When something stinks, it’s comforting for people to turn to a single scapegoat to create the illusion that greatness is a tweak away. Some teams try to live that lie by arbitrarily firing assistant coaches; other fan bases throw a struggling goalie under the bus.
Roberto Luongo has been that easy target during a sleepy start to the Vancouver Canucks’ season, but the St. Louis Blues made it clear that he isn’t the team’s only problem by beating Vancouver 3-0 on Wednesday night.
Quietly streaking Blues backup Brian Elliott earned his first shutout since Dec. 1, 2010 while boy wonder Cory Schneider allowed three goals in defeat. (Maybe Luongo destroyed morale by picking his nose on the bench at one point, but that hasn’t been confirmed.)
The game seemed to follow a discouraging trend of slow starts by the 2011 Western Conference finalists, as they only sent 15 shots at Elliott threw the first two periods before erupting with 17 in the final frame. It’s hard not to look at the lack of penalties as another sign of a flat evening, too; the game included just one two-minute minor through the first 40 minutes before there were four in third period.
Beyond sleepwalking through the beginning of games and Luongo’s panic-inducing struggles, the Canucks have some other issues.
- They’ve already been shutout three times this season.
- Ryan Kesler might be back, but he isn’t quite Ryan Kesler yet. The two-way center has just two points in five games after returning from off-season surgery.
- The Sedin twins simply aren’t getting enough support. The team’s top scorers are (in order): Daniel – 12 points, Henrik – 11, Sami Salo – 7, Alex Edler – 6 with Alexandre Burrows and Chris Higgins are tied at 5. Their star doppelgangers are doing fine, but they can’t do it alone.
- After taking a “hometown discount,” Kevin Bieksa has one assist and a -9 rating in 10 games.
- I know that he absorbs a lot of tough matchups, but great defensive center Manny Malhotra’s -6 rating makes me wonder if Kesler isn’t the only Canucks center who’s far from 100 percent.
So yeah, it’s probably more fun to blurt out “Luongo!” when explaining the Canucks’ troubles, but the more disturbing fact for Vancouver fans is that there are plenty of other issues at hand.
On the bright side, the 4-5-1 Canucks play in the mediocre Northwest Division, so there’s plenty of time for them to get their acts together – whether it’s with Luongo or Schneider in net.
After the Boston Bruins squandered a 3-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings and ultimately lost 6-5 via a shootout, plenty of fans and commenters had enough. Many called for Claude Julien’s head.
They might not be alone.
During the latest edition of TSN’s Insider Trading on Thursday, Bob McKenzie didn’t say that Julien was definitely going to be fired, but he said there’s a “credible threat” to the long-standing Bruins bench boss’ job security.
The phrase “impending doom” came up, too.
So … yeah, it sure sounds like Julien is on thin ice.
McKenzie indicates that Julien should be behind the bench on Friday and could improve his situation if he reels off some wins. That’s where things get extra interesting.
The Bruins play three of their next four games and seven of their next nine contests at home. Most of those games are against playoff-caliber teams, however, so it wouldn’t necessarily be “easy.” Still, the opportunities are there for the Bruins to solidify their spot in the East playoff picture.
Still, it sure sounds like the margin of error is pretty small for Julien, just as it might be for Boston in this playoff race.
Want more coaching hot seat talk from McKenzie? He also discussed Paul Maurice’s situation with the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday:
New York Islanders fans probably needed a moment like this, even ones who are more than happy that Jack Capuano was let go.
It’s no surprise that John Tavares provided such a moment.
Watch in the video above as he makes an obscene move against Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg, and then finishes with some really nifty timing. Wow.
Tavares now has 17 goals this season, reinforcing the thought that the team’s struggles aren’t on him.
Now catch up on all of the drama surrounding the team:
Bob McKenzie updates on the fuzzy future for the Isles
Liam McHugh grills Garth Snow on a variety of burning questions
It’s been a tough season for both Anthony Duclair and the Arizona Coyotes. Even so, it’s still startling to see that he was demoted to the AHL on Thursday.
GM John Chayka explained the team’s logic for the demotion:
“Anthony is a good young player,” said Chayka. “Unfortunately, he has struggled this season. We felt this was a good time to send him to Tucson to work on a few things and hopefully regain his scoring touch. We hope to have him rejoin our team soon.”
Duclair’s been the subject of more than a few trade rumors, but this is probably the low point of a rough 2016-17 season for the 21-year-old.
It’s worth taking a second to consider the very different luck Duclair’s experienced in his breakout season last year vs. this one.
His shooting percentage was 19 in 2015-16, helping him score 20 goals on just 105 shots. By comparison, he’s only converted on 5.2 percent of his shots this year, nabbing three on 58.
In other words, Duclair’s work is probably somewhere between those extremes … but he’s also at that age where a player can make big leaps forward. So, it’s understandable that the Coyotes want to try to repair their prospect’s confidence, and it’s also reasonable that other teams might believe that they can get more out of him.
A trip to the AHL really might be good for his confidence but … still, wow.
Roman Josi told Swiss Hockey News.ch that he suffered a concussion from that Anton Blidh hit you can see in the video above, according to a translation passed along by the Tennessean.
So, that’s the bad news for the Nashville Predators. The good is that he also told that outlet that he might be able to return for the Preds sometime next week.
Josi, 26, has dealt with concussion issues before, making this report a concern for the long-term. Still, the possibility of a return so soon is definitely a positive.
Here’s what the next week and change looks like for Nashville:
Tonight: at Flames
Friday: at Oilers
Sunday: at Wild
Tuesday, Jan. 24: vs. Sabres
Thursday: vs. Blue Jackets
The Predators aren’t out of the West picture altogether, but they need to make the most of their opportunities. Much like the Bolts with Victor Hedman, Nashville’s hanging in there OK without one of their key guys, but every point counts. Getting Josi back would be huge.