Saturday, December 23, 2006

Canucks in need of roadside assistance

Vancouver wrapped up their road trip to the east with another loss, this one at the hands of Ken Hitchcock’s Columbus Blue Jackets. It marked the sixth consecutive road loss for the team, and the third straight loss that the Canucks have suffered in a row. Making for a slump that is beginning to make the faithful back on the West Coast just a little bit uncomfortable.

Friday night saw former Canuck Anson Carter come back to haunt his former team, Carter picked up a goal and assist and seemed to be involved in the play in all ends of the rink, something that couldn’t quite be said for his former team mates.

Once again the Canucks seemed dis-interested at times in the flow of the play, making errors that a pee wee team wouldn’t dare make as a lack of focus by the Canucks marked the play in the first period. Vancouver picked up not one but two too many men on the ice penalties in the first period, and another for good measure in the third, an unacceptable bit of sloppy hockey sense that seems to be indicative of where this team has its head at all of a sudden.

Vancouver gave up five power play opportunities in the first period, playing ten of the twenty minutes short handed, a definite advantage for Columbus, as it keeps the Sedins on the bench while the penalty killers do their thing, again and again. Surprisingly, the Blue Jackets only capitalized on one of their power play opportunities on the way to their 3-2 victory.

The untimely and dumb penalties are taking their toll on the Canucks, who feature the least amount of goals scored among the 30 lodge members of the NHL. Not a surprise when you consider how much of the time they spend killing off penalties and defending their own end.

And when they are in their own end, they aren’t doing Roberto Luongo any favours, sloppy clearing passes, they were a bit too soft in their own end, allowing the Blue Jackets to congregate in front of Lunongo waiting for second chances or obstructing his view.

The Canucks move on to the Christmas break now, a chance to get away from hockey for a few days and perhaps come back to the rink with a more focused approach to the games to come after Boxing Day.

They haven’t appeared ready to play in any of the games televised back to BC this week, a situation that hasn’t gone un-noticed by head coach Alain Vigneault. He’s tried shuffling the lines, moving the grinders up to a more frequent rotation in a bid to generate some enthusiasm, all to no avail. After yet another disappointing result, perhaps the time has come for him to turn the player stats in to the GM’s office.

Dave Nonis may find that his Christmas weekend will feature a bit of reading, a bit of thinking and maybe an updating of his blackberry, it may be time to make some moves, this team is spinning their wheels watching the traffic fly by as they sit on the side of the rink, they need either a tow truck, new tires or both and they need them soon.

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