All I Want For Christmas: Vancouver Canucks

With Christmas Day just around the corner, we take a look at what the Vancouver Canucks organization has on their wishlist this holiday season. Merry Christmas!

All I Want For Christmas: Vancouver Canucks

Defensive stability

While this may be a lot to ask for at this point – considering the injuries to Dan Hamhuis and Luca Sbisa – but arguably the biggest issue for the Canucks of late has been stability on the blueline. The Canucks rank in the bottom third of the league in goals against, and considering the fact that both goaltenders have held their own, it lands squarely on the defense core. While depth players such as Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber have had their issues, they’re not the ones playing big minutes. It’s the Hamhuis’ (when healthy) and Edlers of the world that have to step up big time, or else this team will have major problems qualifying for the post-season (assuming that’s still the goal for management).

A healthy team

While it’s far from the only reason they’ve been struggling, it’s also hard to ignore that the Canucks, like anyone, have had some injury problems. In addition to the aforementioned Hamhuis and Sbisa, they’re missing what are arguably their top two centermen in Henrik Sedin and Brandon Sutter. While losing those players is a blow in it’s own right, it’s the trickle-down effect that may be even more harmful. Due to the absence of those two, Bo Horvat and Jared McCann – a sophomore and a rookie – have been tasked with holding down the first and second line centre positions. While they certainly haven’t looked out of place, there’s no denying that the preference would be for those two to be occupying spaces a bit further down the depth chart.

A successful World Junior Championship for Jake Virtanen

Another major issue (until these past couple of games) for the club has been the supporting cast and their lack of offensive contribution. The offense has come from the Sedins, Jannik Hansen, and on occasion Radim Vrbata. They need more if they want to start winning games consistently, and if Jake Virtanen comes back from the WJC with confidence, it could greatly benefit the secondary scoring. He’ll be relied on as a core part of Canada’s offence, and should he light up at this year’s tournament, he could come back feeling good about his game, and potentially start scoring with some consistency at the NHL level.

A better Penalty Kill

While it’s been better of late, with power play goals against being scored in just two of the last eight games, it’s been a rough past two months for the Canucks PK group. From November 8th to December 1st, the Canucks had just one game in which they did not allow a power play goal, a brutal statistic for what is normally a power house squad while down a┬áman. They currently rank 22nd on the penalty kill at 78.3%, after a 2014-15 that had them at 2nd overall, with an efficiency rank 85.7%. The recent results have been better, but on a whole, the Canucks need their penalty killers to step it up a bit.

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