By the end of the night’s action, the Vancouver Canucks could be six points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, and in fairly big trouble.
Or, they could be two points back, and things wouldn’t look quite so bad.
So yeah, tonight is sort of pivotal, given the way the standings look right now:
The Canucks host the Kings tonight, while the Coyotes are in Nashville and the Wild entertain the Blues.
The last time Vancouver missed the playoffs was 2007-08, when players like Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison were still with the club. Since then, the Canucks have won a pair of Presidents’ Trophies and made it all the way to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. So the concern at the team’s current place in the standings is understandable.
Also understandable is the frustration. With the exception of Tuesday’s shootout loss to Florida, the Canucks have actually played quite well in recent home defeats. They got unlucky in a 2-1 overtime loss to San Jose; they outshot Dallas, 43-23, and lost by a goal; and on Saturday, it was a nine-second lapse versus the Blackhawks that cost them.
Based on possession stats like Corsi and Fenwick, the Canucks are one of the best teams in the NHL. But hockey games are decided by goals, and an inability to finish chances has cost Vancouver. Per Extra Skater, the Canucks’ shooting percentage is just 7.8, 24th overall.
Alex Burrows is the poster child for Vancouver’s snakebitten forwards. In 13 games, the 32-year-old has no goals on 42 shots. No NHL forward has that many shots without at least a goal.
“The worst part is you feel like you let your teammates down and it’s not a good feeling,” said Burrows, per The Province. “A goal here and there could change the storyline at the end of the night. You have to put in the extra work. Work harder in the gym and on the ice and prepare harder. Eat better and sleep better and if you do all those things, you’re going to get your luck.”
Burrows has a career shooting percentage of 13.1, so it’s not like he’s known for lacking finish.
Granted, the Canucks still have 57 games to pull themselves out of their Western Conference hole. Goalie Roberto Luongo said today that he doesn’t “look at the standings right now.”
Then again, he doesn’t really need to, given the constant reminders from media and fans.