Comparing the 2010-11 Vancouver Canucks to the 1993-94 version

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Every once in a while, something so weird (and coincidental) happens that you just have to shake your head. While the Vancouver Canucks beat the San Jose Sharks with one of the strangest overtime game-winning goals you’ll ever see, maybe we should have seen the ultimate result coming from a mile away.

Just look at the similarities in the way the 2010-11 Canucks and 1993-94 model made it to the Stanley Cup finals. Both teams made their way through the Western Conference finals by scoring game-winning goals in overtime; Greg Adams scored the ’94 team’s winner on a rebound against Felix Potvin while Kevin Bieksa beat Antti Niemi on a rebound of a different kind. Strangely enough, both double OT wins happened on May 24, too. It’s almost as if Bieksa’s bizarre tally celebrated the 17th birthday of Adams’ goal.

Such similarities left us wondering: what things do these two Canucks teams have in common and what makes each squad different? Let’s take a look. (Hockey-Reference.com was an excellent source for some of this information.)

The 1993-94 Canucks at a glance

Record: 41-40-3 (second in Pacific division); Goals For: 279 (14th place out of 26 teams); Goals Against: 276 (17th out of 26); PP %: 18.82 (league average: 18.64); PK %: 81.66 (league average: 81.36)

The 2010-11 Canucks at a glance

Record: 54-19-9 (Presidents’ Trophy); Goals For: 262 (1st place out of 30); Goals Against: 185 (1st out of 30); PP %: 24.32 (league average: 18.02); PK %: 85.58 (league average: 81.98)

As you can see, the ’94 Canucks were average or worse going into the playoffs while the current Canucks put together one of the most dominant regular seasons in recent memory. Seriously, this bunch was at the top of almost every category imaginable. If you want to simplify things to death, the ’94 Canucks were David and this year’s Canucks are Goliath.

(Please note that scorers are ranked according to regular season totals, although playoff numbers will be provided as well.)

’93-94 top scorers

Pavel Bure- 107 Points (31 in playoffs)
Geoff Courtnall- 70 Points (19 in playoffs)
Clifford Ronning- 68 Points (15 in playoffs)
Trevor Linden – 61 Points (25 in playoffs)

’10-11 top scorers

Daniel Sedin- 104 Points (21 in playoffs)
Henrik Sedin- 94 Points (16 in playoffs)
Ryan Kesler- 73 Points (18 in playoffs)

Both teams featured a 100+ point scorer, although the two players couldn’t be much more different (aside for their supreme talents). Bure was a singular force – he scored 37 more points than Courtnall – while Daniel Sedin is considered 50 percent of a tremendous two-headed hockey monster. Bure was a flashy Russian stud who probably inspired the likes of Alex Ovechkin. Daniel is a funny looking redhead whose efficient game probably translates best to hardcore fans.

’93-94 scorers among defensemen

Jyrki Lumme -55 Points (13 in playoffs)
Jiri Slegr- 38 Points (n/a)
David Babych- 32 Points (8 in playoffs)

’10-11 scorers among defensemen

Christian Ehrhoff- 50 Points (11 in playoffs)
Alexander Edler- 33 Points (9 in playoffs)
Dan Hamhuis- 23 Points (6 in playoffs)
Kevin Bieksa- 22 Points (9 in playoffs)

High-scoring defensemen might be one of the better shared traits between the two teams. (I must admit, it’s a trip down memory lane to see the name “Jiri Slegr” again.)

’93-94 starting goalie

Kirk McLean

Regular season: 23-25-3, 2.99 GAA, 89.1 sv pct.; Playoffs: 15-9, 2.29 GAA, 92.8 save pct.

’10-11 starting goalie

Roberto Luongo

Regular season: 38-15-7, 2.11 GAA, 92.8 save pct.; Playoffs: 12-6, 2.29 GAA, 92.2 save pct.

Obviously, Luongo’s career outshines McLean’s by a wide margin. It’s stunning how similar their postseason numbers are, though, aren’t they? It’s almost as if someone offered McLean the chance to be Luongo for a few months.

***

These two teams entered their respective playoffs with very different expectations, yet they produced similar results up until the Stanley Cup finals. That magical ’94 run ended thanks to the famous play of Mark Messier and the New York Rangers. Whether it’s the Boston Bruins or Tampa Bay Lightning, this year’s Canucks will be the favorites going into the Cup finals this time around.

The question is: will their magic run out or will they be different from the ’94 version in the most important way by winning the first Stanley Cup in franchise history? We’ll just have to wait and see about that one.

Fleury celebrates Stanley Cup day as a Penguin, but admits he’s ready to move on

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Marc-Andre Fleury celebrated his day with the Stanley Cup on Saturday.

His time in Pittsburgh has already come to an official end, having been selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. He’s already said ‘thank-you’ to the fans of Pittsburgh, but the events of this weekend, in his mind it seems, close the chapter for good on this stage of his career.

“I think this was my last day as a Penguin, I would say,” Fleury told NHL.com.

“I have members of my family who had their Penguins hats who told me this was the last time those will come out. So I think after today, I can turn the page and get ready for Vegas.”

The former first overall pick captured three Stanley Cup rings with the Penguins. While he wasn’t the No. 1 goalie last year — or in the 2017 final, either — he played a significant role in Pittsburgh’s success through the first half of this year’s playoff before Matt Murray returned from injury.

He earned praise for how he handled the situation toward the end in Pittsburgh. After the final, reports surfaced he had agreed to waive his no-movement clause, which left him exposed in the expansion draft.

At age 32, he still has two more years left on his current contract, with an annual cap hit of $5.75 million. He’ll no doubt garner plenty of attention this upcoming season as the experienced starter on the Golden Knights’ roster.

But Saturday was for Fleury to enjoy one last championship won with the Penguins.

Hall urges Hischier to ‘develop at his own pace’

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The New Jersey Devils won the lottery and selected Nico Hischier first overall. With that comes even greater expectations on the player heading into their first training camp.

We’re less than two months away from the opening of training camps across the league.

But on a team that has worked this summer to bolster its offense, the addition of the 18-year-old Hischier could have an immediate impact in that department in October. Certainly, fans in New Jersey will hope so.

Taylor Hall knows all about the pressures of being taken first overall.

The Oilers selected him at that spot in 2010, but dealt him to New Jersey last summer, removing a very talented forward from their roster in order to gain something back defensively.

Devils coach John Hynes has already tried to lessen the burden on Hischier. Hall, it appears, has taken a similar approach.

“He’s just got to relax and develop at his own pace,” Hall told the Toronto Sun. “That’s not always the easiest thing to do with all the expectations people put on you for going No. 1, but I’ll help him any way I can.”

The Metropolitan Division featured four 100-plus point teams last season. New Jersey wasn’t one of them. Where the Devils need to make the most improvement in order to break back into the postseason conversation is with their offensive attack,finishing 28th in the league in total goals for last season.

Hischier should help — if not exactly next season then beyond 2017-18. The Devils also acquired Marcus Johansson from Washington and the signing of Brian Boyle should help solidify depth up the middle.

“It’s exciting times for us, bringing in the likes of Nico, Brian Boyle and Marcus Johansson,” said Hall. “We’re certainly trending in the right direction.”

Habs may lean more on Montoya to keep Price refreshed

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The Montreal Canadiens committed money (a lot of money) and term to Carey Price with his contract extension at the beginning of this month.

He is the backbone for this team, for its success.

He’s also about to turn 30 years old next month, with 509 career games in the NHL, entering the league in 2007-08. For as great as he has been, the Habs may place added responsibilities on the shoulders of their back-up, a title currently held by Al Montoya.

In an interview with the Habs’ website, the club’s goaltending coach Stephane Waite said that, in his mind, the days of starting goalies playing 65 to 70 games are done. It’s too tall an order in today’s NHL.

Price has, on three occasions, breached the figures in that approximation during his career. He approached the lower end of that with 62 starts in 2016-17. Montoya, meanwhile, had 18 starts and 19 games, posting a 8-6-4 record (20 points for Montreal in the standings) and a .912 save percentage.

He was the victim of one awful game, allowing 10 goals to Columbus on Nov. 4. But seriously, the entire Habs team was awful that night, essentially leaving their No. 2 goalie out to dry in an embarrassing effort from everyone.

Beyond that, Montoya was able to put together some nice starts, including shutouts against Pittsburgh and Edmonton, two teams well-equipped with dangerous offensive talent.

“We’re not afraid to put Al in goal against any team in the league,” said Waite.

“We don’t look at who he’ll be playing, we just look at the schedule that we make at the beginning of the season. Our priority is to give Carey the right days off at the right times.”

The Habs signed Montoya to a two-year extension in January. That’s a vote of confidence in their back-up.

Maintaining that confidence with a good season would certainly help the Habs accomplish the objective of keeping Price rested and refreshed.

Rangers are ‘right on the cusp,’ says Shattenkirk

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Since missing the playoffs in 2010, the New York Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference Final three times, and to the Stanley Cup Final once.

A championship, however, has eluded them. Instead, they’ve lost to the L.A. Kings in the final and watched their division rivals from Pittsburgh win it twice in a row, even losing to the Penguins in the first round in 2016.

This summer, however, has brought considerable change to the Blueshirts through a blockbuster trade with Arizona, buyouts and a retirement.

Derek Stepan — gone.

Dan Girardi — gone.

Kevin Klein — gone.

Antti Raanta — gone.

Oscar Lindberg — gone.

There has been substantial change on the blue line. The Rangers went after prized free agent defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk with a four-year contract worth $26.6 million. They re-signed Brendan Smith, a late-season acquisition. They brought in Anthony DeAngelo in that deal with Arizona.

Read more: Optimism replaces pessimism after changes to Rangers defense

No surprise here, but Shattenkirk had an optimistic outlook when describing the Rangers, a team he believes is “right on the cusp,” according to a conversation with NHL.com.

“I think we have that capability of playing with a team like that,” Shattenkirk recently told NHL.com.

“We have great goaltending (Henrik Lundqvist). Our defense is fast and we can make plays, but I also think we have a little bit of edge as well. Up front, I’m sure we’re one of the fastest teams in the League. You look at how Pittsburgh is built, and that’s the way that they’ve won. We have some great depth on our team, and I think that’s what it really comes down to at that point of the season: How deep are you?”

Their success next season may also depend on which teams rise and fall in the Metropolitan Division.

Columbus took a big step forward with a franchise record-setting season and will look to replicate that beginning in the fall. The Penguins were the Penguins, advancing past Washington and Ottawa in seven-game series despite a plethora of injuries before besting Nashville in the final. One has to wonder how much of a toll the grind of two Stanley Cups will take on that club. The Capitals won the Presidents’ Trophy but faltered in the playoffs, ushering in change to their roster with all the unrestricted free agents — including Shattenkirk for the playoff run — they had.

Can the Islanders get back into the playoffs? Same question for the Flyers. Will Carolina, with Scott Darling in net, get the necessary upgrade at that position and take the next step toward the playoffs? What will New Jersey, with an upgraded offense in addition to Taylor Hall, be capable of when the season begins?

The number of changes to teams in the Metropolitan may be enough to shift the balance of power in that division this upcoming season. The Rangers have seemed like a team on the cusp at least three times in the last seven years.

Shattenkirk mentioned goaltending, as well, calling it great. That’s an accurate description of what Lundqvist has been for many years in New York. However, at the age of 35, he’ll need to bounce back from what was a down season for him in 2016-17.

“I think everyone’s probably all going to judge [the window] based on Lundqvist, and everyone is talking about, ‘Well, how long does he have left?'” continued Shattenkirk. “We have a lot of young players on this team, though, to counterbalance that.”