Earlier this week we took a look at the Canucks goaltenders and defencemen, deciding who is likely to return and who is likely to move on. Today, we look at the Canucks’ forwards. Mike Gillis doesn’t have a lot of work to do with his forwards, but he does have options. His most important forwards are already under contract for next year, so it’ll be just a matter of tinkering with his depth forwards. Given the lack of production from his second line at even strength, he may want to find a better winger to play with Ryan Kesler.
Head coach Alain Vigneault tipped his hand on a few key adjustments at practice designed to improve the Canucks chances for a victory in game 3. Scoring two goals in 8 periods of hockey will do lend itself to that.
As the second round begins Thursday evening, here’s a few quick hits on what to watch for as the Canucks try to move on to the third round for the first time since 1994…
In advance of game 6 in Chicago, the Canucks must find some way to re-find their form, just as the Chicago Blackhawks did before game 4. Chicago was inspired by their fallen teammate, Brent Seabrook, and used it as a rallying point. Well then, Alain Vigneault, I have something for you. Check that, I have something for the bulletin board.
As the Canucks and Blackhawks head into game 4, I have come to the conclusion that the Canucks are just too talented, too deep and too healthy for the Chicago Blackhawks. The Hawks look tired. Patrick Sharp, Troy Brouwer and maybe even Jonathan Toews are playing hurt. On top of that, they’re playing without the injured Dave Bolland and Tomas Kopecky. The Canucks are without Manny Malhotra, but other than that, they’re as healthy as you could expect at this time of the year.
Unless you missed game 3 of the Blackhawks-Canucks series and are living under a rock, you already know that this Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook has been a hot topic in the last 24 hours:
There are a couple of ways to look at the Canucks 4-3 win over the Blackhawks on Friday night. On one hand, the Blackhawks finally found a way to get pucks past Roberto Luongo. Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg scored on Luongo, and they weren’t great goals. If the Blackhawks can get goals from their depth players on a regular basis, they will climb back in this series. Another way to look at it is that the Canucks were able to win game when they let the likes of Ben Smith and Viktor Stalberg score and get an average game from Roberto Luongo.
Yesterday the NHL announced that Raffi Torres would be suspended four games (two in the regular season and two in the playoffs) for this hit on Edmonton Oilers forward Jordan Eberle:
Sami Salo is back, well, almost. He’s been skating for a long time now, and has been practicing and traveling with the team for a couple of weeks also. So when is he set to return? The Canucks are keeping this somewhat secretive, but it looks to be soon. The reason is of course the salary cap. The Canucks are very close to the cap right now and will be over it when Salo returns. According to CapGeek, the Canucks would need to get rid of $1.8 million of annual salary if Salo returned today.
After weeks of rumours, Willie Mitchell finally ended the suspense on Wednesday, signing a two-year deal worth $3.5 million per season. According to most, including yours truly, he hit a home run. While still a very effective defenseman, I thought that he would have to give up a little bit more money and/or term given his age and concussion history. Quite simply, he was out of the Canucks price range. The Canucks are very deep on defense and already have an injury riddled d-man they’re holding their breathe on with Sami Salo.