Vancouver Canucks Must Play to Win in Regulation to Stay in Battle for West

John BainCorrespondent IIJanuary 18, 2012

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 17: Goalie Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks stops Jack Johnson #3 the Los Angeles Kings during his shootout attempt in NHL action on January 17, 2012 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

Although the Vancouver Canucks walked away with a single point against the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-2 shootout loss one night ago, in recent weeks the Canucks appear to have been playing for the bonus point in many tight games. Five of the last seven one-goal games the Canucks have participated in have gone to overtime or a shootout. In the constant day-to-day flux atop the Western Conference for that elusive No. 1 seed in the playoffs, one-point games aren't going to win the Canucks the West.

Maybe their game last night isn't the perfect example as they were down all game, but the Canucks need to play with more urgency to win the game in regulation. Just as much as they would like bonus points if they were battling for position near the bottom of the bracket, the teams they play would love the bonus point in order to stay in the battle for the playoffs. The bottom two seeds in the West if the playoffs were to begin today would be LA and Minnesota. The Kings have nine OT losses and the Wild have seven; these are crucial points the Canucks would not like to give up.

Of course if the NHL would change its point system to three points for a regulation win, two points for an OT/Shootout victory and one for and OT loss, this wouldn't be an issue to find urgency to play with. But so long as the Canucks are in and out of the top spot in the West, that urgency doesn't seem to be there.

In order to win the Western Conference the Canucks must win games in regulation. Despite being 6-4 in games that go to overtime/shootouts this season, that winning percentage is not good enough to instill confidence in the team when the game is tied up at the end of the third period. Of course it is hard to say that any fan wouldn't be happy with the single point after being badly outplayed all game, but a true winning team wins in regulation. 

If the Vancouver Canucks can limit the amount of games against conference opponents going into OT/Shootout, and win in regulation, the stretch run and race for top spot in the Western Conference will come a lot easier to them not only in the standings, but also save some energy for the playoff push. Despite being just five minutes, it adds up and could make a difference in the long run.

John Bain is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist

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