Monday, March 22, 2004

Free Fallin'

It might be time to change the music in the Canuck’s dressing room before games. If they have Tom Petty’s Greatest Hits playing in the background, somebody get to the boom box. Because like Petty’s song “Free Fallin”, the Canuck’s are falling down the standings, mired in a terrible spin. As a matter of fact, much of Petty’s music can relate to the state of the Canucks of late, "Breakdown" certainly appropriate as it’s breakdowns on defence, on the fore-check and in the nets that have the Canucks slumping. "Hometown blues" another song of fate for the team, GM Place has not been the big advantage it has been in the past. "Running Down a dream", well you can ask any Canuck fan about that symbolism. Coach Marc Crawford must be humming along to “I Need to Know”, since he can’t seem to find answers to the fragile state of his team of late. Brian Burke may wish to have them focus on just one track “I won’t back down”. Then again perhaps just quiet contemplation is in order; this team needs to start thinking about what made them successful in the past and how to get back there fast. Maybe they need to turn off the boom box all together and concentrate.

With Columbus arriving in town Sunday night, many Canuck fans were sure the suffering would be over, a weaker opponent just the tonic for their horrendous slide of late. With the Canucks winless in their last four games, many believed the Blue Jackets would be just what the Canucks needed to get their game back on track. And with the announcement that defenceman Ed Jovanovski would be back in the line up for the first time since January, Sunday should have been a day of good news.

Things got off to a good start, the Canucks quickly getting off to a 2-0 lead with Jovo playing with the style that brings Canuck fans to their feet. But then a relative unknown to the NHL stepped up and showed why the Blue Jackets took on the Russian Red Army. Nickolai Zherdev, who only joined the Blue Jackets a few weeks ago, (ruled a free man by a court in Switzerland), accounted for 4 of the 5 Blue Jacket points. The Jackets coming back and shocking the Canucks and their fans, winning 5-4 at GM Place. Zherdev scoring the winning goal with only 1:33 left in the third, putting a screen shot behind Johan Hedberg in the Canucks net.

For the Canucks, two separate, two goal leads were not enough to ensure victory, with goaltending once again rearing its head as a trouble spot. Needing Hedberg to rise up to the occasion they were let down, again. Facing 23 shots compared to his counterpart in the Jacket’s net who was peppered with 31, Hedberg continues to test Marc Crawford's patience. Dan Cloutier missed his second game in a row with a hip problem, adding to the missing persons list on the Canucks roster these days. Raising the concern level among the Canuck faithful.

Throwing away two important points is not going to help the Canucks in their bid to secure home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They now trail not only Colorado but Dallas and Calgary is making a charge up the standings. Sixth place is not beyond belief now and the Canucks are now in the unenviable position of needing help from other teams, except who do they cheer for, tonight for instance Dallas plays Calgary, if Dallas wins they’re two more points ahead, if Calgary wins they’re two more points closer. A scoreless tie would be a nice gesture from both tonight. One final selection from the Tom Petty songbook might be appropriate, “Even the Losers, get lucky some time”. They’ll be singing that tonight, hoping it rings true by the end of the season.

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