Luongo's injury exposes weaknesses

GUTS McTAVISH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 3:37 PM ET

To borrow a phrase from former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green: The Vancouver Canucks are who we thought they were.

Last October, both myself and chief puck scribe Bob Mackin predicted a 10th-place finish in the West for the Canucks.

Then the season began and a more determined Canuck squad emerged. The team was among the league leaders in goal scoring, they looked much faster and we were using much more optimistic words to describe it.

That optimism turned into a love-in once the Canucks became a top-five team. GM Place became the most difficult arena in the NHL for opposing teams to score goals in. Roberto Luongo was impenetrable, setting a personal record during a stingy three-straight-shutout streak.

Then came the tender issue of the groin sidelining Bobby Lu for seven weeks, forcing the team to adapt in front of two unreliable backups. Bad habits began to creep into the team's game despite comments by players that they will play the same game regardless of who is in goal.

Nonsense. We all witnessed the collapse of the defence as they grew nervous that any errant pass could end up in the back of the net. The below-par play of both Curtis Sanford and Cory Schneider were certainly a factor in the team's decline in play, but they are not alone. It's obvious now that having a world-class goalie the past few years has really masked a few of the weaknesses that apparently still exist on this team.

At halftime, great football coaches make the necessary adjustments to compete better in the second half. If head coach Alain Vigneault fails to rally his troops for a meaningful post-All-Star-break run, it won't be long before he joins the likes of Dennis Green on the unemployment line.


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