Saturday, January 28, 2006

Canucks stumble way through road trip

It's three road games down and so are the Canucks. Vancouver dropped its third road loss in a row on Thursday night, as Brendan Shanahan sealed the win as the Wings clipped the Canucks 2-1 at the Joe Louis Temple of Hockeytown.

The Canucks have been awful on this their longest road trip of the year, losses to St. Louis and Columbus have rattled their confidence, while the loss to the Red Wings highlighted some problems with the current line up situation. The big line of Bertuzzi, Naslund and Morrison has done precious little the last number of games, mere passengers on the bus rather than participants.

Night after night the names of Burrows, Kesler and other unknowns have Canuck fans running for their Manitoba Moose Press kits to try and learn more about the only guys in White willing to throw a check or take a chance in the offensive zone of late.

The Sedin brothers and Anson Carter have shown flashes of life through the road trip, especially the Detroit game where they moved the puck nicely resulting in the only Canuck goal a highlight reel type of effort from Carter who took a nifty pass from Daniel Sedin.

Goaltending was a problem in the first two games of the trip, but not that was not the case on Thursday as Alex Auld held his team in the contest as long as he could, Shanhan did not put away the winning goal until the thirteen minute mark of the third. Unfortunately for Auld, the Canucks could not recapture the attack and get one back for him.

Injuries continue to plague the Canucks as well, Ed Jovanovski re-injured his groin in Columbus and has returned to Vancouver, creating more of an experience gap on the Canuck blue line.

By far though the most troublesome aspect of the Canuck play of late, is that big line, neither Bertuzzi nor Naslund have been particularly productive of late, they have their spurts and then disappear for a while. And speaking of disappearing, third wheel Morrison hardly ever sees the puck from the other two, giving him real cause to consider applying to the witness relocation program such is his involvement in the play of late.

It's a dilemma for Marc Crawford to try and solve and solve quickly, too many nights he gives the same post game comments of, we didn't check well, we couldn't keep up the pressure or we didn't give enough support to our goaltender. If you repeat the same thing enough times, one would think that it certainly may be time to try and correct the behavior.

Things don't get any easier for the Canucks on Saturday, its off to Colorado for the back end of the Hockey Night in Canada double header. A game that will feature a newly confident Avalanche team and a rather unfriendly Pepsi Centre crowd.

Saturday nights game is followed by trips to Phoenix, Calgary and Edmonton before they can unpack their suitcases. If they don't come up with a couple of wins, some of them may not have to bother unpacking.

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