sedins kassian

Backhand Shelf’s previews for the 2013-14 NHL season are going to work like a choose your own adventure novel, because fans only hear what they want to hear anyway, so we might as well embrace it.

You’ll get the flippant barstool prediction, the push-the-glasses-up-your-nose numbers take, the team is going to be good take, the team is going to be bad take, and then we’ll try to bring it back full circle at the bottom. Let’s get to it.

Click here for the previews you may have missed.

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Added: John Tortorella, Brad Richardson, Mike Santorelli, Yannick Weber
Subtracted: Alain Vigneault, Cory Schneider, Derek Roy, Maxim Lapierre, Andrew Ebbett

The Canucks are going to be good

You serious? Of course they are. Everyone talks about “the Sedins” like they’re one guy, but it turns out they actually have two near point-per-game guys on their top line. Former Selke winner (and 40 goal guy) Ryan Kesler is a perfect fit for John Tortorella’s style. Roberto Luongo is one of the best goaltenders in the NHL, and he’s playing behind one of the better d-corps in the league. How about a top four of Hamhuis, Edler, Garrison and Bieksa? I mean, what a brutal team to play. Chris Higgins is an underrated stud, Alex Burrows has goal scoring seasons of 28, 35, 26, and 28, and David Booth has mixed in a 30 goal-scoring season himself. They’re straight-up stacked.

The Canucks are going to be bad

Bad? They’re going to be bruuutal. The Sedins are so far past their prime they can’t even see it in their rearviews. They’re in decline, and were soft to begin with, so who cares. The team is a bunch of band-aids. Kesler can’t stay healthy (and is overrated to begin with). Booth can’t stay healthy (and rode one decent season to a payday). Their starting goalie literally – literally! – does not want to play for the team. But at least he posted a whopping .907 save percentage last year. Burrows is an overrated pest because he played with two passers, Zack Kassian is a bust, and the team, as a whole, is just easy to hate. This team’s peak was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2011, and they’ve been on a descending roller coaster screaming towards the basement ever since.

Flippant barstool prediction

The Canucks aren’t what they once were, but they’ve got enough to be a playoff team, and a nuisance if healthy. I see them as a road team round one in playoffs.

The numbers:

The 2013 numbers with the Canucks are kinda surprising. Something about the Sedins has blinded me to a few realities: they’re in the bottom half of the league in goals-per-game (19th, 2.54 per), their powerplay is 22nd overall, scoring only 15.8% of the time, and they only generate 28.1 shots per night, also good for 19th in the league.

The positives aren’t even crazy positive for a team I still consider one of the better ones: they give up 2.4 goals-per-game (10th), they kill 84% of their powerplays (8th), and they give up 28.9 shots per game (14th). Turns out the ‘Nucks are d-first?

Okay, but seriously:

It really comes down to health with the Canucks. They’re a different team with a healthy Kesler, and David Booth is a valued contributor that they’d really like to see get 70 games in. Luongo is another huge factor – is he into it, do they keep him, does he still have it, etc. I think he’s steady enough to provide league average goaltending at worst though, and they have a solid d-corps and some scorers. Probably on the very, very fringe of the word “Cup contender,” but a safer guess is just “playoff team.”

Your NHL.com round up:

Check it out here.

Comments (19)

  1. Looking at those numbers, it’s funny how people think Vignault will make the Rangers an offensive team.

    “Flippant barstool prediction

    The Canucks aren’t what they once were, but they’ve got enough to be a playoff team, and a nuisance if healthy. I see them as a road team round one in playoffs.”

    The above sums it up perfectly. My only beef with this is that Bourne promised me this would be printed a few days ago. Shame on you Justin.

    • In 2010 and 2011 the canucks were top 5 in scoring… He is just referencing one year, Coach V can coach and do your homework.

      • I totally agree AV can coach. I was a HUGE fan of his. But you can’t tell me his coaching style more offensive then defensive. To me, the Canucks being top 5 O in 2010 and 2011 was a perfect accident. In that sense, I mean the Sedins hit the prime of their careers, and Kesler played quite possibly the best hockey of his career. Also incredible break out years from Burrows helped too. Luongo was also fantastic those years and who knows how much his stellar play played a part in the Canucks offense being so good.

        My comment was not meant to hate on AV, it was more of a remark in regards to MSM saying the Rangers will be a more offensive team now just because AV is coach and Torts is gone.

  2. I am against beef-shaming. It’s speciesist.

  3. It will certainly be interesting to see how the Canucks fare now that they can no longer beat up on their way-below-average division rivals. In the past four seasons, only TWICE did that stacked Northwest division produce more than just one team in the playoffs (last year Minnesota and Colorado in 2009-2010)

    • This I totally agree with. As a Canucks fan I am pretty scared by this prospect, more than anything because the Sharks are not a strong match up and LA… well I’m not going to pump their tires. It is going to be a great season to be a hockey fan! I truly believe this group is motivated by their last two terrible playoffs, but I totally agree this new division is much more difficult.

    • Your theory lacks facts.

      In 2011, Vancouver had clinched first overall with a number of games remaining. They had played all Western teams the same amount of times the day they clinched. They beat up on everyone equally.

      Both seasons they finished first overall, their winning percentage was the same vs the NW and the Pacific.

      Kesler is the team’s MVP. He makes a second line by himself and allows the Sedins to play easier minutes. He also makes the PP and PK better. He hasn’t been healthy or able to train properly since game 7 vs San Jose. The team has not been the same since and it’s not a coincidence.

      The whole season depends on Kesler’s health.

  4. I would argue that the Canucks peaked at Game 5 of the 2011 Final. Games 6 and 7 didn’t go so well from their perspective.

  5. At first, I was nodding my head, like I’m saying “yes!” to every beat, to the argument that it really comes down to health for the Canucks. But then, I switched it up, like, “no, no, no, don’t stop a-rockin’!”

    But then, I was all, “wait, isn’t that true for every single team in this league?” And then I felt really smart and smug.

    Seriously, though: obviously, some teams have more or less depth at different positions. But if the Flyers lost Giroux, or the Rangers lost Lundqvist, or the Wings lost Datsyuk, or the Ducks lost Perry, each of those teams would see a major loss of points by the end of the year.

  6. I think this is a playoff team.

  7. The Canucks will be a playoff team, but Torts will get ulcerative colitis watching the Sedins shun defensive responsibility and shirk checking opportunities. I doubt he’s ever dealt with “stars” who think backchecking entails deporting someone to the Czech Republic. Maybe he’ll snap and strangle Pierre live on HNIC!

    • Sedins don’t play defence – another myth.

      Henrik Sedin’s Goals against per 20 minutes of even strength ice time last season was .457. The best of his career and against the toughest competition in years.

      Toews was .455 and he won the Selke.

      • Toews isn’t protected against top competition or almost exclusively rolled over the boards for o zone faceoffs, which makes a huge difference. The Sedins couldn’t check their hat at the door. I understand how defensive their fans get, as the girls seem so easily offended and unwilling to defend themselves. How many rabbit punches did Marchand get in in that playoff incident in 2010? I counted four.

        • Their deployment and competition changed significantly last year without Kesler. Yet, their defense was never better.

          Last year they had 62% ozone rate, the year before, 79%.
          Last year their qualcomp was 1.272, the year before it was .328.

          Last year Toews had a 55% ozone rate, tops on his team as Bolland, Handzus and Kruger were all under 50%. So Toews got the best start rate. Toews qualcomp was .782. Bolland actually took on the top competition.

          Fighting back has nothing to do with playing defence.

          I understand how defensive the ladies out there get when their tired and false narratives are shot down.

          Your ignorance is cute – like a little girl.

  8. It will be interesting to see how Tortorella deploys the Sedins. I believe i’ve seen some info demonstrating just how many offensive zone starts they received under Vigneault, and possibly faced lesser competition in general? If Torts starts asking them to take on more defensive responsibility, their numbers may drop and they might start looking pedestrian (who am i kidding, they will still look like all stars). Some might chalk it up to moving out of their prime, but it’s worth paying attention to this season.

    • As I shared above, they took on way more defensive responsibility last season with Kesler out of the lineup. Ozone rate dropped 15% and competition faced increased significantly. Yet their difference in Even strength goals for/against was never better, including their two high scoring years.

      Their basic scoring stats went down as a result of their different roles, but the lazy narrative become they are in decline.

      I guess we’ll see how the season unfolds.

      • I definitely don’t bye into the lazy myth, but it’s certainly fair to expect that their offensive numbers might drop a bit if they are starting in their own zone more frequently. If they start playing PK time, they might find themselves playing less 5-on-5 as well.

  9. I think the Sedin’s are going to transition into solid defensive players like other aging swedes. They have actually both been showing more grit ever since the Stanley Cup Finals and all of the critizism.

    They seem to take more penalties as well now, which isn’t really a good thing. I do think they are smart enough to transition their games if the scoring dries up.

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