Every Wednesday we take a look at The Week Ahead to see what storylines we’ll be following, because Wednesday is a day meant for looking ahead to the future. Around here we call Wednesday “Future Day” and we all wear silver jumpsuits and big bubble space helmets. Doesn’t everybody do that?
The Canucks have two more games before the Olympic break, and we’ll get to those, but first a word on the break itself, and that word is finally.
Finally, and not so much because the Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver was so much fun and the years have fallen away slowly as we wait for the next one, although that’s true, but because, as a Canucks fan, you should cherish this brief intermission.
Simply put, it’s more than an intermission. This isn’t just a chance to get up, stretch the legs, hit the restroom, and maybe buy a sparkling water. For Canucks fans, this is a much-needed vacation.
The team has been frustrating this season. There’s no getting around it. They’re not scoring. They’re not converting on powerplays. The Sedins look unmagical. Everyone’s hurt. They don’t appear to be elite any longer.
Granted, I think an honest assessment of this team at the beginning of the season would have led to the conclusion that they weren’t going to be elite, and I think the despair over this fact is evidence that we’ve all been spoiled. Your team’s not going to be elite every year; it’s foolish to think otherwise.
Similarly, I think projecting the lineup over the next few years based on what the Canucks have now is equally foolish. A lot can change in a hurry. The Canucks might make some adjustments, get a few unexpected performances, gel as a team, and be back in contention next year. Or they might plummet and be Buffalo or Edmonton, two teams whose fanbases deserve a lot more sympathy in their plight.
Really, anything could happen.
In a way, that has to be the fun of following the Canucks. I’ve said it before, but I think fans who view every moment of every game through the lens of CUP CONTENTION are ruining the fan experience with big-picture fretting. In the end, it’s not about whether or not the Canucks win the Cup, really. That’s the goal, sure, but it’s really sort of a MacGuffin. Most times, the Canucks aren’t going to win it, and if you measure your enjoyment of a Canucks’ season by whether or not the team wins the Cup, then you’ve yet to enjoy anything, and if you put this much time and effort into something you don’t enjoy, you’re an idiot.
Far more fun is just following the team through the natural highs and lows of being a team — not unlike a reality show, really. You follow the team from game to game, and little storylines pop up here and there, and sure, you know what they’re after, but in the end, as long as it’s on, you’re going to keep watching to see what happens next.
Right now, the Canucks are in a skid, and at some point, they won’t be. I’m actually sort of looking forward to seeing where and when the turn comes. I bet it’ll be a memorable moment, not unlike when Alex Burrows scored that breakaway winner on the Hurricanes back in 2009. (Come to think of it, another one of those would put an end to two long-running skids.)
All of this said, though, it’s been an unsatisfying season, and I think the recalibration of who this team is that’s happening in the minds of Canucks fans has been exhausting. And thankfully, for two weeks at least, we get to take a vacation from it and cheer, once again, for a team that also happens to be the favourite.
Enjoy the sunshine, Canucks fans.
Thursday, February 6th
Away versus the Montreal Canadiens
Before we get there, though, the Canucks have two more games on their Eastern road swing. The first is a visit to Montreal, the new home of Dale Weise. But Weise probably won’t be on the ice all that much, so if you’re looking for something else to keep an eye on, try this: Douglas Murray is old and slow and not very good anymore. He’s known as a stay-at-home defenceman, and not because he’s naturally good at defending, but because he’s bad at taking the puck anywhere else. Watch him, then watch Raphael Diaz, and chuckle to yourself that the the Canadians traded the latter to make room for the former.
Saturday, February 8th
Away versus the Toronto Maple Leafs
Finally, the Canucks close out the pre-Olympic portion of the schedule in Toronto, the home of former General Manager Dave Nonis. This is a winnable game, and I’ll explain why: the Maple Leafs are terribly defensively. The tradeoff, of course, is that they seem capable of scoring right now, but if the Canucks can play the sort of tight defensive game they’re capable of, they’ll get some chances to make it count. Of course, that also means this could be one of those games where they outshoot their opponents drastically and still lose. That’d be a frustrating way to wrap up the the 2013-14 season BCE (Before Canadian Excellence).
Note: PITB won’t be going away for the Olympics. We’ll still be following the Canucks in the tournament, but we’ll also be switching our overall allegiance from Team Canucks to Team Canada. Should be a fun experiment. For the next two weeks, you can call us Pass it to Zamuner. All hail PITZ!Tags: The Week Ahead