Sunday, March 12, 2006

Three Losses

St Louis 4 at Canucks 1 – 5-Mar-06
Nashville 3 at Canucks 2 (overtime) – 9-Mar-06
Dallas 2 at Canucks 1 – 11-Mar-06

Shots on Goal
Opponent 35-37-33 105
Canucks 24-25-19 68

Power Play 0 for 13
Penalty Kill 13 of 16

Face Off %
Opponent 49-52-61 54%
Canucks 51-48-39 46%

What’s Wrong

Easy to see – badly out shot. Anaemic power play. Still losing key faceoffs. Two of the three lost in the third period by giving up power play goals on marginal penalites. Right Park, Brookbank and Cooke?

More specifically.

Power Play

Maybe this should be special teams and not just the power play. The penalty kill hasn’t been all that good with six consecutive games having given up a power play goal. The power play lacks imagination. There is a need to mix things up. Against the Stars, Turco killed the first few penalties by himself. The Vancouver defence dumps it in – Turco dumps it out. Over and over until half way midway through the second Ohlund realizes softly loft it into the corner – into the no fly zone – and you take that option off Turco. Crawford knows Turco is good at moving the puck behind the net. Why wasn’t this the game plan going in?

The Sedin, Sedin, Carter unit has some set plays and does well to get set up in the offensive zone. They retain and reacquire the puck well. The slap pass routine is getting to be known. It is hard to defend. Teams though are starting to expect and anticipate it. The Twins need to use the points a little more. Salo’s canon is missed. Carter needs to be a bit more of a presence in front of the net.

The other power play unit is Naslund and Morrison with either Bertuzzi or Cooke. It takes them an eternity to get set up in the offensive zone. Once there they lack the polish of set plays like the Sedin’s unit. Bert or Cooke needs to be a presence in front of the net. Exactly opposite to the twins, Naslund needs to use the points less and move the puck to the blue ice. Work the puck to the slot, get shots and let the Bert clean up the garbage. I’m afraid Naslund is the guy to do this as Morrison doesn’t seem to have the skill confidence combination to quarterback the PP. I’d like to see Naslund be the shooter rather than the set-up guy.

Supplemental Scoring

The lack of goals is the elephant in the room. No one but the Sedin’s / Carter have scored since Chicago. The problem seems to be a lack of shots. Naslund has his wheels back. He started well after the Olympic break with two goals in two nights. But since then the well has gone dry. Morrison and Bertuzzi both scored in Chicago and had dominate offensive zone games. While you could not point to either and say they’ve played poor games. The proof is lack of production on the score sheet. Bert with Kesler and Ruutu is a good combination but they need to put the puck in the net. Cooke with Naslund and Morrison was the combination when the league sat Bert out back then. They should also be a good combination. I believe separating Bert and Nassy is the right thing to do. It is now up to Kesler, Morrison, Cooke and Ruutu to step up.

Face Offs

Linden used to be the go to guy for key face offs. I still see him out there for those key duels. Trevor’s hands are aging like the rest of his body. Of the active players with more than 100 face offs taken the stats are: Morrison 50.3%, Henrik 49.1%, Linden 48.5%, Kesler 46.5% and Bertuzzi 42.9%. Top ten face off men are at 55%. Top twenty are 54%. Morrison’s 50.3% places him 52nd in the league. I tend to harp on this one a bit only because it is a stat that can be improved. It takes personal commitment. Eye hand and speed of hand drills do work and will resulting more wins.

Role Players – Cooke, Ruutu, Kesler, Burrows and maybe even Linden and Park.

OK let’s accept it. The ‘big line’ is Daniel, Henrik and honorary brother Carter. The second line you pick Morrison between Nassy and Cooke or Kesler between Bert and Ruutu. This leaves Linden with Burrows and Park as the fourth line. The even strength production of Cooke, Kesler and Ruutu has to improve. Cooke I’m not so concerned about. Kesler and Ruutu seem to have disappeared along with Burrows. If even one of these can score every other night then we are looking at being on the winning end of 3 – 2 scores rather than the losing end of 2 – 1 scores.

Next Up the same Dallas Stars in Dallas on Monday 13-Mar at 5:30PM on SportsNet Pacific. The Canucks currently have 76 points which places then 7th in the west. Edmonton is two points back and LA is one point ahead. If the playoff were to start today Vancouver would play Dallas in the first round without home ice.


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