Tied 2-2 with the Los Angeles Kings in their opening round best of seven series heading into Game 5 tonight (April 23) at GM Place, the Canucks now have to find a way to exorcise the demons that have haunted this franchise over its 40 years of existence.
With that, we present a shocking statistic that goes a long way to explain why the Vancouver Canucks don't have much of a track record of success in the Stanley Cup playoffs: this is the ninth time the Canucks have found themselves locked in a 2-2 series and only once—the 1995 opening round against St. Louis—did the Canucks manage to prevail.
On eight other occasions this organization has reduced a best of seven series to a two-out-of-three affair, and only once with the pressure on and the stakes raised did the Canucks have what it took to pull through.
The last four times the team has been in this situation—most recently last year in the second round against Chicago—the Canucks have been unable to get the job done. And all three times the Canucks have been in this situation as the higher-seeded team with home ice advantage, they have not been able to finish off their opponents.
If those numbers aren't telling enough, try these on for size: In the situations noted above (Games 5 through 7 of series tied 2-2), the Vancouver Canucks have managed just one win in their last nine tries and are just 4-15 lifetime.
There is a troubling trend here where the Canucks do well to get a series to crunch time—and then they're the ones getting crunched. It happened last year against Chicago, it happened in 2004 against Calgary, and it happened in 2002 when, after jumping out to a 2-0 lead on the Detroit Red Wings, the Canucks rolled over and were crushed by four straight Wings victories.
Obviously, this is a new year with different faces than those teams of the past; starting tonight, this group of Canucks has a chance to separate itself from teams of years gone by. But this inability to seize tight series has been a constant with this organization dating back to 1989 when the Calgary Flames beat the Canucks in seven games. Canucks fans have been through this wringer before. They'd like to—and deserve to—see something different from this year's team.
Follow Jeff Paterson on Twitter at www.twitter.com/patersonjeff/.