<table width=90% align=center border=0><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/henderson_headshot.jpg align=left hspace=4>A week has passed since Philadelphia racked up their Frequent Flyer Points. And as predicted, our team took the lessons from that hideous loss into their next three battles. Defensive positioning was better, stickwork was better, the Sedins can control the puck for an entire powerplay. Yes, the collapse in the third period against San Jose means the boys still have a way to go but, all in all, things are looking up.
The Canucks swore up and down that they were going to get off to a better start this season; that they would begin this year as well as they had ended last. Unfortunately, that’s not happening yet. Our golden goalie is ramping up slowly, just as he did last year. We have replaced several mediocre players who understood how to execute Coach Vigneault’s defensive systems, with several mediocre players who don’t.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1507_canuckpractice09_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/10/oct1507_canuckpractice09_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>
Poor Dave Nonis - I can relate. Often, I have headed to the supermarket with the express purpose of purchasing milk, because, you know, I really, really need milk. I arrive home with bags of groceries, but, oops, no milk. Dave approached the off-season with the clear intention of acquiring a big, physical forward with a scoring touch, because, not having one saw us eliminated in the second round of the playoffs.
Once at the NHL fair however, Dave discovered that those forwards were commanding ludicrous contracts and he was lured into impulse buying by enticing Isbisters and Ritchies, tempting him with pleading puppy eyes from the bargain bin. So here we are, two weeks into the season, our youthful potential scorers dispatched to Moose country, and we still can’t generate goals when we need them most.
<a href=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks10_b.jpg target=_blank><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/09/092607_sjsharks10_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>Ryan Kesler, you’re killing me. Markus gifts you a spectacular pass, you have a yawning net to shoot at and you miss. Aarrgh!! Much as I wish it were otherwise, you still appear to have less finish than an antique armoire soaking in acetone.
And Brad Isbister. Cripes, you’re 6’4”, 225 lbs, and you can draw penalties like nobody’s business and muscle your way to the net while strong-arming a defender in a style not seen here since the moody, hulking one was dispatched to Florida. You should be a freaking superstar, baby. But at 30 years old and on your sixth NHL team you are cutting it pretty fine in terms of your emergence from your cocoon. All of Vancouver promises to love you unconditionally if you can finally get it together in our lovely city.
The Kings should be paupers by the time our lads get done with them on Friday, emphasis on the SHOULD. If the Canucks don’t do that incredibly annoying thing where they underestimate a weaker opponent, come out slow and sloppy, spend the first two periods like they’re skating through sludge, then forlornly bleat useless excuses at the cameras after the game. Los Angeles is a team in goalie meltdown and we have the “best goalie on the planet”.
So boys, if you could just pretend that you’re playing a team that you hate or a team that scares you, maybe you could win this one in style, cheer up the rightfully crabby home crowd and put yourselves in a positive mindset for your week long road trip.