You know that word that gets tossed around in fantasy hockey analysis a lot? Aberration. That's the one. It's hard to know whether a player's performance on any given night is indicative of performances to come, or just a temporary bout of good (or bad) fortune. I'm sure that those who decided to take a flyer on old timers like Jaromir Jagr and Teemu Selanne late in their drafts are riding high today. But if given the chance, would they trade either one for Sidney Crosby, who went pointless in his first game? Of course. Because as good as Jagr and Selanne still are, 4 points in a game is an aberration for them at this point in their respective careers.
What I'm getting at is how worked up should we get over last night's blowout loss to the Anaheim Ducks? We knew this was going to be a weird season, with an even weirder start. Throw any two NHL teams together after an 8 month layoff with little to no training camp and pretty much anything can happen. The good news for us is that we know that the level of play that we witnessed last night is an aberration for this team.
If Canucks narratives were characters on Lost, the goalie situation would be our Constant. This story just isn't going to go away while both Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider are here, and last night's game only added fuel to the already raging fire. You couldn't have written a more hilarious script, actually: Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri, together rumoured to be the asking price for Luongo, both scored in the Leafs' debut against the Habs. Ben Scrivens also looked solid in net, while Schneider and Luongo let in 7 goals between them. If Hockey Night in Canada had aired a few hours later you may have mistaken it for a Saturday Night Live skit. Whether or not this one night will end up having a major impact on the Luongo deal remains to be seen, but the way it played out after weeks of speculation was pretty amusing.
It appears Luongo gets the start tonight against the Oilers. It's a move I don't agree with. The plan may well have been to start Luongo tonight anyway, but plans have to change when your new #1 gets shelled in his debut. AV not going back to Cory sends a very mixed message as to who exactly "his guy" is right now.
THE SECOND LINE
...if you can call it that. The trio of Raymond - Ebbett - Kassian was mostly non-existant last night. I could almost hear Twitter groan when Raymond took a spill two minutes into the game. The goaltending debacle overshadowed this story last night, but it remains the team's biggest concern to start the season. This line needs to show that they can at least tread water until Ryan Kesler and David Booth return. The good news is that the "3rd line" of Higgins - Lapierre - Hansen was terrific.
No question, as a six man group the defence was not in sync. Miscues all over the ice led to the same number of odd man rushes you'd expect to see in a Prairie pond pick-up game. Luckily I believe this has less to do with the personnel and more to do with lack of preparation time. Dan Hamhuis was on the ice for 5 of the 7 goals allowed, which is extremely out of character for him. Jason Garrison and Alex Edler showed the beginnings of what could turn into a very solid second pairing, and were flat out dynamic on the PowerPlay with the twins. Quite literally, there is nowhere for the defence to go but up.
You could tell that the Sedins' timing was off last night, but they showed flashes, and were unsurprisingly brilliant on the PowerPlay. They should be able to do some serious damage against a porous Oilers defence tonight.
I loved what I saw from Jason Garrison. It was like we were watching a combination of the best parts of Christian Ehrhoff and Sami Salo; the booming shot, the great PowerPlay instincts, and solid play in his own zone. The early chemistry he's shown with the twins is very encouraging.
After signing his big contract, Alex Edler is hoping to show that he can fit on the right side with Garrison. It was hard to get a sense while watching such an anomaly, but the potential is there. Edler needs to stop relying on the drop pass zone entry on the PP so much; it was only the first game of the season and the Ducks already had it figured out.
Jannik Hansen worked very well with the twins on the man advantage, and caused a lot of havoc on his regular line with Higgins and Lapierre. I'm really expecting Hansen to take a big step offensively this season, and the PP time doesn't hurt.
After getting a taste of the superstar life in the Netherlands, Dale Weise had a little more swag in his skates last night. He registered 4 hits and was one of the more noticeable Canucks all night, which is a great thing for Dale Weise but probably a bad thing for the Canucks.
The Canucks play four games against Edmonton, Calgary, Anaheim and San Jose before next Sunday, so we will see how these storylines progress and hopefully by then have a better idea of what to expect from the Canucks in this sawed-off season. See you then.