The Vancouver Canucks won only 43 per cent of their faceoffs in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday, and apparently there is a reason why.
“I would say, what would be logical for us to try and get to is 50 per cent against such a good team,” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters following the team’s practice at Rogers Arena.
“Some of that is sometimes jumping and maybe making more scrums and winning those one-on-ones instead of trying to beat some of those guys clean, the way they cheat and they are allowed to cheat. It makes it more challenging.”
Sharks center and captain Joe Thornton, who won 50 per cent of the 20 faceoffs he took in a 3-1 San Jose win, had a rather succinct response when asked what he thought of someone saying his team cheats in the circle.
“I don’t think we’re cheating,” he said.
Reporter: “If someone says that to you…?”
Thornton: “I don’t listen.”
The Canucks, trailing 1-0 in the series and in a desperate bid to generate some scoring, shuffled the lines at Thursday’s practice.
Ryan Kesler was moved to the wing, and skated on a line with Derek Roy and Chris Higgins, as Vigneault may be trying to load up that second line.
GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now
Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.
Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline on Tuesday.
“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.
Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?
Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”
Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.
Portzline goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.
Next four games: Three out of four at home Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.
As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.
For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.
He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.
Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).
That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out
This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:
With Ovechkin out, Caps lines look like this: