Second Place Is Not Enough?

Can Roberto Luongo go back to mid-season form in 13 games?

With the recent struggles of the Vancouver Canucks, the whole city is abuzz with a mild form of ‘controlled’ panic. Many fans and media alike are asking the same question, “What is the matter with the Vancouver Canucks?” Why are they not playing like the team we have been used to seeing dominate over the past season and half? What happened to the Sedins? Luongo is no longer focusing like he was from November to February! What is up with the team’s defense?

I’m not saying it’s not frustrating seeing games the Canucks should be winning but not. At the same time, as Tom Benjamin said in his blog here on Canucks Corner, there is nothing any of us in the stands, at home watching on TV or those listening on the radio can do about it. We can’t go to the players and give motivational speeches, that’s not our job. Our job is simple to cheer, grin and bare it and hope.

Some then question, why aren’t our stars playing like stars? Personally I find that our stars get over-analyzed by other blogs, media-types and every fan expert on every message board there is out there. Let’s hope the boys don’t read most of the criticisms going on out in cyber space that they have those little drops of doubt in their head that weren’t there before.  Seriously, how many times can we talk about how the Sedins aren’t point-per game players at the moment? We’re so spoiled sometimes, seeing back to back Art Ross wins by twin brothers and so we expect it every year.

I am a little concerned about the number of odd man rushes that the Canucks have been giving up. I count entirely too many the last five games and that is a trend that causes a small quiet (and muffled) alarm go off inside me. The worst part about it is, a lot of those opportunities either become good scoring chances and even goals on both Schneider and Luongo. The defensive game has become very loosey goosey the last little while and I would like to see that come to an abrupt end.

As far as scoring goes? Except for Ryan Kesler, maybe everyone needs to take more shooting lessons. Perhaps some of us fans should go out there and ‘show them how its done’! Can you imagine the lessons the guys could get from us? I am cringing at the thought. Let the players be the ones to ‘correct’ themselves. We have nothing to offer them in terms of how to play the game. All we can do is cheer.

We live in a city that is in anticipation for the playoffs, and we had concerns last year that the Canucks didn’t have anymore gas at the end. This year, we’re complaining that they might get stuck in this rut before the playoffs and we’re even subconsciously predicting a first round exit with the present play of our team. We’ve been spoiled from last year until we hit game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canucks could not lose and when they didn’t look like they were going to make it, they found ways to win.  I think we have grown to expect that for this season.

Hammer and Higgins hugging it out.

What we should have expected is the perhaps the Canucks are feeling a little like a few of their fans. Playoffs on their mind and the season couldn’t end fast enough. I know that’s how I feel. It’s obvious with my lack of blogs, my lack of interest to going to all the games this season, that I am in anticipation for April.  Yes, they may lose a few more games, but I don’t see them losing all of them. The team isn’t going to win any top individual awards this year, they most like aren’t going to win the President’s Trophy. Heck from where we are standing right now, the Canucks aren’t even in line for first place in the Western Conference. They are still in 2nd place, for now and I don’t see them getting bumped out of it by anyone in the near future.

However, as we all felt from last year in game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, second place isn’t enough.
Justine Galo

Twitter: @Aviewfromabroad

Time For Some Streaking

The Vancouver Canucks are sitting on the outside looking in when it comes to the top eight in the Western Conference. Sure, it’s not crunch time yet, but the Canucks have to start making up some ground and moving up the standings. Regardless of what happens against Nashville on Tuesday, the Canucks can return home from this eastern swing no worse than .500, but with an eight game home stand coming up, now is the time to get on a streak.

The Canucks are going to be a busy team, playing eight games in the next fourteen days and a quick look at the standings show that now would be a good time get on a bit of a roll. With the NHL’s mediocrity point playing a factor early this season, a lot of teams are jockeying for playoff positioning, and are staying in the race. In fact the Canucks have not a single “loser” point this season to date which may explain why they are hovering around the eight spot. Making this home stand even more important, is the looming fourteen game road trip that starts at the end of January and ends on March 10th.

Roberto Luongo: Photo: Canucks.com

Roberto Luongo: Photo: Canucks.com

Roberto Luongo seems to be finding his groove, with big wins over New Jersey and a 38 save shutout of the struggling Flyers. Daniel Sedin should be feeling more and more comfortable, while the likes of Alexander Edler, Jannik Hansen, Alex Burrows and Kyle Wellwood have been better of late. At 10-4 on home ice this year it would seem the cards are falling into place.

Long home stands can be hard to deal with as well, so there will be challenges to remain focused. With the Christmas season upon us, the players will be with their families and have other expectations of them as well. This compressed part of the schedule will likely cut down on quality practice time as well, and that 0 for12 power play of late could use a little of that.

When you look at the standings, they aren’t in bad shape. Division leading Colorado has cooled off and are eight points ahead of the Canucks with one more win and the Canucks having two games in hand. But the Canucks have yet to really get on a roll this season, be it due to injuries or their weird and sporadic schedule.

Hopefully a solid win to end this road trip in Nashville, will set the team on the way to have some success at home and get on their first real winning streak of the season.