Canucks not panicking in dire times

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks will look to turn the tide when they begin a five-game road trip starting Friday in Winnipeg. (REUTERS)

Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks will look to turn the tide when they begin a five-game road trip starting Friday in Winnipeg. (REUTERS)

"I could use one of those nights" — Roberto Luongo on Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens' 59-save shutout on Wednesday.

Some in Vancouver are calling for a rebuild. Others just want a move, a deal — anything, for that matter — to show that something is being done to turn this soon-to-be Canucks train wreck around.

Sure, three losses in four games usually isn't a prerequisite to flip the entire roster over, but with the way the Canucks have been playing over the past month, there's definitely a growing concern of where they’re headed.

The team is coming off a deflating 5-2 loss, a game that saw them blow a 2-0 lead, failing to respond in any kind after the Chicago Blackhawks walked all over them in the second period.

For a team that once led the league in scoring — in what now seems like centuries ago despite having many of the same players still on the roster — there is no offensive threat. The Canucks rank 22nd in the league in scoring, averaging 2.47 goals per game, and their power play is 29th at a miserable 13.6 efficiency rating.

They have scored two regulation goals or less in 36 of the team's 56 games, proving that it's not just an inopportune funk but an issue all season long.

Even so, Daniel Sedin doesn't feel a shake-up, or even a wake-up call is needed.

"We have the team in here to do this," claimed the Swede, who has not found the net in 14 games. "We haven't played as bad as everyone says.

"It seems like we're last in the league, but we're in the playoff hunt right now and can't be frustrated. The guys in here are going to do it, we can't listen to the outside people."

On the bright side, if the way things have been going continues for this streaky Vancouver squad, they can look forward to a productive February — even though it's a short one.

The team started their season strong, with a 9-5-1 record in October. Then they faltered in November, posting a 4-5-4 mark before a superb December with a 10-1-2 record. With one game to go in January, the Canucks have just four wins in 13 games this month. See the trend?

It's no time to get frustrated or make rash decisions though, the team points out.

"It seems like when things are going bad, everyone's got a voice, everyone's got an opinion, especially in this country," said American Chris Higgins, who has been in on five of the team's last 10 goals.

"Sometimes times like this happen, and just block everything out outside of the locker room."

Acting head coach Mike Sullivan added: "Inevitably, most teams go through adversity where they lose a few games or things don't go their way or the injury bug, whatever that may be. Our attitude and resilience is going to be an important aspect here during an important time of the season."

A five-game road trip though — to get away from the discontent fan base and hometown media — may just be what this team needs. They head into Winnipeg Friday for the first time since the Jets returned to the NHL. So there's certainly some enthusiasm within the club, especially since several of them played for the Manitoba Moose, the Canucks former AHL affiliate.

"The last time I was there was the world juniors, so it's been a while," goalie Roberto Luongo said. "There's also a level of excitement when you go in to play for the first time in a building you've never played in. We're really just worried about what we need to do as individuals and as a group too.

"Right now, we have a ton of excuses but we don't want to make any. We have to find a way to get points."

Injury notes:

Kevin Bieksa did not take part in practice Thursday and will not join the team on their road trip. The defenceman has an undisclosed injury, and the Canucks re-called blueliner Frank Corrado from the AHL. Centre Mike Santorelli also had shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum and is likely out for the season. He is expected to make a full recovery in five to six months.

Captain Henrik Sedin is still day-to-day with a rib injury and could return during the road trip.


Reader's comments »

By adding a comment on the site, you accept our terms and conditions