The bandwagon’s been restless lately. With the Canucks play feeling at time like it’s taking one step forward and two steps back, this city with such high expectations unrealistically subconsciously expects the team to go 82-0-0 and sweep the playoffs every season. I guess they miss the memo every year. With that in mind, the Canucks have been playing .500 hockey as of late. Largely in part due to a great home record, the Canucks are better off than they should be when you consider their road record.
Good teams win on the road. That’s what everyone says and that’s what’s gone around while the Canucks road record remains well under .500. The problem is that people look at the end result from the year before (I refer to things like winning the NW Division) and expect it to continue on to the start of the following season (trampling all over teams as we did down the stretch) after a long off season. However the Canucks are slow starters. We always hope it will be otherwise, but it’s the same case every year. When I say slow starter though, I don’t just mean a poor October, I mean the first half of the season.
There’s fans, sportscasters, and Nick Kypreos (if there is a god, please remove him from Sportsnet… the effect of his concussions never really wore off) who talk about how the Canucks “aren’t in the playoffs”. We’re only 27 games into the season. Last I checked being “in the playoffs” meant you’d finished an 82 game schedule and your team was amongst the top 8 teams in either the Eastern or Western Conference.
The Canucks have proven time and again that their slow start extends from October 1st until December 26th. Year in and year out they’re hovering around .500, usually above .500 by a few games and year in and year out we see them just charge their way to the finish of the regular season and challenge for the division title. The Canucks slow start is something that goes past Luongo and is something the Team has done for a while.
While the West is a tight conference, the Northwest a tough division, there’s no reason for people to imply a “must-win” mentality to games this early on in the season. I’d start worrying around the Olympic break. If by then the Canucks haven’t gotten in gear you have a problem and at that point you have to start evaluating the team’s shortcomings and where to bolster them at the deadline. It’s just frustrating to hear sportscasters talk about a team “not being in the playoffs” when you’re hardly a quarter through the season. Now’s the time to enjoy games. After Christmas you can pull out the defibrillator for the roller coaster ride to the finish that ensues.