These are days of survival for the Vancouver Canucks given their plague of injuries, but as we present our hat trick of issues around the team this Friday morning, we fear the actual game may not survive the type of games this approach produces.
1. Answer this honestly. If that Vancouver-Phoenix game Thursday night had not been involving the Canucks producing one of their most gutsy wins of the year, how long would you have watched? Right. Five seconds max.
We all knew how bad the hockey was going to be in the Western Conference during this shortened season when they were kicking around solutions to the lockout and talking about a 48-game schedule.
And while those who work for television stations were telling everyone how important the games would be and therefore how intense, as you could see from last night, intense doesn’t mean worth watching.
Now this isn’t to point the finger at Alain Vigneault, who loves this type of hockey, or the Canucks because, given the players in their lineup, they had very little choice in playing the game this way.
And Phoenix plays that way all season, which certainly gives you an indication of why nobody wants to buy the team or attend the games. But after a lifetime of watching hockey, much of it very entertaining, watching the Sedins dump the puck into the opposition end and take 30-second shifts before heading to the bench to change just makes me want to change the channel to basketball.
2. We sensed a momentary lapse there for a moment, five minutes into the third period, in Max Lapierre’s resolve this season to keep his yapping to a minimum. Remember the scrum beside the Phoenix goal involving the former Yappy Lappy and Tom Sestito whereby the new Vancouver forward tough guy got in a pretty good shot to the kisser of Derek Morris during the melee, resulting in his roughing penalty?
Whatever was said during the pushing and shoving and face washing, it set Lapierre off and he broke his long-standing attempt not to trash talk this season, and he set off on a torrent. But that’s where he’s making improvement.
Whatever he was saying didn’t have an enraging effect on anyone in the scrum and, while he was going pretty good for 15 or 20 seconds as they broke up and headed toward the bench, he was certainly restrained enough in his choice of words.
Lapierre has actually been downright saintly this season in terms of minimizing the tongue wagging. He's following the formula employed by both Alex Burrows and Ryan Kesler in seasons past, concentrating on his game as opposed to hijinks. Maybe the league needs to introduce an award for the player who best improves his on-ice deportment every year. Maybe it would have to be called the Matt Cooke or Raffi Torres award. On second thought, forget it.
3. While that award was a decidedly bad idea, the Canucks definitely need to introduce another skill test when they have their team skills competition next season.
While everyone knows they test for the fastest skater, hardest shooter, best puck handler and most accurate shooter, there needs to be one introduced for the defencemen, and it would be for the best swimmer on the back end. You know, the guy who can make the most flamboyant layout on the ice with points awarded for how far you can stretch, how high you can jump before your belly hits the ice and you start sliding, and of course, how far you can slide.
As we’ve seen many times in Chicago, Kevin Bieksa can hit the ice on a two-on-one or a desperate situation and slide so far he ends up in the corner, giving him the early, or should we say the Mark Spitz-like, advantage going in.
But Jason Garrison showed great flopping form with terrific flailing in front of Cory Schneider last night as he slid himself out of the play and toward the corner leaving the goalie alone to face the shooter.
All defencemen do a little swimming when things get hairy at times. But these two guys? Artists. Both, capable of freestyle, backstroke and, on occasion, they make the odd sweep-check after hitting the frozen water. But not often.
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