The key word? Emergency. Say it with me.
The panic button is being pushed again. The Canucks aren't good enough. From columnist to radio host to blogger alike, the media that follow this team are decrying this team right now and the fact that they, especially since that win over Boston, have been playing some mediocre hockey. Sure, they were terrible against Detroit, not much better against Chicago. Maybe it's just me, but I find myself not freaking out quite as much as some people. Yes, they need to play better, especially defensively. Yes, the Canucks quite likely need to make some sort of move by the trade deadline to address this chink in the armour. But as the Canucks head into the tail end of the season, finding ways to win in spite of lackluster play and with one of the easier schedules of the 30 NHL teams the rest of the way, are things really as bad as some would have us believe?
One of the more glaring issues right now has been the way the Sedins have cooled off. Sure their linemate Alexandre Burrows continues to produce, but it says a lot about their play when Henrik and Daniel found themselves separated for the first time in ages against the Red Wings the other night. The Wizardous Sedinery we've come to take for granted seems to have been replaced with ill-timed passes, a seeming disinterest in defensive responsibility and a 'don't give a shit' attitude overall that would offend the honey badger. This team's biggest issue all season long has been consistency, especially when it comes to a 60 minute effort. When you don't get it from your best players, of course there's going to be issues.
Unlike some bloggers, I can't sit there and analyze a pile of stats to try and explain what's wrong, nor am I able to ask them directly what they think the issue is. There are all kinds of theories, and we've heard them all before: the team is tired after a short summer, they've tuned out coach Alain Vigneault, or they're just not that good. The tired theory might actually carry a little weight considering the front end load of their schedule, having played more road games than home and headed for another 4 away games starting this afternoon in Denver as they take on the Avalanche. A combination of tiredness, adjusting to finally having their full lineup healthy, who can really say what's brought on this funk the team finds themselves in. Yet since the start of the year, they're 7-2-3, earning 17 of a possible 24 points. Sean speculated that maybe this team needs a losing streak to wake itself up. I don't know if that's necessarily going to fix what ails them, but a road trip, especially one against some familiar foes might be just what the doctor ordered.
Another interesting twist to today's game is the debut of Byron Bitz in a Canucks uniform. Bitz was called up from the Chicago Wolves to take the place of Chris Higgins, who will miss his 2nd consecutive game due to illness. It's a good opportunity for Bitz to show Vigneault and Mike Gillis what he can do, after having missed a good chunk of the season due to offseason surgery. One thing is for certain, the Canucks will want to avoid another shootout, as Colorado have been even better than Detroit, going 7-0 in the trick shot competition this season.
Speculation continues to swirl: Will they move a goaltender? No, not the Canucks. The Blackhawks. Their fans and some of their media are having serious doubts about Corey Crawford's ability to take them to a Stanley Cup, and after the beginning of this epic 9 game road trip where an OT loss to the Canucks is the highlight neither Crawford or backup Ray Emery appear to be the kind of goaltending they need to advance in the post season. The Hawks are now below .500 on the road, and a prolonged losing streak in the super-competitive Central Division could see them slip even further in the standings. Why, it almost wouldn't be a surprise to see them in 8th place or lower. Just like last season. Hmm. Regress much? The Canucks may be struggling, but when you look at the mess the Blackhawks are finding themselves in, it could be much, much worse.
CLASSIC METAL SONG OF THE DAY
They're coming to Vancouver soon, bringing their death-tinged prog metal to town alongside Mastodon and Ghost. From their breakthrough album 'Blackwater Park', here's a classic from OPETH