Our good friend Shane M (Socialasssassin2 on twitter) has an open invitation to join Canucks Army, but he prefers to just chime in on his own schedule. Previously in this space he’s written a well recieved take about the Wayne Simmonds incident. He’s inarguably an intelligent, funny and engaged sports fan, with a unique perspective and a habit of stealing his mother’s liqour (according to a particular Rogers Sportsnet Host). Here he is chiming in on the Canucks "team toughness" issues. If you like what you read, please go pressure him to blog more!
The Following is a Guest Post From: Shane M
Where have you gone, Raffi Torres?
Last night, in the Nation’s capital, the Ottawa Senators attempted to run the Vancouver Canucks out of the building, city and perhaps, the country. Did they succeed? No, but they left Cody Hodgson dazed and confused (although Alain Vigneault said Hodgson is "fine").
It’s a game plan that more and more teams are invoking against the "soft" Canucks. Whether it’s fair or not, it’s believed around the NHL that this style of play was the major factor why the Bruins outlasted the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Unfortunately, for the Sens (and the Avs, and 27 other NHL teams), they don’t have the skill-set of the Bruins, they don’t have a goalie playing incredible hockey and most importantly, they don’t have the league in their back pocket.
Last night the Senators realized early in the game that there was no way they could play with Vancouver, so they tried to beat them up. What should worry the Canucks is they’ve lost forwards David Booth, Chris Higgins and quite likely Cody Hodgson for some time. This, after Mason Raymond just returned to the lineup after major off-season back surgery. Ryan Kesler has nearly reached beast-mode and although it’s fun to watch, it also makes him more vulnerable to being injured.
With all that being said, what do the Canucks do about teams taking runs at their star players? There are different theories out there. Canucks management and players have consistently said they will make teams pay by scoring on the powerplay. Although that mindset is commendable, it’s not always going to work, and more importantly, it leaves their elite players open to getting seriously hurt.
The Canucks addressed the lack of toughness in their lineup during the summer. Players like Byron Bitz, Steve Pinnizzotto, Mike Duco and Mark Mancari were brought in to provide some of the toughness the team lacked. For different reasons, none of those four players have played a game for the Canucks this season. The 4th line toughness has come from Aaron Volpatti, Dale Weise and Victor Oreskovich. Those three players don’t strike fear into the hearts of opponents, or anybody for that matter. The majority of kittens and nuns wouldn’t be afraid of dropping gloves with Dale Weise.
I’ve come around to the thinking that it doesn’t matter who fills the tough guy quotient on the Canucks, teams will continue to take liberties with their star players. Not for one second, do I believe Nick Foligno doesn’t hit Hodgson or Kesler last night if the Canucks had Zenon Konopka or Shawn Thornton in their lineup. Dale Weise fought Foligno. Did that accomplish anything? I would suggest not.
It’s no secret how disliked the Canucks are by opposing players, media and fans. This is not the fabrication of a paranoid fan base’s imagination. It’s factual. Around the league, they are thought of as dirty, cheap, cowardly and lippy….and that’s just Alex Burrows!
As long as the Canucks continue to play "Jerk-Puck" and get under the skin of the opposition and do almost anything to win, they will continue to be targeted by opponents. Will the Canucks abandon the "pp goals are our pay back" mindset and look to the trade market to acquire a legitimate fighter? It’s very possible, but I’m not convinced that it will make a difference.
Shane M is a Mariners, Canucks and Seahawks fan. You can follow him on twitter here.