Canucks and Beyond

Stop the Bleeding

11/02/2007 at 6:39am EDT

Nashville vs Vancouver: 3-0. And it was already 2-0 for the Predators just 9 minutes into the game, Nashville’s first two shots ending up on the scoreboard.

But it improved, Roberto Luongo facing 3 more shots by the end of 40 minutes, rocketing his save percentage up to a delightful .600. (Ugh.)

Thursday night was Vancouver’s delayed Halloween performance: a bloody mess of a game, and in more ways than one.

Wreckage

By a combination of goaltending failures, offensive anemia and a defensive system that frequently makes me want to drown myself in a toilet in order to create some excitement, there wasn’t much of a prayer of getting back into this game after that opening period. So many things going wrong.

In short, Nashville came to town and left a depressing piece of wreckage in their wake. The only thing missing was someone shooting a dog and someone else’s wife leaving them, and it would have been a hit country song.

Injuries are the most serious concerns to acknowledge. First, Kevin Bieksa getting cut by a skate, either to the back of his ankle or his rear calf muscle. (Either way, an injury to be very concerned about.) And secondly, Sami Salo took a puck to his orbital bone which gushed a lot of blood. Both players were apparently taken to hospital after the game and Vigneault mentioned that it’s safe to assume they’re both gone for a while.

Scary looking incidents. Hopefully they both recover fully.

About the game itself, it’s the story of what happens when nothing seems to be going right. There’s a point when it sort of crosses over from “annoying” to “fascinating” and you have wonder just how much worse it can get. How far down is rock-bottom? It’s way too early in the season to panic that much, but it sure wasn’t a pretty night.

Brendan Morrison made some comments after the game that caught my attention: in essence, the most obvious offensive problem is that nobody is taking a chance. Somebody has to step up and make a play, and not just rely on dumping the puck in while hoping for a bounce. Most of the time it looks like everyone is so scared to get caught out of position, they don’t have a prayer of scoring their way out of trouble.

But Alain Vigneault’s post-game press conference was a welcome change, and indicated he’s backing down from the negative-feedback approach for the moment. Instead he took a more upbeat attitude, acknowledging that his team needs to figure this out somehow together.

It was probably the right tactic to take. He’s got a fragile team that looks to be in a lot of trouble at the moment. That dressing room doesn’t need more divisive blame being thrown around.

Besides, I’d say Canucks fans were throwing around all the negativity anyone really needs—not that you could blame them. But with the crowd booing the players and jeering the goalie (welcome to Cloutier’s Vancouver for the night, Luongo…) and even cheering the Predators, Vancouver probably has enough negativity flowing their way.

The best thing this team can do now is band together—from the coach, all the way down through the lineup—and take an “Us Against the World” attitude. It’s worked before and it might work again. Besides, what choice do they have? They’ve got to focus on playing like a team. (Although, picking up an 80 goal scorer or two wouldn’t hurt either…)

Anyway, I’ll try and be positive, too: Maybe the Canucks were just storing up their rage to throw down a beating on Colorado on Saturday?

Yeah, that’s it.

Canucks Fan Optimism: it’s 80-proof and it goes down smooth…

Trade Rumors

Lastly, a couple of notes on trade rumors.

Darren Dreger at TSN made this observation early Thursday evening:

The Canucks had three representatives, including assistant general manager Steve Tambellini, at Tuesday’s game between the Canadiens and Thrashers in Montreal, fueling speculation that something may happen with one of either teams.

And Spector had this to say about an article in the Vancouver Sun:

Ben Kuzma interviewed Canucks general manager Dave Nonis regarding the team’s opening month to this season. Nonis admits it’s difficult to make a trade at this point in the season as any potential deals he could make right now wouldn’t be good ones as they’d eat up the remainder of his cap space or else the players being offered carry long deals that take those players into age groups “where you don’t want them”. Nonis wouldn’t rule out packaging promising prospects Luc Bourdon and Corey Schneider but isn’t keen on doing so as it could potentially hurt the club’s future. As for Peter Forsberg, Nonis said that until the UFA forward decides to return to the NHL his focus is on the Canucks.

Spector’s Note: The Canucks frequently pop up in rumours that have them chasing more offence but I think it’s clear from Nonis’s comments that he hasn’t found any deals that make long-term sense for his club and he’s not about to sacrifice his future for a quick fix today.

True enough, but geez… something’s gotta give soon.

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