Finally, after the shortest (and in some ways the longest) offseason in Canucks history, the puck drops on a new year. It hasn't exactly been a repeat of the Blackhawks cup run two seasons ago, but there has been some turnover and really a lot more story lines than what the title of President's Trophy and Cup Finalist offer. I'm just going to address some things I saw in game one here, so please, take them with a game one grain of salt, I'm not going to condemn nor praise any one facet of the team.
1 - CoHo not yet in season: We've all been waiting for the arrival of this player. Many are saying it was unfair to put him on a line with a couple banged up, slow veterans. It was noted that Hodgson, much beleaguered for his poor skating, was sadly the most fleat of foot on a line with Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelson. He had a poor start to his first NHL home opener then came on in the the third nearly winning the game - so is he the puck-patient player we saw in the third period or the one-handed slug we saw in the first two? Time will tell, but I will say this, he is undeniably slow and all too often coasting with one hand on his stick, around the net he showed great poise. Is net pressence enough to become a legitimate NHL top six forward despite a poor skating stride? Well, ask Thomas Holmstrom, Jonathon Cheechoo or Mark Rechhi.
2 - Off Season Signings: Sturm looked slow, but he bounced back from an injury plagued 2008-09 season to score 22 goals in Boston in 2009-10. Last year he had 16 points in 35 games between LA and Washington, so following the trend he should be ready for another 20+ goal campaign, right....... I have to say Chris Higgins looks like a better match on the second line while Kess and Raymond are out. Sturm could bring a little offensive savvy to the third line.
3 - Keith Ballard: This poor guy was physically beat up all last season and ended up in AVs dog house, but never mine, and I'm glad he showed Vigneault and all of Vancouver what he is capable. When (not if) Salo goes down with injury this guy is going to be a Godsend in the top 4 with Edler.
4 - Bobby Lou: He's a slow starter so nobody is shocked by his poor play last night, however, I think I speak for all Canucks fans when I say we're sick of it, and rightfully so. Honestly this is a make or break season for Bobby Lou. Just because he has a limited no movement clause doesn't mean he'll stick around if he blows it again this year. You get the feeling he won't want to. What is with his bellyflop in the crease? Has that ever worked?
5 - The Twins: They look great and do we ever need them to be. Without Kesler our offense is questionable. The Twins will be relied upon heavily until kess is back and up to speed.
6 - 4th Line: Lapierre looks awesome, and Volpatti did play physically, but Weise was a non-factor. Lets get Duco in there to shake it up.
All in all it was a tough loss, no doubt, and secondary offense is going to be a question for a while, even after Ryan Kesler returns.
Click the link to hear my podcast featuring Jesse Newman of the BC Lions, Brian Wiebe of Q101FM in the house talkin' Canucks and Mr. October in to chat some MLB Playoffs