GDHQNHL15_2pg-Vancouver Canucks 2

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Bieksa plays on a pairing with Alexander Edler, who is perhaps the best example of what ailed the Canucks last season. Edler struggled badly on both sides of the ice, particularly on defense, where he was lit up to the tune of a dismal -39 rating. If Edler doesn’t return to form quickly this season, the Canucks will have no choice but to look at other options. Overall, the Canucks have a strong group of defensemen although they are somewhat lacking on offense. It will help greatly if Edler returns to form, but even if he doesn’t, having a core of Bieksa, Hamhuis, and Tanev is enough for Vancouver to have an above-average defensive group. Goaltending It wasn’t long ago that fans debated whether the Canucks should keep Brian Schneider or Roberto Luongo. Now the team has neither of them. The Canucks originally kept Luongo because his contract was difficult to move, but last year found a way to move it, sending Luongo to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Shawn Matthias and goalie Jacob Markstrom. Luongo was an easy scapegoat for some of Vancouver’s postseason woes of the past, but he wasn’t the problem with this team. In his place, the Canucks played Eddie Lack, who filled in nicely, earning a 2.41 goals against average and .912 save percentage. Vancouver also brought in Ryan Miller, a goalie who finally escaped a terrible situation in Buffalo last year. Miller’s numbers on Buffalo (2.72 GAA, .923 save percentage) were pretty good considering how bad that team was, and it’s likely that he’ll be a solid starter in net for the Canucks. Power Play As the Canucks offense suffered in the 2013-14 season, so too did their power play, which ranked a dismal 26th in the NHL last season. Vancouver converted on just 15.2 percent of its power plays last year, a disappointing number that follows a weak power play from the previous season. Ryan Kesler was the only player on the team with more than five power play goals and he’s not on the team anymore. This is one area where not having strong scorers from the blue line hurts Vancouver. Defenses focus in on the Sedin twins, limiting them to just nine goals combined last year on the power play. Players like Edler and Jason Garrison simply were not able to punish opposing defenses enough. It’s likely that new arrivals like Radim Vrbata and Nick Bonino will help strengthen the power play, but until the Canucks find a good offensive defenseman, it’s hard to see their power play rising above average in the NHL. Penalty Kill With the best efforts on the Canucks last season coming from defensemen like Dan Hamhuis and Chris Tanev, along with goaltenders Roberto Luongo and Eddie Lack, it’s no surprise that penalty killing was a bright spot for this team last season. Vancouver ended up ranked 9th on the penalty kill in the NHL, a factor that helped keep Vancouver somewhat competitive for postseason contention despite their offensive woes. Vancouver also got key contributions from forwards like Ryan Kesler Ryan Miller and Brad Richardson. Richardson in particular is a player who is not a big factor in terms of scoring goals but is a scrappy forward who makes things difficult on opposing offenses. Credit also has to go to Kevin Bieksa, the steady veteran presence on the blue line. With a roster of strong defensemen and a series of good two-way forwards, the Canucks are in position to have a strong penalty killing unit again in the 2014-15 season. Prediction With a new coach and a handful of new players, the Canucks offense will improve dramatically. With a group of strong defensive defensemen and a veteran goalie in Ryan Miller, it should be enough to get Vancouver back into the playoffs, although they probably won’t go too far once they get there. Scoreboard 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH DNQ Conf QF Conf QF Cup Finals Conf SF REGULAR SEASON 36-35-11 26-15-7 51-22-9 54-19-9 49-28-5 POINT TOTAL 83 59 111 117 103 SHOOTOUT RECORD 5-7 5-6 8-7 4-5 4-4 GOALS SCORED 196 127 249 262 272 GOALS ALLOWED 223 121 198 185 222 POWER PLAY % 15.2 15.8 19.8 24.3 20.9 PENALTY KILL % 83.2 84.0 86.0 85.6 81.6 Derek Leung/Getty Images


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