Canucks SixPack - Losing the captain hurts more than the game

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It was one thing for the Canucks to lose to the Flyers 2-0. Well, it was actually a really bad thing.

Consider:

The Flyers were two points up on the Canucks in the standings before Thursday’s game.

The Flyers had scored 15 fewer goals than Vancouver’s not overly impressive offence.

So it was a bad loss.

Then Henrik Sedin didn’t come out for the second period and didn’t play the rest of the game, and that put it all in perspective.

There was a time not long ago when the Canucks could cope without one of their top scorers or top defensemen. During the 2011 season they lost Alex Edler for an extended period of time and still won the President’s Trophy.

But as Torts said – YOU NEED TO GET 2011 OUT OF YOUR HEADS.

I’m paraphrasing.

I’m also trying to. But I can’t do it.

The Canucks aren’t deep. Without Hank, that 6-2 loss to Minnesota would’ve been 6-0 at best as he was in on both goals. That doesn’t even take into account the massive impact he has elsewhere on the ice.

We’ll see how long Henrik’s out for later. If it’s an extended injury, I’d say Marc Crawford called and told him to get in on the #TankForMatthews movement.

And just in case anyone needs a reality check:

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1. Let’s be real

Despite the score, the Canucks weren’t all bad. They started the game well, and they outshot the Flyers 12-8 and out-corsi’d them 20-16 at even strength in the first.

But include the penalty kill and they were out-corsi’d 30-20 and outscored 1-0.

They outshot Philadelphia over the rest of the game too, and before we found out Hank was injured, I’d have put their chances of coming back at over 50%.

Then he got injured, and that didn’t help.

I’ll try to get away from the obvious statements now.

 

2. Jared Mc-CAN

Get it? The heading means he CAN.

Ah forget it.

Fans have been wanting McCann to play more for a long time. Throw him into the fire, they said. See if he can swim.

(Which is a really mixed up metaphor, you weirdos)

Desjardins said he didn’t want to throw too much at McCann too soon. The kid had to play smart defensively first.

Let’s not forget that Bo Horvat only saw an increased role last season after injuries pushed it upon Desjardins. He swam like a pro, btw.

With Hank out, McCann saw his ice time jump to over 17 minutes.

The result? The 19-year-old led all Canucks skaters in corsi. Including power play time, he was at plus-22. The closest behind him was Vrbata’s plus-13.

Here he is on a 2-on-1.

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The Canucks on an odd-man rush? Unheard of.

Not one to create false narratives, let’s keep in mind McCann had Jannik Hansen on his wing as part of the new line combos. That Honey Badger impact is real – the Sedin line was sitting at -5 corsi after the first period, while Hansen was right at the other end of the spectrum.

 

3. Why Hank has to stay

Great article from TSN’s Frank Saravelli today talking about how Henrik Sedin went through things similar to what Bo Horvat and McCann are feeling now.

After scoring 16 goals in his second season, Henrik managed just two goals in his first 48 games the following year.

Hank, on how he felt then:

“You wake up and, first of all, you didn’t want to go to sleep because that means the morning is going to come fast at you. You don’t want to go to the rink and practise.”

The interesting debate going on right now is whether playing for the Canucks is good for kids like McCann, Jake Virtanen, and even the other prospects who could be called up from Utica.

Is playing for a losing team good? Many look at the Oilers as an example and say it’s a bad idea.

My take – talent rises to the top and losing is not as harmful as some think. Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are proving they’ve come out of it just fine. What’s important is having good coaches and good mentors around to teach the game.

Henrik’s take:

“I think this can still be beneficial for them. It’s going to make them better for the future. It doesn’t seem to affect them, but I know it does at home or at the hotel. I’m sure they think it’s never going to turn around, but it will. When it does, it’s going to be a good feeling.”

4. The problem with the PK

Look, anyone can take a snapshot of a penalty kill showing players out of position. I’ve seen others do it, saying it’s the PK’s issue.

Stay in position, people say. Box or diamond formation – it’s so easy.

But a static penalty kill isn’t going to do anyone any good. Do they want the penalty killers to stand in box formation and stay that way, not moving the entire time?

A good penalty kill is mobile. The players are ready to deviate from the formation. When the opposition gets tied up by one penalty killer, another one has to jump in, grab the puck and get it out of the zone.

Timing and experience are keys to this.

Dan Hamhuis, no matter how banged up his body is, is going to be better at this than Alex Biega. Similarly, Shawn Matthias was better at it than young Bo Horvat.

This is not me using the “eye test” by the way. Hamhuis’s PK corsi is plus-1.6 percent, Biega’s is minus-10. Shawn Matthias’ PK corsi was plus-15 percent last year (he was one of the most proficient forwards on the PK), while Horvat’s is minus-11.2

The special teams’ coach is the same person, while the players have changed. And people want the Gully fired?

 

5. We’ll open the boards now

Asked fans on Twitter how they felt right after the loss. Interesting results, let me tell you.

There’s indifference.

Excitement.

Sadness.

Denial.

But most suprisingly… optimism.

 

6. Burr’s words

Patrick O’Sullivan broke hockey Twitter and many Canucks fans hearts earlier Thursday with this tweet.

By now you’ve probably heard about O’Sullivan’s past. To be short and do it no justice – his crazy dad put him through hell growing up.

Did Burrows cross the line when he made those comments? Yes, obviously.

But just for a second consider all the racist slurs that’ve been said on the ice in the last ten years. Multiply that number by at five and you’d probably get the number of homophobic slurs that’ve occurred over that time.

Are those okay? Really, no. And if the wrong mic caught it, boy would that player have questions to answer.

And just imagine if the words a player said could haunt him retroactively years later. Because that’s what’s happening to Burrows right now.

Look: Burr crossed the wrong line with the wrong player. He went too far. But that line – it moves, it’s vague, and it very rarely bothers to show up.

Too bad the Tootoo stuff is only a month old or this might not’ve been such a big deal.

As if. Burrows will be remembered for his finger-biting and diving by fans around the league forever.

He addressed the O’Sullivan comments after the game.

Case closed?

Sure – until the next time Burr’s launched into the boards and fans of the other team say he’s getting what he deserved.

Note: Huge thanks to Ryan Biech – the best giffer in town – for the gifs in this post.

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Omar A has worked for 24 hours, the Canadian Press and TSN. He graduated from the Journalism program at the University of King's College
@omarcanuck

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