Tom Benjamin’s post-mortem on his own Vancouver Canucks

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):

End of the Line : Tom Benjamin’s NHL Blog ::

[…] 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.


  4 comments for “Tom Benjamin’s post-mortem on his own Vancouver Canucks

  1. April 26, 2012 at 8:05 AM

     The thing is… the Kings don’t really play shut-it-down hockey.  They generate a lot of chances.  When Vancouver got Sedin back, they were getting their fair share of chances.

    They’re not the 90s Devils.  Look up some of the shot totals from, in particular, the 1995 Cup finals.  There’s a LOT more chances being generated these days – Mike Smith stopped more shots in Game 6 than Brodeur used to in two whole games.

    • DougS
      April 26, 2012 at 9:59 AM

      Yeah, it’s strange to describe the Kings as a “trap team.” And as for puck possession, the advanced stats show that the Kings are a high puck-possesion team.

      Casual observation bears this out as well; ever since Sutter took over, I’ve noticed that when the Kings have won they spend a lot of time holding onto the puck. Come to think of it, that was also kind of true under TM as well. A couple of years ago, I distinctly remember a prospective playoff opponent (I think it was one of the Canucks) saying that Kings were no fun to play against because they never let you have the puck.

  2. Niesy
    April 26, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    The thing is, St. Louis and Detroit were both at the tippy top of the league in possession numbers all year (#1 and #2). And the Kings had more zone time than Vancouver over the course of the season! His argument doesn’t exactly make sense.

    • Niesy
      April 26, 2012 at 2:56 PM

       The big contrast between St Louis/LA vs. Detroit/Vancouver is that the former go for the big, heavy bodied aggressive forechecking style to apply pressure and the latter favor skill and speed. But I thought Vancouver tried to match their physicality in the series rather than exploit the Kings’ slowness. They also added more two-way players and heavy hitters at the deadline (Palhsson, Kassian). Maybe they didn’t work as well because they were sort of a hybrid?

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