5 causes the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup — and three causes they received't

It begins with the captain. Then there’s the schedule. And the construction. However what about issues like depth and roster building?

Get the most recent from Patrick Johnston straight to your inbox

Article content material

The Vancouver Canucks are taking part in in addition to they’ve in a minimum of a decade.

Commercial 2

Article content material

They’re solidly within the Stanley Cup playoff race. In the event that they don’t make the playoffs from right here, it is going to be an enormous shock.

Article content material

However can they take the large leap and turn out to be an precise Stanley Cup contender?

Listed here are 5 purpose why they may — and three causes they received’t.

5 causes the Canucks will win the Stanley Cup

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes (43) shoots the puck against the Nashville Predators during the first period on Tuesday in Nashville, Tenn.
Canucks defenceman Quinn Hughes shoots the puck towards the Nashville Predators in the course of the first interval of a recreation in Nashville, Tenn. Picture by George Walker IV /AP

1. Quinn Hughes

When your identify is being talked about alongside the likes of Bobby Orr, Brian Leetch, Paul Coffey, Denis Potvin and more moderen contemporaries reminiscent of Scott Niedermayer and Cale Makar, you already know you’re one thing particular.

Hughes, who was named Canucks captain earlier than the season, is the already the most effective defenceman the Canucks have ever had.

There have been good defencemen in Vancouver. You’ll be able to shortly assemble a useful record: Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo, Mattias Ohlund, Ed Jovanovski, Jyrki Lumme, Doug Lidster, Paul Reinhart, Harold Snepsts, Dennis Kearns.

Commercial 3

Article content material

However none had been of the standard of Hughes. Hughes can take over video games.

He’s of a top quality that places him within the dialogue alongside the Canucks’ all-time greats. When his profession is over, he’s going to be in comparison with the Sedins, to Pavel Bure, to Markus Näslund, to Roberto Luongo.

When Hughes picked up his thirtieth level of the season on Monday — his nineteenth recreation — it was the primary time a defenceman had gotten to 30 factors in simply 19 video games since Bobby Orr in the course of the 1974-75 season.

“We now have some affect gamers that may win video games by themselves,” president Jim Rutherford stated earlier than the season. Hughes, together with Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser, is main the cost and doing precisely that.

canucks rick tocchet
‘Staples’ is the brand new phrase from head coach Rick Tocchet. Picture by Arlen Redekop /PNG

2. ‘Construction and staples’

The excitement phrase final yr was construction — as a result of the Canucks’ defensive play was disastrous. There was no construction to something they did.

Article content material

Commercial 4

Article content material

“After I first bought right here, it was truthfully form of stunning,” Ethan Bear stated on the finish of final season. He had arrived from the Carolina Hurricanes, one of the crucial organized, disciplined groups within the league.

“There’s a plan on each single faceoff, there’s a plan on each single play while you’re on the ice. Once you come from that and are available to the place (the Canucks) had been at … it was simply, like, ‘Oh, my god. We’ve bought to simply survive.’”

Bear is a free agent and never with the Canucks, however his feedback have since been echoed by his former teammates.

This yr, they’re on the identical web page. The quantity of effort and time the workforce pays to what they need to do in a given state of affairs is obvious as day.

Uncommon are the defensive breakdowns that plagued them a yr in the past.

Commercial 5

Article content material

“Staples” is the brand new phrase from head coach Rick Tocchet. And that’s what they’ve been centered on.

Defending the center of the ice. Forechecking onerous to drive errors up the ice by the opposition. Being disciplined in how they arrange for their very own breakouts.

To this point, so good. Defensive breakdowns in their very own finish, and even on the push, have been uncommon.

They’re getting sufficient seems to be now on offence too.

The muse of how they’re taking part in is powerful.

And on high of this strong basis is the stellar play of Thatcher Demko. The Canucks’ No. 1 goalie is again to his outdated self, and his backup Casey DeSmith has been wonderful as effectively.

3. The ability play

Groups which can be taking part in effectively at even energy, because the Canucks are, and still have elite particular groups, will go a great distance.

Commercial 6

Article content material

Most groups are succesful sufficient at five-on-five, so to make actual hay, they have to be wonderful with their energy play alternatives.

And the Canucks’ energy play has been wonderful thus far this season.

The ability play’s success is all the way down to a collaborative method. Tocchet is nominally in command of the primary unit, however he’s been very open in crediting the gamers for taking the initiative as effectively.

“I really like the assembly once I meet with these guys. They’ve some good factors,” he stated earlier this month.

This give and take permeates all through Tocchet’s teaching method — he understands that his fees have been conditioned from a younger age to need to know what’s going on round them. They’re much extra self-aware than the generations of gamers who’ve come earlier than them.

Commercial 7

Article content material

They perceive what they’ve been taught they usually can see what is going to work.

canucks Phil Di Giuseppe
Phil Di Giuseppe has been an excellent story for the Canucks. Picture by RICHARD LAM /PNG

4. Trades to come back

The Canucks’ roster is strong and clearly has the makings of a playoff squad, however upgrades will likely be wanted.

Phil Di Giuseppe has been an excellent story for this workforce — he’s the workforce’s greatest forechecker — however in the long term the Canucks can be sensible to discover a extra gifted winger to take his place alongside Miller and Boeser.

Including such a participant would push Di Giuseppe down the traces, shoring up the third or fourth traces. That’s how championship groups are constructed: by including gamers who will push the gamers you have already got down the lineup.

That’s what the Canucks did within the lead-up to the 2011 Stanley Cup Ultimate — including gamers like Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre, who shored up the third and fourth traces, making the Canucks that a lot harder to match up towards.

Commercial 8

Article content material

One transfer that may instantly add to the workforce’s depth that isn’t a commerce can be signing Ethan Bear, which stands a really excessive chance of occurring. The veteran blueliner has been skating in West Kelowna and stays on target to be able to play once more someday in December.

5. The schedule

The Canucks are in the midst of a troublesome stretch. They’ve 15 video games in November alone. They’ve 11 video games between now and Christmas.

However after Christmas, the tempo slows significantly. From Christmas by way of the All-Star Break on the finish of January, the Canucks have simply 14 video games.

And after the All-Star Break, they’ve only one back-to-back earlier than the top of the common season.

Of their last 17 video games on the season, 14 are at house.

Commercial 9

Article content material

That’s the payoff for the onerous work now. A comparatively rested workforce going into the playoffs is not any small factor.

Groups are inclined to see extra accidents after recreation 65, partly as a result of snowballing results of fatigue — and journey makes it tougher to get better, resulting in much more fatigue.

Certainly, over the course of the season, the Canucks may have one of the crucial beneficial imbalances when it comes to being rested and taking part in drained groups.

Over the entire season, the Canucks may have 11 video games the place they’re rested and are taking part in a workforce that has performed the night time earlier than.

Three causes the Canucks received’t win the Stanley Cup

1. Wage cap inefficiencies

The very best groups keep away from contract errors.

Not solely do the Canucks have a participant on the books whose contract they purchased out and are actually paying to not play for them — Oliver Ekman-Larsson — however they’ve additionally bought a trio of contracts the place the gamers are wonderful, however are massively overpaid for the roles they at present fill.

Commercial 10

Article content material

Tyler Myers, Anthony Beauvillier and Conor Garland are all completely competent NHLers. However their manufacturing doesn’t match their salaries.

And while you’re a workforce that’s seeking to improve wherever it will possibly, having gamers play small roles whereas on large salaries hampers your skill to take action.

canucks tyler myers
Tyler Myers is amongst these whose manufacturing doesn’t match their salaries. Picture by Matthew Stockman /Getty Photographs

Myers has been higher since his function was lowered, and the expansion of Adam Foote as a coach has been apparent.

“He’s grown a million per cent,” Tocchet stated this week about how far Foote has come since he was employed final spring with little or no elite teaching expertise.

However Myers just isn’t the participant he was once. And if the Canucks need to lean on him greater than they’re, that’s going to be an issue in the long term. And it’s his contract that would hold them from discovering an improve on the blueline.

Commercial 11

Article content material

The Garland and Beauvillier conditions are ones to observe as effectively: Garland has been on the buying and selling block for greater than a yr. Beauvillier may be simpler to maneuver, however his actual worth is just opening up his cap house for use elsewhere. Will he be a San Jose Shark by the top of the yr?

2. A scarcity of depth

Don’t neglect what Rutherford stated earlier than the season: “We need to get to some extent that we’ve sufficient depth in our lineup that you would be able to have a number of issues go improper … and overcome that.”

The Canucks don’t have a ton of depth — no workforce with plenty of accidents goes to outlive them, however you need to have the ability to handle a number of. It’s not clear they’ve a lot leeway.

There are some attention-grabbing prospects in Abbotsford, however aside from Vasily Podkolzin, none have the possibility to be remodeled right into a sudden difference-maker.

Commercial 12

Article content material

3. The division

The Canucks are in a troublesome division.

Not solely are they up towards the defending Stanley Cup champions in Vegas, they’ve bought the upstart Los Angeles Kings to think about.

The Canucks are most certainly going through the Kings within the first spherical. Do you assume they will beat them? And in the event that they do, would they beat the Golden Knights within the second spherical?

The groups that find yourself within the Stanley Cup last are just about at all times the league’s greatest, and even the shock groups really aren’t that a lot of a shock in the event you dig into their numbers.

The Canucks are well-set, however not there but.

[email protected]


Advisable from Editorial

Bookmark our web site and assist our journalism: Don’t miss the information you want to know — add VancouverSun.com and TheProvince.com to your bookmarks and join our newsletters right here.

It’s also possible to assist our journalism by changing into a digital subscriber: For simply $14 a month, you will get limitless, ad-lite entry to The Vancouver Solar, The Province, Nationwide Publish and 13 different Canadian information websites. Assist us by subscribing as we speak: The Vancouver Solar | The Province.

Article content material