The Montreal Canadiens have just ended one of the best road trips in their long and exalted history. That’s great for the Habs; not so good for the Vancouver Canucks.
The two teams played three straight games; and, although the Canucks won the first game on Wednesday night in a shootout, the Canadiens took the final two games in what were – basically – blowouts or at least no-doubters.
Welcome to the Montreal Canadiens Corey Perry
On Saturday night, newcomer to the Canadiens but hardly to the NHL Corey Perry scored a goal in his first game with Montreal. The Canadiens beat the Canucks 5-2. It was, in short, a great season-opening road trip for Montreal.
Sadly for the Canucks, they were on the losing end of two in a row. Quite simply, the team played poorly; and, especially the great young Elias Pettersson, didn’t look like he was on his game. And no one’s picking up the slack.
Breaking Down the Canucks’ Issues
After the game, David Amber, Elliotte Friedman, and Brian Burke broke down the Canucks tough loss to the Canadiens on Saturday night. The message Burke and Friedman put out was that it’s too early in Vancouver to panic about how the team is playing. All three hockey analysts obviously recognized the team wasn’t playing up to their expectations; however, the seeds of improvement are visible.
The main message from both Burke and Friedman is that they believe general manager Jim Benning and the team should simply “keep their cool.” It isn’t time to panic – not quite yet.
Burke Believes Elias Pettersson’s Game Is Improving
Burke spoke specifically about some of the struggles that young Elias Pettersson has been having. However, Burke noted that he’d seen some progress from the young Swede. Burke was also clear that the Canucks “need Elias Pettersson to be good.” The team is “too thin in terms of talent or too top heavy.” So, the bottom line is that, as Burke says, “they need this guy (Pettersson).”
Still, Burke didn’t sugar coat it: it’s obvious that “so far he’s (Pettersson) been awful.” However, Burke also acknowledged, “I see incremental improvement in his game.” Burke was speaking about Pettersson’s first goal of the season, which lifted a “big piano off his back.”
During the game, Burke reported that Pettersson also made some good plays moving to open ice and was making accurate passes. As a result, Burke’s bottom line was that “I see a dramatic improvement in this game over the first few and I think he’s back on track now.”
Friedman Hope’s the Canucks Don’t Panic and Make a Rash Move
During the game review, Amber asked Friedman what he thought about the “pulse” of the team 11 days into the season. Friedman made an insightful comment that the game tonight was one where fans in the stands might have made a huge difference for Vancouver.
Friedman specifically wondered whether, when the game was tied 2-2, if the fans – because “they’re going bananas” – might have carried the Canucks over the top. Instead, without fan support, the Canadians just settled right down.
Friedman went on to say that he believed “This is a crucial time for Vancouver in a business sense.” He believed that “Jim Benning and the organization need to keep their cool.” Vancouver, Friedman noted “is the kind of place where your fans can force you into a panic move.” However, the organization cannot do that.
Exciting Games for the Canucks, But Losses
As tough as the losses were for the Canucks, all three games with the Canadiens were entertaining games. Friedman noted that February 1st is the next time these two teams will meet in Montreal.
That next meeting is just over a week away, and it will be interesting to see where the Canucks are in the standings by that time.
However, to answer the question about if it’s time to panic in Vancouver, both Friedman and Burke believe it isn’t. We’ll see, and a week might tell the tale.
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