After blowing a 2-0 lead against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 2, many Canucks fans are calling for the lines to be changed up, Michael Grabner be inserted into the top-six, or Pavol Demitra to be scratched. I beg to differ, I have full confidence in the first, second, and third Canucks lines.
The Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, and Alex Burrows line's track record since January 2009 speaks for itself.
The Pavol Demitra, Ryan Kesler, and Mikael Samuelsson line has potential to succeed. You have familiarity between Kesler and Demitra from the last half of the 2008-09 season playing with Sundin on the second line and the familiarity of Kesler and Samuelsson from playing together most of the 2009-10 season. You have the forechecker in Kesler, the playmaker in Demitra, and the goalscorer in Samuelsson. There is reason to believe that this line will work.
That line was invisible in Game 1, but improved greatly in Game 2. Kesler picked up two assists while Demitra assisted on Samuelsson's tally. Did anybody see Demitra's excitement on that goal? He was noticeable on the ice last night and played with passion. Baby steps...I expect even better and greater things in Game 3.
The Mason Raymond, Kyle Wellwood, and Jannik Hansen line has been the best line for the Canucks in the first two games of the series. The line has brought energy every shift and has hemmed the Kings in their own zone with their relentless forecheck. They have yet to score a goal, but it will come as they have generated numerous scoring chances.
All line proposals have called for a complete re-work of the units and that makes no sense to break up any of the top-three forward units because there are no problems with the Canucks forward group. Any problems that exist have been manufactured by panicking fans after a loss.
However, the fourth line which has featured whomever, Rick Rypien, and Steve Bernier raises some questions. This line has been benched in the third period and Manitoba Moose call-ups Matt Pettinger played 4:12 in Game 1 and Michael Grabner played 2:53 in Game 2. Which makes me wonder why they are even playing for the Canucks?
Pettinger was supposed to replace Ryan Johnson on the penalty kill, but Vigneault appears to have changed his mind on that one after he scratched him in Game 2 as he opted to go with the Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, and Mason Raymond as his main penalty killers with Pavol Demitra taking the majority of the left-hand faceoffs.
Grabner is a one-dimensional, offensive player and he needs to be put into a scoring role in order to succeed, not three minutes a night on the fourth line. If he is not going to be getting quality minutes, get him, Pettinger, and Baumgartner down to the minors.
Baumgartner has also sat out as a healthy scratch all the games since March 5, except the last two of the regular season, as a healthy scratch and as the eighth defenceman.
Last night, the Manitoba Moose were hammered 8-2 by the Hamilton Bulldogs in the American Hockey League North Division semi-final on Sunday night and also lost in the series opener on April 15, 2-0. It appears the Moose are in need of difference makers and the Canucks are holding onto important Moose players, so they can sit in the press box or play a very limited role on the fourth line.
If Vigneault is not going to roll four lines, then what is the problem with slotting in Darcy Hordichuk or Tanner Glass on the fourth line for four minutes a night?