It’s Puzzle Time
It seems as if every game the Canucks play in these days is against a team fighting for their playoff lives. It was Dallas who was in the driver’s seat of the Pacific Division and with their loss to Vancouver on Thursday, they are only tied for 8thplace.
Speaking of being tied for 8th place, how about those Colorado Avalanche? It is truly going to be a dog fight to the finish for the final coveted playoff spot and it’s not hard to see that this is precisely why the Canucks have been slumping.
They haven’t been the dog to any fight with St. Louis pulling away in 1st and the Pacific Division being a crapshoot for 3rd place and at this time, 11 points back of 2nd place Vancouver.
The even more impressive thing for Dallas and Colorado is that they have near identical records in the past ten games. Dallas is 7-3-0 while Colorado is 7-2-1. Oh and they’re both coming off losses to potential 1st round opponents Vancouver and Phoenix.
So what can you watch for when the puck drops once again on Hockey Night in Canada Saturday night?
Imagine a hockey season, playoffs and all, shattered into 1000 pieces. Each piece is one part of the puzzle that it takes to have that final empty spot filled by none other than the Stanley Cup.
Logic tells us that since the Canucks beat a team fighting for a playoff spot in Dallas on about 18 hours rest, they can surely beat a team who hasn’t even been quite at Dallas’ level with 36+ hours of rest.
The Canucks have been unpredictable lately with their under-achieving ways so let’s say this is one of those puzzles you glue once you get it all together and you frame it.
This brings me to my next point.
To win the Stanley Cup, the winner has to have played like a team. You can throw any ol’ group of guys together but that doesn’t make them a team if they aren’t a cohesive unit and if there is no give and take throughout the lineup. You have to be happy where you are each night and play like you mean it.
I’m not questioning the Canucks ultimate will to win, but another key to their recent lack of success can be attributed to the number of moves made at the trade deadline.
Gillis essentially shook up every part of the team and glue doesn’t just stick itself. This team, and they are a team, has had to adjust and adjusted they have.
Zack Kassian and Samuel Pahlsson have contributed in recent games and been more reliable than in their first batch.
Marc-Andre Gragnani is still finding his way on the blueline but when you have that much depth at one position, it’s going to be a battle to make it into the lineup each night, which brings me to my final point.
Sure, the Avs are duking it out with about 5 other teams for that playoff spot but for them, the Canucks have been the hardest puzzle to solve all season long.
The Canucks have outscored Colorado 15-3 in just four games this season and we still have two to see unfold.
It’s hard to decipher exactly why the rumbling ones can’t spin the rubix cube that is the Canucks so that the colours match. Perhaps it is firepower or perhaps it’s just the will of the hockey gods that Vancouver has their way with Colorado this year.
Either way, it’s fun to watch, but that doesn’t mean it’s a done deal.
Picture it this way: The Avalanche led by Matt Duchene and Calder favourite Gabriel Landeskog have completed the very outer edge of the Canucks puzzle and still have around 900 of 1000 pieces to go.
Should they get just 1 piece to connect to the inside of the border, a still fragile and relatively care-free Canucks team could come crumbling down…off the edge of the table…but hopefully neatly into a box.
BEST BET TO WIN: Vancouver Canucks
Watch for Gabriel Landeskog in years to come. The rookie point leader has 47 points in 76 games and with Milan Hejduk sure to exit the NHL any time now, the next Canucks killer could be this 19 year old from none other than Stockholm, Sweden.
Oh and notice how I didn’t mention Daniel Sedin. That’s because he can’t be worried about. There is nothing we can do to speed up his recovery unless you or someone you know knows dark magic.
In that case, please stand up.
Otherwise, this team is just going have to deal with being sans Daniel and win like the team they should be able to play like.
Puck drop is at 7PM on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada and TEAM1040 Radio. Sadly, we will have to listen to Mark Lee and Kevin Weekes orgasm multiple times over non-orgasm worthy things; that is unless Alex Edler skates end to end for a goal again.
Here’s to hoping.