Don Cherry did something that he rarely does on Coach’s Corner yesterday, he talked about the Vancouver Canucks. Cherry said the Canucks weren’t paying the price (actually he said ‘playing the price’, but we know what you meant Don). He also said that people were unfairly pointing the finger at Roberto Luongo (actually, he said Lulongo… he said Bieska too in case you’re wondering), that the Canucks need to block more shots and that they need to stop whining. And you know what? He’s right… Mostly.
Skip ahead to the 5:15 mark for Cherry’s Canucks rant:
So are the Canucks ‘paying the price’ enough? No, I don’t think they are. I don’t necessarily think that this is something people should be overly concerned about yet, it’s still early after all, but they’re not playing up to their potential yet. I don’t say this because for statistical reasons, I say this because I watch the games. Their effort could be better, and I expect that to improve.
What Cherry is out to lunch on was using the blocked shots stat as an indicator of a team’s desire to win. Blocked shots can depend on a whole host of factors. A team will have more blocked shots when they give up more shots against, are shorthanded a lot or play a tight defensive system that allows shots from the outside, but not many odd man rushes. It’s also a poor indicator when you consider that the Canucks were ranked 25th in blocked shots last season, and the Stanley Cup champion Bruins were ranked 15th. The New York Islanders led the league in blocked shots last season, and the Maple Leafs were second. Both of those teams missed the playoffs.
And what about Cherry’s assertion that the Canucks are whiners, and that’s one of the reason that everyone hates Vancouver? I’m not sure that the Canucks have a lot more whiners on their team than other teams in the league (Chris Pronger whines all the time, but never gets called a whiner), but that’s definitely the perception. To borrow a phrase from David Pratt, in this case, ‘perception is reality’. It doesn’t matter if the Canucks do a lot of whining, if that’s the perception, it won’t help their case with the referees.
The Canucks have a reputation as being whiners and divers and that needs to stop. Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Maxim Lapierre don’t and won’t get the benefit of the doubt on borderline calls. It’s part of the reason they didn’t get calls in the Stanley Cup final. It’s also the same thing that happened to former Canucks Todd Bertuzzi and Jarkko Ruutu. Bertuzzi was perceived as a whiner (probably because he complained about EVERY penalty and offside call against him) and Ruutu was perceived as a diver. I don’t think the current Canucks are as bad as those two, but the perception is as such.
What the Canucks need to do is be squeaky clean in the area of diving and complaining to the refs. Cut out every bit of nonsense, because any shred of diving or whining will get magnified. If the Canucks can shred that reputation, it’ll help them win games come playoff time.