Point rockets in flight, that’s Blackbeard’s Delight! Woop!
(Photo: USA TODAY Sports)
This is a regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks. If you’d like to get at me about anything covered in this column, follow me on Twitter at @yyjordan and let’s start a textual relationship (wink).
1. The 3rd period collapses against the Avalanche and the Stars this week were troubling, to say the least. Not just because of what time of the year it is, but because over the past three seasons or so, the Canucks have been a team that is rock solid with the lead. Defencemen are standing around looking lost too often, and the forwards are showing zero chemistry. I know it’s difficult when you’re comfortably leading the division while your opponents are fighting for their playoff lives, but at least get the lineup in order.
2. With a couple of key injuries on the backend and only four games left in the season, you would think now would be the ideal time to set the lines to what makes most sense for the playoffs. Instead, Alain Vigneault has deemed this an appropriate time to start juggling. He’s a simple man, juggling makes him chuckle. But rather than experiment with Roy and Kesler together, why not get them accustomed to the roles they’ll likely be filling in a couple of weeks?
3. Mike Gillis didn’t acquire Derek Roy just so Andrew Ebbett could be the 3rd line centre in the playoffs. It’s not going to happen. Much will depend on who the first round opponent is, but I imagine Jordan Schroeder will be called up soon. A week ago we were giddy about having three dangerous lines, but now with a Higgins injury and a questionable AV roster move, it feels like we’re back to where we started.
4. We received some mixed news on the injury front yesterday. It sounds as if Chris Higgins and Kevin Bieksa will be ready for the playoffs, while Chris Tanev won’t be. David Booth got his walking boot removed. Will we see a fully healthy Canucks roster at any point this year? This will inevitably go one of two ways: either we get a healthy lineup at exactly the right time, or we’ll be left wondering what could have been.
5. As long as Tanev remains out, Andrew Alberts is likely a fixture on the bottom pairing. Overall I like what Alberts has brought this season. He’s surprised me with his ability to make a clean outlet pass, and he’s finishing over 50% of his shifts in the offensive end despite starting in the d-zone nearly 60% of the time. He is also a large man, which Derek Roy discovered last night when he was forced to use Alberts’ stick for a shift and looked like he had entered the pole vault.
6. Jeff tweeted earlier in the week about Jason Garrison’s goal pace lately. It’s refreshing to see him getting his due, while most of us who watch the team closely have been lauding him since he was paired up with Hamhuis. With Garrison crushing point shots and Ben Affleck winning Oscars, it’s a good time to be a handsome man with a black beard.
7. One area where I think the Canucks are looking fine heading into the post-season is the area that the talking (knuckle) heads on TV love to yap about this time of year: team toughness. Pinizzotto, Alberts, Hamhuis, Edler, Bieksa, Kesler, Burrows, Hansen, Weise, Lapierre…these are all middle-to-heavyweight guys who like to throw their weight around and mix things up. Pinizzotto in particular pairs well with a crisp chardonnay and a hard left to the cheekbone.
8. Mason Raymond hasn’t looked as effective as of late. Some of that might just be Dale Weise and Andrew Ebbett. Raymond is part of that tertiary attack along with Hansen and Higgins that is so important come playoff time.
9. I was looking at the standings yesterday and happened to notice that the Chicago Blackhawks have a +52 goal differential, which is 11 more than the second place Penguins. I feel like after the Hawks’ streak ended, everyone just sort of accepted as fact that they’re the best team this year and stopped talking about them. If they don’t win the Cup it will be an upset, but I still believe a Vancouver/Chicago series would be another classic. Other than Los Angeles, the Canucks are the team best equipped to give them a run for their money.
10. On that note, who’s your ideal first round opponent? Any team from 4 – 10 is technically possible. The game against the Blues felt like a Blackhawks game from years past that always seemed to end up being a preview of an epic series to come.