“Obviously we’re facing major adversity right now,” said Vigneault. “I think the only way to face that adversity is by sticking together.”
He was talking about the players, but the fans could take the advice too.
It’s easy to understand why they fans are frustrated. The Canucks are having trouble winning at home, and have lost six of seven games at GM Place this season. Last year they lost a total of just 11 at home.
But the fans didn’t make it easy for the Canucks to get their second home win Thursday night. They hardly gave them a chance. They booed when the power play couldn’t get set up. They cheered when the final minute of the game was announced over the PA. They cheered when Nashville scored their third goal of the game.
To be fair, there was a small contingent of fans that tried to combat the roaring boos with a “Go Canucks Go” chant, but the low drone of displeasure drowned them out.
“We’ve been booed at home here for the last few games, and it’s disappointing,” said Morrison. “But the fans pay money to come watch us, and they have every right to do that.”
Sure, the crowd has the right to voice their displeasure, and some of it may be warranted, but in truth, the Canucks didn’t play a bad game. Yes, they lost 3-0 to a team below .500 and couldn’t get their power play working, but 5-on-5 they were pretty good. Defensively they were good, allowing just 15 shots – five after the first two periods.
“Our guys were ready to play and they came out really hard. We had a number of quality chances. Their goaltender – give him credit – he made some quality saves,” said Vigneault. “I thought we were making a lot of great effort plays but when you get behind 2-0 it’s obviously very tough lead to come back from.”
Who exactly is booing the team? Is it the same people who will jump on the bandwagon when the Canucks find their groove? Will they be cheering when the team comes together after Christmas, and rides a big winning streak into the playoffs? Chanting Loooouuuuu when the All-Star goalie makes the game-saving stop?
Who thought Luongo would feel the wrath of the fans here? Who thought the man that just months ago brought the team to the second round of the playoffs would be getting jeered? Sure he let in the first two shots. But it was no reason to get on his case. One was a screened goal on the power play and the other was a breakaway.
“To boo our goaltender?” asked Morrison. “I thought that was maybe crossing the line a bit.”
It would be nice for the fans to heed Vigneault’s advice of “sticking together.” Because booing the home team isn’t going to make the home wins come any faster.
It’s far too early to give up hope for the Canucks, even despite their injuries tonight. It’s devastating to lose Salo and Bieksa, but it might, in a roundabout way, even be what the team needs. Vigneault will be calling up at least one more defenseman to join the roster.
And the injection of some new players into the lineup might just be what the Canucks need to get things going. It might help to have some players that haven’t been involved in the recent Canuck funk, but have instead been playing on the winning Manitoba Moose.
Mattias Ohlund certainly wasn’t happy about losing Bieksa and Salo, but knew there was an upside to it. “Anytime you lose players – especially guys like that, it’s going to hurt you,” he said. “But we have hopefully enough guys. It gives guys like Alex a chance to play more. I thought he played well tonight.”
It’s a tough time in the season. The Canucks are three games under .500 and have some pretty bad injury woes. But hey, it’s not all that different from last year, is it?
“We’re going to stick together, and we’re going to fight our way through this,” said Vigneault. “That’s all we can do right now.”
And so can the fans.