Originally written on NorthWest Sports Beat  |  Last updated 1/18/12

DENVER - OCTOBER 03: Sami Salo #6 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on against the Colorado Avalanche during NHL action at the Pepsi Center on October 3, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Canucks 3-0. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Can’t get it together

The Vancouver Canucks have just three games left this month and they look like they need it. The team has looked flat since the emotional win in Boston.

Sami Salo‘s injury isn’t helping matters but the forwards up front aren’t exactly lighting it up either.

Ryan Kesler has been in a prolonged scoring slump five-on-five while the Sedins haven’t grabbed you from your seat in a couple of weeks now.

The Canucks have three days off before an afternoon game with San Jose on Saturday and hopefully an opportunity to finally get some solid practice days in erases the bad habits that have been creeping into their game.

Of course, the Canucks were a shootout away from winning this game, and the bad stretch after the Boston game has a record of 2-2-1.

Love’ Em

1. Booth

One game after returning to the line-up, David Booth converted a chance on a line with Jannik Hansen and Cody Hodgson to tie the game in the third and preserve a point.

Booth helped send the game into a shootout

It also allowed for overtime which provided the most exciting hockey of the game including a frantic final 45 seconds of end-to-end rushes.

What the Canucks have exactly in David Booth is still a bit of an unknown but the former 30 goal scorer has found his chemistry with the team at the least. Mikkael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm meanwhile have three goals combined.

2. Luongo

Much like the game against the Ducks on Sunday, Roberto Luongo was the best Canuck. The first period alone saw Luongo make half a dozen highlight reel saves as the Canucks gave up a ton of odd man rushes.

His best was a pad stop off Kyle Clifford.

Roberto Luongo has started in 18 games since the start of December. In just six of those games, he’s given up three or more goals. Of those six, the Canucks still won four. Yet no one’s really talking about Luongo right now.

Watching the game last night was reminiscent of Luongo’s first season in Vancouver when he dragged that team into the playoffs and carried them past Dallas in the first round.

3. Gentleman’s Duel

Keith Ballard and Colin Fraser dropped the gloves an entertaining old-school tilt. The two doffed their helmets before raising their fists like a Victorian boxer and then finally coming together in a frenzy of blows.

By the time it was over, both player’s elbow pads were scattered on the ice and Ballard’s head was somewhere behind the crest of his jersey.

It wasn’t exactly worth $4.5 mill but it did add some spark to a game that was threatening to slip away from the Canucks.

Hate’ Em

1. No calls

Justin Williams put the Kings up 2-1 on the powerplay thanks to Drew Doughty setting a beautiful pick on Alex Burrows. It was so nice, the LA Lakers called him after the game.

Who didn’t call Doughty on the pick?

The refs.

Here's to hoping Bieksa doesn't turn out to be Salo!

2. Black and Blue Bieksa

Kevin Bieksa went down as the horn sounded to end the first after taking a flying stick to the chops. It came less than a month after a hit by David Jones of the Colorado Avalanche knocked out his tooth.

He hasn’t quite reached Sami Salo levels yet, but his ability to pick up injuries in twos (teeth, tendons) is starting to become worrisome.

Fortunately Bieksa was fine which was a huge relief. This team can’t afford to lose Bieksa or any other defenceman right now because…

3. Defence

With Sami Salo out, albeit not for long from the sounds of things, the Canucks blueline has been exposed.

Your current choices to pair with Alex Edler are Aaron Rome and Keith Ballard. Though AV may think that Rome is a top four defenceman and Ballard may be paid like one, neither are.

The Canucks haven’t missed Christian Ehrhoff this year (Edler, Bieksa, and Hamhuis all have more points on the year) they also effectively replaced him with Alex Sulzer.

When the blueline is healthy this isn’t a problem. When it’s not, like it is now, things become very loose and very unpredictable in the defensive zone.

If not Sami Salo, there will be a time in the playoffs when Edler, Bieksa, or Hamhuis can’t go and the Canucks will be forced to turn to Rome or Ballard.

If one of those three can’t go AND Salo is injured? Yikes.

If Mike Gillis a good GM, and I suspect he is, he’s figured this out long before I wrote this paragraph.

Here’s hoping he can find a solution.

CLICK HERE TO CHECK OUT THE VANCOUVER CANUCKS CLUBHOUSE TODAY ON NWSB!

© Richard Hodges for North West Sports Beat, 2012. | Permalink | No comment |

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Post tags: Alex Burrows, David Booth, Keith Ballard, Kevin Bieksa, los angeles kings, Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Sami Salo, SNET, Sportsnet, Trade Deadline, Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Canucks Blog, Vancouver Canucks Hockey Blog, Vancouver Hockey Blog

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