3 Problems Canucks Must Solve To Be A Winning Team

Vancouver Canucks’ recent changes have brought them a small wave of success. The team won four games in a row for the first time this season under the new coach Bruce Boudreau. However, is the coach the only reason the team is driving the recent wave of success?

He is certainly a welcome factor when it comes to letting his players “stretch their legs a bit”, so to speak. Boudreau encouraged his players to show off their full skill sets with new playstyles and lane combos. While that’s great, we believe this honeymoon could be coming to an end soon as Canuck’s opponents revisit the videos of these last four matches and adjust their own playbooks accordingly.

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We also believe that, without some significant changes soon, this team could fall back into the drunkenness that returned to their signature lack of success in the season before Boudreau arrived.

If the Canucks become the winning team again, the road ahead is long and the task is difficult, but we believe it can be done. In this post, we’ll share what we believe are three issues the Canucks must address quickly if the team is to really turn this season around. [I want to thank Greg Miller for working with me on this post and sharing his more-extensive knowledge of how hockey is played at the ice level than my own.]

Problem #1: Hunters are chasing Puck instead of catching the man

For all their nimbleness and endurance, the Canucks aren’t too big of a team; Nor do they always play big. They rarely complete the test, which is especially true of the recent Winnipeg Jets. Furthermore, they don’t seem to have a few tough players who make their opponents wince or hesitate before cornering, other than Tyler Meyers perhaps.

Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / Hockey writers)

In their recent match against the Jets, although the Canucks won the game, Winnipeg dominated them in terms of physicality and speed. As a result, Canucks was caught multiple times looking at or chasing the cargo man instead of catching the man carrying the man. For example, almost every time Kyle Connors is having a good time, he can scribble over some of the Canucks skaters because he keeps them hooked.

Watching the Canucks match on television, fans can easily see that this team relies more on blocking the opponent’s way than on physicality. Potential checks are rarely completed.

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We understand. It seems like a no-brainer to complete a check; However, when a player commits to checking an opponent playing puck, several questions immediately arise in his mind. Specifically, many things can go WRONG if they complete a check!

For example: “If I commit, can I complete this check? If so, will I be able to find my designated opponent and still be fit for the game? Once I commit to finishing my check, will my teammates be able to cover me and stop the other team’s players while I return to play? “There are many things to consider in that split second when deciding whether to hand over the body of a person who has completed the examination.

Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks
Elias Pettersson, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / Hockey writers)

Watching the Canucks play, their current mindset seems to be programmed to anticipate the worst. As a result, the test remains incomplete. In games against Winnipeg and Boston, a Canucks player just hit a pass that, more often than not, was still leveled. Those checks are often explicitly punished.

That raises a concern: by not completing the tests, could the Canucks show a lack of confidence in their teammates’ ability to cover them? Really, no player wants to be blamed for a weird slam dunk or score later by taking himself out of the game – even at the end of the body check. However, neither the Boston nor Winnipeg players showed any hesitation in doing the same.

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The Bruins and Jets players force the Canucks to pay every time they touch the ball; which Boudreau is pushing with his new team. In fact, the Bruins’ and Jets players showed clear belief in their teammates’ ability to handle subsequent situations without them in the immediate game. At the same time, they expressed confidence in their ability to return to their own game.

NHL hockey is a game of confidence in your own abilities and the abilities of your teammates. Losing so much in the past has clearly planted doubts in the minds of the Canucks players.

Boudreau has done some work in this area. In fact, in the team’s most recent game against the Carolina Hurricanes, we saw many Canucks checks completed. It’s a good sign that the team’s confidence is on the right track.

Second problem: Canucks play reactive and not proactive

In their most recent game against the Hurricanes, the Canucks seemed to react to play rather than dictate. Not that the team didn’t react well and largely failed to stop the Hurricanes from scoring; However, in front of our eyes, the team still reacted too quickly to the speed and style of the opponent’s play. They don’t push the other teams hard enough to knock them out of their game plan and dictate to their team.

This trend is most evident towards the end of the period, when the Canucks seem to play mostly short-handed, even when they are not playing. They huddled into a defensive shell, seemingly waiting for the clock to run out and hoping they didn’t score before time ran out. Repeat Thatcher Demko is checked as the moment elapses.

Thatcher Demko, Vancouver Canucks
Thatcher Demko’s Mask, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / Hockey writers)

It was not what their head coach expected nor wanted. As Boudreau noted, the game is about pressure. He has a clue how “the ice should tilt”, and that doesn’t point to his goalkeeper Demko.

As Boudreau was recently quoted, “In summary, my philosophy is why do we let teams into our zone and let them blame where we have to play great defense to get through? “

Boudreau added, “Why can’t we stop them in their area? And if we don’t get them there, then the neutral zone, and in the third case, in our zone. ” (from “Boudreau, Canucks new bench boss, pushes pressure on passive containment”, Ben Kuzma, Conscious, 08/12/21).

Undoubtedly, increased confidence will encourage more initiative. As we noted, we found that to be a bit more resistant to Storms than Bruins or Jets. We believe that aspect can grow.

The third issue: The Canucks have yet to find their identities

Perhaps the team’s biggest problem is deciding exactly what kind of team they’re going to be and be. For now, the team seems to choose cute over tough. They go ahead instead of looking for direct scoring opportunities. They are liberating instead of pushing.

Elias Pettersson
Vancouver Canucks Elias Pettersson (CANADIAN PRESS / Jonathan Hayward)

While a free Canucks strike was fun to watch, their passing too much seemed to put them in situations where they missed scoring opportunities and left them vulnerable. That, in our view, also needs to change.

Canucks either need to be bigger or play bigger. For the Jets, for example, the Canucks’ shortfall in size is evident. For such a tenacious team, they seem to be going downhill. Sometimes against the Jets, the team looks like the Hobbit against the Orcs.

The Canucks needed to find some bigger, tougher body that could knock anyone thinking of touching Elias Pettersson, Nils Hoglander or Quinn Hughes.

Thank Thatcher Demko

Fortunately for Canucks, they have Demko. He wins games for them alone. However, Canucks fans can even begin to imagine what could happen to this team if they could start playing confidently and swagger in front of their goalkeeper?

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It’s the Canucks team that fans have been waiting for.

https://thehockeywriters.com/problems-canucks-must-solve-winning-team/ 3 Problems Canucks Must Solve To Be A Winning Team

Subhankar Mondal

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