Three Wins and Four Losses, the Canucks suddenly find themselves near the bottom of the standings, seven game into the season. An absolutely terrible game in Calgary, and a difficult win against the worst team in the league, the Minnesota Wild, the team with most of their key-players injured, other than the Canucks.
Some suggests now is the time to press the Panic Button, some suggests sending Luongo to Manitoba, some suggests the firing of Mike Gillis and Alain Vigneault.
This blogger thinks that might be over-reacting a bit.
It all started out great, with the Canucks loss-less in the regulation during the Pre-Season, playing half of their squad. But when it really mattered, the Canucks dropped three straight to start their season. It’s arguable that this is due to the lack of incentives for the other teams, or the strong plays of try-out-players trying to impress the team. However, I think, like last season, or the many many seasons before that, it’s a psychological thing.
When playing half their squad, and during Preseason, the core players are relaxed and know that if they win, great, but if they don’t, they know that it’s because half of the team wasn’t playing. With the talent on this team, they can flat-out win games easily.
But then came the first game against the Flames. The Canucks, full of confidence, were victim of luck, and Kiprusoff, they were beaten, 5-3, despite outshooting Calgary 42-23. Then came the second game, against an Avs team which everyone thought would be bottom-feeder this year, and against an unknown goaltender of Craig Anderson, the Canucks again outshot Colorado, 35-27. In fact, Anderson earned the first star and the Shut Out, turning aside all 35 shots.
Then came the third game, against the Blue Jackets and last year’s Rookie-of-the-Year Steve Mason, the Canucks again outshot Columbus 43-24, only to come out short.
By then, three games down, Shirokov’s sent back to the minors, and the team’s confidence is completely shattered. Although, the team will eventually win the next two, hammering the Habs 7-1, the team is hesitant about slowly picking up the momentum to win.
Thanks to the league’s scheduling, the Canucks then had a five days break, and instead of being prepared and rejuvenated, the team were rusty and disorganized against a hard-hitting Flames team. A 5-3 loss on paper is acutally misleading, as the team were down 5-0 by the end of the second period. Vancouver were terrible in every aspect of the game, with one, maybe two consolation prize.
First, the Canucks had two Powerplay Goals, and is now considered having the best powerplay in the league, and Second, his first-ever NHL point during his debut for the player I thought will never see any NHL icetime this year, Micheal Grabner.
Next, the game against the Wild, commentators suggest that the Canucks have to post a complete blow-out against Minnesota for them to go away feeling better after the loss in Calgary. Instead, the Canucks fell to a fluky goal in the first, and barely able to keep the Wild from even-ing things up during the dying seconds of the third.
So, I guess maybe it IS time to press the Panic Button, afterall.
The Canucks will play the Oilers tomorrow night in Edmonton, still without an entire NHL-level line of Sedin-Demitra-Hansen-Salo-Schneider.
However, there is a silver-lining to all this. The ice-time for Grabner seems to being paying off, as he played a decent game on the top line, and an even better game with Raymond and Kesler. Raymond is quickly improving during the absence of Daniel, and his speed and improved body-weight is looking to pay off in terms of production soon. Kesler also seems to be comfortable playing with Raymond and Grabner, and this speedy line may be just what the Canucks need in today’s NHL.
Luongo, always a slow starter, is improving. Ehrhoff has two goals and four assists so far, and is looking like everything that is expected of him. Samuelsson is also starting to put up numbers, and play-time with Burrows and Henrik will definitely be beneficial to him.
Honestly, not a lot of positive signs going forward, especially with Daniel still out at least 3 more weeks. But perhaps the next game against the Oilers will shed more light on the subject.