Thursday, January 15, 2009

HE Returns... but what is the real problem?

After 7 weeks on the IR with a groin injury (all better now that he "pounded it pretty hard" on the weekend), Roberto Luongo returns to the crease tonight as the Canucks take on the Phoenix Coyotes at GM Place. And not a moment too soon, as the Canucks continue to let games slip away heading into the All Star break. Vancouver fans are obviously relieved to have Luongo back, but the issues facing this team still remain: This team can't find a way to win games right now. Myself, I am beginning to wonder if this team hasn't grown tired of AV's coaching 'techniques'. The Pavol Demitra demotion, and benching of Kyle Wellwood are just recent examples of a coaching staff that appear to be running out of ideas, and have begun rehashing things that didn't work last season. Sure, they've had injuries. Sure, there are players that haven't played to their potential at times. But I think we are reaching the critical point for Alain Vigneault. Either he can find a way to get this team back on track, playing solid, defensive-minded hockey with the kind of offensive outbursts that on paper we should be seeing on a nightly basis, or it is time to make a change before it is too late. I am not saying his job is in jeopardy, but you almost have to wonder why it isn't? It might be easy enough for Canucks detractors to say that this is the way things were supposed to be, this team wasn't going to make the playoffs anyways. But this team has shown at times they were as good as any team in the league, they just haven't been that way in about, oh... 7 weeks. So having Lui back in the lineup will be a huge boost. But Vigneault had better figure out how to get his charges back on the same page or he will find himself out of a job, you can bet that.

Nice to see Kyle Turris will actually play in front of family and friends tonight, unless Gretzky decides to scratch him again. That was probably one of the coldest things I have seen. Nice job, Wayne. Sami Salo is not ready to return to the lineup yet, but is getting closer. Curtis Sanford cleared waivers and has been sent to the Manitoba Moose. He is a good guy, and you know he will make the most of this. The Moose are a better squad now for sure. The Coyotes will be without Viktor Tikhinov and Kurt Sauer. Expect Wellwood to be a scratch tonight, and the Canucks have had lines of Hansen, Sundin and Demitra, as well as Pyatt with the Sedin twins in practice. The Canucks have lost 3 straight, and 5 straight on home ice and will be looking to reverse that against the Coyotes, who sit 2 points behind with a game in hand.

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