HEY!!! I'M BACKIN UP HERE!!! - Rich Lam
So are the Canucks struggling, or are they doing well? While you can't say that all is well in Canuckville, the fact that they have a winning record with two top 6 forwards out of the lineup has to be encouraging to say the least. Add in the 'problem' of Roberto Luongo being the best goalie in the NHL over the last week, Jordan Schroeder making a case for himself not to be sent to Chicago when Ryan Kesler and David Booth return, and the fact that Canucks seem to be getting at least a point in every game they play. Is this team gearing up, or treading water?
While there are many out there who feel it necessary to tell you just how well or poorly teams are doing so far, in the case of the Vancouver Canucks a truly accurate picture may not yet be available. With all of the hubbub surrounding Roberto Luongo's future with the team, and how he's responded this season as well as missing 2 top 6 forwards to start the year, it's quite likely that we haven't seen the real Vancouver Canucks thus far. One thing is for sure, they have definitely tightened things up defensively since Roberto Luongo went on this little run of his, most notably the bottom pairing of Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev.
Sure there's a frustration over blown leads, and let's face it: this has to be addressed before it seriously comes back to bite them on their collective asses. It's worth noting though that even when the leads are being coughed up, they're able to get it to extra time and collect that all important point. And every single point is important in such a short season. And I think I speak for us all when I say we've had our fill of shootouts for one year. The Canucks have gone to the trick shot competition a league-leading 5 times already. By comparison, there have been a grand total of 3 shootouts in the Eastern Conference.
2 other things that Ryan Kesler's imminent return should help are the power play, and faceoffs. I don't know what the hell has happened to the players who take draws, but they've gone from one of the better teams in the league to one of the worst, and Newell Brown had better figure out just what the issue is, because they're giving up the puck just too damn often. Too many guys below 50% on faceoffs for my liking. **note: incorrect info removed, h/t to ChuckInNux for pointing out the error** Speaking of Brown, his arrival to the coaching staff really ignited the PP a couple years back. Now it just makes fans clamour to decline the penalty. The 5 on 3 against Chicago the other night where they couldn't advance the puck one time is probably the most glaring example. Whether they need to mix up the participants or just try and simplify things, they're not going to have much success til they get the PP going again.
There has been a bit of line shuffling for tonight's game in addition to Alain Vigneault throwing gas on the 'goalie controversy' fire by giving Luongo his 4th straight start. Tonight's 2nd line will feature Schroeder centering Mason Raymond and Alexandre Burrows, while the 3rd line will see Lapierre between Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen. The 4th line will remain the same, as well as the defensive pairings.
Pulled Pork And Mushroom Fried Rice...
Speaking of our backup goaltender, the latest rumours have him possibly going to Washington. Interesting to see that the Brayden Holtby era coming to an end so soon, but there were high expectations in DC, though goaltending is far from their only issue *coughOVECHKINcough*... The Oilers could be without Shawn Horcoff tonight, who's listed as day to day with a strained neck, though the Oilers twitter posted comments from him. I guess we'll see... Congrats to Roberto Luongo, 3rd star of the week according to nhl.com... The Rangers shipped tough guy Mike Rupp to Minnesota for Darrell Powe and Nick Palmieri... Dustin Byfuglien is expected to miss his 3rd straight game for the Jets... Nail Yakupov may be off to a good start, but it was the Blues' Vladimir Tarasenko that nabbed Rookie of the Month honours...
Kickass Metal Tune Of The Day
My current earworm, a sweet lil ditty that was Lich King's Christmas gift to their fans. I seriously might have listened to this song well over 100 times in the last month.