Reasons To Be Cheerful
Most people would agree that at times it is hard to find the positives in life, especially if the negatives are so glaringly obvious. That kind of sentiment may be true for some Vancouver Canucks fans. With the season now 3 months old few expected Vancouver to be languishing in 10th place, in the Western Conference. Vancouver’s script surely didn’t include being placed any lower than the 8th position? While the current situation is not ideal it’s certainly not a precursor to doom. The Canucks are still very capable of making the play-offs. Last season the Pittsburgh Penguins spent sometime in 11th spot and faced a lot of hardship before they could be considered a real cup contender.
Vancouver currently has a total of 32 points that’s just 8 points behind Colorado, who are second in the west. With some consistency and more games played the way Vancouver did against the Devils and Flyers, that gap can be reduce considerably. The Canucks are only 2 points shy of the 8th position, which the Dallas Stars currently occupy. Dallas lost to Edmonton in their most recent match up. The Stars start a road trip tonight that will see them play the Ducks, Sharks and the Kings. On paper Vancouver’s next three opponents should be a tad easier, they are Nashville, Atlanta and Minnesota, each of these teams has lost its last game. Vancouver will end their current road trip tonight against Nashville. On Thursday the Canucks will meet Atlanta, this will be the 1st of a stretch of games at home.
Vancouver have sixteen wins so far, ten of those wins were played at home, their home win percentage is 0.74 while on the road it’s 0.40. The Canucks have also scored more goals at home, 49 compared to 40 goals on the road. Their goals against record at home is much better than on the road, when playing away from home the Canucks have allowed a total of 47 goals, at home it’s only 28.Another noteworthy fact is that Vancouver is currently 4th in the NHL in PP% 22.69. Playing a series of games at home may well prove beneficial for Vancouver.
All Vancouver fans are fully aware of the ability that the Sedin twins have when they play as a tandem. Although Henrik Sedin proved that he was very competent and skilled when his brother was absent. Daniel Sedin was clearly missed by his brother and the whole team; perhaps Alex Burrows missed Daniel Sedin more than most. Daniel was inactive for 18 games due to injury; during that time Burrows only scored twice. Whilst Sedin was in recovery, Burrows was goalless for exactly 16 games, since Daniels return Burrows has scored 5 goals in the last seven games. Alex Burrows has regained his position on the first line; he is once again a big threat to opposing teams. The return of Sedin also saw Kyle Wellwood finally score his 1st goal his presence on the ice is more noticeable of late. Players like Glass and Bernier have also been producing offensively.
With only two players on the IR (Demitra and Grabner) it seems that Vancouver has overcome the injury bug that proved to be a hindrance earlier in the season. If the reports are true Demitra could be back in the line up within a few months. His arrival to the team may well produce extra firepower on offense. When Grabner is back to full health his return will provide on extra spark to the team. Although Gillis might opt to reassign Grabner to the Moose.
Vancouver is 29 games into the season they, have 16 wins and 13 losses. That gives them a win percent of .552 so they are just over .500; the Canucks have a total of 53 games remaining. Due to the demanding schedule they will endure around the time of the Olympics, it’s imperative that this team starts to lay the foundations ready for the Olympic road trip. In other words build on the 2 wins earned whilst on the current road trip. After the 2010 games the season will move into the next phase. The competition for the play-off race will increase thus creating a greater urgency for success. That will mean the margin for error is much smaller.
There is no such thing as a good defeat but the last game was not a complete disaster. The Canucks didn’t play very well in that game, but they showed a determination to come from behind. Unfortunately when offered a chance to tie the game the team squandered a PP opportunity, that was handed to them on a plate. The outcome however could have been much worse, for example if the game ended 5-1 rather than 5-3. When the Canucks play the Predators in their next game, the disappointment of the loss to the Hurricanes might provide the impetus needed to secure another win. Nashville is also coming off a 3-5 loss at the hands of the Wild. Nashville sit 7th in the West with just a 2 point lead over Vancouver. A win in that game would improve a less than stellar road record while also ensuring the trip ends on a reasonably high note.
It may seem as if Vancouver is often traveling in the wrong direction. With the hopes of reaching the playoff’s becoming more unlikely. The good news is that there are enough games left for Vancouver to make sure this ship gets back on course. The Canucks are not that far from executing an assault on the standings, thus keeping the playoff dream well and truly alive. With more consistency and help from every member of the team, not forgetting some good luck, the wins will become a mere formality. Then fans will certainly have more reasons to be cheerful.
One other significant note: The Toronto Sun is reporting that the Rangers are interested in negotiating a trade with Vancouver that would see them acquire Demitra. This maybe more of a rumor than fact.
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