In previous seasons, Tuesday’s win over the Flames would have been hailed as a monumental accomplishment in Vancouver.

This year, however, the expected enthusiasm was tempered by a group that has much loftier expectations.

Ryan Kesler said it “wasn’t a very good effort” and warned that a quick exit from the playoffs is in store unless the Canucks tighten up defensively.

Ryan Johnson echoed those thoughts and added, “there wasn’t much to feel good about” outside of Roberto Luongo’s superb play and, of course, the result itself.

When such comments come from fans and the media, it can be regarded as nitpicking; when they come from players, there is much more validity. Some teams say the right things, but their words are simply used to conceal a disappointing reality.

The Canucks are making these statements with the type of resolve that has been almost non-existent during the existence of this organization.

Both of Vancouver’s lengthy playoff runs came from teams that were feisty underdogs.

Though this year’s crew is not quite considered a part of the NHL’s upper crust, the Canucks are widely regarded as a legitimate threat in the Western Conference — a far cry from Vancouver’s historical reputation. Not bad for a team that one national writer picked to finish 29th overall this season.

In the course of seven months, the Canucks have gone from a group that appeared void of identity to one that truly believes it can compete for a Stanley Cup. Whether or not you agree is inconsequential; the fact that this team deems itself a Cup contender represents a major step for this franchise.

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