JamesB Posted March 22, 2015 Share Posted March 22, 2015 As we approach the final playoff run I think it is fair to say that the Canucks are doing better than most people expected -- certainly better than I expected. The odds of making the playoffs look good and the Canucks could finish as high as 5th in the Western Conference. So I think the Canucks are a positive surprise overall. But, as always, some things have worked out better than expected and some worse. These are my top 3 in each category. Before I start the list, here is one background fact to keep in mind. The Canucks have 14 forwards who have played a reasonable amount (more than 20 games). If we look at points per 60 minutes played the top five Canucks in that group are, in order, Daniel, Henrik, Vrbata, Kenins, and Horvat. Top Three Positive Surprises: 1. Horvat. No surprise that he is my top positive surprise. Most people (including me) expected him to go back to Junior this year. Even the optimists projected him as a kind of marginal 4C who would maybe hold his own while learning the NHL. (And even that is extremely good for a 19-year old.) However, as noted above, he is 5th on the team in points per 60 mins (despite almost no PP time), leads the team in face-off percentage, has gotten faster and stronger over the season, plays shutdown against top centers (Crosby, Toews, Malkin, Getzlaf, etc.) and contributes to the PK..(By the way, among young centers -- under 24 -- he has best faceoff perecentage in the league.) 2. Kenins. He has emerged as a sold bottom six winger who is 4th on the team in points per 60 minutes. With only 21 games played the sample is pretty small but, considering most of us did not know who he was at the start of the season and NO-ONE projected he would be on the team this year, that is a pretty big surprise. And he plays with high intensity, contributes to the physical game, and is good defensively (and seems to have good chemistry with Horvat, although everyone Horvat plays with seems to have good chemistry with Horvat). 3. Edler bounce-back. Edler "won" the green jacket last year with the worst plus-minus in the league at - 39. His plus/minus now is +11. We all expected a bounce-back when Willie took over the coaching duties from Bozo the Clown. But Edler's bounce-back of a change of 50 in plus/minus is huge. A lot of people like to say that plus/minus is a meaningless stat, and it is if we do not adjust for quality of competition. But Edler has faced similar or even tougher quality of competition this year relative to last year, so the huge improvement in plus-minus in meaningful. He also logs a lot of minutes, contributes to the offense and contributes to the physical game. I think he is the team MVP and the extent of his bounce-back is a big surprise. Negative surprises. 1. Bonino. He had a big goal against LA. But it was only his 13th of the season. When he was acquired in the Kesler trade a video of Benning was widely circulated in which Benning talked about Bonino being a projected 20+ goal scorer, a good "puck distributor", and a good PP guy. Those projections turned out to be a long way off. He was good in October and November but, since then, is scoring at only the rate of less than .3 PPG. That is not good enough even for the 3C position, let alone 2C. By most reasonable objective standards, including the eye test, in the second half of the season he has not been as valuable to the team as Horvat, and how many people expected that. Let's hope he picks things up for the stretch run. 2. Vey. When Vey was acquired for second round pick, he was pencilled in to the 3C position, and that is where he started the year. Like Bonino, he had a good start but tailed off badly. Of the 14 forwards who have played more 10 games, he is 14th (i.e. last) in points per 60 minutes, despite getting a lot of PP time and playing protected minutes (i.e. rarely facing the other team's top forwards). And he contributes nothing to the physical game and is not strong defensively. He had a good game against LA, but he needs to get stronger over the summer if he is going to make the team next year. 3. Miller. He has been solid. But for a 6 million cap I think we should expect more than solid. His save percentage of 0.913 is 27th in the league among qualified goalies. Among starting goalies he is in the bottom quarter of the league. Eddie has a much better save percentage (0.920). My personal view is that the Canucks would not be in playoff position now if Miller had continued as the #1 goalie. Eddie has stolen at least 5 or 6 points in the last 10 games. I like Bonino, Vey, and Miller. I hope they all do well. But I think they have underperformed relative to expectations. I don't see the Sedin bounce-backs or the Burrows bounce-backs as big surprises. I think they are only slightly better than we should have reasonably expected, although they are great to see. And I don't see the continued development of Lack or Tanev as big surprises, although they are are also great to see. I put all those in the "small positive surprise" category. In the small negative category i have the below par performance of Bieksa and Hammer. But there are a lot of things to build on. On the subject of surprises, the Canucks could surprise some people in the playoffs. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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