Their coach on the hot seat, Canucks players take responsibility for sluggish starts

AP
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Saturday at Rogers Arena, the Vancouver Canucks were outshot 16-7 in the first period and went on to lose 5-2 to a stripped-down Maple Leafs side.

Two nights later at the same rink, they were outshot 17-4 in the first period and went on to lose 5-2 to a Wild side that had just fired its coach after dropping eight in a row.

Tonight, the Canucks host red-hot Anaheim. Not surprisingly, they’re aiming for a slightly more energetic start.

And for the record, the players insist that’s on them to make happen — not head coach Willie Desjardins.

“The coach shouldn’t have to come in and get you ready for a game,” forward Daniel Sedin told the Vancouver Sun. “His worry should be about (tactics). It’s up to each and every guy to be mentally ready. When it looks like it did the other night, it’s on the players. There’s no excuse for that.

“For me, there’s no excuse not to be ready. A coach can come in and yell and scream, a player can come in and yell and scream, but it’s up to each guy.”

Desjardins’ coaching has come under increasing fire as the Canucks have dropped further behind in the playoff race. The current consensus is that he’ll be replaced at the end of the season, with some even wondering if he’ll last that long.

Of course, the problem with blaming Desjardins for what ails the Canucks is that the Canucks are, well, not very good. And without Alex Edler and Brandon Sutter, they’re even less good.

That’s not to let Desjardins off the hook; it’s possible to have a weak roster and not get the most out of it. The way his team’s been dominated at times this season, he’s probably not throwing a perfect game.

Regardless of who, or what, is to blame, Vancouver has just five games remaining before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, with decisions still to be made on pending UFAs Dan Hamhuis and Radim Vrbata, and possibly others.

From a making-the-playoffs perspective, this next stretch is almost certainly their last gasp.

Related: Linden insists Canucks management and ownership are ‘completely aligned’