2013-14 Season Preview : Vancouver Canucks

Our team by team preview of the Pacific Division (I guess the Edmonton guys don't want to participate) with the team everyone loves to hate, the Vancouver Canucks.

The Canucks won themselves another division in 2013 only to be swept out of the first round by the San Jose Sharks.  This year is going to be a very interesting year in British Columbia.  Not only do they have a new head coach in John Tortorella, but they also have some new division mates.  Having to compete within in the same division with the Sharks, Kings, Ducks and Coyotes will make the road to a top three playoff seed much tougher for Vancouver this year.

I have asked Zanstrom from Nucks Misconduct to help us out with our look at the 2013-14 Canucks.

The Rangers and Canucks swapped out coaches in the summer, how do you guys feel about the change?

Love the change! The team needs a kick in the ass after two early playoff exits where they looked flat. Tortorella will bring the proverbial foot in the ass. Vigneault was great, but he went past his expiration date a year ago.

Do you see the Canucks adapting well to John Tortorella's style of play and will it work in the Western Conference?

Yes, because the Canucks' team defense has been atrocious over the past couple of seasons. A general lack of consistency. It's as if they wanted the run and gun offense but forgot how to support their goaltenders in the process. Look at the Kings: very good on both sides of the puck. That's what wins playoff games.

Tortorella has said he expects the Sedins to become shot blockers. Do you see this happening?

Maybe a little. I think too much is made of this whole scenario. I don't know if he is going to use them all that much on the PK anyway. The Sedins ate up a lot of power play time, and I think Torts will employ the same strategy because....well the Sedins are so damned good. Even if he has them kill penalties, they will block shots because Torts gets what he wants. The Sedins themselves said they don't mind if it happens. Fans cringe at the thought though, and for good reason.

Mike Gillis continues to make us smile, this time he did by trading Cory Schneider and not Roberto Luongo. Did he trade the right guy or are you just happy the whole thing is over?

The whole thing is not over. He traded the wrong guy. Luongo was ready to leave and I can see him still trying to get traded after this season is over. That would not have been the case with Cory Schneider. The drama continues, and that is a controversial opinion that I have. Personally, I am a huge Luongo fan, so I am glad that I get to watch him in a Canucks uniform for at least another season.

Are you concerned about Luongo not quite willing to be a team player after all of this?

Not at all. Period.

Is the Stanley Cup window closing in Vancouver? Who are some of prospects on the horizon can help keep it open?

I don't want to say it's closing because anything can happen come playoff time. Sure, the core is getting older, but up front especially there are a lot of kids chomping at the bit (Bo Horvat, Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Niklas Jensen and more) that are going to make an impact on this team soon.
On defence, however...I am concerned about the depth there beyond Andrew Alberts and Frankie Corrado. That will need to be addressed.
I like prospect of having Eddie Lack and Joacim Eriksson as future starting goaltenders. No worries there!

Is Ryan Kesler broken?

Ryan Kesler is feeling better than he has in 2 years. He says he is 100% and I believe him. The thing about Kesler is that he plays so recklessly that he is going to get hurt. It's just a matter of when and hopefully not too badly. But right now, he is good to go. He is fixed. He is feeling better than he has in 2 years.

Realignment has made the Canucks road to the postseason a bit tougher. Are there any concerns about playing in a more competitive division this year?

Initially, yes. But what people don't realize is that the Canucks didn't pound the hell out of the weak Northwest Division last season. They won 11 and lost 7 against NW opponents in the shortened season. Not exactly kicking ass, is it? Concerning to me was the Canucks' 6 wins and 8 losses to the (old) Pacific Division foes last season. From what I recall, Vancouver has had issues with those teams for quite some time and now they will see more of the Sharks, Ducks, Kings. Yay! Like Tortorella said recently: the Canucks are going to have to be ready for every single game, which is a terrible cliche, I know.

See you dinks on November 23rd! We still hate you, even though you lost that rat Dave Bolland!

Dinks? That must be the sound that Duncan Keith's two Stanley Cup rings make when they hit each other.  Thanks to Zanstrom for answering my questions.  The Hawks/Nucks rivalry continues with two games in Vancouver on November 23rd and January 29th.  Bobby Lu comes to town to hear his favorite song in the whole world on December 20th.