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Sweet & Sour

by Kyle Harland / Vancouver Canucks
It’s been a tough stretch for Vancouver losing seven of their last nine games, but despite what you might hear, they can’t really be blamed for their play.

That’s because over that nine game “funk,” the offense has contributed more consistently than it has all season.

The problem is that it hasn’t stopped them from losing. Tuesday’s game against Dallas was just the next game to follow the trend of some of those previous games, a trend that has seen the Canucks outchancing and outplaying their opposition, but still failing to come out with a victory.

“Same way. Same effort. Similar outcome,” Vigneault said when asked if this game bared any resemblance to the recent losses.

But the coach maintains the “process” is good. So after hearing a question about his team’s preparation that he’s heard nearly every game over the losing stretch, Vigneault didn’t seem as calm and collected as usual. “Look at our starts here. Look at, again, tonight. I mean, we’re all over them. Obviously we’re prepared. We’re just having a hard time finishing right now.”

Vancouver sports media has lambasted the Canucks over their last nine games for failing to win all but two of them. But through that stretch, the Canucks offense has been roaring.

You can expect to read about the “lack of finishing” in tomorrow’s papers, as Vancouver sports media has lambasted the Canucks over their last nine games for failing to win all but two of them. You can bet your bottom dollar you’ll read some of the following: “The Canucks can’t score.” “They can’t finish.” “Canucks need to pick up a potent forward before the trade deadline.”

The problem with those critiques is that the Canucks have been just fine offensively lately. In fact, Tuesday’s game against Dallas was the eighth game in a row that they’ve scored two or more goals. Eight in a row in that area is a season high for the Canucks.

Tuesday’s game against Dallas was also the fourth game in a row the Canucks have hit the 30 shot mark. That’s another season record.

Now, it can’t be argued that these numbers are league leading. Over the Canucks last eight games, their goals-for average is 2.5 per game. That’s slightly below the NHL average, but for what has been termed a disastrous offensive slump, that’s not half bad. Only five teams score more than three goals per game.

The stats, as well as Vigneault’s analysis just don’t fit with some of the criticisms Vancouver’s been hearing. After the game, Vigneault was asked why he wasn’t getting as much out of his players as he should be.

“That’s totally wrong,” Vigneault said. “The twins and their line are getting chances by the dozen. The only thing they’re not doing is finishing. Kes’s line tonight was very, very good. They were solid at both ends of the rink. They didn’t give up much to the opposition. Our fourth line’s a fourth line. They’re crashing and banging. Cowan went out and got in a fight.”

He went on to add that his defense, particularly considering injuries, has been playing very well. “We didn’t give up 10 chances tonight. It doesn’t get much better than that defensively.”

Trevor Linden agreed with the coach. “I’ll be honest. I think we did a lot of good things tonight,” Linden said.

Of course, the team isn’t completely happy with just good play. They know they need to win. But things don’t seem as grim as their recent record might indicate.

Regardless, they’ll be looking for a fresh start as they begin a four game road trip and meet up with star goalie Roberto Luongo in Florida, who is with his pregnant wife there.

“We need to turn it around here quick, because losing is contagious,” said Aaron Miller. “If we start accepting losing, we’re going to be in a lot of trouble. So we’re going to go to Florida here, we’re going to spend some time together as a team and we’re going to try and win some games.”

4 – Games in a row Canucks have hit the 30 shot mark

7 – Games in a row the Canucks have surrendered the first goal

8 – Games in a row the Canucks have scored 2 or more goals, a season record

12 – Saves for Drew MacIntyre

200 – Consecutive sellouts at GM Place

The Canucks, once again, outshot and outchanced the opposition. It’s a tired cliché to say that Vancouver didn’t get the bounces, but Turco truly made his fair share of lucky saves.

The defense gave up very few scoring chances. All game, hard backchecking by the forwards turned what could have been dangerous rushes into broken plays.

Special teams could have been the difference maker in the game. After the Canucks revived their power play last game against St. Louis, the man advantage was stagnant against the Stars going 0-for-6.

Meanwhile, the Stars revived their ice-cold power play that had been 1-for-27 in its last six games, and took a power play insurance goal for a 3-1 lead in the second period.
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