Canucks need a 'closer' to step up

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks left wing Aaron Volpatti, right, trips Los Angeles Kings centre Trevor Lewis during the first period of an NHL game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.
 

Vancouver Canucks left wing Aaron Volpatti, right, trips Los Angeles Kings centre Trevor Lewis during the first period of an NHL game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.

Photograph by: Chris Carlson, AP

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VANCOUVER - If the Vancouver Canucks were a baseball team, they'd be in search of a closer.

The Canucks blew their third two-goal lead of the season Monday night, when they lost a 3-2 shootout decision to the Los Angeles Kings.

Unfortunately, the Orioles' Jim Johnson or Yankees' bullpen ace Rafael Soriano can't work their magic wearing skates.

The Canucks are going to have to solve this little problem of coughing up leads by themselves. Better special teams play would help.

Heading into Tuesday night's schedule, the Canucks' ranked an abysmal 25th on the penalty-kill. Their power play isn't much better at 19th.

The Canucks, normally one of the NHL's highest-scoring teams, are 21st in goals for, averaging only 2.50 a game. Defensively, they are middle of the pack at 16th, surrendering 3.00 a game.

If you are looking for a positive to the Canucks' 2-2-2 start, consider this: they are not as bad as their statistics.

"Someone told me this is our best start since 2008," assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said Tuesday. "Our team is like a lot of other teams and that is the players are getting their hands and legs in synch.

"We lost some games where we didn't play well, we've won some games where we've played well and we've lost some games where we played very well. People should keep in mind we are 10 days into the season, granted it is a short season, but we're still evolving as a team."

OLYMPIC DREAM: Canuck prospect Nicklas Jensen will take a short leave from his Swedish Elite league team, AIK, to try and help Denmark qualify for next year's Winter Olympics.

Denmark, which is in a group with Belarus, Slovenia and Ukraine, will play host to the qualifier Feb. 7-10.

Jensen, Vancouver's first-round pick (29th overall) in 2011, leads AIK with 15 goals this season. The 19-year-old missed Tuesday night's game against Brynas with a shoulder injury, but agent Anton Thon said he's sure it is nothing serious.

"I just spoke with my Swedish partner and we were speaking for 15 minutes about Nick and there was no mention about a serious shoulder injury," Thon said. "If it was something serious I can assure you he would have brought it up to me."

Thon said despite the fact AIK is currently 10th in the 12-team Elite League, the experience has been a good one for Jensen.

"He's very positive," Thon said. "The team is not experiencing as much success as they would like, but I think it has been a good experience for him and a good learning experience.

"He's playing with men, not teenagers which he would have been playing with at the major junior level if he had gone back to Oshawa. It's essentially like playing in the American League."

NO AVALANCHE WARNING: The Canucks play host to the Colorado Avalanche tonight and lately that has meant almost guaranteed win night.

The Canucks are 15-1-2 over the last three seasons versus the Avs, who like the Canucks, did not practise on Tuesday. Colorado dropped a 4-1 decision in Edmonton on Monday night to fall to 2-3-0 on the season.

Colorado will be without captain Gabriel Landeskog, who is out with head and leg injuries suffered in a hit Saturday by San Jose defenceman Brad Stuart.

The Avs are having some special teams problems of their own. Colorado has given up seven power-play goals in its last two games.

bziemer@vancouversun.com; twitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Vancouver Canucks left wing Aaron Volpatti, right, trips Los Angeles Kings centre Trevor Lewis during the first period of an NHL game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.
 

Vancouver Canucks left wing Aaron Volpatti, right, trips Los Angeles Kings centre Trevor Lewis during the first period of an NHL game in Los Angeles, Monday, Jan. 28, 2013.

Photograph by: Chris Carlson, AP

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Your voice
Who will be the NHL's worst?
 
Sabres, easily
Hurricanes
Some other team
Don't know, but would love for my team to get McDavid!