Saturday night’s loss against the Montreal Canadiens, the 28th ranked team in the NHL, was a hard pill to swallow. That I was surrounded by Hab’s fans meant I also had to endure the loss being shoved down my throat by them.
I don’t begrudge the Montreal fans for showing up in numbers, drowning out the Canucks fan’s with their “Go, Habs, Go”, or even the win, it was the way that they performed for the win. They played like the Montreal teams usually do and have done for decades – with passion and heart. You surely can’t deny the proud tradition this organization has.
There wasn’t a part of the game that Montreal didn’t outplay the Canucks in. They were strong on the puck, more physical, had better goaltending, better special teams, and anything else you can think of. Yes, the Hab’s were full value for their win and they treated their transplanted Vancouver fans to a rare one.
On the other side, there were the Canucks – the complete opposite of the Canadiens. It took this game for me to finally realize what is truly missing from this team, why they are 2W 3L since returning home and why they are 2W, 5L in the last seven games. Too many players are going through the motions of playing the game with no passion or heart. Notice that I didn’t say the whole team.
It’s about time I reiterate about just who is the heart and soul of this team and it’s not the Sedins or actually any of the European players. It’s Ryan Kesler, Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, Max Lapierre, Chris Higgins and Manny Malhotra, just to name a few. Kesler is the true captain of this team, plays with a whole lot of heart and his passion for the game is evident. Why he is not the Captain is beyond me. That said this team cannot win with just those players named.
I’m not sure if the 10 road games out of 14 played in February is the reason for this poor play or not. Nor am I privy to whether the Sedins, Alex Edler, Sami Salo or Sammy Pahlsson have all come down with some kind of medical injury at the same time. I only know what I see and that is a lack of passion and heart for the game at this time from them. By the way, the above named are not alone, as Jannik Hansen can also be thrown into the mix.
Maybe it’s just that North American players, and Canadians specifically, grow up where hockey is the national sport and is part of our culture. Maybe that passion and heart is already ingrained the moment they start playing the game.
I do know that if Henrik and Daniel Sedin don’t come out of this funk that they are in, and have been in several times this season already, it will be a short playoff season. Like the first round!
Is their play of late, say over the last 15-20 games, more to do with the lack of interference penalties being allowed? The subtle tug, hook, pick and other derivatives are just enough to slow either of these two down to affect their game. Let’s remember also that we’re not speaking of players that are fleet of foot.
Nah, I don’t think that’s it either, because they were able to excel when interference was at its very worst before the new CBA.
Am I attacking the Europeans on this team? Call it what you want, I only know what I see, and if that’s the truth, so be it.
Ice Bits: Give Zack Kassian an “A” for his effort by dropping the gloves to tangle with Brad Stabitz even if he didn’t win. That fight definitely got the Hab’s players going.
Roberto Luongo had another poor game and it looks like suddenly the Canucks don’t have the goaltending to save them in tight games. Will Coach Vee play Cory Schneider soon to determine which goaltender is ready for the playoffs?
Remember when there were 25 games, then 20 and the Canucks were all talking about turning their game around? Well guess what? There are 13 games left and the playoffs will be here sooner than they realize.
The Canucks have two games left in this home stand before they go on the road for four. Maybe the road trip is just what is needed to get their game back because time really is of the essence. That and an injection of passion – and the heart of a Canuck.
Photo Credits – AP, Getty Images, Google Images and Yahoo Sports!
Video Credits – YouTube
Quote Credits – The Vancouver Sun and Province
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Filed under: Vancouver Canucks