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The Vancouver Canucks played host to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, desperately needing a win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. They did not get it. Not even close.
As duck hunts go, this one ended with that infernal dog giggling at them. The Ducks walked all over the Canucks, leaving Vancouver with two very easy points, courtesy a 5-1 win.
Truthfully, the Canucks probably weren't making the playoffs even if the outcome of that game had been different. But still, you sort of expect that in a do-or-die situation, the team will at least try to fight, to "do". The Canucks on Saturday looked like a team that had chosen, instead, to die at home.
When they woke up this morning, the Canucks had a 0.5% chance of making the postseason. It's over. Schedule the autopsy. What went wrong in Vancouver?
The simple answer is everything. The defense was indefensible. The offense was offensive only in the sense that they were sneer-inducingly ineffective. The goaltending dried up down the stretch, which is the sort of thing that will happen when you force an unready rookie to make 14 straight starts. And the coaching experiment didn't work. At all.
John Tortorella fell victim to some bad luck this season. The injuries to key players, which began in game one, when Alex Burrows broke his ankle blocking a shot, meant he was always coaching through a crisis.
But where the last guy seemed unfazed by stuff like this, and the team followed his lead, Tortorella looked out of control, and so did his team.
Part of that is because this club never had an identity to cling to when things got weird. They just sort of went out and skated around. Sometimes they scored enough to win. More often, they didn't. They rarely seemed to be playing a system, and when they did, the system didn't appear to be working.
Few in Vancouver would try to tell you that this team was as good as previous incarnations, but most would argue that even Alain Vigneault, whose time in Vancouver was up, could have steered this team to a postseason berth. These Canucks were a playoff team, unless they were mismanaged, and they were mismanaged.
There is but one argument for bringing John Tortorella back at this point: he's got four more years on his contract, and the Canucks will likely be paying him for all of them. He's not getting another job.
If John Tortorella is let go after this season, he may never coach in the NHL again. There were few that wanted him last season before the Canucks surprised everyone and decided to take a chance, and they were burned for it. Who else is going to look at what's happened here in Vancouver, and how clearly at fault the coach has been for much of it -- how out of control he was that night in the hallway versus Calgary, how badly he mismanaged his goalies at the Winter Classic, how thoroughly he destroyed the Sedinery that made Vancouver so special, how, by the end of one season, nothing worked, and he looked completely out of ideas -- and say, 'he's our guy'?
The surest sign that John Tortorella needs to go in Vancouver is that, when he's gone, no one else will want him. That's not exactly the mark of a guy doing his job well, or a guy that should keep it.
There are two weeks left in Vancouver's season, and fans are likely wondering why they should even bother tuning in. It's simple: the playoff push may be over, but the John Tortorella farewell tour has just begun.