Gillis: Canucks couldn’t get their “emotions together” after beating Boston in January

41 Comments

Canucks GM Mike Gillis took a grilling from reporters this morning in Vancouver, two days after his Presidents’ Trophy-winning team couldn’t advance past the first round, losing in five games to the Los Angeles Kings.

A recap of the major points:

—-Gillis says the Canucks never “collectively got their emotions together” after beating the Bruins in Boston on Jan. 7 in a game that was “almost like playing a Stanley Cup final game in the middle of the season.”

—-Gillis says he has “every bit of confidence” in coach Alain Vigneault and that the media criticism “gets exasperating sometimes” given Vigneault is “the winningest coach in this team’s history, we just won two Presidents’ Trophies, lost in the seventh game on the Stanley Cup final.” That said, he fell short of guaranteeing Vigneault would be back next season.

—-Before any decisions can be made about coaches or players, Gillis says his own performance and future will need to be discussed: “I am the president of this team and the general manager, it is my responsibility what happens on this team. So before we get to anybody else we are going to discuss my role and how I have done.”

—-On the goaltending front, Gillis thinks Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider can continue to co-exist on the same team. However, he needs to meet with them and the coaching staff to see if it can be a “workable relationship moving forward.”

—-The Canucks won’t resort to a defensive philosophy, even after defense-first teams like the Blues, Kings and Predators beat offensive-minded teams like the Sharks, Canucks and Red Wings in the first round.

—-Based on what he heard at the GMs meetings, Gills says the league wants the game to be offensive, so that’s how he’ll try to build his team: “I believe in offense and I think the league does too. If not, they should change the name of the game to ‘goalie'”

—-On why he traded Cody Hodgson at the deadline: “There clearly were issues that were ongoing. I spent more time on Cody’s issues than every other player combined on our team the last three years. We made a determination that he didn’t want to be here, we built him into something we could move. There were six young players that I would have traded him for if any of them were ever made available. One was made available at the trade deadline and it was Zack [Kassian].”

Here’s more from Gillis about the coaching situation:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Related: Luongo: I’ll waive my no-trade clause

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

2 Comments

Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

Getty
Leave a comment

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

Getty
Leave a comment

Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

Getty
2 Comments

The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.