The Paper Feature: Is it time to panic yet?

Here’s a potentially-alarming fact: if the NHL playoffs were to commence tomorrow, the Canucks would miss the cut.

This next part is less alarming: the playoffs don’t start tomorrow. (That’s good, because I was starting to get worried that I had somehow missed a full 5 months of my life given all the consternation in Canuck nation, and I would cry if I missed Christmas. And my son’s birthday; that’s probably important too.)

Thanks to a hyper-competitive Western Conference, the Canucks’ X-X-X record has them in ninth place, just outside of the playoff picture. Fortunately, like Michelangelo’s Entombment, that picture is unfinished, which means that any panic at the moment is premature. I prefer, to paraphrase the great Eddie Izzard, mature panic or even post-mature. Wise, learned man panic.

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To panic or not to panic: that is the question

“Don’t panic.”

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.

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Why Mason Raymond with the Sedins isn’t the worst idea in the history of the world

Mason Raymond has become public enemy no. 1 in Vancouver of late, and it’s easy to see why. The winger only has 16 points this season, with 8 coming in his first month back from injury in December, so the numbers, like the fans, aren’t exactly giving him the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, nearly every error he makes occurs in the offensive zone, the only zone many Canuck fans seem to watch. Between his tendency to fall down and his penchant for turnovers, his squirrelly play inside the opposition’s end stands out even to the most passive observer.

Futhermore, you know there’s still a large contingent of fans that thought the Canucks could get what they need at the deadline simply by trading Raymond away. Amazingly, these same fans would have been happy if he had been flipped for a bag of Skittles (even tropical flavour). Somehow, the Canucks’ winger was both worthless and worth everything, and when he wound up going nowhere, Vancouver fans were upset that Mike Gillis was unable to move his magic beans.

When Cody Hodgson was moved instead, the mood on Raymond soured even further. For fans that had fallen in love with Hodgson’s play and had already traded Raymond in their minds, the events of trade deadline day were like swapping Hodgson to bring back Raymond.

All of this is to say that Alain Vigneault wasn’t going win, regardless of where he played the much-maligned MayRay Wednesday night, because fans want to see Raymond in a fiery furnace, not in the lineup.

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Don’t Panic, Canucks Fans. There Are Still Plenty of Reasons to Panic. Welcome to the stretch drive, the unpredictable and unstable back half of the NHL regular season. With All-Star weekend now in the rearview, the next break in the schedule is the part where it ends, and the looming conclusion to the campaign is [...]

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