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False start

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
A Sven Baertschi slapshot shattered a pane of glass during Canucks practice Tuesday morning at UBC.

It was tough to see who had shot the puck, so members of the media asked Radim Vrbata if he let go of the heavy shot, perhaps out of frustration.

“No, it wasn’t me,” said Vrbata, “with my luck the puck would have hit the glass and the puck would have shattered.”

It’s been that kind of a start to the season for the 34-year-old Czech forward.

Vrbata, now in his second season in Vancouver, doesn’t have any points through the Canucks first six games of the season; he’s the only Canucks regular (forward or defence) who hasn’t produced at least one point offensively.

It isn’t for a lack of effort.

Vrbata is second on the team in shots with 25 and more than a handful have been quality-scoring chances, he just isn’t getting the bounces.

Going into the season one might have assumed Vrbata would have two or three goals to this point, instead he’s being out-produced by Adam Cracknell (two goals), Jared McCann (two goals) and Matt Bartkowski (one goal) – players who combine for 11 career goals.

Vrbata, he of 246 goals and 281 assists in 877 career games, last endured a regular season streak like this from October 10-26th, 2010, when he went pointless in seven consecutive games after opening the year with two goals in the season opener.

“When you know that you can make a difference and you’re not making it, that’s frustrating and not a good feeling,” said Vrbata, post-practice.

Vrbata isn’t changing his routine and won’t be switching sticks or tape colour any time soon, “because then you’re making it bigger than it needs to be;” but coach Willie Desjardins confirmed Vrbata will be changing linemates.

Vrbata skated with Daniel and Henrik Sedin Tuesday and the veteran trio will be reunited Thursday against the Washington Capitals.

“Hopefully that’s going to help out a little bit to get some scoring going,” said Vrbata. “It wasn’t too much about playing with different guys or chemistry or whatever, it’s more about burying the chances and having the puck go in.

“That being said, if we can play the way we did last year and score some goals, that would help big time. The reason why I came here last year was to have a chance to play with them, they’re such great players.”

Asked if a 10-point night is in cards next game for Vancouver’s top line, Vrbata laughed.

“I’ll take a one-point night and a win!”

A single-point wouldn’t truly satisfy the ultracompetitive Vrbata, but it might get his son off his back.

Vrbata said no one has been as hard on him as his son, six-year-old Krystof. He likes seeing the Canucks win, likes when dad plays well and loves when he scores.

“But I went to his game the other day and he didn’t score either,” joked Radim.

Like father, like son?

“I guess, maybe we’ll both get one soon.”

Playing with the Sedins certainly won’t hurt.

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