In a perfect world, the Canucks would be looking at this game as a perfect opportunity to kick a team while they're down and get their brutal road swing off to a great start. Ah, but that was before they turned in another clunker against the San Jose Sharks, and a loss to the Montreal Canadiens where they played decently for 2 periods, then let the Habs control play in the 3rd. The scores may have been the same, but they were night and day different. One thing's for sure: We're going to need to see more of the Canucks that beat the Devils and Oilers than we've seen over the last couple games.
There will be a lineup change tonight, as Jordan Schroeder is ready to go, and will slot in taking Zac Dalpe's spot, coming as a shock to those who didn't realize that Schroeder was this close to returning. It was also a shock to those who didn't realize Dalpe played for the Canucks. Schroeder will likely get a look on the 3rd line between Zack Kassian and David Booth, with Brad Richardson dropping to the 4th line between Dale Weise and former Flyer Tom 'What The Hell Am I Still Doing In The Lineup' Sestito.
There's a lot of things not going right for the Canucks right now, one of which is the sub-par play of the Canucks American contingent of Ryan Kesler, Chris Higgins and Booth. Dan Hamhuis' brutal start to the year is another, and what the hell, even though he's suspended, let's throw Alex Edler's ongoing struggles as well. The Canucks have shown that they can still throw together a decent effort, and should the aforementioned players start performing even reasonably close to what's expected of them, then this team will settle in for what should be a pretty entertaining season-long battle in the Pacific Division.
The Canucks still struggle with the inconsistency that was the hallmark of the final days of Alain Vigneault's reign behind the Vancouver bench, and that shouldn't be a surprise. In addition to adapting to the new systems of John Tortorella, they also need to shed some of the bad habits they picked up under He Who Chews His Gum Fiercely. After all, they had, by AV's own admission been coaching themselves near the end. It's an adjustment period, and they'll get there, so the typical panic that some of the fanbase displays whenever things go south for this team is especially unwarranted so far. Should they come out of this road trip with less than 4 wins, I would say then they might need to look at some changes, but there's some winnable games here for the Canucks.
The Flyers are themselves trying to adjust to a new coach with the shocking firing of Peter Laviollette just 3 games into the season. His replacement, former Kamloops Blazer Craig Berube has his hands full with a team that on paper, should be doing much better than they are. In some ways they're a lot like the Oilers: A core of talented young forwards, with a pourous defence and goaltending that simply isn't NHL caliber. Teams like this are like a wounded animal. They've been embarrassed by their play no doubt, and might look to take out their frustrations on a team like the Canucks. Sadly, that means having guys like Tom Sestitio in the line up for the Canucks. If there's a silver lining to all this, it could be that the Canucks (and everyone else in the league) won't have to worry about Chris Pronger anymore. Though the retirement hasn't been officially announced, the Flyers have stated that Pronger will not attempt a comeback. While it's sad to see a player have to leave the game because of health issues like Pronger's, it's hard to garner much sympathy for a guy who was one of the most vicious and dirty players of his generation. A player who will possibly get some hall of fame consideration, but a rotten bastard to play against.
Speaking of the aforementioned Oilers, even the most pessimistic of us didn't see them being this bad out of the gate. While I feel that they simply haven't erased the defensive issues and goaltending problems that to be able to perform to the expectations of some journos & bloggers, I don't think there was anyone who predicted the assets they do have would be struggling as hard as they are. You can claim the Oilers are missing Sam Gagner all you want, but it doesn't explain Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov being as downright underwhelming as they have. Time will tell if benching Yakupov for 2 straight games snaps him out of the funk he's been in, but the guys that have been expected to do the bulk of the scoring haven't. Another perplexing thing about the Oilers: not only did they decide not to roll the dice on Ilya Bryzgalov, but they passed on Martin Biron, who cleared waivers today. Biron may not be the answer to their prayers, but you'd think some kind of change would be in order with neither Devan Dubnyk or Jason LaBarbera going well, they'd want to stir things up...
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day
Once the vocalist for grindcore godfathers Napalm Death, Lee Dorrian went on to a pretty decent run with Cathedral, trading in the spastic grind of Napalm Death for the slower doom of Cathedral, dripping with Sabbath-y goodness. This track originally appeared on their debut 'Forest Of Equilibrium', albeit in a much slower form than this more upbeat version for the 'Soul Sacrifice' EP.