For those wondering why Roberto Luongo was playing in a back-to-back, here’s a little research I did last year.
From 2006-07 to 2009-10 the Canucks have played in 36 pairs of back-to-back games. Depending on the schedule, they have ranged from a high of 12 in 2007-08 to a low of five in 2008-09.
Luongo has played in both games on 16 of these occasions (32 games). He has won 20 and lost 12. So the freshness of Luongo and the schedule being early in the season, points to a good recent decision.
On 17 of those other back-to-backs the team split and the other three pairs were losses.
With the way the Canucks have started this season, would it have mattered if Cory Schneider had played?
Apparently not with the play of the five-on-five demonstrated so far this season. Does anyone even need to be told that the Canucks are 23rd in the NHL, with a .81 ratio in five-on-five goals for/against, to realize this team is downright awful in that category?
So with that in mind, is there any wonder that the Canucks goaltenders are getting lit up like the Christmas lights at St. Paul’s Hospital? Just how exactly are the goaltenders supposed to stop primo opportunities which have the goal scorers at a distinct advantage?
I’m talking about NHL snipers that are not going to miss from these areas. And the Canucks wonder why this team has developed a Jekyll and Hyde personality? As I mentioned in my Tweet last night, this team is nearing the 20 game point or about a quarter of the way through the season, and if I’m GM Mike Gillis, I would be very concerned with the defensive play of this team.
Why? Because these things tend to develop a life of their own and next thing you know, it’s 30 games.
With the whole team playing poor defense, one cannot hang the D-men out either, as the wingers have to come back into their D-zone to support the puck. I mean, this is basic elementary hockey that you learn at the peewee and bantam level. Come on boys, this is not rocket science that’s being asked of you.
Once again I see the lack of commitment to play sound positional hockey and to outwork the opposition. I don’t care a rat’s behind that the Canucks came back in the third period last night, to draw within a goal after surrendering four in the second period. The question begs to be asked, where was this effort in the first two periods?
Furthermore, take a look at any NHL game where the team that has gone ahead three plus goals and you will see that the opposition outshot and outworked the leading team in either the next period or the rest of the game. You will also see that most teams leading going into the third period seldom lose.
In fact, this season the top five teams (Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Edmonton) leading after two periods, have a winning percentage ranging from .778 to 1.000.
Right now there are six players above in the plus/- category and two are even. The rest, starting with Alex Edler at -1 to Keith Ballard at -11, paint a picture of a team that needs a wakeup call, because they are collectively not earning their pay.
Also, the last thing any professional team needs is an excuse like this cockamamie idea about a playoff hangover. Enough already, it’s just about a quarter way through the season! You’ve had your mulligan, which was the preseason and maybe the first eight to ten games.
There’s not a coach in any professional sport that buys into excuses and I’m concerned that Coach Vigneault did not nip this in the bud before it got implanted into the psyche of his team. This is a professional sport in which these players get paid millions of dollars to play a game that they love.
How many people in today’s world get paid wages like professional athletes do, for doing a job that they truly love? These players that live in a bubble, need to venture out into society to see how well off they are. For a start, how about the Canucks coming down to where I do volunteer work with the homeless in the downtown eastside ?
Enough of this rant, but it does upset me when I see this lack of effort.
In moving forward, this marathon needs a lot more continuity, so that when the playoffs do roll around, this team will be playing sound defensive hockey. Maybe, just maybe, this will start tomorrow when the visiting New York Islanders play.
Ice Chips: I’ve tried to watch as many games of the other teams as I can, and to me the Pittsburgh Penguins have been the most impressive. When you consider that they have been without Sidney Crosby for just about a year now, and they are currently tied with Chicago for the number one spot in the NHL, that’s pretty amazing!
Not only that, but they have also played without Evani Malkin for long stretches at a time.
Are the Edmonton Oilers playing over their heads? I’m going to say yes to that because this team does not have a great back-end and lord help them if Nikolai Khabibulin (1.18 GAA, .957 Sv%) ever goes down.
Granted this team is playing sound defensively (Canucks take note) and are scoring timely goals, but from last to first just doesn’t happen in one season.
I think this is a very good, young, and talented team on the rise, and they remind me of the Blackhawks several years ago, but I don’t see them finishing where they currently are, which is third in the Western Conference. I do see them making the playoffs if they can stay healthy on defense and in goal.
Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports!
Video Credits – YouTube
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Filed under: Vancouver Canucks