by Joel Smart (Sports Editor)
Of a possible ten points in the season, the Canucks have five points. After an overtime loss in their first game, they have won two games and lost just as many. Over the course of five games, the team has managed to look really good and really bad. While they haven’t blown fans away with their play just yet, it is likely due to the fact that the new lines and partnerships are going to take a bit of work before they really begin to click.
Perhaps due to their early exit from the playoffs last year as a result of the Canucks, the Los Angeles Kings have caused painful losses to the Canucks in two very different ways. In the first game of the season, the Kings hurt Vancouver fans by coming back to win right at the end of the game. In the most recent affair, the Canucks were simply outplayed in every facet of the game, losing an agonizing 4-1. In the Friday night affair, Vancouver played a sloppy first period that saw them down by one. A strong second period would have made all the difference, but the Canucks came out and played even worse. The two goal deficit going into the third seemed impossible, and ultimately it was.
Luckily, a home game against the Carolina Hurricanes made all the difference, as the Canucks took a 5-1 victory, even with their young back-up goalie Cory Schneider in net. He made some huge saves early in a 32 save performance and was a valuable asset in the win. Mason Raymond replaced Mikael Samuelsson on the top line, and both players took advantage of the different line combinations. Samuelsson had three points on the night, while Raymond scored a couple of goals.
Ryan Kesler has been struggling so far this season. He didn’t look himself in the preseason, and he was missing chances and looking snake bitten in each of his first five games. He even hit a crossbar on a wide-open net early in the game against the ‘Canes. The early drought came to an end, though, as he scored a power play goal for the team with just under six minutes left in the game. I hope his first goal of the season will inspire more confidence in his game. He had a great game overall, winning face-offs and blocking shots on the penalty kill.
Manny Malhotra also had an amazing night in the face-off circle, winning an unbelievable 15 of 16 draws. The Canucks were also a perfect 6-6 on the penalty kill. The Sedin twins have gotten off to an amazing start, with seven points a piece in five games. All seven of Henrik Sedin’s points have come in the form of assists, as opposed to Daniel, who has put four pucks in the net. Seven players on the team have scored goals, with Mason Raymond and Christian Erhhoff the only two besides Daniel to score multiple goals. The Sunday night game against the Hurricanes increased the team’s scoring from seven goals on the season to 12, a much needed increase in offensive output. If the Canucks can continue to get secondary scoring while playing soundly on defence, they should find more results like the game against Carolina and fewer like those against Los Angeles.