If ever a win could be classified as “unimpressive” then the Vancouver Canucks’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators Sunday would be in that class.
Save for goaltender Cory Schneider and perhaps rookie forward Cody Hodgson, the Canucks – who, you may recall, rolled over everyone a season ago, en route to an 117-point season – looked uninspired for much of the game, and to make matters worse, gave up far too many glorious, grade-A scoring chances to the young Sens while they were supposed to be nursing a one-goal lead.
And once the game was tied, the Canucks again had a handful of defensive lapses that nearly gave the game away entirely – none more glaring that a pair of odd-man rushes in the final few minutes of action.
Bottom line: If not for Schneider – who made a number of big stops – the Canucks don’t win this game.
After the game, Ryan Kesler told local media to stop critiquing wins and while that’s an nice thought, it ain’t gonna happen. Because while a win is a win is a win, the Canucks didn’t look good against a rebuilding Eastern Conference squad.
And no offence to the Senators, who seem to have a good young nucleus of talent, but 10 months ago, the Canucks kill a team like the one Ottawa brought to town. No question about it.
So what is to be done to kick the Canucks into high gear? Some have suggested that head coach Alain Vigneault should be replaced, that his leadership has run its course – and Craig MacTavish is right there with the Canucks’ AHL squad, waiting for another crack at the big leagues – but I don’t think that’s the answer. While top teams can, on occasion, get a boost from a coaching – it’s happened in New Jersey before, and more recently in Pittsburgh under Dan Bylsma, who replaced Michel Therrien mid-season and led the team to the Stanley Cup – it’s not the answer here.
Is MacTavish really a better coach than Vigneault? Probably not. Is there anybody else out there who might be? Perhaps, but if the purpose of a mid-season coaching change is to give your team a real shot in the arm – a real eye-opener – the best coach for that would’ve been Ken Hitchcock, and now he’s in St. Louis.
Aside from a coaching change, there is the possibility that a trade could shake things up, and breathe some life into a tired team that is suffering from the dreaded Stanley Cup hangover. But the team already made an early season move to acquire David Booth, though that hasn’t exactly paid dividends yet – just two goals in 12 games with the new club.
Yes, the team probably needs another top four defenceman, but there aren’t exactly a whole ton of rumours out there at the moment. What the team really needs to do is re-commit to playing defence with the guys they’ve got.
Because they’ve been giving up some truly horrible chances of late, even in the games they manage to win.