The Canucks are hovering at .500 hockey and as players return off the injury reserve a lot of people expect things to click and this Vancouver Canucks team to explode to the top and be the team that TSN picked to make the cup final and win the whole thing. This is a Canucks team that time has shown me is horribly inconsistent and the one thing they are consistent about is making it to the Christmas break a few games above .500 and then crushing the second half of the season.
There's always the question "When is it late enough in the season that you can stop saying 'Oh, the season's barely started, just wait and see what happens'". Sitting 20 games into the season we're fare enough in that we can start criticizing the team for things that they've done right or wrong for the first quarter of the year, but realistically, this is an 82 game grind, and the Canucks have proven time and time again that they start their season at Christmas. Sure they've looked great one night, and looked like the ECHL Salmon Kings the next night. Sure they've played games they've deserved to win, and won games they've not deserved to be in. But when do you start to seriously look at the team and worry about their chances of turning play around and going on winning streaks and making the playoffs?
My only problem with waiting until Christmas to evaluate them and then hope for yet another Christmas Miracle turnaround and stretch drive is that the Canucks face the unfortunate obstacle of the Olympics. Sending nearly 9 of their top players to the international games is going to be taxing in itself, but with the way the Canucks road record stands, that 14 game road trip looks daunting. There's a time where fans can start worry about the record, a time when you can start worry about not being in division contention let alone playoff contention, but 20 games in isn't that time. The Canucks are lucky they have a record at 10-10 and don't have a record that looks more like the Leafs record considering the plague of injuries they've faced. With players coming back, if they can keep their heads above water and not dip below .500 they're on the right track. As players come back and start to re-gel with their line mates we should have something to get excited about soon.