NHL Anaheim DucksVancouver Canucks

No need to panic after Canucks open with loss

So it’s time to panic, right?

I mean, an overtime loss to a very good team in the first game of the year – there’s only 81 left! – in which Roberto Luongo appeared at his post-season, ahem, best, and the second line consisting of rookie Cody Hodgson and two old guys in cement shoes didn’t do much, and Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler is still hurt and did you see that Alain Vigneault’s tie was crooked in the post-game presser and…

Well, you get the point. It’s all over, folks.

Or at least that’s what one might assume having talked to a few nervous fans after the team’s 4-3 loss Thursday to the Sidney Crosby-less Pittsburgh Penguins.

Within minutes of the game’s end – which, of course came when Evgeni Malkin managed to stay on his skates long enough to make a flailing Luongo look foolish – fans were micro-analyzing everything from Luongo’s play to the Canucks’ choice of shooters (of which they may have a valid point, and is a topic for another day) to Vigneault’s suit-and-tie combo (probably).

Such knee-jerk reaction is par for the course in a hockey market such as Vancouver, and that situation was only amplified, rather than quelled, by the team’s march to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in June, which of course, they lost.

Now that fans have had a taste for it – now that they’ve come oh-so-painfully-close – nothing short of winning every game will do, regardless of whether it’s October or the middle of June.

But instead of freaking out, what everyone really needs to do is calm down. Take a deep breath. Now take another, and repeat after me: It’s only one game. It’s only one game. It’s only one game.

There, feel better?

You should. Because regardless of how Luongo looked in the shootout – or on James Neal’s shot from behind the goal line that beat him to open the scoring Thursday – and regardless of the timeline for Kesler’s return, the power-play, or how bad, at times, Marco Sturm and Mikael Samuelsoon looked on that second line, there were some positives.

After a slow first period, the top line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin and Alex Burrows looked dangerous, and the new fourth line of Max Lapierre between Aaron Volpatti and waiver-wire pickup Dale Weise looked sharp, too.

And hey, nobody torched any cars outside Rogers Arena, either, so that’s a good start.

But if all that isn’t enough for you, well, just remember: there’s 81 games to go, so pace yourself – there’s plenty of time left for you to freak out.

I usually start in the spring.