Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Catching Up on Things

First, apologies for the lack of updates lately, let's see if I can catch up on things...

Mike Gillis' First Mistake

Today the Canucks lost Matt Pettinger on waivers to the Lightning. Pettinger was re-called along with Kyle Wellwood (who cleared re-entry waivers) to replace some injured players (more on that in a minute). You'll recall that Pettinger was sent down at the end of the pre-season in order to keep Mike Brown who was originally on his way to Manitoba when the Canucks had a change of heart over fears of losing him on waivers. On October 6, I had this to say...

I'm very interested to see how Gillis manages this situation. Trading someone away in order to keep someone who was essentially cut isn't a great message to send to your team... I'm also really not sure how keeping Brown makes the Canucks a better team. Can you really keep him around just because you don't want to lose him as an asset? It's a strange situation and it will be interesting to see how it all works out.

Well, it has been worked out and the end result is that the Canucks have lost a useful asset (Pettinger) for nothing, at the expense of keeping a player with dubious potential (Brown). Now don't get me wrong, Pettinger is not a key piece to the puzzle, however he was a useful player... he could skate, kill penalties, possessed solid size & grit, and had the skill to play in the top-6 on a short term basis (something Mike Brown cannot do).

There are also other ramifications to the "Mike Brown saga". The Canucks have very few forwards who can be re-called without being subject to re-entry waivers, Jason Krog and Michael Grabner being exempt. Interestingly Michel Ouellet, who was acquired from Tampa, is probably someone who they would like to bring up but would likely lose. The question has to be asked... did Gillis explore the possibility of including Pettinger in the deal instead of now being on the hook for half his salary?

With all that said, this situation isn't going to have huge ramifications to the outcome of the season, but it is a mistake by a rookie GM... let's hope he has learned from it.

The Road Trip So Far

The Canucks embarked on a tough 6 game road trip to start the season and find themselves with the possibility of coming home with a .500 road trip, which you would have to consider a success. The team has looked great in their two wins, terrible in Washington, and not so great in Chicago and Buffalo.

Overall the team has looked pretty solid, but special teams and discipline have been the major problems. The power-play has been absolutely terrible (a dismal 6.9%) and the penalty kill hasn't been good enough statistically (75%), which could be the just be the result of a little bad luck. The Canucks have also taken the 3rd most minor penalties (39) in the league. If the Canucks improve on those numbers they are looking pretty good. Now a few notes...

  • The Kesler line has been a huge success so far. Burrows and Kesler have started right where they left off last season and have shown that they are the engine of this team. Hansen has been a nice compliment to the line adding a touch of skill.
  • Taylor Pyatt is really struggling. Not only does he only have one assist in 6 games he also leads the team with 5 minor penalties.
  • Henrik Sedin needs to stop the hooking and holding penalties, especially in the offensive zone. You can live with a grab when you are trying to keep the puck out of your net, but not when you are are trying to score.
  • Shane O'Brian has been a mediocre addition so far, too many penalties and suspect mobility. He does however pass the puck pretty well.
  • We all heard that Ryan Johnson was a great shot blocker, but seeing it is another thing entirely. He is currently averaging two blocked shots a game!
  • Luongo is off to a slow start... eerily similar to his first season with the team... he was nominated for a Vezina that year.
  • The Canucks look to be a better team in the faceoff circle this year... only Ryan Johnson (44%) is struggling.

The Injury Situation

  • Darcy Hordichuk (knee)
  • Pavol Demitra (ribs)
  • Rick Rypien's (viral infection, sent home to Vancouver)
  • Sami Salo (groin, might be the closest to returning)

With 3 regular forwards out the Canucks should have Kyle Wellwood, Jason Krog and Mike Brown in the lineup tonight in Columbus. The Sedin and Kesler lines will have to lead the way if the Canucks hope to salvage the road trip.

Enjoy the game.

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