Today we continue our Western Conference Outlook series and take a look at the Vancouver Canucks; another Canadian hockey club who struggled in the 2013-14 season.
In case you missed it, we took a look at the Calgary Flames and predicted how the Predators will fare against them next season here.
The Canucks A Year Ago
The Cancucks continue our recent trend of teams in Western Canada who had a disappointing season a year ago. The Canucks finished twelfth in the Western Conference and finished the year twenty-fifth in the league standings.
I think most would agree that the Canucks lack of success rooted from the man behind the bench last season, John Tortorella.Coach Tortorella has always been known for his antics and bold statements, last season was no different for the Canucks.
The first example that of course comes to mind is Tortorella trying to break into the Calgary Flames locker room and fight anyone in his way. Here is a clip of that incident. I’m sure most NHL coaches have wanted to do the same thing Tortorella did, but that is an automatic no-no. The Canucks did however go on to win that game 3-2 in a shootout.
Another somewhat crazy scenario that emerged to the scene was Tortorella’s decision not to put Roberto Luongo in net in their outdoor Heritage Classic game against the Ottawa Senetors. You would think veteran net-minder Luongo would get the start in most likely a once in a lifetime game but Tortorella went with Eddie Lack in net who let up three-goals and the Canucks ended up losing the contest 4-2.
Tortorella was hired by Vancouver in June of 2013 then fired the first of May 2014, new head coach Willie Desjardins stepped into Tortorella’s place on June 23, 2014.
With Tortorella out and Desarjdins in, this team will be faced with finding a new identity with a head coach that probably won’t be going after other coaches and players in locker rooms.
The Predators went 1-2-0 last season against Vancouver, with their one win against the Canucks coming in Nashville in a 2-1 win.
Canucks Off-Season Moves
The biggest move, and probably what will be the most successful move they made this off-season, was the firing of John Tortorella as we discussed above. The Canucks did make other moves though involving actual players instead of coaching changes.
One of the biggest moves this entire NHL off-season involved the Canucks when they traded USA Olympic forward Ryan Kesler to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and last-years 24th-overall pick in which the Canucks selected Jared McCann. Kesler had been in trade rumors for most of last year’s season and the move did not really shock the world, other than the fact that the trade was between two Pacific Division teams.
With Luongo traded to Florida the Canucks needed to add either a solid number-one goalie to their roster or at least add depth in the net. The Canucks chose to go with U.S. Olympic silver-medalist Ryan Miller. Miller was not re-signed by the St Louis Blues in the off-season so Miller decided to test his options in the market; enter Vancouver. Vancouver signed the veteran goalie to a number-one goalie type of contract, $18mil for three-years.
We have to assume Miller will get the nod as the number-one goalie in Vancouver next season, as he should, and Eddie Lack will continue to develop as the number-two golie.
The Canucks also added veteran forward Radim Vrbata from the Arizona Coyotes who had 51-points in 80 games last season with Arizona.
Predators Predictions Against The Canucks
The Canucks are very similar to the Predators in many ways. Both teams have a new head coach stepping into the organization, and both are much different than recent head coaches for their respected teams. Let’s face it, there’s only one John Tortorella in this league and only one Barry Trotz as well, no offense towards those two great gentlemen at all.
Both the Canucks and the Predators are introducing new personell to their locker rooms along with losing a few key-guys as well. The Canucks losing Ryan Kesler who can be described as a team leader on and off the ice and with the Predators losing one of their alternate-captains Patric Hornqvist. Obviously, for either one of these teams to have success the new players like Nick Bonino, Ryan Miller, James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, etc. will have to step up and take charge of pivotal roles on their respected teams.
Now, my prediction on how a new-look Predators team will fare against a new-look Vancouver team. Just for everyone’s knowledge, nobody knows how the Predators are going to look on the ice this year. Obviously, everyone is hoping for the best, but these predictions are simply that; predictions.
The Predators get the Canucks on home-ice twice this year and have to travel to Vancouver only once. The first meeting comes in Vancouver in the middle of the Predators dreaded Canada trip and I think this is the one-time the Predators get edged by the ‘Nucks.
The next two meetings come in Smashville and I think the Predators take care of home-ice and beat the Canucks both times at Bridgestone Arena.