The Canucks are their own worst enemy right now.
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. On Tuesday night the Canucks and Panthers played one of the ugliest hockey games I’ve seen in years, appropriately on the occasion of Dale Weise’s return to the lineup. I don’t think it was necessarily a matter of the Canucks playing down to their opponent, but rather both teams playing down to the level of Weise’s unsightly "Movember" mustache.
2. With the Columbus Blue Jackets coming to town tonight, things are unlikely to get any prettier. No disrespect to players like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Johansen and RJ Umberger, but when those three guys are your top scoring forwards, entertaining hockey probably isn’t your modus operandi.
3. It’s been a while since the Canucks played entertaining hockey themselves. Goals have been at a premium since the trio of Sedin-Sedin-Kesler went cold. Alex Burrows has been as snake bitten as he’s ever been since becoming a top line winger. Then again, the two goals the team scored on Tim Thomas on Tuesday would have been considered a strong outting in June 2011…
4. With a 0-3-2 record in their last 5, this is officially the Canucks first skid under John Tortorella, though the coach has been pretty positive overall about the team’s performances despite the lack of results. We have yet to see the much-anticipated "Torts Unleashed" we were promised, though that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened; he did lock the door after the 1st intermission against Florida. Things were said, feelings were hurt, trash cans were kicked, but reportedly no real harm was done other than a few Glen Gulutzan tears.
5. Yesterday Torts admitted that he’s resorted to "just throwing shit at the wall hoping something sticks." The reported "top line" against Columbus tonight will be Hansen – Henrik – Higgins. The "Triple H" nickname is too obvious, so I’ll just say that hopefully the Pedigree of that line can result in some goals.
6. All things being equal, what should the lines be in the long run? I’d propose something along the lines (PUN!) of Sedins-Burrows, Hansen-Kesler-Kassian, Higgins-Santorelli-Booth, and Archibald-Richardson-Weise. That evens out the centre depth, keeps the deadly duo of Santorelli-Higgins together, and gives Kassian a chance to showcase his playmaking ability in the top six. The way things are going, it’s hard to say when, if ever, we see consistent line combos night after night.
7. I feel like I bring him up every week, but such is the nature of the situation with David Booth. He’s gone from Utica to the press box in three short games. I’m not suggesting he’s been anything other than useless this season, but at the very least he’d be an upgrade on the 4th line, and there’s no hope he’ll ever improve if he doesn’t play. It’s looking more and more like a given that the team will use their silver buyout bullet to put Booth down like a wounded deer next summer.
8. I am really tired of watching the Canucks in the shootout. The skills competition has always felt less like a real way to decide a hockey game and more like an afterthought to me — a feeling that surely hasn’t been helped by my team’s abysmal performance in it over the years. Burrows either goes forehand-backhand or weaves in and fucks it up; Kesler always slows up and runs out of room; Higgins always goes wide and hits the post. Yawn. Let’s either take the point and go to bed or figure out a real way to decide a competitive team sport.
9. Here are a couple Canucks prospects that would probably add some excitement to the shootout: Brendan Gaunce and Bo Horvat skated together in last night’s Team OHL loss to Russia in the Super Series. Both are having very good seasons with their junior clubs — Horvat has 28 points in 19 games for the London Knights and Gaunce has 23 in 20 with the Bellville Bulls.
10. Saturday’s game caries significance as it marks the first time this year the Canucks will face the Chicago Blackhawks. I think San Jose has become Vancouver’s most prominent rival over the past two seasons, but games against the Hawks still carry a ton of weight. They’re the class of the West and the Stanley Cup champs. If the Canucks want to dig out of this slump, they’re going to have to do it against the best.