FEELING THE HEAT
In the hockey market that is Vancouver, if you don’t start producing the media start pointing the finger and forward Kyle Wellwood, just two assists in 19 games, is starting to feel the heat.
At 5’11” 181 lbs., the Windsor, Ontario native, who notched 18 goals and nine assists last season, has yet to find his scoring touch.
"I hoped that I'd be stronger and quicker this year and that would translate into more offence,” said Wellwood who came into training camp lighter and in better shape than previous years. “I still know I can play."
Wellwood is getting chances averaging 14:17 of ice time per game and is seeing power play time but the centre, maybe squeezing his stick a little too tight, can’t seem to catch a break.
“Obviously, you need your offence to win games and if you're out there and your line is not generating any offence, there has to be changes,” said Wellwood. “And if it's me, I understand.”
“It’s tough to swallow. Its tough watching other guys score, guys getting called up and scoring right away. That drags on you."
“It’s just the ebb and flow of the season,” explained Mitchell. “Those guys are going to score goals it’s just a matter of time. And when they do, it’s going to come in bunches for them. Their goals are going to come.”
The Canucks, ranked 22th in the league, are better than their record implies. At one game above .500, the club knows if they stick with the process eventually the wins will start to come.
“We’ve got a chance here in the next few weeks to get in a good rhythm,” said Roberto Luongo. “It’s important to play solid hockey and pile up some wins here. No matter what adversaries we’re faced with we’ve got to find ways to win, whether it’s injuries or scheduling. Whatever it is, good teams find ways to find.”
And while healthy bodies are almost all back, the ‘compressed’ schedule due to the Olympics has been anything but as the teams waits through their fourth lull of the season. And although it may wreck any established flow or momentum, Willie Mitchell insists three day break has been good for the team.
“I’ve enjoyed it because we’ve had Danny who needed some time to get back,” said the defenceman. “It’s allowing us as defence parings and lines to practice a little more before we get in a game situation. I’m enjoying it, [but I know] we’ll pay for it somewhere in the schedule.”
“Obviously, it has been a little bit strange since the beginning of the season, but we’ve dealt with it the best we can. Now we’re in going to be in hockey mode [until] probably the end of the year,” said Head Coach Alain Vigneault.
“It shouldn’t be different when you’ve had a three of four day break, but it seems like it’s always tough to get going” said Henrik Sedin. “We’ve got to make sure we’re ready.”
Thursday night the club gets back into action as they welcome the Los Angeles Kings to GM Place.