1:55 PM ET Update: ...and here I thought Gillis was hated by the rest of the GM's. With a solid winger at 50% off available to the league, no one chomped down on Ouellet and he'll be a Vigneault weapon as soon as tonight. Happy happy joy joy (h/t Canucks & Beyond).
Nov 4 10:30 AM ET Update: Selfish question - any of you yanks out there try voting this morning? Did you have fun? Here's an idea - "Change I can believe in" would start with not waiting a full city block in line with annoyed citizens just to have bad coffee and push a button.
OK, on to more pressing matters (yes, NHL > politics). Kuzma has a good article on the young Preds team that will be visiting tonight. Dan Ellis likes Vancouver (as does Tootoo, Zanon and Trotz) more than other cities on their long road trip...so we now, in turn, now like you Dan but would appreciate you opening the five hole a bit more tonight. Canucks will have to keep an eye on Shea Weber who has nine points in his past five games (as well as being one of the NHL's three stars for October) as well as J.P. Dumont who has nine points in the last seven.
Also Kuzma wonders, like I did below, if this team can bother staying out of the penalty box every four or five minutes. Ian Walker at the Sun asks something similar.
In Canuck news, Johnson is struggling with faceoffs and Raymond could now be skating with Kesler and Burrows as Bernier possibly gets another crack with the Sedins. Sigh. Pudgie has to keep potting in those ricochets off the end boards if he wants to keep earning icetime and were you ever curious what the hell the guys do in the box during their two or five minute stay? Evidently they don't do what I would do: scour the audience for women in low cut shirts or, during away games, razz the people next to the box (told ya I'm an ass).
And, as of this writing, Ouellet has not been claimed yet. Tick tock tick tock...
Some would say the Canucks are still a tragic accident in motion. Others would argue that they had a good, if not great, start.
I'd probably be more towards the bad end than the good of that spectrum. Why? It's up there in the title: consistency. More accurately, are they consistently bad and make up for it or am I just flat out negative?
I can count nine times the Canucks have had a bad first period (which I'll define as they are either losing or being badly, noticeably outplayed). Sometimes it leads to them simply getting their ass handed to them over the next forty minutes (Washington, Buffalo, Chicago). Or it leads to a struggle to valiantly eek out a win (in Calgary, in Detroit, Anaheim) or swim upstream only to cough it up in the end (Boston, Detroit, Columbus). Even lost in their outstanding win in the home opener was that they effectively had a piss poor first which Luongo (God bless 'em) kept them in it, including killing off a 5-on-3. So they have played the clear majority of their 12 games trying to catch up rather than be in control.
This may be OK for some teams but not one where we know the margin for error with this team, before we even factor in injuries, is razor thin (or wafer thin to get your Monty Python fix).
Vancouver shoots themselves in the foot by taking way too many penalties, almost the worst team in the league in fact. That, in part, helps explain this: they're the worst team in the league in wins when they are trailing after one period. They are tied for the worst when trailing after two. This simply isn't a team that can play from behind over 82 games and think it deserves a shot at the Cup. This morning's standings confirms that.
Now the good part is I'm just an ornery ass who likes to bitch a lot and this season has a lot of puck left in it. And it's an absolute delight to see guys like Kesler, Raymond, Burrows, Hansen and (ugh) even Wellwood play far better than anyone could have predicted. But as far as Wellwood being a PP God is concerned, I'm still not sold on him yet. The fact we couldn't give away for free (twice) only to slap him with some Sedin primetime on the power play says more to me about where this team is now talent-wise than it does about Wellwood's inner Gretzky coming out. But, as I've said before, I'd be happy to be proven wrong.
And then there's Luongo who, as expected, is slowing rounding into form as the goalie we know. The defense needs to score a bit more, but they have done a decent job most nights and they, too, are probably just now rounding out their games.
And I pray that Alanah is wrong and Ouellet can pass re-entry waivers and make it up to the Canucks.
Now, looking at the Preds tomorrow, this should be a good test. The Preds are good which is why they beat this team for the final slot last year. But, similar to Vancouver when the Canucks decide to play, they are a gritty team who make up for the lack of talent with sheer hardwork (look at Trotz's face; try telling that you're tired and want a shift off). This game deserves to get ugly but, more to point, it's without question a winnable game for the Canucks if they decide to play smart.
Sure they could win with another poor start, but they'll need to stop that soon. The Canucks only have a two game winning streak all year, that's it. If they want to start stringing some wins together and making some noise, it can start with Nashville and it can start with consistent smart play. It's been a rare sight, all things considered, but as we keep saying in these here webby pages: just go out there and get it done.