From hunter to hunted
With the Canucks near the top of the NHL, it’s no surprise that they’re always facing teams playing their best hockey and trying to beat them. If the Canucks want to sustain their current pace, they have to match this intensity and play their best hockey as well.
The Canucks have played some of their best hockey of their 40-year history in the last 39 days, during which they captured the fans’ undivided attention. But now, the Canucks seemed to have come down to earth a little. With that in mind though, the real measure of how far they’ve come since last season is their ability to play consistent hockey and play at the new level they’ve set. In other words, they need to prove they have the ability to rebound after struggling for a few games and being shut out in two of the five games in their road trip.
With the All-Star break approaching and the trade deadline just under six weeks away, it’s an opportune time for the Canucks to re-evaluate what they have. It’s not a secret that the success of this team lie in their depth and the ability of the supporting cast to complement its stars. It’s not a coincidence that their record-setting point streak ended when production from guys like Raymond, Tambellini and Samuelsson dried up. The Sedins, Kesler, Edler and Ehrhoff are still going to lead this offensively, but the rest of the guys need to figure out what’s affecting their game and start making an impact again.
The Canucks are in a place where they don’t need to think of “must-win games”. Even after last night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche, they still have a sizable lead in the Northwest Division, and thus, have the opportunity to work on the finer things and focus on staying healthy for when the playoffs roll around in April. That said, if they want to finish first in the Western Conference, and even win the President’s Trophy, they need to go back to playing their best hockey.
In the last 39 days, the Canucks have gone from hunter to hunted. From contender to favorites. For the rest of the season, they should expect other teams to bring their best game against them, and everyone, from the stars to the secondary scorers to the role players, need to bring their best games back.