...oh don't groan. Let's not kid ourselves: this Vancouver Canucks team is no good. If it wasn't for facing the hapless Oilers twice, an OT goal with five seconds left and the ineptitude of the Blue Jackets special teams your Canucks would be 0-7. And making it worse is that it's all their own damn fault; they are their own worse enemies.
First, to no one's surprise, they lead the league in PIM's with 199. Last year then ended the regular season with 1206 minutes. So, they're on pace for 1791 this season, or roughly 33% more then last year which would put them in line to break last year's mark by over 500 PIM.
So far this year they've given up 10 PPG's; they gave up 57 PPG's all of last year.
Speaking of goals, they sit 26th in goals against at 29, narrowly ahead of the Kings and their bobbing for goalies scheme, the ever successful (now with
one two wins!) Thrashers and whatever team is in Toronto. At 3.22 goals against per game, they're on pace for a gaudy 261 goals against for the year. They let in 201 last year; hell only the Kings and Coyotes had worst goals against (at 283 and 284 respectively) totals last year in the conference.
Up front, Naslund's back to his pre-lockout awesomeness and Morrison's got his groove back. Couple that with the Sedins rocking that first line and the Canucks are 15th in the league with 25 goals in 9 games, 2.78 per game. Not bad. At that rate, they're on pace for 225 goals this year; in comparison, last year (you know, when they COULDN'T score goals?) they finished the regular season with 222 or 2.65 a game.
Soooo...they are taking 33% more penalties, already given up 17.5% of the total amount of PPG's they gave up in the entirety of last year in just nine games, and they're surrendering .82 more goals a game while only scoring .13 more. I know that the Philly games skews the stats down a peg, but that doesn't mean I ignore it either. Amongst other things, if these trends continue, it translates to you and me going mindfuck insane by Christmas (on the plus side, that'll show those in-laws who's boss when, in a fit of rage, you drown them in a bowl of rummy egg nog).
Of course the Canucks can turn this all around. But it's going to take a return to that blue collar work ethic from last year and stringing a few of those together so this team understands - like the Canes are showing now - what it takes to win. Or, as they have done in every game since the Oiler series, they can come out flat, let the other team completely dominate the flow of the game, take 1-5 mindless hooking penalties in the first period alone and be behind the eight ball the rest of the game.
They have the Red Wings in 24 hours. Are you brave enough to watch?