The Vancouver Canucks escaped Tennessee the other night with another two points thanks to the vagaries of the No-tiesHL. After the 2010/11 season in which the Canucks played as long as possible with nothing to show for their efforts, the doldrums of this season appear to be more prolonged.
The key for the Canucks as they go through this stretch where they clearly are not playing their best but are still putting up points will be to guard against complacency. Fortunately for Canuck fans it appears that the coaching staff is still attempting to push the envelope. By splitting up the Sedins at times over the last few games as well as inserting Byron Bitz into the lineup on the top line, AV has served notice that the current level of play from the team in general and several players in particular is not sufficient.
It would be easy to stand pat and put the team in cruise control. They would still in all likelihood be able to wrap up the NW division crown by mid-March. However, what you would then have come playoff time is a complacent top three seed taking on a low seed that has been battling tooth and nail for the last eight weeks just to get to the dance. This would be a situation rife for a first round upset (see 2010 playoff series between Washington and Montreal). As such look for the Canuck coaching staff to continually ratchet up the heat on the players as the stretch drive commences.
You can catch the boys tonight at 5pm PST vs. Minnesota.