The ability of the Canucks to control the neutral zone has resulted in frustration and ineptitude for recent opponents. In most cases, the result is also a plethora of zeros.
In their latest effort, the Canucks limited Phoenix to 22 shots, and Cory Schneider extended his shutout minutes to 136:28 to record his second straight whitewash in a 5-0 victory over the Coyotes before 14,569 in Jobing.com Arena.
The Canucks’ trap between the blue lines was so suffocating that Phoenix managed just 4 first-period shots and six through the first two periods. In the meantime, Sami Salo, Ryan Kesler and David Booth all scored within 2:12 of the second period to put this one away.
According to Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, “Schneider made the saves he had to make and overall, we played a complete game.”
If the Coyotes are to compete with stronger teams, they need to accelerate the ability to cut down on turnovers and beat opponents to loose pucks.
Neither was accomplished against the Canucks, who now take on San Jose Nov. 26 in back-to-back games against Pacific Division opponents.
“Our execution was so far below normal it wasn’t even a game,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett. “We killed a 5-on-3 penalty situation, but after that, just scrap it.”
Prior to the game, Vancouver assistant coach Rick Bowness pointed to the effectiveness of their trapping game. The Canucks execution was clearly evident, and their penchant for limiting Phoenix to gain control between the blue lines was apparent.
“We didn’t force them out of their trap and out of the neutral zone,” said Phoenix captain Shane Doan. “We didn’t play to our capability and know we have to get better.”
The five-goal defeat was the first for Phoenix by that many since they dropped an 8-3 decision to Tampa Bay last Feb. 3. Now, they have a short turnaround and take on Dallas Nov. 26 at home.
The Stars are without Brandon Morrow, out with an upper-body injury.
The Dallas game ends a Phoenix three-game homestand, and sends the Coyotes on the road for stops at Chicago, Winnipeg, back to Chicago, Nashville and Detroit. Their only home game in this stretch is a Dec. 3 date with the Philadelphia Flyers.
BACK ON THE ICE
Having passed his physicals, signed his two-year contract for a reported $2.8 million and had a brief reunion with his teammates, center Kyle Turris pronounced himself fit for NHL rigors.
Having spent considerable time in the weight room and various dimensions of training, Turris appears to have gained strength, greater durability and increased vigor.
“I feel pretty good right now,” Turris said prior to the Coyotes home game with Vancouver Nov. 25. “I did all my tests Thursday and the day before yesterday. I feel really good. I’ve been skating everyday, I’ve been in the gym every morning and I feel like I’m in really good shape.”
Immediately, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said Turris needs to get into hockey shape. That means skating with the AHL Portland Pirates.
Turris is expected to hone his skills in the minors for a projected two weeks and possibly make his season debut against Minnesota at home Dec. 10.
“I always want to be on the ice playing,” Turris added. “The hour-and-a-half, getting on the ice myself was definitely a relaxer for me and getting comfortable, but like I said, I’m comfortable getting back on the ice here and I’m looking forward to today and starting soon.”
Negotiations between Turris and the Coyotes were strained, and Turris at one point indicated he wanted out of Phoenix. General manager Dan Maloney characterized talks as “business,” and said he wanted Turris to have a smooth and comfortable transition from the negotiating table to the ice.
Turris said the deal was “business” as well, and wanted to put the talks behind him.
“It’s just the business side of things,” Turris added. “I don’t think I really said anything. But like you said, it’s business, (and I’m) just getting back on the ice and getting comfortable again.”
EDITOR’S NOTE—Quotes in this story were obtained by the author before and after the Vancouver at Phoenix game, Nov. 25, 2011.