Head coach Alain Vigneault tipped his hand on a few key adjustments at practice designed to improve the Canucks chances for a victory in game 3. Scoring two goals in 8 periods of hockey will tend to lend itself to that.
Alex Burrows is back with the Sedins on the first line. Presumably the idea here is for Burrows to jump start the twins. I think it’s a great idea. Despite the fact that Burrows was playing well with Ryan Kesler, they weren’t filling the net at an overly high rate 5-on-5. The Canucks will need the Sedins to get rolling at some point, and Burrows is the guy to do it.
The need for Burrows to get back on the top line is accented by the struggles of Mikael Samuelsson. Samuelsson couldn’t get anything going with the twins and I think they need the gritty Burrows to dig out a few extra pucks for the Sedins.
Samuelsson for his part is now on the fourth line, with Tanner Glass and Cody Hodgson. Hodgson’s insertion into the lineup means that Victor Oreskovich will come out of the lineup. This is a line that should be able to play a regular shift for Alain Vigneault, and I bet they’ll get more ice time than Torres-Glass-Oreskovich in game 1 and 2.
The second line will now feature Chris Higgins and Mason Raymond on the wing with Ryan Kesler in the middle. If there’s a time to try it, it’s right now. All three players are playing outstanding right now, and all three have a lot of speed.
Raffi Torres will return to the third line for the first time in a few games, playing with Max Lapierre and Jannik Hansen. I really like this idea. Raffi Torres has been playing very well of late, and is the best Canuck forward at punishing the opposition’s defense.
Sami Salo is practicing again, but probably won’t be ready for game 3. Will Andrew Alberts return to the lineup? Your guess is as good as mine. Keith Ballard was a minus 1 for the first time in the playoffs and Vigneault loves any chance to sit him, so maybe he’s found an excuse to.
Alain Vigneault has finally decided to return Alex Edler to the first unit power play, sending Mikael Samuelsson to the second unit. My only question concerning this is: what took so long? The Canucks are in clear need of another big shot on their power play. Apart from improved point shots, Edler on the point will also open up a lot for the Sedins down low.
I like a lot of these adjustments the Canucks seem to be planning but none of it will matter if they don’t come to play in game 3. Their effort in game 2 simply wasn’t good enough and that will need to change. They will also need to work at going to the net more and getting in Pekka Rinne’s way. Rinne looks all world right now, but all goalies can be beat if they can’t see the puck.
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