Vancouver's 1 Point Problem

PratContributor IApril 2, 2010

CHICAGO - MARCH 05: Roberto Luongo #1 of the Vancouver Canucks (R) sits on the bench after being pulled from a game against the Chicago Blackhawks after the first period at the United Center on March 5, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canucks 6-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

So we've been watching the Canucks try for that playoff berth for a while... and now we're 1 point away. A single point separates the Canucks from the post-season. Now, it's pretty obvious that Vancouver will make the playoffs, but the consistency is what they have to strive to attain in these last 5 games.

I, as a Canucks fan, am going to give you my take on what this team needs, and needs now. Their offense isn't something to worry about. They managed to put up 3 goals without the help of Daniel Sedin, Mikael Samuelsson, Alex Burrows and Steve Bernier last game. Henrik continues to produce, and you can trust guys like Kesler and Raymond to put up points when needed, or to spark the team.

The defense on the other hand, creates (what I think) is their biggest weakness. Without a solid shut down defenseman like Willie Mitchell in the line-up, someone has to step up.

Ehrhoff's been the only positive I've seen in the last few games. Bieksa and Edler are at best inconsistent, having a great game, then disappearing for 2 games afterwards, and players like Alberts and Rome were never good enough to help out Luongo in a big way. Salo's fine for the power play or 2nd line, but the Canucks need Mitchell back, and they need their forwards to pinch more than they are doing right now if they have any hopes of not letting more than 2 goals through every game.

The goaltending situation is one that's overblown. Roberto Luongo is this team's goalie going into the playoffs. Raycroft will probably start the game against Anaheim, but it's Luongo that needs to step it up when it matters. I can forgive the 8 goal atrocity that was last night, as long as that's where it stays, last night.

This next game against Anaheim should not be taken lightly. The Ducks are a hot team, having won 7 of 10 coming into Friday, and they'll be looking to continue their hot streak. Anaheim won't make the playoffs this year, but they're playing right now as if this was the deciding stretch for them (something the Canucks should take notes on).

Another massive problem is the Canucks' road play. In the playoffs, you have to get it done at home and away, and Vancouver's road record is nothing stellar. This team needs to be winning road games heading into the post-season, and that's just not happened. Now they've got two road games left, and they're going to need to win both. Home-ice advantage is fine, but I bet you the Canucks don't want to head to game 7 every time.

Face-off is at 7:00pm Pacific, and all Vancouver needs is 1 point, but I know, you know and they know, they want 2.