DarkIndianRises

Our problem at Center beyond Pettersson and Horvat

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Posted (edited)

Our problem at Center beyond Pettersson and Horvat
 

Without the risk of sounding overreactionary to last night’s (exhibition) loss, there is one thing that I’ve been concerned about for awhile now:   A lack of a good 3rd line center that can take the defensive load and pressure off of Pettersson and Horvat so that both of those centers (and lines) can focus more on offense.  
 

Unfortunately, the Canucks haven’t been able to create this ideal scenario for a number of reasons:

 

1) Up until recent times, the Canucks didn’t have two legit scoring wingers for Horvat.   Boeser and Miller played with Petey, while Ferland was out for most of the year.   Virtanen also couldn’t find the consistency needed to be a fixture on the top 6.    With Toffoli and Boeser both here however, this shouldn’t be a problem anymore, but alas........we aren’t out of the woods just yet (for reasons I’ll explain below).

 

2) Sutter is washed up.   I would love to be proven wrong here, but Sutter is no longer an option for being a good 3rd line center for us.   Sutter can’t set up plays out of a wet paper bag and so any potential for offense by his linemates will be greatly minimized.    Can Sutter still be an effective shut down center?  Yes.   Would his line produce any offense whatsoever if Sutter’s primary role was to shut down and take pressure off our top two lines? Nope.   This is why at the start of the season when the Canucks went 9-3-3 (and Sutter was at center), it was still Horvat’s line taking on the tough defensive match-ups while Sutter’s line basically became a weak scoring line.

 

3) Gaudette is a defensive liability and can’t take face offs and plays bitter soft minutes as a result.   I like Gaudette and hope that he can become a decent 2nd line center one day because this guy is NOT 3rd line material.   If Gaudette plays center for Vancouver, it’s almost a given that Horvat and Horvat’s line will be used to take on the tough defensive match-ups.   
 

4) Beagle:   Beagle is in the same boat as Sutter, although in Beagle’s case, I actually like him as a 4th line center.   Where the Canucks often go wrong with Beagle, is that they overutilize Beagle into roles that he shouldn’t be playing in due to Gaudette and Sutter’s lack of ability to play in those roles (to take pressure off of Horvat and Pettersson).    Hence, Beagle ends up getting exposed while making the local fans and media irate (through no fault of Beagle’s mind you.......he is what is).   
 

So long story short, I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t like our situation at center.   Sutter and Beagle aren’t good enough to be 3rd line “shut down” centers that can still get their linemates to produce, while Gaudette is basically a poor man’s 2nd line center that should never be used in a traditional 3rd line way.   As a result, the Canucks end up leaning too heavily on Horvat for those tough defensive match-ups which then ultimately puts way too much pressure on Pettersson’s line (while simultaneously asking Gaudette’s line to produce more offense than they’re likely capable of).    The ultimate end result is very inconsistent offense (which started to become an issue for us as the season went on).  
 

I don’t know if this will become an issue for us during the Minnesota series (or at any point during this post-season if we just do happen to make the playoffs), but if it does, I suggest one of two things:

 

Option #1:   Re-unite Pearson-Horvat-Eriksson, and promote Gaudette to second line center by giving him our two best wingers.
 

Roussel-Pettersson-Boeser (Toffoli)

Miller-Gaudette-Toffoli (Boeser)

Pearson-Horvat-Eriksson

 

By giving Gaudette our two best wingers, you take a calculated gamble that Pettersson can carry his other two linemates, while the Horvat line can effectively shut down opponents while still being an offensive threat (so that the other two lines can be used more in offensive situations).

 

Option #2:   Move JT Miller to center, and punt Gaudette and Sutter off a cliff and into the Pacific Ocean.   With Ferland and Toffoli in the Canucks’ line-up, going this route may not be as farfetched as once imagined since we have far more depth up front to necessitate such a move.

 

Roussel-Pettersson-Boeser (scoring line)


Ferland-Miller-Toffoli (scoring line that can play well defensively, win face offs, and produce)

 

Pearson-Horvat-Eriksson (shut down line that can produce some offense)

 

Virtanen-Beagle-MacEwen (fast and gritty 4th line).   
 

Virtanen and Ferland could even switch spots if the situation called for it.

 

Anyways - those are some of my suggestions. I thought the Canucks played pretty well for the most part last night, but I didn’t like that bottom 6 at all......and if our bottom 6 isn’t addressed, it could place undue pressure (and unfair pressure mind you) on the Horvat line which would ultimately place too much offensive burden on Petey’s line.  I believe that my recommendations from above would possibly help address the above situation.

 

Edited by DarkIndianRises
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I for one don't mind if Captain Bo takes on the top defensive duties so Pete can get top offensive responsibility.
Seems like most championship winning teams can have an offense-defense tandem for the top two centers (Kopitar/ Carter, Krejci/ Bergeron, Getzlaf/ Kesler, O'Reilly/ B. Schenn), as a workable alternative to two offense-first guys (Kuznetsov/ Backstrom, Sid/ Geno).  Given Gaudette's development he can probably become an offensive 3rd line center to help Pete so I'm not too worried about this as a concept.

Were there particular moments where Bo got beat last night tho?
  

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The biggest hurdle the Vancouver Canucks have is the pontificate local sports media.  They like to suggest problems, or they create problems.  Rumors are rumors and sources are sources.  Lots of speculation and lots of opining.  So what is my take?  Our older players should have a strong motivation to lay it all on the line.  For them, this may be the last time they get to play playoff hockey.  Our third and fourth lines need to step up if we are going to have a chance.  I believe that they can raise their level of play. We need them to.

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I wonder how Bergeron wins the Selke every year yet he’s Bostons first line centre. I think you’re over thinking things just a bit here 

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Does anyone else remember around the time of the trade deadline when there was a 'crazy' rumour out there that the Canucks were shopping Gaudette and also looking at adding Vincent Trocheck?  My thought at the time is basically what DarkIndianRises is also suggesting:  I don't think the Canucks see Horvat as an ideal second line centre in the long-term, but would love to have him as their third line centre, with someone more offensively-oriented taking over second line duties.  In my opinion, look for them to try and make this happen in the not-too-distant future.

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Basically you have this hidden hope that Pettersson and Horvat somehow have this unleashed offensive abilities. More like dream than anything, it is what it is. 

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Posted (edited)
42 minutes ago, Captain Canuck #12 said:

Does anyone else remember around the time of the trade deadline when there was a 'crazy' rumour out there that the Canucks were shopping Gaudette and also looking at adding Vincent Trocheck?  My thought at the time is basically what DarkIndianRises is also suggesting:  I don't think the Canucks see Horvat as an ideal second line centre in the long-term, but would love to have him as their third line centre, with someone more offensively-oriented taking over second line duties.  In my opinion, look for them to try and make this happen in the not-too-distant future.

Bo Horvat is not a third line center

 

Are we trying to create some sort of super team. It will never work in the cap world 

 

Edited by Devron44
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We are not thick with prospect C depth.  But pretty good for the moment,

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Maybe we can get someone like Nosek on the cheap... Vegas only has 6 mil in cap space for next year and Nosek is a UFA. He seems like a good target in a price range we might be able to swing and he could be on a line with Roussel and AG. Good size, not a defensive liability, good on face offs. No offence but you can't have everything on the cheap. 

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50 minutes ago, Battlemonger said:

Our center depth would be better if a certain foundational player didn't lose his spot to a rookie.

Which rookie are you imagining?

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10 hours ago, The Colt 45s said:

The biggest hurdle the Vancouver Canucks have is the pontificate local sports media.  They like to suggest problems, or they create problems.  Rumors are rumors and sources are sources.  Lots of speculation and lots of opining.  So what is my take?  Our older players should have a strong motivation to lay it all on the line.  For them, this may be the last time they get to play playoff hockey.  Our third and fourth lines need to step up if we are going to have a chance.  I believe that they can raise their level of play. We need them to.

I shut them off yesterday....as much as I love hockey talk leading up to games, the Jake thing is being so overblown by them.  I hate it.

 

I want hockey not drama.  

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Really I think centre is one of our biggest strengths right now. A superstar in Petey, high end 60 point two-way guy the size of a barn in Bo,  a PP specialist in Gaudette, and a PK guy in Beagle. 
 

I can understand wanting to swap out gaudette for some one more defensively minded but at the same time, there are far bigger holes in the Canucks line up right now. 
 

one thing to consider as well is, due to the fact he is ineligible to be offer sheeted and has no arbitration rights, the Canucks can probably get Gaudette in a 2 yr deal for under 2 million per season. You won’t find many 3rd line centres for that cheap in the NHL 

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Posted (edited)

Thank you for the feedback boys,

 

I will admit that perhaps I’m reading too much into the role of how Horvat should be being deployed (I.e. it’s no so “black and white,” and guys like O’Reilly and Bergeron are good comparables).

 

My only suggestion is this:   If you are going to continue to use Horvat in that match-up role as opposed to making that line a pure scoring role, switch Boeser and Toffoli.    Put Toffoli on the Horvat line instead, and place as much offensive firepower on Pettersson’s line as possible (so, Miller-Pettersson-Brock).  Using Boeser on a match-up line is nonsensical.

 

Toffoli’s two way game is a better stylistic fit for Horvat’s line anyways (especially with the way that Green intends to deploy that line).  Toffoli and Pearson also have past successful history with one another.

 

Miller-Pettersson-Boeser

Pearson-Horvat-Toffoli

Edited by DarkIndianRises
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