I watched the first half of the Canucks-Avalanche game last night, then fast-forwarded through the rest, when the result seemed no longer in doubt. A stinging loss after a good result in St-Louis, and a debacle in Dallas previous to that.
The Sedin line with Radim Vrbata will do some damage this year, they're really clicking. Unless Duncan Keith elbows Daniel in the tonsils again. Daniel seems to have found his scorer's touch again, after a couple of lost seasons probably due to the concussion he suffered from the Blackhawks blueliner.
The problem with the Canucks will be every other line. Zach Kassian was undisciplined again last night, he puts out effort but takes dumb, non-competitive penalties. He took a holding call in the offensive zone that was a headscratcher, a real "What were you thinking?" event. So his promotion to the second line will not be easy. Big huge kid with sweet hands, but having trouble putting the package together, kind of like a younger René Bourque.
As much as the trades they did over the summer were 'necessary', man do they miss Ryan Kesler's talent and snarl on the second line. It's a much less formidable lineup without him there. It's a case of hoping the first line wins the game for you, and that the other three lines hang on and don't lose it until the Sedins catch their breath and get out there again. To the credit of Head Coach Willie Desjardins, he hasn't been overplaying his veteran stars, equalizing the work load throughout his forward lineup.
Same goes with the defence, as much as Jason Garrison never found his stride in Vancouver, as much as they struggled to work in his left-handed slapshot on the powerplay (in the past Sami Salo's right shot worked well with the Sedins powerplay setup), his departure to Tampa has created a void which hasn't been filled. He's a big, tough, capable defenceman, which we can't quite say about the current third pair of Luca Sbisa and Yannick Weber.
Acquired from the Kings, Linden Vey, who has a relationship with Coach Willie Desjardins from their Medicine Hat days, and who it was thought was now ready for the NHL after a full AHL apprenticeship, was slotted hopefully at third-line center in camp. He's for now been demoted to the wing on the fourth line.
Their faceoff percentage is frightful, 29th in the league. It's so bad that some are banking on OHL rookie Bo Horvat to shore up the middle when he gets back from a conditioning stint in Utica, since he's strong on faceoffs.
Derek Dorsett is awful, a real thug. He hit a smaller Av from behind into the boards last night, with a glaring knee-skate up, Matt Cooke-on-Erik-Karlsson style. No damage done, but it was so cheaply transparent, a complete absence of care for a fellow player.
Tom Sestito isn't able to crack the lineup, and some think he'll hit waivers, despite the Canucks having to tangle with the bellicose Flames a few more times this season.
There were some optimists at the start of the season who thought the Canucks could improve this year since they shored up the talent on the third and fourth lines, which were black holes last season. Trouble is, the second line has taken a serious hit with Ryan Kesler gone. Same on D, it was hoped a return to form by Alex Edler would cure a lot of ills, but they can't make up the talent lost when Jason Garrison left.
The new system and coaching was also thought to be a factor, and the players seem to play with more conviction than they did last season under Torts, but it may be a long season for the Vancouver fans.