Facing the Panthers next, can the Canucks make some neccessary changes?
So it’s not quite what you expected when you looked at the schedule for this road trip. The softened early schedule has turned out to be a bit uglier than we had hoped and aside from the two wins there are some equally as ugly trends developing.
Giving up the first goal is the first of such ugly trends that needs to be bucked. The process of playing from behind is tiresome for the fans but even more tiresome for the team. You never want to play from behind and the Canucks have done that for eight straight games. The upside is that they have managed to come back in five of those games and nobody is disputing their third period scoring is terrific. However, eventually that dries up and it obviously has to some extent as they’ve taken to the road. Against Montreal you could forgive the issue as they obviously played a strong game and thoroughly outplayed the other side. Jaro Halak was magnificent in that game and sometimes you let those games go because the effort was there and no more need be said. Boston was a complete role reversal as it was Luongo’s turn to steal a game between the pipes and that only seems fair. So if you take out those two games you’re left with two losses and one win.
Keep in mind that the consistency from period to period hasn’t been there since the Canucks left GM Place and so this is the second negative trend. Playing a full 60 minutes isn’t easy on the road night after night, but it’s to be expected at least once and so far we haven’t seen that. The game against the Lightning was the closest to that and it was a full 40 minute team game with a soft final 20 that cost the game. The soft 20 was full of odd-man rush’s against and poor reads on special teams that caused costly turnovers. Playing catch-up hockey on this trip has been with mixed results so a strong showing against the Panthers will be critical to finishing the roady strong.
The last trend that needs to be mentioned is the lack of production from the top line since the Toronto game. The top line that was so dominant all season, albeit mostly at home, has been invisible lately. This line needs to play a puck possession game and unfortunately visitor ice lends itself poorly to this environment. The Sedins & Burrows have been unable to get the matchups they need and because of the disadvantage in the faceoff dot they haven’t been starting with the puck as often as they’d like. However, this becomes prime opportunity to show they are indeed worthy of mention alongside the top lines of other teams like the Sharks and Hawks. Up to this point, that comparison was pretty fair but now seems like it is getting further away. Alex Burrows has 25G and 24A, which is incredible for a player of his background and it makes you feel great to look at those stats. It’ll feel better if he can keep stockpiling though and we’ll hope that happens in the Sunshine State.
Vancouver Canucks @ Florida Panthers – Feb 11, 2010 / 4:30 PST (SNET-P)
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Written by Luke Mirza