Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
Mats Sundin and the Canucks have done the impossible—transforming what seemed a no-lose situation into a torpedo to the hull of the team. And that spectacular achievement perfectly encapsulates the 39-year history of a futile franchise that lost the coin flip for Gilbert Perreault and never recovered.
The Canucks got Dale Tallon instead of Perreault.
They recruited all-world players Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov, who combined for 63 goals in three seasons here.
They drafted Dan Woodley over Brian Leetch, Brad Ference over Marian Hossa.
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
Vancouver Canucks general manager Mike Gillis has denied claims by defenceman Shane O’Brien that he was asked to fight more often.
Gillis, head coach Alain Vigneault and two other Canucks executives met with all of the team’s players last week to address a prolonged losing string — now eight consecutive games and nine in a row on home ice.
O’Brien, fresh off a benching during a 4-3 overtime loss to the Minnesota Wild last Saturday, said that in his meeting, the GM instructed him to fight.
“In no uncertain terms was he told he had to fight,” Gillis said last night. “How he ever got that message is unbeknownst to me. He clearly misinterpreted the message that we were trying to send, that each player has to be accountable and work hard individually.”
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Maybe it was unrealistic to expect him to make an immediate impact. Maybe it was unrealistic to expect him to step in and be the player we last saw in Toronto.
But, by any reasonable standard, he’s been here long enough to acclimatize himself to the NHL grind and bring his conditioning and timing up to an NHL standard. And not only has he failed there, he’s actually hindered the Canucks’ attempts to get on track.
Against the Wild, the final line told you all you needed to know—just over 17 minutes of ice time, minus-one, no points, three shots on goal, none of which resembled a scoring chance, and two more minors to his rapidly increasing PIM total.
But what that ledger doesn’t reveal is the number of times he was put in a position to make a difference; to change the momentum of the game or to sustain momentum in the Canucks’ favour. Alain Vigneault gave Sundin every chance to succeed, every chance to leave his imprint on this game. And each time he failed.
“No one in that dressing room is taking this lightly. We understand everyone’s frustration and disappointment, but we are going to stick together to get back on right track. Our guys are not indifferent, and they are taking this personally. They want to succeed, and sometimes wanting too much can hurt you as much as not wanting it enough.”
-Canucks coach Alain Vigneault after Vancouver lost their 8 straight home game last night. More on the game at VancouverCanucks.com.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
Small things. At Tuesday’s practice, Mats Sundin didn’t tag along behind Daniel and Henrik Sedin on the first power play, but confidently ran a second unit. The day before, Sundin not only survived the practice-ending conditioning skate, but led it. He had terrific scoring chances the last two games and finished one of them.
But so far, all Sundin has been able to offer are small things, dropped hints that he may be getting close to the player he was the last 17 National Hockey League seasons.
It is the big things from Sundin the Canucks are still awaiting and desperately need. A month into Sundin’s return to hockey, it’s about time he delivered them.
via Stan Fischler of Game On,
What is the difference between Brendan Shanahan’s comeback and that of Mats (Card Table) Sundin? Brent Sutter has the answer while twitting Matty: “Shanny is well-conditioned,” explains the Devils’ coach. “He wasn’t traveling North America playing poker in those celebrity events!”
Sutter rates Sid Crosby (as a Junior) and Zach Parise among the two “hardest-working” players he’s ever coached. Parise, despite impressive numbers, does not rate himself a superstar. He tells us, “I could be better if I could be more consistent. I’ll figure it out soon.”
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
Luongo knows allowing nine goals on 60 shots in his last two outings isn’t going to cut it, but didn’t buy the argument that he might be having trouble pushing off his left skate. He seemed stoic when beaten on shootout efforts by Williams and Rick Nash.
“I feel great on the ice and really have no issues,” he stressed. “It [rust] is from not having breakaways or shootouts. Once back on the ice, I didn’t want to go right into shootouts in practice and wanted to be careful. I was kind of antsy on the first [shootout] and went down early.”
Darcy Hordichuk talks about growing up in the Prairies and his road to get to the NHL.
One of those feel good, truly Canadian success stories.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
There are miles and miles to go, and as the team lurches to the all-star break, clinging to the next-to-last mythical playoff spot, though barely past the halfway mark, boundless patience is a big ask.
“Our guys are battling,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault. “[Columbus] scored four goals in a row, our guys could have folded. They didn’t. Mats is playing better, we all know Roberto can play better, and those are key components of our team.”
“I think Sundin’s starting to come, his first three steps are quicker now, and he’s getting into holes to shoot the puck that he wasn’t two weeks ago. Mats is going to be a really dangerous player for teams to defend against,” Hitchcock said, charitably….
And Luongo isn’t close to being the goalie of old, and knows it. Someone asked if he thought he could feel his form returning — after all, he made some fine saves, off Kristian Huselius and Nash and others — and Luongo did everything but laugh.
“I don’t think so. Not when I let in five goals [on the first 17 shots] in a game,” he said. “I tried to do my best out there, but it’s to be expected, I didn’t expect to come in and be where I left off. It’s going to be a process.
Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks breaks down the NFL Conference Championship games.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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