Vancouver - Nov. 20, 2011 - Having the League’s best team, the Chicago Blackhawks coming to town and slapping the Canucks silly with a 5-1 loss was frustrating. But then watching the Blackhawks get their collective butts handed to them in their two games afterwards by struggling teams was downright maddening. The hot and cold Canucks have a problem with consistency, and it all boils down to their 5 on 5 play, or rather the lack of it.
I’m not saying getting the Canucks regular strength play on track is going to solve all their problems, but it will be a start. With tonight’s game being the 20th of the season and the Canucks sitting at a mere .500, there is a long long road ahead of them if they want to resemble last year’s President’s Trophy winning form. So far this year, the only thing that has been consistent for the Canucks is their inconsistency. But hopefully, that will all change tonight as they take on another team who mired in inconsistent play themselves, the Ottawa Senators.
The game plan for the Canucks tonight should be a simple one. Play disciplined 5 on 5 hockey, because if the Senators take a page out of the Blackhawks playbook and don’t take very many penalties, the Canucks won’t be able to rely on their power play to keep them afloat. It’s sink or swim time for the Canucks at regular strength.
The Canucks first line of the Sedins and Jannik Hansen are playing great hockey, as is expected. The Sedins are making Hansen look really good because Jannik is playing like he is a Sedin half-brother himself, so there is no concerns about the Canucks top line. With Hansen moving up, Burrows drops down to the most troubling line of the Canucks, the Kesler line. Ryan is off to a slow start this season and hopefully will pick it up soon as there seems to be a revolving door around his linemates. Kesler now centers Higgins and Burrows as the firepower on this line needs to sort out their problems in a hurry and get it back on track.
I’m still holding out hope for David Booth as he continues to search for his game, but hopefully skating with Lapierre and Hodgson will light a fire in his stick and he’ll start to find the back of the net. Cody Hodgson is really coming along and starting to impress. Cody’s confidence is getting stronger every game as more and more you him getting involved in the play. It sure would be nice to see the third line catch fire. Maybe tonight?
With Keith Ballard and Roberto Luongo still nursing injuries and out for tonight’s game, Corey Schneider gets the call between the pipes again. I have absolutely no concerns with Schneids in net tonight as he has proven he can get the job done for the Canucks, it’s the 5 guys in front of him that I’m worried about because you just never know when the Canucks are going to show up and play hockey!
Let’s hope the Canucks can sort out their problems tonight and find the chemistry that propelled them to the finals last year, and deliver a strong performance tonight. If the winning is going to start, it might as well be tonight. Or rather, “better be” tonight?
Let’s Go Canucks. Let’s have a no mercy drubbing of the visiting Senators!