No time to rest for Canucks 0
Forward Zack Kassian (left), who fought St. Louis Blues’ Chris Stewart Tuesday, re-injured his back and did not fly with the Canucks on their trip to Phoenix. (REUTERS)
Win or lose, there’s certainly no time for the Vancouver Canucks to revel in it these days.
In the midst of five games in seven nights — thanks to the shortened schedule — the Canucks are back on the road starting Thursday in Phoenix against the Coyotes.
There is no rest for the weary. Both goalie Cory Schneider and coach Alain Vigneault hinted following the team’s 3-2 win over St. Louis Tuesday that their slow first period might have been due to fatigue, but you’d be hard pressed to find any players actually using that excuse.
Granted, they were playing the second night of back-to-back games, which they will have to endure again this weekend. But the team found a way to make their strong second period hold up for a much-needed victory — keeping the wagon wheels from falling off just yet and continuing to fight for that top spot in the Northwest Division.
With the 14-9-6 Canucks just trying to stay in a playoff spot, there’s no doubt all games will be “important” games here on out — even with 19 remaining.
Prior to Wednesday’s NHL matches, Vancouver sat sixth in the Western Conference, four points up on their upcoming opponents, the ninth-ranked Coyotes. Then there’s the Los Angeles Kings, who will host the Canucks Saturday in a rematch of last season’s first-round playoff series. The Stanley Cup champs are two points ahead of Vancouver in fourth place — leading a crop of eight teams separated by just six points.
With Zack Kassian having re-aggravated his back in a fight Tuesday, the offensive depth for the Canucks will continue to be tested. Against the Blues, they got help with an unexpected goal by Dale Weise, but also a slump-buster from Daniel Sedin.
“It’s frustrating when you lose games (and don’t score), that’s where it hurts the most,” the top-line forward said after potting his first in nine games. “I can’t change my game because I haven’t scored, that’s going to hurt the team even more. So I try to do the same thing and if I create enough chances, goals are going to come.”
Vancouver, 14th in league scoring, has averaged 2.63 goals in their last nine games — a number highly inflated by the seven-goal outburst against the Nashville Predators. Due partly to the injuries up front, the offensive consistency has remained a question mark, especially since they have failed to look dangerous in many recent nights.
Then again, if the Canucks can get the kind of goaltending from Schneider against St. Louis every game, they may need just enough scoring to possibly start compiling a string of W’s moving forward.
As Jannik Hansen put it after potting his eighth goal of the season Tuesday: “Obviously when we’re winning games, it doesn’t matter who is contributing.”