Evaluating Willie Desjardins' Lineup Decisions

Jackson McDonald
December 13 2016 01:00PM

Ice time isn't given. It's earned. That's an adage that's been repeated across the hockey world, and Vancouver is no exception. 

It pertains especially to younger players, and Canucks' President of Hockey Operations Trevor Linden repeated the common refrain earlier this year pertaining to sophomore forward Jake Virtanen: 

"As long as I've been part of the game, especially at the pro level, there's an element of earning your time... I think a lot of players would say, "Give me more time and I'll play better', and the coach would say 'Play better, and I'll give you more time.'" 

That's a fair stance to take, especially with a young player. It's not as though the assessment isn't without merit, either. During his tenure with Vancouver, he was the team's wort forward by shot shares and struggled to produce offence, even in a limited role.

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Is the Canucks Recent Interest in the QMJHL a Developing Trend?

Ryan Biech
December 13 2016 11:00AM

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Michael Carcone fend off an Edmonton Oilers defender in the pre-season.

Photo Credit: Peter Llewellyn - USA TODAY Sports

We're a few years into Jim Benning's run at the top of the Canucks, and we're starting to see trends develop as a result. For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to focus on an area of strength and look at developments made at the draft.

Vancouver's made a point of selecting players from the USHL, and the results so far indicate they're on their way to paydirt. The OHL doesn't lag far behind in the Canucks' collective scope, as they've mined that league on many occasions over the last three seasons. Lastly, they're prospecting the QMJHL it seems.

Investing in the QMJHL isn't a surefire bet. Just looking at Canucks' development camps, and it's a who's who of players from the Q who've been passed over, sometimes in multiple drafts. That speaks to the uncertainty.

The Canucks haven't always gone that route, though. If their record in 2016 is any indication, it might be a developing trend for the Canucks heading into their fourth draft with Benning at the helm.

This is a topic worth exploring, so let's dive into it.

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NHLN Power Rankings: Dec. 12, 2016

Scott Maxwell
December 12 2016 05:55PM

It's time for your weekly dose of the NHL Numbers power rankings, a weekly look on the previous week in the NHL. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.

Note: All use of Corsi For and Expected Goals For are Score and Venue Adjusted, and at even strength. All stats come from Corsica Hockey, and NHL.com (don't worry, it's only the standings).

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NHLN Notebook: Leastern Conference no more, Doughty Norris Speculation, and Girgensons Trade Rumours

Christian Pagnani
December 12 2016 12:36PM

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The Eastern conference may no longer be the Leastern conference. Four out of the top five teams in the league come from the East, and that becomes all five if you sort by winning percentage. The Metropolitan division is leading the way with five teams projected to either come close or break the 100-point threshold. Both Wild Card spots will likely be occupied by Metropolitan teams and the East will feature some of the league's strongest teams come playoff time. Pittsburgh doesn't look like its missed a beat and Philadelphia and Columbus look like new threats. 

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Learning how to Dougie

Ryan Pike
December 12 2016 10:00AM

An important part of being an analyst or commentator is admitting when you're wrong. I'll flat out admit it: when Glen Gulutzan shook up the defensive pairings following Calgary's Dec. 10 loss to the Dallas Stars, I thought it was a bad idea. Heck, I wrote about it and pronounced it as such. My thought process was that the Flames had one defensive pairing that worked really well (Deryk Engelland and Brett Kulak) and it would be silly to break them up to gamble on finding chemistry elsewhere.

Now that Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton have gelled this well together, making such a fuss about the third pairing sure seems silly in hindsight. In particular, the solidifying of Hamilton's role on the team and a consistent partner have unlocked a ton of really good things in his game.

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