by PuckStopsHere on 02/10/14 at 03:35 PM ET
One interesting story this season is that the Vancouver Canucks and New York Rangers effectively traded coaches. Alain Vigneault went to New York and John Tortorella went to Vancouver. As we have hit the Olympic break we can start to draw conclusions. Neither coach has turned their new team into a top contender but both have slid shots at a playoff berth. Vancouver might be pushed a little harder to get their playoff berth due to a tougher conference and tougher travel.
I think the most meaningful change from this coaching "trade" is a change to the Canuck system. In the past, Daniel and Henrik Sedin have led the league in offensive zone starts. This was done in order to maximize their offensive performance. Why use your best offensive players in defensive situations? Tortorella has discontinued the level to which this is done. The Sedins may lead the Canucks in offensive zone stars, but they are far back from the league lead. Among players with 30 or more games played, Henrik Sedin is 55th by offensive zone start percentage and Daniel is 56th. Has this cost the Vancouver Canucks?
It likely has cost the Sedins points, but has it cost the Canucks points? The problem is that Vancouver lacks a strong defensive forward to give the defensive zone starts to in order to allow the Sedins their offensive starts. In the past Manny Malhotra and Maxim Lapierre have filled this role. Malhotra is now in Carolina and Lapierre is in St Louis. Vancouver does have Ryan Kesler but his offensive ability makes him a poor choice to be used in a purely defensive role. The Canucks have not found a player to fill that role this season and as a result, the Sedins have not been able to be used in as strong an offensive role as they are used to.
New coaches bring new strategies to their new teams. John Tortorella has stopped using the Sedins in the most offensive role he possibly can. Is this a good move? Is this a move that has been dictated by the lack of a forward capable of succeeding in a top defensive role? Is this an admission that the Sedins are starting to decline? Is this a planned strategy change from Tortorella?
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