You don’t have to go far to find panicked Vancouver Canucks fans.
Whether through the network of my fellow bloggers or social media or print journalism or that bearded guy with the sign outside my house, the writing is on the proverbial wall for this team: they stink.
The argument can be made objectively. More or less.
Vancouver is fifth in the North, somehow still ahead of the Calgary Flames and naturally ahead of the Ottawa Senators. They’re knotted with the Edmonton Oilers and five points behind the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs.
That’s not that bad, is it?
Vancouver’s “performance” against those division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday told a different story. They lost 7-3, bringing their cumulative score over their last three losses to a ruthless 18-8.
They are one of the worst defensive teams in the entire league, if not the worst. They give up the most shots and the most goals in even strength situations.
The Canucks had a day off Friday to consider things before preparing for another battle against Toronto Saturday.
There’s no question general manager Jim Benning is on the hotseat, as is head coach Travis Green. The fanbase is calling for blood and only wins will allay the escalating wrath.
“When you’re coaching, there’s lots of different emotions that go into your head,” Green told reporters on Zoom Friday. “I think at the end of the day, you’ve always got to find a level place and be honest with where you’re at. Getting mad or being overly excited about your game is useless. But there is anger in your game sometimes, and that’s the competitive part of every coach.”
Anger in the game would be good and these Canucks are not doomed, believe it or not. They did find themselves on a four-game winning streak earlier this season. It doesn’t really matter that they took advantage of the ill-fated Senators, does it? A win is a win is a win.
In fact, Vancouver’s winning streak saw them outscore the Senators and Winnipeg Jets 20-4 before they hit the barricade known as the Montreal Canadiens.
There is a lot of talk about “character” and this team being off-tempo somehow. You can see it on the ice. Drop passes and other dubious defensive decisions have opened up opportunities for better teams, while a lack of confidence and composure has curtailed the Canucks’ scoring chances.
“We’ve got a lot of guys in the room that have played really important hockey and know what it takes to win,” captain Bo Horvat said. “We proved it last year, and guys have proved it in the past on different teams. I’m not worried. We’ve got a really resilient group in there, guys that have a lot of character. I have a lot of faith in our group.”
Faith is good and so is character. But restoring faith in this team might, at this point, take a miracle. Saturday’s as good a time to start as any.
Pic: Kevin Sousa/NHLI