The good news is the Vancouver Canucks are heading to the playoffs for the sixth time in a row. The bad news is that the club's poor performance down the stretch has made a deep playoff run seem unlikely.
With 97 points on the season, and only two games left, the Canucks clinched the division a few days ago and will almost assuredly be the only Northwest division club in the playoffs. This comes as a shock considering the Colorado Avalanche's record through the first two-thirds of the year. However the Canucks' play since the trade deadline has only been marginally better.
Typically large acquisitions are expected to be positive turning points, however the arrival of Bobby Ryan in fact plunged the Canucks into a lengthy slump, which the club is only now trying to emerge from. With only 3 goals in 29 games since being acquired, Ryan has been a bust in the short-term, and is now stapled to the third line with Brooks Laich. Even worse, the shuffling of the fourth line, which allowed Ryan to fit under the team's cap, brought in two players in Derek MacKenzie and Pat Dwyer, whose low morale likely contributed to the stretch drive slide.
Nonetheless, even before the slump, the Canucks' numbers seemed to betray their strong record. While the club has been in the top two in the league for shots against all season, goals have been going in at a steady rate. Carey Price's save percentage is among the worst among starting goalies in the HFNHL.
Moreover, the chemistry troubles that plagued the club's forwards last year carried over this season. The first line trio of Eric Staal, Evgeni Malkin and David Krejci never found chemistry together, and seemed cancerous to the other lines when they were split up. Malkin's low point totals are made worse by a -13 rating, worst among forwards. The most consistent unit all season has been Antoine Vermette's line, with David Backes and Ryan Callahan.
Optimists would say the club's luck is bound to turn and the Canucks may be a real playoff sleeper. Only the league leading Panthers and Ducks have better shot differentials, and the Canucks beat the latter in a playoff-style match last night, a game in which the much-maligned trio Malkin, Staal and Price all played excellent.
Looking to the playoffs, the Canucks will likely play the Kings, Hawks or Blues. Based on this season's play, the Kings are probably the best fit. Vancouver won three of four against Los Angeles, while losing all four against Chicago. The four games with St. Louis were split evenly, in wins and goals.
Nonetheless, the end of the season feels like something of a disappointment. When the Ryan trade went down, the Canucks were first in the league and looked poised for a repeat performance of the 2009-10 season, when the club picked up 110 points, winning the division and ultimately the Stanley Cup. However that team was flat out dominant at times - with a +81 goal differential - and resulted in Art Ross and Vezina trophies for Evgeni Malkin and Martin Brodeur. With two games left, this year's club is a +3, and only Dan Boyle can really be considered to have played at an elite level.
You're welcome for MacKenzie. I'd forgotten that I'd also got Dejardins to help my turnaround.
As for the playoffs, I seem to remember MO not being as much of a factor. So I think you could be in good shape still to go deep
Just to play foil....
I brought in several guys to my team at the deadline from teams with low MO's (Jovonovski, Savard, Langenbrunner). And it actually made my team stronger. And these guys still have low MO's despite performing well for me, and again I'm rolling.
Perhaps we're over blowing the whole MO thing?
Maybe it's just the case of adding players to the roster that just didn't work out. I know I've had that happen to me before the "dreaded" STHS, in the FHL sim days. I remember in 2008 I nearly missed the playoffs after being up near the top of the division for most of the year. Then I made some big deadline acquisitions and it was a disaster.
I think there is definitely some truth to certain teams being able to ride MO streaks out, or teams getting off to slower starts not being able to recover. But I don't buy the whole "adding players from lower teams and their low MO, causing my team to slide" argument, since teams like myself, Columbus, Philadelphia, among a few others were all able to add to our teams significantly and have consistency.
How else do you explain my results? Or the sudden falls of the Avs and stagnations of the Canucks, Hawks etc. etc.????
Its either random or MO. Because those teams all improved at the deadline by all other measurables. And I dropped my entire second line and 1/3rd of my top line to the minors and started playing TWO 50 OV Dmen. Why did I suddenly start winning if not the sudden improvement of MO? My team became SIGNIFICANTLY worse - full of unrated players. And it did better. The ONLY stat that improved on my squad was the additions of a bunch of players with 50 OV instead of 25 OV.
I started Reimer in 8 of the 20 games in my win streaks and he won all but one after having lost every other game of the year before that.