In an attempt to show the Canucks their play of late has been unacceptable, Vigneault did a massive overhaul for last night’s game against Phoenix. Mason Raymond tripped and stumbled his way onto the first line, Burrows was demoted to the third, and Bieksa was shuffled around with Edler. The resulting 5-4 loss was everything a line change of this magnitude could accomplish.
Lines are put together for a reason – when they are broken up, the offense usually comes from a fire being lit under the players’ asses more so than newfound chemistry. That being said, NHL players are all highly skilled individuals but can still get into funks. Line-change are a good way to mix up the scenery and help kickstart the scoring. The danger with tearing lines apart is not a potential drop off in offense but a lack of practice and communication on defense. Last night exemplified this as the Canucks’ usually solid defensive zone management was out of tune and downright sloppy.
Bieksa looked positively confused without Hamhuis there to bail him out, playing one of his worst games in recent memory. Aside from Phoenixs’ fifth goal which was an unfortunate bounce, the goals against the Canucks were caused by players getting caught out of position and not understanding where each other were on the ice.
The only good thing to come of it was the chemistry between the 3rd line (Burrows, Pahlsson and Hansen) which makes sense because it immediately becomes the best checking line in the NHL with Burrows’ presence – not to mention receiving a much needed offensive flair.
The line change experiment worked wonders to energize the Canucks’ offense and for the first time in a few weeks, it looked like they genuinely cared about the outcome of the game. But the tactic does come with a cost and should be used sparingly.