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Panic in Vancouver, mourning Jackets, and trade talk

Posted: Friday February 15, 2008 3:37PM; Updated: Friday February 15, 2008 3:37PM
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The return of Willie Mitchell (left) is a hopeful sign, but the Canucks are close to taking a seat at the also-ran table.
The return of Willie Mitchell (left) is a hopeful sign, but the Canucks are close to taking a seat at the also-ran table.
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The mailman has evaded the pit bull in the yard again, so I am compelled to address some of your more bracing epistles. Letter-opener, please...

I'll admit it. I'm in full panic mode over my Canucks. I'm starting to think the playoffs are a longshot at best unless we add a big piece to the puzzle, and soon. What do you think of our chances?
-- Steve Joe, Sacramento

I think full panic is an appropriate state at this point, especially after that shootout loss to the Wild at home on Thursday night. Alexander Edler stole them a point with his late goal, but the Canucks needed two in the worst way. With just 24 games to go, they probably need to win 15 of them -- at least -- to sew up a spot. Given that they've won just three of their last 10, I don't like their chances to do that.

Not to say they can't turn things around, but the Canucks just have a look about them like they're going to find a way to lose, don't they? If there's a bad bounce to be had, they're going to find a way to get it. And sometimes it looks like coach Alain Vigneault is starting to out-think himself. Thursday night's game against the Wild is a perfect example. In a must-win, why are Edler and Ryan Shannon, two rookies, your first two shooters? Seems to me that your go-to guys, players like Daniel Sedin and Markus Naslund, need to get the tap on the shoulder in a situation like that.

If you want to go half-full, there are some positives. Willie Mitchell returned last night after missing a month of play, and soaked up his usual 26 minutes. A few games with something close to a healthy roster might be all they need. And though they've complained about the schedule, the stretch lays it all out for them. Vancouver has four games left against the eighth-place Avalanche and three each against divisional rivals Calgary and Minnesota. If the Canucks take care of business, especially against the injury-riddled Avs, they'll get their spot. If they don't, well, maybe they deserve to sit at the kids table this spring while the big boys play for keeps.

I understand the Dallas Stars will be getting injured defenders Sergei Zubov and Philippe Boucher back in the lineup soon. That should leave them with a surplus of proven NHL defensemen. What do you think it would take for a team like the Bruins to snatch someone like Mattias Norstrom or Trevor Daley to bolster their blueline?
-- Emily Coburn, Beantown

I'd never say never, especially given Boston's propensity for being so generous in trades of late, but I'd be surprised to see Dallas part with either of those players prior to the deadline without getting a reliable scoring winger in return. The Bruins do have Glen Murray, but I'm not sure his cement-footed game would fill the Stars' spot alongside Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen. Guys like Vinny Prospal or Miro Satan, who have a bit more gas in the tank, make better sense if the Stars are going to part with a roster player.

All that said, I think the Stars are more likely to deal from their depth up front. Having played without Zubov (15 games) and Boucher (33) for so long, they understand the value of having reliable and proven options on hand to cover for the injuries that are inevitable during the postseason. More to the point: there's no definite return date yet for either vet, and with the deadline less than two weeks away, that doesn't leave much time. If the Bruins, or anyone else, are interested in Norstrom, he'll be a UFA this summer. Considering how well youngsters Matt Niskanen and Niklas Grossman have stepped up, I doubt the Stars will re-sign him.

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