This epigram sits at the beginning of two pop culture landmarks: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the discography of Coldplay. In the former’s case, it’s a perfect introduction to one of the great works of science fiction. In the latter’s case, it’s an imperfect introduction, in that it’s the best song Coldplay has ever done. It’s never ideal to peak with the first song on your first album. Do that, and it’s really only a matter of time before you’re the creepiest, singing, dancing, CGI rabbit in music video history.
But “don’t panic” is more than just a great phrase to put on the cover of a book or a great song by a mediocre band — its also good advice. Arthur C. Clarke once said it’s the best advice.
That is, unless it really is time to panic, and for many Canucks fans, it is. Vancouver has lost 8 of their last 11, including 3 straight, and if that wasn’t enough, their most recent loss came at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets, hockey’s punching bag. The way most people see it, losing to the Blue Jackets is like locking your keys in the car. You have no one to blame but yourself.
After the game, Canucks fans started asking if it was time to flip the pool. Perhaps. But perhaps not. Let’s take a moment and weigh the pros and cons of full-blown panic.
PANIC!!! – The Canucks lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the worst team in hockey! That means they’re worse than the worst team in hockey, which means — gasp – the Canucks are the worst team in hockey!
Don’t panic. – Beating the Blue Jackets is never a foregone conclusion, because this is the NHL and any team can beat any team on any given night. As an example: the Chicago Blackhawks, who can do no wrong, have struggled against Columbus this season. Whle they’ve won all three meetings, no victory has been by more than one goal, and in their most recent encounter, Chicago needed a late goal and overtime to get it done. Another example: the Detroit Red Wings, who have 28 points, just like Vancouver, have lost to the Blue Jackets twice this season.
PANIC!!! - The Canucks are 11-12. They’ve lost more games than they’ve won!
Don’t panic. - Yet another reason the charity point is stupid: it encourages disingenuous readings of the standings. Yes, the Canucks have technically lost more games than they’ve won, but they’ve also gotten points in 17 of 23. Sure, that’s a slightly optimistic way of looking at it, but it’s also the way the NHL standings look at it. The Canucks remain the third-best team in the conference, not just by virtue of leading the Northwest division, but actual points. Right now, it makes sense to ignore the points they’ve gotten in 6 of their 12 losses and talk about how they’re a sub-.500 hockey team, but keep in mind that a win in their next game means they’re on a three-game point streak.
PANIC!!! - The Canucks have just three wins in their last 10!
Don’t panic. - They’ve also got points in 7 of their last 10 and 3 of their last 4, but yes, 3-3-4 is a bad run for sure. Still, it’s not as bad as it sounds, and it’s not bound to stay this bad much longer. How do we know? The Canucks are fifth in the NHL in Fenwick Close, the advanced statistic that correlates most closely with a team’s future record. Remember how the LA Kings were awful to start the season but people kept insisting they’d turn it around, or the Wild were good last year but people kept saying they were going to fall? Those doomsday refuters were basing their predictions largely on Fenwick Close, at which last year’s Wild were bad and this year’s Kings are good. They were right about both. The Wild dropped off the face of the earth, and the Kings are 7-3-0 in their last 10 and sitting comfortably in fourth. In other words, the Canucks aren’t a bad team. They’re a very good team going through a bad stretch.
PANIC!!! - The powerplay is truly terrible!
Don’t panic. - Actually, yes. Feel free to panic a little over this, because it really is bad. But it’s not an irreparable problem. Certainly, the Canucks are struggling without Ryan Kesler, the club’s best special teams player, adding urgency and unpredictability to the unit, but there are adjustments to be made. Draw up some more plays for Daniel Sedin, who is too good at shooting the puck to have just seven powerplay shots all season. Get Jordan Schroeder off the damn unit in favour of, say, Jason Garrison. Or put David Booth on there. He shoots the puck a lot, and some powerplay time might help him on the path towards shooting the puck in on a semi-regular basis.
PANIC!!! — Keith Ballard keeps getting benched for his mistakes while Alex Edler doesn’t get benched for his! It’s unfair!
Don’t panic. - As an example of why one player gets yanked from the lineup for his bad games and the other doesn’t, let’s look at Thursday night’s game in Columbus. It was an abysmal game for Edler from a “keeping the puck out of the Canucks’ net” standpoint. I think we all agree on this. But he also led all skaters in shots attempted with 9, as well as scoring chances for with 5. He had a bad play in overtime, but he was also the Canucks’ best offensive engine. That’s the case many nights. Taking him out of the game is going to hurt the team as much, if not more, than his occasional mistakes. Keith Ballard, on the other hand, isn’t capable of that kind of impact on a good night, which is why he’s the sixth defenceman, and why even a slight bump down the depth chart means a game night in a suit.
PANIC!!! – Mason Raymond is the team’s second best centre right now!
Don’t panic. - Mason Raymond is the team’s second best centre right now. Not bad for a guy everyone wanted to throw in a pit and then sell to Egyptians a few months back.
PANIC!!! – The Canucks looked tired and uninspired against Columbus, but looked energized and motivated against the Sharks. Are they undiagnosed bipolar?
Don’t panic. - Playing bipolar got Bradley Cooper his first Oscar nomination. This could still work out.
PANIC!!! - Tom Sestito left practice early and may have been seen walking with a limp!
Don’t panic. - DO PANIC!!!Tags: Blogs are for lists, Panic