How do you solve a problem like Edler?

It’s going to be a big offseason for Mike Gillis, who will likely be moving either Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider some time before September in what could be the biggest deal since he arrived in Vancouver. But, as important as that deal is likely to be, the goaltending situation is hardly the most pressing issue on his plate. Regardless of which backstop the team keeps, the Canucks will be just fine in goal next season.

Priority number one for the Canucks this summer has to be solving the curious case of Alex Edler. Either the Canucks need to go out and get him someone to play with, or they need to move him as part of a package for someone that can anchor a top pairing in a way that Edler can’t.

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If the Canucks look unmotivated, that’s probably by design

(Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows celebrate as gently as possible.)

Vancouver hockey fans rarely reach a consensus on anything, but I think we all agree that the Canucks looked unmotivated and disinterested on Monday night in Minnesota.

It was the Canucks’ 7th loss in 10 games, leading the cynics — who see everything as a conspiracy (including the rhetoric of any suspected non-cynics) — to freak. Some called for Alain Vigneault’s head once again, claiming the team had tuned him out, that his time here was done, and that the team should fire their coach 10 games from the postseason.

Level-headed thinking is not the strong suit of this pocket of Canuck nation.

But these folks have a point: if we’re assuming that Alain Vigneault is trying to wring the best and most hard-working performances out of his team — a reasonable assumption — he’s failing miserably these days. After the loss to the Wild, Canucks Army observed that, while the Canucks had 33 shots on goal, they only had 9 scoring chances. Against one of the NHL’s thinnest defense corps, it’s difficult to be that offensively inept. It’s as though the Canucks were actively trying to remain on the perimeter.

But maybe they were.

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We may never know what’s behind the great Sedin scoring famine of 2012

There has been much consternation about the twin scoring slumps of twin scoring champs Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but it’s worth noting that offensive droughts are an inevitability in professional hockey. Sometimes they just happen. Heck, Aaron Rome once went through a spell during his time in Vancouver in which he only tallied 1 goal in 105 games. Now that’s a slump. He finally got back to his usual scoring self this November with 3 goals in 4 games, but then his luck turned once again and he immediately fell into another prolonged drought. The poor guy only has 1 goal in his last 34 games!

But hey man, that’s just slumping.

Granted, unlike Aaron Rome, the Sedins have been fairly slump-resistant in recent memory (perhaps they carry slump repellant in their utility belts?). Their current drought, while a far cry from the potato famine some are making it out to be, is still the worst in a decade, or, as Henrik Sedin brilliantly put it Saturday night, “Way back then I was a crappy player.”

You can understand why there’s a little unrest about the great Sedin scoring famine of 2012. For the past two seasons, the Sedins have been so automatic that, if they were pointless late in a tied game, you could be confident in the Canucks’ ability to finish on top because their inevitable goal was still forthcoming. Not so over this recent stretch.

So what’s been the issue?

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Don’t forget about Steven Reinprecht

One of the most amusing moments of this week’s two-game set between the Abbotsford Heat and the Canucks’ affiliate Chicago Wolves came Wednesday night, during the announcement of Jordan Schroeder’s 3-0 goal. As soon as Schroeder’s name came over the loud speakers, the crowd popped like he was a wrestler preening at the turnbuckle. It was a cheer that far exceeded the one Wolves’ forward Steven Reinprecht received on any the four goals he scored during the visit.

It’s not surprising. Safe to say nobody — except, perhaps, any family he has in the area — came to the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre to see Reinprecht. But he was impossible to miss this week.

Again, Reinprecht scored four goals during the visit: two in the first period Tuesday, and another two in the second period Wednesday, doubling his goal total on the season. (When told he might have established himself as a scorer, Reinprecht joked, “That doesn’t bode very well for what I had going.”) While the Canucks’ brass made the short jaunt East to see what their future looked like, Reinprecht seemed determined to remind them that he was a viable option right now.

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Tuesday night, just after the Edmonton Oilers scored three goals in the opening half of the second period, Alain Vigneault abandoned the defense pairings with which he had begun the game in favour of two familiar duos.

Kevin Bieksa, who had started the game alongside Keith Ballard, was returned to last season’s standout pairing with Dan Hamhuis. Alex Edler, who had begun the game with Dan Hamhuis, was reunited with Sami Salo, the blueliner with whom Edler played in the Canucks’ top pairing two seasons ago.

Immediately, the Canuck defense improved. It was a noticeable enough difference to make one wonder why the Canucks hadn’t stuck with these pairings before. The past two seasons have provided ample evidence that each worked, and yet, for whatever reason, the Canucks were averse to sticking with them. Early in the Canucks’ contest with the Blues, even, Edler saw a few shifts with Kevin Bieksa. What are the Canucks up to?

Blame Alex Edler.

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After a September in which he played seven of eight preseason games and sparked a heated debate about whether or not Alain Vigneault was intentionally trying to torpedo his NHL dreams, one could argue that Cody Hodgson’s got some serious buzz in this town. Heck, he changed his jersey number Monday morning and it was big news. Safe to say Cody’s rookie year is going to be a major focus in Vancouver.

But, elsewhere in the NHL, interest in his first full season has fallen off precipitously. Last year, Hodgson was a Rookie of the Year favourite before he failed to make the Canucks. This year, when he finally did, the oddsmakers at Bodog.com didn’t even include him as a betting option in the category. Here are the lines Bodog released today for the Calder trophy race.
But, elsewhere in the NHL, interest in his first full season has fallen off precipitously. Last year, Hodgson was a Rookie of the Year favourite before he failed to make the Canucks. This year, when he finally did, the oddsmakers at Bodog.com didn’t even include him as a betting option in the category. In other words, Bodog doesn’t feel Hodgson will factor into the Calder discussion. Are they right?

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Considering that the last 18-year-old to make the Canucks was Petr Nedved in 1990, it’s probably safe to say that 29th overall pick Nicklas Jensen is a longshot to win a spot on the roster come opening night. But if you’ve seen Jensen play, and, moreover, if you’ve been keeping up with Alain Vigneault’s praise for the kid, it might not be as far-fetched as you think.

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Last night, in his first game as a member of the Buffalo Sabres, Christian Ehrhoff impressed, registering a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. It was a strong debut for the former Canuck, who was named the game’s first star for his efforts. Now, it would be foolish to read too much into one early preseason game (unless you’re Tony Gallagher), but now seems as good a time as any to examine just what, exactly, Vancouver lost when Christian Ehrhoff signed in Buffalo.

The lazy question is this: will the Canucks mis Ehrhoff’s scoring? The answer is two-fold: on one hand, of course they will, because Christian Ehrhoff puts up a lot of points; on the other hand, probably not, because the Canucks didn’t let Ehrhoff go due to insufficient point production.

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Considering that Sami Salo was paired with Kevin Connauton yesterday, it probably isn’t wise to read too much into the duos the Canucks are icing during the early stages of training camp. Still, it’s difficult not to notice that Keith Ballard and Chris Tanev have already been matched up.

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Considering the way that Mike Gillis is throwing around invites these days, you’d think he had just discovered Facebook events. Not long after word got out that the Canucks had invited former Bruin Steve Begin to training camp, word got out that Vancouver had reached out to former NHLer Manny Legace as well. What does Legace’s invite mean for the Canucks goaltending situation?

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Third Man In is a feature that reminds the world that PITB actually has three writers and occasionally, that third writer comes flying into the fray with his gloves off, looking for a piece of the action. Usually on Friday. This week, Qris examines why Keith Ballard can’t get out of AV’s doghouse and admits he knows nothing about Marco Sturm.

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