In a game like tonight you hope Vigneault is worth his extension. He's down his #2 defenseman and his presumed back-up (Mr. Schenider) isn't healthy, so he's mixed up the pairings and added 26-gamer Aaron Rome into the mix. He's down his #1 sniper and his presumed back-up (Mr. Demitra) may not play again this calendar year, so they're going with wildcard Michael Grabner on the top line. Wellwood and Johnson are slumping badly, so suddenly they're linemates on the third line. Rypien and Hordchuk haven't brought their presumed game-changing angst, so he called them out in practice.
He's done all a coach can do with the mix he has. But let's be honest: with this line-up, we don't know what type of team we'll see, especially after a five day break.
The opposition isn't without their concerns either. Calgary started strong but have lost three straight. Take a look at the three names at the bottom of the league in +/-. For all the negativity about Luongo's start, his GAA (3.34) isn't too far off from Kipper's (3.30). Willie Mitchell has as many points as Jarome Iginla somehow. As for what's bothering their captain, Kent from Matchsticks & Gasoline said:
On Iginla, not sure what to make of his issues. He was underwhelming last year despite the nice totals and he's even worse so far this season. That said, Sutter has been playing them like a checking line: match-ups against tough competition and lots of own-zone draws. That doesn't explain everything, but it's part of the problem.
On the same theme, Christian Ehrhoff has as many points as Olli Jokinen. Kent added:
As for Jokinen, the truth is he was never that good a player. He put up points against lesser lights and on the PP in weak division and that made him look like a superstar. But he isn't. He can't win draws, he's poor in the defensive end and his vision in the offensive end is mediocre at best.
But Calgary already schooled us once and won't make anything easy, especially when they can tie Colorado (!) for the division lead with a win.
When Kent asked what Vancouver needs to do I said they need start this game like a caged wolverine unleashed in a petting zoo. It couldn't be more true. This isn't Montreal's fractured defense across the ice nor is it Price in net. The results will follow if Vancouver decides to work hard, especially at ES.
Here's your gamethread after five long days. TGIF indeed.