After a disappointing 5-3 loss against the NHL’s worst team, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Canucks now look to finish off their road trip in Nashville on Tuesday before heading back to Vancouver for an eight-game home stand.
Friday morning things looked good for the Canucks. They had just strung together two big back-to-back road wins that saw 13 different players hit the score sheet. But Sunday night, things looked bleak as the Hurricanes snapped their five-game losing streak against the Canucks.
"It's something that we discussed leading into [the game against Carolina], that this could be kind of a letdown game after two big wins in back-to-back games," explained Ryan Johnson. "We said it over and over and tried to stress it as much as we could before the game to kind of nip it in the bud."
"I think you could see from the first period we weren't prepared and they came out hard and we made quite a lot of mistakes either in our zone or in the neutral zone and they took advantage of that and scored some goals," said defencemen Sami Salo
, who notched his first goal this season on the road against New Jersey.
"I don't think anybody is happy with those first two periods. We weren't ready to play."
"It's tough to understand, especially from our top players, making the type of mistakes that they are making and putting us behind the eight ball and playing that way in front of Razor [Raycroft] was really disappointing," said head Coach Alain Vigneault of the teams’ performance Saturday afternoon.
"We came out in the third and had a strong push back, but down 4-1 it's really hard to come back in this league and we didn't deserve to win.”
Today the team practiced in Nashville. No new line changes from Vigneault.
TWO STEPS FORWARD
If the team can come out of Nashville with a win they close out their road trip with six of a possible eight points. If the club stumbles, they scoop up four points and finish the trip at .500.
"This game against Nashville is huge. We have to win that game to be satisfied with this road trip. I think now we're right back to where we were when we started the trip in New Jersey.”
Two steps forward one step back. A common criticism from the media that’s followed the club all season long is their ability to remain consistently inconsistently. But, while the team has the fourth best power play in the league at 22.7 per cent, rank fifth in goals for at 3.07 goals a game, eight in goals-against giving up 2.59 goals a game, and have the seventh best home record in the league with ten wins and four losses (10-4-0), the Canucks still remain on the outside of playoff contention ranking 10th in the Western Conference.
The good news is it’s early. Only 29 games in the Canucks still have 53 games before the seasons over, including a 17-day home stand that kicks off Thursday night. Secondly, last season when the Canucks managed only two wins in January going winless for eight straight, the team pulled it together and capped off their season as the Northwest Division Champs (45-27-10) for the third time in five seasons.
NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP
Despite being the fifth best American player in the NHL, forward Ryan Kesler is starting to feel the pressure as his ability to find the back of the net has started to run dry. While his production hasn’t suffered as Kesler is second in team scoring with 25 points (5-20-25) in 29 games, his frustration continues linger.
"I'm getting the chances, it's just not happening for me right now," said Kesler. "I don't know what it is. I'm working hard, it's just not happening for me.”
"He's trying hard and obviously he is going through a tough phase as a player," said AV. "You sometimes go through that and there's only one thing to do and that's to work yourself out of it."
"It's only up from here,” explained Kesler. “ I just have to stay positive and I'll get out of this slump."