Roberto Luongo is feeling confident. How else would you explain the headband/hat combo?
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. They’ve slayed the dragon! OK, maybe this isn’t quite on the same level of significance as Burrows’ 2011 Game 7 heroics (thanks again, Chris Campoli!), but 10 straight losses to the San Jose Sharks wouldn’t have been very fun. Unless NHL.com is lying to me, the Canucks just handed the Sharks their first home regulation loss of the season. Very impressive.
2. I think it’s clear John Tortorella considers Zack Kassian a project, but I believe it’s the kind of project that Torts enjoys as a coach. I loved his quote after the game against the Leafs last Saturday: "If there’s one player Kass needs to look at it’s Chris Higgins and the way he plays. He’s right in front of him on the ice."
3. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Chris Higgins’ last 10 games or so have been his best as a Canuck. Whether it’s a familiarity with Tortorella’s expectations from playing under him in New York, or his newfound chemistry with Alex Burrows and Mike Santorelli, Chiggins is "dancing to the beat".
4. While Higgins is cutting a rug, David Booth is by himself in the corner talking to his imaginary friends, and that’s probably when he’s happiest. While Booth was doing next to nothing on the stat sheets before his latest groin injury, having him in the AHL while the big club barely ices a 4th line doesn’t seem like great asset management. The Comets are winless on the season, and were blown out by the Lake Eerie Monsters last night, getting outshot 42-21.
5. Tortorella even blamed the loss against the Coyotes on his decision to extend his bench and play the 4th line. While I like Torts taking personal responsibility rather than throwing a specific player to the wolves, admitting that one of your lines is a complete liability isn’t ideal.
6. The lack of depth at forward is an issue that is going to catch up to the team at some point this season, but if I’m being honest right now, as a fan of the game of hockey I’m really enjoying watching Sedin-Sedin-Kesler. It’s a real treat. That Kesler tip pass to Henrik against the Leafs? Filthy stuff.
7. That’s twice in the past two weeks I’ve referred to a Sedin goal as some sort of synonym of "filthy". That’s partly because of the new line with Kesler, and partly because they’re playing some of their best hockey since their peak in 2010. Having them locked up for 4 more years is a beautiful thing.
8. I thought Twitter’s reaction to the Sedins in the shootout against Phoenix was a bit much. I know, Twitter overreacting to something? The devil you say! None of you will do this, but watch the slow motion replay of Daniel’s attempt. He’s a fraction of a second from getting that past Smith. It was a phenomenal save that looked easy because Smith is a very good, large, athletic goalie. Henrik made made the same move he undressed Steve Mason with last year and the puck jumped on him. Things like that happen, especially when you only get one opportunity a season.
9. Can we talk a bit about Tortorella’s apparent transformation from last season to now? He was a sideshow in New York, but so far appears to be pressing all the right buttons in Vancouver. The team has yet to hit a real skid, so perhaps it’s too early to tell, but one has to wonder whether the exile from New York humbled him a little.
10. Once Jannik Hansen is healthy and assuming David Booth becomes serviceable again, the Canucks might just have the personnel to ice a usable 4th line with the spare parts from Utica. If you’re big and can skate, you can play for John Tortorella, and guys like Darren Archibald and Jeremy Welsh have shown they can fit that bill. Would a Archibald-Welsh/Dalpe-Weise 4th line be good enough to hold up to the Kings, Sharks, Hawks or Blues when it matters?