Jan 112011

(Contributions from J.J. Guerrero and Katie Maximick.)

Now that the Canucks have reached the official halfway point of the 2010/2011 season, we take a look back and give the players their midseason marks.

Manny Malhotra and Jannik Hansen, Vancouver Canucks

Photo credit: canucks.nhl.com

Manny Malhotra: Malhotra has fewer points than Raffi Torres, which is odd for a lot of people. But he’s the king of the faceoff circle, ranked second in the NHL at 63.4%. With 17 points, he’s on pace to match last season’s 33-point output in San Jose. So has he exceeded expectations? Not really, but he hasn’t exactly underperformed either.

Grade: B

Raffi Torres: Torres started the season red-hot with 5 goals in 3 games at the beginning of November, but the fiery left wing has cooled off with only 9 points since the end of November. However, he’s still third on the team for goals at 11 and has 8 assists. For a one year, $1 million contract, have the Canucks got what they paid for? I say yes – he has 19 points, throws hard hits and freight-trains his way to the net. I think Vancouver fans have been pleasantly surprised by their Baby Beluga.

Grade: C+

Mikael Samuelsson: Mikael “go eff yourself” Samuelsson is perhaps receiving the most flack of any player on the roster right now. He has the lowest shot percentage of all the Canucks forwards at 7.1%, even lower than Kevin Bieksa. Is it bad luck or are they bad shots? His point production isn’t horrible, with 8 goals and 16 assists, but he is currently pointless in his last 7 games. So, does the media have reason to pick on Samuelsson? Hard to say. Maybe he just needs someone to hurt his feelings and he’ll start putting up points again.

Grade: C+

Alex Bolduc: Bolduc’s been good at times and unnoticeable at others. Against the Sharks last Monday, he won 4 of 6 faceoffs; he followed that up by losing all 8 of his draws against the Flames last Wednesday. The revolving door on the team’s fourth line center position is due in large part to his inconsistency.

Grade: C-

Tanner Glass: No less than 11 Canucks have played on the fourth line all season; of those 11, Tanner Glass has been the most consistent. Coach AV trusts him enough to play a regular shift on even-strength and on the penalty-kill. Halfway through the season, he’s only 1 goal, 2 assists and 3 points short of his career-highs in those categories.

Grade: C

Jannik Hansen: His stat line (41 GP, 5 G – 8 A – 13 P) doesn’t reflect it, but Hansen’s play has improved from previous seasons. He’s a fast skater, excellent forechecker and versatile winger who’s proven through the first half of the season to be able to move up and down the lineup with relative ease.

Grade: B-

Aaron Volpatti: Volpatti was called up a month ago and quickly made his mark. He scored his first goal in his second game and got into his first fights a week after that. For what it’s worth, he’s better suited for the fourth line than Jonas Andersson and the since-departed Peter Schaefer, and has played better than the likes of Joel Perrault, Guillaume Desbiens and Mario Bliznak.

Grade: C-

Jan 092011

[Every Sunday, Caylie King looks at the Canucks week that was and the Canucks week ahead. You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@cayking).]

Canucks Record

41 GP, 27-8-6, 60 points (1st in Northwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Ryan Kesler potted his second career hat-trick in a dominating 6-1 victory over the Oilers this past week. Kesler could be featured every week for his outstanding play this year. He has matured into one of the best all-round players in the NHL and is on pace to put up career numbers. He has 14 points in his last 10 games and has been outstanding in the faceoff circle.

Who’s Not

After a career season, last year, Samuelsson has been struggling to get into his groove this season. He has been very tentative and we haven’t seen very many of those high quality scoring chances. He has 0 points in his last 7 games and is a -1. Like most players, if Sammy gets his confidence back we could see signs of the Sammy we know and love.

Who’s Next

The Canucks play the first 4 games of a 5-game road trip this week. The first three games are against Eastern Conference foes; the Canucks have a 7-2-2 record this season against Eastern Conference teams.

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 vs. New York Islanders (4:00 PM start, road)

The Canucks land in New York to face the Isles who are playing quality hockey, as of late. The Isles are 14th in the East but have a 7-2-1 record in their last 10 games and completed their latest Western Conference road trip with a 3-1 record. John Tavares has 7 points (4-3) in his last 4 games and leads the team with 28 points; he also has a -16 rating, the second-worst on the team. In fact, the Isles’ top-5 scorers have a combined plus/minus rating of -49.

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 vs. New York Rangers (4:00 PM start, road)

On Thursday, the Canucks have a date with the Rangers at world-renowned Madison Square Garden. The Rangers are right in the middle of the playoff race and are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. They are currently riding a 3-game win streak. Brandon Dubinsky leads the team with 36 points (16 G – 20 A) and plays more minutes than any other Rangers forward.

Friday, January 14th, 2011 vs. Washington Capitals (4:00 PM start, road)

After losing 8 straight games in December, the Capitals have been on a roll lately, gaining points in 9 of their last 10 games (6-1-3). Although Alexander Ovechkin has not played spectacular this season, he’s started to heat up and has 5 points in his last 5 games. OV8 is always a threat with his killer snap shot and his bruising hits. The Caps are ranked third on the penalty-kill, which should be a good test for the top-ranked Canucks powerplay.

Sunday, January 16th, 2011 vs. Minnesota Wild (3:00 PM start, road)

It’s a battle between Northwest Division foes. The Canucks and the Wild split their 2 previous meetings this year. The Wild are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and are currently on a 4-game winning streak (though they’re trailing the Dallas Stars as we speak). They went into Pittsburgh last night and pounded the Crosby-less Penguins by a 4-0 score. Martin Havlat has 7 points in his last 6 games and leads the team in scoring with 38 points (10 G – 28 A).

Positive Trend: Goaltending

Roberto Luongo has been playing some of his most consistent hockey while staying fresh and focused. Some may say that it is because he has a stronger team in front of him but the competition between him and back up goalie, Cory Schneider, makes watching every game exciting. Both Luo and Schneids boast an impressive 8-0-2 record in their last 10 games played.

Jan 032011

[I Watched This Game is a recurring feature at Pass it to Bulis, the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. It chronicles the insights and observations of two guys who watched a hockey game. To view all the other wonderful stuff PITB does, visit Pass It To Bulis.]

With a gritty, hard-fought win against the Avalanche, the Canucks have won 5 straight, haven’t lost in regulation in 12 games, and have the best goal differential in the NHL. And, oh yeah, they’re first place in the entire NHL right now. Now, there are plenty of spoilsports out there who will complain that being first place in January is meaningless, or that no one cares about the President’s Trophy, just the Stanley Cup. To them I say, “Boo! Boo! Boo!” I, for one, am a Canucks fan and I will take pleasure in the Canucks doing well, whether you like it or not. I take pleasure in watching the Canucks win, and I watched this game:

  • Alexandre Bolduc got his first NHL goal (above), added a particularly savvy assist, and finished a game-high +2, but let’s not lose perspective. He still played only 5:52 in the game and didn’t see a single shift after Paul Stastny narrowed the lead to one. That said, he made the most out of his limited time tonight. His heads up play on the odd bounce that led to Mason Raymond’s goal was very nifty. I suspect he got a brief lecture on knowing where his teammates are on the ice after confessing in a 1st intermission interview that he had no idea where Glass was on the 2-on-1 that led to his goal.
  • The scorekeeper for tonight’s game was apparently feeling generous, as somehow Kevin Bieksa received an assist on Mason Raymond’s goal despite about 5 different players, including a couple from the Avalanche, touching the puck between his last touch and the goal. Unless Bieksa’s giant forehead gives him telekinetic powers, there’s no way he should get an assist, although that would explain the bizarre bounce that puck took off the seamless glass.
  • Unsurprisingly, Mason Raymond got the most ice-time for the fourth line as he saw some penalty killing duty and briefly skated 4-on-4 with Jeff Tambellini. He still played under 10 minutes in his return to the lineup, but it seemed clear that his hand wasn’t impairing his shot, as he fired 3 on net including the snipe from the slot for the gamewinning goal. Welcome back, Raymond, we missed you.
  • While the fourth line did all the scoring, Roberto Luongo did all the saving. He was fantastic in net, making 31 and a half saves. He battled hard through traffic to make saves and didn’t give up many rebounds, unless he clearly meant to, like when he sprung Glass and Bolduc with a great kick-save pass. Seriously, he got credited with an assist on that one. I honestly was not aware that they gave assists for giving up a rebound. That’s like saying the wall in Shaolin Soccer was passing the ball to Mighty Steel Leg Sing.
  • Ehrhoff and Edler were solid as a tandem. The duo played the most minutes for the Canucks and made nice plays at both ends of the rink. Ehrhoff was connecting well with his passes, had 3 shots on net, and was smart with his stickwork in the defensive end, getting credit for 2 takeaways. Edler was the more physical of the two and was credited with 3 hits, including this destruction of T.J. Galiardi. If that video doesn’t work, try this one, it’s a bit of a better angle.
  • In a show of solidarity for the Make it Seven campaign, the Avalanche played the dying moments of the game with 7 skaters on the ice. J.J. Guerrero from Canucks Hockey Blog has the picture to prove it. The refs were getting a fair amount of criticism from Canucks fans during this game and that gaffe won’t help their case.
  • For my part, I think it’s just nice to see the Canucks winning in spite of the difference in powerplay time. The Canucks penalty kill was perfect at 5-for-5 and didn’t even give up a single shot on net for the latter 3 powerplays. Lost in the hubbub of their record and powerplay has been the steady work of the penalty kill which jumped up to third in the league with their performance tonight. They are far better at being shorthanded than Dr. Curt Connors.
  • Despite not recording any points, the top three lines did not play particularly poorly. The Sedins had several shifts where they penned the Avalanche in with strong possession and the second line shifted the momentum several times with their speed. It was a solid shift by the third line that led to the possession on which Mason Raymond scored his goal. Part of the problem was all the penalties that prevented them from icing their normal lines for large chunks of the game. It’s incredibly encouraging, however, to see the team pick up a win without any points from their top offensive contributors: balanced scoring is the key to playoff success.
  • Part of the reason the normal offensive contributors didn’t show up on the scoresheet tonight was faceoffs. Manny Malhotra was the only centre above 50% and even he had a relatively pedestrian 53%. It’s troubling because the Avalanche are a sub-50% team on faceoffs. On the plus side, they were 5-for-8 shorthanded, which aided their killing abilities like a golden gun.
  • During the broadcast, Shorty promoted an interview with Alison Sweeney, host of The Biggest Loser, on Breakfast Television. Garrett: Alison Sweeney is on “Days of Our Lives.” Do you watch that? Shorty: No.
  • Mikael Samuelsson apparently had 5 shots on goal. Did you even notice him tonight? Because I didn’t. Torres, on the other hand, was very noticeable, unfortunately for the wrong reasons. He took two very dumb penalties. You can criticize the officiating if you want, but the 4 minute difference in powerplay time can easily be pinned on Torres.

And on that critical note, congratulations to the Canucks for moving to the top of the NHL. Continue being awesome, boys.

Dec 312010

Daniel and Henrik Sedin are fourth and fifth in league scoring, and Ryan Kesler is on pace for a 40-goal, Selke Trophy season. But superstars alone don’t win Stanley Cups. Champions need depth, and especially a dominant third line.

Consider the five Stanley Cup winners since the lockout, and their third lines.

Chicago: Dave Bolland, Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg
Pittsburgh: Jordan Staal, Tyler Kennedy and Matt Cooke
Detroit: Kris Draper, Dan Cleary and Dallas Drake
Anaheim: Travis Moen, Rob Niedermayer and Samuel Pahlsson
Carolina: Doug Weight, Mark Recchi and Ray Whitney

All five teams had hard-working third lines that could shut down the opposition and pop in clutch goals — pretty much everything Wellwood, Demitra and Bernier failed to do last spring.

Let’s pause for a moment’s gratitude those three are gone, and then meditate on their replacements.

Alain Vigneaut’s current incarnation of that third line has Malhotra between Torres and Samuelsson. Are they good enough?

Manny Malhotra

Manny Malhotra is a quietly effective two-way player, and the league’s second-best faceoff man at 63.5%. That skill is even more important in the playoffs, where winning a defensive-zone faceoff with 30 seconds line can mean the difference between pulling out a win or heading to the golf course.

And Manny has some offensive flair as well. Remember that shorthanded breakaway goal against Detroit?

Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres has been fondly described as a bowling ball, scattering defenders as he works the boards. Torres was named the NHL’s first star of the week on November 8 after five goals in four games. Since then, he’s fallen into a slump, and his -2 is the worst plus/minus of any Canucks who’s played over 25 games.

Mikael Samuelsson

Mikael Samuelsson may be this season’s greatest disappointment. After a 30-goal performance, he was a monster against the LA Kings, sniping 7 goals in the first round.

Despite starting the season with the twins, he was unable to capitalize and sunk to the second, and then the third line. (He may be the team’s fourth-leading scorer, but only because Burrows, Raymond and Tambellini have played fewer games.)

Even worse, Samuelsson’s been prone to making brutal giveaways, like this one leading to Daniel Briere’s goal on Tuesday.

Then again, Samuelsson has the greatest upside of the third line members. If he ever finds his shot (and his brain) again, he has the ability to take over a game and even a series.

Is the third line good enough? It can be. It all depends on two streaky players coming into their own at the opportune moment.

Let’s hope Torres and Samuelsson are banking the magic for springtime.

Dec 232010

[I Watched This Game is a recurring feature at Pass it to Bulis, the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. It chronicles the insights and observations of two guys who watched a hockey game. To view all the other wonderful stuff PITB does, visit Pass It To Bulis.]

The Canucks and Red Wings have met twice this season, and both games have been among the most entertaining of the year. We at PITB often talk about the way Canucks fans view their team’s games through a vaccuum; we disregard the play of the other team and blame everything, positive and negative, on Vancouver. But that’s impossible to do when the Canucks play the Red Wings because it’s so unmistakably clear you’re watching an elite team. No hockey club in the NHL moves the puck like the Red Wings and few forecheck like they do. Each moment a red jersey isn’t within two feet of the puck, it’s a minor miracle. When they play the way they did last night, frankly, it’s a wonder they ever lose.

That said, the Canucks had a chance to take this one. They led by a goal going into the third period, but unfortunately, a couple bad goals by Roberto Luongo took victory from their hands. It was frustrating. I watched this game:

  • Roberto Luongo is being ripped apart by the fans and media, especially by his diehard haters, but let’s try to remember something else: Detroit had 45 shots. Luongo was actually excellent most of the game; unfortunately, Henrik Zetterberg beat him on two goals that looked like should never have gone in. And, when one was the game-tying goal and the other the game-winner, it’s probably fair to pile on the flack (even if the second doesn’t happen if Ehrhoff just gets the freaking puck out). Still, realize that the Red Wings’ shots were typically of a higher quality than Vancouver’s (including the game-winner, which was, contrary to popular opinion, a laser), and Luongo should be credited for keeping his team in it. So, while Luongo’s gaffes cost us the two points, his overall play earned us one.
  • The Canucks’ power play broke out of its slump in a big way, going 2-for-3 and drastically changing momentum each time it hit the ice. For the first two periods, the Red Wings were controlling the run of the play the majority of the time, but when they took a penalty, Vancouver made them pay, got back into the game, and slowed their dominance for a stretch. The puck movement on the power play was brilliant, as was the down low-work by Ryan Kesler, who got two power play assists on nearly identical plays. Kesler also had a game-high 6 hits to go with his 3 assists.
  • Jeff Tambellini’s goal came on a seeing-eye wrist shot (above) that, upon review, defies physical laws. What a laser. Tamby had a game-high six shots to go with three hits and two blocked shots, and his defensive prowess continues to impress. He’s become a very complete player in a very short period of time. Not since we discovered my younger brother’s prodigous Ikea-building ability have I seen someone put it all together so quickly.
  • I thought Brian Rafalski, Todd Bertuzzi, and Dan Cleary were phenomenal. Unfortunately, they play for the Red Wings.
  • In the faceoff circle, Kesler and Malhotra continued their dominance, with 14-for-21 and 12-for-20 showings, respectively. Henrik Sedin had a rough night, however, going 8-for-21, including a brutal 3-for-10 in the offensive zone. Personally, I thought the Sedins only had an iffy game, and I’ll tell you that a couple more offensive zone possessions wouldn’t have hurt. Alex Burrows was lifted from their line from Mikael Samuelsson for a handful of shifts in the third period, but he wasn’t the problem; it was that the line was consistently starting without the puck on offensive zone starts.
  • Pavel Datsyuk was looking dangerous in this game until he broke his hand.
  • It was nice to see Mikael Samuelsson score, if for no other reason that it will remind fans that he can. His seventh goal of the season was a big-time go-ahead goal on one of his patented wrist shots while Raffi Torres streaked to the net as a screen. While it broke a 9-game goalless drought, Samuelsson’s stats haven’t actually been too bad this season. He’s fourth on the team in scoring with 22 points. I keep hearing about Sammy’s disappointing season, but the numbers indicate something else. And numbers don’t lie.
  • Sometimes, when Samuelsson plays against the Red Wings, you can see how he used to be a part of this remarkable puck moving machine. Like Seven of Nine in Star Trek: Voyager, he retains many traits of the Borg.
  • As frustrated as you are, keep in mind that the Canucks really elevated their level of play to stay in this game. Detroit allows an average of 29 shots per game, and the Canucks put 39 on Jimmy Howard. That’s a lot of shots. Add that to the Red Wings’ 45 shots and both goaltenders must have known exactly how Sonny Corleone felt in the Godfather.
  • I’m wondering if Aaron Volpatti’s quiet play is the result of the game being too fast for him. He’s supposedly a big hitter, but we haven’t seen it, and while I’m fairly certain the Canucks have asked him to pick his spots, you think he’d have picked one by now.
  • And finally, Dan Hamhuis was the big minute guy tonight, finishing with a game-high 25:23. I thought he played a fabulous game, keeping forwards to the outside, moving the puck out of the zone quickly, and making big hits along the boards. Clearly, Vigneault thought similarly, as Hammy had a whole three minutes more ice time than Alex Edler. The guy who really saw his minutes reduced, however, was Keith Ballard. He’s been knocked back down to 14 and a half minutes.
Dec 062010

To add injury to insult, it turns out that Mikael Samuelsson suffered a “mild” concussion in the Canucks’ 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

In typical Canucks fashion, this happened just as Samuelsson added some scoring punch to the bottom-six and the team started rolling out – and getting contributions – from all four lines.

Let’s cross our fingers and hope that this injury isn’t serious. (Or at least not Willie Mitchell-serious.)

Assuming Mason Raymond is over the flu, Jannik Hansen will more than likely return to the bottom-six and take Samuelsson’s place on the third line.

Or if I may stir things up a bit, what about returning Hansen to the fourth line and giving Cody Hodgson a look on the third line?

Dec 042010

This is Luongo’s BEAUTIFUL poetry that appeared on TSN in the intermission of last night’s game.

He then shutout the Hawks in a mesmerizing performance.

It brings a tear. Maybe he should write a whole book of poetry right before the playoffs. Maybe that’s what has been missing in the Canucks dressing room the past couple of seasons.

The guys should have a poetry night before they hit the ice.

Sami Salo: “Yearning for a titanium body”

Alex Burrows: “1 Sedin 2 Sedin 3 Sedin GOAL!”

Mikael Samuelsson: “G is for goalie F is for forward Y is for yonder Sweden”

Raffi Torres: “I Really Hate That Baby Beluga Song”

Hank Sedin: “Shall I compare you to a shiny trophy?”

Ryan Kesler: “Underwear model to Selke Trophy winner”

Nov 112010

Great piece by Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun) on the Canucks’ decision to cancel practice and attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial instead.

Believing there are things more important than hockey – yes, even Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens – Canuck general manager Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault have cancelled the usual morning skate in Ottawa and instead will walk with staff and players to the War Memorial to observe Remembrance Day.

For once, these National Hockey League millionaires have no special privileges. They’ll merely gather in the hotel lobby, and walk solemnly with their poppies and thoughts to the cenotaph, joining the crowd of thousands who gather annually at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

They’ll watch and listen, see wreaths laid near the tomb of the unknown soldier, see the faces of war’s survivors and ponder the millions of lives sacrificed for freedom.

Perspective, Gillis believes, is a powerful thing.

“When you participate in the NHL, it’s easy to lose sight of other things that are very important,” he explained Wednesday. “It’s good for everyone to have some perspective about life. If these guys can go and see the emotions and the interaction of veterans, it will be a healthy and lasting memory.”

More here.

[update: 11/11/2010, 12:20 PM]

From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province), Canucks players share their memories of loved ones who served.

Sami Salo lost one grandfather to conflict in the First World War and another in the Second World War. Growing up, he was too young to understand what they endured, but a mandatory one-year stint in the Finnish army gave the Canucks defenceman needed perspective. That’s why he was excited to experience the national ceremony in Ottawa, where he previously played but never saw the event live. And going through basic training helped Salo understand what his grandfathers sacrificed.

Christian Ehrhoff had a grandfather who served in the German air force in the Second World War. He was captured on the Russian front and the Canucks defenceman was thinking of him Thursday.

More here.

Oct 192010

Funny how one game can change the mood among Canucks fans.

After Friday night’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings, you can almost feel the panic rippling through Canucks Nation. You can almost sense it from the team too when they juggled their line combinations. With various players stuck on 0 goals, coach Alain Vigneault lined Mason Raymond up next to the Sedins, promoted Jeff Tambellini to the second line, and demoted Mikael Samuelsson from the first line to the third line.

It worked.

Sunday’s 5-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes was huge on a number of levels. As a team, the Canucks exercised their scoring demons and nearly matched their goals total from the first 4 games combined. Individually, Raymond, Kesler, Samuelsson all broke their goal-less droughts. Andrew Alberts scored too but I’m saving that story for another post.

It’s only one game but it was exactly the kind of game the doctor ordered. (Granted, they did this against a team currently in the middle of a road trip from hell, but given the Canucks’ own yearly travel schedule, it’s hard to feel sympathy for any other team logging a lot of air miles.)

It’s only one game, but it at least stopped Canucks fans from jumping on the Leafs bandwagon.

Let’s hope they can keep it up against a flu-ravaged Minnesota Wild team tonight.

Some pregame reading:

Oct 072010

[As we approach the start of the NHL regular season, members of the Canucks blogosphere give their two cents about your Vancouver Canucks and address the issues, questions and expectations of the team in their 40th year anniversary.]

Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Shortly after the Vancouver Canucks were eliminated from the second round of last year’s playoffs, Mike Gillis said:

“Experience is a major factor,” he said. “We have very few guys that have gone far into the playoffs.

“You need experienced players who have been there, who don’t deviate from the game plan when the pressure is on, and who continue to be patient and play.”

This summer, Gillis retooled the Canucks’ roster. He upgraded the bottom-six and rebuilt the defense. But did he add the leadership and experience he wanted to?

J.J.: Of the four key additions to the Canucks’ roster, only two have gone deep into the playoffs: Manny Malhotra went to the Conference Finals with the San Jose Sharks last season, and Raffi Torres went to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. The two key additions on defense, Dan Hamhuis and Keith Ballard don’t have significant playoff experience; Hamhuis has never played past the first round, while Ballard has yet to suit up in the postseason.

That said, most of the core has been together for a few years now and they’ve made the second round of the playoffs three of the last four seasons. Lack of leadership and playoff experience should no longer be an issue with this team. As a group, they’ve played enough playoff games now; I just hope that they’ve been able to learn from their losses.

Chris: Has MG brought in veteran leadership? Not sure. Ballard is a decent addition on the blueline, but that’s tempered by the loss of Mitchell. Hamhuis is definitely no rookie, but even in his five seasons in the NHL he still lacks the experience the wily vets usually have (let alone the playoff experience). You can add Malhotra and Torres to the conversation, but I’m not sold that Torres has figured out his own game well enough to provide leadership. All in all, we haven’t really seen much of a net increase.

Katie: With Malhotra I think he did a good job in terms of adding veteran leadership and playoff experience. In fact, I wouldn’t complain if Manny was given an ‘A’ to start the season. Torres also has some playoff experience with the Oilers.

Richard: Mike Gillis didn’t bring in a lot of playoff experience, but I think the team and its core already have enough collective experience. Samuelsson is the only one that has won a Stanley Cup, and I thought he did a good job of providing leadership in last year’s playoffs. Manny Malhotra is a great addition – he’ll mentor the prospects and assist the veterans.

Cam from Canucks Army: Uh, not exactly. There are a grand total of TWO Stanley Cup rings in the dressing room so that speaks for itself. However, the addition of Malhotra does add more veteran leadership. That said, I think both of those things are a bit overrated. Kesler, Henrik, Daniel, Luongo and Hamhuis have plenty of leadership so adding shouldnt have been a huge priority. As for playoff experience, the group in the room already knows what it takes to win in the playoffs. They have to battle their own demons of previous playoff failures and overcome them. To me that would be as strong a motivator as you could possibly have.

Mike from Nucks Misconduct: He did add a couple pieces, but I don’t think it is truly going to matter. Samuelsson is still the standard bearer in terms of playoff experience; the new guys don’t eclipse his 81 playoff appearances and 50 playoff points. Malhotra has two goals in 24 games, Hamhuis has nine points in 28 games, Torres has 15 points in 30 games and Ballard (thanks to being trapped in Florida) has none.

But I do think these guys bring qualities to the team that weren’t there before. Malhotra has been lauded for his strong work ethic from Columbus and San Jose, so hopefully that catches on with others and the same can be said of Torres (in Columbus not to mention his Cup run with Edmonton in 2006). Nashville runs a tight ship and hopefully Hamhuis will infuse part of that system into the backend.

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