<table border=0 align=center width=80%><tr><td><img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2007/07/mikeblog.gif border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4>We have to start sacrificing something different to the hockey gods. Seriously, what a fickle bunch of cruel deities.
So that big old fat lady has sung on yet another season of hockey for the Canucks. In the miserable aftermath of it all, it seems that you can recap the 2007-08 season with three simple words: failure to execute.
Nothing dramatic, surprising or Earth-shattering about those three words obviously, but you can past all the preseason promises and post game quotes and just stare at those words.
It wasn't for a lack of heart. Markus Naslund, who I sorely want to see back in that Orca uniform, adjusted his play again this season and while he isn’t the sniper he was in past seasons he still was a force in the offensive zone and played his heart out most games.
It wasn't for lack of character. Roberto Luongo, the bedrock of the team, was racking up frequent flier miles going across the continent splitting both family and professional duties. Coming back for the Wild game was impressive and trying to keep his team afloat down the stretch, even when his own play faltered a bit, showed his character and desire to win.
It wasn't for lack of commitment. Trevor Linden, despite being scratched several times this season, was still out there trying to earn his place on the team he loves with every opportunity he had. His two goals against Calgary on Sunday proved how much of a warrior the 20-year-veteran still is to this day.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/02/jan3108_bolts03_t.jpg border=0 align=right vspace=1 hspace=4></a>It wasn't for all the injuries. Sure losing Ohlund, Krajicek, Salo, Morrison et all had its impact. But in their first season as NHL players, Edler, Raymond, Shannon (technically his second season) and Jaffray all showed they can contribute to this team's success. Other guys like McIver, Brown, Rypien and Hansen were all called upon when needed and helped plug holes that otherwise would have forced Nonis to make a trade to keep the team afloat.
Nope it was simply the lack of execution, the same issue that has plagued this squad since Anaheim showed them the door in the playoffs last year. Luongo can steal games, but running up the score can sure seal those playoff berths (only three teams in the bottom ten of scoring are playoff-bound: Ducks, Rangers and Devils). When they needed them, this squad couldn't get that one score they sorely needed; if the Sedins, Naslund, Pyatt, Burrows and Kesler couldn't get on a roll, all of the Isbisters, Pettingers and Ritchie's in the world couldn't provide that extra effort Vigneault's boys required.
However, a few things shouldn't be forgotten in this morning's apathy:
1. The Canucks are barely missing the playoffs, by 1-3 points. Consider they had 10 OTL's over the span of the season; if they won just two or three of them, we'd all be getting ready for next week while Nashville would be left wondering what happened.
2. The Northwest will continue to be up for grabs next year. This time last year, the Canucks clinched the division while the Avs just missed the playoffs and the Flames squeaked in. Now the Avs are in, the Wild (*spits*) are the champs and the Flames again squeak in. In fact only the Oilers are being gentlemanly with their continual suckage year to year. With any luck, the Canucks will be right back in the thick of things next year.
<img src=http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2008/02/feb2508_nonis_t.jpg border=0 align=left vspace=1 hspace=4></a>3. If the rumors are true, then this summer will be the first time Dave Nonis has a good deal of money to spend in the NHL cap era. And he'll have an entire Province of people to remind him from now until October 5th that changes are needed. He HAS to be active during the draft and the offseason to address the team weaknesses. Moreover, it's not often a team gets a goaltender in his prime like Luongo so it'll be all the more crucial to get the right group in front of him on offense. That time is now.
As Canuck fans, we've all been here before. The feeling buried down in the pit of your stomach?. Yup, that monkey is back. But unlike previous years, we know the core of this team can do amazing things. We know when healthy that this team's defense is solid and the goaltending is almost unmatched. We just didn't see enough of that this season and, now, have to wait through an offseason of retooling to see what the new version of the Canucks will feel like on the eyes.
In the meantime, may I suggest that sitting back and watching the Flames, Wild and Avs all get bounced in the first round could be a solid cure for that bad taste in your mouth this morning? A crying Iginla? An injured Forsberg watching from the pressbox? Lemaire with that confused smirk on his face? Sure, we may not get to root for the good guys this spring, but we sure as hell can enjoy watching our rivals lose.
He who gets his Schadenfreude last gets the Schadenfreude best. Oh yeah, I'm already there...