One bad game, one good game. That was the pattern the Canucks followed during their wildly inconsistent six game home stand which ended Saturday night against Pittsburgh. They wrapped up their time at home by blasting the flightless birds 5-0. Even Zack Kassian scored a goal.
Ok, maybe it wasn’t highlight reel material, but the guy needed to bump the slump sometime. Kassian hadn’t scored since October and sat out three straight games during the home stand, replaced by Latvian wonder Ronalds Kenins. Kenins scored two goals in his first four NHL games, while Kassian only netted his third of the season against the Penguins on Saturday.
Kassian wasn’t the only player to battle inconsistency, since the entire team couldn’t get into a rhythm over the last six games.
They were shutout by Anaheim before prevailing over a laughable Buffalo squad. They were half-asleep against Minnesota in an afternoon affair before Superbowl XLIX, and followed that up performance with a gutsy overtime win against Winnipeg.
After that they played one of their worst games of the season against San Jose. They were out-shot 11-2 in the first eight minutes of the opening frame, and were out of the game by the end of the second period. Head coach Willie Desjardins ripped into his team the following day at practice.
Willie stopped the Canucks mid-practice to let his players have it, essentially demanding more intensity
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) February 6, 2015
With the way the Canucks were playing, many weren’t sure what to expect on Saturday night. However I’m sure not many expected the Canucks to clobber the Penguins. That was arguably one of the most convincing Canuck wins of the season.
Throughout the inconsistency here were some things that stood out during the home stand:
Burrows in a Familiar Spot
With the Twins struggling and the Canucks looking for more goals, Burrows was moved back to the top line with the Sedin twins. He scored in the Canucks’ wins against Winnipeg and Pittsburgh, and set up Daniel Sedin for a tap in on Saturday.
The move was partly to spark the twins, and for Radim Vrbata, the Canucks leading goal-scorer, to help the second line get going. Although the swap has only lasted for three games, the early results look good on both lines. Watch for this to continue.
Recently, Rrookie Bo Horvat is starting to etch his name on the score sheet with some regularity. He has put up four points in the past six games, and played a season-high 14:59 against the Penguins. With a horrid second power play unit, some are now calling for Horvat to get his shot on the second unit.
It definitely wouldn’t hurt to try, since the second unit has done next to nothing all season long. It’s inability to produce any offence has killed momentum for Vancouver in games throughout the season. No one on the Canucks has more than two points while playing on the second power play unit. Linden Vey does has six power play points, but all four of his goals with the man advantage came when he was on the first unit with the twins.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Canucks. Over the next five games they face some tough competition. This includes two games against the Wild, who just beat them and are riding a hot goalie in Devan Dubnyk (three shutout’s in his last four games).
In between the games against Minnesota, the Canucks go to the Madhouse on Madison to face the Blackhawks, they square off against the Bruins back at Rogers Arena, and fly to Calgary to play the Flames on their third game in four nights.
There shouldn’t be any easy wins on this road trip, but after the game against the Penguins, who knows?