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Blame Game

Monday, 29.10.2007 / 3:04 AM / Features
By Kyle Harland
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Blame Game
It didn’t take a psychologist to detect the frustration in the Canucks dressing room after their game against the Detroit Red Wings. The team has had a tough start to the season, and having a goal called back in the final minute of a one-goal game didn’t help lighten the mood.

In the dying seconds of the game, Taylor Pyatt smacked away at a puck that Chris Osgood had between his pads. In the process, Pyatt knocked the goalie – and the puck – into the net. “I thought it was a goal,” said Pyatt. “I didn’t hear the whistle. I just jammed at it and saw him waving it off after. I think he blew the whistle after that.”

Later, when the captain was inquiring about the call, the ref was singing a different tune. “He said that it was covered and he got pushed in,” said Markus Naslund. “I disagree, but he’s calling the game.”

The held-back goal was certainly the hot topic among the players in the dressing room, and none of them was happy about it. Had they got the goal, they would have tied the game, and taken it into overtime, getting a chance at a much-needed victory at home.

But it’s easy to find fault with the referee. Even if the call might have been the right one.

Alain Vigneault had a different opinion. “It was the right call,” he said. “It wasn’t a goal.” He admitted the explanation was a little confusing, but knew that however the call was justified, the ref was right in holding the goal back.

“It was the right call but it was the wrong call. It was the right call in the sense that it shouldn’t have been a goal because you can’t push the goaltender in the net. But he announced that he had blown the whistle.”

Instead, Coach V was looking to his team for help. Had the Canucks avoided some costly mistakes, they wouldn’t have been in the position of trying to recover from a one-goal deficit in the first place.

 In particular, Vigneualt answered some blunt questions about Vancouver’s shutdown pair, Willie Mitchell and Kevin Bieksa. He was  unhappy with Mitchell’s decision on Detroit’s second goal, where Mikael Samuelsson and Valtteri Filppula had a 2-on-1 rush.

“On that 2-on-1 – it’s basic fundamentals,” said the coach. “You play a 2-on-1, you take the pass. He got beat twice. That’s not the Willie Mitchell we know as a defensive specialist. He’s having a tough time and his partner [Bieksa] is having a tough time. We need those guys to pick up their play.”

Mitchell is minus-one while Bieksa is minus-five this season.

Vigneualt also glanced in the twins' direction, saying they were having a hard time getting anything done at even strength. Between Daniel and Henrik, they’ve scored just two even strength goals.

Some of the players admitted it wasn’t just the held-back goal that that they could blame the loss on. “I thought we played a much better game, but we found a way to beat ourselves still,” said Morrison.

Whether it was the refs, Mitchell and Bieksa, or the twins, there was a lot of head scratching going on. IN the past weeks, the criticism has been all too prevalent among the Canucks, and has reached just about every part of the Canucks’ game: The top six forwards weren’t going into the corners. The team was taking too many penalties. They couldn’t capitalize on the power play. They couldn’t score even strength. They didn’t shoot enough. The list goes on.

Just 12 games into the season, and the Canucks have talked about problems with nearly every aspect of their game. And when they fix one thing, another thing breaks. Tonight they had 29 shots, took just two minor penalties, and battled hard. But in the end, a couple of basic defensive mistakes were the culprit.

The Vancouver Canucks are in desperate need of a morale boost. Hopefully a good rest and a game against Nashville is what they need. The Predators are just one of two teams in the Western Conference that have fewer points than the Canucks, so Vancouver should be able to come out with a win. Then maybe they they’ll have a few good things to talk about after the game.

  


411 – assists with the Canucks for Trevor Linden, to tie him with Stan Smyl for the all-time franchise record

488 – career assists for Linden

10 – shots total in the third period. Four for the Canucks, and six for the Wings

4 – penalty minutes assessed to the Canucks during the game

1 – win at home this year for the Canucks. The Wings handed Vancouver its fifth loss in GM Place this year



It’s the same old story – they had some bright spots, but couldn’t play a full game and only took four shots in the third period.



Still not even close to where it should be. It led to Vigneault calling out Kevin Bieksa and Willie Mitchell after the game.



Not a lot to speak of. There were no power play goals in the game.

Canucks did well to take just two penalties, but still had a hard time killing both of them.

And their power play was unproductive, going 0-for-4.