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Friday, December 3, 2010
This time, Canucks coach didn't back off

By Jesse Rogers

Was Alain Vigneault being a hypocrite, trying to prove a point, or playing it straight when he put out some of his top players for a late power play in the Vancouver Canucks’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Friday?

The Canucks coach had been critical of the Hawks, accusing them of running up the score, when they beat his team, 7-1, in Vancouver last month, although he said afterward it was within their right.

“They do things their way and we do things ours,” he said.

Vigneault thought Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville played his top power-play unit during a Hawks’ 5-on-3 last month. He hadn’t.

As for the way the Canucks do things, Vigneault had said that in a blowout win against Calgary, he sent out his fourth-liners during a late man-advantage, instead of his regular power-play participants.

But on Friday, some of the Canucks’ stars were on the ice in a similar situation.

Here is the scenario:

With the Canucks leading 3-0, Jack Skille was called for a high-sticking penalty with 3:16 left in the game. Henrik and Daniel Sedin were on the ice when the penalty was called. They had already had skated a 0:26 shift but stayed on for the power play. Joining them were the top two scoring defensemen for Vancouver, Christian Ehrhoff and Alexander Elder, along with Ryan Kesler, who is second on the team with 10 goals.

They played with the man-advantage for nearly a minute, then a second offensive-minded unit took the ice. It wasn’t until the penalty expired that Vigneault sent some fourth-liners on the ice -- Tanner Glass and Jannik Hansen for example -- to finish the game.

Is 3-0 with 3:16 left in the game enough of a lead to call off the dogs, especially when the leading team is about to begin a two-minute power play? It seems it would be, which means Vigneault was either rubbing it in, or simply a hypocrite.