Motivation is the fire in which the Canucks burn

If the Sedins are frustrated, they haven’t been showing it.
(Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Ok, yes, so I stole the title. Big deal. It’s totally the problem with the Canucks right now.

After a listless loss to the Stars, many fans on twitter were despondent at the team’s lack of effort of late. Friends text me "tell me why I shouldn’t be getting anxious about the Sedins’ play" It’s tough to give a straight answer, so let’s look at some numbers first.

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      D Sedin   H Sedin  
      for ag for ag
DAL 5-2 L 5 5 4 5
BUF 5-3 L 5 5 6 5
STL 2-0 W 3 0 3 0
PHX 2-1 SOL 8 5 11 5
DAL 3-2 OTL 3 5 3 4
NJ 2-1 W 2 7 2 4

Those numbers tell us a lot. First of all, we can see that the Sedins are still generating chances. The problem is, given their extreme zone starts, they are giving up more chances than we should be comfortable with. They were pretty poor in their own end in the 3rd period against Dallas on Tuesday (admittedly, mostly Alex Burrows’ fault).

So some of their recent struggles are a luck driven mirage. But I have to believe there’s more to it than just some bad bounces. In the summer, I wrote about Alex Mogilny. One of the great criticisms during much of his time in Vancouver was that he just didn’t look like he cared. That’s a fair comment, but you also need to remember how god awful the Canucks really were during much of his time here. The 98-99 team went 23-47-12. The team scored just 192 goals, while giving up 253.

Alex Mogilny was never going to to score another 51 goals to make the difference. On top of that, he was injured for 23 games. How would you feel, when the game was as easy as it was for him, showing up every night and knowing what you did made very little difference?

With a team as god-awful as that, would you have tried?

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Flash forward; this team is the complete opposite of god awful. You’ve been running at top gear for the better part of two seasons – realistically more – and last year you almost won it all. What are you focused on? The playoffs.

With the division, and one of the top two spots wrapped up, how can the players not be thinking ahead and wanting the playoffs to begin right now?

Of course, that hardly serves the fans. People pay good money to watch a quality product. The argument isn’t that the Canucks are coasting, far from it. What it really is about is getting a sense of perspective. The Canucks are doing a bunch of things beyond the Sedins. For starters, they are trying out a couple new players and finding out how they fit into the system is going to be a transition period, no doubt.

Further, the team is fiddling with other alternatives, different wingers, different defensive pairings, all sorts of things to prep for ‘what-if’ situations in the playoffs. In a strange way, what we’re watching right now is an extended pre-season for the playoffs.

There will be mistakes, there will be a lot of dull moments as the team nurses the last portion of the season. I guess we can throw our arms up in the air, because winning big is much more fun.

But I’m going to save my worrying for the playoffs.

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