Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canucks' Sweatt, Connauton Impress

Canucks' Sergei Shirokov comes to Daniel Sedin's aid
After a meaningless 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, Alain Vigneault cut his team some slack.  Having played two games in two nights, there were bound to be some tired legs.  Well, there were actually three games in two nights, but that's just too weird for words.

As is typical in pre-season NHL games, the team playing more veterans tends to lose.  Probably due to the vets breaking themselves in slowly, working on their timing and line combinations, they seem to go through the motions a bit while the youngsters work their tails off to earn a job.  It's fairly predictable that the group with more people with jobs on the line will win the night.

As for an early report card on the Canucks, here's a bit of a breakdown:

Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin were quite creative tonight and even pitched in a highlight reel worthy goal in the third period.  Not a bad opening night.

Ryan Kesler and Mason Raymond showcased their speed and had some nice forays.

Sergei Shirokov was pretty unnoticeable, with the exception of coming to Daniel's defense when he was kneed.  It's nice to see Shirokov showing how badly he wants to make the NHL.  Vigneault will likely give him another game or two at least.  You may remember how he similarly played Grabner into the ground last year.

Viktor Oreskovich and Mikael Samuelsson were not really noticeable, while Alex Bolduc and Guillaume Desbiens had some decent efforts on the penalty kill.

Peter 'Who?' Schaefer had a solid night, including a short-handed goal and some good forechecking.  No other forwards were noticeable on the evening.

On defense, Dan Hamhuis surprised some with his fluid skating, while Christian Ehrhoff and Alex Edler were steady.  Andrew Alberts played his game, the occasional good hit and obligatory hooking penalty, while Kevin Connauton and Lee Sweatt looked great.

Connauton strung together some great first passes and had a fight, while Lee Sweatt was all over the nice and was the only Canucks singled out after the game with praise.

In goal, Roberto Luongo was solid for a meaningless game.  One of the goals banked in off his teammate, and he had a few highlight reel stops to shake off the cobwebs.  Cory Schneider came in for the third and was solid as well.

According to Alain Vigneault, the Canucks will continue to tinker with their lineups and analyze who will stay and go over the next week, while the second half of the pre-season will be to work on systems and chemistry with the players likely to make the team come opening night.

The Canucks have a couple of games coming up on the weekend, where cuts are expected to be made.

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