During the 6-1 drubbing by the Blues, John Garrett commented that the Canucks weren't doing the little things very well, and it was costing them in games. Over the recent losing skid, some of those little things have become more obvious. Let's review.
1) breakouts. Timing and accuracy have suffered. Too often of late the Canucks have been content to simply clear the zone rather than attempting a break out. While this is the safe play, lately it has been the norm, where a flip dump to center is given even in the absence of fore checking pressure. When a breakout pass has been attempted, the result has often been a suicide pass in the skates, or in a crowd, a pass to the other team, or a pass too far ahead to be recovered. I have to wonder how much the constant line juggling is affecting the player's timing and ability to anticipate each others on-ice positioning.
2) On a team featuring some players with really good wheels (Kesler, Raymond, Burrows), the Canucks have been hitting the opposing blue line at sub light speed. One annoying result of this has been the trend to crack the line, pull up, and attempt to hit the late man coming in. This play, if successful, means that the opposition's backcheckers have a chance to catch up, and the late guy now has a crowd in front of the net. If unsuccessful, it results in a fast break out and often a goal in the other direction (Samuelson, Sedin). Once in deep, the Canucks fore checkers (with the notable exception of Kesler and Pettinger) are too often outworked or out muscled for the puck.
Especially painful here has been the play of Burrows, who for much of the season has been spending far too much time on the ice (where he's been dumped by opposing D-men).
1) position, position, position. Like the previous 3 game slide, There has been no problem getting back in time. The issue has been one of what to do when they get there. Lately, the tendency has been to back in too far, and to let the opposing forwards get into a position where their bodies block the defense from getting to the opposition's sticks. One by product of this has been an increase in reaching penalties as out of position defenders try to take a short cut to the puck. This was improved upon in the Detroit game, but still needs some work.
2) a little help here.... With the exception of Johnson, Pettinger, and Kesler, too few of the forwards are blocking shots from the point (perhaps because they've backed in too far in the first place). Shots from the point are not generally a threat, except when the defenders are out of position, and tip ins or rebounds result.