The Stars are playing the Canucks tonight. For the third time this season. And while I could say plenty about this game, you've probably all heard it before. But what you might not have heard, is how the same things sound different, coming from the other side.
Which is why I'm bringing in a Canadian. To represent that other side. Today's guest blogger writes for a little known site called Pass it to Bulis, as well as an even less well known site called Puck Daddy. A few thoughts on the Vancouver Canucks, from the man that brings you Hockey Hugs every week... Harrison Mooney:
1) People less kind than I might say that Vancouver has been in a bit of a free fall for the last month or so. And not to put too fine a point on it, but the Canucks are now 1-2-1 following the Olympic Break, managing all of four goals in that span. What's going on?
Short answer: The Canucks are bad now. But I assume you want more than that. The fact is, this team just can't score. The Sedins haven't scored in 2014. Alex Burrows hasn't scored at all this season. It's incredible.
In the event of a miracle where the team scores, say, two goals in the same game, they can't hold leads. At the Heritage Classic, the team scored twice in the first period, and it was downright shocking. They haven't scored twice in the same period in ages. But then they collapsed, letting Ottawa back into the game. Midway through the second period, Vancouver was down by one. Then it was back to business as usual. They barely mustered anything in the way of scoring chances.
2) I was going to ask about the seemingly perpetual goalie controversy in Vancouver. Only, with one fell swoop on Tuesday it disappeared. Surprised? Relieved? Worried that two backup goaltenders competing for the starting position will suddenly grow under the Vancouver spotlight into a brand new controversy?
Surprise and relief are both up there, but I think the emotion most in Vancouver are feeling is annoyance, especially with the way it went down. If Mike Gillis was a new GM, I'd be lauding him for getting rid of the last guy's seemingly unfixable problem. But he's not new. He's the guy who made this mess, and you don't get credit for doing your own laundry. This whole thing has been woefully mismanaged. I'm not worried about the tandem of Lack and Markstrom. They'll be just fine. My only real concern is that Gillis and the Canucks' front office and ownership will find a way to screw over their next starter the same way.
3) John Tortorella has already managed to have a good number of epic moments with the Canucks. Is the move that brought him in at the beginning of the season looked back on fondly?
Not at all. The Canucks under Alain Vigneault had their issues towards the end, but the Canucks under John Tortorella have become a full-blown crisis, and it's hard to believe it's not his fault. How has a team loaded with offensive superstars suddenly forgotten how to score? Why does this team look completely checked out some nights? What the Hell happened to the Canucks? We understand coaching in this league about as well as we understand goaltending, so it's difficult to say exactly what's going on in Vancouver, but I know this: the Canucks never looked like this under Alain Vigneault. Never. All clues point to Tortorella's system being a complete failure. He might not even last beyond this year.
4) And lastly, the Canucks are on the outside looking in, and play in the second toughest division in the league (don't pretend the Pacific Division Redux is better than Conference III). If you were a Vegas bookie, what odds would you give Vancouver of making the playoffs?
The odds wouldn't be good. Their fate is no longer their own, and teams like Dallas and Phoenix don't just have points on them -- they have games in hand. For the Canucks to make the playoffs, they'd have to go on one Hell of a run, and I've seen nothing in their game, post-Olympics, that tells me they have it in them. They're done.