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STRUGGLE: D-man can only fill in so many gaps left by forwards
Gordon McIntyre, The Province
Published: Sunday, December 24, 2006


Like when the Iraq invasion was planned, some hopeful assumptions were made by the brass about these 2006-07 Canucks.

Just as U.S. forces were going to be greeted by dancing Iraqis throwing flowers at their feet, certain Canucks were going to step up and replace the scoring that had moved on from last year.

Kevin Bieksa, with his eighth goal on Friday in a 3-2 loss to the Blue Jackets, has filled in fine.

But for forwards, it takes six bottom feeders to combine for more goals than Bieksa has, a fact coach Alain Vigneault pointed out in disgust.

"It's not normal that you have one of your D that has more goals than half your [forwards]," Vigneault said. "There's no reason why when you have time and you have an open net that you can't put it in the net."

Marc Chouinard fired over an open net in the first period. Then Henrik Sedin fed his brother a nifty no-look pass at the side of the net early in the third with Jackets backup Fredrik Norrena out of position and nothing but net facing the left winger.

But Daniel hesitated and was stopped by the paddle of Norrena's stick as he frantically dove across the crease.

"You can do two things, either shoot a one-timer but I took my time and he was falling," Daniel said. "And I got it up, too. It's one of those things."

As displeased as Vigneault was with the pop guns, he was more upset with the dumb penalties.

The Canucks took five first-period minors.

The Jackets scored at 6:36, 10 seconds after Brendan Morrison stepped out of the penalty box for a hooking minor. Then Anson Carter scored on the power play at 11:51, with Morrison in the box for, uh, hooking.

The Canucks took two too-many-men penalties in the first; the worst was Matt Cooke jumping on before his man was off and bumping Fredrik Modin.

They took another, 16:13 into the third.

"I've never seen three times in a game you get called for too many men on the ice," Vigneault said. "It's never happened to me before.

"It's not a hard thing. Your player comes to the bench, you go on for him. He stays on the ice, you don't."

Aaron Johnson beat a screened Roberto Luongo and Anson Carter converted a power-play rebound to put Columbus up 2-0 after one. Bieksa scored on a power-play blast from the point to make it 2-1 at 2:47 of the second.

It was the first shot a cold Norrena faced after replacing Pascal Leclaire, who hurt his hamstring and left the game. Rick Nash scored five-hole on Luongo at 14:39 of the third.

"I should have made that stop," Luongo said.

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