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GAME DAY: Canucks @ Philadelphia

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Let the hand-wringing begin! Maybe it's me, but it seems like the Canucks will never win in the eyes of the media and their fans. In a season where we were told they'd be re-booting on the fly, there sure is a lot time, energy and print space being devoted to asking 'What's wrong with the Canucks?' Um, hello? Did you all just get here?

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Time Thursday 4:00 PM PST
TV Sportsnet Pacific
Season Series 0-0
Last Meeting
4-3 (SO) Flyers Dec 30/14
The Enemy Broad Street Hockey Scoring Leaders D. Sedin: 9-27-36
J. Voracek:
17- 35 -52

Canucks
CATEGORY
Flyers
23-15-3 SEASON RECORD 17-20-7
49 Points 41
8th Conference Position 12th
Lost 3
Streak Lost 1
2.73 (14)
Goals For Per 60 (GF60)
2.68 (17)
2.63 (17)
Goals Against Per 60 (GA60)
2.84 (23)
19.4 (13) Power Play % 22.8 (5)
87.0 (3) Penalty Kill % 74.3 (30)
48.3 (23) Faceoff Win % 50.8 (12)
10.5 (20) PIM / GP 9.4 (11)
49.5 (21) Corsi For % 49.3 (22)
100.0 (16) PDO 99.8 (20)

There was a point in this season where the Canucks were, without a doubt exceeding the expectations many had for the team in this season of change. And now that things have cooled off from what was a pretty torrid start, common sense would suggest that what we see from the Canucks is what they had last season, give or take a few pieces. There's improvement in some areas, sure. For the most part through, this isn't about the Canucks missing Roberto Luongo or Ryan Kesler. There's stagnation a plenty in Lake Canuck, none more apparent than the core.

Chris Higgins, Jannik Hansen and Kevin Bieksa. There's three names that are commonly associated with the Canucks core. With the exception of Hansen's hot week, all three of these gentlemen have ranged from flat-out invisible to shockingly and frustratingly bad. Lazy play. Ineffectiveness. Unacceptable scoring droughts. Stupid penalties. And for all three of these gents, an apparent abandonment of the things that made them such an important part of the team in the first place.

Now there's may who think that this would suggest that I am not wanting to put any blame on the Sedins here, but that's simply not true. The play of the Sedins has been inconsistent, definitely, but hardly the team's most pressing issue. Earlier this year, when teams were doing an effective job of neutralizing the 1st line, it was the other lines that stepped up. Now, apart from Alex Burrows, who really is stepping up? And goaltending? So many are ready to beat those controversy drums again, but the fact of the matter is this: even with the sometimes horrific defense in front of them, most nights Ryan Miller and Eddie Lack are giving the team a chance to win. They're not getting support from the offense or the defense of late, and that's hardly a new problem.

It's time for Willie Desjardins to make some tough decisions, and one of those has to be sitting Chris Higgins for at least a game. The second line has become more of a punchline, and he (as well as Nick Bonino) need to step up and score some goals here, because there's guys like Linden Vey who are showing steady improvement, and sitting in the press box while Higgins continues to coast his way from paycheque to paycheque.

And is there not some way to either split up Bieksa and Sbisa? Those two together are just painful to watch. It's like instead of what the Canucks hoped, with Sbisa learning from the veteran defender, Sbisa has been the teacher and Bieksa his lazy student. Casual Kev's lackadaisical play, bad penalties and regression to that of someone who simply shouldn't be getting the minutes he does, and can't be trusted in pressure situations.

If there's a glimmer of hope, it's that the Canucks will not just be facing the worst PP in the league, they also will face Ray Emery in goal tonight, who's been pretty lousy for the Flyers this year. Ryan Miller should go, but they could be without Nick Bonino and Chris Tanev, which means we'll likely see Bo Horvat back, along with Jannick Weber.

GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN

These guys released an album that went overlooked by some (including myself) back in October called 'Slaves To The Grave'. They burst onto the scene in the 80's out of the DFW area in Texas, and have a couple members who are prominent in other more well known bands: bassist Casey Orr is GWAR's Beefcake The Mighty, and Mike Scaccia has been a long time collaborator with Al Jourgensen in Ministry, Revolting Cocks and Lard.

Impromptu Drinking Games Rules

drink

- 1 Drink: Flyers celebrate an unofficial Chris Pronger tonight by injuring a Canuck with a dangerous hit

- 1 Drink: Bobby Clarke's teeth

- 2 Drinks: Reference to Tom Sestito's glory days with the Flyers.

- 2 Drinks: Mark Recchi reference

- 3 Drinks: If the Canucks score. Seriously.

- 3 drinks:X2 if they score on the PP.