Vancan Outta The Blue

Kes N’ Booth: A Month Later


**Author’s note: This post is ANOTHER in Josh Hall’s bid to Replace the KB as part of The Province Newspaper’s Hockey Blogger Competition. When sharing on twitter or facebook, please use the hashtags #ReplaceTheKB and #ProvNeedsVancan. Thank you for supporting Josh in his quest! For more info on the details of the contest and other bloggers, click HERE!**

By Josh Hall

It was a month ago Friday (October 18th) that Ryan Kesler made his long awaited return to the Vancouver Canucks. Kesler was injured in the WCF and played through it during the Stanley Cup Finals. It turned out he needed off- season hip surgery. The question from fans and the team’s management was clear; Are you completely healed?

Kesler’s response was equally transparent as he was quoted as saying, “My hip is 100%…I expect big things from myself.”

Exactly one week later, David Booth with his silky flowing hair made his debut in blue and green as the Canucks faced off against the Oilers. AV quickly let everyone know Cody Hodgson would be demoted to the 3rd line while Booth, a proven goal scorer in this league, would form an All-American 2nd line with Chris Higgins and Ryan Kesler. Fans dubbed it the American Express line. I can’t lie; as a fan, that line on paper looked pretty darn dangerous. Alas, it produced just about nothing and lasted not long at all.

Well since Kesler’s return, he is a -2 with 7 points (2G, 5A) in 14 games. That hardly screams to me ‘100%’ and it’s sure as hell a far cry from the .89 points per game he had last season.

David Booth, the proven goal scorer that he is has the exact same point totals in 11 games, but is a -6.

I have to be honest with you; I am fairly disappointed with Kesler. While I can appreciate his fervour, his passion and his eagerness to get back out there and help the team, he basically lied to all of our faces. He has not been 100% since returning and no one could convince me otherwise. Don’t get me wrong here; the whole team has played like crap for the vast part of the season so far. The Sedins, Higgins, Hodgson, Edler and Salo have been the most consistent players to date.

On the same note, I can appreciate David Booth having to become accustomed to a new team, a new system and a really freakin’ new environment. Despite that, I am still disappointed in him. He just hasn’t shown me yet that he’s tried to fit in on the 2nd line and trust me; he’s been given every chance. Eleven games and you’re -6? Come on, you’re playing with the Selke trophy winner. He may not be 100% but surely, you could make something of it. What David Booth needs to do is to focus. Obviously he hasn’t experienced the entire melting pot that is the Vancouver hockey market, but I expect him to soon be accustomed enough to be able to focus more on his on-ice product.

Then there’s the issue of AV’s line juggling. When he does it, we all cringe. More often than not, that cringing is followed up by either withdrawing our previous comments and calling him a super genius or more cringing while calling him an idiot. He did it again Wednesday night when he moved Cody Hodgson to the 4thline. This is all connected to Kesler and Booth because before Booth arrived here, the 2nd line was Silent G, Kes and Higgy.  In the two games those three players had to work together, they had all but two goals but hey, two games isn’t that long. Before that, Hodgson had 1G & 1A with a -1 rating in 5 games but had been the most consistent and hardworking Canuck up until that point. He was kind of the ’40 saves in a 5-1 Loss to Minnesota Cory Schneider’ of the first five games. He proved why he deserved to be here longer than nine games.

AV’s problem is that he hasn’t given guys like Kesler, Booth, Hodgson and even Higgins consistent line-mates. How Hodgson hasn’t up and quit this team already is beyond me because of the way Vigneault cuts him down so much, and that goes way beyond just this season. Here’s a story I wrote a month ago on Booth displacing CoHo.

Going forward if the Canucks want to see real results from the 2nd line, the coaches need to figure out who they want on that 2nd line and leave them there. No juggling mid-game and I don’t care if we’re losing 4-1. Line-mates will form chemistry when clicking on all cylinders, but when they aren’t, that just means the chemistry hasn’t been developed…YET. Coach Vee needs to have more patience. Whether guys like Booth or Hodgson get put on the 2nd or 3rd line, in the end they need to stay there because familiarity will breed chemistry.

Hopefully when Kesler returns from this most recent injury; a sore shoulder, the scenario between himself and his comrades will be clearer…than mud.


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