The Worst Lead In Hockey

The worst lead in hockey

The good news is the Canucks have had a 2-0 lead in five of their first eight games, and a one goal lead in two others. The bad news is they’ve given away 8 points to conference opponents in those games.

That being said, the Canucks are off to the best start in years. And so is Luongo. As I said last time, try and remember that the calendar is meaningless. Forget that it’s January and just pretend that it’s October.

The Canucks’ start feels way better now, doesn’t it?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting there is nothing to worry about in Canucksville. In fact, there are always plenty of concerns. The last time I completely gave on my pessimism, they were up 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Final. And we know how that turned out…

So for Canucks’ fans, it’s important to stay grounded and take solace in the fact that despite the team’s preseason early season struggles holding on to the "worst" lead in hockey, they’re still picking up points and leading the division, depending on which day of the week it is.

Despite this being a short season, it’s still important to manage expectations. Sooner or later reality catches up:

Expectations meet reality

The Oilers and their fans are a perfect example of this. There’s so much pent up demand in that city for a return to competitiveness that the start to any new season is brimming with optimism. And fair enough, after years of cellar-dwelling, their talent cup doth runneth over with youthful exhuberance.

Some of that exhuberance spilled out onto the ice a few games back, when Nail Yakupov knocked off the defending Stanley Cup champs with an overtime goal and promptly took off down the ice celebrating like he had just scored the biggest goal of his life. I didn’t have too much problem with it. It was a bit out of proportion to the situation, but whatever. The kid likes scoring goals amd that’s ok with me. (As an aside, that was the one thing that always bugged me about Mario Lemieux. He just looked so bored every time he scored.)

So, yeah, maybe Yakupov went a little over the top, but at least he wasn’t childish:

Grow up. All of you!

But back to the Oilers, and their early success, or at least lack of general suckitude. The team and its fans can definitely feel confident in the strong core that’s been assembled. They certainly have burgeoning talent up front, and the addition of Justin Schultz has certainly helped the blue-line. But they still need some help back there, and I’m not at all sure about Dubnyk as a long term solution in goal.

So, yes, their time will come. Just not yet. You certainly need confidence to be successful, but it takes experience and maturity to not let it go too far:

Confident to a fault

At the other end of the expectations spectrum are the Toronto Maple Leafs. I’m not sure that even in the darkest days of the Mike Keenan/Mark Messier era, Vancouver fans were as down on the Canucks as many Leafs fans are these days. Sure there were plenty of Canucks fans that were disgusted and just plain old gave up on those teams. Leaf fans are disgusted and manage to keep coming back for more. I guess you have to admire that kind of perseverance.

So with that in mind, I think the whole tiff over who really is the Mecca of the hockey world is just rubbing salt in the wound. C’mon, Pittsburgh, just let them have this one:

C'mon Pittsburgh, let them have this one. 

By the way, I should clarify that I only keep picking on the Leafs because those guys can take it. Heck, most of the Toronto fans that I know are so hard on the Leafs that it almost takes the fun out it. Almost. 😛

Anyway, I could never be this hard on the Flames. At least not while Jay Feaster is still GM. Just doesn’t seem right.

 

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