Slip slidin’ away…
It seems quaint, but back in February the Canucks were taking heat for winning the majority of their games, but needing overtime or the shootout to get the job done.
How little we appreciated what we had.
This March the Canucks have answered those complaints by losing resoundingly in regulation time over and over. If February was a streak-slump, this is the slump-slump, when the bottom completely falls out.
Yet, the only panic seems to be coming from outside.
While segments of the fanbase and media insist the sky is falling, the Canucks and the management team have implied throughout the month that sky is merely slowly dropping and can be put back into place at any time.
The Canucks have been here and seen this as Western Conference powerhouses for four years running. Regular season success is so passé, the individual awards and President’s Trophy have taken a backseat to keying it up for the one trophy still left to acquire: the Stanley Cup.
In a sense, the Canucks are the personification of the Lazy College Senior meme.
They’ve been skipping class all March with the confidence they can show up in April and ace the finals.
But isn’t that a dangerous game?
Don’t we all know someone who pursued that ethos in a class and saw it horribly backfire?
And further, is it fair to the fans? Is it fair to those who shell out for Canucks tickets knowing that they’re getting an “intentional” sub-par performance. The Canucks surely aren’t actively trying to lose, but Harrison Mooney points out they certainly aren’t putting themselves in positions of danger or exerting any more effort than absolutely required.
That’s what Canuck fans are being asked to buy into right now, only they haven’t been asked directly so much as winked and nudged along.
Will you, as a fan, accept a string of uninspired March losses on the implication that it could help this team in the playoffs, although the actual contribution of this strategy will be impossible to measure?
It’s not as though the Canucks are alone.
The Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Bruins all slumped in February or March prior to their recent Cup wins and the records this year in their past 10 of the Bruins, Rangers and Red Wings aren’t better than the Canucks.
The slump of a contender poised for a playoff run and bored of the challenge of the regular season is quite a ritual in fact that I wouldn’t be surprised if Mike Gillis is purposely trying to copy it as part of his ongoing search for the consistent trends of the winning.
Still, it’s a dangerous (wicked) game.
Are we supposed to look at Pittsburgh and dismiss them for being the hottest and most dangerous team in the league at the moment?
That’s not the way the Cup is won, sillies.
The Canucks may have the division and the number two seed locked up but St. Louis could be a very, very frightening team to face in the West finals; 7-2-1 in their last 10, and would you not want to at least take a shot at wrestling home ice advantage?
This is one area where regular season wins could provide tangible benefit in the playoffs.
And so we have no choice but to sit back and wait.
The playoffs are finally, almost, thankfully, here. It seems as though both the city and the team have been guilty of looking ahead to them since the Boston game. A large part of the anxiety stems from the fact that not a single person could accurately guess the Canucks’ fate in the playoffs.
If you thought the West was tough last year, the Blues are re-born, the Predators have upgraded almost everywhere and are welcoming back Alex Radulov this week, and teams like San Jose and LA lurk as possible first-round matchups.
Remember that the Wings, for all their pedigree, have been knocked out by San Jose in the second round two years running. Nothing is guaranteed in the West.
But should the Canucks bow out in the second round to Nashville or Detroit, how will fans react?
And how soon will March be brought up?
Exam period is almost here, let’s see if the Canucks are as smart as they think they are.