Monday, October 6, 2008

Pre-Season Ends In OT Loss

In a topsy-turvy special teams affair, the Canucks fell 4-3 in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks Sunday night at GM Place. All of Vancouver's goals came on the power play while a former Canuck, who happened to be the newest face in the Ducks line-up, netted the winner early in the extra session.

Mason Raymond led the offence for Vancouver with a pair of power play goals while Henrik Sedin also cashed in on the man advantage. Pavol Demitra and Alexander Edler may have been the most consistent performers in their respective positions in this game and were rewarded for their efforts by picking up a pair of assists each. Brendan Morrison, making his return to his former stomping grounds for the first time, opened the scoring for Anaheim with a power play goal of his own. Travis Moen and Corey Perry tallied even strength for the Ducks to force the game to OT.

Just after serving a penalty which carried on to the extra frame, Nathan McIver, who had been picked up off the waiver wire from the Canucks a few days earlier, was sprung free on a breakaway and made no mistake beating goalie Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver out-shot Anaheim 30-28 on a night which saw the Canucks go 3-for-8 on the power play and 7-for-8 on the penalty kill.

The next 48-72 hours will be very interesting to watch and see what the Canucks do in the way of attempting to solidify their opening-night roster. Currently there are 26 players on their active roster (2 goalies, 8 defencemen, and 16 forwards). What makes things a bit more intriguing is the fact that blue-liner Lawrence Nycolet suffered a back injury in the game against Anaheim and it's not known how long he'll be side-lined for. There is always a risk of sending players to the minors and having them picked up off waivers. With the Canucks depth on 'D', do they really need to jeopardize that by putting any of their current eight blue-liners on waivers?

Despite having signed his first NHL entry level contract before this game, Cody Hodgson likely is destined to return to his junior team in Brampton, Ontario of the OHL. He needs to play in all situations to develop faster. He needs to step into a huge spotlight this winter known as the World Juniors (where he'd likely be captain for Canada). Is he good enough to play in the NHL right now? In my opinion: maybe. But with this team right now? In my opinion: no.

If Hodgson is sent back to junior, who do the coaches go with to fill either 13 or 14 forwards? To me, the following players have guaranteed their spots on the following lines:

D. Sedin - H. Sedin - Bernier
Raymond - Demitra - Pyatt
Burrows - Kesler - Hansen
Hordichuk - Johnson - ???

Assuming the Canucks go with seven d-men, that leaves Rick Rypien, Kyle Wellwood, Matt Pettinger, and Jason Krog to battle for two of the last four spots. The latter of the three have lots of NHL experience, which may give them the edge. However Rypien does have the stronger edge in grit and toughness, which will definitely be put into consideration.

Who knew going into the first weekend of the regular season that the Canucks coaches and management would have such huge decisions to make? I've said all along, the off-season and pre-season would be very intriguing for Canucks fans to see how this team takes shape. That's definitely proving to be true with the home opener about to take place on Thursday!!

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