Calm Day In The Windy City
OCT.25.06The Canucks didn't skate Wednesday. Alain Vigneault feels the guys need a rest playing their fourth game in six nights.
"We're not going to touch the ice, we're going to save our energy for the night," he said.
The team did hit a small, single-rink building in downtown Chicago yesterday.
The focus was offense and odd-man rushes, and plenty of shots.
"It was meant to get a little flow, getting our guys to shoot the pucks on the net and drive for rebounds," Vigneault said. "We're getting a lot of chances right now. If we keep doing the things we are doing, I'm confident the pucks are going to start going in."
The team has scored 24 goals through their first ten games. Considering eight of those games were decided by a single goal - and the other two by a pair - it's not hard to see why Vigneault's working on injecting more goals into their game.
"I think we're doing a lot of good things," he said. "We out chanced [Dallas] last game and only gave them four chances five-on-five."
"We're getting a lot of chances but we need to finish on some of those. That's what we're going to work on with our players: those skills and that muscle memory."
One of biggest culprits so far is the sluggish power play.
The Canucks went 0-for-6 in a 2-1 loss to the Stars. Mike Modano scored the winning goal on an early third-period power play. That was the difference.
"We've got the personnel to make it work," said Vigneault, "and we're going to keep working at it until it does."
"I don't want to say guys are guilty, but I think guys are maybe trying too hard or too much right now and when that happens, you get away from the basics. We're going to get some quality practice time coming up here and we're going to be fine."
The Canucks have scored seven goals on 59 chances this season. They're ranked 22nd in the league.
"Sometimes you've got to give the opposition credit," said Vigneault. "[Marty Turco] was really solid the other night and so was the goaltender in St. Louis [Curtis Sanford]. We've met some tough goaltenders. But for me, I think the chances were there, it's just a matter of keeping at working on those skills and working on the power play. The rest of our game is good."
The Canucks will look to bust a 0-for-14 slump against the Blackhawks 23rd-ranked penalty kill that's without goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
Taylor Pyatt trails Markus Naslund and Daniel Sedin by just a single goal after ten games. Heading into the season, the tree-trunk from Thunder Bay had a total of 42 goals in 308 NHL games.
He's on pace for 32 this season. Even better news, Hank gave him a glowing review Tuesday morning saying Pyatt was his first choice to play right wing with himself and brother Daniel.
Vancouver's the third-highest penalized team the NHL right now. Only Florida and Phoenix have taken more penalties this season than the Canucks' 66.
The penalty kill has been a boon, killing all but 12.
"Obviously we're going to take penalties," said Vigneault. "Any time we can be below five or six it's good, but for me it's the penalties in the offensive zone that are hurting us."
"We're taking far too many of those and a lot of those penalties are some of our key guys. We've addressed that, they're aware of it, and hopefully we'll be better tomorrow."
Henrik Sedin, Brendan Morrison, and Jan Bulis are among the NHL's top 20 most penalized players with seven minors apiece.
The coaches had the players practice with their sticks turned upside down for stretches Tuesday morning to reduce the urge to hook.
Defeceman Wille Mitchell's still suffering symptoms related to the hit he took from Jason Arnott in Nashville Saturday.
"He's the same as yesterday," said Vigneualt. "I don't think it's any longer a mild concussion - it's just a concussion."
That means Luc Bourdon will suit up again after logging just under 10 minutes in Dallas. He was even with two hits.
Vigneault, Dave Nonis, and Steve Tambellini spent Tuesday night watching the Manitoba Moose rally to beat the Chicago Wolves.
Mike Keane and Jason Jaffray scored back-to-back shorthanded goals in the third period as the Moose tallied five unanswered goals in the final 20 minutes to rally from a 4-2 deficit.
The 7-4 victory is Manitoba's third of the season. They're now 3-4-1-0.