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What Went Wrong: The Vancouver Canucks (NSFW)

05/08/13
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This is the first in a continuing series that will explore why the various teams that fall by the wayside did exactly that.

To hear it from some Canucks fans, they were unfairly (and maybe purposefully) jobbed by the officials.  Let’s be clear, the Vancouver Canucks committed 195 minor penalties during the regular season to the San Jose Sharks’ 164.  They were probably going to commit more penalties than the Sharks in this series anyway.  And the Sharks were better both on the power play (20.1% – 15.8%) and penalty kill (85.0% – 84.0%).  So not only were they likely to receive more opportunities, they were also more likely to capitalize on them, and capitalize they did.  The series went 7/24 on the power play for the Sharks and 2/10 for the Canucks.

Is that a larger than normal discrepancy?  Sure.  Were there bad penalties and penalties that weren’t called?  Of course.  But by and large, as they got down and as the series wore on, the Canucks committed themselves to playing sloppier and dumber and they paid for it.  There is a lot of blame to go around and very little of it should go to the officials.

A good place to start would be Alain Vigneault who should be held accountable for his team’s dumb, sloppy play, who was outfoxed by Todd McLellan at every turn, and whose decision making was so poor many Canucks fans were out for his head win or lose.  Marginally overrated hometown hero Jason Garrison getting a paltry 1:23 of power play ice time and largely being kept off of the first unit is the one that stands out to me, but we shouldn’t forget his decision to go with the worse of his two goalies.

You can certainly blame Cory Schneider for his .880 save percentage and the goals that were objectively his fault, but someone has to play him.  Additionally, several someones have to play in front of him.  Kevin Bieksa’s atrociousness certainly bears mentioning, along with his Cherry-esque good ol’ Canadian boy xenophobia, (you know what actually shows integrity?  not implicitly shitting on people for their country of origin) as do the efforts of the penalty kill units.  Because regardless of whether or not you think the officials had a vendetta against the Canucks,  a 70.8% penalty kill simply isn’t good enough.

Of course that doesn’t matter as much when your team can actually score.  The Canucks managed just 8 goals in the 4 game series, for which Vezina nominee Antti Niemi deserves his fair share of credit.  But I’m more inclined to blame the Canucks’ depth scoring.  Burrows, Kesler, and the Sedins (despite no goals) were all pretty good.  Where was everyone else?  The Sharks were led by their top line, but also got contributions from the likes of Brent Burns, Tommy Wingels, and Raffi Torres, not to mention a bunch of no-name defensemen.  Derek Roy had one assist, Jason Garrison, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins, Maxim Lapierre, and Zack Kassian all had no points.  These aren’t scrubs either, with the exception of Kassian, they’ve all put up double digit goals at the NHL level at least once.

In the end, mornoic coaching, bad goaltending, bad defense, bad special teams, sloppy play, and a lack of depth scoring blew the Canucks out and the officiating stepped in to make sure that blowout was a sweep.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 05/11/13 8:35 AM

    Firstly, the responsibility should not lies with AV, it lies with Mike Gillis for not trading Luongo or Schneider at the deadline. The mess festered after this point and the trade would have brought in depth. Secondly, your 195 pens to 165 argument is flawed. If this was to hold true then the regular season should have read 468 to 164 if your theory was to hold any weight. The Canucks did not play well, true, but do not defend the officials as they equally had an awful series.

  2. 05/11/13 12:57 PM

    I wasn’t making the point that the ratio was fair based on mathematical averages. I was making the point that the Canucks committing more penalties regardless of what the actual number is, is neither surprising nor unfair.

    Also, you want to say 164 twice and you want 394 as your second number. 2.4 * 164 = 393.6.

  3. 05/12/13 4:47 PM

    The way I interpreted your point was the Canucks took more penalties in the regular season therefore they were destine to take more in the post season. The penalty ratio between the Canucks/Sharks in the regular season do not follow 2.4:1, therefore, your argument is still flawed and the officials still had an awful series. This does not leave the Canucks without blame, but the series was painful to watch as the refs had far too much influence over the momentum, the teams should dictate this.

  4. 05/12/13 4:58 PM

    Read and watch this, it could help offer a perspective which is in your blindspot.

    http://vansunsportsblogs.com/2013/05/08/watch-seven-minutes-of-questionable-officiating-if-four-games-wasnt-enough-for-you-video/

  5. 05/12/13 6:19 PM

    Yes, destined to take more in the playoffs, not a specific ratio more, I never made that point, nor did I intend to. You’re calling an argument I never made flawed.

    Was the officiating bad? Sure. It’s always bad. I said as much in my final paragraph.

    I don’t care about video highlighting bad calls. Unless you’re going to show me the entirety of the series and tick off bad made/unmade calls against both teams no video will mean anything. Officiating is more than what calls show up in the box score.

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