Canuck Nation's Tough Questions Answered
With the season at its quarter mark, it’s time that fans, analysts and bloggers give their take on what is shaping up to be a very interesting season for the Vancouver Canucks. I posed a series of questions to great hockey minds in hopes that their answers would interest both Canuck Nation and the NHL world.
Kurtis Harms, an avid Vancouver Canucks fan, Marc Parsons, a Colorado Avalanche fan and great blogger, Tyler Ferris, a die-hard Detroit Red Wings supporter and Mike Luciano, a passionate, insightful writer for the New Jersey Devils, all agreed to answer some tough questions on the Vancouver Canucks. Without further ado, here are their answers.
Q) What is the biggest issue for the Vancouver Canucks moving forward?
Kurtis: The Canucks desperately lack consistency at the moment. I am not referring to team wins/loss streaks (Ottawa wins in the department) but rather individual player consistency. This is an issue that was also relevant last season, but it was masked by the fact that enough cylinders were firing at all times to give them strong momentum. Also, the Canucks desperately lack a player who brings real character to the ice - not an enforcer, but a modern-day NHL player in lieu of an enforcer who knows how to play within the rules but still change the tide of the game with a timely hit or inspiring play.
Marc: The Canucks are afraid to be touched. As soon as a team is able to be physical and shut them down, they are rendered useless.
Tyler: I agree with Marc. Canucks need to man up and start throwing their body around more. They need the 3rd and 4th line bangers to go out there and lay a licking on guys, to open up more time and space for the guns. That’s what guys like Weise, Lapierre and Volpatti get paid to do, not to score.
Q) Will the Canucks snap out of their current slide?
Kurtis: The Canucks are past the stage where it seems plausible to state that the team as a whole is suffering from post-Stanley Cup Final playoff hangover. The Bruins are proof that this can no longer be the case. I'm really not sure if it's fair to say that Canucks are in a "slide" as much as the fact that expectations are definitely not as high as expected. I think it's worth noting that many Canuck players had career years last season, and maybe expectations should have been a lot lower coming into the season knowing that it's highly unlikely all the players will be able to be as good as they were last year. The Canucks should still be better than 11th-place, but maybe top-4 is not necessarily warranted.
Mike: I don't see why not. As a Devils fan, a team whose conventional regular season run entails a relatively sluggish start, you start to look beyond teams with poor regular season starts and put the rest of the season in perspective. Twenty games in is when I feel the rift between the contenders and pretenders starts to widen and with such a small point margin existing in the standings right now, it goes to show that most teams have not fully matured into midseason form yet. Vancouver will be fine. It's just a matter of having patience.
Q) Is David Booth a good fit for the Vancouver Canucks?
Marc: I don't believe Booth was needed by the Canucks. He seems like he needs to be the one getting the attention. In my opinion, that’s what made him such a great player in Florida. It’s just not the case in Vancouver.
Mike: Yes and no. In six games with the Panthers, Booth only recorded an assist. After getting traded to Vancouver, Booth started to produce, despite accumulating just two goals and seven points in twelve games. I think the expectations instilled on Booth by Canucks fans are way too amplified. Keep in mind that Booth's top three seasonal point totals have been two forty point seasons and a sixty point season. As of now, he's projected to rack up between forty and fifty points this year. Whether he can produce more on a winning team with a much deeper support cast of players remains to be seen but Canucks fans should be happy if he at least averages what he's normally done throughout his career.
Q) Should Alain Vigneault be fired?
Kurtis: Absolutely no reason for this whatsoever and it definitely won't happen while Gillis is still in charge. Not even worth discussing, even if fans want to bring it up. I do think a goaltending coach change might be in order though - Luongo's new style this season of falling early to the ice has let it soooo many goals that I really question the wisdom of this new goaltending coaching.
Tyler: Right now, no. But going back to point 2, if they're still .500 50 games in, does he go?
Q) What is GM Mike Gillis’ next move?
Mike: Nothing. I know the demand for trades or to waiver this player or to sign that unrestricted free agent is very high in Vancouver right now because fans are frustrated and impatient. Gillis is a smart GM and personally, I think this Vancouver locker room is still suffering psychological aftermath from the Stanley Cup Finals last year. If anything, Gillis needs to find a way for this group of players to gain last year's confidence back that they had in the regular season.
Kurtis: Gillis has to find a way of getting Bieksa back into the game as well as Malhotra. Kesler will come into his own with time, but the other two are rather more problematic. Well-circulated trade rumours helped to get Bieksa back in line last year, and maybe he needs that type of motivation in order to play well again.
Marc: Try and find a team that will take on Luongo's contract and roll with Cory Schneider.
Well there you have it. The hockey world has responded to the Vancouver Canucks and their interesting start to the season. The opinions were honest, blunt and interesting to see. I now turn it over to the rest of Canuck nation. What are your answers to today’s tough questions about this team? Do you agree with the guys above? Weigh in with your comments.
Thanks to the guys who helped me out with this little project.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter: @michaelstuart93
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