By Andrew Phillip Chernoff November 22, 2015 Just Saying….
The Vancouver Canucks returned from a disappointing seven game road trip, arguably their toughest road trip of the entire 2015-16 season.
Many people had their opinions as to what went wrong and what needed to be done to salvage the rest of the season, where competition is stiff, and very few points can be given up in a short period of time and still make a successful season. What is a successful season? Well, for the Canucks, it would be making the playoffs.
The Canucks have not had so few wins after 20 games since the 1997-98 season. The Canucks started 4-13-3 that season under former head coach Mike Keenan and finished the year with just 65 points. Brad Ziemer,Vancouver Sun, Nov 20, 2015
Media covering the Canucks, as well as Jim Benning, Ryan Miller, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, wasted little time in making their opinions known November 19-21.
Some key things for the Canucks remainder of the season according to those that voiced their thoughts include:
- Play inspired, not intimidated. A visit from the defending Cup champs usually brings out the best in a team wanting to use the game as a measuring stick. The Canucks might not be feeling too confident lately but they still should be fired up and wanting to show they can be competitive against the league’s best. Canucks website, Nov 21, 2015.
- Prust brings some life. Brandon Prust may not be the guy you’re counting on for goals and points, but when it comes to energy he brings it every night. The Canucks have sorely missed the veteran winger and his expected return tonight should galvanize a team that desperately needs something positive right now. Canucks website, Nov 21, 2015.
- “You need to manage the puck properly,” Benning said. “I think in some instances we haven’t been focused on managing the puck, getting it out at our blue line and making sure when we get to their blue-line, not losing the puck and getting it in and chasing after it. BRAD ZIEMER, Vancouver Sun
- Need to get the big goal when they need it. Offensively, the Canucks can’t seem to get a big goal when they need it most. Radim Vrbata, who had a team-high 31 goals last season, has just three despite being tied for seventh in the NHL with 74 shots on net. BRAD ZIEMER, Vancouver Sun
- Need to close—–finish. Whatever spin you choose to summarize a sobering 1-4-2 road trip — including losing two one-goal games in regulation and two more in overtime to sink to 0-for-6 in the new 3-on-3 format — one thing is clear after 20 games. The Vancouver Canucks are good enough to keep games close, they just can’t close. Ben Kuzma, The Province
- Ryan Miller needs to maintain focus and reduce distractions. He was rightly feted in his long anticipated return to Buffalo and understandably upset following an overtime loss in New Jersey.Willie Desjardins loves that his starter rarely gives up rebounds, has a high level of compete and studies the game like a professor. That’s where the smarts kick in and that’s where Miller can be better. . Ben Kuzma, The Province
- Horvat has to step up against better opposition. Even before training camp, Bo Horvat spoke of and was well aware of the sophomore jinx. He knew players who went through it, knew what to expect.Really? He’s only 20. Add power-play and penalty kill responsibilities this season and it shouldn’t be that surprising that the centre has two goals through 20 games after 13 as a rookie.Is he pressing and missing great scoring chances? Absolutely. Has he been anxious to get in transition and not been as diligent in his own zone or the faceoff circle? Probably. And with Brandon Sutter injured, Horvat has to step up against better opposition and it’s a long way from being a fourth line rookie centre with limited expectations and even-strength minutes.He’s gone from 12:15 of average ice time and a 51.4 per cent faceoff efficiency to 16:20 and 49.2 per cent in the circle and a minus-9 rating. That’s a lot to shoulder. . Ben Kuzma, The Province
- A team is only as good as its goalie. Vancouver shot out of the gates on the back of Miller, who started the team’s first 10 games until Richard Bachman spelled him off on Oct. 30. Miller had a 2.16 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in those 10 games. Not surprisingly, the Canucks went 4-2-4 and were tied with the Los Angeles Kings for first in the Pacific Division.Since then, however, Miller — unsurprisingly — has come back to earth. He has been, well, less than stellar in six starts so far in November, with a 3.04 GAA and an .892 SP, and the Canucks have gone just 1-4-1 in those six starts. Perhaps the most telling statistic is that he has allowed three goals or more in 10 of his 16 starts. Ronnie Shuker, The Hockey News
- Eliminate the silver-platter scoring chances they are presenting (Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun). Keep it simple. Stick to basics. No need to be flashy. Have the shot, shoot. Go to the net. Don’t have the shot, look for somebody. Put the puck on net, good things can happen.
- Get better on special teams play. Need to finish around the net on the power play. Need to be more disciplined on the penalty kill.
- Get points, get points, and get points!!! The Canucks are home, but their schedule isn’t getting easier. After spending two weeks on the road, Vancouver plays the Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils back-to-back, Saturday and Sunday at Rogers Arena, then travel again for games in Minnesota, Dallas, Anaheim and Los Angeles. November could decide their season.Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun
- Leave no points on the table.No team has left more points on the table than the Vancouver Canucks have this season. “It could be a big part of defining our season,” Vancouver GM Jim Benning told The Province. “Because last year, in games that went to overtime and the shootout we were (12-5). That’s the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs.” Jason Brough
- You create your own breaks. Positives are not results. Raise the intensity level. Attention level to detail has to go up. Mistakes need to go down. Gotta have confidence and bring it. “We keep saying we’re close,” said Miller, who made 30 saves. “We’ve got to make the turn here. It’s not ideal mentally for this group to be really close [in] games. We’ve got to park it. We’ve got to find a way to keep coming with energy and believe it’s going to turn. The only thing you can do in this situation is work hard and believe that hard work will translate. ” Daniel Sedin found some positives with the road trip but admitted that the Canucks need results. “I think we’ve got to turn it around now,” he said. “We need some wins. But at the same time, I think we need to look at the big picture. We’re playing better than we were before. That’s a good sign. But right now we need a win.” Henrik Sedin concurred. “I don’t think you can question the way we battled, but our intensity has to go up, and our attention to detail needs to be there,” he said. “It’s a game of mistakes. We’re still making a few too many to win the close games.” Patrick Williams NHL.com
- Play with urgency in the moment. You can’t do anything about what has past. The future is yours to write. So excel in the moment. Andrew Chernoff, andrewchernoff.wordpress.com
The game on Saturday night against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks provided Vancouver with a perfect opportunity to pull a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and show a side of themselves that was reminiscent of the start of the season when they were firing on all cylinders and looking like they were going to be a playoff contender in the Western Conference. Not a pretender.
The leaders—–the Sedin brothers, Ryan Miller, Jannick Hansen, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Brandon Prust, Alex Burrows, Chris Higgins, to speak of a few; the youth—–Bo Horvat, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen—–reminded the coaches, the general manager, the president of the Canucks, and all Canuck fans…..how this team could actually play if inspired, focused, disciplined and able to fight off distractions and stay with the game plan.
The result was there last night against the Blackhawks, a 6-3 victory that ended a four game losing streak, but one game does not make a season or make up for the points left on the table.
Great individual efforts such as exhibited by Daniel and Henrik Sedin, are to be praised in the moment and used for inspiration, for future upcoming games.
The team had the confidence and brought it. They raised their intensity level, created their own breaks, reduced their mistakes and were rewarded for it all.
There are 61 games left, including tonight against the New Jersey Devils and the upcoming four game road trip.
The Canucks have not had so few wins after 20 games since the 1997-98 season. The Canucks started 4-13-3 that season under former head coach Mike Keenan and finished the year with just 65 points.
Vancouver, more now then ever, have to turn up their game as they did against Chicago, and sustain it for the rest of the season, if they are going to seriously compete against the leading Western Conference teams and achieve their goal of making the playoffs next Spring.
Standings seldom alter to a great degree after U.S. Thanksgiving. Catching teams after that date is one thing, passing them is another. And with Brandon Sutter, Luca Sbisa and Radim Vrbata injured to varying degrees, the climb will be more arduous if areas of considerable concern aren’t immediately addressed. Ben Kuzma, The Province, Nov 20, 2015
Canucks have to play with urgency in the moment. You can’t do anything about what has past. The future is there to write. So excel in the moment….Just Saying….