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Vancouver Canucks

Will The Real Vancouver Canucks Please Stand Up?

Vancouver CanucksAfter an unusual opening weekend that saw both the Redwings and Canucks sat at the bottom of the western conference standings (through loosing their first two games of the season) the Canucks knew that it was imperative to turn their fortunes around.

What better way to do this than a win at your home opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets? Only this wasn’t to be for the team. During the first period the Canucks were looking much improved, skating with real speed, creating scoring chances and playing a more aggressive style. Henrik Sedin’s diving goal was enough to prove that this team was showing improvement. After a long shift and an uneventful power play for the Canucks, Antoine Vermette made it 1-1 to end the period.

Then at the start of the second, all of the team’s hard work suddenly hit a brick wall in the most dramatic fashion. Roberto Luongo allowed three goals on three shots, at which point he was replaced for his less than stellar performance. The team’s first points of the season and their reputation was left to backup goalie Andrew Raycroft. Although the team were able to score two more goals from Christian Ehrhoff and Willie Mitchell, when Fedor Tyutin scored the fifth goal for Columbus, the Canucks could do no more than except they had just been presented with a third loss.

So why is Vancouver now currently sat dead last in the western conference? Last season, Vancouver finished the regular season with one hundred points, won the northwest division and were third in the western conference. The team didn’t really loose any pivotal players in the off-season, if anything new additions to the team were positive upgrades. In the three games played Vancouver have only managed to score six goals and at the other end of the scale have thirteen against them, with only two goals on the power play. Daniel Sedin who led the team in scoring last season, is yet to score a goal. Daniel also led the team in points.

Defenseman Willie Mitchell currently leads in points. Last year he was eighth but that was one of his best seasons as his offensive production is not usually his forte. The first line of Sedin, Sedin and Burrows have looked the most impressive in all three outings. While the other lines look as if they are trying to find their feet. The second line of Shirokov, Kesler and Samuelsson really seem to be a work in progress. Until the first game of the season they hadn’t played on a line together, not even in the pre season. During last night’s game, Shirokov was actually bumped down to the third line and replaced with Mason Raymond. While Raymond is still looking impressive, Shirokov seems to be struggling to recapture the talent displayed in his preseason outing. Players like Wellwood and Bernier will have to show some urgency and acclimatize to the fact that the season has officially started and begin producing. Whilst the team has increased scoring from it’s defensive core, the key components that regularly contribute to offensive production appear to be on some kind of hiatus. This must change as quickly as the next game.

There is one other piece to this puzzle that presently doesn’t fit. We all know hockey is a team sport and that on any team all of the wheels must be turning in the same direction. This can not be said of Luongo. Luongo has allowed eleven goals in three games. He is notorious for his slow starts in October this shouldn’t be an excuse. When a player is considered to be the face of the franchise, he really needs be prepared for the first month of play. Although on occasion his team does seem to expect him to win too many games single-handedly, with the tendency to sit back and let him defend an early lead. Last season Luongo suffered an injury to his groin that sidelined him for approximately two months. Recovery from an injury can just be waiting for the effected area to heal. Sometimes the injury can have a deeper impact an a players psyche. I have often wondered if this could be a problem for Luongo, as since then at times he has a propensity to let in goals that normally he could save with his eyes closed. Confidence is perhaps a factor, through the fear of incurring further injury. Whatever the reason he isn’t playing like his old self and he needs to turn his game around. If he doesn’t fans may be jamming the phone boards of local radio station the Team1040 complaining that he should be traded along with half of his teammates.

It may only be three games into the season but if the Canucks are to be a real cup contender, it is crucial to iron out the problems before their next game against Montreal, who are 2 an 0 at this stage. Montreal plays Calgary tonight before heading to Vancouver on Wednesday. By that time Vancouver may be playing a 3 an 0 Montreal team?

Yes the Canucks are 0 an 3 and as yet, the need to hit the panic button is not quite a reality. Should they lose to Montreal, securing that elusive win will become much harder. By which time the panic button may already have been pressed. Fans will expect heads to roll and may be looking for public enemy number one. Playing in a hockey market like Vancouver is a wonderful experience as long as you can win more than you loose.

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3 comments for “Will The Real Vancouver Canucks Please Stand Up?”

  1. Here’s an interesting take. The guys on NHL Home Ice pointed out that pretty much everyone, except the Colorado Avalanche (at the expense of my Sharks) lost their home opener. The reason? They think too much fan fare. For example the Los Angeles Kings lost to the Phoneix Coyotes at their home opener, and there were reports that all the pre-game stuff included things like introducing the assistant equipment manager, the puck kid - and every player was individually introduced. They think the looooong home opening ceremonies get the home team out of sync. But all in all, it’s only 3 games - don’t panic until (US) Thanksgiving, supposedly that’s when you’ll know whether or not your team is a contender.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | October 6, 2009, 12:56 pm
  2. It’s definitely nothing to lose sleep over but I am a little surprised at Luongo. I do think you may have hit the nail on the head with the pysche comments. Confidence and attitude have everything to do with how a players responds on the ice. But it’s a loooong season and a lot (as we all know) can happen. Some say a slow start ensures great success down the line.

    Posted by PuckGalNo Gravatar | October 8, 2009, 3:38 pm
  3. Well when we beat the Habs last night he was much better and only allowed one goal.I hope he keeps improving.

    Posted by CanuckulheadNo Gravatar | October 8, 2009, 3:58 pm

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