Canucks and Beyond

Time to Panic?

02/15/2008 at 7:09pm EST

February is a hockey fan’s worst headache—especially when their favorite team is on the bubble and experts start dispensing their wisdom.

Case in point, in Allan Muir’s mailbag on SI, a Canucks fan writes a panicked note:

I’ll admit it. I’m in full panic mode over my Canucks. I’m starting to think the playoffs are a longshot at best unless we add a big piece to the puzzle, and soon. What do you think of our chances?
—Steve Joe, Sacramento

A Canucks fan in a panic is hardly news (that’s just what we do) but Muir’s response seems pretty over-the-top:

I think full panic is an appropriate state at this point, especially after that shootout loss to the Wild at home on Thursday night. Alexander Edler stole them a point with his late goal, but the Canucks needed two in the worst way.

Huh? Edler’s goal was a late one, but they hardly “stole” a point. They knocked out four goals (not an everyday event for this team) and played a pretty good game.

And as for panicking, I don’t get why. 24 games left, and only 2 points back of 6th place. I guess Muir feels 6th, 7th and 8th should be panicking, too?

I mean, Colorado & Calgary lose one, Canucks win one, and they’re suddenly in a 3-way tie for 6th place, for godsakes. Why panic?

But he does make one good point, that they need to play out the stretch strongly to pull this off. However…

Given that they’ve won just three of their last 10, I don’t like their chances to do that.

I like their chances just fine. They’ve had a crappy streak. And earlier in the season, they had a major winning streak (also missing a lot of players from the roster).

So I see no reason to assume that their recent record guarantees how the rest of the season plays out. But hey, I don’t have Muir’s crystal ball so maybe I’m missing something.

And sometimes it looks like coach Alain Vigneault is starting to out-think himself. Thursday night’s game against the Wild is a perfect example. In a must-win, why are Edler and Ryan Shannon, two rookies, your first two shooters? Seems to me that your go-to guys, players like Daniel Sedin and Markus Naslund, need to get the tap on the shoulder in a situation like that.

I won’t argue that Vigneault doesn’t make shaky decisions at times, but Thursday night’s shootout with the Wild is the worst example of that.

Alex Edler has not only had great mojo in the shoot outs he’s been in, he had an excellent game that night. And Shannon - same thing.

More to the point, a “go-to” guy in regular play is not necessarily a “go-to” guy in shootouts. Naslund and Sedin both have dismal records there; and Trevor Linden has an excellent one.

But everyone else on the team? Meh. All Vigneault can do is go with the hot hands.

All things considered, I see no reason to panic… yet.

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