Hockey Night in Canada: Canucks Look to Improve

Mack ReidCorrespondent INovember 5, 2007

It's definitely no secret to the avid hockey fan that the Vancouver Canucks have been struggling early in the young 2007-2008 season. The Canucks team who was built on a solid defensive foundation during the offseason had managed to drop to a 5-8 record heading into Denver, Colorado. What sports fans couldn't predict, was the injury bug that has certainly plagued Vancouver only 12 games in, losing 2 of their top 4 defenseman in young gun defenseman Kevin Bieksa, and the seemingly injury prone Sami Salo, both players being taken off the ice in the same game last Thursday against Nashville infront of their home-town capacity crowd.

Vancouver needed all the help they could get on the blueline as they came into Colorado to face the Avalanche, who haven't had a problem getting the 'W' this season with 3 more than the Canucks.

Anchoring the blueline in what was a mousekateer cast, were veterans Mattias Ohlund and BC's own Willie Mitchell. Among Vancouver's call-ups were 20 year old Luc Bourdon, who has only played 9 NHL games before being sent to his junior team early last year before he had to be signed to a pro contract, and 21 year old Alexander Edler, who has also only played a handful of games in the show, but has a more solid role with the team than the younger Bourdon.

Vancouver picked up the scoring early in the 1st period off the stick of Daniel Sedin, who was set up nicely by Markus Naslund and twin brother, Henrik. Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, also the Jack Adams winner from last season, has had a tough task matching up the perfect line mate with the Sedin's this season, showing promise with a couple of players, but then going into droughts soon thereafter, the player to stand out the most with them thus far has been by the Captain Markus Naslund.

The second period didn't get off to the start the Canucks wanted, giving up a shorthanded goal to Colorado Defenseman Jeff Finger who completely undressed Daniel Sedin and roofed it on Roberto Luongo for his 1st of the season. Four minutes later Vancouver was given another Powerplay, but they didn't make the same mistake as last when Pitt Meadows, BC native Brendan Morrison buried a wrist shot set up by the Sedin Twins at 15:54 into the 2nd. 

With Vancouver leading 2-1 going into the third, they needed all the help they could get from their young defense, and although it was a high scoring affair in the 3rd allowing 2 goals from each team, noteably Daniel Sedin with his 2nd of the night, Marek Svatos with 2 of his own, and Canucks Ryan Kesler who has had a beauty start to the 2007-2008 campaign, In the end Roberto Luongo and Vancouver's Defense shut down the high-flying Avalanche in what turned out to be an entertaining division rival match-up.

Player Notes:

Roberto Luongo: After being runner up in Vezina voting to future hall of famer Marty Brodeur, has had a shaky start to the season..showed why he is a top goaltender in the NHL making 30 saves on 33 shots and keeping the 1 goal lead.

Daniel Sedin: 3 point night for the Twin from Ornskoldsvik, Sweden...Him and his Brother, Henrik have been a couple of the Canucks most consistent players.

Ryan Kesler: The defensive minded 2 way center has shown that he has an offensive upside to his game aswell, and that he could bounce back from an injury that made him miss almost 30 games last season, although his goal was nothing more than a banger, Kesler has shown good strengths with the puck, and hopefully will continue to play his game.

Next Game: Vancouver Canucks have a nice little break where they will head into the Pengrowth Saddledown in Calgary to play the Flames, With their defensive woes, the Canucks Coach Alain Vigneault has said the team will be playing a more run and gun style of play, instead of basing their game which has been based around defense early in the season, which hasn't been working.