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2,369 Gaming the system

About JamesB

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  1. In junior Cassels was never a great skater. But he was a smart player and he played with a lot of grit and toughness as well. At the pro level, guys are bigger and stronger (obviously) and Cassels cannot really get any advantage from strength or toughness as he is probably below average in size and strength. And his skating and general skill level just don't seem to be good enough to make anything happen at the AHL level. Of course, there is a reason he was not drafted until late in the 3rd round. His numbers were great in his final year of junior (draft+2 year) but that is partly because he was on outstanding team. He helped make the team good, but his team mates helped his numbers. Most 3rd rounders never play in the NHL and Cassels may be in that category. Anyway, I think this is a make or break year for him. He needs to show he can at least be a decent AHL player in his draft + 5 year if he is to continue being regarded even as a prospect.
  2. There was no official announcement , but there were some hints in various interviews. This was discussed quite a bit on CDC earlier and got some coverage from talking heads. And the Canucks never denied it. I remember one interview where JB was asked about several players and he said Gaunce came to camp in great shape, he talked about Baertschi working on strength, and Jake and Bo working on strength and conditioning. Hutton gained strength over the summer as well. All he could say about the progress Tryamkin had made over the summer was that his English was bit better. So, it is not definitive, but it seems unlikely that Tryamkin is in the same category as guys like the Sedins, Horvat, Guddy, Gaunce, etc, who work hard on conditioning,
  3. I think aj is onto an important point. I don't think it is good for team morale if it looks like a guy gets an advantage from being selfish and stubborn. From a team point of view the best thing would be for him to play a few games in Utica to get in game condition. I think the difference between Tryamkin and Larsen is that the Canucks have decided that Larsen is good enough to play and Tryamkin hasn't. I agree that Stecher outplayed Larsen and I am not at all sold on Larsen, but Tryamkin is further away. Tryamkin is basically competing with Sbisa for the 3LD position and right now Sbisa looks like a much better player. By the way, WD and JB have indicated before that they like having a right-handed D play RD and a left-handed D play LD. It is not that big a deal, but I think it does help and might be one reason why the D looks a lot better this year. Sbisa looks a lot better on the left side than on the right side. And, while Tryamkin played RD a lot in the KHL, I think it makes a lot more sense for him to play LD in the NHL which makes it much easier to protect the puck. Finally, in response to Twilight, no team lets young guys play just because they "really feel they are game ready". No one get in the line-up just because they want to play. Like a lot of others I had high hopes for Tryamkin, but I think his attitude does a leave a lot to be desired. Unlike Chara, he is apparently far from a workaholic as well.
  4. I kind of doubt if Boeser will spend any time in Utica. By the time he signs with the Canucks next year he will be strong enough to play in the NHL. And there is no question about his maturity or his talent. He might not win a skills competition but he appears to have a very high hockey IQ -- always in the right place at the right time. And that is the most important skill. I was going to say the same thing. Kesler was a good player but he is not the kind of guy I want to root for. And guys like Kesler can create problems in the "room". Sutter is not as good as Kesler was in his prime, but there is a decent chance that Sutter is a better player than Kesler right now. (At age 32 Kesler is still good, but we might expect some age-related decline this year and Sutter is obviously off to an excellent start.)
  5. I am impressed. I think this graphic shows the red team playing the neutral zone trap. I don't think that is what the Canucks are doing, but the Canucks are obviously focusing on defence. I think that all they are doing is emphasizing having all three forwards get back quickly to defend in the neutral zone and try to prevent entry into their defensive zone. And in the defensive zone positioning, consistency, and hard work are the keys. That is a good approach if your forwards are fast and hardworking but do not necessarily have a lot of skill. You need players with speed and stamina and who buy into the system and play with a lot of discipline. The current system is not a system that is likely to work successfully with guys like Hodgson, Kassian, Vrbata, Shinkaruk, Prust (too slow) and, frankly, Virtanen has not yet shown enough consistency. It is a good system for guys like Horvat, Sutter, Granlund, Gaunce, and Burrows. And it allows guys like Dorsett and Skille to be defensively effective. It is not the way the Sedins play, of course, as they work hard to keep the cycle going down low, which is great if it works but makes it harder to get back in time when the other team get possession. Let's just hope the Canucks can keep it going. I am still not too optimistic as I still don't see where enough scoring will come from to make the playoffs and threaten to make a playoff run.
  6. Seems optimistic, but it would be nice to see the Canucks score a few goals. A fifth win would of course be the best start ever for the Canucks. The Canucks might also set a record for the biggest move up various power rankings. For the players this is one of those situations where you don't want to think too much. Just keep doing what you're doing and go with the flow.
  7. Yup, I did the same thing -- took a look at the "league standings" just to see the Canucks in first place overall. Might as well enjoy it while we can although obviously the team is better than a lot of people thought. I have been critical of some of Benning's decisions, including overpaying Sbisa, overpaying Sutter, and trading for Granlund. But those three guys have all been excellent so far this year and are certainly good value for their cap hits. Let's just hope everyone stays healthy. As many of us have said before, the team might not score a lot (like the old New Jersey teams), but Benning finally has a team plays a consistent high-working high energy checking game. And Skille fits into that style better than Virtanen. I assume Virtanen will get another shot again soon but I don't think it will be easy for him to fit in.
  8. The Canucks surprised a lot of people by winning the first three games. Pessimists would say it is primarily just good luck, or maybe just that the goalies started hot. Optimists might say that we are seeing development from young guys (Horvat, Hutton, Baertschi), or that injuries really were the problem last year and that having Sutter and Edler healthy makes a huge difference. And maybe the new guys are the key (Guddy, Eriksson, Larsen). Obviously it is a combination of factors, but I think that the injuries (or lack thereof) make a big difference, although I also think that the continuing improvement of the young guys is big. Hutton really impresses me. He came to camp about 15 lbs heavier than last year and looks a lot bigger and stronger. And his skating looks very good. Add in his offensive instincts, his puck-moving abilities, and his improved defensive play and it looks to me like he will soon be a legitimate top pairing guy. Horvat has also looked very good. We need more from Virtanen or he should go to Utica to get his game sorted out. On the negative side, I am not sold on the new guys. Guddy is good -- pretty much as advertised -- but that is as far as I would go. Larsen is better than a lot of people expected but he still has a lot to prove, and Eriksson has been disappointing so far. Thanks for any other thoughts.
  9. C'mon Alf, don't be diplomatic. Tell us what you really think about Nylander and Ehlers. (Try channeling Donald Trump.)
  10. Not sure if this is a criticism of Virtanen or a criticism of CDC. I think Virtanen's development has been disappointing so far. Not terrible, but disappointing, especially compared with Horvat or with Ehlers and Nylander. I agree with these two comments. I also favour sending Virtanen to junior where he can get on top of his game with the help of intensive developmental coaching from Green. (And Utica could use some help.) Like many others I favored sending Jake down to Utica to start the season, in which case we could have saved Etem. (Not saying Etem was good in preseason, but he could play in the bottom 6 without hurting the team.)
  11. Still pretty exciting for Matt. I am sure he will enjoy the experience and will remember it for a long time. Always a good story when a local kid gets called in as an emergency backup. "A bit tight" for Miller actually does not sound good. Especially after he had such a great first game. Hope he is okay, but if it is his groin it could be a problem going forward.
  12. I am afraid both these comments are right. Instead of concentrating skill to maximize scoring (apart from the first line) WD is suddenly focused on balance. But maybe that is the best way to play the old New Jersey style of low scoring (or no scoring) hockey. I think I will be using fast forward on my PVR a lot this year.
  13. Most other teams managed to score in their first game of the season. If we look at the line-up realistically, the Canucks will be one of the lowest scoring teams in the NHL again this year.
  14. Yes, but the reason is not that he earned the spot by playing well.
  15. Yes, I was just looking at the Utica roster yesterday and asking myself "who is going to score"? (Same question I have with the Canucks, especially now that Horvat is on the 4th line.) Utica should have good goaltending and should have three good Ds (Stecher, Pedan, and Subban). But I don't see a solid first line. Valk is highly skilled but he is small and it is not clear his game will transition to the AHL level. Grenier is a solid AHL player who might end up leading the team in scoring this year. We hope Cassels is ready to make a big step foward but he will never be a big scorer. There are some longshots that we are hoping for, like Carcone and Renulic, but they are longshots. There are some AHL grinders who might one day become NHL grinders (like Labate and Zalewski), And there are some career bottom 9 AHL players like Banks and Hamilton and Archibald. I would say there are no legitimate prospects in Utica who project as top 6 NHL players and no established AHL first liners. That team would look a lot better if Etem, Virtanen and Biega were there. Maybe Green can work some magic in Utica again this year, but given the emphasis Benning and Linden have placed on rebuilding the prospect pipeline, the roster in Utica is disappointing.