THE VANCOUVER SUN
Stars beat Canucks: Game of catch-up costing Vancouver
Brad Ziemer said Canucks struggle to take the lead or comeback due to inability to score.
“For the sixth straight game, the Canucks found themselves playing catch-up all night Tuesday. Not surprisingly, they lost, 4-3 to the Dallas Stars at General Motors Place,” said Ziemer.
“The Canucks haven't had a lead, not even for a second, since their Jan. 13 game in St. Louis. They did manage to beat the Blues last week at GM Place when they came from behind to win in a shootout, but they had no such luck against a Dallas team that can protect a lead as well as anyone in the NHL.”
“Sanford surrendered three goals on 11 shots before being replaced at 4:31 of the second period by Manitoba Moose call-up Drew MacIntyre, who had spent the day driving and flying across the continent after playing in the American Hockey League all star game on Monday night in Binghampton, N.Y.,” said Ziemer.
"I put the team in a bad position and I put Alain [coach Alain Vigneault] in a bad position," Sanford said. "It's embarrassing to get pulled, especially to get pulled in front of your own fans. But he had to do that, and if I was in his position I would have done the same thing."
“The Stars broke open the game early in the second period with a pair of goals that Sanford looked bad on. Mike Modano beat him with a slap shot from just inside the blue line at the 1:30 mark as Dallas capitalized on a bad Canuck line change,” said Ziemer.
“Defenceman Stephane Robidas made it 3-1 on a Dallas power play three minutes later when he put a shot between the legs of Sanford. That was it for Sanford and for all intents and purposes, the Canucks, who have now lost four of their last five games at home.”
"I just waved at Modano's shot, basically," Sanford said. "The last two goals are saves that I have to make and that I should make."
“While Sanford was having trouble stopping the puck, the Canucks, once again, were having difficulty scoring. Dallas goalie Marty Turco was very good, but the Canucks' lack of finish is catching up with them,” said Ziemer.
"We need to get off to better starts and we need to finish better," said Canuck captain Markus Naslund, who made things interesting when he scored with 1:20 left in the third to make it 4-3. "We're just not finishing and that is a concern here. We need to score goals, we can't just rely on our goalies."
“Vigneault is clearly getting frustrated by his team's scoring woes,” said Ziemer.
"Our inability to score early on quality chances with the right players getting those chances and our power play not being able to get us that goal that would give us momentum, energy, confidence, all those factors were there in the first period," he said.
“Asked if the outcome might have been different with Luongo in goal, Vigneault said: "If, if, if. We didn't win it. That's the bottom line."
“The bottom line is the Canucks are now clinging to a Western Conference playoff berth,” said Ziemer.
“They are in seventh place with 57 points, just one more than Columbus, Phoenix and Colorado.”
“For the seventh straight game, the Canucks surrendered the game's first goal when Stars' defenceman Trevor Daley walked out of the right corner and fired a shot that deflected off the stick of Vancouver winger Matt Cooke and over the shoulder of Sanford at the 15:54 mark.”
“The Canucks tied things up at 18:28 of the first. Henrik Sedin
took a pass out of the corner from brother Daniel and his quick wrist shot from the right hash mark beat Turco high to the glove side.”
“Steve Ott added a short-handed goal for Dallas at 7:30 of the third period. Ryan Kesler
's 13th of the season at 11:10 made it 4-2,” said Ziemer.
“In addition to Luongo, the Canucks played without injured defencemen Willie Mitchell (back) and Lukas Krajicek (shoulder).”
“The Canucks leave this morning for Tampa Bay, where they begin a four-game road trip Thursday night.”
"It's a crucial trip for us and we have to play better," Naslund said.
Canucks aren't ready, steady to go: Vancouver shows again that it's not a team to spot any opponent the lead
Gordon McIntyre said Canucks struggle to score first.
“On Tuesday the Canucks gave up the first goal for the sixth straight game, losing 4-3 to Dallas,” said McIntyre.
"That [going ahead early] used to be one of our strengths," Naslund said. "We'd come out flying, especially on home ice. I think it has to do with preparation, not being ready to go. We can talk all we want but we have to do it."
“Indeed, the Canucks haven't even played with a lead since Jan. 13 at St. Louis, seven games ago,” said McIntyre.
“Trevor Daley walked out of the corner unmolested to make it 1-0 at 15:54 of the first, the puck slicing off the stick of Matt Cooke over Curtis Sanford's shoulder when the Canuck tried to poke check Daley and the Stars led the rest of the way, making it 4-1 until Ryan Kesler
and Naslund scored in the latter half of the third to make it close.”
“The Canucks easily out-chanced Dallas from the get-go, with Taylor Pyatt having several early chances and Kesler's checking line buzzing all around the Stars' zone. But Dallas goalie Marty Turco was on top of his form, with only Henrik Sedin
beating him before the game degenerated into garbage time.”
"Look at our starts, look again tonight, we're all over them," Vigneault said with a bit of a rise in his voice.
"Obviously we're prepared. We're just having a tough time finishing right now."
“Everyone knows how bad the Canucks are when they trail after two periods -- 1-18-1 now after Tuesday's game,” said McIntyre.
“But they're almost as bad when they give up the first goal (5-15-5).”
“They head out this morning on a four-game road trip having won just twice in their past eight games -- both requiring shootouts against the 12th-place Blues.”
"Our inability to score early," Vigneault said, ticking off a familiar list. "Quality chances with the right players getting those chances. The power play not being able to get us the goal that would give us momentum, energy and confidence. All those factors were right there for us in the first period."
“Once the Stars jumped ahead 3-1 with two goals in the first 4:31 of the second period, chasing Curtis Sanford from the net, it was pretty well game over,” said McIntyre.
"The guys are working hard. Offensively we're generating much more than we generated in the past," Vigneault said. "We're not happy with it and obviously we're a bit frustrated with the results not going our way.
"But you control what you can control and that's effort and preparation."
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Playing through the pain: Mitchell no longer ignores back injury, but coach applies pressure
Elliott Pap said Willie Mitchell will sit out, after playing through pain.
“For three weeks, Vancouver Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell thought his sore back was nothing more than a muscular problem. So he kept on playing,” said Pap.
“He played in nine more games, in four different time zones and travelled on eight flights until he could no longer tolerate the increasing pain in his lower back.”
"You just think it's back pain, right?" Mitchell said Tuesday after revealing he had a stress fracture in his lumbar L2 vertebra.
“Mitchell was originally injured Dec. 27 in a game against Calgary at GM Place. He went to sidestep a check, got hit and sailed tailbone-first into the boards,” said Pap.
“He had some acute pain initially, but it subsided after a few days and he felt he could soldier on.”
“His final appearance before bowing out of the lineup was Jan. 17 in Detroit,” said Pap.
"The last three or four games I played, I felt I had something more than a back injury that was only muscle," Mitchell explained prior to Tuesday's Canucks-Dallas Stars contest at The Garage. "In the Detroit game, there was a point where I couldn't move my legs in front of the net after I got hit.”
"I knew then, and the training staff kind of knew, it was probably more than muscle. So that's when we did the tests -- a CT scan and a bone scan -- to find out."
“Mitchell missed his fourth consecutive game Tuesday and said he won't be going with the team when it embarks today on a four-game, nine-day excursion to Tampa, South Florida, Dallas and Atlanta,” said Pap.
“Interestingly, head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters at the morning skate that he expected Mitchell to rejoin the group "early or midpoint" of the trip.”
"Usually with any fracture, the doctors would say 4-6 or 6-8 weeks, but with the time he's had off now and the fact he's played with it for nine games, we're already looking at five weeks," Vigneault said. "So it shouldn't be, in my mind, much longer knowing Willie Mitchell and knowing his pain tolerance.”
"All the doctors who have checked him out have come to the same conclusion: With this type of stress fracture, if you can endure the pain, there is no way he can aggravate it and there is no way it can be season-ending or career-threatening. It's just a matter of handling the pain and managing it."
“Mitchell skated lightly on his own both Monday and Tuesday and declared he was "getting better" and "feeling better." He plans to step up his workouts in the coming days to see how the injury responds,” said Pap.
"There is no timeline," he emphasized. "It's reintroducing stuff and, if it responds, reintroducing more stuff that's a little more high intensity. From then on, it's just continuing to try new things and getting to where you can play the game."