At the end of last season, Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning and then-president Trevor Linden took the stand in front of the media and were able to throw some of the blame of a third consecutive playoff-less season on injuries.
And while it was true that the 2017-18 Canucks were plagued by the injury bug, the club was never going to be truly competitive, even after a good start.
Fast-forward a year and it looks like a similar situation is playing out. The Canucks have once again gotten off to a promising start, made all the more appealing by the play of rookie Elias Pettersson.
In fact, they currently sit second in the Pacific Division, behind only the powerhouse San Jose Sharks. But a dig into even the most obvious of stats shows that it might not be sustainable. For instance, one doesn’t usually see a team with a minus-10 goal differential in a playoff spot at all, never mind second in their division.
The more complicated ones aren’t kind either, as the Canucks are near the bottom of the league both in Corsi percentage (shots taken vs. shots allowed) and expected goals for.
Of course, this is all happening just as it appears the wheels are falling of the season, a 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild appearing to be the low-point at the quarter mark of the campaign. The Canucks are winless in their last four and go into tonight’s game against a fast Montreal team needing a win to get the confidence back.
And, of course, it’s happening while the Canucks are missing key components to their lineup, including Brock Boeser (who still isn’t skating while he nurses a groin injury), Alex Edler, Brandon Sutter and Sven Baertschi.
So it’s not hard to picture Benning once again taking the stage at the conclusion of this season (minus Linden of course) and pinning another playoff-less season on the injuries the club sustained just while things were looking up.
It’s not necessarily the truth, but it’s a good story.
Hey, there’s still plenty of time left in the Canucks’ season for the roster to get healthy, and Vancouver is obviously still very much in the playoff race. And getting those players will go a long way toward making some of the statistics more palatable.
But if they don’t end up making it, some stats might show why more effectively than man games lost.