Sports Canucks

Canucks fans wonder if this is rock bottom 0

By Hosea Cheung, 24 hours Vancouver

Look! The puck isn't inside the Vancouver Canucks' net. With Monday's collapse apparently behind them, the Canucks head to the road Wednesday in Winnipeg. (REUTERS)

Look! The puck isn't inside the Vancouver Canucks' net. With Monday's collapse apparently behind them, the Canucks head to the road Wednesday in Winnipeg. (REUTERS)

If the "Fire John Tortorella" or "Fire Mike Gillis" cries from Vancouver Canucks fans weren't boisterous enough already, what happened Monday night at Rogers Arena was most likely more than needed to push it over the edge.

The third-period travesty put forth by the Canucks has the potential to become the turning point of the franchise — as in, it's time to clean house. It was that bad.

But so far, nothing has happened.

Over the past week — and especially Monday night — the term "rock bottom" has been repeated a little too often, and the question many are left wondering is: Can this free fall get any lower?

Their latest showing saw a three-goal lead after 40 minutes evaporate en route to a 7-4 loss in a debacle of a game against a struggling Eastern Conference opponent.

Those aren't easy ones to just "put behind us" as some of the players were claiming to do following Tuesday's practice.

At least the Canucks won't have to face hometown media and fans for a while when the club travels to Winnipeg for a match Wednesday against the Jets in the first of a four-game road trip. And for now, Tortorella will still be behind the bench.

Since his storming of the visitor hallway incident on Jan. 18 against the Calgary Flames, the first-year Canucks coach has won just twice in 11 games.

He, too, is dismayed at the sorry display from Monday.

"As a coach this is my responsibility, it's on my watch what's going on here," Tortorella said. "All I can tell you is continue to do it the way I think it should be done to try and turn this around. People have every reason to be upset about what's happening.

"We're going to try to fix this."

Even so, Tuesday's practice seemed uninspired, with the only change being a Ryan Stanton sighting. The defenceman has missed the last three games with an injury. All the noise and talk surrounding this team — especially what may or may not happen with the coach and general manager — does make its way into the room, but defenceman Kevin Bieksa said it's the last thing on their minds.

"I'm not going to just keep talking about negative things here," Bieksa said. "There's been rumours and speculations in this city for a long time. There's a lot of distraction outside the team and that's why we try to keep the focus inside.

"We still have a chance to get into the playoffs."

Mathematically, yes. There's still 15 games left in the Canucks' season but they are sitting 11th in the Western Conference — four points back of the Dallas Stars who have played three fewer games. For now, it looks to be a four-team race for that final post-season spot in the West, including the Jets who the Canucks face next.

Eddie Lack will get the start in net, as he'll get a chance to rebound from a poor span during which he gave up six goals on 12 shots.

As for taking something positive out of Monday's game despite giving up seven goals in one period — the first time that's happened for the franchise since 1985 against the Edmonton Oilers — there are a few things.

For one, Henrik Sedin finally got a goal, his first in 24 games. Ryan Kesler scored too, making it just the second time this season that the club's top-two centres have found the back of the net in the same game.

It was also the fourth time this season the Canucks managed to score two power play goals in one night, as they went two-for-four. But the win wasn't there, and it's becoming an all-too-familiar result over the past two months.

"It's been a lot of nights where you lay in bed and wonder what's happened," Henrik said. "There was a point in the season where we played extremely well … it's tough to put a finger on why it is (that we're playing different now).

"We're making way too many mistakes as a team. That's what bugs us the most."

Century mark

Captain Henrik Sedin will reach quadruple digits on Wednesday, in games played that is. The centre will appear in his 1,000th game — all with the Canucks — when he steps on the Winnipeg ice. In 999 career matches, the Swede has 192 goals and 641 assists. The bad news though is that brother Daniel won't be alongside him for the milestone as coach Tortorella said the winger is still more than "day to day" and won't join the team on the road trip after suffering a leg injury in the Heritage Classic.

 

 

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