The Vancouver Canucks have earned just a single victory in their last eight games and that’s caused them to fall five points shy of a playoff spot.
If you had to point to one general thing that’s gone wrong with them lately, it would be their anemic offense as they’ve been held to only one goal on five separate occasions during their recent slump. Still, Canucks coach John Tortorella thinks that goaltender Roberto Luongo isn’t blameless in all of this.
“I’m not letting Lui off the hook, he needs to help us,” Tortorella told the Vancouver Province. “I love our goalie. I love our goalies. I think they’ve played really well.
“We also need a save when there is a breakdown. You look at (Los Angeles Kings goaltender Ben) Scrivens (Monday). We had a chance to go up 3-1. We had four glorious scoring chances, he makes four saves.
“We need something like that to happen for us. I’m not putting all the onus on Lui, but he’s part of the problem here as far as closing out games. It goes right through our team and it goes to the coaching staff, too.”
Luongo has had rough starts to be sure, but he’s been far from bad lately. He’s enjoyed a 2.17 GAA and .916 save percentage this month, but it’s only led to a 3-3-4 record.
He feels he’s been playing well too, although he certainly agrees with Tortorella that there’s room for improvement.
The Canucks will play against Ottawa tonight. If Luongo gets the nod, maybe he’ll be able to find another level and carry the Canucks. Of course, it certainly would help matters if Vancouver’s forwards showed signs of thawing out.
New York Rangers owner James Dolan believes that it’s important to be patient, as he has been with Rangers GM Glen Sather. He thinks that to do otherwise would run the risk of destabilizing things, but obviously teams can’t remain completely static. There has been turnover for various reasons, as was the case when the Rangers fired coach John Tortorella and replace him with Alain Vigneault over the summer.
The jury is still out as to whether the move will ultimately help the Rangers in their goal of winning the Stanley Cup – right now making the playoffs is a challenge – but regardless of what happens, he misses Tortorella.
“I’d visit Torts before a game and we would trade barbs for 10 minutes,” Dolan told the New York Post, “he’d tell me about his [lousy] cable TV service and I’d be sitting there saying, ‘You can’t clear the puck out of your zone, what the hell’s wrong with you?’ and he’d strike back and then play the game and I miss that.
“I’m developing a relationship with Alain [Vigneault] and he’s also a good guy, but Torts and I had a special relationship. It was fun for me. He banned me from the locker room for a while, all in fun. I miss that.”
Dolan noted that the Rangers are starting to adapt to the coaches new strategy and he remains upbeat about the team’s future.
As for Sather, he wants to keep him around until the 70-year-old general manager decides to retire.
The Dallas Stars won their third straight game last night, beating the Vancouver Canucks 2-1. Kari Lehtonen was fantastic, stopping 43 of 44 shots, but as far as the Canucks are concerned, he got a little help.
Henrik Sedin appeared to score what would have been a critical goal at 6:48 of the second period, but it was called off based on the belief that Daniel Sedin interfered with the play by making contact with Lehtonen.
You can watch Henrik’s overruled goal below:
As you just saw, Canucks coach John Tortorella was livid.
“It was a big play in the game,” Tortorella said after the game, according to the Calgary Sun. “I think we need to get the call right. … It was the wrong call.”
Henrik Sedin matched his bench boss’ conviction.
“It was a goal,” he said. “It was a goal. That’s the bottom line.”
Even Lehtonen admitted that he was surprised by the call. Of course, while it’s natural to wonder what might have been if a different decision had been made, it shouldn’t detract from the fact that Lehtonen had a good game and certainly did his part last night.
On top of that, Vancouver’s offense has been a recurring problem lately. They have recorded just one goal in each of their last four games and have consequently lost all of those matches.
Add Brandon Dubinsky to the list of New York Rangers players who seemed to have a falling out with John Tortorella toward the end of his reign as head coach of that team.
The 27-year-old told the Bergen Record on Thursday that he wasn’t particularly surprised when he heard that Torts was fired.
“Not really,” Dubinsky said. “I think my relationship with Torts fell apart the last year I was there and I just felt like his relationships with some of the other players could be doing the same thing so I guess that sums it up as to why I wasn’t completely surprised that it happened.”
One can rattle off a growing number of players who seemed to develop estranged relationships with Tortorella: former favorite Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik, now Dubinsky and possibly others.
Maybe burnout is almost inevitable with a hard-charging coach?
Regardless, Dubinsky said that facing his former team loses its luster since he’s been with Columbus for a while now. He admits that the trade hurt, as he was part of the young group helped the team grow into a contender, compared to the drive to trade for Rick Nash as the urge to grab a “new toy.”
” … I didn’t understand it quite that they would want to bring in as many new guys after a successful season and a successful playoff run. But sometimes that’s just how New York is, they like the flash and they want the dash and they want a new toy, I guess,” Dubinsky said. “And that’s no disrespect to the organization because they were so great to me. But, like I said, that was the hardest part. But when you get traded for a guy like Nash, he’s one of the elite players in the league, you can’t lose sight of that, he’s one of the best players in the NHL so I understand you have to give up some assets. I feel like they wouldn’t have just given me away for nothing.”
Dubinsky and plenty of former Rangers are mere minutes away from facing former teammates on Thursday.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin are both skilled forwards that have been performing at an elite level for the better part of a decade. They’ve also been referred to as soft, and that’s a label Canucks coach John Tortorella passionately disagrees with.
“I’m not sure who started it but I’m sure there are a couple of know-it-alls out there who always talk about it,” Tortorella said, according to the Vancouver Province. “But they don’t have a clue what these guys are about.”
He added, “It pisses me off, the reputation that’s still out there. It’s so undeserving and so disrespectful.”
Tortorella pointed to the twins’ puck protection skills and work along the boards as evidence of their toughness. He also feels that people look at their level of skill and just assume they don’t have a game beyond that.
The Sedin twins have become the cornerstones of the Canucks’ franchise and will remain in that role after agreeing to matching four-year, $28 million extensions today.
They are 33 years old, so the Canucks are gambling on the idea that they won’t regress significantly over that span, but if you’re going to make that kind of bet, these are the guys you want to do it with. They have stayed relatively healthy throughout their careers and haven’t slowed down significantly yet.
Not to mention that they have clearly earned Tortorella’s respect.