Addicted to novelty since 2001

And the Canucks Go Golfing…

With their loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Canucks are out of the playoffs. Maybe the Sedin twins can make a foursome with Roloson and Hemsky and hit the links.

James said it best the other day: “the current crop of Canucks are like middling students–they just do enough to get by”.That ‘just enough’, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs. Who or what is to blame? I’m only a semi-serious fan and I only watched the last twenty games this season, but here’s what I figure:

  • Markus Naslund – If you’re earning $6 million, you’d better lead the team in a category other than Handsomest Swede. His 25 goals and 30 assists weren’t nearly enough. His -4 in +/- doesn’t look good either. This is more speculative, but I never liked Naslund as team captain. He seems to lack the intensity that captains of more successful teams seem to have. He seems to shy away from contact, and he’s not exactly renowned for his back-check.
  • Lack of scoring – The team has only three 20-goal scorers, and Daniel Sedin led the team with 29. They lost too many games 2-1 or 3-2. Would a major deadline deal have made a difference? I’m not sure, but I wish they’d rolled the dice.
  • Injuries – The team lost a lot of man-games to injury, and their defence was decimated for most of the season. A couple of playoff-bound teams have lost more, but it was certainly a factor.
  • Tough division – The Northwest division is the most competitive in the NHL. Teams play 32 games against their divisional opponents, and none of them are easy for the Canucks. Unfortunately, that’s not going to change.

Is there reason to be hopeful for next season? Hard to say, but here’s what I like about the team:

  • The Sedins – They seem to have plateaued at good instead of great, but they’re very effective and scoring at nearly a point-a-game.
  • Ryan Kesler – Teams kill for this kind of two-way, fleet-footed player who can hit, kill penalties and score 20 goals a season.
  • Roberto Luongo – Still under contract. Huzzah.
  • A Promising Youth Movement – Edler, Bourdon, Burrows Raymond and Shannon look reasonably ready for regular NHL duty. I don’t know how close Grabner, Schneider and Hansen are, but I can’t remember the last time the Canucks had so many promising young players in their system. I like GM Dave Nonis should move some young assets for scoring help over the summer.
  • $9 Million To Spend – The team will hopefully bid farewell to Naslund and Brendan Morrison. That frees up some cash to go after some free agents.
  • A New Captain – The team needs a change of attitude. With Naslund leaving, I hope they hand the ‘C’ to Willie Mitchell.

What team will I be cheering for in the post-season now that Vancouver is out of the running? I cheer for Canadian teams first, and Calgary last among the Canadian teams. So, then, go, Sens, go.

UPDATE: James Mirtle has a thoughtful and, to my mind, accurate review of the Canucks’ middling season. Best quote: “They couldn’t score last year — at home, on the road, during the season, in the playoffs, not in a box, not with a fox.”

UPDATE #2: Washington, now there’s a team with character. They’ve gone 9-1 in the last ten games to demand a spot in the post-season. They still need some help to get in, but I hope they make it. They deserve it, and I want to watch Ovechkin tear things up.

7 Responses to “And the Canucks Go Golfing…”

  1. filmgoerjuan

    For years and years, the Canucks lacked a #1 goaltender; now they’ve got a #1 goaltender, but they lack a suitable offense. When the hell is this team going to strike the right balance and show some consistency? :(

  2. bobby

    Too bad Darren. It must be very disapointing

  3. darren

    Nah. There was a time in my younger years when I was seriously emotionally involved with my favourite sport teams, but I got over that by, I don’t know, 25 or so. Now it’s just a bit of a bummer.

  4. James

    I was giving a little more thought to the Canucks consistent failure this morning and came up with this: the season isn’t won or lost in the final week / game / period / shift. It’s lost in little bits shift by shift and game by game.

    They lost 3 of 4 games to LA this year. They lost to Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis in a reckless way that shows their immaturity. Those are the games that matter today, when they’re on the outside of the playoffs looking in. Not the game last night against Edmonton or the one they gave away Tuesday against Colorado.

    The story they never cover on the highlights is the real reason the best teams keep winning: they do the small things right consistently over a long period.

  5. Nelson

    Actually – instead of 32 games against division opponents, the NHL is changing the format to make it more balanced. It will now be 24 games against our division. I believe there will be a home and home against every team in the East. The rest of the games should be with the West (other than the divisional rivals of course).

  6. Patrick

    If you want to cheer for a Canadian team, you should go with the conference leading, momentum backed, league leading power played Habs, not the “we sucked so much in the second half we almost missed the series, we have no balls” Senators. Just sayin’ ;)

  7. Jared

    Jesus Christ.. Get rid of Naslund already.. Give Luongo some more money$$..

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