In a regular season that finds the Canucks easily perched atop their division with an outside chance at another conference and/or regular season title, it should be hard to be disappointed. But after last season, which found the Canucks rarely taking their foot off the gas as they went essentially wire-to-wire to earn the franchise’s first ever President’s Trophy as the leading regular season team, the uninspired and ineffective play of recent weeks has the always neurotic fan base (or, at least, media contingent) looking for answers.
And, on paper, their struggles are apparent. Since their victory over Boston in the “game of the season”, the Canucks, despite posting an impressive 17-8-5 record, have had troubles outplaying their opponents at even strength (their even strength goal differential being only plus 5 during the thirty games since the Boston game – as opposed to plus 18 in the 42 games before that). Further, of those 17 wins, eight have come in bonus time (overtime or shootout), which really normalizes their record to a very lackluster 9-8-13 in the wake of the taking of Boston.
Even more troubling, since the departure of Cody Hodgson (who had been the Canucks’ most efficient five-on-five performer), the Canucks have posted a 3-5-1 record, being outscored 22 to 14 at even strength – an alarming one goal per game negative differential.