Six things on preseason
It may only be preseason but there are some telling things about what could unfold in the next week.
Random thoughts after a 4-0 start to the preseason: |
A WIN’S A WIN
Look, these are exhibition games. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. Take the wins and move on, but don’t get overly excited about being atop the NHL standings before October rolls around. However, in an organization that has undergone massive changes on and off the ice over the summer, it can never be too early to start laying a foundation of success.
The questions about the hockey team will remain into the regular season, but the four wins to open exhibition action have certainly prevented people from howling about what the Canucks have – or don’t have – on their roster. Winning at any time of the year certainly beats the alternative. But just remember that the slate gets wiped clean a week from now.
GETTING THE JOB DONE
Sanford hasn’t won a National Hockey League regular season game since last December (in Anaheim). Going up against a potent Ducks line-up in his first start of the preseason, Sanford looked on top of his game stopping 34 of the 38 shots he faced and then thwarted the final four Anaheim attempts in a five-round shootout.
Much was made of the performances of Steve Bernier with the Twins and the offensive thrust of Sami Salo, but very quietly Curtis Sanford may have been the best story to come out of Sunday’s performance.
FINDING A FIT
Jannik Hansen has been among the most-impressive Canucks through the first week of the exhibition schedule. But it’s still tough to get a read on what his top-end potential will be at the NHL level. Is he going to develop into a scoring threat or is he more apt to be a complementary player capable of doing a number of things well?
With Pavol Demitra, Taylor Pyatt and Mason Raymond quite likely to form the team’s second line to start the season, where does that leave a guy like Hansen who appears to have earned his chance to start the year here?
A line of Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows and Hansen could be an intriguing option for Alain Vigneault.
CONSISTENCY PAYS OFF
In two preseason outings, Rob Davison has done nothing to hurt his chances of being in the line-up when the curtain goes up on the new season October 9th. He’s hit, he’s fought and he’s blocked shots – the type of things the Canucks is looking for from a sixth defenseman. He’s not flashy, but so far he’s been effective and he just has to keep giving the Canucks the same kind of effort.
Keep in mind the hockey club opens with a home and home set against the Calgary Flames. There’s probably good value in having Davison in uniform for every game against the Flames this season.
Imagine what an amazing sport hockey would be if every player competed with the energy level that Rick Rypien brings to the rink. Two games, two scraps and a little bit of spilled blood and a number of solid shifts on the penalty kill.
It often seems Rypien arrived on the hockey scene about 30 years too late. He would have fit in perfectly back in the hey-day of the old Philadelphia Flyers.
Once again, Rypien’s in a battle for full-time job with the Canucks and he’ll have to continue doing what he’s always done – hit, fight, provide a spark and kill penalties when asked– if he’s going to stick this season. So far, he’s managed to stay healthy which might be the biggest positive of his preseason.
Other players may ultimately outperform Rick Rypien when the final roster decisions are made, but it’s unlikely anyone will have outworked him.
Somewhere – probably in a rink in Moose Jaw or Medicine Hat or some other small Canadian town with a major junior team far away from the limelight – Ron Delorme has to be smiling. Of course, it wasn’t always that way.
The Canucks head scout was put through the ringer and his future with the hockey club seemed very much in doubt in the weeks leading up to June’s National Hockey League entry draft.
Delorme has taken a lot of heat over the Canucks selections in recent drafts and yet much of the talk surrounding the hockey club through four exhibition games is about the performances of Jannik Hansen, Corey Schneider, Mason Raymond and Cody Hodgson – all recent selections by the Canucks during the Delorme era.
Their performances don’t erase the mistakes the Canucks have made at the draft table in the past, but along with Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Kevin Bieksa, Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler and Mike Brown (and Luc Bourdon would have been on this list), they certainly give the indication that the future of this team could still be built around the team’s own selections.