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Your Canucks Questions: Left on Read

Brayden Fengler / February 2, 2021  

The Vancouver Canucks fan base is one of the most engaged and vocal hockey communities in the NHL. Come game days, and really every day in between you can find no shortage of online chatter surrounding every discernible topic on the Vancouver Canucks.

However, with a room this big, not every voice can always be heard. Some tweets slip through the cracks, and sometimes thoughtful replies go unaddressed. Well, that’s where this new segment comes in and looks to make a small dent in the overwhelming mountain that is Canucks Twitter. We’ll be thoughtfully addressing some questions over the last few days that were left on read, by the rest of the hockey community.

Below are five tweets that at the time of writing this had no response to them. These people and their tweets deserve better. So please help me end the ghosting, and let’s dive into some questions left on read.

True North *Division* Strong and Free

I like this question. It lures you in with a softball, and then it turns out that the softball is being pitched at 100km per hour.

The first part is an easy answer. I love it. I love the north division. Canadian Hockey fans are by and large the most engaged fans in the league, that statement will be no surprise to anyone. It’s a shame then that due to how the divisions are normally split up, West and East coast Canadian fans don’t have much reason to connect with one another during the regular season. For example, this set up allows for Vancouver and Toronto to finally have the potential to develop some meaningful beef. Rather than the artificial beef of people out west just not liking people out east all too much and vice versa. 

We’ve already seen West vs East feuds take shade in games against the Montreal Canadiens. That’s a rivalry (however one-sided at the moment) that will only grow for the rest of the season, and it’s not one that we would’ve gotten without the North Division. 

Do I think the North Division will stay? No. Do I think it should stay? Honestly not really. For Vancouver, the travel is no different really, but for all the teams out east, it would seem bizarre to have teams in BC and Alberta in their division, while cities they could drive to and back inside a day, may have to be outside of their division. However, while the North Division is here, I’m here for it.

Will the Canucks make the playoffs. Honestly, I want to say it’s too early to say, but that statement doesn’t hold a lot of meaning this year. This season has the feeling of waking up from a long nap, I’m confused and I have no concept of time. I think the Canucks have a number of things to figure out before playoffs seem like a realistic possibility. There is definitely still a chance, however, it lies with defensive improvements, Elias Pettersson’s one-timer making its grand entrance this season, again, and Demko keeping his bubble form.

First off, love the confidence. “When” not if, that’s a great attitude. But to answer your question, I would have to say yes, they probably still will. At this point, I think Jim Benning has rubbed enough fans the wrong way (justified or not) too many times. That is honestly par for the course though, with almost any GM who runs a team that isn’t a consistent playoff contender. 

Truthfully though, I don’t see why this fire Benning sentiment has earned so much traction again as of late. Do you honestly believe people wouldn’t be saying the same stuff right now if he somehow got both Chris Tanev and Jacob Markstrom at those prices this free agency? Would the fans be singing Jim’s praises? No. As soon as the Canucks lost a game in that alternate universe, the conversation would be “What did we pay for? We’ve sold our future for this?!”. Now it seems that people aren’t willing to wait for that future in this reality.

Defence… Anyone? Anyone??

More so than forwards, defenders really are often as strong as their weakest link. When there are performance issues upfront with one line, it doesn’t usually cause an avalanche of experimental line combinations. However while on defence, one bad line can sometimes be the source of all that team’s problems. Because in order to address the issue with one defensive pairing it more often than not causes a restructuring of the other pairings as well. Fixing defensive issues can be like trying to plug holes in a sinking ship.

Now, circling back to the actual question involving Tyler Myers. The point that I’m leisurely walking to here, is that I think even though the Canucks’ defence has been struggling on the whole (for reasons discussed previously) Myers has been a positive force for the team in many situations.

His numbers don’t lie. The big man has been putting up big minutes at an average 21:40 TOI and despite some blow out Canucks losses, Myers has a neutral +/-. He also sits with a point total of 6, making him only second to Quinn Hughes in Canucks defensive points. One can only hope he doesn’t get in the habit of making any more reckless hits like he did on Joel Armia. I really don’t think that hit showed the true Tyler Myers, I think it was an unfortunate decision that we likely won’t see from the defender again this season.

Not to be a downer, but the real question is “does that team even exist?”. Looking back at the last four wins the Canucks have had, they haven’t exactly defied all odds to earn them. Sure they beat the Ottawa Senators three times over, but it’s no shocker that Ottawa is currently the last place team in the North Division. 

Ottawa’s goaltending situation is worse off than what the Canucks are dealing with in regard to their defence. Making Ottawa quite possibly the best matchup the Canucks could’ve hoped for. Suffice to say the Canucks did not have their hands full with Ottawa. They allowed the Canucks to play to their strengths and ignore their weaknesses, if only for a few games.

Looking at the Canucks’ win against the Winnipeg Jets, it’s clear that it was definitely more earned than their contests with Ottawa. Although the win came against a Jet’s team that doesn’t have Patrik Laine anymore and had yet to play their new star Pierre-Luc Dubois. This was a team with a huge hole in its roster, which is unfortunately why this win also earned an asterisk in the minds of many. 

Yes, the Canucks deserve credit for outplaying a Jets team that still has elite forces such as Connor Hellebuyck, Blake Wheeler, and Kyle Connor. But the reality is, those games were a chance for the Canucks to grab some easy wins and carry that momentum through into their next series. It’s evident now, the morning after their first rematch with the Habs, that the Canucks, unfortunately, could not capitalize on their earned momentum.

This is the last tweet I’m replying to today, and at this point, yes I am kind of beating a dead horse. But it can’t be understated that something drastic needs to change with this team.

Last night’s game was inexcusable on the defensive side. Way too many one-on-one chances given to the Habs. If Travis Green could call more than one timeout, you could safely bet that he would have. I have never been more glad not to be the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks because there is a big issue here, with no clear solution. However it’s Green’s job to find it, and hopefully, he can do that in the fewest attempts possible. The Canucks are going to see their playoff hopes slip further away, the longer it takes them to nail down this defensive issue. 

Is there any way for the Canucks to band-aid their problems ahead of tonight’s rematch with the Canadiens? I personally believe it to be unlikely. Maybe the Canucks will have better luck with Jake Allen in net. But then again it was Carey Price who offered up the Canucks only win against the Habs this season.

Regardless of the rocky road that the Canucks will be traveling this evening, a win tonight would certainly be a huge step in the right direction. This would give the team the ability to boast a 5-1 record in their last six games played. Which would hopefully make their previous loss to the Canadiens easier to swallow. Canucks fans can only hope that the team goes into their first meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs with a fresh “W” in their pockets, instead of a 0-2 record on the stats sheet.

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Thanks for reading! I hope if nothing else, this journey gave you some interesting game day thoughts to chew on. If you’re one of the lucky or unlucky five people who were the source of my ramblings for this week’s “Left on Read”, just know that we here at StadiumChinatown.ca see you. 👀. Take that how you will.

Until next time, happy game day everyone.