Problems plaguing the Canucks.
It goes to show that there has been a lot of hype about the Canucks defense and its prospects of at least reaching the playoffs after managing to sign Sami Salo, Kevin Bieksa, and Lucas Kraijeck to extensions as well as signing Aarron Miller to a one year deal. This would leave the Canucks with a solid top 6 of Mitchell, Ohlund, Salo, Bieksa, Krajicek and Miller. A great defensive core, for any team, add to the fact that Luongo is manning the pipes in the rear, most people would think that the Canucks would be a very hard team to score against. However, the Canucks are off to a slow start (5-8-0)(1-6-0 at home “worst in the NHL”) after finishing the season with the best record after Christmas (32-8-6), as well as the best PK in the league. Things aren’t looking to great for the Canucks.
The supposedly defensively sound Canucks have been pretty much horrible in their own zone, giving up turnover after turnover, losing the battles in the corner, and getting dominated in the face off circle. Add that to the fact that Luongo hasn’t been playing up to the (almost) vezina quality goaltending that we all witnessed last year and you have a recipe for disaster. The first few games, the Canucks looked like they lost their feet, and were sleeping during plays. Being humbled by Philidelphia losing 8-2 didn’t help matters either. Everything just seems to be going wrong for the Canucks.
During last nights game against the Predators, the Canucks managed to outshoot the Predators 13-2 in the first period, but ended up down 2-0(Yes they had a 100 percent scoring percentage). They would continue to lose 3-0 by the end of the game. However, that was only the tip of the iceberg.
The Canucks would end up losing 2 of their top 4 defenseman before the end of the game. Kevin Bieksa would get tangled up with Nashville’s Vern Fiddler and end up receiving a skate to the back of his right calve leaving a serious gash. Salo on the other hand, would receive a puck to the face, courtesy of fellow teammate Alex Edler’s failed clearing attempt. The puck ended up hitting him in his orbital bone and the nose. Both Salo, and Bieksa would leave a pool of blood on the ice. Add that to the fact that Lucas Krajicek is out for 4 weeks after suffering a fracture on his foot, from slipping on the sidewalk, and the “potentially stacked defense” is not looking so powerful. With all the bad luck facing the Canucks, there have been a few bright spots.
One good thing that has happened to the Canucks is that their 3rd line has been really stepping it up lately. They have been using their grit and hustle to score, draw penalties and drop the gloves almost every game. Kesler has been playing like a man possessed, using his speed to his advantage, winning face-offs, scoring, and setting up beautiful plays. This was not the Kesler, we saw last year folks. After getting benched for one game, Cooke took his play up a notch, scoring goals in consecutive games, hitting everything that moves, and being the pest everyone loves to hate. Burrows has actually hit the back of the net for once, scoring a hi-light reel goal on a breakaway(I honestly didn’t think he could have the poise to score a goal like that), after missing the net the last 50 times. The last two games also have seen a improvement on their Face off percentage winning 64 percent of the time last night, as well as shots, out shooting Nashville 29-15.
If the top two lines can pick up the pace, and play up to their potential, then Vancouver could be rolling out 3 lines that could all score and be dangerous to play against. At the very least the Canucks seem to be picking up the pace, and have determination in their eyes and are working a lot harder than earlier. If the Canucks can get through the adversity of playing without 3 of their top 6 defenseman, then things can only get better for them. On another note, the Canucks had a horrible start last season, and ended up being the best team after Christmas last season as well as winning their division, so anything is possible. Hopefully we will see a repeat of last years effort and determination.