Alain Vigneault lost the battle behind the benches in Game 1. (USA TODAY SPORTS)
It’s the playoffs, and my regular Friday feature combining a healthy mixture of observation, analysis, and foresight on the Vancouver Canucks lives on! 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. Well, the Vancouver Canucks got off on the wrong foot in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoff tournament. Will they bounce back? Should we cry for them, or are they already dead? We’ve seen this movie before, and even though it has heart, it’s beginning to feel more like a football in the groin.
2. On the topic of groins, it’s beginning to appear like that is what’s ailing Cory Schneider, who wasn’t on the ice at all yesterday after three straight days of practice and apparent progress. After declaring himself fit to play to the media on Tuesday, we can only assume that whatever was ailing him tightened up after practice or was worse when he woke up.
3. This would be a bigger issue if Roberto Luongo hadn’t been sparkling in Game 1. He kept the team in it while the Sharks were circling in the first period especially. After the year he’s had, it’s exciting to watch Luongo get this opportunity in the playoffs. Unfortunately, there’s only so much he can do without goal support, and that’s becoming a very troubling trend.
4. Dating back to the 2011 Finals, the Canucks have scored 17 goals in their last 13 playoff games. They’ve become a team that’s easy to contain; if the Sedins and Kesler aren’t winning their match-ups there’s nothing to fall back on. If David Booth were healthy things might be a little bit different, though counting on Booth for offense is like relying the Blue Jays to win games, and I suspect this group just doesn’t have the depth at forward that it thinks it does.
5. To be fair, the Canucks actually had a dominant game on Wednesday night as far as the even strength shot battle went. That’s great, except for the fact they couldn’t generate as many quality chances as the Sharks, and the only line that was in the negative shot-wise was the one they needed the most. The Sedins were nullified by Marc-Edouard Vlasic on home ice where they should have the advantage. This series hinges on the twins for Vancouver, so that can’t become a trend. The good news is Daniel and Henrik have made a habit of silencing their critics after an outting like their last one.
6. The failure to get the proper match-ups on home ice falls on Alain Vigneault. To me, he looks completely flustered with his lines. He’s always been a notorious line juggler, but this feels different — rather than tactical decisions, it feels like he’s frantically searching for a lifeline. Why not match Henrik head-to-head with Joe Thornton? That’s what he did during the regular season…
7. That would free up Ryan Kesler to go up against Logan Couture, who is so obviously the Sharks’ marquee player now. The common sense move after a game like Wednesday’s would be to recognize that and adjust accordingly by putting your best defensive centre against him. We might see that tonight, but alas, this is Alain Vigneault.
8. The latest line shuffling has the Higgins-Roy-Kesler trio reunited. That’s all well and good, except that it necessitates a Weise-Ebbett-Kassian 4th line. I’m starting to rock back and forth just thinking about the "potential" of that line.
9. Earlier in the season, in this space, I wondered whether or not AV would trust Jordan Schroeder with a roster spot in the post-season, even with his relatively strong play. Well the answer appears to be no. Andrew Ebbett continually gets manhandled against whomever he’s matched up against and has no chemistry with anyone in the lineup, yet he continues to get the nod over Schroeder. Schroeder’s former line with Raymond and Hansen actually carried the Canucks for a couple weeks this season. Again, that pesky common sense…
10. It has just occured to me how negative most of this sounds, but I think it’s justified. I’m an optimistic realist: I’m always positive about my team’s ability to succeed, but I can’t ignore simple truths. Of course, everything could turn on a dime tonight. That’s the beautiful thing about the playoffs.