Through all the ups and downs this season there haven’t been very many constants. We’ve had a mismatch of players, we’ve been short staffed on forwards, blue liners, goaltenders. We’ve had a hot power play, a cold penalty kill. We’ve signed ECHLers, played with the waiver wire, and the only thing that’s remained constant in the first 33 games of the season is Alain Vigneault.
Tonight the Canucks look to string together their first four game winning streak of the season, and it’s been the stellar play of Luongo and Henrik Sedin that have pulled the Canucks up to 5 games above .500, but who have also taken the heat off of Vigneault. I was never for the Vigneault extension, and I still thing it was the wrong move. The fact of the matter is that while Vigneault continues to be inconsistent in the result he produces on ice, there’s always another scapegoat to take the blame.
When a team’s playing .500 hockey the excuses are all about the players. There’s always an individual who would do better, or a player who’s injured and considered a large part of the team’s winning ways. The thing is, we went through every excuse in the book to start the season. From the cliche “we always run into hot goal tenders” to “Luongo always starts slow” even to “we always play down to our opponents” the excuses were rampant and everyone was blamed from Wellwood, to Luongo and half the blue line. Because it’s .500 hockey no one ever things to blame the coach and I think that’s a problem.
Vigneault’s preached a defensive style of hockey which has left us frustrated at some of the most important times (like sitting on a one goal lead in the playoffs). The Canucks need a coach that plays a different style of hockey and I think until you swap Vigneault out for a Craig McTavish, or a Marc Crawford (I think he would thrive under the team we have right now) you’re accepting .500 hockey and not seeing what this team is really capable of. This team was touted to be one of the best this season on paper. I’m tired of blaming individual players for the team’s short comings. It’s hard to say that a slumping Wellwood, for example, even if he were to start a goal scoring streak, would result in Canucks wins. It’s a team game and while certain players need to elevate their game, I don’t think that this many games into the season you can keep pinpointing individual efforts or lack thereof for group shortcomings. So why aren’t they consistent? It starts behind the bench.