Tom Benjamin is smart and sane. In fact, that reminds me to put his link on the LINK FEST page. Here are his interesting observations on Vancouver’s 2011-12 season (edited, follow the link for the whole thing):
[...] The Canucks didn’t play very well in the second half of the season – they didn’t play as well as their record – so I don’t think Canucks Nation is nearly as shocked as the players themselves. I’m not really into the blame game, but if I had to point a finger at a single player who might have made a difference, it would be pointed at Ryan Kesler. Last year he was often the best player on the ice. This year he was seldom a force. He was good, but not an elite player this season and he was not a factor at all in the playoffs.
If there is a concern going forward, it is that the Canucks are playing a style that is clearly falling out of favour. Mike Gillis has a team that tries to play like Detroit, the proverbial “puck possession” game. If Phoenix holds on to beat Chicago, all four teams to go through in the West play the same defense-first scheme, with a physical trap all over the ice and junkfest in front of the net in their own end. A junkfest, at both ends actually.
And dear God is it boring. It’s even boring when you’re winning.
When played well, even strength chances are few and far between and special teams become critical. [...] Aside from that, the most unfortunate consequence of the loss will be the demands for Vigneault’s head. I don’t think Mike Gillis will toss him to the mob, but if he does, my confidence in him will be shaken.
Especially since there aren’t any good candidates out there. Vigneault deserves points for putting in Schneider. I thought it was weird at the time, since Luongo seemed to be playing well, but it turned out to be a stroke of genius that could easily have won the series for them. I think we can all agree that, had the Canucks won game 5 in OT, the odds of the series going seven games would have been pretty good.
That game would have been tonight, wouldn’t it?
[...] Postscript: As for the rest of the playoffs, I think Nashville is probably the best team in the West still standing and if I had to bet, I’d probably pick Boston to survive Washington and eventually come out of the East.
Well, Boston has since lost, but I agree about Nashville. I think it will be Philadelphia in the East, so my dream of a Kings-Flyers cup finals is still alive. Crazy, but alive.
Luongo has apparently submitted a short list of teams he would be willing to be traded to, including (according to the rumor) Toronto. I do think it’s funny that Luongo is getting blamed for losing a series he didn’t lose. I bet he ends up in Tampa.