Monday, January 24, 2011

A Little Adversity

You knew it was coming. After the best stretch of hockey in franchise history the Canucks find themselves in a slump. Vancouver has played a lot of hockey in January and it's starting to catch up with them. They surprised everyone by going 4-0-1 during a stretch of 5 games in 7 nights at the beginning of the month, but their game began to slide as they headed out east.

Injuries have begun to take their toll. In 3 of the last 5 games the Canucks have lost a defenseman early, forcing them to play with 5 blueliners. Christian Ehrhoff has played more than 24 minutes a night in 7 of the last 8 games (including 33 minutes against Calgary). Before that stretch the last time he played over 24 minutes was December 1st. Ryan Kesler is obviously battling through a hand injury and I'm sure there are many others fighting some sort of ailment.

Then you have the group of interchangeable forwards who have contributed next to nothing in January. Mikeal Samuellson has one point since Boxing day. Mayson Raymond has 1 goal and 2 assists. Raffi Torres has 3 assists and has been a minus in 4 straight games. Manny Malhotra and Jeff Tambellini have been pointless. Hansen has 3 points, Glass 1 assist. Add it all up and no one outside of the Sedins, Kesler and the defense is scoring.

The All-Star break couldn't come at a better time.

Mike Gillis has one month and 15 games to evaluate his team before the NHL trade deadline. Two weeks ago there was no need to consider any kind of move, the team looked ready for the playoffs. Now there are some pretty significant question marks. Can you go into the playoffs with a 2nd power play unit that can't score? When the secondary scoring dries up are you getting enough out of those players? Half the forwards are listed under 200lbs, is the team big enough for the playoffs? Who's going to centre the 4th line?

Of course, a lot of the current issues could be resolved with two simple things. A little rest and a little practice time. There hasn't been much time for either lately.