Still a ways to go -- the need for depth and elite players
Not to over-react to the past couple of games but we still have a ways to go with this team. That's why I haven't been getting too Stanley Cup feverish. We could win if we got on a surreal run, but otherwise we know that realistically Gillis is just in year one of a rebuild.
We desperately need depth in this franchise. Our third line is really a makeshift line of guys you wouldn't normally put on a checking line. But they were determined enough to make it work and there was chemistry between Wellwood-Pyatt-Bernier. The Underachievers were united and they produced. With Pyatt gone, the team has really gotten scrambled, and that delicate balance that was winning games for us has left for the time being.
The one thing that Mats Sundin has proven is that with an elite player -- any elite player -- the team is vastly improved. This was the failing of the Nonis years: to find elite talent for the club. It's fair to say that Mats has under-achieved this year and hasn't come close to contributing individually what we hoped he would. But it hasn't mattered that much because what he HAS brought is balance to the team. Having elite players throughout your lineup instead of just on the top line makes for matchup hell for opposing teams. Even as an underachiever, Mats is contributing, just because of the attention an elite player like him commands.
I hope the team pulls it back together and develops a new chemistry. Reports on the radio today said that there's no way of knowing when Pyatt will be back. Ray Ferraro wasn't even sure if Pyatt would be back for the playoffs. This absence really exposes the weaknesses of the club, and it's expecting a lot of them when their roster is so thin to regain that chemistry.
But it's Pyatt (Mr. Gangly) who is absent, not a Sedin, or Kesler, Burrows etc. Raymond has been flying lately, and I like what the third line is doing. At least they're working hard. Sundin is a floater, although, I love the way he protects the puck along the boards, and he makes some amazing passes out front on occasion, but still - he isn't producing nearly enough. Luongo has let in 15 goals in his last three games, against the Ducks, Oilers and Avs - not exactly power-houses. The defense has been sloppy and making way too many mistakes. The positives?...we've clinched a playoff spot and we're healthy. Hope they can get it together, becaause the big race to the Cup begins next week and they can't afford to lose 3 in a row at any time.
But it's Pyatt (Mr. Gangly) who is absent, not a Sedin, or Kesler, Burrows etc.
It's not so much what he does, as it is about how the chemistry of the club has been affected. When a team is on a roll, sometimes all it takes is a tweak to throw it off. Because of our lack of depth, we've had to make much larger adjustments to the team than you would want to as you're getting ready for the playoffs. Remember, it took a hell of a lot in January to find a formula of lines that could get us winning again. That's been thrown out of whack.
I agree that a lot of the problems are in our end, but that isn't necessarily all on the Dmen. The chemistry between the forwards and the Dmen is also messed up right now and that's been our weakness whenever we've been losing this year.
Pyatt is definitely missed. Although he's not our favroite player he's part of this team and we've seen this team fall apart the past couple games because of him not being there.
He needs to come back for the playoffs. We need those lines to stay intact. Team is out of sync without him. I don't know, he just needs to be here. We had something good when we found which 4 lines would work, and now it's done. Back to shuffling from AV while Pyatt is gone.
We still need depth. This year isn't the last year for this group. With the right depth, we'll go far. This is a transition year. If we find a way to win it all this year it will be early IMO. Gillis still needs time to build a championship team.
Doesn't mean I don't have confidence in this team, but they could definitely use some help when their big players go down with injuries. Or when their big lines get shut down by the other team.
I'm hoping the guys we have give everything they have to finish off this series. That's all we can ask. No matter what, the team can always be greater than the sum of its parts. Our star players need to be star players tonight and in Game 7.
As Burrows goes, so does the Canucks. He's an inspiring player, others follow suit when he steps up. Kesler and Wellwood are similar. Luongo will have to be on fire tonight, the defense needs to clear the front of the net to give Luongo a chance to make saves, guys like Butt-Uglien can't stand there untouched. I'd like to see more physical play, without taking stupid penalties. Bieksa, Mitchell, and O'Brien need to be physical, but disciplined. I'm hoping Burrows wakes up and plays like he can. Fast and gritty, get all over the Hawks and don't give them a chance to move the puck up ice. And of course SHOTS, we need to pepper shots at Khabibulin from everywhere.