Vancouver Canucks - Time To Prove The Doubters Are Wrong
During the past off-season the Canucks hype machine was working over time. Telling the Vancouver faithful that their team was new and improved with more depth on offense, an a defense that would now be able to add extra scoring on the PP. When the likes of TSN started to make claims that this team will be a real threat in the western conference and a place in the play off’s was certainly on the cards, those faithful fans could hardly question that TSN were wrong.
As can be expected fans were very excited with all the positive reports that had been surfacing. So when Scott Burnside of ESPN stated that Vancouver would likely finish the season in 17th place, behind such teams as the Oilers, Panthers and even the underachieving Lightning. It was no wonder most fans were a little angry and slightly confused. Had Burnside been taking one to many swigs from his wine bottle?
So why would an ESPN hockey reporter make such damning predictions about the Canucks? The reasons he gave were that Vancouver lacked secondary scoring on offense and a murderous road schedule during the Olympics. Nobody can deny that the Olympic road trip won’t be a very tough period for the team. What about a lack of secondary scoring?
Every good team has its top six forwards who are expected to provide a large amount of offensive production. Teams need to have blue collar worker’s who are not necessarily meant to be a point a game player, but be an integral part of a teams success, such players are relied on to help out the first and second lines. Does Vancouver really have that much depth and talent past the first and second lines?
During last season the following players, Wellwood, Bernier and Raymond spent time playing on the third and fourth lines, helping to contribute to the teams secondary scoring. Of those players Raymond has currently shown the most consistency having a point in seven of his last eight games. Bernier did score two goals in the win against Colorado. Prior to that game he hadn’t put the puck in the net since October 30th. Kyle Wellwood’s struggles have been widely documented. He has played in seventeen games thus far, earning himself a paltry one point. He was awarded that point when he assisted Bernier in a loss to Edmonton on October 19th. Some fans are saying he should be sent down to the Moose rather than wasting a roster spot. While no one can ignore his complete lack of production, he still has talent. You have to wonder if he has fully recovered from a broken toe? An injury that meant he missed three games with approximately a week’s recovery. Surely an injury of that severity requires at least three weeks of rehab? Was his recovery rushed due the amount of other injured players who were on the IR at the same time as Wellwood?
Unfortunately the problem does not end there. Samuelsson, Kesler and Burrows are all in a scoring slump. Samuelsson has just one point in his last six games and has not been able to score a goal since November 3rd. Burrows has one point in the last five games, the last time he lit the lamp was November 5th. Ryan Kesler’s goal production is also somewhat missing in action not scoring a goal since early November. Defensive production has gone a little AWOL. Sami Salo is known for having a rocket like shot and can be very useful on the power play; he currently has zero goals with only two points in 14 games. Edler is yet to score a goal in the twenty-one games he has played. Christian Ehrhoff was acquired to help out on the PP, he has not earned a point since the beginning of November, he last scored a goal in late October.
When a team is faced with as much adversity as Vancouver has dealt with, the battle is much harder. When the teams leading goal scorer eventually returns to the line up this will relieve some pressure his teammates are currently under. Players are perhaps being asked to play a different role on the team. This would then mean they are faced with higher than normal expectations from their coach. If a player of Daniel Sedin’s caliber who holds a key to the team’s success is unable to play, the injury goes far deeper than one player alone, the impact creates a ripple effect felt by the entire team.
That said injuries alone might not be the only reason for the struggles the team has so far endured. A lack of inconsistency to score goals, points or help out with an assist is also a factor that cannot be over looked. This team need’s to improve its lack of secondary scoring. Will the return of players like Daniel Sedin be able to change this? The 8-2 win against the Avalanche was a wonderful example of how Vancouver can pull together as a team, to produce a winning formula, which was the first of many steps in the right direction. While The Canucks hold many of the pieces that are essential to play off victory, there are still many adjustments to be made. When the fine-tuning is complete and the wins become more of a regularity, Vancouver will start to prove that the doubters are most definitely wrong.
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