Follow these steps to a legitimate playoff run
This season is short, and so are the Vancouver Canucks fans’ patience levels. After a slow start the boys seemed to get it into gear and start clicking. We all sat back and blamed the long off season for their early woes, but then we got past the first few weeks and it was time to discard excuses.
But then the wheels fell off. The offense went cold, the power play became a laughing stock, and the goaltending became shaky at best.
A note on the poor net minding: Alain Vigneault has made poor decisions on who to start and has put Schneider between the pipes far too often.
To sum up the Canucks‘ first half of the season in one word I would say ‘underwhelming’. There is a lack of urgency in tight games that is extremely frustrating to see as a fan. Whether this is the fault of AV, captain Henrik, the veterans as a group, or just the overall team collectively is unclear from the outside looking in.
We can all pretty much see what is being done poorly, or just not at all. Here are a few key changes that Vancouver must make in the second half of this season if they want to be considered a cup contender down the stretch.
Power play must improve
Considering just a few years ago we were the best in the league on man advantages we sure do not show for it now. The Canucks rank 24th in the league in power play percentage. But it’s not the numbers that are the most aggravating part of the problem, it’s the lack of effort on the ice. With the amount of talent Vancouver has on roster they really don’t seem to put forth a good effort on power plays.
The Sedins are known for not being clutch, and that’s fine, but they have unrivaled passing abilities which opens up the door for another Canuck to step up and make some big shots.
Ryan Kesler used to be that guy at times, and Alexandre Burrows has had some great moments, but this season nobody is taking charge on the power play and it is killing so many scoring opportunities.
Goaltending needs to be more consistent
The eight goal game in Detroit was kind of embarrassing. But I don’t blame Luongo for all of those goals, if even half. The defense was literally non existent, and against a veteran team like the Red Wings you cannot just leave your goalie out to dry like that and expect nothing bad to come of it.
Lu realistically should have been pulled after five. But outside of that game things haven’t really been that much better. Maybe it’s the two goalie system failing, or maybe it’s Schneider not being able to handle the ‘starting job’. Both goalies’ save percentages need to go way up, and it would be nice to win more of the shootouts we enter.
I think AV needs to stick to one guy. I vote Luongo, but regardless, someone needs to be traded sooner rather than later. This issue seems to keep getting brushed up under the rug, but it’s been the elephant in the room for months.
It would probably ease up some locker room tension and allow the rest of the team to concentrate better on the task at hand, and that is winning games.
Someone needs to step up besides the Sedins
We all know the Sedins are good for 60-100 points each per year, give or take. This is a shorter season, so adjustments will be obvious on paper, but the consistency has always been there from Hank and Dank. However you can’t expect to be a top team with only one dangerous line. The L.A. Kings proved last season that depth is very wearing on opponents.
If you can get solid scoring from the bottom lines it takes a lot of pressure off your top scorers and will likely see their numbers go up as well. I’m not saying we need all four lines to produce goals every game, but it sure would be nice to have someone else score a significant number besides the twins.
With Kesler injured it has been tough, but one of the other guys absolutely needs to pick up the slack. With only five goals thus far, it would be nice to see Burrows finish the year with 20, and it would go a long way in helping fix the team’s scoring woes.
More effort required
Aside from these key areas Vancouver is falling short, there is a general lack of effort being displayed by the team. For example in games where we have given up early leads, the players have appeared defeated and show zero urgency in attempts to make comebacks. That is the nature of the sport, and of sport in general.
No game is over until the final buzzer. Someone needs to remind the Canucks of that, because watching them from only one goal down, you’d swear they had written off the entire game already.
Let’s hope they haven’t written off the season yet either. There is enough talent on this team to go far into the playoffs, but AV needs to rally his troops and whip them into playoff form as soon as possible.
Another first round exit would be more than disappointing across the province of B.C.