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Quarter Pole Assessment


DownUndaCanuck

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A lot of GMs and coaches usually say that they have a pretty good handle on their team by the quater pole. It's been 20 games in, the Canucks are a middle-pack team so far and if the playoffs were to start today, they would just miss out (on points percentages). I know there's a long way to go, and Tortorella still has a lot of work to do with his team, but here are some interesting stats and the paces that some of our players are on right now which gives you a good indication of what's wrong with our team right now:

The Sedins

Both on pace for around 80 points. Daniel on pace for just under 30 goals. Can't complain about their production.

Kesler

On pace for 37 goals, 57 points which is great for a 2nd line center, not too flash for a 1st liner in this league right now. His -4 is alarming though.

Santorelli

On pace for 20 goals, and 49 points which is good for a 2nd liner, fantastic for a 3rd liner and would be a career high for even him. Can't ask for much more from him.

Higgins

On pace for almost 25 goals and 41 points which is decent for a 2nd liner in this league.

Richardson

On pace for 20 goals and 41 points which is fantastic for a 3rd liner. Even the deeper teams in this league don't have 20 goal scorers on their 3rd line. He may be ways off Pavelski, but all the good teams have this sort of depth in the middle

Kassian

He's scoring at a 22-goal pace which is unbelievable considering he averages 12 minutes a game, which is essentially 4th-line minutes. He has definately met expectations, and done so very quietly. Given more of an opportunity and he could easily bump that pace up.

Archibald

Has 2 points in 8 games and just wanted to draw attention to the fact that despite playing 8 minutes a game and often with 3rd or 4th liners, is a +3 on an even scoring team. To put that into perspective, he has the same number of points as Burrows, who has played 8 games but averages 10 more minutes per game, and who is a -4. Very impressed by his play, and Burrows hasn't been able to get into a rhythm without the Sedins which has been dissapointing.

Our defencemen:

Edler on pace for 28 points and is currently a team-worst -7 which could sink even further. This is brutal coming from an expected 50 point scorer and considering he costs this team 5M, is not bringing any offence, defence or physicality. This guy needs a message sent to him or MG should consider a trade. More importantly though, I think he needs less minutes to play more effectively.

Bieksa's on pace for 36 points, but has a team best +9 and has had a fantastic season under Tortorella's system. His gambles are paying off more often than not and teams can't seem to contain him when he jumps up. Surprisingly to me, our best D-man so far.

Garrison is on pace for the same 36 points despite a red-hot start, and has shown weaknesses defensively. Still not a glaring weakness and a very good top-4 defenceman.

Hamhuis is on pace for 16 goals and has fairly reliable as per usual.

Stanton and Tanev are both on pace for 29 points which is very surprising from two kids, and both have been very reliable defensively (not as much of late, but on the whole very solid).

Goalies:

Lack will probably play 18 games and so is on pace for 9 wins. Right now he and Luongo have identical save percentages and GAA somehow - both 0.911 and 2.41.

Luongo will probably play around 64 games and so is on pace for 36 wins which is a very strong season for him and will put him in the top-5 if not 3 in the league this year. Also on pace for 8 shutouts which is a lot for him.

So in summary, the good:

Sedins, Kesler, Santorelli, Higgins, Richardson, Kassian, Archibald, Bieksa, Garrison, Hamhuis, Tanev, Stanton, Luongo and Lack

The bad:

Edler, Burrows

The ugly:

Booth

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It's hard to judge some guys only 20 games in, like Richardson for example. I don't see him getting 20 goals. Just like I don't see Giroux scoring 4 or 5 goals.

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Spot on for the assessment of the "parts."

Missing from your assessment is the team identity. Things like resilience, chemistry, attitude, hustle, depth.

I would say they have shown much improvement since the last two years. I'm still not sure exactly what we have here, but the battle level is way up. We will have to work through some major adversity in order to truly be ready for a deep run, but I would say at this point the Canucks look like at least a 1 or 2 round playoff team.

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I bet if Burr was playing with the twins he wouldn't be in 'the bad' category.

Archibald and Kassian aren't playing with the twins but they're in the "good" category. Obviously anyone who plays with the twins looks good, but a player's true colours really shine when they're left by themselves to produce offence.

Kesler was pretty brutal on the 2nd line without the twins and now he's struggling with them so I would say he definately needs some work too.

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Good assessment. Archibald has been good as you said, which is a pleasant surprise.

A bit of a rant: although Sedins with Kesler have been good in the beginning, they have not been so good lately. I think the reason for putting Kesler with the twins was to have Kesler be the trigger man, always ready to shoot and give the twins that option near and in front of the net, which makes defending the twins that much more difficult as the opposing D-men cannot converge on the Sedins along the boards as they have to have at least one guy to deal with Kesler. However, in the last four games, I noticed that Kesler is focused on joining the Sedins along the boards instead of getting into position to shoot. Obviously, it's important to keep the puck alive in the offensive zone by helping them on the cycle, but he is now standing along the boards and watching the play! As soon as the puck is on either Sedin's stick, he should be moving to the position to shoot, which attracts a defender to him and hence more room for the twins to do magic. Maybe it's time to put Santorelli with the twins again and put Kes with Burr and Higgins.

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SEDINS - Pretty standard, which is a good thing and a bad thing. I'm happy they are not really declining, and I'm happy Daniel isn't really missing a beat anymore. I'm not happy that they still can't deal with teams that play big and high-tempo. It was disappointing to watch our top 2 players get completely shut down by the style of certain teams (not even specific strategies or plays). This has been their short-coming in all of our recent play-off exits: Chicago x2, Boston, LA, San Jose.

KESLER - He's back to playing less of a wanna-be sniper game, which is great. Fortunately and unfortunately, his production is a direct reflection of the Sedins' effectiveness in any given game

*** If I were Torts, I would either split up the Sedins or take Kesler off their line in games against teams like LA. Kesler is the type of player that will shine in a game like that, but not if both of his linemates are named Sedin.

HIGGINS - He seems to be working on his consistency. He brings it every game, which is very good to see. I'm glad he's shown chemistry with Santorelli, because I think that's a major contributing factor to his success so far this season.

SANTORELLI - Likewise for Santorelli, his chemistry with Higgins has been the cornerstone of his success this season. They both are working very hard, and it's paying off. I'm happy with what he's done, but I'd be a lot more comfortable with a player of his caliber playing as the 3rd line center, rather than the 2nd.

*** a note on Hansen's return: once he gets into game shape, I think Hansen would be a great fit with Higgins and Santorelli. A perfect 3rd line.

BURROWS - Overall, I'm a little disappointed with what he has shown when not playing with the Sedins. I almost feel like we should put him back there, or else we wont be getting 4.5 million dollars worth out of the guy. It's sad to say, but without the Sedins, he's really no more than another Jannick Hansen or Chris Higgins.

ARCHIBALD - Totally impressed with Archibald. I always wanted to see him up here because I had a gut feeling that he'd show some spark. He did not disappoint, and he has gone far beyond expectations. I really hope he sticks for the year. I think he's proven he's capable of playing in the NHL, and -so far- his effort has been consistent.

RICHARDSON - Exceeds all expectations as far as offense goes. He came in here with 4th line center written all over him, but he's been clutch. If he can keep that pace up, he's easily worthy of 3rd line minutes. All in all, he's very similar to Santorelli.

KASSIAN - I definitely see improvement in Kassian's game this year, which is great to see. I still see room to improve, especially when he takes a night off. That will be a work in progress though. All in all, I'm very happy with where he is. But as good as he's doing, I'll conservatively predict that next year will be his break-out year - not this year.

SESTITO - he gets a lot of flack on these boards - from myself, included - but he's actually had quite a solid season so far. He hasn't been a complete liability, and he's laying with a more consistent effort than he did last year. However, the emergence of Archibald might prove to be an adversity to Sestito, and as players start coming off injury, it will be interesting to see where the minutes start to be placed.

WELSH - another surprising acquisition of a bottom-6 centerman. This guy is fully capable of playing the pivot on the fourth line. I think the only thing that will bump this guy out of the line-up will be when we have 4 centers above him - and that wont be until Schroeder returns. Though he'll likely go through a conditioning stint after all this missed time. Though I wouldn't be opposed to sticking Schroeder, or even Welsh, on wing.

EDLER - He has good games, and he has bad games. More often than not, ...bad games. Overall, I'm not very impressed. For a few seasons, I've started thinking that he isn't exactly the most intelligent guy. I don't like his inconsistency, and at times, I feel like he's not grasping the system - AV's or Torts'. Edler needs to pull a page out of Garrison's book and just start blasting the stupid puck at the net. I'm getting a little tired of having a guy who shoots harder than Sami Salo, but never pulls the trigger. The same can be said about his ability to hit like a truck. If anyone has a good value on our team, and is expendable, it's Alex Edler. Good thing he has an NTC... not.

BIEKSA - Tort's system really suits Bieksa's game, and it's been showing. Overall, I'm very pleased with his play. He's providing offense, solid in his own end, and he's playing mean. He needs to play mean. The whole Country Club attitude of years past was not boding well for him. Glad the change in philosophy is working in his favor.

HAMHUIS - He's been solid at times, but there has been some glaring gaffs. He's played a trap for a very long time - Nashville and Vancouver. I think he's just having a hard time adjusting to the system, because his errors are timing-based as a result of indecision. As said before, once these plays become instinct, he'll be back to the Hamhuis we want to see.

GARRISON - Had a great start to the season, but started to tail off. Why this happened, I don't know. I think it's a systems thing. When Torts first got here, there was a lot of passing to the point for the shot, because it was simple. I'm seeing less of that now, and I think it's reducing Garrison's involvement in the game. I think Hamhuis and Garrison could also stand to play a little bit more physically.

TANEV - Continues to grow at a steady pace. I feel like we have a neo-Sami Salo on our hands, minus the shot, plus the health; minus the size, plus the speed. Okay, maybe a bad comparison? But the important part is he has been totally solid, defensively, and he is getting better and better with his decision-making, which is starting to show with his passing. I've always liked his passing, and now it's going to good use.

STANTON - Wow, what a shock this guy has been! I will absolutely go as far as to say Stanton is playing like a young Bieksa. His physicality and grit is a welcomed addition, his mean streak is refreshing, and his play on both ends of the rink is astounding. Awesome freebee player.

LUONGO - No complaints here, really. You know, I would like to see a stand-on-your-head steal of a game out of Luongo, but those will come. They haven't yet. But at the same time, he's been pretty good about keeping our team in the games. And that's mostly october, we're talking about!

LACK - He's been solid, which is a good thing considering the time he missed with injury last year. I think he'll steadily improve over the next little while, but an actual evaluation of him wont really need to be made until the off-season or even into next season. Hopefully he will eventually become an asset for us.

THE GOOD:

Torts

Sedins

Kesler

Higgins

Santorelli

Archibald

Richardson

Kassian

Sestito

Welsh

Bieksa

Tanev

Stanton

Luongo

Lack

THE BAD:

Refs

Shanahan

Burrows

Edler

THE UGLY:

Pacific Division

Booth

Shroeder

other injuries

Kassian's left skate

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Your being too hard on Edler.

Disagree. I literally have to search for him out there this season. I look for the number 23 to see if he's playing.

As a variation on +/-, I'd say Edler has the highest trade value / lowest on-ice performance.

Hate to say it, but I'm leaning more and more towards seeing what we could get for the guy. Honestly I'd love for him to prove me wrong, but I've felt for a long time like something needs to change within our D. Beyond coaching, that's where the biggest problems were the last two seasons ... amazing on paper, unable to get out of the zone on the ice. Edler or Bieksa to me, and I was wrong predicting that Bieksa would flounder under Tortorella.

Again, I'd love to be proven wrong on this.

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We're right up against the cap, we struggle to score goals for the most part, and we struggle to keep goals out of our net.

Somehow we have a respectable record to this point but there is still so much room for improvement. Let's see where we're at when game 41 rolls around.

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