The Better Team Won and Other Thoughts
As we recover from the thrills and spills from the last 9 months, we’re going to slowly start dissecting the 2010/2011 Canucks and their long season and deep playoff run. For starters, here are some quick thoughts.
- Not to take anything away from what the Canucks did this season, but I think we’re all rational enough to admit that the Boston Bruins were the better team over the course of the 7 games of the Stanley Cup Finals.
- It’s easy for some people to look at the number of goals Roberto Luongo allowed in their 4 losses – that number is 17 – and pin the series loss on him. But the other side of it is, the Canucks scored 1 goal and were 0-for-12 on the powerplay while Luongo was in net in those games. In game 3, they had 2 PP chances while only down by 2 goals. Same thing in game 4. I’m not saying Luongo isn’t at fault here, but it’s not fair to let the rest of the team off the hook. Henrik knows that too.
- Tim Thomas was full value for his Conn Smythe trophy. Imagine if the Bruins had traded him after last season like they wanted to. To put that into even more context, he wasn’t even their starter when this season started. Tukka Rask started their first game before Thomas started the next 4 and allowed a grand total of only 3 goals.
- The Canucks today announced their injuries during the playoffs and it’s a pretty lengthy list: Henrik Sedin (back), Ryan Kesler (hip), Chris Higgins (foot), Alex Edler (two broken fingers), Christian Ehrhoff (shoulder), Kevin Bieksa (bruised MCL). And of course, Mikael Samuelsson (sports hernia), Dan Hamhuis (abdominal) and Mason Raymond (back) were all unable to play in game 7. To their credit, the Canucks refused to use these injuries as an excuse, but with the list including 5 of the top 9 forwards – including their top 2 players in Hank and Kes – and their 4 best defensemen, it’s hard not to think about what could have been if they were otherwise healthy.
- On the other side, the Bruins were a bit luckier with respect to injuries with the only notable one being announced so far is that of Nathan Horton’s, and obviously, Marc Savard, who wasn’t able to suit up in these playoffs at all.
- I’ll have more on this in a separate post, but I don’t feel the Canucks need to make many changes in the off-season to contend again next year. They’ll need to tinker with the defense, with Ehrhoff, Bieksa, Alberts and Salo all UFAs, and add another scorer in the top-six. Because the salary cap is expected to go up next year, the Canucks will have some cap space to play around with and keep most of this team intact. Where things get tricky is the lack of a bonus cushion because the CBA is supposed to expire after next season.
- How valuable was the experience gained by these guys playing in the Stanley Cup Finals? Not only by the veteran core, most of whom had never gotten past the second round before, but also by rookies Chris Tanev, Cody Hodgson, Cory Schneider and Victor Oreskovich.
- I don’t understand the constant need by one radio personality to bash the Canucks. Calling them a bunch of chokers for falling a mere one win short of hoisting the Stanley Cup is irrational. Attacking the Sedins, who finished 2nd and 3rd in playoff scoring (and that’s despite Henrik playing with a back injury all playoffs), Kesler, who finished 4th despite playing with a serious hip injury, and Luongo, who was receiving Conn Smythe consideration until the last 2 games of the Finals, is illogical. That this person is a member of the professional media – and I use the word “professional” loosely in this case – is disgusting; I’ve read more coherent and rational writing from my 18-month old daughter on her etch-a-sketch. But then again, I’d probably get all crazy and irrational too if my team has finished last in the NHL in the last 2 years and hasn’t played a single playoff game in the last 5 seasons.