canucks

Trying to find positives from the Canucks’ 2013 season

Amid the Disappointment

The past season for the Vancouver Canucks that ended with an embarrassing playoff exit is tough to get over. It was beyond a terrible season for the Canucks, who base season on their insanely high standards.

Trying to look for positives seems like a fool’s errand.

I may be grasping at straws here, but I managed to find five things to be optimistic about heading into the offseason.

1) Schneider

Schneider was impressive for the Canucks this year (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Vancouver Canucks

Schneider was impressive for the Canucks this year (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI/Vancouver Canucks

Even with Roberto Luongo waiting in the wings, Cory Schneider had a great season in his first year as the Canucks’ starter. With a 2.11 GAA and .927 SV% in 30 games, he was the Canucks’ team MVP and would likely be a Vezina Trophy candidate if he hadn’t had to split so much time with Luongo.

He kept the team in games that they didn’t deserve to be in and took firm control over the starting goalie job.

Though he hasn’t been the starter during a full 82-game season yet and still has yet to prove himself in the playoffs, look for him to have another solid season in 2013/14, provided the goal-tending conundrum has sorted itself out by then.

2) Tanev and Corrado

Young defensemen Chris Tanev and Frank Corrado both emerged in 2013 as key players on the Canucks blue line.

Early in the season, as most of the defense struggled with their game, Tanev was the most consistent of the bunch. He was very calm under pressure, didn’t take a lot of penalties, and ended up elevating the game of his often-scratched partner Keith Ballard.

And while not known for his offense, he scored his first career goal in overtime to beat the Edmonton Oilers on Feb. 4.

For Corrado, he went from the OHL Kitchener Rangers to the AHL Chicago Wolves to being called up by the Vancouver Canucks all in span of about two weeks. He played in the last 3 regular season games and all 4 playoff games for the Canucks.

Though a small sample size, he impressed early with his physical play as well as his defensive smarts.

As both play the right side, a spot where depth was challenged all year, both should play key roles with the team next season.

3) Hamhuis/Garrison Defense Pairing

Hamhuis was solid for the Canucks (Photo - Rich Lam/Getty Images

Hamhuis was solid for the Canucks (Photo – Rich Lam/Getty Images

Alain Vigneault’s best move of the season was possibly pairing Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison together on defense.

Both mired in early struggle and finding little chemistry with their respective partners, they were paired together around the midway point of the season and never looked back. Hamhuis ended up leading the Canucks in defensive points with 24 and was named the team’s top defenseman.

Garrison, meanwhile, rediscovered his scoring touch after struggling at the start of the season. He ended up tied for the team lead in defensive goals with 8 and led all Canuck defensemen in plus/minus at +18.

Both have similar backgrounds, as they are both BC boys who found their way to the Canucks via free agency, and hopefully they get the chance to continue their strong play together next season.

4) Kassian Has Potential

Zack Kassian did not have a good season. He only managed 11 points in 39 games and struggled to find his place in the lineup. He was constantly benched by the coaching staff, struggled with a recurring back injury, and partied harder than I’m sure the team would want.

But he did show some potential.

He scored 5 goals in his first 7 games and showed flashes of brilliance playing with the Sedins. He made good plays with the puck and played the body well, but was later replaced on the line by Alex Burrows and his season went downhill from there.

If he can prove himself by consistently playing in the top-6,  Kassian’s play should improve significantly next season.

 

5) Final Nail in AV’s Coffin

If this season did nothing else, it finally got head coach Alain Vigneault fired.

Canucks Press Release on Vigneault http://canucks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=671697

While he is the most successful coach in team history, the Canucks are in need of a fresh start and two first round exits in two years isn’t exactly getting the job done.

Vigneault was behind the bench for 7 years, and guided the NHL club to a 313-170-57. Most hardcore Nucks fans know he won the Jack Adams Award in 2007 and was voted a finalist on two other occasions. Nothing to shake your head at.

Most fans however still find a ton of faults with his coaching.

Under him Van City made the playoffs on three separate occasions, and missed the playoffs once. The down side to his coaching though were the upsets in round one the last two seasons.

The team is also reportedly firing coaches Newell Brown and Rick Bowness.

The Canucks’ core group of players is getting older and if they want a shot at a championship, it will no longer come with Vigneault at the helm.

Who Is Next?

 

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