Random thoughts following a tough loss to the lowly Blue Jackets.
You just knew when Steve Mason was announced as the starter earlier in the week that this could be one of those games tailor-made for a disappointing loss. Sure, the Canucks took the first period off, but rarely do they ever compete in them, and they looked great from then on out. On the bright side we gained a point in the division race as Winnipeg shut down the Wild in a chippy affair, and, Roberto Luongo had a terrific game.
On the topic of Lou's game, and he did play great, was my growing concern at the Canucks apparent lack of crease-clearing. How many times was there a man alone in front of Lou last night? It's not just the lack of ability to clear the man in front, but too often bad reads or poor positional play as both D-men will chase. This has got to be from a combination of the lack of consistency in both the defense pairings, althought the top four are usually consistent, and the abundance of centres which has lead to a lack of familiarity in this position as well. The Canucks claim to play a first forward back picks up the defensive responsibility system, well, it ain't workin'. Too often when the centre is trapped and the winger fills in it causes a chain reaction of confusion that leads to wingers, centres and defenseman out of position. We need some consistency and a return to the traditional defensive responisbilities of centremen.
But I digress, I was on the topic of Lou. He should never ever, ever EVER be left in for a shootout again, it's not his forte and that's just the way it is. We've seen goalies swap after OT before and the Canucks need to realize now that it will cost them a very valuable point about 80 - 90% of the time they leave Lou in for the skills contest.
And back on the topic of the lack of consistency the defenseman on the wing is a flop. If you're not going to risk the loss of a veteran depth player to the waiver-wire then the Canucks can simply dress seven defenseman and let them all play defense and rotate double shifting some of the many forwards they have that need more ice time. So the seventh d-man will play five minutes, big deal, it's a nice luxury to have when one of your top PK blueliners happens to be in the box or injured. Some teams run this line-up on a semi-consistent basis. The fact remains that poor Andrew Alberts and Aaron Rome are lost as forwards and shouldn't be thrust in to the fire like that. Why not give extra ice to CoHo, Higgins, Hansen or Raymond - the team will be better for it.
On the topic of Cody Hodgson, I appreciate the fact he was playing his first game back after getting wumped by Nick Foligno, but, eight minutes of ice is not an uncommon occurence for him. This kid has put up amazing numbers considering his ice time. As the season progresses he needs to be given more minutes. He is showing top-six skill and producing incredibly well. Lets examine the numbers comparatively.
Hodgson averages just under 13:00 minutes per game with 2:00 PPTOI/G : 6-9-15 2PIM +4 in 30GP
D. Sedin averages just over 19:00 minutes per game with 4:00 PPTOI/G : 12-22-34 22PIM +9 in 30GP
Hodgson has 6 points on the power play, so, given the fact he has half of Daniels ice time it's relatively fair to assume you could double those points totals, leaving CoHo with 12; Daniel has 16. That means Daniel plays about 25% more even strength time which would boost CoHo's points ES to 12 as well, for a total of 24, good for third on the team...not bad.
Would like to see him get some more ice.