Vancouver Canucks: Did Beating Winnipeg Get the Canucks out of Their Slump?
A run of seemingly lackadaisical play that included *gasp* a pair of regulation losses saw the Canucks in the midst of a full-blown slump.
At least according to overreacting fans clogging the message boards and airwaves.
Yes, in Vancouver, losing back-to-back games and falling out of first place in the NHL is cause for alarm. Clearly we have been spoiled the last couple of years.
Still, despite the bandwagon quickly emptying in Vancouver, there clearly was a problem. The Canucks were being outworked on the ice, and uncharacteristically giving up third-period leads.
Throwing fuel on the fire, the Sedins were in the midst of what seemed like their worst personal slumps since prior to the lockout as well.
And as the Sedins go, so does the power play, which like the overall team standings, had slipped out of top spot in the NHL over this stretch.
There were any number of theories circulating as to why the Canucks were slumping.
Call it a lack of motivation due to being almost 20 points up in the Northwest Division race.
Or maybe just general midseason doldrums for a team that locked up a playoff spot back in January and now has nothing to prove until the playoffs start.
Or maybe Mike Gillis doomed the franchise to failure by trading Cody Hodgson. (By the way, Hodgson has zero points in his first five games with Buffalo.)
Was the 3-2 win over the Jets the first game in a new streak?
In any case, the Canucks' leadership group thought it was time to right the ship and called a players-only meeting prior to the March 8th game against the Winnipeg Jets.
This would be the perfect time to bust out of the slump, as Rogers Arena would be boisterous with former Winnipeg fans coming out in force for the one and only game against the Jets this season.
Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien, two former members of the hated Blackhawks play key roles for the Jets. Kyle Wellwood and Tanner Glass, a pair of well-liked former Canucks now play for the Jets as well.
And to top it off, tonight was the Canucks' annual Canucks for Kids fundraising telethon.
The Canucks came out flying in an entertaining first period, outshooting Winnipeg 20-11 in the first period. Altogether the Canucks outshot Winnipeg 45-32, led by Alex Edler and Chris Higgins, who each had seven shots.
The AMEX line of Higgins, Ryan Kesler and David Booth created 16 shots, including a couple of crossbars by Ryan Kesler. That seemed almost a game's worth of offence by the entire team lately.
The power play, the subject of much discussion, went 0-1.
But on that single power play, the Canucks worked the puck on a string, generating six shots and spending the entire power play in the Jets' zone. So that seemed much improved too.
Jannik Hansen in particular was flying around creating turnovers and leading rushes, including one that led to the game-winning goal by Samuel Pahlsson. Hansen's play was something that Canucks fans haven't seen from him in recent months after his hot start to the season.
The challenge will be for the Canucks to build upon this game and pound on the worst team in the Eastern Conference when the fabled Habs come to town on Saturday March 10th for a Hockey Night in Canada marquee game.
With 14 games left in the regular season, the Canucks are only a point behind NHL-leading St. Louis for the President's Trophy.
While the trophy doesn't mean much by itself, it is something to shoot for as the Canucks try get on a winning run to build momentum for the playoffs.
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