Mar 3, 2014, 11:35 AM EDT
No longer just a great song you hear at Joe Louis Arena, “Don’t Stop Believing” has apparently become the mantra of the Vancouver Canucks.
To wit, here’s coach John Tortorella after Sunday’s 4-2 loss to Ottawa in the Heritage Classic: “The only thing you can do from (general manager) Mike Gillis right on down to our team, we need to keep believing as an organization and take each and every day.”
And here’s winger Alex Burrows, still without a goal this season: “We’ve got to rely on our system, and keep believing that we’re doing a lot of good things. You’ve got to keep believing that your structure and your system is strong.”
It’s funny, because that’s the exact same message I heard from countless members of Team Canada in Sochi. When the goals weren’t going in, they said the only thing they could fall back on was the system, and they had to believe that it would eventually pay off.
You know how that ended. Mike Babcock’s puck-possession system was ultimately celebrated, along with the gold medal.
But — and this is the thing when it comes to the Canucks — what if the system is, you know, completely and utterly wrong?
We only ask, because, not long ago, Vancouver was one of most dynamic offensive teams in the NHL. Today, with largely the same core players, its offense ranks 27th, averaging a paltry 2.33 goals per game.
And back when the Canucks were piling up the points in the standings, Burrows and the Sedin twins formed one of the best, most entertaining lines in hockey. Today, that line is a shadow of itself, no disrespect to the shadow.
I asked Burrows if Tortorella’s system made it harder to do the things his line used to do so well.
“It’s a little different, that’s for sure,” Burrows said. “But we’ve got to make more plays.”
I asked him how the system was different.
“Well, I’m not going to comment, go down into it,” he said. “But we have to be better.”
I didn’t expect to hear a detailed breakdown of the system, or for Burrows to bash his coach’s game plan. Besides, the players do “have to be better,” regardless of the system.
But let’s face it, Tortorella was fired as coach of the Rangers for a reason. Actually, it was a few reasons, but the “style of play” he dictated was a big one, according to the guy who fired him.
“If you look at these playoff games (like the Stanley Cup Finals matchup) you’re gonna see tonight, the style that they play, I mean there’s not a hell of a lot of dump-ins,” Glen Sather said in June. “I mean, (if) you have to dump the puck in, you have to dump it. But there’s a lot of puck control and hanging onto the puck and moving the puck out, and there’s not stopping behind the net to gain control. There’s a lot of things that are done differently than what we were doing. So you have to look at the style of play. That had a lot to do with (the decision to fire Tortorella), too.”
And when the Canucks’ last coach, Alain Vigneault, was hired by the Rangers, it wasn’t a commitment to shot-blocking and collapsing in front of the goalie that Sather was trumpeting.
Tortorella said before the Heritage Classic that he was hoping the quasi-outdoor experience might help jump-start his “big guys” (translation: Sedins and Burrows) offensively.
“I think some of our guys need to offensively allow themselves to play some shinny hockey,” he said. “Just let them play. Maybe this will help us. I don’t know.”
Of course, he also said his “biggest concern” was “staying with our structure.” Which doesn’t exactly translate to, “Just let them play.”
But hey, don’t stop believing.
Mar 29, 2015, 1:40 AM EDT
Vancouver leads L.A. by three points in the Pacific Division.
Mar 29, 2015, 1:05 AM EDT
Vancouver creates breathing room in the Pacific Division.
Mar 28, 2015, 11:20 PM EDT
The Wild defeated the L.A. Kings 4-1.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT
Max Pacioretty scored the winner.
Mar 28, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT
Toronto won for just the sixth time in 34 games.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
Collided with Cody Goloubef in the first period.
Mar 28, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT
He allowed two goals on nine first period shots.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:55 PM EDT
Finished off a nice passing play by Jagr and Huberdeau.
Mar 28, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT
Ottawa’s starter tested early.
Mar 28, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT
The Pens defenseman will remain in hospital overnight.
Mar 28, 2015, 6:30 PM EDT
He appeared in eight games with Columbus this season.
Mar 28, 2015, 6:00 PM EDT
It’ll cost him $3,897.85.
Mar 28, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT
Detroit moves five points up on Boston in the Atlantic with the win.
Mar 28, 2015, 4:38 PM EDT
Anaheim currently has the NHL’s best record as well.
Mar 28, 2015, 3:48 PM EDT
Big win for the B’s.
Mar 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
The West’s first ticket gets punched.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:59 PM EDT
There’s plenty of debate about it being dirty or clean.
Mar 28, 2015, 2:49 PM EDT
The only update so far is he’s “unlikely to return.”
Mar 28, 2015, 2:18 PM EDT
A positive trend on Saturday.
Mar 28, 2015, 1:46 PM EDT
Pittsburgh killed the penalty.
- Video: Bolts lose Garrison, Paquette in loss to Wings 3
- Bruins ruin Lundqvist’s return 26
- Video: Letang hospitalized after Doan hit (Update) 42
- Bruins chalk Rask’s absence up to dehydration (Update) 4
- Happy returns: Datsyuk plays for Detroit 2
- Gearing up: Malkin, Hornqvist return for Pens 0
- Five big games to watch this weekend 8
- Video: Kessel, Booth get into altercation at Leafs practice 34
- Playoff watch — what the bubble teams need to do 29
- After Howard fails to ‘bounce back,’ Mrazek to receive ‘opportunity’ 36
- Dreger: ‘In Kessel’s case, I firmly believe he’s going to be traded’ (73)
- Coyotes ‘win’ against Sabres in OT (58)
- Red Wings beat Blues in OT, but should winning goal count? (56)
- Tank-worthy? Connor McDavid finishes OHL season with 120 points in 47 games (56)
- Report: No fine or suspension for Tyler Toffoli’s hit on Alex Burrows (51)