Earlier in the season, I had mentioned in a post that the Canucks led the NHL with the fewest lineup chances from game to game. Of course, that is no longer the case. In fact, I did some checking and found that the string of games in which the Canucks have made at least one lineup change has now reached twenty. TWENTY GAMES!
And the constant juggling of the roster appears to have had an adverse effect on their play. In the first ten of these games, their record was a pitiful 3-4-3. And to make matters worse, in two of the three wins, they managed to just squeeze by their opponents by a single goal. The one game they won by more than one goal was that HNIC 5-2 victory over the Kings. . .and it is interesting to note that they got the victory having been off since the preceding Tuesday, giving them days to acclimatize to the new lineup change.
Their record in the last ten games has been much better; they have gone 8-2-0 despite having lineup changes for each of the games (with half of the games seeing even more than one change). However, their record is a bit misleading, for it does not reveal the fact that in five of the eight wins, they won by the mere single goal (six. . .if you include Friday’s 4-1 win over Colorado which was, in essence, a 2-1 game augmented by a couple of empty-netters).
For more evidence the Canucks do not play well when the lineup is constantly changing, one need only look at the one part of their season where they were able to play a string of games with no lineup changes. From Jan. 30 to Feb. 9, they managed to keep the exact same lineup together for five straight games, and what happened? FIVE STRAIGHT WINS! And they weren’t just squeaking past their opponents like they’ve been doing recently; this string saw scores like 3-0, 4-1 and 5-1. . .and it also include the shoot-out win over Chicago, the hottest team in the league at the time. Maintaining a stable lineup is just so important for this team. . .who knows how far they can go if they are able to keep a set roster together?