Florida-Vancouver: Panthers Top Slumping Canucks

KP WeeSenior Writer IFebruary 2, 2008

Ah...fun times again last night for Canucks haters like myself.

The Vancouver Canucks again fell to an inferior team, dropping a 4-3 shootout decision to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, Florida.

And this time, the Canucks found new ways to lose.

Vancouver, who has had to play from behind recently—they just endured a six-game stretch in which they failed to hold a lead at any point—had let the opposition score first in seven straight before breaking the streak earlier this week, never trailed against Florida.

In fact, this time the Canucks blew three one-goal leads and fell to 2-6-2 in their last ten games.

The defensive-minded Canucks were badly outshot in the third period (15-5), allowing Stephen Weiss to get the tying goal with 6:14 remaining.

Overpaid Canucks captain Markus Naslund was awarded a penalty shot with time winding down in overtime, but couldn't beat Panthers' goalie Tomas Vokoun for the winner.

Oh, isn't Naslund paid boatloads of money to score big goals?

Yup, 17 goals and 41 points in 53 games for the $6-million-a-year captain.

Incredibly, the SportsNet.ca and TSN websites are listing Naslund as "hot" for his measily three points in his last three games, randomly assigning those useless labels without looking at the big picture.

But then, I guess that point-per-game pace in his last three sure beats his season totals.

The Canucks continued to let defenseman Alexander Edler partake in shootouts, and the goat from the previous night's loss in Tampa Bay—he made a bad pass which led to the Lightning's go-ahead goal—couldn't deliver.

Yes, Edler had gotten two shootout game-winners in January, but if the Canucks are counting on him on a nightly basis they are in big trouble.

The Canucks were brutal on face-offs, winning only 35 percent off the draw. And they allowed 43 shots, keeping Roberto Luongo busy in the Vancouver net.

Ah yes...Luongo.

The Canucks' superstar in goal, who played five seasons in a Panthers uniform, was supposed to be the difference in the game.

After all, Luongo, the $6.5-million man, was a finalist for both the Hart and Vezina Trophies. And he was playing in Florida for the first time since being acquired by Vancouver to boot. Athletes returning to their former stomping grounds in a new uniform often found ways to stick it to their old club.

The Panthers came into the contest tied for 13th place out of a 15-team Eastern Conference with a 22-25-5 record, just two points ahead of last-place Tampa Bay, who by the way, took care of the Canucks a night earlier.

Yes, Luongo did his job with 40 saves. However, he couldn't prevent his team from losing yet another game.

Despite the loss, the Canucks still managed to move ahead of Nashville in the standings, tied for 7th place with the Avalanche in the Western Conference because the NHL has a dumb rule about rewarding shootout losers with a sympathy point. (Really now, why on earth should a losing team get a point? But that would be the topic for another day.)

But hopefully the Canucks' recent slump will stop dellusional fans in B.C. from continuing their nonsensical Mats Sundin or Peter Forsberg daydreams.

And if either Sundin or Forsberg really had any inclination of wanting to play in Vancouver, surely those thoughts have evaporated by now.

Why on earth would Forsberg sign with a non-contender like the Canucks if he wants to win another Stanley Cup?

And I wouldn't say that being a 7th or 8th-place outfit is a selling point to convince Sundin to waive his no-trade clause and head out to the West Coast.

Surely neither Forsberg nor Sundin would go the Curtis Joseph route, with Cujo choosing to sign with the Calgary Flames, not exactly a legitimate Cup contender.

In the meantime, Canucks fans will always laugh at Florida for giving away All-Star Luongo to Vancouver in exchange for forward Todd Bertuzzi (now with Anaheim), goalie Alex Auld (now with Boston), and defenseman Bryan Allen in the June 26, 2006 trade.

That could go down as one of the most one-sided deals in hockey history, right up there with the acquisition of Naslund from Pittsburgh for the immortal Alek Stojanov (6 points in 45 NHL games after the deal).

Come to think of it, maybe the value of those two trades mentioned above are over-stated by Canucks fans.

Luongo, who I predict will never lead the Canucks to a Stanley Cup, was outplayed by rookie Karri Ramo a night earlier and couldn't protect a third-period lead last night. And Naslund, the Canucks' all-time leading scorer, who is over the hill, was on the bench during the shootout, passed over for the great Edler.

Okay, all the joking aside, the Canucks clearly won the Luongo trade.

At least for one night, the Panthers get the last laugh.

Canucks haters like myself, also get another good laugh as well for another night.

Unfortunately, the fun stops for a few days.

The Canucks have three days off before taking on the Stars in Dallas on Tuesday night, meaning there will be no good times for at least half a week.

But come Tuesday night, there will hopefully be another post on by this Canucks hater.