With a very mediocre 4-4-2 record in their last 10 games, it’s safe to say the Canucks are not playing their best hockey. The Sedin’s are mired in in one of their worst pointless streaks in years, the powerplay has been useless, and the defense has been suspect at best. The postseason is just 11 games away and a certain amount of alarm has set in, such that it has gotten to the point where Mason Raymond will likely play with the Sedins next game. While there are valid reasons for concern, it will be important for the organization, and the city to remain calm going forward
Last year Vancouver finished first in the NHL, and while it would be nice to win the President’s Trophy and go into the playoffs with home ice advantage throughout their duration, working towards first place in the league may not be the best thing for the Canucks, or any team for that matter. No, I’m not referring to the ‘President’s Trophy Curse’. Rather, the reason it may be so uncommon for a first placed team to win the Stanley Cup, is because they are burned out by the time they make it to the playoffs. To gain top spot, and then maintain that position is no easy task. You’ve effectively got a target on your head. Teams ranked two to three want your spot; teams battling for playoff spots want to see how they measure up; then there’s the teams that are out of the playoffs, but they still play you hard in an attempt to earn respect. No matter who you’re playing when you’re the number one seed, you’re going to have a tough battle. By the time playoffs roll around, you’d be lucky to have the stamina to make it past the second round.
So what does this mean for the Canucks? If everything works out, it’ll see them enter the first round of the playoffs energized and playing at the peak of their abilities. The powerplay will once again be lethal, the Sedin’s will contribute consistently, and maybe, just maybe Mason Raymond won’t fall over (ah, who am I kidding, set the over/under at 3.5 per game). The fact that Vancouver hasn’t played so well as of late could be attributed to a lack of interest in the regular season, which ultimately may not be such a bad thing moving forward. Yes it results in losses every now and then, but if they are indeed holding back, then reserving energy for the playoffs is a smart move. Just look to past Cup winners Chicago and Boston. Both had runs of bad form late into the season, and while I can’t personally attribute their success to a lack of interest in the regular season, their bad record going into the postseason ultimately didn’t affect them.
Of course, this all depends a lot on whether the Canucks can at least warm up in these last 11 games. Any athlete knows it’s near impossible to perform at peak levels without warming up before the big game. So if, in this home stretch, the Canucks fail to score a couple power play goals, if the Sedin’s don’t get a handful of points, if they’re unable to hold their opponents to less than three goals a game, then fans, it will be time to open the glass box and push the big red button.