When Facepalm made his first save last evening, the home crowd erupted in applause. It suggests they were amazed he was capable of making a save at the NHL level. But it was also the first positive they had seen in the Vancouver crease all night.
That, all by itself, should tell you what kind of evening it was.
Before the wolves come up to bury this team or rehash the "Luongo is overrated" crap (oops, too late), keep in mind that Columbus - who scored on four straight shots if you count Antoine Vermette's goal in the first! - was handed far too many odd-man rushes, three of which ended up behind Luongo. We've said it before in them here webpages: Luongo can't win every game on his own.
All Vancouver is proving now is whatever new system they are trying to employ is simply not working.First, let's focus on some positives. This was the third game where they outshot (43-24) and outhit the opposition (27-11). Their PK was a bit better though the dumb penalties continued even if some of them are ludicrously borderline. The Sedin line was on fire again. Mason Raymond is playing on another level. Even Bernier got in the act last night, providing a crucial screen on Error's PP tally in the second. And Willie Mitchell, the stay at home defenseman who somehow added a 54-ft slap shot goal in the third, is now leading the team in points.
But the second line was a disaster (Mikael Samuelsson was -4 before the game was half over, Kesler and Shirokov were both -3 when it was all said and done) and it leads many to suspect our little Russian delight is heading for the bench if not Manitoba. Said AV:
"We see a lot of potential and we're just trying to find out what he might be able to bring," said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault of Shirokov after the game. "That's why I had him out on the 5-on-3. We're going to have to find out where he fits in."
Arguably, you could replace Shirok's name with almost anyone on the roster since no one is fitting in out there.
Shouldn't a second line provide more scoring and better defence than his trio has done so far?
"You said it," [Samuelsson] said. "I don't have to answer that for you."
Look the reality is the team is not getting it done and - unless a few of them thought the first two losses were flukes - they know it now. A solid period once a game or a good rush here and there means nothing. There are far too many turnovers on top of surrendering a stupid amount of odd-man chances. The Canucks need a different defensive gameplan because while it's nice to see them activate the D on the rush, they are abandoning their duties in their own end. Then couple in a failure to convert on their own scoring chances and a snake-bitten goalie and you have - tada! - three straight losses.
Is the next game a must win? Again, no. But they only have a day to figure this out as the undefeated Les Habitants stroll into town in 24 hours and may become the next beneficiary of playing a Vancouver team (now the worst team in the league) that is getting almost everything wrong.