Shot In The Arm

Anaheim Vancouver FightI am sure that everyone who visits this website to read our blogs on the Canucks is getting sick of me ripping into the team for its subpar performance so far this season.

Well, this blog will spare you the torture of me telling it like it is based upon terrible effort and an inexcusable lack of execution. This blog will deal with what the Canucks need to get their spirits going.

You may recall last year that the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup and physically dominated their way to the top in both the regular season and the post season. What you may also recall was a 4-2 loss by the Canucks at the hands of those Ducks.

Yes, they lost that game, but the contents of that game were a much more positive tale of how the game actually went.

The Canucks played an Anaheim style of hockey. They (and when I say they, I mean guys like Markus Naslund and the Sedin’s as well) got their noses dirty and played an in-your-face style of hockey that proved to the hockey world that, not only was this team ready to compete with the league’s elite on a skill level, but that they were ready to compete with the big teams and they weren’t going to get knocked around or bullied.

It was one of those games that started with Kevin Bieksa pummeling Dustin Penner after the former Duck hit another Canucks defenceman with a questionable hit, one that Bieksa took exception to. Naslund didn’t fight, but he looked intent on dropping the mitts with Ducks forward Chris Kunitz. This was not a dream.

Now, so far this season, the Canucks have only played a couple of games that were physically demanding in terms of rough play.

Markus NaslundHaving said that, it is fair to say that they haven’t really needed to stick up for themselves as much. But the Canucks have had a poor start to this year and seem to have no momentum, no urgency and certainly no will in their game to punish the opposing team.

When things aren’t going you’re way, you need to get scrappy. The Canucks only got scrappy in one or two games this year and it needs to happen more often.

Now, fighting and knocking around the other team isn’t going to win games. But it will help.

What Anaheim did so effectively last year was that they didn’t go out looking for scraps necessarily, but they played a tough and intensely physical style of play and fighting was just a result of their tough play.

Look what happened to them. They won the Cup. It was no coincidence or string of luck that won them the Cup either, they only lost four games the entire post season and they physically obliterated the other team.

The Canucks aren’t a big team, but that should not act as a deterrent from playing aggressive, physical and in-your-face hockey.

The Canucks need a momentum shift. They need to change their enthusiasm level and big hits, relentless pressure at all ends of the rink, and tough or “Canadian style of hockey” that can raise enthusiasm levels and help swing momentum in their favour. The Canucks, who are about as lifeless as a slug right now, could use some old-fashioned grit to change momentum.

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4 Responses

  1. I disagree about the fighting. Fighting is a waste of time and will end up getting your players injured. But I do think you have a valid point to make about the physicality of the game!

    The Canucks’ best line thus far has been the Kesler-Cooke-Burrows combination, and there’s a reason for that. They enter the other team’s zone, and they are aggressive! They pursue the puck. They check along the boards. Even in their own end, they’re blocking shots and checking guys like mad!

    And what happens? Other teams are pushed back, put on their heels. The Canucks’ energy levels go up and up, and more often than not other lines’ best plays come in the wake of those guys’ shift. And it really is about their physical presence.

    I think it’s really a question of Vignault, honestly. He’s a great coach. His system is stellar, defensively. But teams are adjusting to their style of play, and the Canucks need to start thinking outside the box. KCB, in their aggressiveness, are bound to make a couple little defensive errors. But the offense it generates is far more valuable than a perfect game. In the same way, Naslund and Morrison should be allowed to dazzle with their skill and speed, rather than dumping, hanging back, waiting for the other team to make a mistake. The Sedins, too, look like they’re playing half-heartedly, even though their cycle game is one of the best in the league!

    And I think you’re right — an increased pressure to play physical would help the players in every one of those scenarios. Sure, it might cost them an extra shot on Luongo. But they should play with confidence with him behind them, and make a couple bold moves. The question is whether Vignault will let them.

    He won the Jack Adams for his conservative coaching. Now let’s see if he can perform well again by handing the reigns back to his players some!

  2. Well like AV said a few days again, the top 6 forwards need to hit more and be tougher. They need to be more physical and instill fear into their opponent. That’s what the Ducks did last year and a part of that was fighting, and being to stand up for each other. Maybe Vancouver doesn’t need to always fight, but they shouldn’t be such an easy pushover team.

    Hosea C

  3. Oh, I certainly agree that being pushovers is bad. I just think it’s too easy to correlate Anaheim’s fighting majors and their Cup victory.

    The Hockey News did a good piece on the Ducks, pointing out that most of their major fighters were guys who played minimal time each game, and many didn’t even play the full season. Where the Ducks really flourished was their toughness during the play. The Canucks need to be able to stand up to guys like Pronger, who won’t ever fight, but will push you around if you don’t have an edge to your game.

    That’s where your comments about their best game come into play. The Canucks did best when they played with a chip on their shoulder. Forget fighting — which is really a matchup outside of the game itself — and instead focus on taking on their on-ice stars! 😀

  4. […] thesportscorner Did a great write-up today on thesportscorner.wordpress.comThe first paragraph…. […]

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