The Vancouver Canucks haven’t missed the playoffs since 2008, and they’ve won the division every season since. The Canucks even finished on top of the Western Conderence in 2011 and again in 2012. Since 2008, they’ve been a heavily favored team in the Western Conference year in and year out.
The Canucks played their way into the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011, only to fall victim to the Boston Bruins in 7 games. Other than this one season, and the one run the Canucks were able to make, they haven’t been able to get much else done once the post season hits. Who’s to blame? The coaches? The players?
Coaches coach, but players play, and as I believe the Canucks will find this season, canning your head coach doesn’t mean much of anything if the players they’re coaching can’t stay healthy, and they can’t preform at “prime level” when they’re past their prime.
The two seasons before the trip to the finals, 2009 and 2010, Vancouver was knocked out rather early in the Western Conference Semifinals. Still, not too disappointing of a season when it’s all said and done. The Canucks were knocked out by the Blackhawks both seasons in six games.
Now, the last two seasons in Vancouver are the seasons that have raised some eyebrows from people around the league. The Canucks have been beaten in the opening round of the playoffs two seasons in a row now, in 2012 by the to be, Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The Kings beat the Canucks in 5 games, led by the play of Jonathan Quick. The Canucks were sent home early with nothing to show of their season.
This season, the Canucks entered the playoffs as a favorite once again, but with sloppy play in net from Roberto Luongo, and not much help from back up Cory Schneider either, the Canucks only lasted 4 games against the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
The Canucks fired head coach Alain Vigneault after another disappointing run, and hired in ex-Rangers head coach John Tortorella. Torts brings a whole new aspect to Vancouver in regards to coaching style, but like I said before, I’m not one to believe head coaches play a huge impact on a hockey team, as they do in say, football. Now I’m not saying the head coach isn’t a big part of the game, but sometimes, the blame has to be put on the team, on the players, and on the roster, and in Vancouver, that’s the case.
Vancouver’s roster comes into this season much younger than they’ve seen in the past. Still led by the Swedish twins, Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin, the Canucks hope they can stay healthy, and with the amount of defense they brought in this summer, they hope to help out Luongo a bit more. The health of forward Ryan Kesler has been quite an issue the past few seasons, but if Kesler can stay healthy the Canucks roster will stand a much better chance against the overpowering skill that they’ll be seeing in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks roster isn’t cut out for the level of play in the Pacific or in the rest of the West for that matter. Matched up against the skill of the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, the grit of the Los Angeles Kings, and the defensive strength of the Coyotes, the Canucks are going to have their hands full with their division this season.
The Canucks have to finish in the third spot in the division to make the playoffs. After the top three spots, the next two teams between the Pacific Division and the Central Division under the third seed in the division will get the last two spots available in the playoffs.
The Canucks will more than likely be vying for home ice in the playoffs, but I’m not sold on the health issues in Vancouver, and I’m still not sold on the youth. The Canucks will likely make the playoffs, but with the new seeding system and the way Pacific has been laid out, the amount of skill in the division may make it difficult for the Canucks to make it to their home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Next summer, the Vancouver office will have to make some decisions on what to do for the future of the organization. The Sedins are getting older, and their production isn’t getting better. They’re contracts both expire at the end of the season, and the Canucks front office is going to have to figure out just how much they think the twins are worth, and how much they’re willing to pay them to stay in Vancouver.
The time has come for the Canucks to step up and play their way into the finals. The team has left fans drooling, and disappointed year after year. Can the Canucks finally get past the post season hump they’ve been dealing with the past few seasons? Or will they once again topple early in the playoffs and let their fans down?
Topics: Alain Vigneault, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Cory Schneider, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, John Tortorella, Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks