Saturday, November 04, 2006

Gut-Check Time

The Canucks are about to face their most important test of the season.

They've lost their last two games - games that in the first month of the season, they would have somehow found a way to win - and in an extremely competitive Northwest Division, a loss tonight against the Colorado Avalanche will drop the Canucks to 3rd place in the division.

Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun):

After an unexpected 7-4-1 start this fall, the record made more impressive by the difficulty of their schedule, the Canucks hit turbulence and suddenly lost altitude this week with late meltdowns and losses to the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild that exposed Vancouver's weaknesses.

It's still too early to assume the crash position, but check back after tonight's game here against the Colorado Avalanche. It suddenly seems more important than two points in November.

"It was a little bit of a down feeling, or at least it was this morning," Canuck captain Markus Naslund said after a Friday afternoon practice in the Denver suburbs that was to be followed by a team meeting. "Being up 2-0 in Minny, and being tied in the third with Nashville and still losing those games. . . it's been the other way around for us, usually, where we've been able to pull it off in the end. So, that's been tough."

It's important to get it corrected. Tomorrow night is a very big game for us."
It's a big game, especially for the Canucks' psyche. It's a big game that will put Alain Vigneault's defense-first system to the test.

The team's back-end has been decimated by injuries. If Roberto Luongo thought he played a behind a porous Florida Panthers' defense last season, the Canucks are about to ice their most inexperienced group of six in recent seasons.

After 30-year old Mattias Ohlund and 31-year old Rory Fitzpatrick, the rest of the defense will include 25-year old Kevin Bieksa, 23-year old Lukas Krajicek, 19-year old Luc Bourdon and 20-year old Manitoba Moose call-up, Alexander Edler. After Ohlund's 572 games and Fitzpatrick's 224 games of NHL experience, the rest combine for only 164 games. Edler will play his first-ever NHL game tonight.
"Losing two guys like that, you're going to notice," Ohlund said, referring to Salo and Mitchell. "But last year, our team was so dysfunctional. I think we're more sound [this season], maybe not as exciting offensively, but our defence has been good. Even last night, they scored five goals and we made some mistakes, but I don't think we gave up a ton of scoring chances. I do feel it's a little bit different.

"Last year, with the coaching staff we had, they wanted us to focus on defence. But our team game was, defensively, horrendous. So what happened to us was no surprise. The last couple of games, even though we could have done better, we're still doing a lot of good things defensively."
And they have to continue do so.

Game starts at 7 PM and is on CBC Hockey Night In Canada. After the game, Trevor Linden will guest star on
HNIC After Hours.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Technorati Tags: , , ,
posted by J.J. Guerrero, 9:40 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home