The Canucks clarity

is starting to become as clear as a fall day in Vancouver, after the fog has dissipated. The moulding of a first line has carefully evolved into Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, and Alex Burrows, although you wouldn’t know it.

In the last five games Horvat has only received 20 TOI in one game and that was against the Leafs. The others were 15, 19, 19, 18 rounded up.

Collectively that line’s plus/minus is +3 driven by Burrows +4. The Sedin line is a -23, Chaput’s line a -27, and Gaunce’s -16 depending who is playing.

So, is it not clear that the Horvat line be matched up against the opposition’s top line – Coach?

Unfortunately, Brandon Sutter’s -12 and Loui Eriksson’s -10 don’t offer an alternative for the Sedin’s line. That line is missing Jannik Hansen bigtime.

It sure is no secret

that the first defense pairing are Chris Tanev and Alex Edler. Ben Hutton (-11) and Erik Gudbranson (-13) are not suited for the top pairing. In fact as stated Gudbranson to me is a third pairing D-man.

He just does not look mobile enough in front, nor physical. It is clear to me that Nikita Tryamkin is the most physical D-man the Canucks have, and Troy Stecher the most mobile.

Until Tanev and Edler return, Tryamkin and Hutton should be the first pairing. Gudbranson, for political correctness, on the second pair with Luca Sbisa, and Stecher with Alex Biega on the third pair.

If it’s not clear to you by now that Philip Larsen was a mistake, then when?

Now some would argue that Stecher should replace Sbisa on the second pairing, but Sbisa’s +4 is a bit better than Stecher’s -4. In fact, Sbisa leads all D-men with that stat.

Is it clear enough

for you that the so-called fourth-line is a non-factor in games except for time breaks. Averaging 6.8 TOI per game over the last five, this is the lowest I can remember in the last 10 years.

Maybe that’s due to the collective four points the Gaunce line has produced, which includes all of one goal.

The clarity of the goal-tending is murking at best. The stats show me that Jacob Markstrom has 6W, 3L, 2OT in 12 GP while Ryan Miller is 5W, 9L in 14 GP.

Both have GAA of 2.73 and Miller’s Sv% of .911 is marginally better than Markstrom’s .902. With Miller’s contract ending this season it was assummed Markstrom would get the lion’s share of the starts.

Now with the buzz 

that Miller may be offered an extension, and having just turned 36, is that for insurance if Markstrom falters? It usually takes at least 120 games in the AHL before a goalie is ready, and Thatcher Demko has only played in 10.

So with Demko still a couple of years away, maybe Miller for a couple of seasons at a $4 to 4.5 million would be a good investment.

With the team four points out of a Wild Card spot and teams like Dallas, Nashville, Calgary, Winnipeg, and LA in front, I just don’t see the Canucks making it. So… clarification is needed for the fans. What is more important – a playoff spot or a possible first round draft pick?

I believe they will still support the team as long as there is clarity of the future. I don’t think they will support the propaganda about the importance of a playoff spot, not with this current team.

Ice Bits

Jake Virtanen with the Comets has 1G, 2A, +/- 0, 8PIM in 10 games played. There’s no use in rushing him back to Vancover until he’s ready. Leave him there until he finds his game. 

The Canucks can ill afford to make the same mistake with Virtanen that they did with Neely. You remember Cam Neely, the Hall of Famer from Maple Ridge? He also was a first rounder chosen 9th overall. The Canucks gave up on him when he was around the same age as Virtanen. 

I feel that between games 30 to 60 it will prove that the Canucks are not a playoff team. Hopefully by then a decision will be made on who the first line really is, along with the first power-play unit. In both cases it is the Horvat line. Also, I don’t expect Larsen to still be here.

I see that after 17GP, with 1G, 2A, that ex-Canuck Jared McCann is now in the minors. If not for that stupid age rule, him and Virtanen would have started last season where they belonged, and that was in Utica. 

The five players that are holding the team speed down are the Sedins, Erikssson, Gudbranson, and Guance. That was crystal clear against the Leafs.

PS. BTW on mobile devices if you land on the blog, at the top of that page choose Select Page/Home,

for more viewing and listening. Crank the volume up on the tune (which will change periodically), for the introduction to the starting lineup.

After eight years of submitting material for the Vancouver Sun’s Opinion/Community/Blog section, they have reformatted their entire content and discontinued with the Blogs.

So, I will stay here, on the work-in-progress updated website, and of course on my nucksiceman twitter account. 

Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports

Video Credits – YouTube

Stats Credits – http://www.hockeydb.com, http://www.nhl.com, http://canucks.nhl.com, http://capfriendly.com, http://www.hockeybuzz.com, http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com, http://war-on-ice.com, http://sportingcharts.com

Quote Credits – The Vancouver Sun and Province

To catch-all the news as it breaks, in ALL the sports, updates, line-odds and new articles as they occur, you can follow me at https://twitter.com/nucksiceman and here on this site. 

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