Facing elimination and with no margin left for error, the Vancouver Canucks
dropped ineffective forward Mason Raymond
to the fourth line after a bad check cost them a goal in Game 4, and moved tentative rookie Zack Kassian
from the lineup to the press box.
Things are a lot different for top-scoring defenseman Alexander Edler
, whose struggles in the first three games could be directly tied to falling being 0-3 in the Western Conference Quarterfinals series against the Los Angeles Kings
Edler, who had 11 goals, 49 points and was a first-time All Star this season, coughed the puck up at his own blue line on the winning goal in Game 1, turned it over with a drop pass that led to a shorthanded goal in Game 2, and was on the ice and failed to clear the zone on the only goal of a Game 3 loss. The Canucks stuck with him, though, knowing they needed Edler to have a chance, and he responded with a much better game and a power-play goal in Game 4, which the Canucks hope will be a turning point in his play.
“Give him credit,” said associate coach Rick Bowness, who runs the Canucks’ defense. “He took a lot of pressure on himself and knows he wasn’t up to his game the first three -- he overcame it [Wednesday] night and played much better. … Much more aggressive, much more assertive, much more confident.”
Edler’s struggles have been frustrating to a fan base that has seen the potential for so much more from the 6-foot-3 defender, who can be imposing physically one night and play tentative the next. The 26-year-old is blessed with a 100-mile-an-hour slap shot, but sometimes is too hesitant and struggles to launch it.
“We’ve had a few talks, yeah,” Bowness said. “We all want the end product, the finished product, right now. It took Steve Yzerman
until he was 30 to figure it all out. Phil Mickelson didn’t win his first major until his mid-30s. We all want Alex to be the perfect guy right now, but it just doesn’t happen. It’s human nature.”
Bowness reiterated Edler “is a great player, is going to be a great player for a long time.” Down 3-1 to Los Angeles, the Canucks need that time to be now.