John Tortorella has got at least one thing right. Obviously it’s not the power play. It’s his emphasis on striving to win every game, every point, even if it means Mike Santorelli gets more ice time than Sidney Crosby and the Sedins get more than your average woolly mammoth. The Canucks have played a quarter of their season and it’s gone better than expected. They’ve clobbered the east (7-3-1) and had their most successful road trip in team history (5-1-1). They have just about every player — save David Booth, Jason Garrison and Alex Burrows — close to meeting expectations, or surpassing them. Yet, they are fifth in the Pacific Division, and ninth in the west, in winning percentage (at .600). This making the playoffs thing is going to be complicated. How would you answer this brain teaser: What’s more likely this season, the Canucks win the division or miss the playoffs? The NHL has managed to do the impossible with its realignment. It’s made the regular season matter again in Vancouver. This, after five straight division titles, four of them without breaking a sweat, since GM Mike Gillis arrived. Now the Canucks are facing a different type of pressure. Every game counts. It makes the missteps more critical, like the power play experiments that have miraculously made that group more futile. There’s not much room for counterintuitive moves that flop, like taking Alex Edler off of the first power play unit. The power play, third last in the league Tuesday, has impressed in only one way, its ability to underperform. But Tortorella has been right about the ice time. Three of the NHL’s top five forwards in per-game ice time continue to be Canucks (Ryan Kesler and the Sedins). It speaks to the urgency of the coaching staff this year, and there are lots of reasons to feel urgent already — not the least of which is the quality of the Pacific Division, against which the Canucks are 3-4-1. There has been concern in the media, and within the Canucks management too, the ice time top forwards are playing is not sustainable. David Booth is probably not going to alleviate the problem. But, hey, let’s see how he plays first after being recalled Tuesday from serving his three-game sentence in Utica, where he had one assist. The team could use Jannik Hansen, a puck-possession barbarian, back in the lineup. But there’s always going to be injuries. What the Canucks do need this year is the addition of an impact forward, whether it be a sniper, or, much more likely, a centre. And, if they are really going to go for it, it’s probably best management that follows Tortorella’s lead and take a sooner-than-later, let’s-get-this-done approach. Pick the right guy and make it happen. This has been a quietly good calendar year for Gillis. First and foremost, he got the right coach. Can you imagine this team with Dallas Eakins trying to lead it? The Edler and Sedin extensions are quality, value deals for the club and completed without distraction, long before landing in the muck that is the July free-agent market. The Chris Higgins extension was a decent one and at a fair price.
It’s time for the Canucks to make a trade
Vancouver Province | Nov 13