Despite a four-game slide, the Canucks are still in the thick of the playoff race. They've got 16 games to go and all signs point to a post-season berth. Just look at the numbers.
Since the beginning of 2008, the Canucks have been playing good hockey. The trouble is that they just haven’t been able to win much. |
Coming off an uninspired 4-1 loss to Chicago on Sunday, the Canucks were able to bounce back with a good outing against the Colorado Avalanche. They played a typical road game. They were defensive minded, kept it low scoring and shut down some big players like Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk, and Peter Forsberg, who was playing his first game back in the NHL this year.
The problem, once again, is that the Canucks still weren’t able to win. They suffered a 2-1 loss at the hands of their closest division rivals.
Overall, it was a performance they can feel fine about. “We battled hard. We came out strong at the end. We had good chances there,” said Ryan Shannon, who scored the Canucks only goal for his fourth of the season. “We can take some positives out of the game.”
But Shannon tempered that encouraging analysis of his team’s play, noting that he wasn’t taking any solace in the good effort. “There’s not much time for moral victories with the playoffs coming,” he said.
Since the New Year, when the Canucks have lost, there have often been positives to take away from the games. The losses have been frustrating, but they team has always felt that if they continued their strong play, they’d manage some wins. But as they run out of time with just 16 games left in the regular season, and have fallen out of a playoff spot after their loss to the Avalanche, their “E for effort” mantra doesn’t seem to cut it any more.
After enjoying a season high four-game winning streak from February 16 to 23, the 2-1 loss suffered to the Avalanche tied the Canucks season high losing streak with four in a row. It’s the third time in less than two months that the team has slumped to lose four consecutive games.
Despite all of this, the Canucks are in the thick of the playoff race. They’re still sitting just two points outside of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 74, and they even have a game in hand on both Colorado and Nashville, who sit ahead of them with 76.
One of the ways they’ve managed to stay in the race is to play tight, close games.
Consider that of the 16 losses the Canucks have suffered since January 1st, 12 of those have been one-goal games. In six of those 12 one-goal losses the Canucks have managed to pick up an extra point by taking the game to shootout or overtime. Without those points, they’d be off the playoff map.
So while a 10-10-6 record since January might not sound so flattering, the Canucks are nevertheless a team that creates an opportunity to win nearly every game they play.
In only four of their 26 games since the New Year have they been outscored by more than a single goal. All they need now is a little extra push to take the two points in those close games.
The fact that there are only 16 games left in the season should be just the inspiration the Canucks need to turn things around.
1st – power play goal for the Canucks in four games
4 – shots by the newest Canuck, Matt Pettinger
17 – of 18 Canucks skaters that registered a shot against the Avalanche
19 – Canucks shots blocked by the Avs, led by Scott Hannan with seven
19:57 – time on ice for Forsberg in his first NHL game this season
The Canucks had a handful of chances and 27 shots, but didn’t get a single goal 5-on-5. Part of it was due to a hot Jose Theodore, but it also looked like some of the Canucks top shooters were lacking confidence when they had the big chances.
The defense allowed only one even-strength goal, but still let 31 shots get through. A few mishaps on transition plays from the offensive zone to the defensive zone proved costly for the Canucks.
It was great for Ryan Shannon to score the Canucks’ first power play goal in their last four games, but the Canucks penalty kill couldn’t hold the worst team in the league off the board on their power play. However, with the addition of Peter Forsberg on the power play, the Avs man advantage was strong, and will not likely be ranked 30th for long. The Avs went 1-for-5 while the Canucks had a success rate of 1-for-4.