Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 11/14/14
C-Mac’s Report Card

I teach…therefore I grade. Gear up for the ride Vancouver Canucks fans.

The New Jersey Devils are named after a supposed legendary creature that inhabits the desolate Pine Barrens of New Jersey.

However, the Canucks team that rolled through the state last Friday night, dumping the host Devils, has been an even greater road beast this season, seeing as they hold the finest away record in the league.

The fact that they were able to grind out this win less than 24 hours after leaving Detroit (a 761 km flight to Newark) reveals their determination and resolve to get back to their second consecutive final, in the midst of a particularly grueling trip.

Coach V - Frequently on the end of a lot of criticism. Fair?

Although the Dallas encounter didn’t go as well, with the team appearing understandably jet lagged and burdened late in the third with a very fortunate icing call, the Canucks still managed another road point, followed by yet one more with the game in Phoenix to end the trip.

With 18 games left to go until the real action begins, Vancouver has begun to truly assert itself as a difficult team to break down.

Top 3 Developments to love about the Canucks

1. The evolution of Alain Vigneault’s coaching. He is frequently on the end of a lot of criticism with one of the most impatient fan bases in all of sports but he has not been afraid to shake up his methods when required this season.

Three things stand out in particular: his new found resolve to shake up the lines when things are going poorly; the judicious juggling of time for players to keep them rested; and his effective use of situational tactics such as taking advantage of using Manny Malhotra almost exclusively for defensive zone face-offs, while Henrik and Kesler are able to control those face-offs in the offensive areas of the ice.

2. Mike Gillis’ understanding of the Canucks’ roster situation including his adept maneuvering under the limitations of the salary cap, and his willingness to take a calculated risk (unlike many of his more cautious GM brethren).

3. The team’s ability to grind out points and results even while they have not played at their best. You always get the feeling they can still step up another gear.

Top 3 Concerns about the Canucks

1. Though they are handling adversity well now, how will the team cope with it when the refs pocket their whistles again during the playoffs (and how it will impact the team’s flowing offensive style)?

2. Will the new acquisitions of Zack Kassian, Sami Pahlsson and Marc-Andre Gragnani settle in soon enough to become fully productive?

3. Will the hearts of Canucks fans be able to handle all this drama and excitement?

Positional Awards

Top Goalie: Too tough to single one out right now. Schneids stood out in the early going as Roberto Luongo searched for his game, while Louuuuuuuuuuu has been stellar since just before Christmas.

3/4 Season Grades: Louuuuuuuuuuu has been stellar since just before Christmas

Right now, with AV’s game to game planning, both backstops are keeping this team near the top of the heap.

Top Defenceman: Various blue liners have held the fort this year, but right now I really like Sami Salo’s game. He leads the defencemen in goals, despite playing 11 games fewer, and his calm, sound positional work mentors the rest of the back liners.

Top Left Winger: Daniel Sedin and his team leading goal total command this position as they have all year. Daniel is the trigger that makes the offence pop.

Top Centre: Ryan Kesler’s goal scoring form has roared back and his plus/minus has soared to +16, putting him on track to restoring the beast mode of the opening playoff rounds last season.

Top Right Winger: David Booth has reached a greater comfort level with his teammates and his strength on the puck has been impressive. Those power moves out of the corners and off the wing put fear into opposition defenders.

Final Thoughts

Mike Gillis is never satisfied with his lengthening list of achievements. You certainly may not always agree with him (heavily evidenced by the avalanche of outrage at the loss of Hodgson, apparently every Vancouverite’s favourite apple-cheeked neighbourhood kid), but you have to admire his dedication to the cause.

This time last year, major doubts were being cast on the quality and legitimacy of playoff pick-ups Chris Higgins and Maxim Lapierre. Now, who can imagine the Canucks without them?

Gillis has made his move and the team has the time and motivation to utilize the gifts he has given them.

We are about to embark on another heck of a ride down the stretch run.


© C-Mac for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

Follow NWSB on Twitter or join US on Facebook for real-time updates OR... | Share This on Twitter | Share NWSportsBeat.com on Facebook

Post tags: Alain Vigneault, Canucks, Canucks Blog, Cody Hodgson, Cory Schneider, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa, Manny Malhotra, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Mid Season Grades, Mike Gillis, Northwest Division, Opinion, Player Grades, Report Cards, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Sami Pahlsson, Sami Salo, Third Quarter, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Canucks Blog, Vancouver Canucks player grades, Vancouver Hockey Blogs, Zack Kassian

Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Report: NFL has potential video evidence with Deflategate

Report: Rams, other teams interested in Nick Foles

Tom Brady: 'My feelings got hurt' in Deflategate controversy

Odell Beckham Jr. says he played with two hamstring tears

Report: A-Rod apologized to new MLB commissioner


Pete Carroll empathizes with Belichick, Pats in Deflategate

Max Scherzer thanks Tigers with full page newspaper ad

Ray Lewis: Patriots should have asterisk for cheating

Report: Cavs players believed team lacked depth

Richard Sherman calls out Kraft, Goodell over their friendship

Brandon Jennings to miss 6-9 months with Achilles injury

Mark Brunell explains why he got emotional over Deflategate

NFL was profiting off Marshawn Lynch's crotch grab

NFL finally getting its own YouTube channel

20 most amazing stats in Super Bowl history

Six X-factors who could make an impact in Super Bowl XLIX

Five potentially fatal flaws for Patriots in the Super Bowl

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Opposing Packers celebrate Pro Bowl TD

WATCH: Sherman, Peterson hug it out at Pro Bowl

WATCH: Chris Berman is not happy at the Pro Bowl

PHOTO: Brock Lesnar's tramp stamp says ‘Kill ‘em All’

WATCH: Hassan Whiteside blocks five shots in 7 minutes

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

NFL has Deflategate video evidence?

Burnell explains why he got emotional

NFL was profiting off Lynch's gesture

NFL finally getting YouTube channel

20 amazing stats in Super Bowl history

Tom Brady: 'My feelings got hurt'

Potential 'X-factor' Super Bowl players

Potential fatal flaws for Pats in SB XLIX

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

Chris Berman isn't happy at the Pro Bowl

Brandon Jennings out 6-9 months

Josh Gordon tests positive for alcohol

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.