By Jim Morris, special to CBC Sports
VANCOUVER -- Henrik Sedin tried to put into words the conundrum the Vancouver Canucks find themselves in.
"It's a fine margin between winning and losing, and this sucks," the Canuck captain said Saturday. "This really sucks."
Vancouver trails the San Jose Sharks 2-0 in their best-of-seven
NHL Western Conference quarter-final series. The Canucks already have a foot in the grave. A loss Sunday piles the dirt up to their neck.
As the Canucks boarded a flight to San Jose, the players kept repeating a simple mantra. Vancouver played better in Friday night's heartbreaking 3-2 overtime loss
. They're not intimidated by playing in the HP Pavilion, where the Sharks lost just seven times in the regular season. The Canucks are getting their chances, but are just not putting the puck in the net.
A lack of scoring is Vancouver's biggest problem. The only goal credited to the Canucks in Wednesday's 3-1 loss came when San Jose's Raffi Torres knocked the puck into his own net. He made up for that by notching Friday's overtime winner after Ryan Kesler scored both Vancouver goals.
"It's not good enough if you score a goal and half per game," admitted Sedin. "You are not going to win games.
"But you can only look at the way you play and the chances you get. If we were absolutely outplayed, not creating any chances, it would be tough. But you look at [Friday] night, we should have had two or three goals. We can score, we can put it in the back of the net. So it's a matter of continuing to do the same things and the goals will come."
Vancouver outshot the Sharks in both losses, but many of those shots came from long range. The Canucks have failed to generate much traffic in front of the net and goaltender Antti Niemi has rarely faced a second or third shot.
Not scoring in the playoffs is not a new phenomenon for the Canucks.
Vancouver has managed just four wins in its last 14 playoff games dating back to its final series loss to Boston in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. During that stretch the Canucks have been outscored 35-16. Only twice did they score more than two goals.
Sedins lightning rod for criticism
When production slumps, fingers are usually pointed at Henrik and Daniel Sedin. The twins, two of the best players to ever wear Canuck uniforms, are accustomed to being the lightning rod for criticism.
"We have produced in the past," said Henrik. "I think we showed we can score.
"There's always going to be pressure on top players to produce if you are not winning. If you are winning, no one is going to talk about guys not producing. We know that, so you have to live with it and you have to believe in yourself."
The twins have been good at times during the playoffs, but not great. The same thing can be said about most of the Canucks. Outstanding goaltending by Roberto Luongo is the only reason the games have been close.
The usually amiable coach Alain Vigneault had an edge about him Saturday. He looked like a man who saw all the problems with his team, but didn't have any answers.
"It's the time of year where you need, whether you want to call it difference-makers or heroes, somebody's got to step up and make a difference," said Vigneault.
Kesler stepped into that role Friday. He carried the team on his shoulders until the Canucks gave up the tying goal with 56 seconds left in the game.
"I think we all should still be pissed off at that game," said Vigneault. "We were a couple of seconds away from a win."
Schneider remains day to day
Goaltender Cory Schneider, who missed the first two games of the series with an undisclosed injury, made the trip to San Josebut remains listed as day to day.
The Canucks may be frustrated, but Sharks' coach Todd McLellan doesn't want his team over confident.
"There isn't any difference between the teams right now," he said. "It's a goal, it's a shot, it's a save, maybe a penalty.
"They're that close. If one teams gets a whole lot more desperate than the other, advantage to them."
The Canuck players keep saying they know what it takes to beat the Sharks. Time is running out to prove their words.
"It's a must-win for us," said Henrik Sedin.
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