Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
A couple of things after a 5-3 Vancouver loss to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, a game that was signed and sealed with a 3-0 Jersey lead after one period.
1) The Canucks looked like a team that wanted to get its coach fired. And Alain Vigneault sounded like he did at the end of last season, when his job was on the line following seven losses in the last eight games, which kept Vancouver out of the playoffs….
2) The Canucks are in a stretch that may get general manager Mike Gillis looking to make a move earlier than the trade deadline. (Gillis might do that anyway because he is not in the least a conventional guy who is going to be bound by an arbitrary date of March 4.)
Two names to watch: Atlanta defenceman Mathieu Schneider and Islanders forward Doug Weight.
from Ben Kuzma of Canucks Nation at the Vancouver Province,
Roberto Luongo pushed hard to convince the coaching staff he should play Tuesday. He should have pushed harder. Much harder.
On a night when the Vancouver Canucks needed great goaltending, an air-tight defence and turnover-free forays through the neutral zone to avoid feeding the transition monster New Jersey Devils, they often looked lost in their own zone and simply waited much too long to force the issue offensively in a 5-3 loss at GM Place….
Where was the early resolve to turn around too many horror shows on home ice? Where was the early leadership? Where was the early goaltending?
more on the Canucks loss to the Devils…
from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun,
In Monday’s practice, Demitra was dropped to the fourth line where he skated with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk. By the sound of Vigneault, it seems there’s a good chance Demitra could draw fourth-line duty tonight when the Canucks play host to the New Jersey Devils.
“He has been given quite a few minutes here and I really gave him quite a few chances,” Vigneault said. “For me, if you are not getting points but you are getting scoring chances, that’s a different thing. There’s not much going on there right now.”
Vigneault is particularly disturbed by his team’s play at home. After weathering a difficult start, which saw the Canucks play 19 of their first 30 games on the road, most expected Vancouver to make hay at home.
from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,
Vancouver Canuck superstar goalie Roberto Luongo will partake in a full team practice on Monday and appears set to return to game action this week.
Luongo survived a rigourous 75-minute workout run by goalie coach Ian Clark today at GM Place.
Seven players took shots on Luongo in a variety of drills designed specifically to test his injured groin.
“I pounded it pretty hard and the groin is feeling fine,” said Luongo. “We pretty much explored everything today. There were some broken plays where you kind of had to react and kick your leg out and be in a bit of a vulnerable position and I didn’t have any problems. So that’s really encouraging. I’m really happy with the way things went.”
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
“It felt like its the second game of the season, you know. I didn’t expect to feel any different than I have these first two games,” said Sundin, interrupting a post-game bicycle workout to accommodate the media in the hallway.
“There’s still a lot of work to do, in terms of timing and all that. There’s going to be a lot of ups and downs as we go along, but it’s nice in a way to get a chance to play right away again [tonight, against San Jose.]”
“It is going to take time, and we’re going to be talking about this for a while,” said Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. “There’s a reason why training camps are three weeks minimum, and it’s to get in game alertness, game shape, game speed, game execution—and Mats doesn’t have that.
“He’s been working extremely hard, and we hope that he’s going to be able to reach the pace of the NHL in a reasonable amount of time.”
Emails streamed in overnight, claiming Mitchell should be suspended for his hit on Gilbert last night.
Watch and listen to what Gilbert thinks of the hit. End of story!
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
If you didn’t know any better you’d have sworn Bruce Springsteen had brought his show to town Wednesday with the crush of the media around Sundin’s dressing room stall after the morning skate.
His stall is between the Sedins, proving you can split up the twins Henrik and Daniel. Sundin was expecting a somewhat ruder reception from the Oilers, more along the lines of body contact than eye contact with the media scrum, but he was clearly tickled to be back at work.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
When you consider what the bodies of the Vancouver Canuck players have been through in the last four days, it was pretty surprising they were as close to winning as they were last night.
When you mention they’ve just played three games in four nights with a diagonal trip across the continent thrown in just to make it fun, it sounds like you’re making excuses for these guys.
But the fact is it doesn’t matter how much money you get paid, how well conditioned you might be or how well you’re supposed to perform, the human body is simply not going to function at the level required to win at this league.
Just why the NHL does this to the customers they so desperately need to please is a mystery. Really, at what point is the insatiable greed which begets this type of ridiculous scheduling counter-productive?
Both Mats Sundin and Vigneault have indicated that he will not play tonight and while Sundin will debut in a Canucks sweater tonight for jersey off our backs fan appreciation night, neither have a confirmed date for his debut in a Canucks sweater on skates.
“I haven’t even thought about dates to be honest with you,” said Sundin. “I’ll play it by day.”
Sundin continued skating in solo sessions while the team travelled to Nashville and Atlanta and participated in two game-day skates but has yet to join the team in a full practice since arriving at GM Place December 30.
“I think I need to skate with the team just once,” he said. “I haven’t had one practice yet with the whole group so I think getting a good practice, with two days, tomorrow and the next day, and then we can evaluate how everything feels.”
more on the Canucks…
from John Glennon of the Tennessean,
Just 22 seconds into Thursday’s 2-1 loss to Vancouver, Tootoo dropped the gloves with Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows, who’d infuriated the Predators last month by leveling Nashville’s J.P. Dumont with a flying check.
“I was just sticking up for my teammates,’’ said Tootoo, who missed the previous Vancouver game. “The last game we didn’t have that physical play there. We wanted to set the tone and we did that.’‘
Tootoo had to do some talking to Burrows before the Canucks forward was willing to fight, but Tootoo made short work of him.
“Obviously he knows what kind of fighter I am and he was a little intimidated,’’ Tootoo said. “But if you’re going to be able to dish it out, you’re going to have to be able to handle it. He knew it was coming.’‘
more on the Predators and watch the fight below…
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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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