GDHQNHL15_2pg-Vancouver Canucks 1

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Vancouver CANUCKS WESTERN CONFERENCE Offense The 2014-15 season was a worst-case scenario for the Canucks offense in a number of ways. The Sedin twins scored at their lowest rate in at least a decade. Alex Burrows spent much of the season injured or ineffective. Alexander Edler had a nightmare season with an ugly -39 rating. Only Ryan Kesler managed to score more than 20 goals and the team as a whole finished a dismal 28th in goals scored per game. With as much talent as the Canucks have, it was a bitterly disappointing performance. Much of the blame has to go to head coach John Tortorella, a fiery personality who seemed to have no sense for when being too fiery was too much. Tortorella is known for melting down in press conferences and even started a fight in the Calgary Flames locker room after the first period of a game. Meanwhile, former coach Alain Vigneault took the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver fired Tortorella despite four years remaining on his contract, and it’s hard to imagine the team won’t improve under new coach Willie Desjardins. There’s little doubt that much of Vancouver’s struggles stemmed from players being frustrated by Tortorella’s antics. Any time a team features the Sedin twins, Burrows, Kesler, and Edler, that team should be able to score some goals. It’s for that reason that I expect a turnaround in Vancouver this season. That includes a return to form for the Sedin brothers and a boost from acquisitions such as Radim Vrbata and Nick Bonino. It might not quite be enough to return the Canucks to the top of the Western Conference, but it should help bring Vancouver back to relevance at the very least. Defense Dan Hamhuis solidified his place as one of the top defensive defensemen in the Pacific Division with another strong performance last season despite the turmoil surrounding the Canucks. Hamhuis is the team’s go-to option in penalty killing situations and when the Canucks are backed up in their own zone. Hockey Prospectus rated Hamhuis a +8.9 on defense last year, the highest mark on the Canucks and second in the division to Marc-Edouard Vlasic. One bright spot for the Canucks was the development of young defenseman Chris Tanev, who also received a very good defensive rating from Hockey Prospectus (+7.0 in his case). Tanev also earned a +12 rating in 64 games, second to Hamhuis. Tanev and Hamhuis give the Canucks a strong pair of defensemen they can turn to in tough situations. Kevin Bieksa played his usual solid level of hockey as a plus defender with some contributions as a passer on the offensive end of the ice. PACIFIC DIVISION Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin Key Additions: Ryan Miller, Radim Vrbata, Nick Bonino, Derek Dorsett, Luca Sbisa Key Subtractions: Jason Garrison, Mike Santorelli, Ryan Kesler, Dale Weise, David Booth, Zac Dalpe Strengths: Goaltending, penalty killing Weaknesses: Scoring, power play, coaching Jeff Viccick/NHL/Getty Images


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