EVERYBODY PANIC!!!! (seriously, we’re in trouble):
Riding high after a 4-0 drubbing of the hated Leafs, a tough OT loss in Phoenix, and finally beating the Sharks, it was starting to look like this Canucks team would leave all of us who had wailed about the lack of offensive improvement and derided this team’s chances of getting anywhere this season with egg on our faces, thus vindicating the Gillis-kissers once and for all. The Sedins and Kesler were producing at a healthy pace, a few diamonds in the rough had come forward to contribute offensively, and Luongo appeared to be shaking off the drama cobwebs and returning to form. The team as a whole looked to be reveling in exceeding the low expectations which had preceded the start of the 2013-14 season.
Then we were treated to back-to-back-to-back losses to the Kings, Ducks and Sharks. 3 games in which the suddenly offensively impotent Canucks combined for a paltry 3 goals. The team currently sits on the cusp of not qualifying for the playoffs (if they started today), and the Sedins have registered 1 point in 3 games between them.
Common sense dictates that since the season is still young we should all calm down, and that Chicken Littles like me should shut up, since it’s simply too early to say that the sky is falling. Ordinarily, I agree wholeheartedly. Ordinarily I am the last one into the panic room, and get by on a healthy measure of faith that things will round themselves out. Ordinarily, when it comes to all things Canuck, I am what you would call an eternal optimist. But these, sadly, are not ordinary days.
The vast wilderness of the Western Conference grows wilder and filled with more beasts every day. Aside from the lowly and long-suffering Oilers and Flames, the other teams in the Pacific division have, without exception, taken great strides in building and improving their rosters and are icing ever more competitive teams while the Canucks seem content with stasis, apparently oblivious to the glaringly obvious fact that our current lineup is not good enough to get it done.
Perhaps there is a bigger picture here that I just can’t see clearly yet. The working theory seems to be that the signing of the Sedins to matching 4 year deals, along with our recent draft day moves indicate a slightly longer term plan in which our farm players will be given a couple of years to develop, then be brought in to augment our aging superstars and take a serious run at Stanley cup contention at that point.
Sounds great, but it certainly doesn’t bode well for our chances this season or the next. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see if Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk develop the way we all (especially Mike Gillis) hope they will, while this current group battles it out in a deep division full of superior offensive talent.
For me, for now, it just doesn’t add up. The Canucks recent (and I will allow, very, very short) slide appears to be a harbinger of dark days ahead.
Stu Elmes is a lifelong Canucks fan, currently living in Thailand. Follow Stu on Twitter: @StuElmes