Sometimes a team plays well and still loses. This was NOT the case for the Vancouver Canucks last night in Minnesota. The Wild dominated the defending Presidents’ Trophy winners, outshooting them 45-25 and outscoring them 5-1.
What did Canucks’ coach think of his team’s effort?
“We lost 5-1 and our best player by far was our goaltender (Cory Schneider),” said Alain Vigneault. “That about sums it up right there. Our execution was non-existent and [the Wild] were the much better team tonight.”
The players didn’t disagree with their coach’s assessment. In fact, they took it even further.
“This has got to be one of the worst performances I have been part of in this jersey,” said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. “We’re not happy right now.”
Alex Burrows concurred: “It is probably the worst game we have played since I have been here.”
There were plenty of Canucks who had bad nights, but perhaps the biggest concern was the play of Bieksa, who’s struggled badly all season.
Here’s Guillaume Latendresse walking around Bieksa on the Wild’s first goal:
Bieksa signed a five-year, $23-million contract in June. The previous summer, the speculation was he’d be traded for salary-cap reasons. However, injuries to a number of Vancouver defensemen and some, uh, “savvy” cap management by the Canucks allowed them to keep the hard-nosed blue-liner that had become a favorite whipping boy of the fans.
Bieksa subsequently formed a successful shutdown partnership with newly acquired Dan Hamhuis, finishing plus-32 while playing the toughest minutes of any defensive pairing. Thus, the big contract.
So far this season, Bieksa is minus-7. Not all his fault, but some is. And if he doesn’t turn his game around, it won’t be long until the whips come out again.
“Kevin is a character individual who knows that we need him and obviously he can play better and quite a few other guys can play better,” said Vigneault.