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His own toughest critic

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
It's Monday afternoon, lunchtime, and the Vancouver Canucks are steadily making their way off the ice and into the dressing room.

Having suffered a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings the day prior, the Canucks practiced hard to tweak what needed tweaking; it's evident from the player's faces afterwards that they had put in a hard morning's work.

As they take a breather, members of the media swoop in and question which ever players they can get their hands on, nothing too invasive, just the regular humdrum.

Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows, the usual suspects, handle the bulk of the inquiries, most of which revolve around Vancouver's special teams and what the game plan is for hosting first Nashville on Tuesday, then Phoenix and Minnesota later in the week.

One player that isn't on the media's radar on this day is Taylor Pyatt. Nobody wants to hear what the rugged forward has to say, and it's a good thing because he's nowhere to be found.

Pyatt marches into the room and takes a seat at his stall ten minutes after the media disappears. He wasn't purposely avoiding them, Pyatt simply stayed on the ice after practice to put in some extra time.

As we all know, practice makes perfect, and it goes without saying that the 27-year-old has struggled so far this season. He's the last one off the ice these days as he tries to cure his offensive woes.


Pyatt has one goal and two assists through 12 games, not exactly sparkling numbers. He's tied for 305th overall in the NHL for points as the Thunder Bay product is on pace for only 20 points this season, that's 17 less than he's had the past two seasons with the Canucks.

You can voice your displeasure over Pyatt's lack of production all you want, the fact of the matter is that he's his own toughest critic right now and he knows that his game is far from where it needs to be.

"I know I have to contribute more," said Pyatt candidly. "I was getting a real good opportunity at the start there to be in the top six on the power play and I wasn't able to score. So they made changes and now it's just up to me to work hard and work myself back into a scoring role."

A nine-game goalless drought was how Pyatt opened the season, he snapped it last Thursday against Los Angeles when he tipped in a Willie Mitchell zinger from the point to polish off Vancouver's 4-0 win.

Still, Pyatt isn't back to his old self as it's tough to rebound from such an arctic cold stretch. It wears on you mentally, he admitted, and confidence becomes hard to come by.

"It is hard when you train hard all summer and you feel good in training camp and you come into the season excited and ready to get things going, then you have a tough time getting your first goal and it really is stressful.

"It is tough to stay positive, but you've just got to find a way. You hope that once you get that first one they'll start to come in bunches and I'm hoping that I can start to put the puck in the net more over this next little stretch."


This isn't the first time Pyatt and the puck haven't gotten along, far from it. In the last two years Pyatt has had goalless streaks of 12 and 19 games, the bizarre part about the rough patch he just endured is that it came so early in the season.

Never before has Pyatt had an October to forget, it's actually been his most prosperous month point-wise with 31 points (20-11-31) in 74 career games.

"I had a tough time getting that first goal, I think I was a little stressed out about it, maybe a little tight out there," explained Pyatt. "I was able to get one the other night so now I'm just trying to play a little bit looser and be strong on the puck and move my feet more and then I might not be so tight around the net when I get those scoring chances."


Pyatt isn't throwing in the towel, he still believes that the Canucks have yet to see him at his best and that he can reach that level this season.

Coach Alain Vigneault agrees with that belief, he knows that the third year Canuck is still a work in progress.

"We think there's more there and we're working with him to get what is there out, obviously it's been a process so far," said Vigneault.

"His size and his strength and his puck protection should permit him to go to the net with the puck and stay in front of the net. We're using him right now to kill penalties, he's not afraid to block shots, so there is some potential there.

"Obviously we're not the first organization or the first coaching staff to try and work with him to get all that potential out and we're going to keep working with him."

Pyatt, alone with his thoughts, wasn't a media target on this afternoon. But when his hard work and dedication start to come together and he's carrying his weight this season, he will be.

Until then...

All in the Family 
Consistency Paying Off
King of the Rink

3 - Points this season for Pyatt (1-2-3)

8th - Overall pick in the 1999 draft by the NY Islanders

  74 - Points in two seasons with Vancouver

175 - Career NHL points

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