Performance of the Week: Zack Kassian’s Redemption
Last week was a tough week. After injuries to Nick Bonino, Chris Tanev and Frankie Corrado, the Canucks’ depth has taken a hit. It’s probably not surprising that, especially recently, they’ve been inconsistent at best – any given night, it’s been hard to tell which version of the Canucks is going to show up on the ice. Look at their week last week: they beat the Winnipeg Jets by a 3-2 score, then lost 5-1 to the San Jose Sharks, then shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-0, and then fell in dramatic fashion 5-3 against the Minnesota Wild. (Okay, the Minny game was this week, but you get the idea.)
The Canucks have so many blank spaces that need to be filled on defense and up front (and because goaltending is always a hot topic in this city, some of you may even argue they need to shore that up too) that the team’s inconsistency isn’t that surprising. After the Sedins, who, at 35, are leading the team with 44 points each (before last night’s Chicago game), and Radim Vrbata, who is 6 points back with 38 points, the rest of the core guys simply hasn’t been productive. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s not. I know it’ll suck when the Sedins eventually retire.
(For what it’s worth, Trevor Linden was 38 when he retired, and the Sedins will be 35 this September. I’m not ready to live in a world where the Sedins aren’t on my team anymore.)
Which is why it’s always good to see one of the younger guys step up to the plate. Especially one whose been much-maligned this season.
I’ll be the first to admit I’ve struggled to stay on board the Zack Kassian bandwagon. (I don’t even consider myself on it, but I know when to give credit when credit is due.) Anyway, Kassian had a less than stellar start to the week – remember he was a healthy scratch against the Jets and the Sharks and didn’t “even know what the hell is going” (and like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives). Though I’m sure his mere 2 goals and 4 assists in his first 26 games, which really isn’t a lot for someone “with his potential”, didn’t help his case. He’s been criticized often for losing his drive, and after having been scratched three times in the Canucks’ last seven games, also didn’t hold back on expressing his dismay, which, I’m sure, didn’t endear him to his bosses.
But, Kassian is only 24 years old (and I need to remind myself of this sometimes). He’s also gone through four different coaches (Lindy Ruff, Alain Vigneault, John Tortorella and now Willie Desjardins) in his last four years. I’m not an expert, but that seems like a lot. I do know, and this might be a crazy revelation, but going through that many coaches in a relatively short span of time in such a young career doesn’t leave much time to get used to a system, never mind a coaching style.
All that being said, Kass forced the haters to take a seat on Saturday night against the Penguins when he scored his first goal in 22 games and gave us this beautiful moment that I don’t think any of us will forget any time soon:
(I’ll let you caption it, though I’m sure it’s been done a thousand times by now already.)
He then followed it up with his 2nd goal in as many games in Minnesota. So in the span of two games he’d doubled his season’s goal total prior to Penguins game.
If that’s not Performance of the Week material, I don’t know what is.
Now, it’s entirely possible he won’t score a goal for the remainder of the season, but it’s also possible he’ll score a bunch of them. We don’t know. (Editor’s note:He scored again last night – his 3rd goal in 3 games – against the Blackhawks.) With a team that’s been so inconsistent with scoring, we just never know what we’re gonna get. But maybe, this is the kind of week that will get Zack back on track. And more importantly, the kind of performance that will allow him to stick around in the lineup.