This is your weekly recap of the week that was for the Vancouver Canucks. We look at the good, the bad and the unexplainable of the previous week. Look for this feature every Tuesday. Why Tuesdays? Because Mondays are terrible. Here is what has been happening with the blue and green.
With the season winding down the past seven days of Vancouver Canucks hockey was pretty intriguing. The week had it all. We had the debate about whether they are slumping or waiting to ‘flip the switch’, elbow-gate and the return of Mason Raymond. With a handful of games left the Canucks managed to make the dog days of the NHL season entertaining.
We’ll start with the biggest story of the week. The elbow. By now you know the story of Duncan Keith and his wayward elbow that has left him suspended for five games and Daniel Sedin out idefinently with a concussion. How is it that these incidents end up hurting the victimized team the most?
There has been plenty of back and forth over this issue and we won’t rehash too much of it other than to make a point about the length of Keith’s suspension. If the NHL is serious about ridding the game of these types of hits it will have to do better than five games. Five games is not going to make the next guy think twice about clocking someone. It probably won’t even make Duncan Keith think twice about it the next time he is out for blood.
The NHL is going to have to start laying down some serious fines and suspensions to prove it means business. Why not 20 games? Why not 50? If Keith had to sit for 20 every player around the league would stand up and take notice. They would think twice about their actions. Elbows would come down, head’s would be saved.
What the league is doing now is window dressing. Sure they can say they care about player safety, but in this situation Keith will be back in time for the playoffs. Will the same be said for Sedin? How has this made the game safer?
Perhaps even more rotten than the hit is some of the vitriol coming out of Chicago. From columnists using the incident to rip Sedin to fans taking to twitter and message boards rooting for the injury to be serious. It’s always amazing to see the reaction of fans and media when their team turns out to be everything they hate the Canucks for being.
On the ice:
The Canucks started their road trip last week in horrible fashion dropping a boring, dull game 2-0 to the Minnesota Wild. This game was a prime exhibit for the slump/flip switch debate. The Canucks looked bored and not interested in putting out the kind of effort needed to fight through the Wild trap all night.
Things improved during the Chicago game, although they could not score and their power play looked power less. Without Daniel Sedin they went into Dallas and came away with an impressive 2-1 win against a desperate Stars bunch.
They then faced another desperate team in Colorado and went right out and sleep-walked their way into a 2-0 deficit. Whether they flipped a switch or not, they came out and erased the lead with big goals from Mayson Raymond and Chris Higgins. Higgins then won it in overtime with a beautiful forecheck assist by Jannik Hansen.
All in all going 2-1-1 on the road trip isn’t too bad.
They returned home as Northwest Division Champions to face a Los Angeles Kings squad desperate for points. Not desperate enough to score goals however as Roberto Luongo stood tall and the Canucks won 1-0.
So after the past week is the switch flipped? It’s hard to say, what is clear is that Vancouver has shown it can play the gritty, tough hockey that they are going to have to play to win the Western Conference this year.
That Raymond guy:
Mason Raymond had been taking a beating from the Canucks writers and fans this season. His problems have been bigger than just scoring, they have often been staying up right. Alaign Vigneault tried everything he could think of. He played him on the third line, fourth line, back to the second line and even with the Sedins.
Nothing seemed to work so he got benched against Minnesota. That seemed to wake Raymond up as he has been the best player for the Canucks since then. In the three games right after the benching he has scored two goals and picked up an assist.
This renewed confident Raymond could pay dividends in the playoffs.
Remember that Kassian guy?
Zack Kassian had a flurry of a debut with the Canucks. He was flying around, had a fight and even scored a big goal, but since then he has looked a bit lost. With Sedin’s injury he has found himself playing on the top line with Mason Raymond and Henrik Sedin, but with little to show.
Kassian has a lot of potential and it seems like Vigneault is not sure what his place on this year’s Canucks roster will be. Would the Canucks be better served with Kassian in Chicago for the rest of the year and someone like Byron Bitz back up playing the physical role?
The Week Ahead:
The Kings game Monday night was the first of five at home as the Canucks schedule eases up a bit down the stretch. They host Colorado on Wednesday followed by Dallas on Friday and then the Flames on Saturday. All three teams who are hanging on by the skin of their teeth right now but should be easy fodder for Vancouver.
Goal of the week:
There is none other than the Hansen abuse of Colorado’s Tyson Barrie to set up Saturday’s game winner.
Former Canuck of the Week:
Doug Hawlard – D – 1980-1987
Andrew writes about the WHL and NHL Draft Prospects. He also covers the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle and spent two years with Sportsnet. Follow him on Twitter @andyeide.