Guest Post: Canucks 2013-14 season preview, by The Royal Half

There have been some big changes for the Canucks this offseason, but the one that could have the most impact is realignment, which brought an unfortunate end to the crack den that was the Northwest Division and threw the Canucks into the far more functional and together Pacific Division. Bummer.

But let’s not dwell on what’s lost. Let’s look to the future and meet some of our new divisional buddies! We’ve invited a stable of Pacific Division bloggers to preview the Canucks season, the new division, or their own teams for us here at Pass it to Bulis, and over the next week, we’ll be sharing the results with you. (Warning: most of them chose to roast us, which is probably what we would have done.) Next up: the hilarious LA Kings blog The Royal Half.

by The Royal Half

The Vancouver Canucks have returned to the Division they once called home and as a Los Angeles Kings fan, I for one, am glad to have them back. Now, a lot has changed since 1998 when the Canucks were last part of the Pacific Division with all of these teams:

For instance… this has happened since the Canucks last played in the Pacific:

And this as well:

Oh, and who could forget this:

And of course, this:

And this isn’t really Pacific Division related… but I wanted to give Canucks fans everywhere a reminder that this also has occurred over the past 15 years:

But let’s be honest… who really wants to dwell on the past, right? Well, besides Canucks fans and the organization itself. No, The Royal Half is here to talk about this present-day Vancouver Canucks team that will compete in a Division with the Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, Phoenix Coyotes, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames.

DEFENSE

Led by 32 year-old Kevin Bieksa and 30 year-old Dan Hamhuis, the Canucks defense was strong last season, giving up only the 11th most goals in the NHL. But in the playoffs, their defense broke down and gave up 15 goals in just 4 games.

This season, the Canucks defense has a decent top 4 returning in Bieksa, Hamhuis, Alex Edler, and Jason Garrison… but lacks the depth defenseman that a team like the Los Angeles Kings have. In addition to depth, there is one important thing that this current Vancouver Canucks defense is missing…

… a veteran defenseman with a Stanley Cup.

FORWARDS

Last season, only the Colorado Avalanche scored fewer goals than the Canucks in the Northwest Division. This means that both the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames scored more goals than the Canucks.

The Sedin Twins are two of the most exciting players in all of hockey, even though their production has been declining over the past few years. Ryan Kesler is 29 years old and coming off a season filled with injuries. Zack Kassian has struggled to find balance at the NHL level, in both his play and with his stick. David Booth had 1 goal last year and Chris Higgins… well Chris Higgins does have amazing abs… so he gets a pass.

Much like their defense, a big concern for the Canucks offense heading into this season is their lack of depth. Thankfully, the Canucks made one bold move over the summer that can only help their struggling offense.

A Stanley Cup Winning forward with 16 points in his last 99 games!

GOALTENDER

Over the summer, the Vancouver Canucks GM, Mike Gillis, tried to replicate his fellow GM Dean Lombardi by trading away his team’s backup goaltender. And even though Gillis was unable to match the 2 roster players, 3rd Round Draft Pick and $500,000 in cap relief that Lombardi was able to get for his backup goaltender… I think we all know that anytime a Bo is listed the Top 10, he’ll most certainly have a impactful and long-lasting career, right? RIGHT?!?

Right.

So with the last Vancouver Canucks goaltender to win a NHL Playoff game shipped off to New Jersey, the attention turns to Roberto Luongo to lead the Canucks in this new Pacific Division. Luongo didn’t really play enough last season to be able to predict what he’ll do in this full NHL season. But with 40 wins in his last 75 games and the total support of his home crowd… Luongo has all the natural ability to keep the Canucks competing in this difficult division. Oh… well, except one…

…the ability to win a Stanley Cup.

COACH

After 4 straight seasons of 45+ wins (and 26 in the shortened season) the Vancouver Canucks management decided it was time to go a different direction and instead bring in a Head Coach that is a proven winner. So they fired a coach that led the Canucks to at least the 2nd Round in 4 out of 7 seasons and hired a coach that hasn’t made it out of the 1st Round in 6 out of of the past 8 seasons.

But who cares about actual stats when it comes to winning… because #NARRATIVE!

Anyone who won the Stanley Cup pre-2004 Lockout has totally been able to do it again, right?

Right.

Now, plenty has been said about the Vancouver Canucks move from the Northwest into the Pacific Division this season. I just hope that Canucks fans truly realize how tough this division is. The LA Kings have made it to the Western Conference finals the last two seasons. The Anaheim Ducks have a high-powered offense that led them to the top of the Pacific last season. The San Jose Sharks are a perennial contender. The Phoenix Coyotes are a well-coached, tough defensive team. The Edmonton Oilers are a young team on the rise.

And the Calgary Flames… well… there’s always gotta be one kid in the classroom that the other students make fun of, right?

Well, except for the the fact that the Flames have won the Cup and the Canucks haven’t.

Even without the Northwest Division around for the Canucks to beat up on… this Vancouver team is probably strong enough to grab the 3rd playoff spot in the brand new Pacific Division. But you never can tell, I mean… I’ve been wrong about the Canucks before!

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21 comments

  1. Peachy
    September 27, 2013

    Epic series. Keep it coming.

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  2. DanD
    September 27, 2013

    Haha well done! Nothing like a whole bunch of cup pictures to ruin a Canucks fan’s day :)

    But that Tortorella family picture totally made up for it. Classic.

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    Rating: +5 (from 9 votes)
    • Gordietee
      September 27, 2013

      I don’t know. I mean, I feel pretty alright after seeing all those photos. Now, if those had been photos of Chara, Thomas, Marchand, et al., with the cup, then there would definitely be some holes in my drywall.

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      Rating: +11 (from 13 votes)
    • laplander
      September 30, 2013

      Ha, I am a Canuck fan and loved this one – this is a good hearted roast; the last one – not so much

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      Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
  3. Jacob
    September 27, 2013

    As a die-hard Canucks fan I obviously flashed into a boiling rage after the first sentence and remained there for the duration of the article. That said, I laughed pretty hard at the Crawford joke. Nice work.

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    Rating: +8 (from 8 votes)
  4. Neil B
    September 27, 2013

    Now, I will admit that I was kinda with Chris-the-C on the first guest blog (if this is a roast, then Battle of California is the Don Rickles of guest bloggers), this was pure genius. Quiet, understated–and then he slaps you in the face with the fish. Wel done, sir. Well done!

    …so when do we get to see the Foster Brooks of bloggers?

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    Rating: +9 (from 9 votes)
    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      September 27, 2013

      The first one sucked, but I also thought this one was really funny.

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      Rating: +7 (from 9 votes)
  5. Kyle Good
    September 27, 2013

    Maybe – just maybe – playing in a weak division has been part of why the Canucks have done poorly in meaningful playoff games. Either they don’t make the playoffs, or, they learn how to beat the better teams. I would rather be half glass full and believe the practice of playing harder teams will have a positive impact.

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    Rating: +13 (from 13 votes)
  6. Rituro
    September 27, 2013

    I, for one, welcome our new Royal frenemies. If this is the kind of blog banter we can expect for the 2013-14 season, sign me up.

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    Rating: +13 (from 13 votes)
  7. Lenny
    September 27, 2013

    The Royal Half is the only one here dwelling on the past.

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    Rating: +3 (from 5 votes)
    • Naturalmystic
      September 28, 2013

      “dwelling on the past” = Sour grapes from fans of a team that has never won the cup.

      You can say what you like about the Oilers being the bottom of the league for years, at least they were great at one time. I can look back on my favorite team and their 5 championships and 7 trips to the final. You say I am dwelling in the past, maybe so but at least I have something to dwell on. You only have 2 riots and 40+ years of frustration to dwell upon. No wonder you don’t want to focus on the past. Maybe you shouldn’t focus on the future either. The Canucks are really no better than they were last season, and they weren’t good enough to get it done in the playoffs when it mattered. I was called a troll when I said they weren’t good enough to hang with the Bruins or Hawks. Nothing has changed, the Canucks haven’t improved. The team will struggle facing the Sharks, Kings, Ducks. For years the Canucks have have the Oilers, Avalanche, Flames to pad their record. This season we see the Canucks fall. This season we see Tortorella tear the team apart. This is the season that Gillis gets canned.

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      • Neil B
        September 28, 2013

        I’m going to dispute this argument, and I’m going to use one of those complex new stats: it’s called wins-losses-ties.

        The Canucks have been, against the old Pacific division, 30-17-8 over the last 3 seasons. Assuming that the Canucks play to their 3-year average, they will win 16-17 of 30 games against their division, and earn about 37 points. That is definitely less than the 44-45 points they earned on average agains the old NW division; but the Canucks still earned more points-per-game against Pacific division teams than any of the Pacific division teams did. Anyone who contends that the new Pacific will eat the ‘Nucks alive is basically calling AV a genius.

        Intra-divisional play in the old Pacific was shockingly even–over the last 3 years, most of the separation in points comes from success outside the division. Assuming that the 3-year average holds, (and that Edmonton is somewhere between Calgary’s and Dallas’ records, and Calgary is about midway between their record & Edmonton’s) Vancouver would garner the most points from the division, with 37; then it goes LAK (36), SJS (35), ANA (31), PHO (30), EDM (29), and CAL (24).

        Realistically, there will be three tiers to the division (VAN/LAK/SJS at the top, ANA/PHO/EDM in the middle, and CAL), with the order within those tiers a toss-up that will mostly be decided by inter-divisional play. Luckily, Vancouver does very well there, also, earning 1.35 points-per-game against Eastern teams over the last 3 regular seasons (excluding last season, of course).

        BTW, the numbers actually put the lie to the ‘Canucks won due to the NW division’ thing; the ‘Nucks actually padded their points by beating the living crap out of the East.

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      • Mike
        September 28, 2013

        Naturalmistic – by definition, what you’re doing IS trolling. You get kicks by coming to rival team blogs and taunting in the message boards, making bold predictions and metaphorically rubbing your hands together in glee while you wait for people to engage you. You’re not engaging in a debate – you’re bear-baiting. And you’re a troll.

        But since I’m not immune to baiting tactics (I loathe my weakness), on to two of your items:

        1. The Oilers have stunk the past few years. Don’t blame Canuck fans for making you unhappy about this. Yes, the team you support (nothing to do with you, mind you) has won Cups in the past. That’s great. Congrats. It makes you happy to dwell in the past and use it as a measuring stick of you versus fans of rival teams. You are using the wrong measuring stick for your life, my friend.

        2. As for the Canucks “hanging” with the Hawks and Bruins, I’d say you’re wrong. They have played three great series against the Hawks, which all went 6 or 7 games. And they went seven games with the Bruins, losing a war of attrition. Four great series that entertained and the Canucks lost 3 of them. But they “hung around” with two Stanley Cup champs. Small consolation for three seasons of hope but a reality your narrative misrepresents.

        It’s okay if trolling and living in the past is your life’s passion but I reserve the right to consider you very sad, indeed.

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      • peanutflower
        September 28, 2013

        jeebus, have you got nothing in your bag of trolling tricks other than “two riots” and “at least the Oilers won the Cup”? That was 23 years ago. Half of the current Oilers team weren’t even born in 1990. The Canucks in the last few years didn’t only beat western team, ya know.

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      • Lenny
        September 29, 2013

        At least LA is a good team now. Edmonton doesn’t really exist on my radar.

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      • PB
        September 30, 2013

        How cute. Yes, the Oilers were great at one time. Luckily they’ve had seven years of missing the playoffs and getting lottery picks to get right back up to speed. Any day now, any day now. I know, it’s hard having to watch other teams having trouble “hanging” with the big boys in the mysterious land of the playoffs, but never fear, one of these days you’ll get back in there. With all those Smurfy forwards surely it will be the Oilers day one day soon…

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  8. Chris the Curmudgeon
    September 27, 2013

    For the record, I was really happy to see Big Willie Style get the Cup. Not re-signing him when he wanted to come back was not enough for me to “un-fan” him, as the kids might say.

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  9. akidd
    September 27, 2013

    now that was some smack-talking! i hope megalodon is taking notes.

    all the royal half had to really do to get the tears flowing was post that photo of willie with the cup. bc mountains+beloved ex-canuck+cup=wounds+lots of salt. no comeback for that one.

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  10. Winsy
    September 27, 2013

    I quite enjoyed reading this! (And loved the Modano pic! Let’s Go Stars!) Also didn’t mind seeing Willie with the Cup! Anytime a BC boy wins a Cup, I’m happy!

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  11. Gimmic
    September 28, 2013

    Oh man that was funny stuff. I was literally laughing out loud.

    But it’s kinda funny that 1 Cup gives this guy the gonads to write something like this. Lol. Oh well, it’s good stuff.

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  12. iceman
    September 28, 2013

    I’ll give this LA blogger a passing grade, which means he did better than 50% – or a “half”. At least he knows exactly which button to push to rile up the Canucks fans… and did it well visually (with a series of the cup photos) without talking too much trash. I hate it but I have to admit those pictures really sting. And oh yeah, I had some fun reading the article too.

    So the smack-talk game’s on, it seems.

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