I named my last article, “Shadows of Last Season.” To be honest, it was more of an afterthought, with the comparisons to last season only really coming into my head as I was finishing the article. Now, as the Canucks have extended their losing streak — which at the time, I was hesitant to use the word streak because it was only two games — to five games (one game with a point), the feeling is ever more apparent.
In this same article, I incorrectly predicted that the Canucks would bounce back in Montreal, and if not returning home to face the New York Rangers after a long break would surely return the Canucks to their winning ways. Instead they fall 3-1 to the Canadiens, and follow it up with a horrendous performance against the Rangers in a 5-1 loss.
After a poor performance like the one we saw against the Rangers, good teams usually rebound. The Canucks got shutout 2-0 against the Dallas Stars in their next game.
Granted, they dominated the first period and ran into a goalie who apparently was struggling, but puts on a red-hot performance against the Canucks. Not to mention that the Stars seem to have had the Canucks’ number recently, having won the five previous matchups against the Canucks.
But this was the story last season. Even before the Canucks began their death spiral in the latter half of the season, there would be countless games where the Canucks would dominate the play, only to be unable to score — or at least more than a goal.
A favourite term in John Tortorella’s press conference vocabulary was “puck luck” — or more specifically a lack of it.
It seemed about every night that every goalie that the Canuck faced had their game of the season — much like Kari Lehtonen seemed to have Wednesday night.
Another thing — which is related to the scoring woes — that produces a feeling of deja vu is that feeling of inevitability creeping in watching the Canucks.
Up until their loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs, this team had a feeling to it that no lead was too big to overcome — down 4-0, it didn’t feel out of the question that the Canucks were still in the game and could come back.
Recently, the Canucks are scary to watch once they let in one goal — now that seems like an insurmountable lead to overcome. It seems like the Canucks have made a habit of giving up — or perhaps not giving up, but allowing the goals scored on them to get in their heads.
Previously, the Canucks would continue to battle back no matter the score. Like I said, games in which they were down three goals were still fun to watch because the Canucks still looked to be in the game.
In Wednesday’s game against Dallas, they dominate the first period, but Eddie Lack lets in one weak goal at the beginning of the second period, and then all of a sudden the Stars controlled the play.
Now when the Canucks are down by one goal, it’s enough to question if they even have a chance at winning the game.
Time for Panic Mode?
It’s definitely been worrying to watch the Canucks as of late, but at the same time this has been the first time that the Canucks have really faced adversity this season. This is only the second time they have lost games consecutively, and the first that they have lost more than two in a row.
All teams are going are going to face adversity at some point — all teams lose games consecutively at some point. Nearly every team has some stretch that causes fans to question whether their team is heading in the right direction.
To quote some cliche — or at least paraphrase it — it’s not if the team faces adversity, but how it comes out. Do the Canucks re-find that spark one game and start stringing together some wins? Or do they follow last year’s example and just go off the rails for the second half of the season?
It also doesn’t help that the Canucks are on such an odd schedule where recently games have been spread out. It probably doesn’t help having multiple days to sit on a loss. For good or bad, though, soon they will be playing every second night — if not a back-to-back — and perhaps then they will be able to get in a better rhythm.
Either way, the Canucks have to win soon — before Christmas, if one wants to believe this is just a temporary slump. And their next two games won’t be easy either, with the Calgary Flames themselves trying to return to winning ways after a seven game losing streak, and the Arizona Coyotes shutting out the Canucks 5-0 in their last meetup.
Austin Cozicar is a student of Simon Fraser University (SFU), and is the sports editor for The Peak, SFU’s student newspaper. He covers the Canucks and can be followed on Twitter @TheRealACozicar.