Limp Vancouver as bad as it gets

 

Missing in action: The good news is it can't really get any worse than this poor effort

 
 
 
 
Vancouver defenceman Jason Garrison dumps Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov into Eddie Lack's lap Wednesday.
 

Vancouver defenceman Jason Garrison dumps Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov into Eddie Lack's lap Wednesday.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG, The Province

If it was based solely on their New Year's Day game, the Canucks wouldn't have any players going to the Sochi Olympics.

The Sedins didn't do much but watch Jannik Hansen handle pucks like he was using a wooden spoon for a stick.

Ryan Kesler, picked by Team USA earlier in the day for its Olympic team, and his linemates were ineffective at their best. At their worst, they made Bobby Ryan playing summer league hockey at a kids camp seem intense.

Dan Hamhuis had a couple of nice moments, including a hit that dropped Tampa's Richard Panik, leading directly to the Canucks' second goal. But he was soft on a couple of Lightning goals and was a statue on Tampa's fourth. By the end, Hamhuis was on the ice for every goal scored in the game.

For the Canucks, it was an embarrassingly listless 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were fed a cupcake, as most Eastern teams qualify, and choked trying to get it down.

Daniel Sedin called it the Canucks' worst performance of the season.

"He assessed it correctly," John Tortorella said. "Listen, we haven't had many, but you could see right away we were out of sync.

"I could just feel it. "It is, it is our worst game of the year."

The Canucks' best lines, actually their only ones, were their third and fourth lines. They combined for two Vancouver goals in the second period.

On most nights, that'd be pretty good for this team. At least, it's about average, considering Vancouver has scored more than two goals just once in seven games.

Point is, the team has been offensively challenged for much of the season. But it was the defence that was the real disaster against Tampa, surrendering three goals in a 4:10 span to end the second. And that was with good goaltending.

"Over 60 minutes it was far from good enough," Daniel Sedin said. "We had nothing going for us.

"There were a lot of odd-man rushes. I can't even count on two hands how many odd man rushes they had.

"I think it was probably our worst game of the year."

It was enough to leave Tortorella burying his head in his hands, heading toward the locker-room for the second intermission.

And when the Canucks returned for the third, they weren't any better, which is saying something because even a faint heartbeat could have been an improvement.

Maybe the Canucks are looking ahead to a murderer's row schedule that has them playing six games against elite NHL competition, starting Saturday in Los Angeles. They need at least three wins, and that's not going to be easy playing Anaheim and L.A. twice, sandwiched around St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

The good news here is that they can't be worse than Wednesday.

The Canucks were down 3-2 to start the second, and actually deserved worse. They appeared to get a break on their second goal.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop was calling for icing and his teammates appeared to pull up just before Dale Weise set up Zac Dalpe for his first goal of the season.

The goal tied the game at two, and Tortorella would later say that's how his team needed to get out of the second to have a chance.

But three seconds before the second period was over, Chris Higgins was killing a penalty and had all the time in the world to clear a puck. But his weak clearing attempt allowed Tampa to press, and it led to a Nikita Kucherov goal.

That was the worst defensive play in a period that featured Kevin Bieksa getting stripped of the puck with one of his pinches in the offensive zone. It can create something if it works, but when it doesn't, Bieksa leaves people screaming "what was he thinking?" On Wednesday against Tampa, it didn't work.

Ondrej Palat turned the puck the other way, setting up Tyler Johnson for the Lightning's second goal.

jbotchford@theprovince.com twitter.com/botchford

 
 
 
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Vancouver defenceman Jason Garrison dumps Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov into Eddie Lack's lap Wednesday.
 

Vancouver defenceman Jason Garrison dumps Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov into Eddie Lack's lap Wednesday.

Photograph by: Gerry Kahrmann, PNG, The Province

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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