Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Shouldering Responsibilities

Sami Salo isn't sure if he will be back in the lineup when the Vancouver Canucks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight as his injured shoulder is still giving him problems. On the other hand, captain Markus Naslund will be there, even as he is battling through the flu, a bum shoulder and increasing criticism about his lack of production.

For the Canucks to return to the Western Conference playoffs in the spring, they will need their top-paid players to put up numbers that reflect their positions on the payroll. Naslund understands and takes his responsibilities seriously.

"I would like to score more goals, there's no doubt about it," Naslund said before the team departed for a four-game trip beginning tonight against the Minnesota Wild. "I try to do the right things, and hopefully things will come along and I will get my chances -- and I'll get my goals.

"Right now, it doesn't seem I've really had my opportunity. Maybe I'm too conscious about being on the right side of the puck and playing [defensively]. Maybe I should take a chance once in a while. But in tight games, you don't want to risk too much."
Call it blind loyalty, but I'm gonna stick with the captain on this one. He's done way too many good things this season to warrant any major criticism. He's played a lot more responsible game and is often the first forward hustling back to help the defense. He is a plus-3 player - a far cry from the minus-19 he ended with last season. And despite focusing more on the defensive side of things, Markus is still leading the Canucks in goals (12) and shots (101). (Remember a couple of weeks ago when everyone was screaming because him and the Sedins were the only ones scoring?)

For Naslund, I'm sure the slump (and the shoulder) has to hurt - you can tell by listening to his comments - but as long as he is contributing and the team is winning, I'm okay with that.

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

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 6:05 AM