There were a lot of positives for the Canucks to take away from Sunday nights win against the New York Islanders. The pairing of David Booth, Cody Hodgson, and Max Lapierre was the most effective line of the evening, combining for 5 points and a collective +6. Roberto Luongo had a strong night with 23 saves, with at least two highlight reel stops (the best one coming courtesy of his Johnny Canuck helmet). The powerplay, now ranked second in the league, went 1 for 3 thanks to an untimely assist by former Canuck Michael Grabner to Cody Hodgson. All in all, one could safely say Vancouver put together a solid sixty minute performance. Now, with the hated Blackhawks coming to town Wednesday, one has to wonder: which Canucks squad will show up to face them?
In Vancouver, the biggest storyline of this young season has to be the Canucks’ Jekyll and Hyde personality. One night, they look like the team that came within a single win of claiming the Stanley Cup. The next night, however, they remind us of that team left hanging their heads after losing it all. So far this year, the Canucks have yet to piece together more than two consecutive wins. Just when we think they’ve worked out all the bugs with convincing wins in Chicago and Los Angeles, scoring 8 powerplay goals, the woeful Ducks skate circles around the defense and make Luongo look like a beached whale, and all that momentum comes grinding to a halt. The Canucks looked great against the Islanders tonight to be sure, but they also looked good after beating Washington and Calgary, outscoring them 12-5, before losing to Minnesota and St. Louis being outscored 8-2. Safe to say, they’re still working out the kinks.
Thankfully, Vancouver will get some time to do just that, with just two games this week, both at home. Having been on the road for the last two weeks, playing seven games including two back-to-backs, the rest and practice time should do the team a world of good. Should they pull out a win against the Hawks on Wednesday (who themselves have won three straight), the Canucks could likely pull together a string of wins, facing Ottawa and Colorado next on the schedule. Trailing Minnesota and Edmonton by just two points in the Northwest, a few wins is all it would take to put Vancouver back in the fight with the top dogs of the Western Conference.
Obviously, it’s a little early in the season to hit the panic button. Six points are all that separate first and tenth in the West, the latter being where Vancouver presently finds themselves. That said, we all know how tight the Western Conference is year after year, and a lack of consistency is what separates those who make the playoffs from those who don’t. Lack of consistency nearly kept the Blackhawks from making the playoffs after going the distance, and no one in Vancouver wants that to be this team’s fate. We all know what this club is capable of, and it’s time to prove it.
Now’s the time for the real Canucks to stand up, and stand up tall.