On Monday night, the Vancouver Canucks lost again. The New York Islanders handed them their ninth straight defeat, pushing the Canucks to a 4-8-1 record after a much-celebrated 4-0-0 start to the 2016-2017 campaign.
So, what’s going on?
To start with, the 4-0-0 start probably wasn’t sustainable. Vancouver’s jump to their best franchise start since the early 1990s was bolstered by strong defensive hockey, but the team was still struggling to score and at that point had only found the net 10 times.
As of now, the Canucks have scored just 22 goals. That ties them with the Colorado Avalanche, who have allowed five fewer goals against and are 5-6-0 as of press time.
Not only that, but Vancouver went scoreless in two games against the Ottawa Senators, plus in games against Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens.
Almost ironically, the Canucks scored first against the Islanders on Monday but couldn’t pull out the win.
To put a finer point on it, Islander Dennis Seidenberg has more points than any single Canuck. Four Vancouver players have six points – Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Jannik Hansen, and Brandon Sutter.
Goalie Ryan Miller hasn’t fared any better, with six losses in seven starts and a 2.75 goals against average with a .910 save percentage.
In essence, the Canucks have decided to rebrand themselves as a defensive hockey team. They’ve decided that winning games by a single goal is sufficient. That’s an admirable game plan if the defence holds up, but Vancouver has a long way to go in order to become the stifling New Jersey Devils of lore.
Roster depth is an issue, with call-ups like Michael Chaput and Jack Skille hitting the lineup on Monday to replace Hansen and defenceman Chris Tanev. These prospects prove the shallowness of the pool and underline how little there is for fans to look forward to in the long run.
A deeper look at the Canucks suggests a franchise in need of an overhaul, even with Alex Edler on the sidelines and Loui Eriksson not quite panning out. While the Sedin twins continue to propel the attack, they can’t do it alone and they will eventually transition out of the league. What happens then? Who holds the keys to the team after the Sedin era comes to an end?
When the wins and goals aren’t coming, the questions inevitably follow. And in the case of the Canucks, those questions aren’t just big – they’re revolutionary.