It's enough to make you sick, really. When you see the constant barrage of errors, the lack of battle in this team, and coaching decisions that leave you scratching your head, if you can find positives heading into tonight's game in San Jose, kudos to you. Those must be some awesome glasses. What I see is a team headed very likely for a sweep unless there is a DRASTIC change in the way they play every single shift. They have abandoned their strengths and played right into those of the Sharks.
Sean laid it all out for you in his post yesterday. This team's best players have not been their best. There's not one (apart from the Keslord) you can even say has played well. Look, I understand it's easy for some to cry foul when calling out players because there was a time where nothing was good enough (and it's an attitude that lingers for some fans, who bitch and moan even when this team is playing it's best hockey). But this hockey team is down 2-0 to a team that is very capable of locking this series down tight as a drum, and it's obvious that very little that the Canucks have tried has been working.
This is falling, in my eyes equally on players and coaches alike. Vigneault's carefree attitude, wry smirks and repetitive answers are becoming a source of irritation for me. Something had been mentioned about Vigneault letting the players coach themselves at this point. To me, this is so maddening. If that's really what you've been doing, what exactly does it take to get you to step in and say "yeah, this isn't working, boys. Let's try something different"? Maybe what this team needs is to shake up the complacency. We know you're not happy about being down 2-0. No one would be. But it's difficult to believe it's really impacting you when we see a preseason effort in the postseason. 2 wins in their last 12 playoff games. It's not good enough. And if it doesn't change, this team will once again be out, and if that happens, so should this coaching staff.
Some slightly good news in that Jordan Schroeder and Cory Schneider have made the trip to California with the team. No word on whether they slot in, but you could at the very least see Schneider on the bench tonight. One thing's for sure, the Canucks, to a man have to be better and that means taking a fired up Sharks crowd out of it early. This series is very much a winnable one, even two men down. In order to do that, they'll have to play more like the team that met the Sharks in 2011, and less like the one that rolled over for the Kings last year. They admitted that once again, they weren't prepared to start the playoffs. That falls squarely on the coaching staff.
They're at the point now where an error-free game from Alex Edler could literally mean the difference between a loss and a win. Kevin Bieksa? Nowhere near the factor he's needed to be so far. These two, along with Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison must lead the way. Up front, the big line of Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin and Alexandre Burrows has been totally stymied by the Sharks, and they're going to need to get some time and space to work. Mason Raymond has gone back to the ineffective, peel away on the rush and accomplish nothing player we've seen in the past. Derek Roy and Chris Higgins have been invisible in this series. The Canucks were heading into this series thinking they had the kind of depth that would allow them to compete, but we've seen nothing of the sort. We call Alex Burrows Mr Everything, but right now the Canucks need a Mr Anything to emerge, or this series is over Tuesday night.
Bacon Butty and Hashbrowns
Full credit to the Toronto Maple Leafs last night. They did a hell of a job stealing home ice advantage, with Randy Carlyle outcoaching Claude Julien through the use of patient and crafty line changes. They were only able to get Phil Kessel out of Zdeno Chara's shadow for 4 minutes during the game, but as Elliotte Friedman pointed out so well last night on HNIC, 9 seconds, the length of the shift on which Kessel scored the eventual game winner, was all that the Leafs needed. It's funny, now that the national media are focused on the Bruins playing against a team they're not actively rooting against, that they see just how loathsome the Bruins media can be. Much like the way Roberto Luongo was redeemed, and Tim Thomas was shown to be an assclown of the highest order, people are now seeing it was them, and not us all along... Pretty great first period of hockey between the Islanders and Penguins so far this morning. The Islanders came out fired up and less than 6 minutes in had stormed to a 2-0 lead, but a couple ill-timed penalties let the Penguins back into it, scoring two PP goals in just 19 seconds, then the go ahead goal with a minute to go in the period...
BATTLE HYMN OF THE GAME
A belated happy birthday to 3 Inches Of Blood vocalist Cam Pipes yesterday. Let's hope the spirit of this song carries over into a victory for the team tonight...