In the wake of Vancouver’s victory over Columbus on Saturday night, it is difficult to determine if the Canucks are slumping. They currently sit in second place in the Western Conference with a hefty 11 point lead on their nearest divisional opponent. They are also practically locked in for the post-season. And yet, in their past 10 games they hold a 4-4-2 record, a blemish that sticks out like getting the worst zit of your life on prom night.
Slump gets tossed around in Vancouver with reckless abandon. Lose 2 games? Slump. Luongo melts once in 3 months? Slump. But to determine if a team is actually slumping and not just having a few nights off, there are certain parameters that must be met:
1) The team is not winning
– you can’t be in a slump if you never lose
2) Their level of play has gone down
– If the team is playing their absolute best but losing because their opponent is simply better, it is not because they are slumping
3) There is a negative impact as a result of the games lost
The perfect example of this is the Boston Red Soxs’ absolute implosion last season, resulting in them missing the playoffs despite needing to only win 1 of their last 9 games
Alright, so where does that leave the Canucks?
First and foremost, they are without a doubt losing games. Check. They are also losing to teams they have historically had no problem beating and are in no way weaker than. Despite having just defeated Columbus, the scoreline was still tight. Eerily tight considering they are by far the worst team in the league. Check. As to the negative impact, technically the Canucks are not in jeopardy of losing their playoff spot even if they go under .500 for the remainder of the season. But, walking into the playoffs while not performing at their peak level is a serious risk. There are no chump contenders in the Western Conference and a first round could see the Canucks facing Chicago, San Jose, LA, Colorado or Dallas. Which ever of these teams wins the dogfight for the bottom of the West will be coming in hot and looking to dethrone last season’s Western Conference champions. Check.
In spite of the success the Canucks have seen so far this season, they are without a doubt in the midst of a slump. While this is not necessarily the end of the world at this juncture of their season, the Canucks do have to be aware that even if they aren’t ready for the playoffs in 3 weeks, everyone else will be.