There is no doubt that it is difficult to do well in the NHL. Players not playing to their full potential can seriously jeopardize a team’s chances of success. Injuries leave open spots that need to be filled, most of the time by those less trusted or less experienced. The media and the pressure from people associated with the players does not make life easier either.
There is also no doubt that Canucks have been struggling and have found it difficult to do well and to play at the level that they did last year.
“I knew every single team that faced us was going to be ready,” Sami Salo told Iain MacIntyre of theVancouver Sun. “And the key for us to be successful in those games is we really had to be ready because every team was going to want to win against us because we were in the final…there needs to be an urgency to make the right play every time.”
With the Canucks defence, there has been a lack of urgency and a lot of inconsistency – the latter of which is not unfamiliar to the team. Over the past few practices, head coach Alain Vigneault has focused on getting his players to battle hard and play with urgency, doing many one-on-one and two-on-two drills.
However, the Canucks’ defence also needs to get back to the basics; this is very cliché in the world of sports but is true in this case. There are some aspects of the Canucks’ game, such as positioning and pinching, which can be improved on. For example, on one of Chicago’s goals in the game on Wednesday November 16, there was a Chicago player right in front of the Canucks’ net. Canucks’ defencemen Dan Hamhuis was right beside him but did not get in between the player and Luongo. This resulted in the goal, as the Chicago player had room to get the puck and tap it in. Simple mistakes like this have cost the Canucks a lot.
Kevin Bieksa has looked shaky on the ice, and has made several pinches which have resulted in giveaways or breakaways. There has been a multitude of breakaways on the Canucks so far this season, causing defensive breakdowns and putting stress on the goalie, as he is the last man back.
Overall, the Canucks need to play more like they mean it, especially on defence. To many, it is a mystery as to why the Canucks have been lacking passion and composure, and there are many individuals who are not performing to their usual standards. Alex Edler is a nominee for the 2012 All-Star game, so shouldn’t he be playing more like an All-Star player? Bieksa and Hamhuis were two of the best shutdown defencemen last year, so why are they barely noticeable on the ice?
The Canucks are approximately a quarter of the way through the season. A quarter of the way and they have not found their groove yet.
“We talked about having to tighten up defensively and we had to be a tougher team to play against,” Alex Burrows told Hosea Cheung of the QMI Agency.
The Canucks have talked about it, their defence knows what they have to do better, now they just have to go out there and do it.