The Vancouver Canucks Enter Critical Stretch in Their Schedule

There is little argument that the Vancouver Canucks season so far has been a rough one to watch. Used to  steamrolling through the regular season the Canucks have yet to find any consistency and have been scuffling — losing seven of their last ten headed into Tuesday’s night game with St. Louis.

Cory Schneider returns to north america
The Canucks schedule opens up for them this week (Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

Vancouver found a little of their form against the Blues by exploding for three goals in the second period and held on for a much needed 3-2 win.

The Canucks find themselves in unfamiliar territory, battling the Minnesota Wild for the Northwest Division lead. Coming into the night Vancouver found themselves in seventh place in the West, leaking water and facing the realistic possibility of missing the playoffs all together. For Canucks fans, this must seem like a bad dream.

With the up and down start things are starting to get prickly in Vancouver as there is growing noise to trade everybody and fire everybody. While it is way too early to panic at this point, eventually something may have to give.

By getting the win on Tuesday the Canucks schedule now sets up for them to pick up some wins, and gain some momentum.

Over the next six games they play five games that should be winnable for them. This is their chance to pick up some points and more importantly, pick up their game. In this stretch they play the last place Colorado Avalance twice, the Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and the champion Kings. Only the Kings currently hold a playoff spot.

The Canucks still have some issues, this is a chance to work them out.

In Monday’s loss to Minnesota the Canucks broke a horrible 0-for-36 power play drought with their lone goal of the night scored by Henrik Sedin. The power play is killing the Canucks this season. Coming off back to back seasons when Vancouver boasted the number one (2010-2011)  and number four (2011-2012) power play in the league they have seen their man-advantage sink to 27th in the league.

With Ryan Kesler out the power play has yet to find a suitable replacement for a net presence to produce traffic for the Sedins to weave their magic through. They also have not found anyone to consistently man the points and for some reason have been reluctant to put their big free agency pick up Jason Garrison out there. Garrison has a big slap shot and with Florida last year scored nine of his 16 goals on the power play. Head coach Alain Vigneault finally threw him out there Monday and the Canucks broke their slump:

Vancouver needs more big shots like that from Garrison, the results should start coming.

If the Canucks can manage 9-10 points over this six game streak they could set themselves up to be in good position for the stretch run — where it seems they will have to hold off the Minnesota Wild. If they don’t, then things could get ugly and they may miss the playoffs.

Playing in a sometimes unforgiving market could ratchet up the pressure on the Canucks and could lead to some interesting decisions in the off season. For Canucks fans, they are hoping it doesn’t come to that.