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. Oh my god are the Buffalo Sabres ever bad. I know we said that about the Oilers after the Canucks blew them out a couple weeks ago, but this was worse. That game had a "call a press conference immediately after the final buzzer and fire your coach" feel. As far as Kassian vs. Hodgson, I thought Zack looked pretty good, while Cody was owned all over the ice save for a nice pass to Vanek that eventually rang off the crossbar and post. Maybe if it was a better pass that hits the bar and goes in?Get it together, Cody.
2. The most troubling part of last night’s game was Ryan Kesler’s frantic stick tapping behind an opposition player actually worked. Thing is, after failing at it 392 times in a row, I could almost hear him say "Ha! Works every time!" after succeeding at it.
3. I don’t want to start a "they’re finally having fun again!" narrative in regards to playing for Torts vs. AV, but that 3rd period comeback against the Flyers did look like an old fashioned barrel of laughs for this group of Canucks players. Even Luongo had a big grin afterwards, which we haven’t seen since Mike Gillis tied him up and whipped him repeatedly with a car antenna (figuratively speaking…probably). As a fan, the last couple of seasons have felt pretty lifeless.
4. It was an uneven week for the Canucks in terms of the quality of their play. I’m seeing a lot of good things, they’re just not doing them consistently enough while making the odd calamitous error. Those are hallmarks of a team adjusting to a new coach. Last year, the Washington Capitals were in dead last after their first month with Adam Oates before rebounding to win the division. I think it will be a while yet before we know how good (or bad) this group is under Torts.
5. The topic of whether or not the Sedins should be permanently separated was a hot one this past week. It hasn’t been a question of how effective they are on their own for a long time; Henrik won a scoring title playing much of the season sans his brother. This season, no matter how you slice the argument it seems to be a matter of "which option best masks our lack of forward depth"? Ironically, last night they were put back together with Ryan Kesler, which while awesome, only further depletes the team’s depth.
6. There was a time in the glory days of 2010-11 when it felt downright foreign if the team the Canucks were playing opened the scoring. That squad was ridiculously efficient at gaining the lead and holding it and, in the rare case that they fell behind, clawing their way back late in the game. Just two of many reasons why that was probably a once-in-a-lifetime season. Anyway, while the Canucks have completed a trio of comebacks so far this season (against bad teams, I’ll begrugingly add), they haven’t been very good at scoring first. At least they got to play the Sabres last night, who are even worse, being outscored 11-1 in 1st periods thus far.
7. John Tortorella gave a noteworthy quote after the win in Philly on Chris Tanev: "Tans is a guy who’s picked things up very quickly as far as what we’re looking to do, for such a young guy playing the toughest position." I had noticed the same thing up to that point: no Canucks defenceman appeared more willing to throw himself in a front of a shot than Chris Tanev. The fact that he is so coachable and adaptive no doubt played a huge role in his quick ascent from community college to the NHL.
8. Dan Hamhuis appears to be slowly recovering from Walter White replacing his Stevia with a low-grade form of Ricin. Even though his mistakes have been much more apparent than usual, he has still been dominating possession as pointed out by Dimitri. When you’re playing a lot of minutes against elite players, you’re going to make mistakes. Oddly, we probably wouldn’t be talking about this so much if it was Edler making the errors.
9. Kudos to Ryan Stanton, who’s had a great star to the season and picked up his first goal assisted by Daniel and Henrik Sedin. Torts had this to say after last night: "He plays within himself. He’s in the way. He doesn’t say much, he just gets ready for his next shift. He’s played really well, he was a really good pick-up for us."
10. Who’s looking forward to a little Canucks vs. Penguins tomorrow morning? Here’s something to get you ready: a young Crosby, a prime Luongo, and a giddy Tom Larscheid.