Reality has set in, according to Canucks GM. It took one of the lowest points this team has hit, maybe the lowest, since Game 7 of the 2011 Finals. While it's encouraging that management is acknowledging the multiple issues facing this team, at the same time it's disheartening that NOW they see the problem.
Hard truths are what they are because they force you to accept things that you think you shouldn't have to for various reasons. Loyalty. Sentimentality. Hell, even stubborn pride. The Vancouver Canucks are finally accepting some hard truths (though not all of them, it should be noted) about the state they find themselves in. And while it's not going to change their fortunes in terms of some miraculous run to the post-season, it could have a positive impact on the future. The mere fact that the team is actually focusing on the future other than passing mention in press releases and sound bites gives me hope.
So this means we'll see younger players getting increased ice time and responsibility. And veterans, including Daniel and Henrik Sedin, getting their ice time pared back, as they, along with other vets this season have truly let the team down. This is going to piss some people off. It's not that easy to write something negative about the Sedins, but this team simply cannot compete with them getting first line minutes a moment longer. They're getting eaten alive, and Willie Desjardins compounded the problem by trying to find someone who could magically end a season where their offense has diminished and their defensive play has become a liability.
It's frustrating that it's taken this long to give the 1st line minutes to Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi (and let's be clear, Alex Burrows was a huge part of their success this season, one of the few vets who didn't disappoint), and while it might have helped some, this move alone wouldn't have saved this lost season. Loui Eriksson looks like one of the all time bad free agency signings. This team's defense is porous, to the point that it feels like a victory if they can hold their opponent to under 40 shots. Think about that for a second. And while Ryan Miller has been near heroic withstanding what must feel like Buffalo flashbacks, the team has to make a move this summer to start addressing the future in goal, and it shouldn't include a soon to be 37 year old starter.
It's unlikely we see ownership address these failures by making a change upstairs, but I feel more strongly than ever that Willie Desjardins must be let go at the end of the season. We gave him a pass on last season because of a) 'the hand he was dealt' and b) a pretty staggering amount of injuries. The injuries have again been an issue, but with a team that we were told was going to be better than last year's version pretty much in the same spot they were, do you honestly believe that this team healthy is any better than they are in their current banged-up state?
There is hope in the future of the Canucks. Prospects like Brock Boeser, Thatcher Demko, Olli Juolevi, Nikolay Goldobin, Adam Gaudette, Will Lockwood, and even Jordan Subban and Jake Virtanen will get a chance to prove they have what it takes. Alongside Nikita Tryamkin, Troy Stecher and Markus Granlund, this team is going to change not just faces, but a complete style. One with speed, skill (and hopefully size is being addressed soon). The Sedins have been incredible soldiers for the Canucks. They are Hall Of Fame worthy players, who have done this team and this entire province proud. But the curtains are starting to close, and we need to prepare that the day when we no longer see 22 and 33 in the lineup is coming.
Although the situation isn't quite the same, Dallas also find themselves in a situation where some hard choices have to be made. They have a bunch of talent, especially up front, yet management's choice to seemingly ignore their goaltending issues have them poised to miss the post-season when many had them penciled in as a contender in the West. They also have Lindy Ruff, whose contract expires at the end of this season, and many wonder if it's time for Dallas to move in a new direction there as well.
If you're looking for a game where the Canucks, with the new approach of giving the kids more ice time is going to bring on a big win to help us forget the abomination we witnessed Monday night, you're not going to get it tonight. For all their struggles of late, Dallas has utterly owned the Canucks at Rogers Arena the last while, 11-0-1 in their last 12. Why, it's almost like they knew how to coach against Willie or something?
So while we can expect to see a whole lot more of the kids tonight, it wouldn't at all surprise me to see the Canucks put Ryan Miller back in net instead of starting Richard Bachman, who, you know... used to be a member of the Dallas Stars?
Also, you need to read Alex Burrows' thank you letter to the Canucks, their fans and the City of Vancouver at The Players' Tribune today. No. Merci, Alex. Merci.