The Canucks have been slow starters of late, and it’s starting to wear on head coach Alain Vigneault.

 




“We haven’t come back once in the third period,” lamented the reigning Jack Adams Award winner following Vancouver’s 3-2 loss in Columbus on Tuesday, and the frustration that went with that statement was obvious. The Canucks are a miserable 0-15-1 in games in which they trail heading into the 3rd period, a year after they managed to win five times in the same situations.

 




Though the stats tell us that most teams aren’t able to overcome late game deficits, the bigger issue for the Canucks is getting off on the wrong foot. Vancouver has won 21 of 26 games when scoring first, but has registered just 4 wins in their other 20 games.

 




The Canucks’ “defence first” approach combined with their underwhelming offensive personnel means the first goal is much more critical to this club than most others in the NHL.





•Alex Edler’s outstanding play is starting to be noticed outside of Vancouver. Edler has been selected to play in the Young Stars game on All-Star Weekend, meaning he’ll join fellow Swede Henrik Sedin who’s off to play with the big boys in Atlanta later this month.





•It appears as though the most dominant offensive line in the CFL will remain intact for the upcoming season. Soon-to-be free agent Kelly Bates was pleasantly surprised with Wally Buono’s initial offer, and now the two will simply haggle over the final numbers.





Locking up Bates means all five hoggies are back from the unit that boasted the league’s best running game and allowed the second fewest sacks in the CFL in 2007. That consistency up front is a big part of the reason the Leos were able to rack up a franchise record 14 wins during the regular season last year.





The next order of business is getting quarterback Jarious Jackson to put pen to paper, which should become a reality sooner rather than later based on what both sides are saying.





•Want to weigh in? E-mail at scott.rintoul@metronews.ca




scott.rintoul@metronews.ca





Mix equal parts college athlete, sports fan and broadcaster. Shake vigorously. Serve chilled Monday-Friday on the TEAM 1040 from 6-9 a.m. or online at thetoulbox.blogspot.com