Kassian deserves chance
No Offence: Team's fourth-leading goal man still can't get a whiff of power play
You certainly can't begrudge the Vancouver Canucks getting points any way possible these days, such is the sorry state they find themselves minus their captain, Henrik Sedin.
Scoring was difficult at the best of times for this team, so when he and Mike Santorelli went down it only made sense any offence this group was going to generate would seem like a forceps delivery - if and when they ever coax a puck into the net.
But in at least one instance this team seems to be making life more difficult on itself for no apparent reason. We speak here of their dogged determination not to use Zack Kassian on the first powerplay unit regardless of how laughably inept it becomes, and it certainly went well beyond that level Thursday against the Predators in yet another unwatchable affair at Rogers Arena.
They've used Brad Richardson, Jannik Hansen and Tom Sestito on the first power-play unit, but never the man who is fourth in team goals scored and happens to be one of the few forwards going well at the moment.
Despite the fact the power play never shows a spark of improvement, they keep running out the same people time and time again proving, for instance, that while Dan Hamhuis is indeed a deserving Olympian, it's getting to the point where in good conscience he should go to the coaches and say, 'Get me off this first unit.' Alex Burrows has been out on almost every first unit since he got back from injury and he still doesn't have a goal.
Daniel Sedin hasn't scored in 11 games and at this point can't even win a battle for the puck in the corner anymore - which is one of his great strengths when he's right - and he's out every single time this comedy show gets trotted out. Sometimes he's even at the left point.
There were even a couple of times the Dutch Wayne Gretzky, Dale Weise, was out on the first unit.
Hell, Vinny Prospal will be there before Kassian.
It's been well-documented that none of the three coaches, including suspended head coach John Tortorella, have had any success on the power play in the last couple of seasons with any of the teams they've been with, and we're getting a pretty good look at the reasons why.
Sure, we get what they're trying to do with Kassian. They want to bring him along slowly, make sure his defensive play improves steadily and promote him to new responsibilities as he earns them. And that may make some sense. In fact, it might be argued it's worked well given he's improving, although we have no idea where he might be developmentally had he been plunked on a line with the Sedins the moment he got back from his season-beginning suspension, as we were led to believe might happen in the pre-season.
But at this point they're hurting the team's chances of winning games by so doggedly sticking to this policy, particularly now when Henrik and Santorelli aren't available. By taking this stance, they're putting an individual ahead of the team. And there aren't many coaches who would consciously want to do such a thing.
"No, not at all," said Kassian, reading from the hockey player's humility quote sheet when asked if he's surprised that he hasn't at least had a look with the first unit this year. "We have a lot of really skilled guys on this team and I thought we moved the puck really well on the power play tonight, but we're just not putting it in."
They certainly aren't, once again coming up bagels in five chances.
"We're still a confident group out there and we moved the puck very well and got some good chances," said Daniel, who added the team is fine with 2-1 games as long as they win them. "It's execution on the power play. We made some good plays, but you can't keep saying that, we've got to have the goals."
"We had probably four backdoor opportunities we didn't finish on," said coach Mike Sullivan of the double-minor opportunity early in the game. "I thought our power play did everything tonight except put it in the net."
Sadly however, that is what's required.
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