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This just in: Roberto Luongo isn’t Vancouver’s only problem

Oct 27, 2011, 1:14 AM EDT

Brian Elliott AP

When something stinks, it’s comforting for people to turn to a single scapegoat to create the illusion that greatness is a tweak away. Some teams try to live that lie by arbitrarily firing assistant coaches; other fan bases throw a struggling goalie under the bus.

Roberto Luongo has been that easy target during a sleepy start to the Vancouver Canucks’ season, but the St. Louis Blues made it clear that he isn’t the team’s only problem by beating Vancouver 3-0 on Wednesday night.

Quietly streaking Blues backup Brian Elliott earned his first shutout since Dec. 1, 2010 while boy wonder Cory Schneider allowed three goals in defeat. (Maybe Luongo destroyed morale by picking his nose on the bench at one point, but that hasn’t been confirmed.)

The game seemed to follow a discouraging trend of slow starts by the 2011 Western Conference finalists, as they only sent 15 shots at Elliott threw the first two periods before erupting with 17 in the final frame. It’s hard not to look at the lack of penalties as another sign of a flat evening, too; the game included just one two-minute minor through the first 40 minutes before there were four in third period.

Beyond sleepwalking through the beginning of games and Luongo’s panic-inducing struggles, the Canucks have some other issues.

  • They’ve already been shutout three times this season.
  • Ryan Kesler might be back, but he isn’t quite Ryan Kesler yet. The two-way center has just two points in five games after returning from off-season surgery.
  • The Sedin twins simply aren’t getting enough support. The team’s top scorers are (in order): Daniel – 12 points, Henrik – 11, Sami Salo – 7, Alex Edler – 6 with Alexandre Burrows and Chris Higgins are tied at 5. Their star doppelgangers are doing fine, but they can’t do it alone.
  • After taking a “hometown discount,” Kevin Bieksa has one assist and a -9 rating in 10 games.
  • I know that he absorbs a lot of tough matchups, but great defensive center Manny Malhotra‘s -6 rating makes me wonder if Kesler isn’t the only Canucks center who’s far from 100 percent.

So yeah, it’s probably more fun to blurt out “Luongo!” when explaining the Canucks’ troubles, but the more disturbing fact for Vancouver fans is that there are plenty of other issues at hand.

On the bright side, the 4-5-1 Canucks play in the mediocre Northwest Division, so there’s plenty of time for them to get their acts together – whether it’s with Luongo or Schneider in net.

  1. bcjim - Oct 27, 2011 at 7:18 AM

    No kidding. The drunken, riot-prone fans also a huge problem.

    • comeonnowguys - Oct 27, 2011 at 9:15 AM

      That’s interesting. Usually their stars wait until the playoffs to disappear.

  2. macintoshw - Oct 27, 2011 at 9:38 AM

    Heard enough about Luongo already

    • dipthatchip - Oct 27, 2011 at 11:03 AM

      didn’t you read about how he picked his nose? That’s powerful stuff man

  3. danphipps01 - Oct 27, 2011 at 4:43 PM

    Gillis made a truly horrendous move trading Ehrhoff and keeping Bieksa. Bieksa had one hot season. Ehrhoff’s been consistently improving for the past five years and provides excellent two-way play. Buffalo’s loving the guy, and Bieksa? Well, you saw the numbers. He’s a lot like Subban – no temper control, and he wants to be a forward instead of playing defense. He was absolutely the wrong choice.

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