stanley Cup Final run has to be a very distant and dead memory to many after two dreadful playoff experiences in the past year since 2011. There are many people you can blame and throw around as to who blew it for the Canucks, but you also can be the typical Canucks fan and blame it on Luongo. But no, there are many things that went wrong for this team and I’ll explain to you what some of them were from this season.
Canucks Powerplay/Penalty Killing units
Oh where do I start…WHERE DO I START? This season has probably been the worse for the Canucks on the power play and penalty kill, a team that used to thrive on both has really turned the book. Vancouver’s PK units which had a 74% rating were abysmal in the first round series against the San Jose Sharks. Although some of the refereeing was questionable at times in the series, the Canucks spoon fed a hot Power Play unit with penalties and it literally cost them the series. It also didn’t help that guys like the Sedins were the ones heading off for the Canucks which made matters worse for the team. They are the leaders and they were generally parking their butts in the penalty box, doesn’t make sense. The Canucks were one of the league’s worst during the regular season only going 15.8% on the power play. That number is significantly down from the past two years where they went 19% on the power play last season and 24.3% the season before that. Times are changing in the NHL and Mike Gillis has to make the change if he wants to contend again.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin
An amber alert has been lifted after both Daniel and Henrik were both sited at Rogers Arena at the annual Locker Room clean out and media availability. I don’t know about you, but in the NHL playoffs I like the leaders leading the way with depth scoring helping out. The Sedin twins are the engines of this hockey team and are what make this team tick, where ever the Canucks go, the Sedins go. In this series against the Sharks they weren’t good, they were horrible. They were out-worked and out hustled by the Sharks top dogs. If they are scoring and the depth scoring guys are invisible that’s one thing, but if they are sitting in the penalty box most of the time and doing nothing, that’s another. Both players are heading into the final year of their contract with the Canucks and many are wondering do the Canucks let them walk or will they want to stay for the rest of their career in Vancouver.
The Goaltending Circus
Like Roberto Luongo tweeted a couple days ago, can we try this again? The Canucks goalies had a subpar performance this season but still managed to get the job done, but we all know that one of them has to go. It came down to coin flips during the season as to who would start. I don’t know if it was a distraction in the dressing room but even during the playoffs there was the “who will start” question before every game. Although the Canucks goaltending wasn’t an issue in the Sharks series, the change from Luongo to Schneider definitely was a bad choice for Alain Vigneault, but I see why they had to do it. So what happens when you have $10 million worth of netminders on the payroll, and neither can win in big games when it matters? That will be the big question in Vancouver this summer.
Whether the Canucks keep him or let him walk, Vigneault will be fine and will find a job in the NHL again very quickly. But let’s be honest here time is running out for the “core” that’s been together for a while on this team. Sedins turn 33 before the season starts and several other key components are aging as well, so before this team turns into a walking senior home, the Canucks need to think quickly if they keep AV or move on with another coach. Although Gillis said he wants to hit the reset button this off-season, I don’t think it’s necessary yet to do that. The Canucks need a key part on the 2nd line to play with Kesler, because let’s be honest, is David Booth the answer? No. They will also need to fix up the bottom 6 and get a right handed shot defenseman, and they can get all that possibly if the trade away Luongo at the right price in the off-season. One thing is for sure, the Canucks need a new voice in the locker room, enough of the lozenge chewing maniac that is behind the bench right now. The Canucks don’t need a massive rebuild, but a tweak here and there, and they could be laughing their way back to the Cup Finals again.
Hold on tight for this rocky off-season ahead, it will definitely be an interesting one, who goes where and what happens in Vancouver is anyone’s guess. Like I said earlier in this article, this team doesn’t need an earthquake rebuild, but it needs a minor aftershock. They don’t need to blow up the team, but they need to make some minor tweaks and add better depth players. The clock is ticking on this aging Canucks core, and if they ever want to make a Cinderella run again to the Cup Finals, they better do that soon.