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Your Friends And Neighbors – ’17-’18 NHL Team Previews: Believe It Or Not, This Team Did Matter Not Too Long Ago

These days, I have to concentrate to remember when the Canucks and Hawks was the NHL’s fiercest rivalry. You may have forgotten as well. They were the four regular season games we looked forward to most. Their playoff series, as ugly and nasty as they got at times, were basically all the reasons we watch hockey. It had villains and drama and heroes and moments.

And yet the last time anyone talked about the Canucks without a tone of pity, amazement (the wrong kind), or scorn was five years ago. And it’s not going to change for a while either. Which breaks my fucking heart, let me tell you.

Vancouver Canucks

’16-’17 Record: 30-43-9  69 points (dead ass last in the Pacific)

Team Stats 5v5: 47.9 CF% (26th)  46.6 SF% (29th)  46.2 SCF% (28th)  7.0 SH% (22nd)  .924 SV% (15th)

Special Teams: 14.1 PP% (29th)  76.6 PK% (28th)

Goalies: Now that Ryan Miller has decamped to back up John Gibson and try and introduce him to My Bloody Valentine in Anaheim, the starting role falls to Jakob Markstrom, whom I basically want to call “Mr. Bergstrom” and I don’t know why. It’ll make the Canucks in any way interesting if I can picture him traipsing through the dressing room in a cowboy hat and whispering to Bo Horvat, “Two suggestions are Mr. Nerdstrom and Mr. Boogerstrom!” or “Actually the range was far from home and was a very desolate place.” I assume Horvat would maintain the same befuddled gape he shows on the ice. Anyway…

Markstrom has never been a starter in the league, and has never really been that good as a backup. But seeing as the how the Canucks are decidedly going nowhere, that’s probably for the best as they angle for a top-three pick.

He’s likely to be usurped at some point by Blackhawks legend Anders Nilsson anyway. Nilsson was excellent in spot duty in Buffalo last year, posting a .924 SV% overall and a .934 at evens. Maybe he’s already the starter. Whatever, who gives a shit?

Defense: Jesus god. Somehow, Alex Edler and his “when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, everyone’s going to jump for joy” style of throwing body checks is still here. He’s only 31 too, if you can believe it. Chris Tanev is on the second pairing, and that’s about it. Tanev would actually help a bunch of teams, and anybody that suffers a big defensive injury (so basically, the Penguins) should be calling on him or Edler (Edler has a another year on his deal after this one, and Tanev has two). The rest here is dog vomit. Troy Stecher, and I guess when Canucks fans squint they can see a useful player down the road. Erik Gudbranson and Michael Del Zotto, proven suckage, are going to be on the third pairing and assuredly getting torched there. Ben Hutton do anything for you? No? Didn’t think so.

Forwards: It is still hilarious that this team went and signed Loui Eriksson to ride shotgun with Shooty and Passy. One, he was old already, and the 24 points he managed last year show you that. Second, the Canucks had no need to spend this money, but they did anyway. And they sort of did it again by signing Sam Gagner to a three-year deal. He’s not going to matter much when and if the Canucks matter again, so why even bother?

Anyway, The Children Of The Corn are still here, and this very well could be the last year of their careers. This is the last year of both their deals, and given how they can’t be split apart it’s impossible to fathom how the Canucks could ship them anywhere at the deadline to see if they can get a Cup and the Canucks can recoup anything. They may be so entrenched in the community that they’d never leave anyway, but if Jarome Iginla can leave Calgary, anything is possible. If they were cheap, you could see where an up and coming team like Carolina or maybe even Edmonton would think about it. This could turn into a drama.

What Thing 1 and Thing 2 have left is another question. They only combined for 94 points last year, and that’s decidedly low for what they’d put up before. Their status as genuine top-liners is over, but they still put up solid second line numbers. Again, they could help a team that has a top center and wing but needs depth, if a deal can be worked.

Behind them? WOOF. Bo Horvat put up 52 points last year, probably because someone on Vancouver had to. He’s only 21, and despite the fact he looks like Rocksteady there’s still hope he can turn into something more. They’d probably want me to say the same thing about Jake Virtanen, but I’m not gonna because he wasn’t any good in the A last year either. There are a couple other kids who might get a look at some point, such as Goldobin and Boeser, but no one’s going to save this outfit.

What will suit up is just your normal, veteran flotsam. Brandon Sutter is here doing whatever it is Brandon Sutter does and not what people think he is. Gagner will do his thing on the bottom six and continue to set Fifth Feather’s heart aflutter. Derek Dorsett will continue to represent the Idiocy Brigade and wait for his suspension. There will be other waiver bait coming and going, and you won’t care at all.

Outlook: Leave it to the Canucks to suck hard when there’s going to be another team in the division sucking harder. If they really try the Canucks might be able to finish below the Golden Knights and put themselves in pole position for the #1 pick. But it’s going to be really hard to do so. Either way, the Canucks are going to be one of the three worst teams in the league unless Nilsson turns into Muhammad I’m Hard Bruce Lee in net. And even then that’ll just mean they approach “blows chunks.” Couldn’t happen to a nicer fanbase or organization, really.

 

Previous Team Previews

Boston Bruins

Buffalo Sabres

Detroit Red Wings

Florida Panthers

Montreal Canadiens

Ottawa Senators

Tampa Bay Lightning

Toronto Maple Leafs

Carolina Hurricanes

Columbus Blue Jackets

New Jersey Devils

New York Islanders

New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins

Philadelphia Flyers

Washington Capitals

Anaheim Ducks

Arizona Coyotes

Calgary Flames

Edmonton Oilers

L.A. Kings

San Jose Sharks

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