New Lines, Mixed Results

With a dozen games left in the Vancouver Canucks’ regular season schedule, it’s more about rediscovering past form than ‘fine tuning’ for the playoffs.

During the time of year where most coaches are making smaller, more subtle changes to their structure, head coach Alain Vigneault appears to be trying anything and everything to curtail the teams’ current losing woes.  The Canucks entered Wednesday’s game with the Phoenix Coyotes having lost 3 of their last 4, all on home ice.  He once again put players in the ‘blender’, hoping to shake up his lines and combinations, but with mixed results.

Mason Raymond skated with the Sedins during even-strength play Wednesday (photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Winger Mason Raymond, having offensive challenges of his own, was moved to the top line with the Sedins, while Alex Burrows was shifted to the third line with Samuel Pahlsson and Jannik Hansen.  Vigneault hoped that Raymond’s speed could help spark the Sedins, who were trying to avoid career worst 8 and 9 game pointless streaks.  While Henrik managed two assists, and Daniel registered one, both were a minus -1 on the night.  Kevin Bieksa was on the ice for all 3 Coyotes even strength goals.  He was asked post-game if he felt the (line) changes helped.

We scored four goals, let in five, you tell me.  It doesn’t matter what the lines are. We had the same personnel basically in the lineup so we still had to go out and perform.  No matter who you’re playing with.

The Canucks powerplay was also sporting a new look, which paid some dividends.  The powerplay had been ailing, with one goal in their last 24 attempts.  Ryan Kesler was manning the point, and was given the opportunity to unleash a couple of hard shots.  His rocket from the faceoff circle beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith over the glove.  David Booth also scored with the man advantage, converting a Chris Higgins behind-the-net feed.  Smith, who’s name has been added to the Vezina trophy discussion, was quite busy, facing 43 shots.

Ryan Kesler and the Canucks tried to stay on top of Antoine Vermette, but he still managed a goal and two assists (photo thanks to The Associated Press)

Roberto Luongo, who has two wins in his last eight starts, felt the team got away from doing some of the things that have made them successful throughout the season.  For the first time this season he allowed three or more goals in four straight starts.

I thought we generated a lot of offence, which is good (but) we have to play a patient game.  That’s the way we’re going to win.   Sometimes you’ve got to sacrifice some offense.  I can’t control the creation of odd-man rushes in front of me.  But I can control how I played them.  I would have liked to have made more saves.

The Canucks conclude their current 7 game homestand Saturday when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Seven of Vancouver’s final twelve games will be at Roger’s arena.



Tags: Alain Vigneault Alexander Burrows Chris Higgins Daniel Sedin Henrik Sedin Kevin Bieksa Mason Raymond Mike Smith Phoenix Coyotes Roberto Luongo Ryan Kesler Samuel Pahlsson

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