First of all, big congratulations go out to Artem Chubarov; who, after going sixty-six games without a goal, has two in the last week. He’s been a dynamo in the face-off circle, and has worked incredibly hard defensively to ensure team leads. He’s done a great job on the kill, and has contributed in even-strength situations, too. He’s starting to repay my confidence in him this season. I, along with many other Canuck fans, know that he is well on his way to becoming a stalwart defensive forward for years to come.
All things considered, the Canucks had a pretty good week. Wins against Pittsburgh and Washington were both good, but what I’m here to talk about is the loss to St. Louis. Crawford has to teach his men that there are three periods in a game, not one, not two, but three. You’ve got to give a good, sixty-minute effort every night. As cliche’d as that sounds, it’s as true today as it was when this game was first started. On another note, I think that against Carolina, Peter Skudra is due for a start. Dan Cloutier has played his heart out for this team, and it’s high-time that he get a rest. As I mentioned in my last article, if anyone doubted that Cloutier was the MVP of this team, any doubt has been removed of late.
Another guy I’ve been mildly impressed with thus far has been Bryan Helmer. Despite his poor skating and often bone-headed plays in his own end, I’ve taken a shine to him. He’s been decent defensively, okay offensively, and hasn’t been afraid to throw a check here and there. His skating will forever make him a fringe player, and at his age, he’s unlikely to get much better, but he’s been a good hole-plugger for the Canucks.
Down on the farm, Harold Druken is getting a point-per-game, but I doubt he’s any closer to returning to work with the Canucks, given the play of Artem Chubarov, and Trevor Letowski, who have both played some excellent hockey in the last little while. Both Letowski and Chubarov are good backcheckers, Druken isn’t. They’re both responsible defensively, Harold isn’t. Could a deal be coming? Maybe, but who knows? Logic suggests that whenever a GM says he’s going to make a deal, he doesn’t make one, and vice versa.
Jason Strudwick could be moved. What exactly is he worth? Well, teams aren’t exactly falling all over themselves trying to get big defenders with no puck skills, but Strudwick could be a valuable asset to a team looking for depth on their defense. Granted, he’s a seventh defenseman on the Canucks, but for a playoff-bound team, he’d provide toughness, and leadership beyond his years, despite his lack of overall skill. That said, he’s not worth much more than a fringe player or a mid-round pick.
Bryan Allen seems to be slowly shaping his game up down in Manitoba, and is becoming a leader of a young (save Brian Chapman) Moose defense. As I say in most of my columns, I hope that he continues to improve this season, and hopefully, he will earn a late-season call-up from the Canucks, especially if Strudwick or Lachance is traded.