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Luongo Returns, Everyone Else Leaves For Hawaii Early

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I couldn't take all of the Sharks game in, so I left to rely on the beauty of pure numbers and the elegance of the scoresheet to tell me the story.

A 2-1 OTL suggests fine goaltending. Luongo stopped 27 of 29. Against the best in the conference? That's about the best we could have hoped for. And the goals, it sounds like, were damn lucky to go in at the times in the game they did. A few seconds away from a shutout turns into an OTL. Them's the breaks. But that's why you love this guy. He did everything he could to get the win and, thus, earned every cent of his paycheck.

On that theme of earning every cent of the paycheck, how about everyone else wearing the Orca? Hmm, I only see 14 shots on Nabokov (including a mighty two in the first period, one of which was Pyatt's goal). Really? Just 14? Half of them came from Daniel or Sundin, only one of whom found his name on the scoresheet (go ahead, take a guess which one).

Anyone remember Kyle Wellwood? Only Horidchuk played less minutes than he did last night. He must really suck these days. I thought he was a hidden gem, a good story in the making and one of the best players we had. At least he was a scant few weeks ago. Then again I haven't updated his meal plan in ages.

A Sedin hooking or holding call is now a reality in every game and Sundin, too, can't stay out of the box.

Well this scoresheet stuff is one thing and I don't have enough patience to dig into the numbers like the pros do. So someone tell me what the hell went on out there? Mr. Botchford if you please:

Many of the mistakes that have haunted them for weeks were still there. Shane O'Brien handed the puck to Joe Pavelski in the first. Jannik Hansen did the same in the second. Mats Sundin was mostly slow and ineffective. The Sedins were the only line that could provide any offensive pressure.

Thank you.

So they've lost six in a row, seven at home and eight of their last ten. In the majority of those games, they haven't shown up at all. Now that Luongo is back, you can assume the goals against should go down. Almost to zero like last night. But if no one else steps up in front of him, what's the point?

This morning maybe you'll find people who were happy that this team wasn't blown out 5-0 again. Perhaps you'll hear them be content that they showed some semblance of a team effort. You'll hear them say "it's something to build on". And, judging on what I said yesterday, I would agree with them in theory; they did show some emotion and guts against a team that is clearly superior.

But the harsh light of reality is always the better bet. Good effort or not, there's not a lot to be thrilled with right now (other then there is STILL time to fix this). This roster is currently not doing a lot of the things that are going to win them hockey games, much less win them convincingly. They aren't playing in a way that suggests they want to be in the top eight or, better still, could survive there.

It was a little over a month ago that Vancouver and Calgary were leapfrogging each other for the NW lead, leaving the rest of the division far behind them. And now Vancouver finds themselves in 8th place in the Western conference (setting up a laughable 1 V 8 scenario with San Jose if they playoffs started today). Edmonton - once the whipping boy - passed them in the standings last night and have two games in hand. A vastly improved Columbus, a silently improving Dallas and old enemies Minnesota and Colorado are all within striking distance of passing Vancouver. Meanwhile Calgary and Chicago slowly inch away and don't forget to chuck Phoenix and Anaheim in the mix.

(Broken record warning) I thought we learned last year Luongo can't do this on his own. I thought booting Nonis was proof that he didn't make the managerial choices to make this team better. I thought getting rid of Naslund, Morrison et al was meant to usher in a new sense of change and optimism. I thought Sundin was the missing piece to boost the team's offensive woes. I thought our top six on the blueline could stack up against any in the league. In theory, didn't we all think this?

But that bright shine of reality shows us something different yet still familiar: The Vancouver Canucks floundering away in the dead of winter, pissing away points that will force them to fight, scrap and claw for every point that remains in February and March.

And we fans are left to hope against hope that they go gangbusters like they did after the ASG in 2007 simply to avoid making the same mistakes they did in 2008 which, son of a bitch, are here again in 2009.