It’s not often teams get long breaks between games in the middle of the season – although the Canucks, more than most teams, have had some strange gaps in the schedule in recent years – but the team has not played since whipping Chicago on Sunday night.
But rather than head home for a few days before playing the final two games of a six-game road trip – against Los Angeles and Anaheim, starting Thursday – the team instead headed to California for a few days of team building, which included a round of golf at Donald Trump’s Trump National Golf Club.
Breaks like this – whether it’s for “team building” or just practice – can really go either way for a team. Either rest and rejuvenation helps recharge the batteries (especially if the team’s been struggling or is filled with older players) or it makes ‘em rusty. And considering the Canucks are coming off one of the more convincing wins of the season against the arch-rival Blackhawks, I’m sure they would have loved nothing more than to get right back on the ice as soon as possible.
Then again, a few days in the sun at one of California’s nicest golf courses ain’t a bad alternative, either.
But what this break does for the Canucks is anyone’s guess, especially considering how maddening inconsistent they’ve been this season. Because as good as they’ve been against top teams like Washington, the New York Rangers and Chicago, they’ve also been terrible against the Edmonton Oilers and Minnesota Wilds of the world.
The Canucks currently sit 10th in the Western Conference, with a 7-7-1 record – a far cry from where they need to be. And even though people will still say “Don’t worry, it’s still early” the fact remains that they’ll continue to fall further and further behind if they don’t string together some wins here quick.
Consider this… In the last four seasons, here is how many points it’s taken to make the playoffs in the Western Conference: 97 (2010-11), 95 (’09-’10), 91 (’08-’09) and 91 (’07-’08).
(*Writer attempting math alert*)
So if, say, 96 points is the goal just to make the playoffs, and the Canucks have 67 games left, they need, at minimum, 81 points out of a possible 134, which is about 40 wins, or a lot of OT losses (which means 3 point games… another problem).
40 wins in the next 67 is a winning percentage of .597, and 81 points out of 132 is .605, so somewhere in the middle is how the Canucks have to play just to make the playoffs. And of course, after last year’s President’s Trophy-winning season, the eighth seed is not exactly the team’s target. If they want a seed in the top half of the conference, they’re going to have to play far, far better than .600 hockey, while taking a lot of points against division rivals like the surprising Edmonton Oilers and the 8-3-3 Wild.
Not impossible, not by any means – last year they played at a .659 clip – but if they’re going to get back to that, time’s a wastin’, that’s all.
Here’s hoping a round of golf does them good.