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Press Round-Up: MAR.03.08

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks
THE VANCOUVER SUN
Canucks 'outplayed ... outworked': Coach Vigneault steamed after players surrender to Blackhawks
Brad Ziemer summarizes the Sunday afternoon debacle in Chicago:


The Canucks have lost three straight games since general manager Dave Nonis virtually stood pat on deadline day.

Two of those defeats were heartbreakers that saw the Canucks cough up a pair of third-period leads on home ice.

Sunday afternoon, things got much worse on the road.

A Canuck team seemingly bereft of emotion was embarrassed 4-1 by the Chicago Blackhawks before a rare near-capacity crowd at the United Center.

The score actually flattered the Canucks, who were as cold as the winter wind that whips down Michigan Avenue. They seemed to want no part of a physical Hawks team that outhit them 15-2 in the first period.

Vancouver registered a season-low 10 shots on goal against a Chicago team that was playing without eight regulars, including goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, defenceman Brent Sopel and forwards Martin Havlat and Robert Lang.

"That was embarrassing, that's what it was," said Vancouver captain Markus Naslund. "I just don't even want to analyze this game.

"They wanted it more and there's no excuse for us to let that happen. We should be more desperate for points than they are."

NHL dressing rooms are supposed to be open five minutes after games end. It took the Canucks a little bit longer to open the door to their room Sunday afternoon.

Coach Alain Vigneault apparently had a few choice words for his players, and who could blame him?

"What was said in the room after the game obviously stays in the room," Vigneault said. After most losses this season, Vigneault has been able to point to his team's work ethic.

Not Sunday.

"Obviously tonight we got outplayed and got outworked," he said.

"That's an easy conclusion to come to ... the one thing I have always been able to say about this team is that we come to play and we play hard and we work. Tonight, I don't think I'm able to say that."

And Vigneault didn't sound like he was too sure about what to expect in the days ahead from his team, which is clinging by its fingernails to a Western Conference playoff berth.

"I can tell you I really believe in this group and we're going to be fine, etcetera, but what really matters is our actions on the ice. Those have to be our words and obviously our actions didn't speak well [Sunday]."

The Canuck players had difficulty explaining Sunday's lethargic effort against the Hawks. This was a team, after all, they had beaten three straight times this season and the Canucks were 7-0-1 in their last eight visits to the United Center.

All that changed in the first period, when the Canucks could get nothing going. They managed just two shots on Hawks goalie Patrick Lalime in the first period and didn't seem to want to engage the Hawks. Daniel Sedin set the tone for the game when he took a lazy holding penalty midway through the first behind the Chicago net.

"That tells you the whole story, four of our penalties were 200 feet from our net," Vigneault said.

Maple Ridge product Andrew Ladd, acquired at the deadline from Carolina, opened scoring for the Hawks at 17:02 of the first period when he put a rebound past Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo.

The Hawks made it 2-0 at 4:19 of the second on a power-play goal by Kane, whose shot from just beyond the right faceoff circle got by Luongo. The goal came with Jeff Cowan serving an offensive-zone tripping penalty.

The Canucks got some life late in the second when Ryan Kesler scored his 17th of the season on a breakaway. But they were not able to use Kesler's goal to generate any third-period momentum.

Patrick Sharp's 32nd of the season pretty much wrapped things up at the 5:51 mark of the third and four minutes later, Kane scored his second of the game off a three-on-one rush. Curtis Sanford replaced Luongo at the 9:49 mark of the third.

"It's tough to explain," said Canuck winger Alex Burrows. "If I had the explanation I would tell the boys and we would be all right. We just have to be better overall in every aspect of the game.

"We have to be ready on Tuesday night because that is going to be a big one, we have to put this in the past and look forward."

The Canucks meet the Colorado Avalanche, currently tied with Vancouver and the Nashville Predators for seventh spot in the West, on Tuesday night in Denver.

"We know that we have to change the way we are playing and we have to pick it up here," Naslund said. "And there's not a better time to do it than in Colorado."
THE PROVINCE
Money players aren't providing net profit: Sedins, Naslund haven't potted a goal in five games

Gordon Mcintyre said the Canucks best players have to be their best players:

The Canucks, like the economy, can be divided into sectors: Primary, secondary and tertiary.

Tertiary, that's the pluggers and grinders, the defensive game, the goaltending.

Secondary, that's your speedsters who play checking roles but who are expected to chip in on the scoreboard, too.

Primary, that's your top unit, imported from Scandinavia but utilizing Canadian raw material, too.

"If you're there to score, you need to score," is how Henrik Sedin put it after Sunday's loss.

Ryan Kesler has three goals in his last four games, Alex Burrows four goals his past 11 games. Mason Raymond has two goals in his past five, Ryan Shannon scored last game and D-men Alex Edler and Sami Salo have a pair of goals each over the past five games.

But the guys who are "there to score?"

Daniel Sedin and Markus Naslund have not scored for five games.

Henrik's not there to score, but has just an assist in five games.

The Sedins are in danger of taking back their old nickname, Zamboni Twins, earned in their early years when their jerseys cleaned the ice so often after they'd been knocked down.

"I think they're struggling," said Alain Vigneault, who started Ryan Shannon with the twins in place of Naslund. "They're going to have to work their way out of it."

Naslund doesn't even have a point his past five games and was playing with rookie Raymond.

Taylor Pyatt, back on wing with the Sedins later in Sunday's game after Matt Pettinger took a turn, hasn't scored in 12 games.

Pyatt and the Sedins were on for the final two Chicago goals, while Daniel managed two of the Canucks' grand total of 10 shots.

"I don't know how many games it's been, but we've got to get it going," Daniel said. "It's embarrassing, 10 shots.

"We have to score, it's our job."

At least in the previous game they'd had chances (two goals, justifiably, were called back).

There was no such slack to cut on Sunday.

"Whether it be our top offensive players or our top defensive players, at this time of the year they know they have to bring their best game to the table," said Vigneault, who had no chance after the game to talk of resiliency, hard work or the puck bouncing wrong.

"The one thing I've always been able to say about this team is that we come to play and we compete hard and we work," he said.

"Tonight I don't think I'm able to say that."
THE PROVINCE
Outhustled, outworked -- what else?


Ben Kuzma said the Canucks lost their identity Sunday afternoon in Chicago:

Embarrassing. In a word, it's the only suitable summation for what transpired Sunday at United Center in Chicago.

With so much on the line and so little to show against a bruised and battered Blackhawks club that was missing eight regulars, the Vancouver Canucks lost more than a game. They lost any swagger they had gained before this telling three-game losing streak because they were simply outhustled and outworked.

And when that Canucks trademark disappears, there simply isn't enough offence to overcome any foe. It's a scary thought with a playoff position hanging in the balance with 17 games remaining.

It also makes you wonder which Canucks team will show Tuesday in Denver. It better not be the one that was outshot 28-10 Sunday, outhit 26-13, took four lazy offensive-zone penalties, lost 64 per cent of faceoffs, surrendered countless odd-man rushes and often missed defensive assignments.

In the one-sided 4-1 drubbing, the Canucks mustered but two shots in the first and third periods, saw Daniel and Henrik Sedin go a third straight game without a point and Markus Naslund's pointless streak hit six games. The captain didn't even manage a shot on goal.
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Hansen scores third-period winner as Moose put out Flames with 2-1 victory
The Canadian Press reports on the outcome of the Manitoba Moose game on Sunday:

Jannik Hansen scored the game-winner with 2:57 left in the third to lift the Manitoba Moose over the Quad City Flames 2-1 Sunday in the AHL.

Nathan McIver had the other goal for Manitoba (33-24-2-3), while Jason Jaffray and Brad Moran assisted on both goals.

David Van der Gulik scored for the Flames, who beat the Moose 3-2 in shootout the night previous. Quad City drops to 29-23-2-7 with the loss.

Cory Schneider started for Manitoba and blocked 26 shots, while Curtis McElhinney turned aside 18 of 20 for the Flames.
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