John Garrett: What's the problem?
The Canucks are winning tight games with a slim line-up, what's wrong with that?
The Vancouver Canucks have won three of their last four and have turned an 0 and 3 start into a 7 and 6 record. They have become much more disciplined and have played a tightly structured game. You would think this would make the fans and the pundits happy but there has been an undo amount of criticism about how they are winning.
Last Saturday they beat the desperate Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 with the third goal being scored into an empty net. People on the talk shows were saying anybody can beat the Leafs and you should be able to pile up the score.
On Sunday it was the flu ravaged Edmonton Oilers who were beaten 2-0 and once again the team was taken to task for not going on the offensive in the third period and filling the net.
The Detroit game was entertaining, but ended in a 5-4 loss. The Canucks fired only fifteen shots on goal in Los Angeles but it was enough to come away with a 2-1 shootout win.
So what is the problem?
Expectations for this team in September were unbelievably high. They looked good on paper and the moves they made in the summer gave them depth that very few teams had. They had one of the best goaltenders in the league, six legitimate NHL defencemen and four lines that could contribute on a nightly basis.
That was back in September.
The coach has to work with the talent he has available. You cannot have the same strategy if you have a lineup that does not have Daniel Sedin, Pavol Demitra, Kyle Wellwood, Sami Salo, Ryan Johnson, Rick Rypien and especially Roberto Luongo. If you have players who are trying to adjust to playing in the NHL like Sergei Shirokov and Michael Grabner, and Aaron Rome playing forward and your backup goalie making his first starts of the season, you are not going for style points.
Alain Vigneault has his team playing in shutdown mode. He has to. This lineup does not enable him to play a high pressure aggressive game. They have to play defence and hope they can win 2-1.
You go with what you got.