Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Canucks Core Collapsing Again

Despite a fortuitous playoff draw against an over-achieving bunch of Flames, the Canucks now find themselves down 3-1 in their opening round series after a 3-1 loss in front of the 'C of red' tonight.

The most appalling sight for Canucks' fans was the complete lack of passion and will against a modestly talented and inexperienced Flames team.  The Sedin twins appeared to bring their 'A' game, dominating possession and scoring the team's only goal, but where has the rest of the group gone?

Radim Vrbata? Chris Higgins? Nick Bonino?  Shawn Matthias? Completely invisible.
It's a sad sight when Jannik Hansen, Derek Dorsett and Bo Horvat are the team's best forwards after the top line.

Let's not even get into the horrendous coaching decisions to sit Sven Baertschi over Brendan MacMillan.

This is an all too familiar scenario for this Canucks core.  The Canucks now have just 32 goals in their past 20 playoff games.  Want more trivia?  They're 2-13 in their last 15 playoff games.

The past four series for this team has seen them as the higher seed and the favourite, yet they've imploded each and every time.

Nine players have been involved in all of those series, and it hasn't been pretty. Check out these stats from the core 9 since Game 3 vs Boston:

Henrik Sedin 18 4 7 11 -7
Daniel Sedin 15 1 8 9 -7
Alex Burrows 17 3 3 6 -4
Chris Higgins 18 1 1 -6
Jannik Hansen 18 3 2 5 0
Dan Hamhuis 13 1 4 5 -3
Kevin Bieksa 18 2 1 3 -5
Alexander Edler 18 3 2 5 -6
Chris Tanev 11 2 2 3
146 18 29 47 -35

So many interesting things here.  
  • Henrik Sedin is the team's leading goal scorer in that span.
  • Chris Higgins has ONE POINT in his last 18 games
  • Collectively, the group is -35 over 18 games, with only 18 goals.
Let's be honest.  The Sedin twins are two of the greatest players the Canucks have ever had, and they'll retire Canucks - as they should.  Too many Canucks greats (Linden, Naslund, Luongo, Bure) end up playing elsewhere to either close out their career or go away for a few years.

That being said, the core is clearly stale.  The team must seriously look at moving on from some of the older members of the core: Chris Higgins, Kevin Bieksa, and potentially Alex Burrows.  Their best years are behind them, and they've been brutal in the playoffs.

If you add in players like Bonino, Sbisa, and Matthias, there's lots of no-shows this year in the post-season and potential to re-shape this team going forward.

Personally, I'd love to see the Canucks move Horvat up to a #2-3 center role next year - heck, he's already the de facto number two center -  and inject some additional youth into the lineup next season, be it Baertschi, Virtanen or Jensen, and hopefully Shinkaruk and McCann can follow a year or two after that.

What else is there left to say?  This team needs to come out and win Game 5.  However, in an extremely important Game 4 tonight with Alex Burrows in the hospital and all the motivation in the world, they laid an egg.  Who's to think that will change for Game 5?