Don't panic, Canuck fans

BARRY MACDONALD, 24 HOURS VANCOUVER

, Last Updated: 9:12 AM ET

Forget it. The season is over. Why play the next 75 games?

Playoffs? You're talking about playoffs?

That was just some of the reaction heard on the morning show earlier this week on the Team 1040. Obviously, 7/82nds into a season, it is easy to write it off, and start looking ahead to 2009-10. Three wins in seven games? With six of the seven on the road? What a disastrous start to the season.

Get real. Talk about a bandwagon. Prior to training camp, the outlook was not promising, from a fan's perspective at least. Mike Gillis had been unable to sign Mats Sundin, and while he had changed the culture of the team, the glass was half empty.

Then the Canucks go out and rattle off a nearly unbeaten preseason. A season opening bleaching of the Calgary Flames, and an overtime win over their hated rivals in Alberta. Suddenly expectations went through the roof.

Then a dose of reality as the Washington Capitals spiked the Canucks' hopes of an unbeaten season. That was followed by an impressive bounce back win in Detroit, followed by losses in Buffalo, Chicago and Columbus.

And here we sit. One game under .500, with some key injuries to deal with, and a goaltender still trying to find his "A" game, in addition to getting comfortable with his "C" duties.

Some observations: Roberto Luongo will find his game. One big save per game might have made the difference between a 5-2 start, instead of the 3-4 one. It's not lost on him, even if he is reluctant to admit it. But if he has a goals against average of 3.34 at the midway point of the season, this group is in trouble.

Willie Mitchell, Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Mattias Ohlund and Sami Salo know how to move the puck. but somehow the relationship between them and the forwards needs to improve. It gets the puck further away from your own goal, and improves the chances of success at the other end.

The forwards getting top-six minutes need to produce, plain and simple. Taylor Pyatt and Mason Raymond have combined for one goal in 14 games. Did Pyatt really score 23 goals playing with the Sedins two years ago? And will Raymond be able to become more prospect than suspect playing alongside whoever replaces the injured Pavol Demitra? As for the Sedins, they are what they are. And that will never be enough, in the absence of a decent second line.

Secondary scoring takes the heat off the Sedins. That isn't exactly a revelation.

There are concerns. The margin for error is small for this team. But check the calendar. If the same issues now plaguing the team are still prominent in late December, then yes, there is cause for alarm.


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