Vancouver Canucks: Comeback Kids?

 

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By Joe McCormick (@JoeMcCormick19)

An early and unfortunate own goal by Loui Eriksson made myself and a lot of fans think, “So this is how the season is going to play out.” Eriksson saw “blue” behind him and threw the puck back only to find that the “blue” he saw was from his line mates getting off of the ice. He seemed to be gripping his stick a little tighter after that.  There was a lot of push back by the Canucks in the third.  “The Shift” was an excellent display of why the Sedin twins are still regarded as top players in this league and Eriksson got over his previous mistake, as he got an assist on the game tying goal.

Bo Horvat playing with the grinders did produce some excellent offensive zone pressure, but Alex Burrows and Derek Dorsett’s offensive skills are somewhat limited, making it hard for Horvat to produce anything. The second game we got to see Bo with more skilled wingers, and we also got to see a high skill goal by Horvat.  I don’t think that was a coincidence.

Erik Gudbranson and Ben Hutton pairing looked like they’ve played together for years. Alex Edler and Chris Tanev were good as well.  Edler got lost in no-man’s land in the corner as Victor Rask jumped out and put a well-placed shot behind Jacob Markstrom to put Carolina up 1-0. Gudbranson was brought in to be a physical presence and on the 3rd goal by Carolina, he was caught looking at his feet for a rebound, when he should have taken the body on Justin Faulk.  I thought the Phillip Larsen/Luca Sbisa pairing would be our downfall, but after the first two games, it looks like I may be wrong.

I’ve coached teams over the years that I knew were over matched. You end up changing your coaching style and preach defense first in an effort to save face so the kids don’t end up being blown out. You end up trying not to lose instead of trying to win; And there is a difference. But, these aren’t kids we are talking about, and it looks like Willie is doing the same thing in the first two periods of both games, possibly to save his job.  The team has come out playing defense first, dump the puck out, “don’t take any chances” hockey in both games.  The best teams in the league have players that take chances but are good enough to cover for their own mistakes.  If they do this against some of the better or even average teams in the league, they will find themselves in a hole and not be able to come back and win games.

Brandon Sutter would be the hero of the weekend recording the Shootout winning goal on Saturday and the OT winning goal on Sunday. Both were great but I was more impressed with the pass he made to start the play that would eventually be the 2nd goal in the comeback against Carolina.  It was the start of a tic-tac-toe play with Jannik Hansen and finally Markus Granlund with the finish.  This line seems to be developing some chemistry.

Jake Virtanen had what I would call a dirty play. As a player was sliding into the board, he took a conscious effort to throw his head into the boards with a little extra force.  This has no place in the game and it would be a surprise if this goes unnoticed by the league.  This wasn’t a matter of a player not protecting himself by keeping his head up or turning at the last second.  Don’t take hitting out of the league, but punish players for boneheaded plays like this.  If there is a suspension, it would give Jack Skille a chance to see what he can do in a regular season game and see if he was worth us losing Emerson Etem on waivers.

This week brings us the Blues and Sabres. I expect Ryan Miller to get the start in both games with Markstrom likely getting the start in LA on the weekend.  With a couple of positives to take out of the weekend, I still think the team is in for a loss against the Blues with an OT win against the Jack Eichel-less Sabres.

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