Mar 202009
Mar 192009
Mar 182009
Mar 172009
Feb 202009
Feb 192009
Feb 122009

When it was put together 3 games ago, the Demitra-Sundin-Kesler line was expected to provide some secondary scoring and take the heat off the Sedin line. It has, of course, done more than that, outscoring the Sedin line 22 (9G-13) – 6 (3G-3A) in 3 straight wins.

The other thing I noticed is that Vigneault has taken to putting the Sundin line (with Bernier on the wing, and sometimes, Demitra on the point) out first on the powerplay. In fact, Demitra, Sundin and Kesler combined for 36:58 minutes of powerplay ice-time the last 3 games vs. Sedin, Sedin and Pyatt’s combined 30:58 minutes.

I don’t think even the most optimistic of Canucks fans would have expected this when Sundin signed.

The beauty of the emergence of the RPM line (Ryan, Pavol and Mats), as they’ve now been dubbed, is it forces opposing teams to choose which of their best defending players they should play against which line. Against Chicago, the Sedins played primarily against Chicago’s best defensemen, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, while the RPM line played primarily against Brian Campbell and Matt Walker. Against St. Louis, it was the RPM line that faced Barrett Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo, while the Sedins faced Jeff Woywitka and Jay McKee.

I realize this is a small, 2-game sample, but at least it’s a glimpse of the goodness of having some secondary scoring. Not all teams are blessed with dynamic defensive duos a la Niedermayer/Pronger, Chara/Wideman, Lidstrom/Rafalski, Blake/Boyle or Phanuef/Regehr that can defend more than one scoring line. In fact, most teams don’t and those teams would have to pick their poison. Defend the Sedins and hope the RPM line doesn’t score? Or vice-versa?

Feb 092009
Feb 062009
Feb 042009

Finally, the slump is over. Or is it?

Alex Burrows, right after he scored the shorthanded game-winning goal on a breakaway, celebrated by trying to break his stick on his knee presumably to symbolize the team finally breaking out of their 8-game losing slump. Burrows tried twice; the stick didn’t break. I hope that’s not a bad omen.

At any rate, the Canucks were good last night, but they were also lucky.

First the good.

On my Twitter feed the other day, I commented that I didn’t like the idea of splitting up Burrows and Ryan Kesler, who has been the team’s most consistent forwards all season. Boy, did they prove me wrong.

Burrows’ line with Kyle Wellwood and Steve Bernier were a constant threat and combined for 6 of the Canucks’ 24 shots. Kesler, Pavol Demitra and Mats Sundin combined for 5 shots and 7 points (2G-5A). And of course, Kesler and Burrows played together on the penalty-kill and manufactured the game-winning goal.

Sundin also had a strong game. He logged 16:30 minutes of ice-time, recorded a goal, an assist and a +2 rating, and won 15 of 19 faceoffs (79%). In fact, he took a key faceoff in the Canucks zone with less than a minute left and trying to protect the lead. More importantly though, it looks like he’s finally moving his legs.

Now the lucky.

While the effort was definitely better, it still wasn’t complete. After building a 2-0 first period lead, they allowed Carolina to get back into the game. In 25 seconds. They also had some help from a shaky Cam Ward. (To be fair, Lui allowed a couple of iffy goals too.)

The trick of course is to sustain this level of play. That’s 2 fairly good, back-to-back efforts now and they gained 3 out of 4 points to boot. Who knows? Maybe they finally did exercise those GM Place demons for good.

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