The Canucks play their 7th game of the season tonight, and we're not any closer to finding out just what the heck this team is all about than before the puck drop on game 1. They looked like a controlled, defensively responsible team in the first 4 games, and a bloody disaster in LA and Anaheim. But were the results on the weekend an indicator they can't handle 'big boy hockey', or merely the proof that even at the start of the season, teams that play 6 games in 9 nights are pretty worn out at the end of it?
One thing that never seems to change is coming out of a weekend trip to California with a plethora of injuries. Derek Dorsett (shoulder) and Alex Burrows (neck) have both been placed on injured reserve, while Chris Tanev is out with a lower body injury. Between dumb luck and dirty hits each time they play the Ducks and especially the Kings, the Canucks seem to pay a toll each time they head to California. Also, the schedule makers consistently serving up the Canucks to the Ducks on the tail end of a back to back can go straight to hell.
||Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
||Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
|13.0 (21)||Power Play %||7.1 (29)|
|82.3 (16)||Penalty Kill %||71.4 (26)|
|45.5 (28)||Faceoff Win %||51.8 (9)|
||Shooting %||10.0 (17)
||Corsi For %||51.5 (18)
Stats from NHL.com and www.hockey-reference.com
it's been 12 years since the Senators won a game at Rogers Arena (we won't count the Heritage Classic at BC Place, it doesn't count because Tortorella), and it's clear that the Sens are not content with the start they've gotten off to, shuffling all 4 lines in advance of tonight's contest. While goal scoring hasn't really been that much of a concern for them, if you look at the stats, they obviously feel there's a problem with chemistry early on. It would seem they would want to put a bigger emphasis on the other side of the game though, as they're giving up an average of 4 a game at the moment. Another spot they need to work on: special teams. The Sens make the Canucks PP look downright potent, and their PK could help the Canucks as well, with the Sens sitting near the bottom of the league in the penalty kill.
Obviously they are missing Clarke MacArthur, who suffered a concussion in the pre-season, but there's a lot of new faces in the Ottawa lineup this season. Tom Pyatt, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Puempel aren't exactly household names, and they're hoping that they can help jumpstart some of the other Sens like Mark Stone, Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan into getting on a bit of a roll so they can keep pace in the Atlantic Division.
The fans wanted it, and tonight they get it as Troy Stecher has been recalled from Utica because of the Chris Tanev injury. Tanev was likely hurt against LA, and got worse in Anaheim, certainly one of the reasons why he and Alex Edler looked so bad in that game Sunday night. Stecher was a revelation in training camp, similar to what we saw last season with Ben Hutton. And while Hutton made the team out of camp, Stecher was sent to the AHL, much to the dismay of many Canucks fans. The question remains though: when do we see Nikita Tryamkin get in the lineup? Tryamkin is refusing a conditioning stint, and this is starting to look like another management gamble that's going to end up blowing up in Jim Benning's face. Tryamkin is not in game shape, so he needs to be playing his way back into it. But if he's not going to go down (and the Canucks signed him to a deal that gives him the right to go back to the KHL as opposed to the AHL) then they need to figure out how to work him in. That means, as much as it may hurt Willie's feelings, sitting Luca Sbisa in the damn press box and seeing if Tryamkin is going to happen. Find out if he can get it together before he goes back to the KHL and we lose out on the kind of Dman this team desperately needs.
Despite the result in Anaheim, the Canucks are getting the kind of goaltending they need to succeed. As long as they can get back to playing the structured, defensively sound hockey they showed in the first 4 games of the year, they just might have a shot at making the playoffs. They got away from it over the weekend, and even then pushed LA to a shootout and stayed close against the Ducks despite the whole 6 in 9 nonsense. With the Sens tonight and Oilers on Friday, they could come out of this week 6-1-1 heading into a Saturday tilt against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
The nation's capital has a rich history of metal, with two of the best thrash acts to ever come out of this country calling Ottawa home: Annihilator, and Exciter. The Violence And Force album by Exciter was one of my favorites in high school and it's good to see the band still kicking ass today. So with the cover tune project rolling on, here's Italy's Evil Invaders with a seriously lethal live version of the title track from the V & F album, recorded in Biebob, Belguim.