The Canucks have started the season 0-2 and some of the natives in Canuck Nation who had the parade route planned are getting restless. Thursday they ran into a pumped up Flames club at home and ran into penalty trouble early, before basically dominating the game in the second half and coming up short. Saturday they ran into a hot goaltender and a determined Avs team looking to show they aren’t going to be the pushover the experts said they would be this season.
Now, I’m hardly making excuses for the Canucks, but I think there is a legitimate reason why this start has occurred, and the biggest has to lie at the feet of the coaching staff.
We all heard about the obscene amount of exhibition games the Canucks played, nine in all and for some reason the Canucks decided not to dress a “regular” lineup in any of those games. Sure, you need to avoid injuries and evaluate talent, but with a shortened training camp, and little time to gel, it would appear somewhat difficult for anyone but Daniel and Henrik Sedin to feel comfortable playing with each other, never mind hitting the ground running.
We’re talking little time to work on the penalty kill as a unit. Roberto Luongo didn’t see a lot of action and is off to his traditional mediocre October start. The team even went so far to bring in guys like Dave Scatchard and Mark Parrish, players with NHL experience they could dress to hit the league minimum required for preseason games. These guys had no chance of making the club.
The early games should have been the time to evaluate, the later games should have been a time to get lines set and get some cohesiveness as a unit. Willie Mitchell commented on this in Calgary saying the slow start may have been attributed to having the starters together for the first time in game one. Other teams the Canucks played in the preseason dressed string lineups, with Anaheim and Calgary coming to mind.
In reality, these first few games are training camp for the starters. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s a long season but perhaps in the future, the staff will consider letting the players that are going to be here gel a little more before the puck drops for real.