CAUGHT IN THE NETS
THE REAL ISSUE IN VANCOUVER
In Vancouver, the focus has been on the apparent rift between Todd Bertuzzi and Markus Naslund, not to mention the dramatic drop-off in production of what used to be the game's most potent forward units (Naslund, Bertuzzi and Brendan Morrison). Yet Button said the loss of Sami Salo and Ed Jovanovski has perhaps been the biggest reason the Canucks are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1999-2000.
Jovanovski is physical and makes plays that make a difference, the scout said. The Canucks might still draw penalties, but without Jovanovski's skating and puck movement and Salo's cannon from the point, teams can defend the Canucks' power play more easily and Vancouver is struggling to put pucks in the net. "Now, all of a sudden, your work on the five-on-five isn't being rewarded [with power-play goals]," Button said.
Salo suffered a shoulder injury at the Olympics and remains out of action, and Jovanovski returned to the lineup Saturday for the first time since late January after undergoing surgery to repair an abdominal injury. In a must-win situation, Jovanovski scored the overtime winner over Calgary to push Vancouver, at least temporarily, back into a tie with San Jose for the eighth and final playoff spot. Coincidence? We think not. -- S.B.