The return of Saint Roberto and other observations

The return of Saint Roberto

Today Canucks fans around the world are thanking the hockey gods for the much heralded return of their saviour,  Saint Roberto Luongo. They’ll be looking for the Canucks goaltender to lead them out of the land of mediocrity they have slipped into in his absence. Just over a week ago, they also thanked the gods for Saint Mats, who was supposed to instantly make this team a contender for Lord Stanley’s cup. That hasn’t exactly bared fruit to date, and some fans have already called the move a bust and have called for Alain Vigneault’s head on top of it all.

Oh to be a hockey fan in Vancouver. One minute you’re contending for the cup, the next you’re firing the coach.

The only thing that should be inspiring the Canucks tonight is their god awful effort against New Jersey the other night, and the fact they haven’t played good hockey for a couple weeks now. Sure injuries have hurt the team, and none more than Luongo’s, but when you’re losing because the effort and execution isn’t there, there are deeper problems. Hopefully they don’t come to the rink tonight ready to stand around and watch Luongo be the saviour. One could say that’s what they’re doing with Mats Sundin since his arrival, and we’ve all seen how that has gone.

Somewhere along the line this team lost it’s identity, and they need to find it in a hurry. Calgary is starting to pull away in the division and others are making up ground on the Canucks from behind. This season could become a disaster really quickly if things don’t get turned around. The sad part is the Canucks really wasted an opportunity to put themselves in a great spot, after working so hard and doing an admirable job with just a brutal road schedule to start the year, the Canucks have squandered valuable points at home against teams they should beat.

Luongo is traditionally a slow starter after an extended break, but the Canucks will need him to be good out of the gate. They will also have to remember what made them successful and start playing the way they can, or what Luongo and Sundin do  just won’t matter.

Bye-bye Sanford

Poor Sandman. Such is the life in professional sports, but it was sad to see Curtis Sanford be cast aside like yesterday’s newspaper this week. Sanford was a tireless worker in practice and knew his roll. He was popular with his teammates as well. All the best to him, and hopefully the Canucks can find him a place to play in the NHL soon if he’s not claimed on waivers.

Fire the coach

As I mentioned above, there are some fans already calling for the firing of Alain Vigneault during this slump. He’s “lost the team” they say! If Vignaeult can be faulted for anything, it’s probably his itchy line juggling trigger finger. Critics argue that players need more time to work through problems with linemates, but they simply don’t get that with Alain. While that may be true, we’re not talking about beer leaguers here. The Canucks have systems, and if one player on the line is making mistakes or not doing his job, then it generally won’t work. Some lines can get by on talent, but most need to work as a unit and within the team concept to be successful. When you have some players floating out there, and making poor decisions, do you reward them with  more ice time? How much leeway do you give them. It’s not like the Canucks are getting a ton of chances, they’re not doing much of anything. And as a coach you need to figure out a way to ignite that fire. Tonight he will attempt to spark that flame with the benching of Kyle Wellwood.

Has Wellwood gotten too comfortable?

The live blog crew has dubbed him “Happy Meal”, but it’s not likely that Kyle Wellwood will enjoy the view from the press box tonight. Wellwood, who’s story was an inspirational one after coming to camp in poor shape and contributing the way he has, will be a healthy scratch for tonights game, as Vigneault looks to shake this team back to the hard working bunch they need to be to win. Lat game it was the demotion of Pavol Demitra to the fourth line, and it seemed to spark him, despite the result. Wellwood may not be the biggest culprit, but he’s responded to kicks in the arse before, maybe he will be again. Perhaps Taylor Pyatt needs to see the view from up there next?

Live blogging at Sunday’s game

Once again will participating in the live blog at GM Place for Sunday’s game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets. Look for us at the “Fanzone” display in the concourse of GM Place. Come by and say hello, and you may even get interviewed for the live blog.

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