I’m going to say it now and get it over with. It’s not hard for the Canucks to fall to 0-6, it’s not hard at all. They’re behind the 8 ball already being down 0-3 and with a few bad bounces and the way the schedule is the Canucks could find themselves in a very big hole to start. For one, they’ve never started a season 0-4 so the pressure of that is clearly there. Whenever the Canucks get close to these new “losing records” like they did last year, they tend to set new ones. Not something I’m a fan of. But in all seriousness it’s easy and here’s why.
Tonight they play a Habs team that has taken a few big early injuries and who are coming off a tough game to the Flames last night. The Habs are going to come out looking for something early to take the edge off of the home ice advantage. It’s likely going to be a fast game and the Canucks need to come out flying like they did against the Blue Jackets and if anything, start a few early scraps. None of that nonsense sissy pushing and shoving. The Blue Jackets game was a tease for fighting and the Canucks should have just dropped them and made a point rather than just pushing and shoving after nearly every whistle in the 3rd.
For arguments sake, assume the Canucks don’t win tonight, the schedule is not in their favour. I’m beginning to wonder who created this schedule because it’s terrible. After tonight the Canucks have a four day break before they play the Stars, and then they have a five day break before they play the Flames for the second time this season, and to make things worse, the Flames game is to first in a NW Division back to back first versus the Flames, and then against the Wild who the Canucks have yet to see this year. If past seasons are any indication the Canucks don’t always fare well in games after long breaks. As if the four day break isn’t bad, the five day break throws us into a back to back versus two wins we can’t afford to lose to.
All it takes is a bad start against Dallas, and a flat start versus the Flames after two long breaks and the Canucks could find themselves in a really big hole. Couple that with the fact the Flames game is a back to back, the importance of righting the ship now gets thrown into perspective. Also, the Wild are a very unpredictable team this year. The Canucks can’t go into the second game of that back to back expecting a trap-playing, Jacques Lemaire Wild. Times they are a changing and that team is going to come out skating and the Canucks need to expect a Wild team that they’re going to have to adapt to from scratch. As much as I hate to say this, and as much as I try to be glass-half-full most of the time, it’s not hard to see how this could snowball into a nightmare for the Canucks. Two losses off of long breaks, two tough NW division games in a back to back, and then after that another NW division game on the Monday against the Oilers. Tonight should be as much of a must-win early in the season as any other game.
The Canucks can’t afford to squander these early points, especially against NW division teams. With the race for the division title so close these early (potential) losses could come back to bite as a tie break for the title, home ice, or even a playoff spot. With 3 of the next 5 games against the NW division, and those 3 games coming in a row, Montreal’s game should take on a whole new significance. The Canucks don’t need to just win tonight, they need to kill the Canadiens. Averaging 40 shots a game, if they can come out like they did against Columbus they’ll be poised well for that first win, and first home win on the campaign.