What’s wrong with the Vancouver Canucks?

I’m one of those hockey fans that really annoys part time fans.  I watch the games in the years when the team sucks as much as when they’re heroes.  I happily take any tickets to games I can get.  I don’t boo my team when they’re chewing goat on the rink and I don’t leave til the game’s done if I can help it.

I grew up in central alberta in the 80’s, and it spoiled me a bit.  I got to watch a hockey team re-write the book on the game, forcing changes in the rules and everything.  The mid 80’s Oilers were an amazing thing to watch; they changed the game and the way it’s played.  The trap was developed to stop the oil.  The coincidental minors rule was partially because they were so much faster as a team than everyone else, and a 4 on 4 was more like a power play.  Of course Wayne Gretzky was who he was, and anyone who played with him became superstars in the game.

When I moved to the west coast it took me a few years to shift my allegiance.  A combination of seeing all Canucks games and few Oilers games, them having a killer season up to the Stanley Cup final, and the Oilers having a few bad years allowed me to become a fan of the home team.  I had season’s tickets in the two years when Bure was unhappy here and became like a cancer in the team’s heart and they couldn’t win a game.  I watched Keenan piss everyone off and clean house and then Crawford make them into a winning team.  I was bummed to see Burke get turfed but change happens.

Last year was supposed to be the Canucks year.  Everybody in the west knew it; the new rules seemed to be written for Vancouver’s style of play and the players on the team.  It was a big disappointment to see them tank and underperform consistently for the last 2/3rds of the season.  But I didn’t stop cheering.  Right up until that deciding game when it was determined Edmonton was going to make the playoffs and Vancouver wouldn’t I held out hope that they’d bring their game back in the post season and win it all.  Of course we know what happened.

Over the summer I watched the majority of my favorite players get traded away.  I didn’t disagree with alot of the trades and thought we got the proper value for everyone.  Bertuzzi and Auld for Luongo alone should have been worth it.  And Cloutier for a bag of pucks and an extra skate sharpener was probably good for the ‘nucks.  I am a big fan of Bertuzzi, but he did have to go…too much baggage from “the incident”.  Jovanovski was way too much money.   Why we paid Ryan Kessler wayyy too much money and let Anson Carter go is a mystery, but oh well.  I must say that Ryan Kessler when he’s on is a pretty exciting player to watch, and it looks like Carter’s success was purely Sedin driven.

But what’s wrong with the team now?  By all reckoning we should be winning every low scoring game we’re in.  We have some of the best snipers and playmakers in the game coupled with one of the top 3 goalies in the game.  And yet…every game it seems we outshoot our opponents by like a factor of 2 and yet still lose.  Which makes it appear that our snipers have an aiming problem and our goalie isn’t all he was cracked up to be.    Sure we have a fairly young team and some big injuries in defense right now.  But I don’t see how that makes it so no one can get a shot past a goalie.
The Sedin line cycles the puck and skates circles around the opponents.  They all have a fair number of shots and have gotten a few goals.  Not as many as they probably deserve.  The Naslund line makes the big plays and skates circles around the defense.  And can’t score much either.  And Kessler Cooke and Burroughs…omg how many chances can they have without putting a puck in the damn net?  Seriously…at least once a game Kessler breaks out in front and gets a rebound right on his stick and can’t shoot.  WTF???

The other thing that’s a mystery to me is how our power play sucks so harshly.  We have the players to make power play goals…one would think.   Again…chances happen but nothing gets past the goaltender.  Does the whole team need to get back to basic drills on shooting?  Or are we in the midst of  a massive run of poor puck luck?

The team is fairly new so obviously there’s a certain amount of  gelling to go through.  But I’m struck by the fact that all the places I figured the Canucks would shine are actually the places we’re struggling with the most right now.  I have no fear that the team will pull it together before the end of the season, but it’s a question; why are we struggling right now?  Are we proving that all the things those decidedly lame sports writers in the Province newspaper always say are true: Vancouver IS where good goalies go to die?  That the scenery here is too good to make sports work?  Or is it something in the air?

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