Can I get off this ride? Please???
Wow! What a crazy year. I have to be honest, I knew things would be tougher this year with the conference and division re-alignment, but in no way did I see this coming. My beloved Canucks are sitting 10th in the West. Not bad, not too far out of a playoff spot unless you look closer. They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, and since January 1st are an incredible 6-17-4. Just 4 points out of the playoffs but they have played 3 more games than the teams they are trying to catch. With only 14 games remaining the maximum points the Canucks can achieve by winning all remaining games is 98, which would be their worst point total since 07/08, which not coincidentally is the last time they missed the Playoffs. To put another nail in the coffin, the team they are chasing for 8th, the Dallas Stars, would need to go 12-5 in their last 17 games to finish with 98 points as well. That’s 7 games over .500. Sound difficult? The Stars are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and if you read the first part, the Canucks can’t lose another game the rest of the year even for this scenario to pan out, and that still means missing the playoffs. I have faith, just not that much.
So what went wrong? I can point to 3 major factors why the Canucks have had a season from hell. First, they have been hit hard by injuries. Second, they seem to only get bad bounces. Third, they’ve responded to a new coach by having the majority of the team lose their scoring touch and statistically their career worst years. Let’s break it down for you a bit more. Jason Garrison is the only Canuck to have played every single game. Number 2 on that list was Ryan Kesler having only missed 1 game so far, I say was as Kesler left tonight’s game with a leg injury and has been sent home and will at least miss the last 3 games on the road trip. Every team goes through injuries and it can’t be an excuse, I should know, I have both Zetterberg and Datysuk in my hockey pool so Detroit fans can’t be ecstatic either, other than for the fact they are playing in the weaker Eastern conference now.
My second point of only get bad bounces is a bit harder to prove. I have watched every game this year and with all honesty can say we have had at least 3 times as many bad breaks than good this year. Whether that be crazy goals going in, strange bounces off the boards, or the goalie (or Hamhuis in street hockey goalie mode) making the first 2 or 3 saves and the puck still winding up on the stick of an opponent who 9 times out of 10 buries it in the back of the net. Can any non Canuck fan honestly say their team has had as many weird plays cost them this year?
Finally, it comes down to John Tortorella. A coach who had his team sitting 4 points out of the Conference lead after 35 games to start the season but since then has gone crazy trying to get into an opposing team’s dressing room, alienated the team’s so-called Number 1 goalie, and even though everyone is waiting for an explosion at a press conference has been likable for the most part with the media. When the Aquilini’s hired Torts to fire up this veteran team and get them over the hump for one last run at the Cup, do you think they knew they were getting mild-mannered Torts, a media darling who would show more emotion in one “hard to describe” attempt to get in the Flames dressing room, than he would all year towards his faltering team.
I don’t know what the end game will be here. I know they will miss the playoffs and I hope there will be some changes in management and personnel. Those decisions will come sooner or later, and that is a whole other blog. We as fans need a reset. Maybe that’s a rebuild or a retool or whatever you want to call it. We deserve better. I am fine with the fact most NHL fans have the Canucks high on their list of most hated teams in the league, I just think we need to be careful when Canuck fans do as well.
As always you can follow my thoughts on the Canucks, hockey and anything else that peeks my interest on Twitter @F4SLanceHornby