Yes, the depths of this October Canuck funk, now an annual ritual, have clearly extended beyond the rabid simplicity of a goalie controversy. Indeed, even Cory Schneider can’t score first.
And while Schneider is easily the better goalie at this point in the season, the team in front of him can’t find the determination and sometimes puck luck to score at all, let alone stake the team to an early lead.
Make no mistake, this is essentially the same team that scored the most goals league wide last season. And they’ve certainly shown that they can easily muster scoring chances this campaign. If and when they feel like it. And therein lies the problem.
Along with that you have a defensive corps that seems miles removed from the one that last season supported a Jennings Trophy for the now weary goaltending tandem. Who knew that one dimensional Christian Ehrhoff was the lynch pin to that performance? Of course, most everyone knew that Kevin Bieksa might come back to earth after inking another big deal. And that Keith Ballard, while clearly skating better, can only get so far from the doghouse of Alain Vigneault.
It’s not a surprise that this team is suffering from a Stanley Cup hangover, particularly knowing the long road ahead of them before they can start playing again for real. And really, the memories of long time Canuck fans will forever remember the dynastic Oilers teams of the 80’s sleepwalking through many of their games, turning the ignition in the nick of time. And while this team clearly isn’t that one, there’s likely no cause for panic yet.
This team can and will score. More consistently when David Booth and Ryan Kelser get in sync and when the twins stop saving themselves for power plays. This team will defend better when Alain Vigneault and company can find some pairings they are comfortable with. Remember, save the purse swinging Ehrhoff, this is the same crew from last season. And, of course, whether or not Roberto Luongo can get his groove back, Cory Schneider seemingly still has his.
Which brings us to next game which will give Roberto Luongo another opportunity in what has easily become the “game of the year” (so far). Of course, which Roberto Luongo we get remains to be seen, but his track record against the high flying somehow suddenly defensively composed Capitals is strong. At any rate, it presents the most significant test so far this season of the always volatile mental temperament of the supposed franchise goalie.