Written by: Larry “The Nucks IceMan” Johnson
The Vancouver Canucks line juggling actually already started in the LA game with Coach Vigneault moving Mikael Samuelsson to the third with Manny Malhotra and Raffi Torres, Mason Raymond to the first with the Sedins, and Jannik Hansen up with Ryan Kesler.
Not stopping there, Peter Schaefer moved down to the fourth line, and Rick Rypien – well if it’s confusing to you, just think about the players.
So now you know how much the Canucks miss Alex Burrows in the line-up.
Tonight’s line-up against the Caroline Hurricanes will see a few more tweaks, with Jeff Tambellini joining Ryan Kesler and Jannik Hansen. You know the Coach is grasping for straws here when Hansen and Tambellini are on your second line.
Why would you have two guys on a second line that combined, have a total of 33 goals in 292 NHL games? Will it be long before the Canucks look to their farm team in Manitoba for anyone that is scoring?
Peter Schaefer’s demotion to the fourth line does not come as a surprise and he will skate with Rick Rypien and Guillaume Desbiens. Schaefer just has not shown anything so far that the Coach was looking for, but then that runs throughout the second through fourth lines.
Schaefer has just five shots on goal and none of those scoring opportunities. But to make him a fourth liner is puzzling as those players you think of as being greasy, tough to play against, types.Looks like Coach didn’t take long to notice that Tanner Glass was not the answer as a fourth line player. That will happen when you don’t have any shots on net in four games.
Now before you start the gnashing of the teeth, not all is gloom and doom, since the ‘Nucks have only played four games out of 82. What Coach Vigneault does not want to happen is an early season losing skid to kick things off.
There are a few D-men that have shown some play that makes me think maybe they should be moved up in the depth chart. Alex Edler is leading the defense with 10 blocked shots and is second in hits on the team with 12.
As far as the +/- ratings, I won’t get into that because when you have a team that is not scoring just about everyone will have a minus rating, and that includes the Sedins. The only player on the team with a plus rating is Christian Ehrhoff at plus one.
Getting back to the defense, a telling stat that is really important is the Give-aways with Kevin Bieksa leading with four. So if we take a look at the play of the defense so far, reinforce it with the stats, then Edler and Ehrhoff should be the number one pairing, or at the least, Dan Hamhuis and Edler or Ehrhoff.
I wrote an article last time about Cory Schneider and his backup role and we will see tonight how he responds with his first game against the Carolina Hurricanes. This should be a very good test because the ‘Canes are a great skating team and give the Canucks all sorts of trouble in their defensive end.
Who knows, if the game doesn’t go the way Coach Vigneault sees it on the ice, then that first D-pair could change in the blink of an eye.
So far and yes, I realize it’s only four games in, the expectations are not being met by this Canucks team. All the promise of scoring and defensive depth is looking pretty shaky when you have the players that I listed above in roles and on lines they shouldn’t be in.
So if I were to put on my coach’s hat, I would be practising the sermon on defensive play, because with that comes offensive opportunities on the transition side of the game. With the supposedly offensive talent that is on this team, it wouldn’t take long for it to start scoring again.
The question is, will that be tonight against Carolina?
As always, you can find me at http://twitter.com/nucksiceman and on alternate days at the Vancouver Sun on-line at http://communities.canada.com/VANCOUVERSUN/blogs/fanattic/archive/2010/10/16/who-thought-canucks-alex-burrows-would-be-so-missed.aspx
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