Thursday, January 13, 2011
Posted by Harrison Mooney
I hate when the Canucks play teams at the bottom of the standings. No good can come of it. As Skeeter pointed out earlier in the season, good teams are supposed to win games against bottom-feeders. It's expected. The problem is, the act of meeting expectations is often met with a little but a slight shrug. No one commends you for doing a satisfactory job. In truth, the real story is exceeding expectations.
Narrow wins over bad teams, like the Canucks' shootout victory at Nassau Coliseum on Tuesday night, do not exceed expectations. In fact, when the Canucks barely get by a team they were expected to defeat, one could say they've barely met expectations. For fans and media who have lost perspective--spoiled as they are by Vancouver's run of stellar play--barely meeting expectations is equally as bad as failing to meet them. For some, a close win over a bad team is the D-minus of sports. It's shameful. The worst part of it all is when people suggest--as one Team 1040 host did yesterday--that it's as bad as losing.
Well, that's just silly.
There are no D-minuses in sports. There are no grades--it's pass or fail. I know hockey fans love to grade their teams; the Canucks' midseason report cards are a rite of passage. But I've never much cared for this meaningless hockey trope. Who cares if Alex Burrows is only a B+? Sports aren't about how you win. They're just about winning. It doesn't matter if you blow a team out or edge them out so long as you win. There's no shame in almost losing.
You didn't lose.
Furthermore, there is no expected victory in the NHL. It's a league with tremendous parity, where any team can beat any other team on a given night. The New York Islanders may be twenty-seven spots behind the Canucks in the standings, but they're not the Washington Generals. Sometimes they win. Statistically, almost every team should beat them, but they beat other teams besides the Devils and Maple Leafs. In fact, in the last two weeks, they posted wins over Tampa Bay, Montreal, and Detroit. In a win over Pittsburgh, they ended Sidney Crosby's point streak.
They can win, even against top teams; they just won't do it consistently.
The Islanders aren't a team to be taken lightly. No team is. Every win is commendable. The fact that the Canucks win so often is even more commendable.
Granted, a run of shaky outings typically means a losing streak is looming, but we can resort to nail-biting and navel-gazing when the losses actually happen. In the meantime, no win is a loss, because winning is the opposite of losing.