I watch a lot of hockey…as many as 10 games a week…. and, because I live on Vancouver Island, watching the Canucks play on local TV is pretty easy but I have to say I’ve haven’t watched any of their past 10 games in its entirety.
If the Sedins aren’t dominating, there is precious little else to see and although the Sedins are having a decent season, the rest of the team is in shambles.
Vancouver Province columnist Ed Willies summed up things pretty well this morning:
The Canucks now have three wins in their last 16 games, which is concerning enough.
But it’s the larger image — the lifelessness, the lack of initiative, the sense that this team has run out of ideas 27 games into the season — which is far more troubling.
This streak has done a number of things to damage the sensitive balance between this franchise and its fan base.
But, mostly it’s reawakened the nightmare images from the Year of Torts; a year in which the Canucks’ brand suffered severe damage.
Can it withstand another season like that?
The sad truth is we might be in the process of finding out.
What ails the Canucks is pretty obvious. They are lacking secondary scoring and they are trying to be successful with only 3 NHL calibre defensemen.
The lack of offensive firepower anywhere but on the 1st line has been dreadful.
Radim Vrbata, while getting all sorts of shots (91) is on pace for 18 goals after potting 31 last season.
Alex Burrows has betrayed his age and Sven Baertschi has been all but invisible.
On D, Dan Hamhuis has fallen off a cliff since playing in the World Championships last spring leavingVancouver with only Chris Tanev, Alex Edler and, surprisingly, rookie Ben Hutton as bona fide top 4.
At this point, Hamhuis, Luca Sbisa, Matt Bartkowski and Yannick Weber are no better than average bottom pairing and it’s costing the Canucks dearly.
To be fair, the Canucks have suffered some key injuries that have thrown their plans into disarray.
Brandon Sutter, brought in to insulate 2 year pro Bo Horvat has been out of action for 12 games.
Hutton is just back from missing 7.
Chris Higgins has missed 12 and now Jake Virtanen is on the shelf.
While lots of teams suffer injury and survive it appears the Canucks are so lacking in depth that they’re in a free fall and, in the long run that might be the best course for a team that is trying to reload on the fly and failing.
The Dallas Stars were able to do so but the Canucks have been saddled with more than a few long term contracts including not trade clauses and don’t have that kind of flexibility.
The strange thing is that because the Pacific Division has been so weak this season, the Canucks, as of this writing, are only 1 point out of third place in the division even after going 2-5-3 in their last 10GP.
So even a modest winning streak could get their season back on track.
But, based on their lacklustre play of late, I wouldn’t bet on it.