It’s been a really tough couple of weeks and there has been a lot of theories, suggestions and discontent in Canucks land but when you are in a hockey mad market, it goes with the territory. Whether the Canucks truly are going through a rebuild or just struggling to find out what their identity is, one thing is for sure: if you aren’t trying and driving to win, you won’t. Success breeds success and at some point, a slump is just a slump.
Vancouver is no stranger to the aforementioned slump; we’ve seen a few of them and some are more memorable than others. This current funk the boys seem to be going through has a new “sky is falling” type of feel. Now, I don’t know if THEY believe the sky is falling but if you were to judge by the on ice product, I’d say they probably bought a few shares in it.
Fingers have been pointed, trades drawn up at the water cooler, fans have demanded change but what if this is just a slump? Is that out of line to think that? We’ve seen what this current roster is capable of both good and bad and when they are putting the effort and grinding away for a full 60 minutes, they’re pretty decent. The Canucks are by no means a Stanley Cup favorite, let alone contender but this group is capable of much more than they have shown lately.
NEWS FLASH: I’m not a woman. BIG SHOCKER! But we joke and I’d love to hear what women have to say on this theory; a guy texts you and says “we need to talk”. Right away, you jump to conclusions – he’s cheating, he’s moving, he doesn’t like/love you anymore, he’s dating your best friend, he’s dying. You freak out, you burn all of his clothes, you drive to his house which may or may not be an hour away, you light his car on fire, throw rocks through his windows, spread venomous hate online and if you’re crazy enough, maybe wait in his closet all day long with an axe.
OK, a little unrealisticbut you get my hyperbole. Sorry ladies. I actually don’t know anyone like this but TV has taught me enough to have a good unrealistic idea. So all of this goes through your mind and at the end of the day he just wants to talk about going to Maui instead of Honolulu because its more private.
Sometimes….a slump is just a slump.
The Canucks put together a pretty impressive slump back in the 2008-09 season. Losing eight straight games, Alex Burrows played hero as he often does when he scored a shorthanded breakaway against Carolina in Feb 2009 to bump the never ending slump which then turned into a 16-3-1 record, ultimately putting together a string of wins that basically needed them to run the table from Jan 1 to make the playoffs; and they did.
Vancouver’s had a handful of rookies make the lineup this year, a rash of injuries that have really tested their depth, goaltending that definitely could be better and mix in some questionable coaching decisions and at some point for THIS team anyways, a slump was easily possible. We all bought in early this season that maybe the Canucks were better than we thought, we’ll they aren’t exactly.
They still aren’t a powerhouse. This team lacks size, speed and after line numero uno, finishing skill. The win against Buffalo will feel good and there were a lot of positives to take from that but they didn’t exactly beat Dallas. Vancouver has been streaky and will put a few wins together, even a few players will bump some slumps personally but one win doesn’t make a season.
So now I’m Confucius?
What many of us fail to realize is that the Canucks aren’t the only team these slumps happen to, big shocker I know. The trouble is, the Canucks always seem to find their way out of a hole when things get really bad but the types of mistakes that have been made lately aren’t things you can just push under the proverbial rug.
Dan Hamhuis and Alex Edler are very much not the players they once were. I’ve seen some pretty awful giveaways as a Canucks fan (Luongo, Schneider, Bure, Corrado, Etc) but what those two defensemen have
accomplished blown lately really calls into question where their talents lie. Hammer is older than Edler but when you get “sports old” it doesn’t really matter how old you are. We’re seeing it right now with Kobe Bryant in the NBA; at some point you can’t do the things you used to be able to do.
Luca Sbisa is a different story but in all fairness, he’s getting better.
The on ice product the Canucks have displayed in the last month does not look like they even know how the next shift will go. They look lost, confused and definitely not fearless. You don’t have to be the best team on the ice but if you project that you are and follow through on what your role is, even that goes a long way.
For the people that know me personally, I’m not the greatest person to preach this sort of pep talk; I’m lazy in a game of pickup, I get tired easily in an organized game of road hockey because I go hard for maybe 10 minutes and I’m gasping for breath the rest of the game. At the same time, I’m not a professional, I don’t play sports for a living; these guys know what it takes.
If the team, I mean the actual players, know what they need, then why don’t they speak up as well? This carries over to the coach too! Willie can only ice the team he’s given and Alain Vigneault had the same issues. Thankfully, when AV was given a defensive team he had an all world goaltender that could keep games close when the guys in front of him weren’t scoring many goals.
Are the Canucks in a true rebuild? So far, the signs point to yes. Its pretty tough to be exciting and rebuild on the fly at the same time. What happens is you end up staying right in the middle, ask Calgary and Edmonton. OK not Edmonton but you get what I mean. Vancouver has been a middle to high tier team for so long that most fans don’t remember the late 90’s and how bad this team really was.
Seeing the Canucks play a full 60 feels pretty good and the manner in which they did it against the Sabres was redeeming. They were hard hitting, they finished their checks, kept the pace moving, made some big saves and spread the scoring out. For all intensive purposes (intensive? intents and purposes? Maybe the team needs some intensive purposes) they proved they can hang with another NHL team.
It’s a start. Put together a few wins, say against the Rangers and AV; and even continue this playing a full game thing and maybe just maybe they can turn this slump into a positive motivator. Radim Vrbata had a hat trick and Brandon Prust scored a goal. This team might have something there still.
Let’s not jump to extreme conclusions just yet; they haven’t won any trophies and they aren’t proud to select Auston Matthews.
Again sometimes….a slump…is a slump.
Follow me on twitter: @always90four
cover photo – vancouversun.com